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Courting the Countess AND Courting the Country Miss by Donna Hatch

Today, we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of one review, I am giving you two, and the opportunity to join a giveaway!

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Courting the Countess

by Donna Hatch

Edition: PDF, 2016

Synopsis: When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love. 

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to the wedding, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

When Elizabeth falls for the charms of a known rake, she never expects her father will insist that she marry the man’s brother when her reputation is ruined. Richards hope to marry his childhood friend, Leticia, are dashed when he must consent to marry Elizabeth else his brother fight a duel. Will disappointment and broken hearts keep this pair from finding love?

From the start, I definitely sympathized with Elizabeth. She endured a great deal of abuse from her “mother”, so it made sense she would fall for someone who pays attention to her. The one point that did bore me was how long Elizabeth maintained her “love” for Tristan, making her marriage difficult from the start.

Richard was the perfect counterpoint to Elizabeth. He has his own trust issues, and communication with his new wife is difficult. In time, everything works out and we get the happily ever after we’ve come to expect from Donna Hatch.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to any regency fans who love a clean, sweet read.

AND NOW FOR THE SEQUEL!

 

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35495389   Cynical and broken-hearted, Leticia banishes dreams of marriage. When her childhood friend, Tristan, wagers he can find her the perfect husband, she hopes the challenge will coax him to forgo his devil-may-care lifestyle. Meanwhile, Leticia throws herself into forming her charity school but meets opposition—even from the people she’s helping.

Guilt-ridden that his past mistakes robbed Leticia of true love, Tristan vows to set it right, but match-making has its pitfalls for a repentant scoundrel. When he finds two ‘perfect’ gentlemen to court her, he discovers his own deep feelings for the lady.

Though Tristan seems to reform, Leticia doesn’t dare risk heartbreak with a notorious rake. When opposition for the school takes a deadly turn, can Tristan protect her from a madman bent on destroying their dreams and their lives?

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Come check out her other books and see what’s new!
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And she has even more books we have not featured! Be sure to check them out on her website!

Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Connect with the Author here: 

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review

Leticia expected to marry Richard, a serious, perfect gentleman. Seeing him happily married to someone else breaks her heart, but she carries on. Tristan, feeling guilty for his part in shattering his childhood friend’s hopes for the future, sets out to find her a husband. Can past feelings be overcome when new feelings begin to bloom?

Having first met Leticia in book one, I wasn’t overly impressed with her character. She improves somewhat in this book, however I can’t say that she is a favorite. She spends a great deal of time mourning the future she lost with Richard. To take her mind off her loss, she throws herself into helping organize a school, which brings her into danger. Is her determination to go on bravery or ignorance?

Tristan was not as enjoyable as his brother. There are frequent mentions of his “connection” he made with Elizabeth in the first book, but I never really saw it. His desire to change was done believably, though.

As far as Regency romances, this is enjoyable enough, though not an immediate favorite of mine. Still, fans of Donna Hatch will definitely enjoy it.

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Giveaway

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An Author’s Random Musing: To Write or Not To Write

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One thing I’ve seen a lot of lately, is the advice to write even when you don’t feel like it. There is some truth to the benefits this brings, I will admit. Some days I just need to make myself sit down and start writing before the creativity decides to kick in.

That being said, there are times when I cannot follow this advice.

Three years ago, I began working on a Regency Mystery trilogy.  I was so excited about the story these three books was going to tell. However, without going into details, I can tell you that I was going through a rough patch. I wrote most of my first draft when there was so much happening and I was angry at life in general.

The result?

A heroine who was so bitter and angry, it felt toxic just reading about her. It took nearly a year to rewrite and rework that particular story before my main character became someone readers would sympathize with instead of hate.

Other authors may not be like me, but my life does affect my writing. My feelings and frustrations come to life in my characters. The emotions are never write if I have to force the words out. When my heart isn’t in the story, I end up having more to fix than if I just take my time.

And that’s where I am right now. Even though it has been several months since I worked with editors on Not My Idea, I’m still exhausted emotionally and creatively. Even though my plots are bright in my mind, when I try to force them onto the paper, they are lifeless and bland.

So, I give myself permission not to write. Because there is a lot going on my life and my attention needs to be somewhere else, I am setting my writing aside. If my heart is really in the story, it won’t be more than a day or two before I begin writing again, slowly and at my own pace. Maybe it will only be a couple hundred words, maybe more.

It’s my words. My story. And I’m going to write it when and how I want.

Watch the Wall, My Darling by Joan Aiken Hodge

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by Joan Aiken Hodge

Edition: ebook, ARC

Synopsis: Only a deathbed promise to her dying father could force Christina Tretton to travel to Tretteign Grange, the ‘Dark House’, and meet her estranged family for the first time. Having to fast-talk her way out of an encounter with smugglers on the way is only the beginning. Waiting for her is flighty aunt Verity, her two very different cousins ? the stoic Ross and fawning Richard ? and her formidable grandfather, who changes his Will every few days.
Taking the neglectful servants in hand, Christina is soon managing the house, proving herself invaluable in her grandfather’s eyes. This backfires when he decides he wants her as his heir, and only on the condition that she marries Ross or Richard. Outraged, she swears she will marry neither, but her cousins have different ideas. Should she marry the cousin she is drawn to, even if he appears to have no true feelings for her?
Hanging over them is the constant threat of invasion, as Dark House looks over the sea to France, and Napoleon. When cousin Ross disappears, it is up to Christina to stand in his stead and take on the running of the estate – amongst some of his more disreputable duties. For as soldiers work to fortify the coast, Christina finds herself in the twisted intrigues of smugglers and spies.

American Christina Tretton arrives at her father’s family home, intent on keeping the promise she made to her now dead parent. She is thrust into the middle of the secrets of “The Dark House”. Can she navigate the danger without forfeiting her life in the process?

Christina was an interesting enough character. It almost seemed as though being American -practical, forthright, opinionated- was her entire character. She made no effort to understand the traditions of her family. It was all ‘I am American and I am going to do things my way.” Her acceptance of everything that came her way was a little unbelievable.

Those who filled “The Dark house” were appropriate for a Gothic style tale. Annoying, suspicious, and integral to the plot in turns, no one really stood out at all. Not even the hero of the tale.

The plot was a bit confusing from the start and it took some effort to continue reading.

Overall, I’m not sorry to have read a Gothic Regency, but I’m not so sure I will be in a hurry to reread it or anything like it again. For those who enjoy a story with a dark atmosphere and too many twists and turns to keep track of, this may be a book for you.

I received an copy through NetGalley for reviewing purposes.

 

 

Montana Dawn

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Montana Dawn

by Caroline Fiffe

Edition: ebook, 2011

Synopsis: Luke McCutcheon found Faith Brown unprotected and about to give birth, crouched in the corner of her dilapidated wagon. Though his family’s cattle drive was no place for a widow and a newborn, neither was the open trail. Honor demanded he bring them along.

Delivering her child was only Luke’s first kind act. Honest and wholesome, handsome and strong, the cowboy seemed a knight from some long-ago tale. Faith could tell they longed for the same things. But, fleeing the past, trust was a luxury she could little afford. It lay at the end of the road like a warm hearth and home, like a loving family, like a bright Montana Dawn.

Luke McCutcheon finds a young woman in labor while in charge of his family’s cattle drive. Though he knows she’s lying, his heart is caught by her determination and kindness, and he takes Faith home to his family until he can learn the truth.

I really like the family dynamic that is portrayed in this book. I will admit that though this is the first book of the series, at times it felt as though I’d jumped right into the middle of the series. The characters were good and although I understand WHY Faith is hesitant to tell the truth, I wanted to shake her for taking so long.

Overall, this is a good clean read for a lazy afternoon.

The Indigo Girl

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The Indigo Girl

by Natasha Boyd

Edition: ARC ebook, 2017

Synopsis: An incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family’s three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.

Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it’s the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it’s impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return — against the laws of the day — she will teach the slaves to read.

So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Based on historical documents, including Eliza’s letters, this is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.

An intelligent young woman is left in charge of her father’s plantations in South Carolina while her father pursues his military pursuits. As her ambitions grow, she must fight the disapproval from her own family and her own family.

What I especially loved about this novel is how it is based on reality. Eliza did refuse to conform to society. She did learn to produce indigo dye, when everyone save for a few people, said she wouldn’t be able to. I love the references to her letters that are the basis for the narrative.

The fictional characters add dimension to Eliza’s story and how they interact with each other. The story does have an an abrupt ending, but beyond that it has an enjoyable flow. The author does an excellent job of creating the atmosphere of the time.

For any reader who enjoys novels based on history, this is a must read.

I received a free copy from NetGalley for review purposes.

Dukes, Duels, and Daring: A Russian Regency Romance

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Dukes, Duels, and Daring

by Victoria Wright

Edition: ebook, 2017

Synopsis: Run Away to Russia…
Isabelle
Betrothed to a duke well above her station, the young lady Isabelle Fontaine had only one duty to fulfill: marry the man! It should have been an easy task, for Henri, Duke de Gramont, was also strong, handsome, and professed to be in love with her. What more could the provincial daughter of a lowly baron hope for in a husband?

But that was before everything went wrong…

Sebastian
After participating in one duel too many, Prince Sebastian Konstantinovich Lvov was sent to Paris to cool his heels and perhaps learn a thing or two about civilized culture. He never would have imagined that he’d return to Russia with a bride. To begin with, he was already engaged.

That hardly seems to matter when it comes to Isabelle. At first he couldn’t stop himself from tormenting the girl, but when her very life is endangered, he does what any self-respecting nobleman would: propose, and challenge her ex-fiancé to a duel. It seemed a reasonable response at the time.

Now if only he could explain that to his family––or the vengeful Grand Princess he was supposed to marry.

Engaged to be wed to a duke, Isabelle is certain her future is set. A troublesome Russian prince,a cousin of her betrothed, lands her, albeit unintentionally, in hot water and then everything changes.

As this is the first Russian Regency novel I’ve ever seen, I was immediately intrigued. And that really is the story’s strongest point. The details about Russian culture are fascinating, and though I don’t know much about Russia, I got the feeling that the author does. That definitely comes across in the writing.

As to the characters themselves, I didn’t like them at first. The whole “I like you so that’s why tease you and are mean to you” trope irritates me, and so Prince Sebastian comes across as a bully when we first meet him. Isabelle herself seems a little modern for the era and her own attitude towards the prince seemed uncalled for. The other characters are introduced to us so fast it was difficult to keep track of them.

Given that I read an ARC, there were some misspellings and punctuation errors that were enough to jar me out of the story. Hopefully these were addressed before the book’s release. There were multiple instances of modern words (i.e OK, which is an Americanism with its origin coming about in 1840). Isabelle is also referred to as Lady Fontaine on occasion, when she ought to have been The Honorable Isabelle Fontaine. I’m also not fond of novels that are left with nothing really resolved.

There is something about this book, though, that had my interest, and I think it does come down to where it is set.

I received a free copy from the author for reviewing purposes.

An Untimely Frost (Lilly Long #1)

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An Untimely Frost

by Penny Richards

Edition: paperback, 2016

Synopsis: In 1881 Chicago, the idea of a female detective is virtually unheard of. But when famed crime buster Allan Pinkerton opens his agency’s doors to a handful of women, one intrepid actress with her own troubled past is driven to defy convention and take on a new and dangerous role. . .

Since the age of eleven, when her mother was murdered, the life of the theater is all Lilly Long has known. Now twenty-two, she has blossomed into an accomplished Shakespearean actress. But after her innocence–and her savings–are taken from her by a seductive scoundrel, Lilly vows to leave the stage, enter the real world, and save others from a similar fate. Following in the footsteps of the country’s first female detective, Lilly persuades Allan Pinkerton to take her on.

Lilly’s acting skills are a perfect fit for her real-life role as a Pinkerton operative. But her first case is a baptism by fire as she is sent to the small town of Vandalia to solve the mystery of a pastor who disappeared with his family–and the church’s funds. When Lilly arrives, she finds the mere mention of the reverend’s name provokes enmity or suspicious silence. Shadowed by a second Pinkerton agent with an agenda of his own, Lilly begins to uncover Vandalia’s sordid secrets. But she’ll have to deliver the performance of a lifetime to survive the final act of this drama.

In the wake of discovering the duplicity of her new husband, Lilly Long decides she can use her life to help other women who are victims of unscrupulous men. She is hired, after some hesitation, by Allan Pinkerton and is off on her first assignment as an operative. Can this young, former actress handle the danger and mystery?

I wold say “poor Lilly” but this is not a character to pity. Despite the horrible things that have happened in her life, she keeps going and wants to help other women. She is clever, but emotional. Her reactions to the things she discovers are true to life and made me like her even more.

The mystery itself was well executed and kept me guessing. The reader is led along at just the right pace and the facts discovered in just the right way.

In short, this is a fantastic addition to historical fiction and I cannot wait to follow Lilly into more mysteries.