Review : Luca (Ruin & Revenge #2) by Sarah Castille

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Published June 27th 2017 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Blurb

Luca Rizzoli was nearly destroyed by a brutal betrayal that cost him his family. Now a ruthless crime boss in the city of sin, he lets nothing touch his frozen heart–until a smoldering encounter with a beautiful stranger ignites his passion. One night isn’t enough for a man who takes what he wants, but his mysterious temptress has slipped away.

For two years police detective Gabrielle Fawkes has lived for revenge. But a night of indulgence with a sexy stranger changes everything. Powerful, charming, and deliciously dangerous Luca, has his own private reasons for offering to help her pursue the drug lord who killed her husband. There’s a lot Luca isn’t telling her and the more she finds out the less she wants to know.

When Gabrielle becomes the target of the drug lord she has vowed to hunt down, she must do the unimaginable: place her life in a mobster’s hands. To save her, Luca must break his Mafia ties–or risk losing Gabrielle forever.

My Review

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Danger, angst, deception, passion, Sarah Castille delivered a thrilling read with the second installment in her Ruin & Revenge series. This dark and fast-paced ride into the mafia underworld is centered on Luca Rizzoli and Gabrielle Fawkes, two intriguing heroes on opposite sides of the law.

Luca is the loyal capo of his closest friend, Nico Toscani, head of one of the big Italian crime families in Vegas. Gabrielle is a detective responsible for an investigation into the activities of a drug cartel. After her husband’s murder, she has set herself the goal of avenging him. Luca and Gabrielle are both shooting victims and find themselves in the same hospital room. They have this insta-attraction going on from the first meeting.

I loved the conflicting emotions in this story, the heroes see justice in a very different way, Gabrielle is a rule follower, Luca follows the rules of his crime family. According to mafia rules, association with cops is forbidden, and the punishment for infringing them is extreme. And yet Luca can’t stay away from Gabrielle, she has become his obsession. He is torn between his loyalty to his family and his love for Gabrielle. The mirror has two sides: he is dark, brooding, dangerous and a cold killer, and yet he is tender, protective and loving with her.

Gabrielle is strong, assertive and honest. She doesn’t understand the social hierarchy in his crime world, and, obviously, she doesn’t care. She can’t accept the submissive role of a mafia wife, but she makes him believe he is capable of feeling. To save Luca, Gabrielle is ready to go rogue and break a lot of rules.

This sexy romance and edge-of-your-seat suspense with some breathtaking twists was a captivating read. It started a bit slowly, but Sarah Castille did a great job of building up the tension and I was hooked until the very last page! She introduced several intriguing secondary characters, and I’m really looking forward to Rocco’s story. I recommend this book (and this fantastic series) to all mafia romance lovers.

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Launch Day Blitz : All I Am (A This Man novella) by Jodi Ellen Malpas

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ALL I AM: DREW’S STORY (A THIS MAN NOVELLA) by Jodi Ellen Malpas (June 18, 2017; Forever Yours ebook; $2.99)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Ellen Malpas comes a new novella in the This Man series. You don’t need to read the series to enjoy this story, but if you’re already a Jesse Ward fan, just wait till you see the advice he gives Drew about falling in love.

I thought I had control.  I was so, so wrong…

I don’t need a relationship.  I have Hux, a decadent club where I quench whatever raw desire I choose.  I take pleasure and I give it – no strings attached.  So when Raya Rivers comes in asking for someone cold, emotionless, and filthy… well, no man ever takes his wicked pleasure quite the way I do.

Only Raya is different. Vulnerable. And carrying some deep sorrow that gets past all my carefully constructed walls and inexplicably makes me care.  Now craving controls me.  Ice has given way to red-hot need.

But Raya has no idea about my other life – my real life.  That I’m daddy to an adorable little girl.  My two worlds are about to collide with the force of a supernova.  Once Raya knows the truth, will she be able to accept all I am?

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Buy the Book!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pyjRIK

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My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 stars

I love it when an author allows her readers to revisit beloved characters after the passage of years and to see them subtly changed. And, frankly, how could I resist knowing it involved a very sexy single dad! I quickly re-read some passages of the This Man trilogy, though, because it’s been a while! All I Am is Drew’s story. He is Jesse’s best friend and the devoted single father of 7-year- old Georgia. She stays with him half the time, in shared custody, and he is good at dealing with Georgia’s scheming mother. His daughter is his biggest passion and his main focus.

Drew has no time to date and never gets attached, he is fine on his own, with his daughter. He doesn’t trust easily, he was deceived by Georgia’s mother. Hux is the place where he can relax and come to terms with his darkest and deepest desires. But he always keeps his life as a father separated from his one-night stands.

Raya is a newbie at the club. She is mysterious and temptation personified, she gets Drew hooked by being so intriguing and wanting a cold and emotionless tryst. Not to mention that their chemistry is off the charts. I could sense and  feel the connection
between them. Because of her, he feels he is at a crossroads in his life. For the first time, he feels the need to step outside of his comfort zone. In that sense, Raya is his game changer.  Neither of them wants to get attached, and yet they both deserve to achieve joy in their life and grab their chance at happiness.

The novella format doesn’t always allow for sufficient story and character development, and yet, in this case, it worked for me. Jodi Ellen Malpas’ writing is evocative, her fully fleshed out characters are established with quick strokes and they come across as likeable and genuine. I was fully invested in their story. And this author sure does know how to turn up the heat!

An advanced copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher

Excerpt

‘What do you want, Raya?’

She steps toward me tentatively, as if she’s questioning what she’s doing. And when she reaches me, her chest pressed to mine, she gazes up at me. ‘I don’t know.’ Her eyes are wild and unsure. ‘But I know that every time we’re close, something powerful takes over. And you’re trying hard to fight it. You’re warm and cold. What are you scared of?’

‘You.’ My mouth is on her before I can think better of it, and I’ve lifted her from her feet before my tongue breaches the seam on her lips. We should talk, but this is the only thing I know what to say right now, and when her arms circle my shoulders, her mouth opening up, inviting me in, I know she’s okay with it. I know she gets it.

With one arm around her waist holding her to me and one secured on the nape of her neck, I walk to my office, my kiss deep, my blood racing, my heart bouncing off my ribcage. I set her on her feet and take the hem of her dress, pulling it up over her head, losing her lips for just a second in the process. She wrenches my shirt open, scattering buttons in the process, her hands immediately finding my skin beneath. My forward steps encourages her backwards, our kiss deepening as she unfastens my trousers and I push her knickers down her thighs.

We’re all over the place, desperation getting the better of us, a mess of tongues, hands and bodies. I pull some strength from nowhere, seize her hands and break our kiss, breathing heavily. Her unsure brown eyes soon prompts me to start ridding myself of the rest of my clothes, all under her watchful gaze. Until I’m naked.

‘This wasn’t supposed to happen,’ she whispers.

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About the Author

Jodi Ellen Malpas author photosJodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands’ town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full-time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion, a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.

Social Media Links

www.jodiellenmalpas.com.uk

www.facebook.com/jodiellenmalpas

www.twitter.com/jodiellenmalpas

Follow Jodi Ellen Malpas on BookBub: http://bit.ly/2qXejZ7

Follow Jodi Ellen Malpas on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2qXqwwZ

Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of All I Am: Drew’s Story (A This Man Novella)! http://bit.ly/2nTm0x9

Review : The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

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Published June 13th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

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Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

MY REVIEW

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars

The Idea of You is a love story with a twist between a rock star and a woman next door. Robinne Lee has created two interesting characters who are almost twenty years apart in age. Solène is thirty nine, she is recently divorced and the mother of a teenage daughter. Hayes is twenty and a member of a world famous boys band. They meet during a fan meet-and-greet session organized after a concert. What starts as a harmless flirtation quickly becomes a passionate love affair. Their journey is a bittersweet one, there are a lot of circumstances that pull them apart, despite their intense chemistry.

Hayes is a hottie with millions of fans. His life is consumed by touring, writing music and recording it. He has developed a kind of character-splitting between his celebrity self and his authentic self as a survival technique. With Solène, Hayes is sweet and open with his feelings, he knows what he wants. Solène can’t ignore his celebrity, she isn’t prepared for the side effects of fame, the media frenzy and the lack of personal privacy. She feels uncomfortable being seen with him and wants to keep their relationship a secret as long as possible. Her story with Hayes should be a meaningless fling, a way to move on after her divorce. But she is falling hard for the real guy behind the star.

What transpires between them was brilliantly written. Right from the first page, I was fully invested in their poignant story. I was transfixed by their dilemma, their intense chemistry and their heartbreak. I rooted for them and I hurt for them. I recommend this book, even though I didn’t get the ending I wanted. This is a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

An advanced copy of this book was generously provided to me by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Release Blitz : Royal Treatment (Royal Scandal #3) by Parker Swift

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ROYAL TREATMENT by Parker Swift (June 11, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $3.99; Royal Scandal Book 3)

All this duke needs is his duchess…

For five blissful months I’ve been engaged to Dylan Hale, the most handsome, commanding, and wickedly sexy duke in England. For five months I’ve woken up next to the man I love, indulged in secret trysts, and submitted to every delicious desire. Even better? We’ve managed to keep it hidden from everyone. That means no paparazzi scandals, no snide comments from Dylan’s mother, and no harsh public scrutiny. It’s been heaven, but with Dylan’s royal responsibilities looming, our time alone is running out. And while I can’t wait to be Dylan’s wife, I’m terrified that becoming Dylan’s duchess might mean losing myself.

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Buy the Book!

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My Review

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Lydia and Dylan have been engaged for 5 months and they have managed to keep it a secret. After his father’s death, Dylan has become the Duke of Abingdon. He has a lot on his plate, with two companies to run and the duties and constraints of his title. His cooperation with members of MI6 puts additional pressure on his shoulders, but is necessary to save his family pile. His father nearly bankrupted their family company and had dubious connections with the Russian mafia.

Lydia is still afraid she will never fit into Dylan’s life. She is neither a socialite nor a kept woman and doesn’t want to be laden with the trappings of wealth and status. Decisions need to be made, feelings need to be expressed. She wants her next career move to be an asset for their future married life, not a liability. Obviously, they can’t keep everything under wraps and live in their happy bubble for very long anymore. Lydia is aware of Dylan’s difficulties, but she trusts they will figure out the life they both want. Dylan is a reformed bad boy, Lydia has changed his outlook on major life decisions. He is bossy and yet so attentive and caring.  I loved Dylan and Lydia together, there is no doubt that these two are soulmates. Their story had its ups and downs, but they always find strength in each other.

This final installment in the Royal Scandal series was the icing on the (wedding) cake. I felt that Parker Swift has given the closure that the characters deserved. This book had everything I love in a romance novel, the emotions, the spark, the swoon worthy moments, the sexy times, the tension and, of course, a perfect happily-ever-after. The story was well paced and a real page turner. The great cast of secondary characters adds warmth to the story, I hope Parker Swift will write their story next.  I really enjoyed this author’s flair for vibrant characterization and fluid storytelling. If you enjoy a contemporary fairy tale with a twist, I highly recommend this trilogy!

Thank you for visiting and happy reading!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of Royal Treatment! http://bit.ly/2rmcXdt

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Excerpt

For the past five months, I’d taken my mission to heart: Put yourself first. Enjoy the freedom of life out of the spotlight. Get your career off the ground before it competes with running an ancient estate and being on your husband’s arm.

For five months, I’d said yes to all things. Late nights dancing with Fiona and Josh. Girlie nights with Emily. Paris for Fashion Week. Long runs in the park by myself without paparazzi trailing me. Late nights working on the launch of Fiona’s online store. Dylan and I had kept our relationship low profile so that I could do all those things, so I wouldn’t get sucked into the aristocratic machine, so I could move freely and make choices without fear of how it would look or who would be watching. And it had been great. It did feel freeing, like I’d been slipping into a version of adulthood I’d always been waiting for, figuring out who I wanted to be in the world, taking a deep breath while I thought about the reality of being a duchess. But no matter what I did, I was always happy to go home to Dylan, to find him there, to let him find me there. Nothing had changed in that regard—I wanted to be with him.

I had figured I’d wake up one day and just know, now’s the time. And on that day I’d replace soon with yes. We’d make a big announcement, open the door, I’d officially be Dylan’s fiancée and soon after his wife, with everything that came with it. But that aha moment hadn’t happened yet, and now there was this. This decision, going to New York for six months, would change everything. If I said no to Hannah’s offer and stayed in London, I knew that, in some plates-shifting kind of way, it meant that I was ready to say yes to Dylan, to all of this, to everything he was asking for. But if I said yes to Hannah, to effectively leaving behind everything I’d built in London for a half a year in New York, my long engagement would be longer than I’d ever really wanted it to be.

With each block I passed through, my mind changed, I swayed back and forth. Yes, I’d go to New York for six months. No, I’d stay in London with Dylan. Yes. No. Yes. No. It felt like everything was pitted against one another. London versus New York. My career versus my relationship. My present versus my future.

I was swimming so feverishly in my own mind, my heels clacking on the pavement, my bag swinging against my hip, that didn’t realize I was standing in front of our house.

Our house.

I hadn’t walked to the store. I’d walked home.

As I looked in the window, I could see Dylan in the library on the ground floor. It looked like he was searching for a book, his arm stretched up to one of the higher shelves. He’d been working on a restoration recently and had been researching like a madman. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt that fitted his muscular frame perfectly. His hair was tousled, uneven from running his fingers through it. He looked at the book in his hands and then stared into the room, thinking. I knew that in a moment he would begin absent-mindedly spinning the pencil in his hand, tapping it against his shoulder, deep in thought. I knew, without looking, that his feet would be bare. I knew there was probably a half-consumed cup of tea on a stool by his drafting table. I knew him.

The beauty I saw when I looked through that window made my chest tighten. I was looking into a home that had become mine, ours. I was looking at my future.

About the Author

SwiftROYALAFFAIRParker.JPGParker Swift grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and then grew up again in New York, London, and Minneapolis and currently lives in Connecticut. She has spent most of her adult life examining romantic relationships in an academic lab as a professor of social psychology. Now, she’s exploring the romantic lives of her fictional characters in the pages of her books. When she’s not writing, she spends her time with her bearded nautical husband and being told not to sing along to pop music in the car by her two sons.

Social Media Links

www.twitter.com/the_parkerswift

www.Instagram.com/parker.swift

 

 

Blog Tour : The Chase (The Icon Trilogy #1) by Vanessa Fewings

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The Chase, an all-new sexy first story in the Icon Trilogy from Vanessa Fewings is available now!!!

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The Chase by Vanessa Fewings

Release Date Reveal: Jun 6th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

A rising star in one of London’s top art investigation firms, Zara Leighton’s talent for seeing deep into paintings is in her blood. She’s chosen to help track down Icon, an enigmatic international art thief whose heists are methodical, daring, baffling. To Zara the case is maddening—bordering on an obsession.

She finds distraction in the chiseled form of top-shelf client Tobias Wilder, a magnetic American billionaire who demands her expertise, her discretion—and her secrecy. Wilder doesn’t ask questions. He gives orders. His gaze alone ignites her deepest fantasies. And his touch…

The sudden whirl of exclusive exhibitions and decadent parties that Wilder introduces her to is a potent aphrodisiac. But surrender soon becomes tinged with suspicion. Is Zara’s tryst with Wilder the real thing…or just a convincing forgery?

My Review

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Addictive and thrilling, The Chase is a spectacular blend of mystery, deceit, dark secrets and sultry romance. The plot revolves around a series of thefts of prestigious and priceless paintings in private estates. They are attributed to Icon, an international art thief known for his audacity, attention to detail and inventiveness. So far, he has outwitted the police and Interpol.

Zara Leighton works for an art consultant, authenticating pieces for customers. She has been chosen to help track down Icon. Zara has a knack for identifying fakes, her father was a famous art collector and had instilled in her a rare insight into art. Although she is a newbie with no field experience, she has been hired by Tobias Wilder, a famous business magnate and inventor, to help him with an acquisition.

Tobias is a man who seemingly has it all, he is smart, sophisticated, successful and worth billions. He is also enigmatic, mercurial and private. Zara and Tobias find themselves on a collision course of suspicion, attraction, seduction and deceit. Their story starts out strong and I was hooked into their intense game of cat and mouse. The chemistry between them is enhanced by witty dialogue and highly sensual scenes.

Zara is entirely out of her depth and Tobias wants her to step out of her comfort zone. He admires her ambition and savviness. Zara is a breath of fresh air in his hectic life. I loved the romance between these two characters, expertly interlaced with suspense. They start to forge a connection, but Zara has reason to doubt everything, including Tobias’ motives.

The engaging characters, the elegant and pacy writing, the gripping and well-developed plot, filled with page scorching heat, contribute to making this book a winning read for romantic suspense lovers. It ends on a mild cliffhanger and I can’t wait for the next installment.

Thank you for reading!

An ARC was generously provided by the publisher.

Excerpt

Zara, within the texture lies the truth, he’d told me as he nudged me closer to the canvas. Can you see?

As I’d taken in—or at least tried with the perception of a ten-year-old—the brilliance of that French artist on that cen­tury-aged painting, I’d sensed life would never be the same.

I’d known in the depths of my soul art would always be my one true love.

Tonight, I’d been so fazed about coming here that I’d for­gotten to wear a coat that would have offset the chill of a Lon­don autumn and the cold temperature the gallery was kept at to preserve its treasures within.

Art galleries were quiet places with hushed whispers as re­spectful visitors paid homage to the genius of artists who’d left their indelible mark. Many of these painters had languished in poverty even after giving so much. As a child I’d always wanted to travel back in time to watch them work and tell them their talent had been worth all they’d sacrificed.

My stilettos clicked along the marble uncomfortably loudly as I neared Madame Rose Récamier. She’d hung in my bed­room and watched over me for years.

Stepping closer, my gaze roamed over her, marveling at those pristine strokes giving Rose a stunning realism.

I gave the softest sigh.

The year was 1803 when Jacques Momar had captured a moment in time with this Parisian socialite and, as I trailed my fingers through my auburn locks, I recalled how I’d wanted to be her. Chestnut irises, we had that in common, but her fiery gaze reflected a life of daring—one she’d chosen to live on her terms. Madame Rose Récamier had been known for her love of neoclassical fashion and her controversial interest in politics. She’d stunned Paris with her tenacity. Her reputa­tion to enamor with her smart wit and intelligence had been expressed so beautifully as she reclined on that satin chaise lounge, her head thrown back and her gaze held firmly on the artist Monsieur Momar. In her expression there was love. As time went on I’d realized that look proved an affair had transpired between them. The kind of passion I’d only ever read about.

I saw something I’d never noticed before—uncertainty—the emotion starkly vivid and painfully real.

In his will my father had left Madame Récamier to me. And now I was leaving her here.

“She’s haunting,” Clara whispered, shaking me from my daydream. It was just like her to know I needed a few mo­ments alone with Rose to say goodbye.

It felt comforting having my best friend here.

No matter how many months went by without seeing Clara, it felt like mere minutes had passed between us. She’d always come through for me, and I for her.

Her diamante-crystal, halter-neck dress made her look gor­geous, as always. She had a couple of inches on me and her thick blond curls were a contrast to my long auburn hair. Her high cheekbones were a reflection of the confidence that had helped her succeed as an advertising photographer. Her vo­luptuousness was a contrast to my smaller curvy figure. “Ru­binesque,” she’d called herself, which matched her vibrant personality, and her bright eyes and warm smile were always welcome in my world that always seemed more complicated than hers.

As if sensing I needed it, she came over now to give me a hug. “She’s beautiful.” Clara squeezed me into her side.

“First time I saw her I was wearing my favorite floral dress.” I rested my head on Clara’s shoulder for a moment. “Red shoes. I loved those shoes.”

“Oh, Zara, this was a good decision.”

“Yes. She’s meant to be here.”

She paused for a moment and studied me as though careful with her words. “What about the others?”

The three other paintings we’d saved that night…

Flames rising from our house and licking the air with those monstrous oranges and reds; a hellish glow…

The stench of toxic smoke in my clothes. My hair. My skin. My doll lost to the flames.

Stubbornly, I shook my head not wanting to remember any­thing more about that night. “There was always this sense we were protecting Madame Rose by hiding her away.”

Now it was time to step away.

Let it all go. And move on.

“You okay?” came Clara’s reassurance.

I nodded to let her know I was.

It was behind me now, all that grief of dealing with the complex issues of my father’s estate and those endless meet­ings with softly spoken solicitors where coffee was my only friend. And those journalists who’d begged for a scoop on what plans I had to take the Leighton family legacy into the twenty-first century.

I had no real plans for anything, not really.

Other than settling into my new career. Moving on felt cathartic.

Clara tutted. “Dreadful thing.”

Shaken back into the room, I asked, “What is?”

“No one’s reckless enough to steal from a gallery. Not with all this.” She peered up at one of the discreet cameras.

She was referring to that theft in Chelsea, a portrait by Henry Raeburn had been stolen from a private estate.

“You’re right,” I agreed.

She patted my arm. “You’ll sleep better knowing she’s here.”

“You don’t think it’s connected to what happened in France, do you?”

Rumors had reached the community that some of the wealthiest families in Paris had suffered at the hands of an art thief and that news had set the city’s private dealers and their customers on edge.

“Let’s get some bubbly.” Clara led me back down the hallway. “You have some hobnobbing to do with these art-lov­ing crazies.”

“Thank you for being here.”

“Wouldn’t miss it.”

I forced myself not to look back.

Making our way down the hallway we continued to ad­mire the collection, pausing here and there until I sensed Clara’s restlessness.

“That’s a nice blouse,” she said. “Gold brings out your eyes.”

I tugged on my pencil skirt. “Marks and Spencer.”

“I thought you were going to say some posh designer. You’re getting close to that birthday.”

Which was Clara’s tactful way of saying my inheritance would kick in on the eve of my twenty-third birthday. Pride had turned my thoughts away from it but these rising costs of living in London had me rethinking that. The idea of having to decide what to do with fifteen million pounds made me nervous. That decision wouldn’t come until next year and I still had time to nudge that thought far away.

A wave of guilt settled in my gut that my inheritance came from my father’s will. I spun round to face Clara. “I got the job!”

“What? Why didn’t you call me?”

“I wanted to tell you in person.”

“Oh, darling, that’s wonderful!”

“I’m officially a forensic art specialist at Huntly Pierre.”

I’d landed my dream job at a high-end firm in the middle of The Strand, and I couldn’t wait to start.

“Zara, that’s wonderful.” She leaped forward and hugged me. “I’m so excited.”

Years of studying art and I was finally being let loose.

“They know about your dad’s penchant for collecting price­less art, then?”

“No, I got this on my own merit.” I lowered my brow, hop­ing my family name of Leighton wouldn’t follow me around forever. “Have a knack for detecting forgeries apparently.”

Within the texture lies the truth.

Everything Dad knew he’d taught me; an education like no other. It wasn’t only studying at the Courtauld that had given me the talent for knowing the difference between an Uccello and a Masaccio, but my education had begun when my father had instilled in me his rare insight into art before I could even walk, hoping I’d follow in his footsteps.

“It’s in my blood.”

She winked. “The commission you’ll make when you con­firm a piece is real should be quite something. These things are worth a fortune.”

“You can’t place a value on pieces like this,” I said wist­fully, admiring Constant Troyon’s oil on canvas A Clump of Trees, with its soothing layers of greens and yellows. “For the first time I feel like I’m putting my knowledge to good use.”

“You know what else needs to be in your blood? Booze. More specifically, champagne.” We laughed too loudly as we neared the lift.

Standing back a little, I watched Clara hit the down but­ton and the silver doors slid open. Peering inside that gaping chasm of metal, I felt my haunting phobia of lifts returning, the light inside flickered to taunt me, and my feet refused to move forward as that familiar fear swept over me.

Terror spiked my veins. “Let’s take the stairs.”

She raised her left foot to show off her heels. “I’ll break my neck.”

“You sure?”

“Zara.” She sounded baffled.

“Meet you down there.”

“This is why you have great legs,” her voice echoed after me. “You’re always taking the stairs.”

Her laughter followed me down the stairwell.

I peeled off each shoe and in stockinged feet burst through the fire escape door. I descended fast, round and round, count­ing the floors as I went.

Breathing in the chilled air, I rekindled the feeling that what I’d done tonight was one of my better decisions. Clara was right. The security was great and the responsibility of pro­tecting all of Dad’s other pieces would soon be lifted as they made their way here.

It made me happy to think of other people getting to enjoy them too, and my feet flew down with a bounce in my step.

With a shove on the security rail I pushed open the heavy fire door and went on through into the dimly lit hallway.

Realizing I’d gone too far I turned to go back. The door was locked from this side.

Ouch.

As if right on cue my garter belt snapped off my thigh-high stocking and I hurried onward to find somewhere pri­vate to fix it.

My feet carried me away from the lift and along the hall­way. At the end was a door stamped with a sign: Staff Only.

I went on in and saw the long mirror right in front of me. I neared it and gave myself a reassuring smile. I looked pretty tonight and was actually a little less geeky than usual, having switched out my cardigan and flat heels for my favorite gold silk blouse and black skirt and even my hair was miraculously behaving. After putting my shoes down, I eased up my hem and attempted to reattach my stocking top.

Fiddly thing.

My fingers slipped so I hiked my skirt higher to better work the intricate reclipping. With that accomplished, I straight­ened my eggshell-blue high rise panties.

And then I spotted a movement across the room—

I yanked my skirt down, my mouth forming words of apology but failing to say them. I bent over to scoop up my shoes and rushed toward the door, my hand reaching round to neaten my skirt.

Oh no, my hem still exposed my bum.

Cheeks reddening further as I grappled with the unrea­sonable material and sucked up my embarrassment so I could throw a wave of apology to the stranger.

My gaze fixed on the living, breathing sculpture.

Making it to the door, I tried to force my stare away from the strikingly beautiful specimen of a man who was looking at me with a mixture of surprise and delight.

Finally exhaling, I was riveted by his sun-kissed torso with its finely chiseled abs, his black trousers low and revealing a hint of a V. An intricate tattoo on his left upper arm that vaguely reminded me of a Polynesian design, with its swirls in black ink and an image in the center.

My heartbeat quickened as I searched my memory for where I knew him from. I was awestruck by this breathtaking Adonis, who was reaching for a white shirt hanging on the back of a chair. He was tall and devastatingly handsome in a rugged kind of way. Thirty, maybe? Those short, dark golden locks framing a gorgeous face, his three-day stubble marking him with a tenacious edge and that thin wry smile exuding a fierce confidence. His green irises were a startling contrast to his lightly tanned complexion; his intense, steady glare stayed on mine as he calmly pulled his arm through a sleeve and cov­ered that tattoo before I could make out more.

A gasp caught in my throat as it came to me that we’d never actually met, probably because this was Tobias Wil­liam Wilder, a billionaire. He moved in the kind of refined circles one would expect from a business magnate and inven­tor who owned TechRule, one of the largest software com­panies in the world.

And I’d given this playboy mogul his very own peep show.

He’d popped up on my radar a year ago when I’d read an article on him in Cosmo, featuring his Los Angeles–based art gallery, The Wilder. It was an acclaimed museum that was one of the most prestigious in the world and it was also right up there on my wish list to visit.

Wilder was even more dazzling in person.

I’d imagined one day I might bump into him with the art world being relatively small, but never had I imagined a sce­nario as racy as this.

Why the hell hadn’t I worn my sexy panties?

“I’m looking for the stairs,” I managed.

“That way.” His refined American accent felt like another blow to my reason.

That alpha-maleness made him look like he’d just returned from a dangerous adventure in the Himalayas or even the jungles of Peru—

Where he’d spent his days hunting in the wilderness, or naked while fishing in a fast-running stream, and then mak­ing a campfire at night with those elegant hands, and then saving his friends from beasties that attacked our campsite.

His smile reached his eyes. A blush burned my cheeks.

He arched an eyebrow, amused.

Was he mocking me?

“I was looking for a signal.” I broke my gaze to hide my lie. “For my phone. You know, WiFi.”

“Try the foyer. It’s a security issue.”

“I know that.” Which made no damn sense.

It was impossible to think straight because someone had made the executive decision to suck out all the oxygen from the room, or so it felt.

With a tug of his shirt he hid that other tattoo to the right of his lower abdomen, a Latin inscription leading to his groin immortalized in italic black ink.

“Excuse the—” he gestured to his state of undress “—I’m running late.”

This kind of manly perfection obviously knew just how beautiful he was, the way he blinked at me casually, the way he firmly weaved that bow tie around his collar without using a mirror and making quick work of forming that silk into a neat knot, and all the while his eyes not leaving mine.

Until I dragged my gaze from his to look around the room. On a table close by to him rested a black motorcycle helmet with its tinted visor down. Leather gloves beside it.

He moved with a sophisticated elegance that had me doubt­ing I’d caught his body inked so seductively. A waft of expen­sive musky cologne reached me with its sensuous allure and did something crazy to my body. Trembling slightly, I shifted my gait and leaned further back against the door, spellbound.

Nature might have bestowed this man with the ability to leave a trail of heartbreak in his sexy-arse wake but it had also provided me with the ability to detect danger.

“You might want to put some clothes on,” I said firmly.

“Well, now I’m dressed.”

Yes, he was, and this was a changing room, apparently, and I’d not exactly represented a pillar of virtue.

“Well that’s good.” I swallowed my pride. “Please keep it that way.”

His gaze lowered to my feet.

And I remembered my strappy stilettos were flirtatiously dangling from my left hand, those spiked heels hinting at a sexy side I wished I had.

Intrigue marred his face, and then his expression softened again as his jade gaze returned to hold mine and he broke into a heart-stopping smile.

The seductive dazzling kind that threatened to melt my panties. I left in a rush—

Shaken with just how this man had affected me merely with a smile, my heart racing, I reconsidered risking the lift to take me as far away from him as possible. Embarrassment scorched my cheeks and made me glad I’d not worn a coat.

Taking a second, I leaned against the wall and stared back.

That alluring inked-up vision had taken my mind off the reason I was here. I felt an inexplicable need to run back in and continue to bathe in the aura of the most enigmatic man I’d ever met.

SBPR-VF-TC-AN

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About the Author:

Vanessa Fewings is the USA Today bestselling author of the ENTHRALL SESSIONS.

THE CHASE is the first in her sizzling new romantic trilogy from HQN Books and will be released in June 2017, followed by THE GAME & THE PRIZE.

Vanessa is also the author of The Stone Masters Vampire Series. Prior to publishing, Vanessa worked as a registered nurse and midwife. She holds a Masters Degree in Psychology. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and has lived in Germany, Hong Kong, and Cyprus.

Born and raised in England, Vanessa now proudly calls herself an American and resides in California with her husband.

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Blog Tour : From Duke Till Dawn (The London Underground #1) by Eva Leigh

A seductive new series that sizzles with 
the dark secrets of
London’s underworld…

 

FROM DUKE TILL DAWN
The London Underground #1
Eva Leigh
Releasing May 30, 2017
Avon Books

 

Eva Leigh launches a seductive new series that sizzles with the dark secrets of London’s underworld…

Years ago, the Duke of Greyland gave his heart—and a princely sum of money—to a charming, destitute widow with unparalleled beauty. But after one passionate night, she slipped from his bed and vanished without a trace. And just when he’s given up hope of ever seeing her again, Greyland finds her managing a gaming hell. He’s desperate to have her… until he discovers everything about his long-lost lover was a lie.

In truth, Cassandra Blake grew up on the streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a mark—to be fleeced and forgotten—but her feelings for the duke became all too real. Once he learns of her deception, however, the heat in his eyes turns to ice. When her business partner absconds with the gaming hell proceeds—leaving unsavory investors out for blood—Cassandra must beg the man she betrayed for help.

Greyland wants compensation, too, and he’ll assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid. But it’s not long before the real Cassandra—the smart, streetwise criminal—is stealing his heart all over again.

 

tastytoursreview
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars
This book was my first read by author Eva Leigh and it was a definite win, from the character development to the compelling, attention-grabbing storyline, set in Georgian England. Eva Leigh has woven a story in a way that is at the same time utterly romantic and simmering with tension, longing and raw emotion. I enjoyed her fluid writing style and the heartwarming, addictive and angsty story kept me hooked until the very last page.

The hero, Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland, seems to be in complete control of himself, and yet the author shows how tortured he is underneath. Alex is a man of duty, fully aware of his role as one of the most powerful men in England. Love is a foreign concept to him, he grew up in a family where affection was in short supply. He even feels unworthy of love, and was proved right when the one person he thought cared for him had deceived and swindled him.

Cassandra Blake never had the luxury of choosing a decent path in life, she is a former street urchin, trained to pick pockets and swindle men. Although her swindling activities are caused by her steadfast desire to survive by any means, she wishes she had never selected Alex as a mark. He pursues her with single-minded purpose, intent on seeking retribution. She is not indifferent to his agony, but she is defiant and never asks for forgiveness, despite her regrets. Cassandra is a strong but flawed heroine. She is at a crossroads in her life and wants to make a fresh start. She longs for a life free of deceit and is hurt by the mistrust between her and Alex.

Alex and Eva are well-developed characters, that evoked real emotions and had palpable chemistry. A wonderful and heartbreaking story unfolds as they both fight their demons and slowly build a relationship based on love, affection and trust. I appreciated the fast-paced and suspenseful back- story. Some plot twists were somewhat contrived, though and Alex’s actions appeared reckless and out of character at times. But these are minor quibbles, really, and overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautiful story of true love and forgiveness. I recommend it to all historical romance lovers.

Thank you for reading!
An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

57541-tastytoursexcerpt

London, England

1817

A woman laughed, and Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland felt the sound like a gunshot to his chest.

It was a very pleasant laugh, low and musical rather than shrill and forced, yet it sounded like The Lost Queen’s laugh. Alex could not resist the urge to glance over his shoulder as he left the Eagle chophouse. He’d fancifully taken to calling her The Lost Queen, though she was most assuredly a mortal woman. Had she somehow appeared on a busy London street at dusk? The last time he’d seen her had been two years ago, in the spa town of Cheltenham, in his bed, asleep and naked.

The owner of the laugh turned out to be a completely different woman—brunette rather than blonde, petite and round rather than lithe and willowy. She caught Alex staring and raised her eyebrows. He bowed gravely in response, then continued toward the curb.

Night came on in indigo waves, but the shops spilled golden light in radiant patches onto the street.

The hardworking citizens of London continued to toil as the upper echelons began their evening revelries. Crowds thronged the sidewalk, while wagons, carriages, and people on horseback crammed the streets. A handful of pedestrians recognized Alex and politely curtsied or tipped their hats, murmuring, “Good evening, Your Grace.” Though he was in no mood for politeness, responsibility and virtue were his constant companions—had been his whole life—and so rather than snapping, “Go to the devil, damn you!” he merely nodded in greeting.

He’d done his duty. He’d been seen in public, rather than disappearing into the cavernous chambers of his Mayfair mansion, where he could lick his wounds in peace.

The trouble with being a duke was that he always had to do his duty. “You are the pinnacle of British Society,” his father had often said to him. “The world looks to you for guidance. So you must lead by example. Be their True North.”

This evening, before dining, Alex had taken a very conspicuous turn up and down Bond Street, making certain that he was seen by many consequential—and loose-lipped— figures in the ton. Word would soon spread that the Duke of Greyland was not holed up, sulking in seclusion. His honor as one of Society’s bulwarks would not be felled by something as insignificant as his failed marriage suit to Lady Emmeline Birks. The Dukes of Greyland had stood strong against Roundheads, Jacobites, and countless other threats against Britain. One girl barely out of the schoolroom could hardly damage Alex’s ducal armor.

But that armor had been dented by The Lost Queen. Far deeper than he would have expected.

Standing on the curb, he signaled for his carriage, which pulled out of the mews. He tugged on his spotless gloves as he waited and adjusted the brim of his black beaver hat to make certain it sat properly on his head. “Always maintain a faultless appearance,” his father had reminded him again and again. “The slightest bit of disorder in your dress can lead to rampant speculation about the stability of your affairs. This, we cannot tolerate. The nation demands nothing less than perfection.”

Alex’s father had been dead for ten years, but that didn’t keep the serious, sober man’s voice from his mind. It was part of him now—his role as one of the most powerful men in England and the responsibilities that role carried with it. Not once did he ever let frivolities distract him from his duties.

Except for one time . . .

Forcing the thought from his mind, Alex looked impatiently for his carriage. Just as the vehicle pulled up, however, two men appeared and grabbed his arms on each side.

Alex stiffened—he did not care for being touched without giving someone express permission to do so. People on the street also did not normally seize each other. Was it a robbery? A kidnapping attempt? His hands curled instinctively into fists, ready to give his accosters a beating.

“What’s this?” one of the younger men exclaimed with mock horror. “Have I grabbed hold of a thundercloud?”

“Don’t know about you,” the other man said drily, “but I seem to have attached myself to an enormous bar of iron. How else to explain its inflexibility?” He tried to shake Alex, to little avail. When he wanted to be, Alex was absolutely immovable.

Alex’s fingers loosened. He tugged his arms free and growled, “That’s enough, you donkeys.”

Thomas Powell, the Earl of Langdon and heir to the Duke of Northfield, grinned, a flash of white in his slightly unshaven face. “Come now, Greyland,” he chided. A hint of an Irish accent made his voice musical, evidence of Langdon’s early years spent in his mother’s native County Kerry. “Is that any way to speak to your oldest and dearest friends?”

“I’ll let you know when they get here.” Alex scowled at Langdon, then at Christopher Ellingsworth, who only smirked in response.

Alex took a step toward his carriage, but Ellingsworth deftly moved to block his path, displaying the speed and skill that had served him well when he’d fought on the Peninsula.

“Where are you running off to with such indecorous haste?” Ellingsworth pressed. He held up a finger. “Ah, never tell me. You’re running back to the shelter of your Mayfair cave, to growl and brood like some big black bear in a cravat.”

            “You know nothing,” Alex returned, despite the fact that Ellingsworth had outlined his exact plans for the rest of the night.

            Ellingsworth looked at Langdon with exaggerated pity. “Poor chap. The young Lady Emmeline has utterly shattered his heart.”

            Alex shouldered past Ellingsworth, only to have Langdon move to stand in his way.

            “My heart is not shattered because of Lady Emmeline,” Alex snapped. At least that much was the truth.

            “But why shouldn’t your heart be strewn in pieces throughout Regent’s Park?” Langdon mused. “You courted the young lady for several months, and you told Ellingsworth and I that you’d already received her father’s grateful acceptance of a marriage offer.”

            “She never agreed to anything,” Alex said flatly.

            “A modest girl, that Lady Emmeline.” Ellingsworth nodded with approval. “She wouldn’t have said yes right away. They never do. Nothing to be alarmed by.”

            “How would you know?” Alex’s voice was edged. Ellingsworth had little experience with offering for ladies’ hands, committed as he was to a life of reckless pleasure.

            Langdon added, “It’d be unseemly for an earl’s daughter to eagerly snap up a marriage proposal the moment it was offered.”

            Alex scowled. Despite the fact that, at thirty-eight, he was sixteen years her senior, they would suit well as a wedded couple. Lady Emmeline had been perfectly trained in the responsibilities of an aristocratic wife. Though he wished she stated her own opinion rather than constantly agreeing with him, there were worse faults one could find in a prospective bride.

            They could marry at Christmas, eight months from now. It would be a small but elegant wedding, followed by a lavish breakfast and a wedding journey in the Lake District. And then, if everything went well, in less than a year, Alex and Lady Emmeline might welcome their first child—hopefully a boy so the line would be secure. It would’ve been precisely the sort of match Alex’s

father would have approved, considering Lady Emmeline’s faultless background and her spotless reputation.

            “Look at him now, mooning away,” Langdon sighed, smugly thwarting Alex’s attempts to step around him. “He looks poorly.”

            It would be bad form to knock his friend to the ground. Damn the social niceties that dictated a man couldn’t punch another without repercussions.

            “Perhaps he should be bled,” Ellingsworth suggested with his habitual smirk. It was his constant companion since returning from the War, as if he refused to take anything seriously.

            “I am perfectly well.” Alex looked back and forth between these two rogues whom he called friends. “No need to call for a quack.”

            “He’s already had an amputation,” Langdon noted, raising a brow as he always did. “One prospective bride—gone.” He made a sawing motion at his ankle, as if cutting the shackles of matrimony.

Alex glanced down at his own lower leg, as if he could see the invisible links that might have bound him to Lady Emmeline. He’d come so close to becoming a married man and sharing the rest of his life with one woman—the faultless duke his father had bred him to be. It hardly mattered that Alex felt nothing for the gel other than a sense of distant respect. She would have made a fine duchess.

“We were at White’s yesterday when we heard about what happened,” Langdon said with disapproval. “Didn’t even tell your two closest friends that Lady Emmeline had run off with a cavalry officer. No, we had to hear it from Lord Ruthven, of all people.”

Eva Leigh is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ’80s. Eva and her husband live in Southern California.


 

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Review : Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

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Published May 30th 2017 by Swerve, 480 pages
Grab your copy today!

Blurb

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet.

My Review

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars

In her endearing style, Helena Hunting has delivered a cast of quirky characters and a fun and light plot in a feel good romance that I didn’t want to end. This book had me smiling, giggling and sighing! The heroine, Ruby, comes from money but she refuses to be a rich man’s arm candy. She wants to prove to herself and to her father that she can survive on her own, even if she is a struggling artist. Her father wants her to fail and threatens to cut her off. He has stopped paying the rent of her flat and she will be homeless soon.

To make matters worse, she is kissed by a germ infested stranger, who passes flu on to her. Her ensuing audition to perform in an Off-Broadway show is a disaster. Because of Bancroft, aka Bane, Mills, she is jobless in addition to being homeless. Bane and Ruby move in the same circles, they both come from old money. Bane has made a name for himself in professional rugby but an injury has ended his career. He has decided the time was right to immerse himself in his family’s hotel business. But that means travelling extensively, and he needs someone to house sit and take care of his pets, Francesca and Tiny, during his absence. They are the most unlikely animal companions, especially Tiny, but they bring a lot of sweetness to the story! I’m not saying more!

Bane needs a house and pet sitter and Ruby needs a place to stay. A perfect match! Bane is an endearing character, he is sweet and considerate. He finds Ruby refreshing, she isn’t a pampered and manicured socialite. Their long-distance phone flirting was delightful, they slowly forge an emotional connection. As a famous rugby player, Bane was always on the road and he wants to finally put down some roots. Ruby is independent and a future of kept woman is not what she wants out of life. Her career choice is not approved in her social sphere, but Bane always has her back. She is not immune to his charms, despite her best efforts!

Shacking Up is a charming, fun and feel good story, celebrating determination, friendship and love. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this irresistible romantic comedy and recommend it as a perfect summer read.

Thanks for visiting and happy reading!

An advanced copy of this book was generously provided to me by the publisher, via Netgalley.