Friday, August 18, 2017

Review & Tour: Once Upon a Lady by Addie Jo Ryleigh


Title: Once Upon a Lady
Author: Addie Jo Ryleigh
Genre/Age: Historical Romance/Adult
Series: Soul Mate Tree Series (Book Eight)
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Format: ebook via Tasty Tours
Rating: ✺✺✺
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisRespectable Lady Katherine Baxton, striving to meet the requirements of her station, has become the ultimate dutiful daughter. And now, the Duke of Blackthorn’s betrothed. Far from a love match, Kate is nevertheless determined to do as expected and marry.

That all changes the night she panics at her impending future and runs, stumbling upon a private grove, a mysterious tree . . . and a half-naked man.

The youngest son of a viscount widely thought to have purchased his title, Jackson Cooper demonstrates his disdain for the aristocracy by affording himself every luxury available—drinking, wenching, and gambling—while eschewing anything representing the ton. Jackson has little care for his reputation and no desire to marry. His escape from London is all but complete.

Until fate—in the form of a beautiful, mysterious lady—interrupts his plans, enticing him with the very thing he never wanted.

Kate felt his approach before she saw him. Which wasn’t all that surprising since her body had remained mindful of his presence. Fighting the impulse proved fruitless.

When his tall frame blocked the sun and cast her in shadow, she knew besides giving him a direct cut, she had no escape. If only she hadn’t ventured from her sister’s side. At the time, abandoning Helena had been her singular option since their slow stroll through the gathering had traveled too close to the very man standing beside her. She’d been delaying the inevitable.

Kate was now alone, as she tried to keep her attention on the lawn activities before her, hoping no one would witness what was about to happen.

“Aren’t sprites confined to the trees?” His deep voice washed over her.

She didn’t turn to acknowledge him. “How nice to see you properly dressed for once.”

His chuckle warmed her. “Are you following me?”

An unladylike snort refused to be repressed. “Hardly. You are rather difficult to overlook, being the only unknown face here.”

“That’s not true. You’ve seen my face . . . as well as other, more interesting parts.”

Kate wished she’d listened to her sister and worn a bonnet. Anything to mask the heat flaring in her cheeks.

Thankfully he remained at her side and hadn’t a clear view of her face. “We have not been introduced. I can’t be seen speaking to you.”

“Then let us go where we can't be seen.”

Her heart raced at his boldness. Why was this man so tempting? She was spoken for, though still unofficially. Proper ladies didn’t follow strange men to private locations, regardless of their marital status. “Absolutely not.”

“Even if I have something of yours?”

Blast! Her ring. Given her luck lately, she would have lost it in the grove of all places. Her aunt would toss in her grave knowing Kate had misplaced her gift.

“A true gentleman would return it.”

His deep laugh caused her pulse to flutter. “I’m no gentleman. Or haven’t you heard?”


Addie Jo Ryleigh writes historical regency romances that feature rakish heroes and strong feisty heroines. 

Addie Jo has lived in the same cold-winter-hot-summer area of Minnesota her entire life. Sharing in the raising of her three extremely rambunctious boys is her very understanding husband who endured being dubbed “The Duke” by his co-workers. Keeping Addie Jo company while she writes (besides her wonderfully loud children) is her yorkipoo, Bella, who is never far from her side. And recently the newest addition to their family, a black lab named Max.

Addie Jo has always had a love and passion for romance books and became engrossed in historical romance (particularly Regency) soon after graduating from Lurlene McDaniel’s young adult books. Currently, she reads any genre that has a great emotional story that keeps her reading into the early hours of the morning.

Addie Jo has a bachelor degree in accounting and is a financial coordinator when not playing chauffeur for her hockey-playing boys, cuddled up with a good book, or writing her next story.

Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Buy Links: AMAZON

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**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

I think the Soul Mate Tree put me under its spell too!

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Kate isn't sure what to do about her current predicament. She's about to become engaged to a handsome duke who meets almost all of the required traits of a good husband. Except for one. He just doesn't stir passionate feelings inside her when they are together. And she feels as if marrying him is more out of duty than anything. But the Soul Mate Tree has made other plans for her future.


Jackson isn't sure why he is so enamored by Kate the first time he meets her. There is something about the young woman that sets him ablaze and even though he doesn't desire a life of marriage, he can't help but want to get closer to this wood nymph. Yet, the more he does, the clearer it becomes that the plan for his life may change drastically after the legendary tree gets ahold of him.

I loved this story. It was historical romance but with a slight twist of paranormal in the match-making tree bringing our couple together. 

Don't get me wrong, when our pair first meet, I was stunned by how it happened. And because of that situation, I was a little wary of Jackson for a while. I needed him to prove himself to be more than a rake and worthy of Kate's affection. Because Kate really was a great character and she deserved nothing less than forever.

I'm happy to say that both characters impressed me in the end. And they weren't the only ones. Another certain eligible bachelor handled himself with such grace that left me hoping to see him find his own happily ever after. But I won't go into details and give anything away. I will say that if the author decides to write a story with this particular duke, I am all on board!

As for our couple, I enjoyed watching them slowly come to understand their feelings for each other. Kate needed to learn how to stand on her own two feet and Jackson had to discover what was truly worth fighting for. Their chemistry was great and the naughty time left me smiling. I was all-around pleased with this book. 

In closing... 
I will be reading the fifth book of this series in the coming weeks. I hope it's as good as this one but it has some tough competition, that's for sure. Five suns!


Release Blitz: The Duke's Defiant Bride by Michelle McMaster

HAPPY RELEASE DAY
The Duke's Defiant Bride Tour Graphic
THE DUKE'S DEFIANT BRIDE
Michelle McMaster
The Duke of Hawksmoor reunites with a beautiful spy from his past...but can he trust the defiant Lady Blade?
The Duke's Defiant Bride
Series: Brides of Mayfair Book 4
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
Publication Date: August 18, 2017
Carver Adams, the powerful Duke of Hawksmoor and brave war hero, makes a shocking discovery at a glittering Mayfair ball. The one woman he could never forget––the infamous spy, Lady Blade––is very much alive. Though he balks at the idea of teaming up with the woman who betrayed him and his men during the war, the beautiful former French spy may be the key to his next undercover mission.
Juliet Reed never wanted to love the handsome British army captain. After an unspeakable tragedy changes her life forever, the half-English and half-French young woman became a deadly spy for the French, known as Lady Blade. When she is taken captive by Captain Adams, the two enemies must fight against the heated attraction that burns between them, or betray everything they have fought for.
Now, a year after the Battle of Waterloo, the two former lovers––and former enemies––must re-unite in order to stop a dangerous plot which could cost many innocent lives. But with their volatile past and their dangerous passion for each other re-ignited, will the two star-crossed lovers risk everything to trust each other once more?

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An Excerpt from the Book

Take an inside look at The Duke's Defiant Bride. Read this sizzling excerpt from the book.
Bellamy House,
Mayfair, London
April, 1816
Carver Adams, the Duke of Hawksmoor, had a secret. Two, actually—and either one of them would knock the ton on its head if the truth ever came out.
As he stepped into the glittering ballroom of Bellamy House, he scanned the room for his host and spotted him immediately.
His old friend, Beckett, the Earl of Ravenwood, took notice of his arrival and approached with champagne in hand.
"Your Grace," Beckett said, bowing slightly. "Welcome. Though I’m a bit surprised to see you here tonight. Are you finally in the market for a bride?"
Carver chuckled. "You never quit, do you, Beckett."
"Certainly not. If you are, Isobel would be happy to help. Lady Weston would, too, I suspect. Look, there are Alfred and Prudence, now."
Carver turned to see Alfred, Baron Weston and his beautiful wife, Prudence, taking the final steps in a lively quadrille in the center of the ballroom. They turned and locked eyes with Carver, smiled and approached.
"Tell me, Your Grace, is it true? Are you on the hunt for a duchess at last?"
He was on the hunt for something, or someone, Carver mused to himself. But men like him always were.
"There is quite a crop of beautiful young ladies to choose from here this evening," Alfred added, scanning the room. "Simply take your pick."
His wife cocked her head to the side. "I do beg your pardon, Alfred, but what of the young ladies? Do they not have a say in this? Perhaps they don’t wish to have a husband. Even a duke. Pardon my saying so, Your Grace."
Prudence, Baroness Weston, was known for her independent speech and intelligent mind, which was no surprise, considering she ran a successful school for young ladies who came from troubled backgrounds, or even the streets themselves.
"I am not seeking a duchess this evening, Lady Weston," Carver replied. "But if I were, you and Lady Ravenwood would be the first I would consult for advice and recommendations. You are both modern-thinking ladies, and as you know, I have come to the dukedom rather late in life. Truth be told, I still feel like nothing but a lowly captain of the West Devonshire, and nothing more."
"Forgive me, Your Grace," she replied with a charming glimmer in her eye, "but as my husband tells it, Captain Carver Adams was quite a distinguished soldier. You led many brave missions in the Peninsula and saved countless English lives. You are a true hero."
Carver thanked her but looked away from the compliment, for there was one mission where he had failed catastrophically—the mission to escort a beautiful French spy, Lady Blade, to his superiors at Villarosa.
Two-and-a half years later, those hellish events still haunted him in the darkest hours of the night. The explosions… The screams of dying men...
And of course, the beautiful Lady Blade haunted him most of all.

Other Books by Michelle McMaster

Don't miss the other books in the Brides of Mayfair series. Join the handsome heroes and spunky heroines of this sparkling series, as they find romance and adventure in the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair in Regency London.
"Michelle McMaster knows exactly how to keep readers entertained with the perfect mix of romance and laughter."
- USA Today Bestselling Author, Julianne MacLean

Seducing the Bride

Taming the Bride

His Courtesan Bride

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About Michelle McMaster

Michelle McMasterMichelle McMaster loves writing about dashing heroes and spunky heroines in her historical romances, and is known for humorous dialogue and memorable characters. Michelle holds a degree in English Literature from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. She enjoys travelling, reading, quilting, and gardening. She lives on the east coast of Canada with her husband and their two dogs, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and a Border Collie mix.

Official website: http://michellemcmaster.com/

Connect with Michelle McMaster on social media: Facebook | Twitter

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Excerpt & Tour: Elemental Trials by Ronelle Antoinette


Title: Errant Spark
Author: Ronelle Antoinette
Genre/Age: Fantasy Romance/Adult
Series: Elemental Trials Series (Book One)
Publisher: Self-published
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisThey say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but In Egalion’s Imperial court, you can't tell one from the other...especially when they change at the flip of a coin. Behind the luxury and splendor lies a realm of treachery where cloak-and-dagger political maneuvering threatens to destroy the peace of two thousand years. 


Twenty-five-year-old Battlemage Jex Xander has a mouth that frequently gets him into trouble, while in contrast, Enari Namelum speaks not at all. When Jex becomes the target of a faceless curse-slinger, Enari, the girl he has protected since the day they met, must now protect him. A string of ritual human sacrifices coupled with Jex’s growing inability to keep his feelings (and hands) to himself only serve to complicate matters. Amidst the mounting chaos, passion and romance should be the last thing on their minds, but life and the Goddess seem to have other ideas.

In a world as enticing as it is perilous, love, danger, and magic will collide, leaving lives irrevocably changed. The events of a single summer stand to change the course of more than just the kingdom of Egalion and the ones dismissed as pawns may yet prove to b the most important players.

Errant Spark is the hush before the storm, the last deep breath before the plunge. The flint has been struck and it’s possible the whole world might go up in flames…because love in the Imperial court is as dangerous a thing as backroom politics and jealousy can be as much a driving force as silver and gold.

***
Fantasy? Action? Romance? Yes! This romantic fantasy novel by Ronelle Antoinette is a broad, epic, sweeping fantasy with more twists and turns and ups and downs than a wild roller-coaster! The first installment of the Elemental Trials series is one of those books that really is so much more than what the blurb can convey. Described as “surprisingly complex and visionary” by one reviewer, Errant Spark will leave you mesmerized from the first page to the last. 

Hailed by Amazing Stories Magazine’s Ricky L Brown as “a simple story about interesting characters with just enough romance and magic to make it work.” Errant Spark is as complex as George RR Martin, with a world that is well-suited for conniving and cavorting. Rest assured, there is plenty of sex and violence, but not as raw and stabby as the aforementioned works. It’s more like a big kid’s version of a fairy tale.

Recommended for:
•Mature teens and up
•Fans of epic fantasy and romance
•Those looking for characters they want to eat…or take home and enjoy
•Readers who can appreciate a gorgeous tapestry of magic, myth, and mayhem
•Connoisseurs of fine love stories that compliment the plot and that ‘slow burn’
•Lovers of surprises, twists-and-turns, and well-placed, necessary supernatural elements
•Anyone looking for sex, magic, love, fantasy, and a story that will sweep you away
•Those who don’t mind staying up all night so they can turn that final page

Update: As of 11/21/16, a series glossary has been included at the end of this novel (in ebook and print form only).






Title: Flash Point
Author: Ronelle Antoinette
Genre/Age: Fantasy Romance/Adult
Series: Elemental Trials Series (Book Two)
Publisher: Self-published
LinksGoodreads
Synopsis Scandal will shake foundations.

A night of careless passion leaves Battlemage Jex Xander and Adept Enari Alycon in a precarious position. Long-time lovers they might be, but the Imperial ambassador and the daughter of Egalion’s High Mage have rather public roles in the court—whether they wish it or not—and scandal couldn’t come at a worse time. 

Treachery will tip balances.

When a hostile kingdom reluctantly agrees to parley, the fate of two-thousand years of peace is on the line. In the midst of negotiations, Enari becomes the target of one of the Greater Maelstrom. She and Jex must race against time to save her life and that of her unborn child. What happens when an earth-shattering secret, a demon bent on destruction, and a kingdom teetering on the brink of war collide is anyone’s guess.

Choices will have consequences.

The decisions of a few will determine the fate of many, and who or what will remain standing in the end is still uncertain. Hearts and lives are on the cusp of irrevocable change…and not necessarily for the better.

And secrets? Those will change everything.



He raised the shard, letting her examine it for a heartbeat or two, then used the blade to cut her palm and his own. Enari winced at the line of pain that blazed across her skin, biting back a hiss just in time to keep from breaking the mandate of silence. Jex pressed their weeping palms together and laced his fingers through hers.

She could almost taste her own dread now, bitter as a mouthful of lemon rind.

“Blood to blood and gift to gift,” Jex intoned, “I lend you my strength for the test ahead. I will hold the door so you may pass and may it be with joy that I close it after your return.” There was a hint of fear in his emerald eyes as he spoke the final words.

“Initiate, it is time for you to face The Pool and The Dweller below,” her father announced.

Sweat broke out across her forehead and the back of her neck as her eyes settled on The Pool.

Jex rose to his feet, fingers still twined with hers, and she balked, not wanting to go any nearer to that still and menacing water. He reached behind her and seized her belt, forcing her up and forward. His hand remained at the small of her back to hold her in place once they stood at the very lip of The Pool.

Her stomach knotted and a slithering nausea twisted its greasy fingers around her throat. She swallowed hard and tasted bile.

Jex put his mouth against her ear and began to speak.

“We have to lower you into the water. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and don’t be afraid. It’ll be over before you know it.”

She turned to him, shaking her head. More than anything, she did not want to let that black water touch her. Blue eyes met green and she pled the only way she could.

His expression went flat and his voice hardened. “You asked me to serve as your Chosen. Let me do my duty.”

“Be silent!” the high mage barked.

Jex gave him a dirty look, but nodded once and the two men took hold of her, each putting a hand under one of her arms and grasping her hands in theirs. With agonizing slowness, they began to lower her.

The first shock of bitter cold stole her breath.

As the velvet of her robe became wet, it dragged on her and clung to her legs. She kicked, trying to free her feet but the heavy fabric stuck fast.

Before she was half-submerged, she started to tremble. The water felt just short of freezing solid and had a slimy quality that disgusted her.

Soon, only her head remained clear and Jex was crouching at her side, still gripping her bloody hand. His other settled on her hair.

“Deep breath, now,” he directed.

And before she could even think to scream, he jerked his hand free of hers and thrust her head beneath the surface.


Ronelle Antoinette lives in western Colorado with her husband, two cats, and one dog-who-believes-he's-a-person. While she is a mother of none, she’s an auntie to what should qualify as a small army. She is an admitted caffeine addict, chocoholic, and hopeless romantic who has carried on a passionate affair with the genre of fantasy since she was old enough to read 'chapter books'. 

Ronelle dabbled in creative writing for many years before making it a career. (She even considered it as a major in college, though she ended up getting a Bachelor's degree in Counseling Psychology.) She published her first novel, Errant Spark, in July of 2016. 


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Promo & Tour: The Chocolatier's Series by Cindy Lynn Speer


Title: The Chocolatier's Wife
Author: Cindy Lynn Speer
Genre/Age: Fantasy Mystery/Adult
Series: Unknown
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing
LinksGoodreads
Synopsis: ROMANCE, MAGIC, MYSTERY.... AND CHOCOLATE

A truly original, spellbinding love story, featuring vivid characters in a highly realistic historical setting.

When Tasmin's bethrothed, William, is accused of murder, she gathers her wind sprites and rushes to his home town to investigate. She doesn't have a shred of doubt about his innocence. But as she settles in his chocolate shop, she finds more in store than she bargained for. Facing suspicious townsfolk, gossiping neighbors, and William's own family, who all resent her kind - the sorcerer folk from the North -- she must also learn to tell friend from foe, and fast. For the real killer is still on the loose - and he is intent on ruining William's family at all cost.



Title: The Chocolatier's Ghost
Author: Cindy Lynn Speer
Genre/Age: Fantasy Mystery/Adult
Series: Unknown
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisMarried to her soul mate, the chocolatier William, Tasmin should not have to worry about anything at all. But when her happily ever after is interrupted by the disappearance of the town’s wise woman, she rushes in to investigate. Faced with dangers, dead bodies, and more mysterious disappearances, Tasmin and William must act fast to save their town and themselves – especially when Tasmin starts to be haunted by a most unwelcome ghost from her past…literally.

The Chocolatier’s Ghost is an enchanting sequel to Cindy Lynn Speer’s bestselling romantic mystery, The Chocolatier’s Wife.


At the top of the hill, the snow spun and shimmered in the cruel wind. As she neared it, she slowed. Tasmin didn't want to step into that whirling, dancing wall of snow, but she mentally kicked herself and kept going. Home and warmth, Tasmin. Not so far, now. Just stop letting your imagination draw strange fancies where nothing is.

She crested the hill, and the wind fell silent. The snow fell away, except for one spot, where it swirled and settled, drawing details that glowed faintly in the darkness to become the figure of a woman. Her head turned slowly, looking over her shoulder at Tasmin, and then the rest of her followed suit, the snow falling and lifting and resettling on the curves and folds that outlined the silvery figure. She stared at Tasmin, moving her head this way and that, as if trying to focus on the face in front of her, considering.

The ghost tilted her head, reaching out one hand slowly, making as if she would touch Tasmin. Tasmin backed up a step. The hand was getting closer, and she panicked. No herbs, no amulets would help her, but she did have another talent, thin and unpracticed, but still there.

She raised a fist, palm towards the figure, and opened it quickly, warding the touch away. "Forbidden," she whispered, and a spear of air shattered through the snow. The ghost disappeared, and the world seemed to right itself, the wind died down and everything seemed to be normal.

She stepped carefully around the newly formed pile of snow and continued her walk home. Determined not to think any more about it, she stripped off her clothes and fell into bed, half wondering if her exhausted mind had not conjured the whole thing.



What kind of writer am I?
by Cindy Lynn Speer

I am very much a catch as catch can writer. I start with something that enchants me, a character, a plot idea. Sometimes I hear the first line of the story, and I am able to just sit down and start typing.

The first draft I just write. I try and make sure that every day, when I end, I leave myself in a place where I know where I am going next. I write notes to myself in the text instead of research -- “Check to see if that was how it was done” sort of things or “Need more here later.” Anything that stops me, I try and avoid.

I sometimes use things like Liquid Story Binder to create dossiers when I go through the second draft -- I want everything to be consistent, so as I go I make notes about anything I am worried about forgetting -- Fae hierarchy. Names of wind sprites and what they are like. Little pieces of the character’s pasts that impact the story or may come up later.

Also, during the second draft, I split things up into chapters using Scrivener, because you can keep everything together in the same file, but when the file is opened the chapters are each in their own section. It’s it something that happens automatically, I copy and paste from the first draft document. If it’s a story with multiple view points I color code the chapters so that I can see where I need to add -- I like to switch view points (mostly) at chapter changes and I like to “take turns” with characters for that reason.

The first draft is the skeleton, it’s also where I get the joy of discovery. The second draft is the musculature and ligaments -- I expand the story, I make sure everything flows, that it all makes sense. It’s where I sit down and make sure that things are not rushed through -- I tend to rush when I am excited because I have this fear of boring my audience, and it manifests in me rushing through some scenes. So I make sure the timing is good, that everything makes sense. It is the longest part of the process.

Third draft is when I print it, and I sit down with it and edit it for grammar, auto-correct errors, and such. I also ask myself questions -- “Do I explain this thing earlier?” “Are his eyes always green?” “Do I need this here?”

Then, I open the file, and I make the corrections, and answer the questions. Usually, unless I did a ton of work, that’s my last draft until my publisher and editor do their work.

I think, sometimes, that outlining and doing dossiers first and really building my world might be good…it would give me handles to grab if I left that world for a long time, but I find I do not have the patience. Maybe I would if I was a full time writer, I don’t know.


Cindy Lynn Speer has been writing since she was 13. She has Blue Moon and Unbalanced published by Zumaya. Her other works, including The Chocolatier’s Wife (recently out in an illustrated hardcover to celebrate its 10th anniversary) and the Chocolatier’s Ghost, as well as the short story anthology Wishes and Sorrows. When she is not writing she is either practicing historical swordsmanship, sewing, or pretending she can garden. She also loves road trips and seeing nature. Her secret side hobby is to write really boring bios about herself. You can find out more about her at www.cindylynnspeer.com, or look for her on Facebook (Cindy Lynn Speer) and Twitter (cindylynnspeer).


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