The Transported Duke by Lisa Torquay

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

The Transported Duke is the second book in the Roguish Gentlemen series by Lisa Torquay.  I fell in love with this series with the first book, The Jilted Gentleman.  The Transported Duke exceeded all my expectations!

Lord Hadrian Dankworth, the heir to the Duke of Rutherford, was transported to Australia for a murder he doesn’t remember committing.  Lady Matilda Henley was Hadrian’s naïve, besotted fiancée before her world crashed when Adrian was arrested. Two years later, Matilda travels halfway around the world to Australia for closure.  Her girlish dreams of happily ever after are crushed, and she decides to move on with her life.  Hadrian doesn’t recognize the independent, beautiful, feisty woman that meets him in Australia, and Hadrian can’t keep from wanting what he shouldn’t have.

Hadrian was a tragic figure; he was serving a life sentence for a crime he might not have committed.  All the doubts and darkness have changed and hardened Hadrian, yet he is not bitter.  I enjoyed how hard Hadrian fought to be a better man.  

I loved everything about Matilda!  Her association with Hadrian ruined Matilda, but instead of being discouraged, she thrived.  It was exquisite how Hadrian and Matilda didn’t wallow in self-pity but worked at changing their futures.

The sensual, physical connection between this more mature and changed Hadrian and Matilda is electric.  Sometimes I wanted to slap Hadrian for not listening to his emotions and being high-handed.  Matilda was in love with Hadrian but guarded her heart.  I couldn’t blame her when Hadrian was reacting negatively at every turn.  Thankfully Hadrian grows leaps and bounds emotionally throughout the novel.

This fast-paced plot had plenty of mystery, intrigue,  and passionate romance to keep me invested.  The romance between Hadrian and Matilda was turbulent, yet their passion burned like wildfire.  The characters were well-developed and relatable.  The storyline and the emotions conveyed flowed organically and poetically.  Lisa Torquay has added another fabulous romance to her Roguish Gentlemen series.  I highly recommend both books, and I am so excited about the next book!

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

Glory And The Master Of Shadows by Grace Callaway

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Glory And The Master Of Shadows is the fourth book in the Lady Charlotte’s Society Of Angels series by Grace Callaway.  This is an author that, when I read her books, I know that I am embarking on a turbulent, passionate, unforgettable journey.  Glory And The Master Of Shadows is another crowning achievement in romance writing excellence.  Wei and Glory’s romance stole my breath!

Master Wei Chen is a man haunted by his past, and the tragedies he’s experienced control his future.  Lady Glory Cavendish is nerdy, peculiar, and intelligent.  She’s not what is expected.  Glory is the last unmarried “angel,” and she feels increasingly ostracized.  Wei and Glory have a passionately explosive undercurrent that they are both aware of.  When circumstances throw Wei and Glory together, they embark on a journey of healing, passion, and love.

Wei has stolen my heart!  The dichotomy of Wei’s brokenness and strength drew me to him like a flame.  I related to Glory so much!  A nerdy, inquisitive pet lover?  Perfection!  I also loved Glory’s loving dynamic with her family.  The electric current of the passionate connection Wei and Glory share was breathtaking.  The sensual fire between Wei and Glory was amazing.

I have adored each book in this series.  Wei and Glory are tied with Pippa and Cull as my all-time favorite couple.  This hauntingly beautiful, breathtakingly intense story will stay with me.  This is a slow-burn plot, and every paragraph has creative nuances that build a poetically romantic tale.  Grace Callaway has created a romance that has stayed with me long after I closed the book, and isn’t that the most essential task for a book?  To be memorable and strike an emotional cord with the audience?  If you agree with me, then I recommend all of Grace Callaway’s books and Wei and Glory’s romance especially!

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

Nevermore Bookstore by Kerrigan Byrne and Cynthia St. Aubin

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Nevermore Bookstore is the first book in the Townsend Harbor series by Kerrigan Byrne and Cynthia St. Aubin.  I started this book with high expectations and an open mind; I was not disappointed!  I am a massive fan of Kerrigan Byrne’s historical romances. However, this book by Byrne and St. Aubin is entirely unique and surprisingly effervescent.

Cadence “Cady” Bloomquist has just lost her aunt, suffers from a debilitating illness,  and might be losing her beloved bookstore.  Cady’s only solace is her Thursday 8:00 pm book order calls from Fox.  Roman “Fox’ Fawkes is a former soldier struggling with PTSD.  Fox lives for his call to the innocent, sweet, kind Cady.  When Cady is threatened, Fox will do anything to save her, but can these two tattered souls find comfort, trust, and love?

I could relate to Cady on so many levels.  Cady is quirky, intelligent, and, most importantly, unconditionally kind.  Cady has a heart of gold and a giving spirit, couple that with determination and grit, and you get a formidable woman.  I loved everything about tortured, broken Fox.  Cady is Fox’s salvation if he can only open his mind and heart.  The sweetly developed romance coupled with fiery passion made this an addictive story.

I want to live in Townsend Harbor!  The eclectic mix of townspeople kept the book entertaining, and I would be a charter member of Cady’s book club.  Cady’s bookstore had an energy of its own as well.  The plot did an excellent job combining the dramatic elements with the humorous aspects of the story.  I was one hundred percent invested in Fox and Cady, and their roller-coaster romance kept me turning the page.

Nevermore Bookstore is a refreshing, topsy-turvy romance that captured my imagination and heart.  Kerrigan Byrne and Cynthia St. Aubin have created a descriptive world I want to visit.  I can’t wait for the other townspeople’s stories!

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

The Prospector’s Only Prospect by Dani Collins

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

The Prospector’s Only Prospect is a novel by Dani Collins.  This is my first Dani Collins book, and I am impressed!  This western is full of heart, humor, and romance.  Virgil Gardner lives on a gold claim and desperately needs a wife and mother to his three children.  Marigold Davis is running from her past into a dangerous, uncertain life with Virgil.  These two unlikely opposites find they have underestimated each other.  Respect and emotions bloom from distrust and heartache.

I instantly fell in love with Virgil due to his love for his children.  Virgil doesn’t know how to express affection, but his patience and acceptance of the children warmed my heart.  Virgil has reasons to reject these children, but he embraces them.  Marigold is full of tenacity and spirit.  Marigold will not give up.  Marigold has suffered gossip and cruelty, yet she perseveres.  Marigold’s instant acceptance of Virgil’s three children was heartwarming.

Virgil’s children stole every scene they were in!  I was enchanted and delighted by them.  Virgil and Marigold have an instant physical connection, and the sparks fly the longer they are together.  The plot moved well, and my interest was grabbed in the first chapter.  This plot contains serious subject matter, yet it is sprinkled with humor at just the right moments.  Dani Collins has done the difficult task of creating an emotional western that had me smiling and wanting more.  I highly recommend this book and hope more characters from this book get their own stories!

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

An Artful Lie by Holly Newman

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

An Artful Lie is the third book in The Art Of Love series by Holly Newman.  I enjoyed the vivid characters in this book; however, I like the first two books better.  Aidan and Bella were in love three years ago and were torn apart.  Now the lies have been uncovered, and Aidan and Bella find that deceit destroyed their love.  The couple must decide if love is enough to begin again.

There was a disconnect in the plot for me.  The content was intriguing, and the characters were memorable.  The writing was descriptive and emotional.  The medium pace of the story moved well.  I enjoyed Aidan and Bella’s journey.  I felt there was something elusive missing.  A feeling of urgency was absent in some of the more intense scenes.  That being said, this was an entertaining, easy-to-read, engaging romance.  

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through BookSprout.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Publication Date: March 21, 2023

In Isabeau’s Eyes by Lora Leigh

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

In Isabeau’s Eyes is the first book in the Kentucky Nights series by Lora Leigh.  Being a long-time fan of Lora Leigh, and a Kentuckian, I was eagerly awaiting this new series!  This romance did not disappoint; it is full of intrigue, family, and fiery passion.

Tracker Calloway is a mercenary back home in Kentucky on break.  When Tracker’s sister almost gets killed, he vows to protect Isabeau, the target of the attack.  Isabeau Boudreaux has been blind since a family tragedy.  Alarming accidents have occurred around Isabeau for years, and Tracker knows these incidents are more than they seem.  Tracker wants to eliminate this villain and is uncomfortably attracted to Isabeau.  Isabeau knows Tracker will never stay, that he’ll be gone when the danger is eliminated.  However, she cannot resist the sensual pull Tracker has over her.

Tracker was a great character; he was lethal, yet his handling of Isabeau was protective.  Tracker had no heart, yet Isabeau opened him to feelings he thought impossible.  I loved everything about Isabeau!  Isabeau commanded the page with her quiet strength and haunting beauty.

The only drawback with some of Lora Leigh’s books is they can get formulaic at times; however, I didn’t feel that in this story.  There are a lot of secondary characters in this book, and having read the previous series, it was so lovely to see Rowdy, Dawg, and Natches again at a different time in their lives.  I can see where a new reader may get a little lost in all the family.  The plot commanded my attention, and the sensuality burned the page.  This was a fast-moving plot with hardly time to breathe.  Lora Leigh has created a superb, outstanding romance that takes us to a small town full of reluctant heroes and strong-willed women that capture their hearts.  Tracker and Isabeau’s romance is not to be missed!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through Netgalley and the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Publication Date: March 21, 2023

Feature: Amanda McCabe – The Dollar Duchesses and A Manhattan Heiress In Paris

Hello, fellow romance lovers!  Today I have the amazing opportunity to introduce you to historical romance writer Amanda McCabe.   I had the chance to read Amanda’s The Dollar Duchesses series and instantly fell in love with the Wilkins sisters!  You will find my review of each book later in this post.  I am super excited to have interviewed Amanda, we spoke about the Dollar Duchesses, her new book A Manhattan Heiress In Paris, and we got to know her better!  There is also an excerpt from A Manhattan Heiress In Paris!  Be sure to check out Amanda’s follow links as well.  

Interview with Amanda McCabe

Hi Amanda!  Thank you so much for taking the time for me and my audience to get to know you better!

This is my favorite question to ask authors.  Do you have a beat up, read too much, the reason I love to read book?  Something that either introduced you to historical romance or reading in general?  

–I have several of those on my shelves!!!  Probably the most beat-up is an old paperback of “Jane Eyre,” which I got at my grandmother’s house when I was about 10.  I knew nothing about it going in, and stayed up all night reading (the first of many, many all night reading sessions in my life).  I was shocked—shocked!!—by the middle section.  (My grandmother was actually my dealer when it came to reading romance!  She would buy boxes and bags full of books at garage sales and used bookstores, all kinds of books—mysteries, romances, classics.  She’d store them in her coat closet, and when we visited her in the summer I would crawl in there and start pulling books out of the boxes.  There were Heyers and Barbara Cartlands and Gothics like Victoria Holt, old Harlequins, Agatha Christie, my first Austen ((“Emma,” I wish I had that copy!), a few historical romances, even a bit of non-fiction history, which fed my love of the past  

When writing a series, do you have each main character planned out, or do the characters “choose” for you?

–I have something about each character in mind when I start!  (like with the Dollar Duchesses trilogy, I knew Rose would be shy and sensitive, and Violet would be a bit wild and free-spirited!  Even though they are twins, and have each other’s backs at all times, they are very different).  Lily was their protector.  But there are always things about characters that surprise me when I spend more time with them.  They become “real” in my mind, and do some crazy things!    I often find that when I hit “writer’s block” and a story isn’t moving forward, I’m usually trying to make the characters do something they don’t want to do, and I have to start listening to them

What is the most challenging part of writing historical romance?

–The challenge is also what I think is the really fun part!  It’s imagining what people in a different time and place would think about their lives and what is happening around them, and how they would react to them in ways both true to being human (some things never change, like love and hope and fear) and of their time (while also often being a bit ahead  of their times!  My heroes always have respect and admiration for the heroine’s independence and intelligence).  I tend to write in several time periods—Regency (my first love!), Victorian, Tudor, and now the 1920s (my April release, “A Manhattan Heiress in Paris”).  A character would not react the same to events in 1820 as she would in 1520, and it can be tricky to keep that in mind.

What is the best part of writing historical romance?

–Ha!!  The same as the last answer!  I am a research-aholic, I luvvv diving into dusty books and old letters and imagining life in a different era.  The clothes, the food, the scenery, the dances and music, everything.  It’s so much fun!  It can be hard to stop researching and start writing, though, because I can also be a master procrastinator

I have recently read the Dollar Duchesses series, my introduction to your writing.  I had some questions targeting the series.

I had read a couple of historical romance books about American Heiresses going to England to make titled matches. Still, I felt your books made those situations feel organic – what kind of research did you do?

–Oh, lots!  I was introduced to these ladies a long time ago, when I found a copy of Consuelo Vanderbilt’s autobiography “The Glitter and the Gold” in my grandmother’s book box.  I found the idea of a young woman, used to a certain way of life in America, finding herself in a whole new lifestyle in a whole new country, with a husband she might not even know very well (a couple of the heiress-brides had husbands they loved and a good life, but most floundered—the Wilkins sisters, of course, flourish and find romance!).  

Who was the most challenging character to write?  Who was the most natural one to write?

–Surprisingly, I found Violet to be the easiest to write!  She is very different from me, being outgoing and self-confident, a real free spirit who knows who she is and doesn’t compromise on that.  (And her duke, who starts off very straight-laced and somewhat conventional, loves her for that!)  But she just sprang to life in my mind right away.  I also loved researching early photography for her, which was a subject I didn’t know much about starting off!  There were several fascinating real-life Victorian women who were photographers, true artistic pioneers.  

Rose was a bit trickier.  She was quieter and more sensitive, as I tend to be, but she was also more wounded at the beginning, and had to find strength and healing to save her marriage and realize that Jamie truly loves her.  I felt so much for her!

Lily was based on one of my oldest friends, who is one of 3 sisters, so I have a soft spot for her!  She is a true nurturer, a big-sister caretaker who loves deeply.

In all three books, much of the story takes place outside of London; what was the inspiration for the locations?  

–My own love of travel, I think!  I love Venice with a passion, and it seemed like the perfect place for a marriage-in-trouble to find itself again, it’s so beautiful and mysterious and intimate.  And I also love weddings and royal history, which played a great backdrop in gilded, lavish, snowy Imperial Russia for Violet and her photographs.  (I wrote these two stories during Covid lockdowns, too, so it was a travel outlet when I was stuck at home!).  I’ve also written several stories set in London, around the Season, and wanted to branch out a bit.  Aidan’s crumbling stately estate, which Lily makes into a true home, was a fun setting to envision, too.

If you had to cast these books, who would play Lily, Violet, and Rose?  What about Aidan, William, and Jamie?

–I do love to “cast” stories in my head!  (I’m also a Pinterest junkie, and keep mood boards for each story.  Another procrastinator’s trick…)  I pictured Rose Leslie as Rose, with her gorgeous red hair and fair, slightly freckled skin, and William is a bit like Greg Wise, somewhere in between his “Sense and Sensibility” and “The Crown.”  Rose is somewhat like Anya Taylor-Joy, an unusual beauty with a certain delicacy, and Jamie like Rodrigo Santoro in “Love Actually” (my favorite annual holiday watch!).  Lily made me think of Lily James, and Aidan something like a young Henry Cavill

Each of the Dollar Duchesses takes us on an emotional roller-coaster; they are beautifully written character-driven plots.  What message or feeling was most essential to convey from the novels?

–Thank you so much!  They really took me on a roller-coaster, too.  Definitely a theme I had in mind that tied them together was the importance of family and sisterhood.  I love romance novels that are about many kinds of love—the heady rush of finding a soulmate and making a life together, but also friends and children, parents and siblings, even pets!  (I have two dogs I adore myself, and always have jumpy-claps when pets show up in stories!).  The Wilkins sisters are very different from each other, but they understand and accept and defend each other all the way.  Not being alone in facing the ups and downs of life is a wonderful thing.

A Manhattan Heiress In Paris comes out on March 28.

Can you give us any sneak peeks into the book or characters?

–I LOVED writing this story!  But it was definitely one of the most challenging projects I’ve taken on, and I knew I had to get it right.  (It also took a long time to persuade my editor, so I appreciate it all the more).  It’s set in the 1920s, not a very common era yet for historical romance but one I’ve been enamored with for so long.  Paris is my favorite city, and in the 1920s it was astonishing in how much creativity and change was centered there, with people like Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds (who we meet in the book).  I’m also a huge fan of jazz, and it came to symbolize so much about the characters’ relationship as well as their time and place to me.

Eliza is the titular Manhattan heiress, heading to Paris to study piano at the Conservatoire and hopefully find independence from her demanding, conventional family.  I loved her, she is so sweet and kind and sensitive, but also as strong as steel (though she doesn’t know it yet).  Jack is a jazz trumpet player from Harlem, a musical prodigy and genius, also headed to Paris to play his horn in the clubs there.  They come from different worlds, but are true soulmates.  As I wrote I kept thinking “Oh, they HAVE to be together!”

Could you give us any ideas on what is coming next?

–I’ve just started working on a new trilogy, set around three friends (I often seem to have friends o r sisters in my stories!) who start a matchmaking business in Regency Bath!  I love these stories, love the beautiful town of Bath, and their funny (sometimes clueless) clients, as well as their romances.

Finally, I thought our readers could get to know you better.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to write historical romance?

–When I was in the fourth grade, I wrote a (very) short story about a tea-set and it’s various owners, and it won a statewide award!  I was hooked.  I’d done something that was fairly easy, I liked doing it, and people enjoyed it, so I wanted to do more!  My love of reading historical romance made it a natural fit when I (much later) started trying to write more seriously.  Sadly, that first story is still the easiest ever!

I have seen on Goodreads you have several pets. Could you tell us more about your “fur babies”?

–I could talk about them all day!!!  I have two dogs right now, Pippa and Kate, both adopted from Lapdog Rescue but a couple of years apart, and I’ve had cats in the past as well as Pugs and Poodles and dachshunds.  These two are my little writing assistants, sleeping in their beds under my desk until it is walkies time and then it is PENS DOWN…

What is the first thing you do when you finish a book?

–Eat some chocolate!  And maybe, if it’s been an especially hard book to finish (sometimes they are soooo tough, and sometimes they fly by, and I never know when I start which it will be) I might go out and have a drink.  Then it’s clean house time, since it always gets neglected at deadline

Who are your biggest writing influences?

–Probably classics like Austen and the Brontes and Geoge Eliot, who were so great at painting characters and places.  

Where is your favorite place to write?  

–I usually write on a lapdesk on my bed, or sometimes at my proper desk!  But I also love getting out to a coffee shop or my local library’s gorgeous reading room, to get a change of scene.  It’s weird, but I find the crowds and buzzing of a coffee shop to help me concentrate when I’m having a hard time at home (though I drink tea and not coffee!!)

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know about you and your books?  

–That I love to hear from them!  Visit my website at ammandamccabe.com or email me at amccabe7551@yahoo.comanytime at all.  

Thank you, Amanda, for your time!  Each of the Dollar Duchesses resonated with me on an elemental and emotional level.  It was great for your fans and new readers to get to know you better.  

Reviews of The Dollar Duchesses Series

Excerpt

(Jack and Eliza’s first “real” meeting)

The chandelier lights slowly dimmed as a spotlight came on the stage, bright as a full moon.  The band had appeared there while she was distracted, and their instruments gleamed in the new light.  A woman in a gold and white dress on the piano; a clarinet, guitar, drums, a tuba, trombone, trumpet.  Like the waiters, they were all black, though clad in tuxedos like the clientele.  Mr. Berardinelli stepped forward and threw his arms open.

   “Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced, “Mel Johnson and his Hot Seven!”  Applause burst out, and the first song, a raucous, swinging melody started with a flourish.  Eliza found herself swaying in her seat, her toes tapping in her strappy silver shoes, longing to move to that infectious rhythm.

   Then the trumpet player stood up and raised his horn to his lips.  What came out of that horn was incredible.  Faster than she ever would have thought possible from a mere mortal and a small trumpet; rapid-fire repeated notes and delicate echoes; dazzling arpeggios.  Complex beyond belief, but with such a light touch no one would ever know the great difficulty of it.  The spotlight landed squarely on him, gleaming on his high cheekbones, his dark eyes.

   “That’s—no…” Eliza whispered.  Could that really be the boy she met in Central Park all those years ago?  Grown-up now, and how.  Beyond handsome, with those chiseled features and sensual lips, those velvet-brown eyes.  And his tuxedo, though a bit shabby at the cuffs and the fabric a little shiny, stretched perfectly over his broad shoulders and narrow waist as he played.  He had been skinny when she last him; no longer.

   And his playing.  Eliza stared, wide-eyed in amazement.  He had been good in the park, so good she had never forgotten it.  Now he was super-human.  An angel of music indeed.

   He seemed completely absorbed in his song, lost in a soulful moment as she often was at the piano.  A slow, dreamy passage that made her sigh.  But then he grinned, and launched into a gleeful-sounding bridge, fast and twirling like a dancer, spinning higher and higher, quicker and quicker.  Applause rang out from the tables around her.

   “That’s what, Liz?” Mamie asked her.

   Eliza had forgotten she gasped aloud.  “Oh—I just wondered if I’d heard that trumpet player before.  He’s marvelous.”

   “We’ve been trying to get the Hot Seven to record for us,” one of Mamie’s admirers, some sort of music promoter, said.  “Coleman there is going to be big.  As big as King Oliver, maybe.  So far no luck with them, though.”

   Coleman—that was what the boy had said he was called.  Eliza nodded, watching as he played on toward the denouement of his song.

   “You should get Liz to talk to them,” Mamie said.  “She knows all about good music, and if she thinks he’s that talented…”

   Another of Mamie’s admirers, a drunk young stockbroker, laughed loudly, harshly.  “He’d be so dazzled by a blondie, he wouldn’t be able to talk.”

   Eliza felt her face turn hot, her hands shake with anger at such a word.  She turned sharply away from him, staring hard at the stage.  A waiter, his dark eyes impassive, poured out more champagne for them.

   Coleman sat down, and the band swung into a popular dance tune as people swarmed back onto the floor.  Their playing as a group was fine, even fun, but it made Eliza realize just how far Coleman’s trumpet could transform the sentiments of a cheap tune into genuine emotion.  It was a rare talent.

   “Jack ‘Baby Sweets’ Coleman, everyone,” Mel Johnson said, waving his baton.  So now she knew his name.  Jack Coleman.

   Mamie refused to dance with the applejacked stockbroker, and took to the floor with the music promoter.  Eliza certainly didn’t want to stay at the table with the boozy fella.  She wandered away, listening to the music, watching the dancers.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time, but no one seemed to realize what had just happened right in front of them.  The music she had just heard had sent her skyrocketing, and she couldn’t quite climb down.

   The band changed to a straightforward dance group, playing for a more raucous Charleston, and Eliza noticed Mr. Coleman standing in the stage wings, watching them as he smoked a cigarette and leaned against a stage prop.  His eyes were narrowed as if he didn’t quite approve of the tune.  She didn’t blame him one bit.  

   Unable to help herself, she hurried up the side stage steps, in the shadows where no one would notice her.  It was most unlike her to ever be so bold, yet she had to do it.  Something powerful seemed to push her forward. “Mr. Coleman,” she said.  “I just wanted to say—well, that your playing was utterly gorgeous.  Those glissandos…!  And I would never have imagined a top note like that possible.  Though I’m sure you hear that all the time.”

   He stared at her in silence for a long moment.  Too long.  His eyes were wide, and he seemed frozen.  She started to feel very, very silly.  “You’re on your break.  I’m sorry…”

   He pointed his cigarette at her before crushing it out in a nearby ashtray stand.  “You’re the bird girl.”

   Eliza was startled.  She glanced down at her borrowed dress; no feathers anywhere.  “I’m the what?”

   “From the park.  The girl up the tree.”

   Eliza laughed in shock.  “You remember me?”

   “Sure.  Not every day a girl in white fur throws a stick at you from a tree.”  He stood up straight, a slow smile growing on his lips.  “You were a musician, too.  Still play?”

   “Oh, yes.  Some.”  She wanted so much to tell him all about the Conservatoire, about her discoveries about herself, about people and life and flight, all learned at her piano keys.  She really was behaving strangely; she barely even knew herself.  But there was something about him, something warm and fascinating,  easy to talk to, that drew her closer.

   Anyone who could play like that must know so very much about—everything.  Not to mention how beautiful those eyes were, even though up-close she could see some trace of hardness around them, of watchful sadness.

   “I can’t play like you, though,” she said instead, feeling even sillier.  “My cousin’s friend says you’re going to be as big as King Oliver.”

   He smiled again, a wide, white slash of a grin, and he looked so young again, those traces of some old sorrow around his eyes vanished.  “Is your cousin’s friend a clairvoyant?”

   Eliza laughed.  “No, a music promoter of some sort.”

   “Even better.  Well, from his lips to God’s ears, as my ma would say.”

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Again, thank you, Amanda, for taking the time for us to get to know you better!  Please watch for my review of A Manhattan Heiress In Paris later this month!

Her Ruthless Duke by Scarlett Scott

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Her Ruthless Duke is the first book in the Rogue’s Guild series by Scarlett Scott.  I have been in a Sutton’s conclusion hangover ever since Logan’s story concluded that amazing series.  Her Ruthless Duke not only ended my ennui, but it also catapulted me into historical romance heaven!

Trevor Hunt, the Duke of Ridgely, is an unrepentant rogue and ruthless ex-spy.  Lady Virtue Walcot upends Trevor’s world when she becomes his ward.  Trevor must deal with his troubling, alluring ward while trying to find out who is trying to kill him.  The trouble really does come when these two turbulent souls’ relationship evolves from annoyance to passion.

Trevor and Virtue are vivid, lively, captivating characters.  They fight with tenacity for what is between them, but when they fail, the pages turn to fire!  My favorite part of the book is the back-and-forth bantering between the guardian and the ward.  Virtue can annoy Trevor like no one else; she can also stir emotions Trevor thought he didn’t have.

This sensual, emotionally explosive romance was excellent at all levels.  The plot was paced perfectly and was intriguing and passionate.  The writing was elegant, and even with an intriguing mystery, this is a character-driven plot.  I invested one hundred percent into Trevor and Virtue’s adventurous journey.  I now have a new Scarlett Scott series to obsess over!  I am eagerly waiting for Pamela’s story in Her Dangerous Beast!  Scarlett Scott, as usual, has delivered passionate romance perfection!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through the author.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Publication Date: March 16, 2023

Mafia Heir by Sabine Barclay

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Mafia Heir is the first book in the Mancinelli Brotherhood series by Sabine Barclay.  This book is set in the same world as the Ivankov Brotherhood.  I love seeing the Italian point of view!  Mafia Heir delivers everything I expect from a Sabine Barclay romance – danger, intrigue, and fiery passion.

Olivia sees something she shouldn’t, and Luca saves her life.  Luca vows to protect Olivia, and soon the couple finds themselves in an electric, passionate relationship endangered by the violence surrounding them.  Luca, wow!  He is definitely book-boyfriend material.  I loved his singular focus on Olivia.  Olivia has a quiet strength that makes her stand out.  Together Luca and Olivia burn the page!  The sensual physicality is heightened even more by the couple’s soulmate connection.

These books are my introduction to mafia romance.  Sabine Barclay has created a vivid, visceral world that captures your imagination and heart.  These books are violent at times, yet the powerful connection between Luca and Olivia shines brightly.  This is a fast-paced, action-filled plot with amazing character development.  The writing is spot-on perfection; I felt like a member of the family!  If you’re looking for something powerfully intense and breathtakingly passionate, I urge you to jump into the world of the Mancinelli Brotherhood!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through BookSprout.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Publication Date: March 14, 2023

Winning Back His Duchess by Amanda McCabe

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Winning Back His Duchess is the third and final book in the Dollar Duchesses series by Amanda McCabe.  This book is breathtaking in its raw, organic, emotional pull.  I was drawn into Jamie and Rose’s story instantly.  Jamie and Rose had a whirlwind romance and marriage.  Unfortunately, the couple hit hard times and faced the breakdown of their marriage.  When Rose approaches Jamie for a divorce, Jamie is devastated and pleads for one more chance.  Rose’s heart has been shattered, and she must determine if she can take the chance of loving Jamie again.

I have read many estranged marriage stories, but none of those gave me the gut-wrenching heartbreak this plot did.  I liked how we see the marriage breakdown from Jamie and Rose’s perspective.  The journey from young infatuation to determining if they can find something more from the ashes of their marriage is breathtaking.  I love how Jamie and Rose realize it will take both of their efforts to push away the past and start over as the people they are now.

All three Wilkens sisters have entranced me; Rose’s story is the one which stole my heart.  Winning Back His Duchess was hauntingly emotional and beautifully redemptive.  Jamie and Rose fight hard for their marriage.  This second-chance romance made me believe that love can mature and bloom from a wrecked foundation.  I am the writing equivalent of being speechless; this book was that good!

I voluntarily read and reviewed a gifted copy of this book through the author.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Publication Date: March 29, 2022