"Just Sayin" Thank You For All The Books

When I began my book blogging journey 7 years ago.  I had no idea that the title of my blog would become a truth by which I live my life.
But as I sit here now.
Trying to choose between thousands of titles.
The question that my blog's moniker poses is one that is more relevant now than ever.
And it is for that freedom of choice that I say thank you.
To publishers, publicists, authors, book friends, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, libraries.
Thank you.
To every person who has ever followed me, liked a review, left a comment, or encouraged me in any way.
Thank you.
To Edelweiss and NetGalley
Thank you.
To and for book lovers the world over thank you.
To every book I've ever read.
To all the titles I have yet to touch.
Thank You!

Pure Texuality And Avon Books Present: THE ILLEGITIMATE DUKE

The Illegitimate Duke by Sophie Barnes
Series Diamonds in the Rough
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date August 28, 2018
Amazon https://amzn.to/2uEdpUD
Avon Romance  https://goo.gl/vvZStr
Barnes & Noble  https://goo.gl/7HQCyg

Juliette Matthews longs to be much more than just another pretty ornament in society. But using her recently acquired fortune to do some good is more complicated than she anticipated. Young ladies are not expected to risk their safety in helping the less fortunate. And the one gentleman who could help in her mission is stubborn, infernally handsome—and far too honorable to act on their mutual attraction.

And in a desire impossible to deny…

Florian Lowell has suddenly been made heir to the Duke of Redding—a far cry from his status as a dedicated physician. Yet even with his new role as the country's most eligible bachelor, the beautiful, fearless Juliette is utterly beyond his reach. The scandalous circumstances of his birth would destroy both their reputations if they became known. But when a more urgent danger threatens Juliette's life, Florian must gamble everything…including the heart only one woman can tame.

“—I mean, to think we could be so lucky is almost too much,” one of the women on the other side of the screen was saying. “Our debuts looked positively dismal with no chance to snatch up a duke.”

“Until now, that is,” the other woman said in a dreamy voice that made Juliette roll her eyes. She glanced at Vivien and had to force down a laugh.

“Can you believe our good fortune?” the first woman said.

“Well, he’s not a duke yet. Is he?”

Juliette straightened and tilted her head. They were obviously talking about Florian Lowell, the physician Raphe had sent for when she’d been sick with the measles the previous year. News of his recent change in status had been the subject of great discussion at Huntley House the previous evening when Raphe had returned home with the announcement.

Juliette still wasn’t sure she understood how the title or the inheritance had come about, but it did look as though Florian would one day outrank his older brother, Mr. Lowell, who was set to become Viscount Armswell one day.

“Either way, I could easily get used to the idea of marrying Florian,” one of the women was saying. “He’s ever so handsome.”

Both women burst into giggles. Muted whispers followed and then the sound of the door opening and closing plunged the room into silence. Juliette looked at Vivien and grinned. “Well, I wish them luck. In truth I don’t believe I’ve ever met a man more unapproachable than Florian.”
“He does look rather starched,” Vivien muttered. She stood and adjusted her gown. “Mind you, I’ve only seen him once or twice, so I could be wrong.”
“No. I don’t believe you are. In fact, my impression of him is not much different. He’s an excellent physician who seems to take his work very seriously. One cannot fault him for that, though I do wonder what it might be like to see him smile.”
“Do you now?” Vivien asked with a smirk as the two returned to the hallway and started making their way back toward the ballroom.
Juliette nudged her friend with her shoulder. “Oh, you know what I mean, Viv!”
“All I know is that you wondering what it might be like to see him smile will likely pester you until you find a way to make it happen.” They entered the ballroom. “Of all the people I have ever known, none are as determined as you when you set your mind to something.”
“Well I—” A wave of chatter cut Juliette’s thought process short. She glanced around, aware of the agitation rolling through the ballroom like tremors threatening to toss all the guests up into the air. “What on earth is going on?”
“Look,” someone said as Juliette pushed her way between a few people, pulling Vivien along by her hand.
“There he is,” another voice muttered.
Shouldering her way past a cluster of women who craned their heads and stared toward the ballroom entrance, Juliette caught a sudden and very unexpected glimpse of the man she and Vivien had just been discussing.
Her breath caught and her heart slammed hard against her chest. Because there he was and dear God if he didn’t look superb! Dressed in evening black, his copper streaked hair was neatly combed, though a single stray lock slashed roguishly across his brow. She’d never seen him like this before. The last time they’d met at a ball he’d been wearing an unremarkable suit

My Thoughts
Florian and Juliette make quite the winning pair in this third book of the Diamonds In The Rough series.
Juliette is as determined to make her newfound wealth and status help her make a difference in the world.
As Florian is to avoid his at all costs.

This third story of the working class turned aristocracy.  Is perfection in almost every way.  The character interaction and spirited rapport between Florian and Juliette is splendid.  Florian's struggle to resolve his life's work with the demands of his new social status.
And let's not mention the rather hard-won romance found here.
Can you say "mmm...mmm... good?"

There is however, one detraction from this most stellar read.
And unfortunately for this read.  It concerns a major element in the story.  Florian's parentage.
The reason.
Though it is true that such information coming to light could hurt Florian socially.
Both his status as a Duke and a doctor is enough to render any ill done quite the moot point.
So, aside from a rather unnecessary bit of drama that it manages to provide.  The whole mental and physical "goose chase" that all involved are subjected to as a result.  Is in truth, quite distracting.

Not to worry though.
The story is quickly put to rights when duty calls.  And Florian and must spring into action as the doctor that he is to save all that he holds dear from an even greater foe than scandal.
The scourge of Typhus.

This is a beautifully written and masterfully crafted tale of a couple doing their best to rid themselves of the ghosts of their pasts.  So that they may make a better future for themselves and the world in which they live.

About Sophie

Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor's degree from Parsons. But, most impressive of all, she's been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion: writing. When she's not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.


To celebrate the release of THE ILLEGITIMATE DUKE by Sophie Barnes, we’re giving away a paperback bundle of The Most Unlikely Duke & The Duke of Her Desire!

LINK:  https://www.subscribepage.com/TheIllegitimateDuke

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback bundle of A Most Unlikely Duke and The Duke of Her Desire by Sophie Barnes.  This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 9/7/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address.  Duplicates will be deleted.

This Tour is brought To you in conjunction with Avon Books
Pure Textuality PR

Action, Adventure and All Consuming Passion Await In "The Duke With The Dragon Tattoo"

35817296Title:  The Duke With The Dragon Tattoo
Series:  (Victorian Rebels #6)
Author:  Kerrigan Byrne
Date of Publication:  August 28th, 2018
Review Format:  Kindle ARC
Publisher:  St. Martin's Paperbacks
Rating:  5 Stars

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…


Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

Lorelai’s lantern trembled, turning midnight shadows into sinister wraiths as she crept through the hall, as best her foot would allow. Her heartbeats echoed off the walls of Southbourne Grove’s east wing. Her breaths like rapid-­fire pistol shots in the consuming silence. Loud enough for the ghosts to hear, surely.

When the horrible sounds had first roused her, she’d thought maybe Cyrus and Joan d’Arc were at it again. Howling and scuffling. The two hounds boasted only seven legs, three eyes, and one tail between them, but still they played like puppies. And sometimes their play turned serious.

They were not, however, nocturnal animals.

The raw, animalistic cries beckoned her to his room. She paused at the door, pressing her ear against the cool wood.

No animal she knew made a sound like that.

No man, either.

The torment expelled upon such a cry was almost otherworldly in its macabre timbre. A whimper. A plea. And then a long lament, too hoarse to be a call, but lower than a scream.

Something about the noise caused her to hesitate with her fingertips on the door handle. What if he wasn’t alone in there? Could someone be hurting him? It certainly sounded that way. Should she go for help?

What if Mortimer was disturbing him?

Urgently, she pressed the door open, hurling herself into his room.

Lorelai didn’t know whether to be more relieved or distressed that his great body battled naught but the darkness.

And whatever demons haunted his dreams.

Dr. Holcomb had relieved him of his sling some two days past, and his long, powerful arms fought off invisible assailants with alarming desperation.

“You’ll not have me,” he growled. “Not tonight.”

Who would not have him? Have him what?

She abandoned her lantern on a sideboard by the door, convinced it wasn’t safe anywhere close to his flailing limbs. Venturing closer, she noted the damp sheets tangled about his lean, restless hips. His nightshirt lay crumpled on the floor, as though he’d rent it from his body for some imagined offense.

His face remained in the shadows, surging side to side on a neck corded with strain.

“Touch me with that and you’ll regret it,” he warned.

“Me?” she squeaked, lacing her hands together.

“I’ll gut you with a dull blade… see if I don’t!”

“Pardon?” she gasped.

His voice sounded younger than it did when he was awake. A note of terror thrummed beneath the bravado.

“Let me go,” he threatened.

“Let me … go.” This time, he begged.

Begged. And thrashed. Fighting a battle that became more and more evident he was about to lose in some horrific way.

Dear God. Let this be a nightmare and not … a memory.

She had to stop this. Somehow.

Fists as large as his became hammers. This she knew. But what other choice did she have but to approach?

She wasted precious seconds strategizing. Where did one touch a man in the throes of a violent nightmare to avoid injury? A skittish horse, you touched his withers. A snake, you held behind his skull. A rabbit, you turned upside down by both feet until the blood rushing to his head calmed him. A dog, you dug your fingers against his throat, like an alpha would with his teeth.

Then you stroked them, comforted them. Let them come to trust you.

But first, the animal must be subdued for the safety of all involved.

A good rule, with creatures great and small, was to avoid the face at all costs.

But a man? What sort of animal was he, really? She’d learned no tricks to calm such a violent soul but avoidance.

And that wouldn’t do in this case.

A low groan decided it for her as she neared the bedside. His cheeks were wet with tears. His ebony hair matted with sweat.

Someone was hurting him. She couldn’t bear it.

His knuckles narrowly missed her throat as she ducked around them, and tentatively splayed the fingers of one hand over his chest above his bandaged ribs. “Wake up,” she admonished him, jostling him a little. “Come back.”

Two monstrous hands shackled her arms like iron cuffs as he gasped awake, his entire body seizing, convulsing. He wrenched her hands away from his skin.

Fearing he might snap her bones in two, she couldn’t contain her own sob of pain as it cut through her.

To her astonishment, he didn’t let go.

He stared up at her, his eyes two volcanic voids of unfocused wrath. His teeth were bared, sharp and menacing. His breaths sawed in and out of him, as though he’d run a league at full tilt.

This was not the man to whom she’d fed soup only two days prior.

This man … might just be a monster.

“It’s me,” she whimpered. “It’s Lorelai.”

As quickly as she’d been seized, she was released.

A low groan tore from him as he regarded his hands like they’d betrayed him. Like he would rip them from their wrists.

Ignoring her smarting arms, she ran tentative fingers over his fevered brow. It twitched with little shocks where they connected.

“It was just a dream,” she crooned. “You’re safe.”

Though he said nothing, tears leaked from the corners of his eyes in an endless river, running down his temple and joining the beads of sweat glistening at his hairline.

His breath hitched and gasped. Deep grooves appeared between his brows, and his entire visage tightened.

“You are in pain,” she realized aloud. Had he reinjured something? The bandages about his ribs were secure, as were the ones over his shoulder, neck, and right torso covering his rapidly healing burns. Oh no. Should she call the doctor? Did she dare check beneath the blanket twisted around his lean hips and tangled about his legs?

“What can I do?” she asked frantically.

He’d not wept the entire, agonizing time they’d treated him. Not once.

If he did so now, he must be in absolute anguish.

“Where does it hurt the most?”

Black eyes rimmed in red searched her face, as though he might find answers to a question he didn’t know how to ask. The air shifted as threads of trust weaved through the space between them, adding a soft color to their tapestry.

Silently, cautiously, he took her hand, and placed it over his heart.

His skin was warmer than she’d expected. Harder. His pulse kicked beneath her palm, the rhythm unsteady and frenzied, still waging the battle he’d carefully schooled out of his expression.

He was as stoic as ever, except for the moisture still gathering his sooty lashes into wet spikes.

She understood then.

His body, strong, young, and virile, healed with incredible alacrity. But what remedy was there for a lonely and broken heart?

She could think of none.

His eyes fluttered closed, forcing more tears from between the lids. She had the sense that he hid whatever … whoever would stare out from the darkness at her. His hands were clenched tightly, burrowing into the sheets. Shadows played across his jaw as he worked it to the side, battling to regain control of himself.

Instinct whispered that she must walk the line between compassion and pity most carefully here.

Struck by impulsive sentiment, she lifted her hand, bent over him, and pressed her lips to his chest, just above his heart.

He tensed. Froze. Not so much as drawing a breath until she pulled away.

“I’ll heal that too,” she promised. If it was the last thing she did, she’d figure out how to stitch his broken heart back together.

His eyes snapped open, regarding her as if she’d taken his soul just then, or maybe returned it to him.

Nervously, she licked her lips. They tasted of soap and salt and … him.

The air shifted again, dangerously this time, becoming heavy with the promise of something she couldn’t identify and didn’t understand.

Lorelai did her best to ignore it. “Someone was hurting you … in your dream … did you recognize who it was?”

He shook his head. “Men … they were …” His breath sped again, his features twisting with revulsion.

“They were what?”

He shuddered. “Never mind what.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Driven to touch him again, she bent to place a hand back on his chest. The cold night air prickled dangerously through her thin nightshift, reminding her of the untied ribbons hanging loose at the collar.

His tears had dried quite suddenly. His sweat had turned to salt. And the way he looked at her now …

Lorelai swallowed, thinking how she had always considered black a cold color, until this very moment.

Banked obsidian fire danced in the meager light of her lantern.

“Go.” The word seemed to strangle him as he plucked her hands away from him by her wrists, giving them back to her roughly.

“Pardon?” She hugged her hands to her body.

“Never visit me at night. Never again.”

She didn’t understand. Wasn’t she helping him? Hadn’t she saved him from the assailants who hurt him in his sleep?’

“What if you have another nightmare?” she contended. “I can’t just let you—”

“Leave me to it. Let it take me.” A feral, primitive warning lurked beneath the bleakness in his eyes.

“But I—”

“You can’t control them!” he snarled. “And I can’t control my—” His hands lifted toward her, then plunged into his hair, grabbing great handfuls of it. For some reason she couldn’t look at the parts still covered by the sheets. She feared him like this, because he feared himself. But … she ached for him, too. Ached in ways she didn’t yet comprehend.

“Just get out. Please.”

The plaintive note in his plea brooked no argument. Warned her away as surely as the hiss of a cornered cat.

Perplexed, dejected, Lorelai limped to the sideboard as slowly as she could, waiting for him to call her back. To change his mind and realize he needed her company after all.

When he didn’t, she lifted her lantern and shut the door behind her. Wishing with everything she had that she could forget the bewitching taste of him lingering on her lips.

Copyright © 2018 by Ke.rrigan Byrne in The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks

My Thoughts
He was but a lad of 18 when she found him.  Left for dead in a pauper's grave.  His past not even a memory, and his future being measured in minutes.
But Lady Lorelei Weatherstoke knows with the innate knowledge that saviors of lost causes posses.  That someone of value is to be found amid the myriad of bruises and burns.  That a strong and courageous heart beats beneath his battered breast.  This his is a life worth saving.

For the nameless boy rescued from his certain death.  She was EVERYTHING.
His anchor to the tangible world.  His reason to be a better man. His world.
I was of no consequence to him that she walked with a limp.  That her sadistic brother, Mortimer, called her "Duck" because of it.  Or that other's thought her beneath their notice.
To him, she was perfection.
To her he became "Ash".
To each other they were home.

Until the day he left.  Until the day she lost him. She thought forever.
He however, knew different.
And no matter the hell or high water that he had to traverse.
He knew that he would return.
And return he did.
Just in time to stop her marriage to another, kill her loathsome brother, and take back what was his.

But twenty years of hard living and doing what one must to survive has taken quite the toll on the dark and menacing presence that has come to claim Lorelei for his own.
Gone is the tender boy that she knew, and in his place stands the infamous pirate known to all as The Rook.
A legend that Lorelei doesn't know.
A man that she is quite sure that she can never love.

The Duke With The Dragon Tattoo is a book filled to the brim with stories. The stories of Ash's and Lorelei's individual pasts.  The story of who they became together.  They story of who they became after they were parted. Who they were when they once again found each other.  And who they then became in their "happily...".

Kerrigan Byrne proves herself to be a most masterful weaver of stories.  Able to gather threads from several plot points and intermingle them seamlessly.  Creating not only a story worth its weight in gold.
But presenting the reader with a panoramic view of months, years, and even decades of lives lived, battles fought, lessons learned, and trials survived.

Speaking of trials...
There is no shortage of authentic pirate action here.  Both Lorelei, and her sister-in-laws interactions with both The Rook and members of his crew, are at all times "edge of your seat" authentic.
In fact, everything that the persona that is 'The Rook' touches within this tale, is nothing less than dramatic gold.

Equally as impressive is Lorelie, as a character.  Her blend of naivete and fortitude in the face of ever changing circumstances is a joy to read.

Making matters even better for the reader.  (As if that is possible!)
The fact that different elements of this plot function at different speeds.  With the action an intrigue racing ahead at a breakneck clip.  While the romantic portion of things is allowed to simmer and stew until much later in the read.
When things (for lack of a better phrase) "really heat up"!

This is s book that will make you never want to stop reading its story.  You will  literally find yourself talking to the characters.
If you have not read previous books in the series, you will.
In, short.  This is a story lover's delight.
An adventure, a drama, a romance, a story to be remembered!

Reviewer's Note:  This is the 6th book of a related series.  It may be read as a standalone or as part of its intended series.

About Kerrigan

If you're anything like me, the best night is one speIf you're anything like me, the best night is one spent with a brawny highlander, a mysterious werewolf, a conflicted vampire, or a hot-headed Irishman. My stories span the spectrum of romantic fiction from historical, to paranormal, to romantic suspense. But I can always promise my readers one thing: memorable and sexy Celtic heroes who are guaranteed to heat your blood before they steal your heart. Lose yourself in the enchanted Celtic Isles, you never know who, or what, will find you...want with a brawny highlander, a mysterious werewolf, a conflicted vampire, or a hot-headed Irishman. My stories span the spectrum of romantic fiction from historical, to paranormal, to romantic suspense. But I can always promise my readers one thing: memorable and sexy Celtic heroes who are guaranteed to heat your blood before they steal your heart. Lose yourself in the enchanted Celtic Isles, you never know who, or what, will find you...
Find Her:  Web / Goodreads / Tweet Her

Buy The Book Here!

Playing "The Governess Game" Means A Sure Win For Lovers Of Historical Romance

Title:  The Governess Game
Author:  Tessa Dare
Format:  Kindle ARC
Length:  384 pages
Expected Date of Publication:  August 28, 2018
Publisher:  Avon Books
Rating:  5 Stars

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

The morning began in the same way as most of Chase’s mornings lately. With a tragic demise.
“She’s dead.”
He turned onto his side. As he blinked, Rosamund’s face came into focus. “What was it this time?”
                “Typhus.”                                             “Charming"
Using the sofa’s upholstered arm for leverage, he pushed to a sitting position. As he did so, his brain sloshed with regret. He rubbed his temples, ruing his behavior the night before. And his licentiousness in the very early morning. While he was at it, he decided he might as well regret his entire misspent youth, too. Clear a bit of his afternoon schedule.
“It can wait until later.” Once his head ceased ringing and he’d washed off the cloying scent of French perfume.
“It must be now, Daisy says, or else the contagion could spread. She’s preparing the body.”
Chase groaned. He decided it wasn’t worth arguing. Might as well have it done with.
As they began climbing the four flights of stairs to the nursery, he interrogated his ten-year-old ward. “Can’t you do something about this?”
“Can’t you?”
“She’s your little sister.”
“You’re her guardian.”
He grimaced, rubbing his throbbing temple. “Discipline isn’t one of my particular talents.”
“Obedience isn’t one of ours,” Rosamund replied.
“I’ve noticed. Don’t think I didn’t see you pocket that shilling from the side table.” They reached the top of the stairs and turned down the corridor. “Listen, this has to stop. Quality boarding schools don’t offer enrollment to petty thieves or serial murderesses.”
“It wasn’t murder. It was typhus.”
“Oh, to be sure it was.”
“And we don’t want to go to boarding school.”
“Rosamund, it’s time you learned a harsh lesson.” He opened the nursery door. “We don’t always get what we want in life.”
Didn’t Chase know it. He didn’t want to be guardian to a pair of orphaned girls. He didn’t want to be next in line for the Belvoir dukedom. And he most assuredly did not want to be attending his fourth funeral in as many days. Yet here he was.
Daisy turned to them. A veil of dark netting covered her straw-colored curls. “Please show respect for the dead.”
She waved Chase forward. He dutifully crossed to her side, bending down so that she could pin a black armband around his shirtsleeve.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said. So very sorry. You don’t know how sorry.
He took his place at the head of the bed, looking down at the deceased. She was ghostly pale and swaddled in a white shroud. Buttons covered her eyes. Thank God. It was damned unnerving when the eyes looked up at him with that glassy, empty stare.
Daisy reached for his hand and bowed her head. After leading them in a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, she poked Chase in the ribs. “Mr. Reynaud, kindly say a few words.”
Chase looked to the heavens. God help him.
“Almighty Father,” he began in a dispirited tone, “we commit to your keeping the soul of Millicent. Ashes to ashes. Sawdust to sawdust. She was a doll of few words and yet fewer autonomous movements, yet she will be remembered for the ever-present—some might say permanently painted—smile on her face. By the grace of our Redeemer, we know she will be resurrected, perhaps as soon as luncheon.” He added under his breath, “Unfortunately.”
“Amen,” Daisy intoned. With solemnity, she lowered the doll into the wooden toy chest, then closed the lid.
Rosamund broke the oppressive silence. “Let’s go down to the kitchen, Daisy. We’ll have buttered rolls and jam for our breakfast.”
“You’ll breakfast here,” he corrected. “In the nursery. Your governess will—”
“Our governess?” Daisy gave him a sweet, innocent look. “But we don’t have a governess at the moment.”
He groaned. “Don’t tell me the new one quit. I only hired her yesterday.”
Rosamund said proudly, “We were rid of her in seventeen and a quarter hours. A new record.”
Chase strode to the world map on the wall and plucked a tack from the border. “There.” He stabbed an unsuspecting country at random, then pointed at it with authority. “I am sending you to boarding school there. Enjoy”—he squinted at the map—“Malta.”
Fuming, Chase quit the room and made the journey back down the four flights of stairs, and then down a half flight more and through the kitchen—all the way to his private retreat. Upon entering, he shut and locked the door before exhaling a lungful of annoyance.
For a gentleman of leisure, he was damned exhausted. He needed a bath, a shave, a change of clothing, and a headache powder. Barrow would arrive in an hour with sheaves of papers to look over and bank drafts to sign. The club had a bacchanalian revel this evening. And now he must hire yet another governess.
Before he could face any of it, he needed a drink.
As he made his way to the bar, he navigated a card table draped with a dustcloth and a stack of paintings propped against the wall, waiting to be hung. The apartment was a work in progress. He had a well-furnished bedchamber upstairs, of course, but for now he needed a space as far away from the nursery as architecturally possible. The arrangement was for the girls’ benefit as much as his own. He would rather not know what mischief his wards wrought at the top of the house, and they must never learn of the devilry he practiced at the bottom of it.
He uncorked a bottle of wine and filled a large glass. A bit early in the day for burgundy, but what of it. He was, after all, in mourning. Might as well lift a glass to Millicent’s memory.
He’d downed half the glass in one swallow when he heard a light knock at the door. Not the door to and from the kitchen, but the door that opened onto the side street.
Chase cursed into his burgundy. That would be Colette, he supposed. They’d had their fun the other night, but apparently neither his well-established reputation nor the parting bouquet he’d sent had communicated the message. He would be forced to have “the talk” with her in person.
It’s not you, darling. It’s me. I’m an irredeemable, broken man. You deserve better.
All of it was true, as hackneyed as it sounded. When it came to relationships, sensual or otherwise, Chase had one rule.
No attachments.
Words to live by, words to make love by. Words to send wards to boarding school by. When he made promises, he only caused pain.
“Come in,” he called, not bothering to turn around. “It’s unlocked.”
A cool draft swept across his neck as the door opened, then shut again. Like the whisper of fingertips.
He took another glass and filled it. “Back for more, are you? Insatiable minx. I knew it was no accident you left your stocking here the other”—he turned, holding the wineglasses in his hands and fixing a roguish half smile on his face—“night.”
Interesting. The woman who’d entered was not Colette.
She was very much not Colette.
A small, dark-haired young woman stood before him. She clutched a weathered brown satchel in her hands, and her eyes held abject horror. He could actually watch the blood draining from her face and settling at the base of her throat as a hot, fierce blush.
“Good morning,” he said amiably.
In reply, she made an audible swallow.
“Here.” Chase extended his left hand, offering her a glass of wine. “Have this. You look as though you could use it.”
My Thoughts

Down...down...down to the bottom of the Thames.
When Alexandera Mountbatton's chronometer and clockminder's satchel is lost in the river.  After a most unfortunate panic attack leads her to abandon ship.  In in favor an unplanned swim to shore.
The offer that she received just that very afternoon from one Chase Renaud, the heir to the Duke of Belvoir.  Who had upon ushering her into his private "man cave" mistakenly believing her to be the replacement governess; hired to wrangle his two young wards.

But a clockminder does not a governess make.  No matter how badly a future duke, with absolutely no idea how to raise two rambunctious young girls might wish it to be so.
A job is however a job.
Even if it does mean that Alex will find herself living under the same roof with one of the most notorious rakes in England.
And whom, I might add, has had a staring role in more than a few of her fantasies.  Since a chance encounter in a her favorite bookshop.
Now, all that remains to be seen is if Mr. Renaud can steal her heart just as easily as easily as he managed to make off with her copy of Messier's Catalogue Of Star Clusters And Nebulae.

Just when you think that romance can't get any more fun, exciting, and well...roo tmantic!
Tessa Dare graces the world with yet another edition of "yes it can"!
Alex, Chase, Rosemund, and Daisy are nothing less than perfect.  As far as characters go.  With backstories that on their own, would be the delight of any reader.
But when taken together, and allowed to intermingle.  Each adding color, and nuance to the other.  While at the same time giving a solid foundation to the collective love story that is The Governess Game.  This story is nothing short of heaven.

Written with the trademark Dare humor, attention to detail, sexiness, and emotional complexity.  The Governess Game is one that those who play to read, are sure to win every time.

About Tessa
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Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice!) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance," and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

Monday Musings: R.A. Salvatore's TIMELESS

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: I'm super excited to tell you about this book.

Title:  Timeless
Author: R. A. Salvatore
Publisher:  Harper Voyager
Expected Date Of Publication:  September 4th, 2018
Buy The Book:  https://amzn.to/2wtfhzF


At long last, New York Times bestselling author R. A. Salvatore returns with one of fantasy's most beloved and enduring icons, the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden, in an all-new trilogy full of swordplay, danger, and imaginative thrills,

Centuries ago, in the city of Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, the City of Drow, nestled deep in the unmerciful Underdark of Toril, a young weapon master earned a reputation far above his station or that of his poor house.

The greater nobles watched him, and one matron, in particular, decided to take him as her own. She connived with rival great houses to secure her prize, but that prize was caught for her by another, who came to quite enjoy the weapon master.

This was the beginning of the friendship between Zaknafein and Jarlaxle, and the coupling of Matron Malice and the weapon master who would sire Drizzt Do’Urden.

R. A. Salvatore reveals the Underdark anew through the eyes of Zaknafein and Jarlaxle—an introduction to the darkness that offers a fresh view of the opportunities to be found in the shadows and an intriguing prelude to the intriguing escapes that lie ahead in the modern-day Forgotten Realms. Here, a father and his son are reunited and embark on adventures that parallel the trials of centuries long past as the friends of old are joined by Drizzt, Hero of the North, trained by Grandmaster Kane in the ways of the monk.

But the scourge of the dangerous Lolth’s ambitions remain, and demons have been foisted on the unwitting of the surface. The resulting chaos and war will prove to be the greatest challenge for all three.

*I would like to thank Harper Voyager for my finished copy of this book. 

"A Most Unlikely Duke" Is The Romance Most Likely To Melt Your Heart

Title:  A Most Unlikely Duke
Series: Diamonds In The Rough #1
Author:  Sophie Barnes
Format:  Kindle ARC
Publisher:  Avon Books
Rating:  5 Stars

He never thought he'd become a duke, or that the secrets of his past would cost him his greatest love... 

Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortune lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help, and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…

After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelop them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.

Read An Exclusive Excerpt of
A Most Unlikely Duke

It was past eleven o’clock in the evening by the time
Raphe returned home, his knuckles tender and his body still sore from the fight. Glad to get out of the cold, he closed the door on the rain that now poured from a thunderous sky, shrugged out of his coat and hung it on a hook behind the door just as his sister Amelia entered from an adjoining room that served as a small parlor.
“Good evenin’.” She yawned, leaning against the door frame. Squinting through the darkness, Raphe echoed her salutation. “I thought ye would be asleep by now.”
Stepping past her, he entered their tiny kitchen and snatched up the tinder box.
“I was,” Amelia said, following him into the chilly room. A threadbare shawl was draped across her shoulders, and as she pulled it tighter with pale and trembling fingers, Raphe felt his heart lurch. This wasn’t right. His sister did not deserve to live like this. None of them did. Pushing aside such fruitless ponderings, he found a candle, struck a flint and held it to the wick until a flame began to bloom, driving the darkness toward the walls where it struggled against the light.
“If it makes any difference, Juliette’s safely tucked into bed.” Amelia said, referring to their younger sister, whose weaker disposition was a constant cause for unease. When Raphe lifted the lid of a nearby pot and peered inside, Amelia added, “I made soup for dinner.”
“Smells delicious,” he dutifully told her.
“We both know ‘ow untrue that is, bu’ I appreciate yer optimism.”
Meeting her gaze, Raphe made a deliberate effort to smile. “Per’aps I can manage some meat for us tomorrow.” It would certainly be a welcome change from the potatoes and turnips they’d been eating for what seemed like forever. Christ, he was so tired of having a sore belly all the time, and his sisters . . . they never complained, but he knew they needed better nourishment than what they were getting.
“That’d be nice,” Amelia said. Her tone, however, suggested that she doubted his ability to manage such a feat. Bothered by her lack of faith in him, he grabbed a chunk of bread and tore off a large piece. “A chicken ought to be possible. If we make it last a few days.”
Amelia simply nodded. Grabbing a cup, she filled it with water and placed it before him. “I miss the smell of a bustlin’ kitchen.”
The comment threw him for a second. “Wha’?”
“Meat roastin’ on the fire, bread bakin’ in the oven.” She shook her head wistfully. “It’s funny. I
can’t picture Mama, but I remember Cook—plump cheeks an’ a kind smile. I remember bein’ ‘appy in the kitchen back ‘ome.”
The sentimental thought made Raphe weary. He didn’t bother to point out that she’d only been seven when they’d lost their parents and there’d been nothing left for Raphe to do but turn his back on the house in which they’d spent the early years of their childhoods and walk away, taking his siblings with him. He’d been no more than eight years old and with a mighty burden weighing on his shoulders. “I know this isn’t the sor’ of life that any of us ever imagined.”
Feeling his temper begin to rise at the memory of what their parents had done to them all, he added, “Hopefully, in time, things’ll get better.”
“I’m sure ye’re right.” Could she possibly sound any more unconvinced?
He ate a spoonful of soup, the bland flavor just a touch better than plain hot water. Amelia took a step forward. “The reason I didn’t retire with Juliette earlier is ’cause of this letter.” She waved a piece of paper in his direction. “It arrived for ye today while ye were out.”
Frowning, Raphe stared at her. “Do ye know who sent it?” He couldn’t even recall the last time he’d received a letter. Nobody ever wrote to him or his sisters.
“The sender’s name’s smudged. So’s the address. It’s a miracle it arrived here at all.” Handing the letter to Raphe, she watched as he turned it over and studied the penmanship. Sure enough, the only legible part of the address, which even appeared to have been altered once or twice, was his name: Mister Raphael Matthews.

My Review
This story of "the duke from the wrong side of the tracks," is one that makes readers believe in the spirit of the underdog almost from page one.
Raphe Matthews and his sisters may have been born to life in the gilded halls of Mayfair.  But a series of disastrous events in their childhoods, coupled with the loss of their parents, has left the three fending for themselves in the slums of St. Giles.
A place where the genteel breeding so prized by the aristocracy has no value.
Where a man is made or broken not by the coin in his pocket, but by the strength of both his back and his word.
A place where Raphe Matthews has not only managed to live, but to thrive.  On the strength of both his word and his fists.

By contrast...
Lady Gabriella Radcliffe leads a life for which the words "gilded cage" can serve as the only fitting descriptor.  As the only "socially acceptable" daughter left to the Earl and Countess of Warwick; after a most scandalous elopement by their firstborn daughter, Victoria.
Gabriella's parents are doing all they can to ensure that they hold on to both their her, and their battered family reputation.
Until an advantageous but worthy match can be secured.

Neither the cossetted Gabriella, nor the newly minted Duke of Huntly, have any way of knowing that a chance meeting on the day that Raphe and his sisters come to claim the ducal residence, will change the lives of all involved forever.
The question...
Will those changes be for the better?

Though there are a great many things about this story which make it book a stellar first book, as well as a wonderful read in its own right.
The sheer amount of well placed inclusiveness found here.  In areas such as backstory, supporting cast, continuity, and character development, presents readers with a rich and multilayered read.  Allowing them to come to know the book's players on a very personal level by book's end.
Aiding readers still further in their quest for connection with their characters.  The slowness with which the romance between the young duke and his lady unfolds.
There is no rush to "wed her and bed her here".
The romance is sweet, honest, hard won, and profound.

Furthermore, the more that one comes to understand both Raphe's and Gabriella's situations.  The more that one comes to realize that they each mirror the other in many ways.
Because while they both are granted lives of untold privilege.  The prices exacted by those lives both singularly and collectively are quite high.
As they are both in some way paying for the past actions of others.
Gabriella for those of her sister.
Raphe for those of his parents.
Making the road to social acceptability among the ton, a very hard one indeed.
But one that their proximity as neighbors and Gabriella's promise to secretly tutor his sisters in all things etiquette, will ensure that they traverse together.
No matter the odds.

This story of "the outsiders who find there places".  Is one that will resonate with any reader who has ever felt "out of place".  Letting them know that there is "no out of place" in the heart of 
 the one who loves you.

About Sophie

Sophie BarnesBorn in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor's degree from Parsons. But, most impressive of all, she's been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion: writing. When she's not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.

Buy This Book Here!