Tag Archives: #greatreads

Queen of the Historical Novella triumphs again

Book Review: Stranded with the Scottish Early by Anna Campbell

I adore Anna Campbell’s romances, with their combination of wit and passion. Stranded with the Scottish Earl is a Regency novella and a delightful quick read perfect for a work-night evening escape or a weekend treat.

It opens memorably and so I was (once again) hooked from the start.

Stranded with the Scottish Earl‘A week before Easter, Ewan Macrae, Earl of Lyle, rode through a raging storm to reach Basington Grange – only to discover Cinderella guarding the the door.

‘Good afternoon,’ the lassie in the ragged brown skirt said coolly, holding the door open just far enough to speak to him. To keep the rain out? Or to fend off unexpected earls?

At twenty-eight, Lyle wasn’t a green lad to stammer in a lady’s presence. Still, he needed a few seconds to catch his breath and dredge some response from the mush that used to be his brain.

Cinderella was very pretty.

He swallowed, shifted on his feet like a yokel and located a word or two. Hardly original. ‘Good afternoon.’

Cinderella had creamy skin and rich honey-coloured hair, tumbing loose around her slender shoulders. Symmetrical streaks of dirt adorned high, slanted cheekbones. Half a dozen freckles set off a sweet, straight nose.

She really was a peach. Not even the half-closed door could hide .

‘You need to turn around and go back,’ she said after an awkward pause. From the depth of the house behind her, a dog yapped to warn off the intruder.

‘But I’ve only just arrived,’ he said, trying a smile. Despite his hat and thick greatcoat, a trickle of water traced a chilly path down his neck. ‘I’d love to come in out of the rain for a wee while. It’s hurtling it down in buckets.’

‘To confirm his statement, a gust of wind spattered raindrops across where he stood beneath the unreliable shleter of the portico. Damn it all, the weather was cold enough for Scotland.

He was used to his smile melting the frost off unwelcoming lassies. Cinderella was made of sterner stuff. Under gracefully arched eyebrows darker than her hair, the amber eyes remained wary. ‘No, you really need to go back.’

So begins Lyle’s madcap adventure and unconventional wooing of Cinderella, who he knows is really Miss Charlotte Warren. She attempts to conceal here identity knowing that he is the man her father thought would suit her as a husband, a fact he informed her of by letter from London. Charlotte does not wish to marry, and she is not sure who she is more annoyed with – her father for talking to this Scottish rake without her leave or said Scottish rake for daring to come and look her over when he knew perfectly well her father was not at home.

However, Lyle is decided. He fell in love the moment she opened the door. Now all he has to do is convince Cinderella Charlotte that the feeling is mutual and admit her identity –even if he has to rescue sheep in the pouring rain to do so.

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#AWW2016

Cinderella may be the Queen of Lyle’s heart, but Anna Campbell is undoubtedly the Queen of the Historical Novella, seamlessly combining humour, period detail, passion and love in small parcels of story dynamite. Read and enjoy.

Stranded with the Scottish Earl is available as an ebook. You can find out more about the delightful Anna here: http://annacampbell.com/about-anna/

5 hearts all

 

New book review: The Most Scandalous Ravensdale by Melanie Milburne

The Most Scandalous Ravensdale by Melanie Milburne (Harlequin Sexy) is book four in Milburne RavensdaleAWWC.jpgMelanie’ Ravensdale series. The Ravensdales in question are the sons and daughters of famous theatre actors Richard and Elisabetta Ravensdale – except for Kat, the heroine of book four, who is Richard’s illegitimate daughter.

Kat’s mother tells her on her deathbed that Richard is her father and that he paid her many years ago to have an abortion to preserve his reputation and his marriage. Now the press has found out about her existence, and Richard is trying to make amends. Kat wants nothing to do with him. She knows he is only interested in ‘damage control’ not in her. In fact, she’s furious the press has found out because her dream is a career in theatre, but she wants to make it on her own not on the back of the family name. Is that even possible in a world where image is everything and the gossip of the gutter press knows no bounds? When Kat is labelled the most ‘scandalous’ Ravensdale, it is not a synonym for outrageous but acceptable behaviour from yet another famous-for-being-famous celebrity but a hurtful tag reflecting the damage done to both Kat and Richard’s acknowledged family.

However, Richard is a man who believes all problems can be smoothed over, and he is not about to take no for an answer. He sets his hotshot lawyer Flynn Carlyon the task of changing her mind. Flynn is both charming and cynical and he relishes a challenge. He understands the nature of his client but he is also arrogant enough to think he knows what is best for Kat and that she will benefit from meeting the brothers and sisters she never knew.

The chemistry between Kat and Flynn is instant; it smoulders between them waiting for one small spark to trigger combustion. Flynn sets the scene. After all, he is willing and able to use all his charms to change Kat’s mind. He knows and she knows it. Kat’s mind may be strong but her body is tempted, so very tempted. Meanwhile Kat gets the audition of a lifetime only to find out it will pair her with Elisabetta, the one person in theatre with a good reason for wishing she doesn’t exist. Could her life get any more complicated?

Flynn is also finding his life unexpectedly complicated by his latest assignment. As he gets to know Kat, he realises he couldn’t (and doesn’t want to) force her into the decision to acknowledge Richard, no matter how much he thinks she deserves a place in the Ravensdale family.

As a reader, I was conflicted as Kat closed in on an inevitable meeting with her father. Part of me wanted to encourage her to turn her back and walk away in the hope it might teach him a long overdue lesson. However, another part of me knew that there is little point in cutting of your nose to spite your face. Pride alone cannot change facts and, as a rule, the earlier those facts are faced, the better. Sometimes there are even unexpected bonuses to meeting challenges head on. Would that prove true for Kate. Could her fledgling relationship  with Flynn withstand the assault of everyday complications and conflicting loyalties, especially with the whole world watching? You’ll have to read The Most Scandalous Ravensdale to find out.

Within both the confines of Kat and Flynn’s relationship and the series as a whole Melanie Milburne has examined the concept of family and what it means. Her view is prosaic and not at all rose-coloured. An adopted child who is always the ugly duckling of his family. A single parent family where the daughter is the caregiver. A tight-knit but dysfunctional family where the façade displays one truth and the occupants know another. The varied reasons why people remain tied by by blood and need. The happy family which offers hope that others can build their own. Can love conquer all? How?

It’s difficult to develop a passionate happy ending for two characters and include thoughtful observations on the nature of family, the ties that bind and the way those ties influence and affect us in a short novel; somehow Melanie gets it right.

I enjoyed Kat and Flynn’s story very much; I just wish I could have spent a little more time with
them.

I won a copy of The Most Scandalous Ravensdale via Harlequin Junkie and was delighted to read the final instalment in this series.

4 hearts

 

 

About the author

Melanie MilburneAustralian Melanie Milburne is a USA Today bestselling author. She started reading Mills & Boon romances when she was seventeen. Luckily, reading is the best form of research for a writer so she is able to combine work and pleasure. Melanie has won several awards including the Australian Romance Readers Association’s (ARRA) most popular category series romance in 2008 and the prestigious Romance Writers of Australia RUBY award in 2011. You can find out more about Melanie, her books and how to connect with her on her website.

New book review: Escaping Mr Right by Avril Tremayne

I’m delighted to feature Escaping Mr Right as my first book review for the Australian Women Writers 2016 challenge. I was hooked right from the opening lines:

Nick Savage was like the human incarnation of a heat-seeking missile. Unfortunately, his target was me. Always, always me.

Aside from the immediate introduction of humour, I got an intriguing glimpse into Chloe, a AWWC16 Escaping Mr Rightwoman clearly attractive to others (or at least to A.N. Other) who didn’t want to be in the limelight. Interesting. In addition, first person is unusual in a romance, so I curled up in my favourite chair in happy anticipation of a great story.

Avril Tremayne lived up to the promise of that opening sentence, delivering a smart and sassy romance with a dark heart that lingered long after I read ‘the end’. The story packs the emotional punch of a black forest cake layered with kirsch-infused cherries and topped with cream – rich, melt-in-your-mouth sensuality with a powerful kick.

Escaping Mr Right moves between the glamour of a high-paying sports code and the desperate plight of orphans in the Phillipines. Chloe Masters is a television presenter whose boyfriend Marcus is the high profile captain of the Sydney Scorpions rugby league team. As the story opens, she is trying to work out why she is not as content as she should be with her perfect relationship while also avoiding the attentions of Marcus’ teammate Nick Savage whom she is convinced is a typical sports sleaze and to whom she will tell anyone who listens that she is not attracted. When she is assigned by her network to cover a charity drive by the team, she finds herself heading to the Phillipines, but with Nick not Marcus after an impulsive break up.

As Chloe and Nick embark on a passionate, secret affair in the Phillipines, their personal histories and fears come to the fore, driving their actions. Because the narrative is told from Chloe’s point of view, it was easy to understood her fears and needs and prejudices. Her carefully constructed and immaculate façade is a glossy shell designed to protect her from the world. It never occurs to Chloe that she and Nick have more in common than she thinks. She just knows that Nick has the power to penetrate her shell and that makes him very, very dangerous.

A dare-you-to-lose-it look was in his heavy-lidded eyes. ‘I don’t share all my toys Chloe. Remember that when the time comes.’

Despite the fact that it is Chloe who tells the story, the complexity of Nick’s character is immediately apparent. As the story unfolds, I felt increasingly sorry for him. His attraction to Chloe is always apparent, as is his perception and understanding of the less-than perfect individual beneath the façade. The flames of passion burn away their differences but also open old wounds. As Chloe and Nick draw closer, she says too much and him not enough; disaster breaks along with a terrifying storm. One of them has to find the courage to break the impasse.

There were so many elements of this story I loved. I really liked the support crew, especially Evie, Jack and Drew. I like the break-up haircuts and the seriously hot sex. I liked the snappy dialogue and genuine emotion. And I really loved the way the author peeled away the layers of character to reveal the hurts Chloe and Nick carried and hid and nursed. We all carry something dark that tortures us. Something we try to hide away and overcome. Something that threatens to destroy us, our happiness and our future if not dealt with.

Escaping Mr Right will make you laugh, cry a little and sigh with happiness. Highly recommended.

5 hearts all

 

 

Escaping Mr Right by Avril Tremayne (Random Romance) is available as an ebook. It is the second novel in a trilogy which starts with Wanting Mr Wrong (Evie and Jack’s story) but it can be read as a stand alone novel. I can’t wait for book #3.

Avril Tremayne

 

The feisty Ms Avril Tremayne writes sexy, funny modern romances. Find out more about her and her books at http://www.avriltremayne.com/#!books/cnec.

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