Release Blitz : The Secret by Christie Ridgway

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A single dad…a marriage of convenience…and a secret!
The Secret by Christie Ridgway is NOW LIVE!

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Being butler to a widower and single father is a dream job in more ways than one for Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson. She helps keep businessman Ethan Archer’s household running without a hitch and enjoys every minute she has with his six-year-old son, Wells. But as time passes, the situation feels alarmingly intimate and when her heart starts beating faster each time Ethan steps through the door, Charlie must exert rigid control over her feelings.

With her secret, falling in love would be all kinds of bad…

Ethan Archer values the woman who keeps his life in order and cares so much for his motherless boy. He and Charlie act in harmony with each other and it’s not hard to picture them as a little family…in fact, it’s so easy, one reckless night he proposes a marriage of convenience.

What will he do if Charlie says yes? And worse, what if she tells him no?

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

Who doesn’t love a single dad romance? This book was my first read by Christie Ridgway and I really enjoyed it. Charlotte, Charlie, Emerson is the efficient and capable butler to wealthy widower and single dad Ethan Archer, and the nanny of his six-going-on-seven son Wells. She is sweet, kind and cares deeply for the little boy. Wells is a sweetheart and the hardest part of Charlie’s job is not to lose her heart to him or his father. Ethan is the epitome of hot single dad, but he is also a grieving widower with austere good looks. He is convinced that his son needs a woman’s presence in his life.

Ethan has tried to keep his interactions with Charlie impersonal, but he is lonely and can’t deny his attraction to her. He is contemplating a proposal, a marriage between them would be a practical, sensible arrangement.

Charlie doesn’t see herself marrying for romantic reasons. She would settle for an arrangement giving them a level of companionship or partnership.

There was no unnecessary drama and the pace of the story was perfect. This book was heartfelt, charming and emotional. Charlie’s secret was so sweet but was also a huge revelation that potentially threatened Charlie and Ethan’s relationship. I loved the romantic aspect of the story and I enjoyed the dynamic between these two endearing characters, they were honest and genuine. I’ll definitely check out more from C. Ridgway.

An advanced copy of this book was provided by the author.

 

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About the Author:

Christie Ridgway is a California native and author of over forty-five contemporary romances. A six-time RITA finalist and USA Today bestselling author, she writes sexy, emotional reads starring determined heroines and the men who can’t help but love them. She has a Career Achievement award from RT Book Reviews and twice has received their Reviewer’s Choice award for best contemporary romance of the year. Married to her college sweetheart, Christie lives in Southern California in a house filled with boys and pets. She writes as an escape from sports equipment, football on TV, and dog hair.

Author Links:

Review Tour : The Contract Series by Melanie Moreland

Today my blog is part of the feature blog tour for THE CONTRACT series by Melanie Moreland! You can grab The Contract now, and the recent novella in the series, The Baby Clause 2.0. Buy links, and teasers, for each title are below.

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The Contract by Melanie Moreland

Available Now!

Blurb:

A tyrant by day, a playboy by night. That is the reputation that precedes Richard VanRyan. He lives life the way he wants, no concern for the opinion of others. He cares for no one, is completely unrepentant, and he has no desire to change his ways.

Katharine Elliott works under Richard as his PA. She despises him and his questionable ethics, but endures all the garbage he sends her way, because she needs the job. Her end goal is far more important than the daily abuse and demands she tolerates from her nasty tyrant of a boss.

Until the day, he asks her for something she never expected. A new role with a personal contract — fiancée instead of PA.

What happens when two people who loathe each other, have to live together and act as though they are madly in love?

Sparks.

That’s what happens.

Can the power of love really change a person?

Will they survive the contract?

What do you do when the one person you hate the most becomes the one person you can’t live without?

My Review

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars

I loved this sweet tale of redemption, based on a favorite trope of mine : enemies to lovers. Richard VanRyan is the definition of the horrible boss, cruel and uncaring, with a reputation of playboy after working hours to boot. Katherine Elliott is his long- suffering PA. She hates working for him, he makes her life hell, but she needs the money and has no other choice

Katherine is a wonderful heroine. Smart, loving and strong, she is also blunt and a tough cookie who definitely has a backbone.

Richard is driven and used to be in control. He is desperate, though. He was passed up for partner and wants a new professional start. He is convinced Katherine is the best person to help him convince his prospective boss that he has the required profile of family man. He wants to hire her Katherine as his fiancée. She accepts because she needs the money to pay for her foster mother’s care.

Richard and Katherine intend to make a success of their fake engagement, they try to get to know each other in record time! Their collective efforts to improve the image of their couple were laugh-out-loud funny! They are virtual strangers, Richard is very private and never speaks on a personal level about himself. Building mutual trust is not easy, but bantering comes naturally to them and they begin to enjoy their discussions. Richard is attracted to Katherine and enjoys her cutting sense of humor. We see them become allies, finding comfort in each other’s company.

As it happens, Katherine and Richard were a match made in heaven. I loved their casual banter, their warm and cozy interactions. The marriage for show might become a reality. But Richard is complex and broken, and has great difficulty letting his guard down. He is vulnerable and capable of feeling deeply, even if he tries to hide it. There was so much sexual tension between them, but also so much tenderness.

Katherine and Richard’s journey was as emotional as it was fun and sexy. The Contract was a fantastic read from start to finish, with genuine and engaging characters. I loved every minute of it!

I received a copy of this book from the author and Inkslinger PR.

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Melanie Moreland – Bio:

New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Melanie Moreland, lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her beloved husband of twenty-seven-plus years and their rescue cat Amber. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.

While seriously addicted to coffee, and highly challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties, and also enjoys travelling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.

Melanie delights in a good romance story with some bumps along the way, but is a true believer in happily ever after. When her head isn’t buried in a book, it is bent over a keyboard, furiously typing away as her characters dictate their creative storylines to her, often with a large glass of wine keeping her company.

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Blog Tour : Bad Deeds (Dirty Money #3) by Lisa Renee Jones

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Bad Deeds: A Dirty Money Novel by Lisa Renee Jones
Release Date: August 8th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Would you bleed for the one you love?

To save his family empire from the grip of the drug cartel, Shane is pushed to the edge of darkness, forced to make choices he might never make. His father is dying. His brother is desperate to rule the empire and this means war and all gloves are off. His brother only thought he knew what dirty meant. Shane is about to give it new meaning. There is another war brewing though, and that one, is inside him, his battle between right and wrong, light and dark, and in the heat of the night, it is Emily he turns to for escape. Driving her to new limits, pushing her to accept a part of him that even he cannot.

In every one of Shane’s seductive demands, Emily can taste and feel, his torment, his struggle to save his family and not lose himself. But he is losing himself, and that is a problem just as dangerous as her secret, that still lurk in the shadows, a threat to the Brandon Family waiting to erupt. No matter where she and Shane have traveled, or will travel in the future, she can’t just sit back and watch him become everything he hates, everything he never wanted to become, everything she tried to save him from when she tried to run. It could be their undoing, the end. His end.

This is war, blood will spill, and someone in the heart of the Brandon family will not survive….

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

Bad Deeds picks up where Damage Control left off. The character development was strong in this book, we see gradual changes in some key characters as the story unfolds and the multiple point of views provide some insight into their personality.  This installment is full of intense drama, intrigue, secrets, white lies and suspicions.

Shane’s feelings about his dysfunctional family are conflictual. The Brandon family has become a group of enemies observing one another. Everything his father does seems to have an endgame and he enjoys his mind games, not bothering about the consequences for his sons. His mother’s agenda is still unclear, even though she seems up to some kind of trouble. The strong rivalry between Shane and his older brother Derek is still ongoing. This character is slowly becoming a central element of the story. He is insecure and his jealous resentment against for his golden-boy brother runs deep. In this installment, we get a better understanding of his motivation and he is portrayed in a more positive light.

There is danger everywhere for Emily and Shane is desperate to protect her as best he can. He walked away from his successful career of attorney to save his family’s name. He has a vision for his family company and illegal activities are not part of it, even though he is manipulated into doing business with a drug cartel via a partnership. But Shane is shrewd and fully able to level the playing field.

Shane and Emily are perfect for each other, not only do sparks fly between them, but they are able to open up to one another and to realize that they can trust each other. The dynamics between them played out nicely in this book.

The writing style of Ms. Jones was utterly addictive and fast paced. This time around, I found that there were a few useless repetitions, though. Much like its predecessors, this third installment in the series ends with a cliffhanger. I’m still hooked!

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

Excerpt

“What is in your head right now?”

His eyes heat, darken. “You. Always.” He inches back and looks at me. “You’re mine. Mine to protect.” His voice is low, fierce, and he grips my panties and yanks them away. “Mine to fuck.”

I gasp and grab his shoulders. “Shane.”

His answer is to wrap his arm around my waist, pull me close, his cheek against mine, his fingers pressing into the V of my body. “Wet, just the way I like you,” he says, pressing two fingers inside me. “Wet for me. And too fucking perfect for my sanity sometimes.”

“That doesn’t sound like a compliment,” I pant out, grabbing the lapel to his suit as a sweet ache begins to build in my sex as his thumb strokes my clit.

“And no one else,” he murmurs, nipping my earlobe, “will ever touch you like this.” His fingers caress deeper inside me. “No one,” he adds, “will ever make you say their name like I want you to say mine right now. Say it.”

“Shane,” I whisper, and not because he wants me to, but rather because it’s there on my lips, the way I wish his tongue was on my lips now. “Shane, I—”

Seeming to know what I need, he cups my head and kisses me, long, slow, sensual strokes of his tongue that somehow make every touch of his fingers more intense.

“Come for me,” he murmurs, and this time when he kisses me, I start climbing that wall to release, and I’m there at the top in an instant. I stiffen while his fingers and tongue tease, please, and then I jerk, I’m over it, tumbling in an instant into shudders and shakes. Shane’s lips lift from mine as he breathes with me. His fingers slow as he eases me through the waves until I collapse against his chest.

He tangles his fingers in my hair and drags my mouth back to his. “And no one but me will ever make you come like that again,” he declares, the waves of his emotions beating down any embarrassment I might feel over having had an orgasm on his father’s desk.

“No one has ever made me feel what you make me feel, Shane.”

Bad Deeds Available

Order Your Copy Today!

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Start the Series Today!

99 CENT SALE – Hard Rules (Dirty Money book 1)

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2jVTwDR

Nook: http://bit.ly/HardRulesBN

iBooks: http://bit.ly/HardRulesiBooks

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Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/LZQ7OQ

$1.99 SALE – Damage Control (Dirty Money book 2)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jmL93O

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iBooks: http://bit.ly/DamageControliBooks

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Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/Cmv8pT

And Lisa has a chance for readers to read the first TWO CHAPTERS of book 4, END GAME, early PLUS the first chapter of SETH’S story (Poison Kisses) as well!

More info: https://us.macmillan.com/smp/promo/endgamepreordergiveaway

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series. Suzanne Todd (producer of Alice in Wonderland) on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with.

In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, Lisa has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is also the author of the bestselling DIRTY MONEY and WHITE LIES series. Presently, Lisa is working on her Murder Girl/Lilah Love series to be published by Montlake.

Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at www.lisareneejones.com and she is active on Twitter and Facebook daily.

Lisa Renee Jones

Connect with the Author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLisaReneeJones/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kWFra1

Twitter: @LisaReneeJones

Stay in touch with Lisa by joining her mailing list:

http://lisareneejones.com/newsletter-sign-up/

Website: http://lisareneejones.com

Review : Damage Control (Dirty Money #2) by Lisa Renee Jones

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Published February 21st 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

Damage Control picks up where Hard Rules left off. Shane confronts Emily with her lies. She isn’t the person she told him she was. Emily may have hidden her identity, Shane’s suspicion angers her. She is in trouble and she doesn’t want to expose him to danger by association. She is on the run and is targeted by a powerful international hacker organization. She can’t afford to get attention.

Even though she wants him to let her go, they have a bond that can’t be denied. Shane wants to finally get to know the true Emily, but doesn’t believe that she is his enemy. He is not worried by her secrets, but he can’t accept that she doesn’t trust him with her true identity and motivation. He never loses, and he won’t accept to lose her. Shane is in deep, he can’t stay away from Emily, and she doesn’t want him to.

Emily wants to be Shane’s partner, she is no damsel in distress. Shane has many enemies and is surrounded by people of double standards and opportunists. He could definitely use Emily’s help to find ways to clean up Brandon Enterprises. There is a strong rivalry between him and his older brother, to the point that they have become enemies in a battle to gain control of their family conglomerate. Shane intends to take the lead of the company, clean up the dark and dirty side of its business activities and put an end to his family’s connections with cartels.

Mystery, duplicity, white lies and scorching hot romance all come into play with this brilliant series by Lisa Renee Jones. But beware of the cliffhanger! The writing style of Ms. Jones is utterly addictive. I never can get enough of her fast-paced, riveting stories. I can’t wait for the next installment in this intriguing story, “Bad Deeds”.

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author LISA RENEE JONES is the author of the highly acclaimed Inside Out Series, and has now in development for a cable television show, to be produced by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland). In addition, both her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today lists. Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books that have been translated around the world. Booklist says, “Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.”

Review Tour : For 100 Reasons (100 Series #3) by Lara Adrian

New York Times Bestselling Author Lara Adrian’s FOR 100 REASONS, the conclusion to the sexy, suspenseful 100 series is releasing today and we couldn’t be more excited to share this title with you.

Love takes no prisoners…

Billionaire Dominic Baine stepped into Avery Ross’s life when it was at its lowest. Obsessed with the beautiful, struggling artist, Nick was determined to have her. What began as a scorching seduction soon burned out of control, exploding into a white-hot passion neither of them could deny.

Yet Nick and Avery are two damaged people, both haunted by dark secrets with the power to destroy them. And for Nick, the ugly past that shaped him cannot compare to the unforgivable deception that drives Avery from his arms, from his life. Now the man accustomed to having everything he desires must find a way to redeem himself to the only woman he has ever loved.

Avery Ross has known heartbreak. She has known betrayal and loss, but nothing like the pain that loving Dominic Baine has brought into her life. Reeling from the aftermath of his devastating revelation, instead of allowing despair to break her, she builds herself into something stronger—the fearless woman and artist Nick’s passion has taught her to be. Yet her heart is in pieces, and despite everything she has, the one thing she needs is the man whose possessive desires and consuming love holds the power to either save them both or shatter her forever…

GET YOUR COPY TODAY!

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My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

Lara Adrian was a new-to-me-author when I started reading the 100 series. I really enjoyed this trilogy that had passion, mystery, darkness and damaged, complex characters. Granted, the premise was nothing new, but the storyline kept me engaged. For 100 Reasons is the conclusion to Nick and Avery’s story.

Avery left Nick and he knows he is to blame for it. He manipulated and deceived her. He wanted to do right by her and set her free, removing himself completely from her life.  He never explained why he chose to deceive Avery instead of going for honesty, though. Honesty meant revealing things about himself, being vulnerable and getting raw. He was obviously not ready to open up to Avery.

For one year, Avery has done her best to forget him, but to no avail. She is now an up-and-coming star in the New York art world. But in private, she is heartbroken, bitter and confused. When they are finally reunited, Avery can’t deny him a second chance, he wants to start over with a clean slate, no secrets and no powerplay. Nick is still a puzzle to her, though, a mysterious shadow mogul and the man she still loves.  In this book, Avery and Nick are working towards total honesty, but establishing trust takes time, despite their intense connection. It takes courage to confront the ghosts of the past.

Lara Adrian did a great job of tying up all loose ends in this final book. She delivered a very satisfying ending to a seductive, steamy and addictive trilogy. This story of growing beyond your past and allowing yourself to be loved was intense and well written, with beautiful and sweet moments between two endearing characters.

ARC generously provided to me by the author and Inkslinger PR

See where it all started with FOR 100 DAYS and FOR 100 NIGHTS

FOR 100 DAYS

Pleasure has a price…

Struggling artist Avery Ross is barely scraping by. Bartending at a trendy New York City restaurant for an overbearing boss and two weeks away from losing her apartment to a condo developer, she’s desperate for a break. So when she’s offered a temporary housesitting job, she takes it.

Living at one of the poshest addresses in Manhattan is like entering a new world—one that catapults her into the orbit of billionaire Dominic Baine, the darkly handsome, arrogantly alpha resident of the building’s penthouse. What begins as a powerful attraction soon explodes into a white-hot passion neither can deny.

Yet as scorching as they need for each other is, Avery doesn’t expect Nick’s interest in her to last. Nor does she dare to dream that the desire she feels for this scarred, emotionally remote man could deepen into something real. For Avery has secrets of her own—and a past that could destroy her…and shatter everything she and Nick share.

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FOR 100 NIGHTS

Passion knows no bounds…

Avery Ross is living a dream. After struggling all of her life to make ends meet, a change encounter with a powerful, darkly handsome man has catapulted her into a dazzling new world of penthouse luxury, elegant parties, and a wild, consuming passion with her billionaire love, Dominic Baine. Nothing is out of his reach in business or in pleasure, yet the only woman he wants is her. Nick sweeps her to sensual heights she has never dared explore, commanding her body the same way he commands her heat. Yet Avery knows the fantasy she’s living cannot last.

With dark secrets and a dangerous enemy haunting her past, Avery must find a way to trust Nick with the truth before it destroys everything they share. But Nick is harboring secrets of his own as well. And when they come to light, Avery will be forced to decide if the love she feels for Nick is strong enough to endure a betrayal she may never be able to forgive.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LARA ADRIAN is a New York Times and #1 international bestselling author with nearly 4 million books in print and digital worldwide and translations licensed in more than 20 countries. Her upcoming release is FOR 100 REASONS, the third book in a contemporary romance series that reviewers are calling “phenomenal” and “one of the hottest series of the year.” Learn more about the author and her books at LaraAdrian.com.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / GOODREADS / INSTAGRAM

Release Day Blitz : The Playboy Prince and the Nanny (Royal Duology #1) by Donna Alward

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Summary:

Prince Diego Navarro is the “spare” to his brother’s “heir”. While Raoul performs his crown prince duties with the appropriate sense of nobility and poise, Diego’s garnered a bit of a reputation as a playboy – despite the good he does behind the scenes with his favorite charities.

But when tragedy strikes and his sister-in-law is killed in a car accident, Diego knows it’s time for the playboy to step up. If not for his brother, then for his niece and nephew, who now find themselves without a mother.

Which is where Rose Walters comes in.

Rose isn’t intimidated by money or glitz. The veteran nanny has worked for the rich and minimally famous, but a manor house is no comparison to a castle… or the handsome princes who live there. However, the worst thing she could possibly do is fall for the gorgeous playboy with a surprising heart of gold. He’s a prince; she’s the help. He lives in the tabloids; she loves her privacy. But when her two darling charges start to play matchmaker, Diego and Rose don’t stand a chance.

The Playboy Prince and the Nanny is the first book in Donna Alward’s royal duology.

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Buy Links:

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Kindle

Kobo

eBooks.com

iBooks

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

This modern day fairy tale with a twist was a sweet and fun read that held my interest from start to finish! I love Donna Alward’s stories, they are full of heart, with characters to love and great settings. She pulls us into the world of royals with this new series, and I really enjoyed it. The storyline was easy, but cute. The hero, Prince Diego of Marazur, has a reputation as a playboy and has been making gossip headlines for years. His carefree life is tainted by tragedy when his nephew and niece lose both their mother and nanny in a car accident. In these difficult circumstances, Diego wants to show that he is not the shallow person the media has made him out to be. He values the idea of family and wants to be a part of the childrens’ life.

Rose Walters is the crown prince childrens’ new nanny. She is kind, compassionate, sweet, dedicated and yet she is feeling a bit intimidated by the royal lifestyle. Her connection with Diego is instant, they understand each other. He is full of surprises and lonely, she questions his playboy reputation and is convinced that there is more to him than meets the eye. They both want to give the children affection and stability. A relationship between them seems impossible, she doesn’t want to be his little secret on the side. We see her struggle with the emotional conflict between her attraction to Diego and her fear of gossip. But Diego knows what he wants and he is convinced they can make their relationship work.

Filled with warmth and romance, this book was a delight to read! The characters are well-developed and engaging, they are the strength of this story and their interactions felt real. The Playboy Prince and the Nanny was an excellent start to a new series and I can’t wait for the next book, The Crown Prince’s Bride!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The noise and hubbub in the West Sussex pub was so deafening that Diego nearly missed the silent flash of the Breaking News banner across the TV behind the bar.

But he saw it out of the corner of his eye. Frowned. Turned his head away for a moment, then felt a queer lift in his gut, like something was very, very wrong.

“Diego. Hey, Diego.” His pal Ryan elbowed him in the arm. “Shite. You’d better look at this, mate.”

He turned back to the screen and the lift in his stomach dropped to his feet.

The headline scrolled along the bottom of the screen. White words against a blue background, innocuous compared to the aerial view of the scene. He didn’t need to read the banner to recognize the mangled car, one of the black limousines his father insisted they ride in when home in Marazur. If there was any doubt, it was banished by an up-close shot of a small red and yellow flag with the green coat of arms hanging limply from the front corner of the crushed vehicle.

“Diego.” Ryan’s voice was gentler now, his hand resting on Diego’s arm rather than elbowing him roughly. “It’s not your da. Or your brother.”

Diego dragged his gaze to the flash along the bottom of the screen. No, it wasn’t his father or his brother. There was no need for Diego to worry about them, or who was next in line for the throne. But tears stung his eyes as he read the names: Cecilia Navarro. Mariana Cortez.

His sister-in-law, and the nanny to his niece and nephew.

His phone buzzed. It had been doing that all night and he’d chosen to ignore it, wanting to avoid another argument with his father and spend the evening kicking back with his friends to celebrate the start of the UK polo season. Now he felt unbearably guilty as he pulled his mobile out of his pocket and looked at the screen.

Lucy, or rather, Princess Luciana. His half-sister, who he knew was visiting Marazur right now on one of her biannual trips. He took a deep breath, then hit the talk button. “Give me two seconds to go outside where it’s quiet,” he said loudly.

Leaving the gruesome news report behind, he pushed himself away from the bar and weaved his way through people until he reached the door. Outside, the English spring evening was gentle and mild. He closed his eyes and let out a breath.

“How bad is it, Luce?”

“Bad.” In that one word he could tell she’d been crying. Oh God . . .

“Ceci?”

“Gone, Diego.” Her voice caught on a sob. “Mariana too.”

For once the news had it right. His sister-in-law and Mariana—the nanny to his niece and nephew. His heart stuttered. He’d hoped there’d been a mistake. The paparazzi couldn’t be trusted with the truth, as he well knew. What a time for them to be right.

“The children?” he asked as he said a silent prayer that they hadn’t been in the car. He couldn’t think about Max and Emilia too much; he kept them at the edge of his mind and heart right now. The thought of losing them was terrifying and he steeled himself against the emotion.

“Bruised. Scared. But alive.”

He let out his breath, felt a sob escape, and gulped it back. He couldn’t lose his grip.

“We tried calling you for the last hour,” she said. “Your brother . . .”

His brother would be a wreck and expectedly so. His wife had just died. Perhaps a lot of royal marriages weren’t based on love, but Raoul’s had been. He’d doted on Ceci and the kids. Mariana, too, had been like part of the family. Hell, she’d been with the palace since . . .

Since Diego and Raoul had lost their own mother nearly twenty-five years ago. Mariana had raised them. She treated Raoul and Ceci’s children like grandkids. Grief struck him, sharp and sure, a painful ache around his heart. Mariana had been family.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, pressing the fingers of his left hand to his temple. Those were two words he said often when it came to his family. Now, though, he really meant them. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I know you will,” she said gently. Of the whole family, Lucy was the one who was easiest on him, who understood him best. Maybe because she hadn’t been raised in Marazur. It afforded her a clarity that others didn’t have. “I’m so glad I’m here right now. Papa . . .” Her voice broke again.

“Is Brody there with you?” Lucy and her family made their home in Canada, on Brody’s ranch, but visited often. Right now Diego found himself beyond thankful that she was there now to help his father and brother navigate the next few days. Papa would know what to do . . . he’d been here before.

A man shouldn’t have to face this kind of tragedy more than once in a lifetime.

“Brody’s here. He’s looking after Alex now so I can be there for Raoul and Papa.”

Lucy would be keeping everyone cared for and fed and nurtured, because that’s what she did. Diego rested his shoulders against the brick wall of the pub and sighed. Raoul, the crown prince, the responsible ruler-to-be, fair and just. Lucy, the mothering figure who cared for the family’s simpler but no less important needs. And then there was Diego. Where did he fit? In the stables. At parties. In fast cars.

In other countries. With firm admonishment to not be an embarrassment to the family.

“Diego?”

“I’m here. I’m going to go, though, Lucy. I need to make travel plans. I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“What should I tell Papa and Raoul?”

“Nothing. I mean, just tell them you were able to reach me. I’ll look after the rest.”

There was a pause and Diego wondered if his sister was making that terrible disapproving face he hated or if she was simply emotional.

“I love you, Diego. Please fly safe.”

Emotional, thank God. He wasn’t sure he could take criticism right now. He nodded even though she couldn’t see him. “I will. I promise. See you soon.”

“E-mail your plans and I’ll have a car waiting for you.”

“You worry about yourself, and not me,” he ordered. “Love you.”

He hit the button on the phone, ending the call, and when he looked up he saw Ryan standing by the back door of the pub, watching him sadly.

“It’s bad, eh?” he asked, his brown eyes wide and too knowing.

“Cecilia,” Diego admitted. “And the nanny. The kids though . . .” Emotion swamped him and he drew in a shaky breath. “Thank God the kids are okay.”

Ryan came forward and clamped a hand on Diego’s shoulder. “Looks like you have to go back to your castle then, doesn’t it?”

Diego smiled grimly. “I can’t stay away forever. And they need me. Of course I’m going back.” It had nothing to do with duty and everything to do with family. Of course, many believed that Diego didn’t value the idea of family as much as he should.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

He looked over at Ryan. The two of them had been best friends since he’d gone to Cambridge for his postgrad and joined the polo club. Diego, in a moment of hubris, had made an offhand remark about an Irishman playing polo, and the next thing he knew he’d been dusting the dirt off his perfectly creased trousers. Then Ryan O’Toole had held out his hand, pulled Diego to his feet, and said, “Come on, Your Highness. Let’s go get a pint.”

It had been many years since then, but the offer had been made several times, particularly when Diego needed it most. Tonight, though, it wouldn’t help.

“Anything I can do for you?” Ryan asked.

Diego smiled grimly. “The blonde at the bar. Go buy her a drink. I’m going to duck out early.”

Ryan nodded with a crooked smile. “Call if you need anything.”

“I will.”

Ryan went back inside, while Diego lifted his phone again and scrolled through until he found the number of his assistant. Not that he gave her much work when he was away from home, but tonight everyone on the staff would be up and alert.

And Diego would be going home.

 

One Month Later

Rosalie tried to focus on the words on the page, but they were all a blur. With a sigh, she closed the book and rested her hands on the cover, then turned to look out the airplane window. She wasn’t usually nervous before meeting a new family, or the children she’d be caring for. This was different, though. When the agency had called about her new placement, she hadn’t expected the job to be for the Royal Family of Marazur. She’d worked for minor nobility and rich families, traveling with them when the occasion warranted, but she’d never been to Marazur and she’d definitely never worked for a prince.

She knew of the island principality, of course. And she’d even had an encounter with the younger of the princes once, though he wouldn’t remember. Diego, she recalled, and shook her head. It wasn’t Diego she was going to work for. It was Raoul. She had been hired as a nanny to the crown prince’s children. The heirs.

“Ms. Walters? Make sure your seatbelt is on. We’re going to begin our approach soon. Can I get you anything before we land?”

Rosalie looked up at the sharply dressed attendant. Raoul hadn’t sent a royal jet or anything, but he had chartered a private flight. It was beyond anything Rose had ever experienced. “No, thank you,” she said with a smile. “I’m fine.”

“Very well. We should be on the ground shortly.”

Rose sat back in the comfortable leather and looked out over the Mediterranean. It had been nearly a month since televisions, newspapers, and magazines had been abuzz with the death of Princess Cecilia. They’d shown pictures of the funeral at the cathedral in the capital, a week after the accident. It had nearly broken her heart to see the crown prince, looking harrowed and drawn, holding the hand of his daughter while his son rested on his arm. King Alexander had looked tired, and Prince Diego had been uncharacteristically solemn as he sat with Princess Luciana and her family.

Once the funeral ended, though, so did the news story, and very little was heard of the family, left to heal their wounds in relative private. The media had moved on, but Rose knew the royal family were people like anyone else. Children who, when it came down to it, had lost their mother. All the wealth and privilege in the world couldn’t make up for that, and Rose knew she had her work cut out for her.

The plane landed smoothly at the relatively small airport. When she unbuckled her seatbelt, the flight attendant was at her side once more to collect her carry-on. Rose only had to grab her purse before she exited the plane, holding on to the railing as she descended the stairs to the tarmac.

“Miss Walters?”

A liveried man waited at the bottom of the stairs, and touched his hat as he greeted her. “I’m Marco. I’ll see you through customs and on to the palace.”

Good heavens. This was a tad surreal, wasn’t it?

She smiled politely at him. “That would be lovely, thank you, Marco.” The warm, moist air was perfumed with the scent of salt and flora that she knew must be present but couldn’t be seen here in the secure, paved area of the airport. The aroma clung to the warm rays of sun that were somehow far more penetrating than any in England.

It reminded her of the school trip she’d taken when she was twelve. It had been four days in Rome and she’d loved every colorful, rich, vibrant moment of it. It had been a long time since she’d visited the Mediterranean, and she was more than ready to leave the damp and fog of England for time in the sun.

She was here to work, but couldn’t escape the thought that this was also a bit of a fairy tale, really. Her assignments through the agency had been posh indeed, but nothing on this scale.

“Miss? If you’re ready.”

Marco had both of her cases and waited for her to make her way through the doors. To her continued surprise, she was escorted through customs without any wait or trouble, and in mere minutes found herself ensconced in the back of a limousine.

My word.

She was starting to get nervous now, and twisted her fingers together. Drew them apart again and wiped them on her black trousers, then regretted that too. She had to keep calm, cool, professional. This was her job. It wouldn’t do to be flustered and nervous.

The airport was on the outskirts of the city, and she peered out the window at the narrow streets and charming houses stacked on the hillside. Oh, on one of her days off she’d have to come down here and discover all the nooks and crannies. Have coffee or a glass of wine at a little cantina along a cobbled street. She was still thinking about it when the car began to climb and wind its way out of the urban area and along some of the most beautiful landscape she had ever seen.

Marco slowed and stopped at a huge set of gates, which swung open at their arrival. They crept at a sedate pace along a paved lane flanked with what looked like some sort of oak. Then she caught sight of it. The castle—home of King Alexander of Marazur. Turrets rose up, pinky-beige against the blue of the sky and the green of the manicured grounds. A hedge formed a kind of maze in the U-shaped drive, carefully trimmed and pruned. It was smaller than some of the manor houses she’d visited in England, but there was a grandeur to it just the same. And a hominess that she hadn’t expected. Perhaps it was due to the color of the stone, warmer and more welcoming than the cold, gray-white granite she was used to.

She ran through names in her head, desperate to make sure she adhered to the proper forms of address. King Alexander—clearly Your Highness. And how often would she see him anyway? Hardly ever. She’d be with the other household staff. She’d have to communicate with Raoul, she supposed. She would be required to curtsy. He was the crown prince and would be addressed as “Your Highness” as well. If the press was to be believed, Diego wouldn’t be home much and was unlikely to be around. The Sun had just posted pictures of him somewhere in South America.

After Marco pulled to a stop, Rosalie’s door was opened by another liveried staff. “Good afternoon, Miss Walters. Welcome to Marazur.”

She pasted on a smile and let out what she hoped was a centering breath. “Thank you.”

“His Highness is looking forward to meeting you at four o’clock in the blue salon.” Perhaps he’d noticed her shaky exhale, because the man dropped his stiff formality for a moment and smiled. “Don’t worry, Miss.” He held out his hand and gallantly helped her out of the car. “The prince is really very nice. And we’re all so glad you’re here.”

Before she could ask what exactly that meant, he dropped her hand and moved to collect her bags. She looked around, marveling at the calm beauty of the grounds. It was like a beautiful oasis, more lush than the surrounding countryside, with shrubs, graceful trees, and gardens of rioting blossoms. She gawked around her as they made their way down a neat path leading to the far side of the castle. And when the man opened the door to the north wing, Rose was relatively sure she’d just arrived in Paradise.

  Copyright © 2017 by Donna Alward and reprinted by permission of Swerve.

About the Author :

marti-corn-photography-donna-alward-h-r-1600

 

A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody’s Baby, and Someone to Love.

 

Social Links:

Twitter, @DonnaAlward

Author Website

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GoodReads

Launch Day Blitz : An Earl by Any Other Name (Sins and Scandals #1) by Lauren Smith

1AnEarlByAnyOtherNameV3

AN EARL BY ANY OTHER NAME by Lauren Smith (August 1, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $1.99; Sins and Scandals series Book 1)

An earl in the streets, a rogue in the sheets . . .

Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, was never a man to let propriety stand in the way of his pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is his only desire in life—until his father’s death saddles him with debts that threaten to bankrupt the entire family. Now the only thing that stands between him and utter ruin is marriage to a proper, and preferably wealthy, young lady.

Ivy Leighton is no sweet English rose. Perhaps it’s her gypsy roots, but she would rather make a spectacle of her independent spirit than sit quietly on the sidelines. If that means that the only place she’ll ever have in society is firmly on the shelf, then so be it. But when Ivy runs into the handsome, rakish Leo who’s looking for a respectable, well-bred wife, she can’t stop thinking about the troubles they can get into. Now she just has to convince him that a life with her is really what he needs.

An Earl By Any Other Name

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My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

This novella is the first in Lauren Smith’s new Sins and Scandals series that definitely looks promising. It had everything I love in a historical romance: an engaging story, witty dialogue, emotion, an endearing heroine, and a sexy rake hero reformed by love.

Leo Graham, Lord Hampton, is in a pickle. His family’s reputation is tainted by a scandal and he needs to find funds to protect his legacy and family home. A marriage of convenience seems to be the only  option to solve his financial problems. He’ll marry a wealthy, prim and proper heiress, and use her fortune to sustain his family estate. His rakish days are over and he intends to keep out of trouble to restore his family’s name.

But his mother has other ideas. She is convinced that Ivy Leighton is the wife he needs. Leo and Ivy are childhood friends, but it has been more than a decade since they have last seen each other.  Life happened and they were separated. Ivy also happens to be a suffragette and has no intention to marry. She doesn’t recognize her mischievous friend, he is rigid and not open to equal rights ideas.

I enjoyed the witty dialogue and fun interactions between these two characters. They had such a spark whenever they were together. Their banter was natural, their teasing was amusing. Ivy has a quick temper, she is independent and educated. You can’t help cheer for this couple. I loved how they were able to reconnect and find a perfect balance despite their differences. I recommend this novella and I’m totally looking forward to the next books in this series!

Thanks for visiting and happy reading!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Excerpt

Without so much as another word, he bent his head. When their mouths were an inch apart, he captured her gaze, and something wild and hot passed between them as he slanted his mouth over hers. All worries and fears were destroyed in the wake of pleasure and fire.

Heat and light burned through at that single kiss, like tender sparks shooting through the night over a healthy fire. A little moan escaped her as he teased her mouth open with his tongue. One of his hands grasped her hip, holding her firm between him and the tree as he pressed against her. The heady aroma of autumn leaves, leather, and sandalwood sent her senses spinning.

With gentle kisses and a wicked tongue, he taught her all the ways she’d longed to kiss. It was the sort of kiss the upstairs maids whispered about, the kind that made a woman lose her head…and her heart.

This is a terrible idea. I should stop him…but…The will to break the kiss faded like morning mist. Once upon a time, there had been nothing more she had wanted in her life, a kiss from her sunny-haired prince. But she’d changed; she’d grown up and a man’s kiss shouldn’t have been so potent that it cast a spell over her. Yet, Leo’s kiss was exactly that, a spell that bound her to him in a way she feared would break her heart.

He nipped her lips, and she felt his mouth curve into a smile against hers before he finally drew back. His eyes were dark with passion, and his breathing was rough and warm against her face. Their bodies were so close, the intimacy making her feel like there was nothing outside of them in that moment.

“Why do I have the feeling you are going to be trouble, Miss Leighton?” Leo chuckled, suddenly drawing a fingertip down her nose and tapping it lightly, the way he had so often all those years ago.

“Trouble?” she echoed faintly. Still shaken by her first kiss and the shivery warmth spreading through her limbs, she dared not move for fear of falling. Love was dangerous; love ruined a woman’s dreams. And Leo was the one man who could tempt her into falling in love.

“Oh yes. Just when I have everything planned, you come along and remind me of why I used to be so wicked.” He bent, feathered one last kiss to her lips before he took her arm in his and escorted her back to the house.

Ivy did not look at him. She felt changed. Their secret moment had awakened her and melted whatever defenses she’d thought she’d built against his charm. How was she ever going to think clearly when all she wanted to do was relive that kiss? The carefully crafted battlements around her heart quivered, trembled, the walls crumbling.

Oh dear…

AnEarlByAnyOtherName

About the Author

LAUREN SMITH, winner of the 2014 Historical International Digital Award, attended Oklahoma State University, where she earned a B.A. in both history and political science. Drawn to paintings and museums, Lauren is obsessed with antiques and satisfies her fascination with history by writing and exploring exotic, ancient lands. She is currently an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of An Earl by Any Other Namehttp://bit.ly/2t56MZl