Tag Archives: new release

Thief of Hearts, a Christmas novella

December. It’s time to feel the warmth and love of the Christmas Spirit. If she (or he) has not yet visited your home, I suggest you download Thief of Hearts, read it and be inspired to decorate, wrap and spread good cheer.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00016]Elizabeth Ellen Carter is one of my favourite Australian historical novelists. I am constantly amazed at her ability to switch time periods and write with the same level of authenticity, accuracy and passion regardless of whether she is writing about Ancient Rome, medieval England or, as in this case, Victorian England. Her last novella was the delightful Nocturne, a Valentine’s Day release, set in Regency England. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I thoroughly enjoyed Thief of Hearts, a historical suspense caper involving a Duke as a magician and a young lady as a sleuth. Elizabeth does always like to turn convention on it’s head!

I asked Elizabeth why this particular story. She said, ‘Australians suffer a little bit of cognitive dissonance when it comes to celebrating Christmas. First of all, being in the southern hemisphere, we celebrating in the middle of our summer but happily sing about ‘dashing through the snow’, Frosty the Snowman and that the ‘snow lay all about, deep and crisp and even’.

‘Another thing we missed in our local customs was being outside of the TV ratings periods. Conventional wisdom had it that in the depths of bitter winters, people would gather around the electronic hearth and watch television. And since Christmas fell right in the middle of the northern hemisphere’s TV ratings period, all the best TV shows had a Christmas episode.

‘They were fun and whimsical, often suspending current storylines for something a little bit light-hearted and fun.

‘So, in that Christmas spirit, I wrote The Thief of Hearts, a veritable Christmas punch of few Hercule Poirots, Girl’s Own Adventures stories, a dash of While You Were Sleeping and other Christmas-themed rom-coms.’

Book DescriptionAWWC16

December 1890
London, England

Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas.

To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.

While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke.

He’s the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.

As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.

Extract

He turned the card over and with a thumbnail flicked a tab made of the same backing as the playing card. Even up close the addition was difficult to see. Tobias placed the card on his lap and pulled out a deck of cards. He flicked the edge of the deck of cards towards them. Each time the Queen of Hearts stood out.

“I want you to think I can read your mind, but in reality…”

Tobias split the deck and showed them the Queen of Hearts and then the other half of the deck. The card that had been just before the Queen of Hearts was fully a third shorter than the rest of the cards. He put the pack together and flicked through the deck once more.

“I make you see what you want to see. I suspect The Phantom does the same.”

“You mean his crime scenes are illusions?” Margaret asked. Tobias gave her a smile and Caro wished oddly that its brightness shone on her too.

“I think so. From what I read in the newspapers… no sign of entry or departure?” he asked. Caro confirmed it with a nod. “That tells me he’s creating an illusion of invulnerability. But it is an illusion. A trick. He wants to force the attention of the police away from something else – in the same way a magician will use a gesture or an action to distract you.

“Find out what that is then you will find his sleight of hand and that will be his vulnerability.”

Tobias stood.

“Now, if I’ve sated your curiosity, I’ll take my leave of you. My crew and I have our last show this evening.”

Caro rose and Margaret did also. Tobias took Margaret’s hand and bowed over it then released it. Then he took Caro’s and held it. Then his eyes held hers for a moment and he dropped a kiss on the back of her hand.

“I’m so glad it was you who paid me a visit… instead of a representative of Scotland Yard.”

“Not at all, Mr Black,” she replied, her voice a little huskier than usual, “you have been more than gracious with your time.

“Call me Tobias.”

He was flirting with her! Caro kept the smile to herself as he escorted them both to the entrance of the theatre.

“Just one more question, Mr Black,” Caro asked. “You wouldn’t happen to know how someone might dispose of a suite of diamonds would you?”

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Author Bio

eecarter400h-203x300Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats. Elizabeth loves to interact with her readers and you can find her at:

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Festive reading: The Last Chance Christmas Ball

I’ve always loved the December holidays. Having lived in the southern hemisphere all my life, I love the rain that heralds the end of winter and the beginning of new life. Bursts of greenery and flashes of colour abound as nature blossoms from spring into summer. December is a beautiful month, and it reflects the feelings and emotions we hold dear as Christmas approaches: hope, cheer, love and generosity; the wish for peace and the desire to give to friends and family; reflections on a year past and plans for the future; joy and happiness. And, of course, from our northern neighbours come ancient stories snow, fairy tales and gifts, mulled wine and mistletoe with its promise of romance.

Reality, however, has a nasty way of dealing sideways blows to the best laid plans, ably abetted by office politics and family dramas. So, when the Grinch is threatening to lay low the Spirit of Christmas, I take refuge in a good book (as you do).

Some of the very best new books are released in time for Christmas, and The Last Chance Christmas Ball honours this publishing tradition. It’s a delightful collection of novellas by the Word Wenches, Anne Gracie, Mary Jo Putney, Joanna Bourne, Nicola Cornick, Jo Beverley, Susan King, Patricia Rice and Cara Elliot. The stories in most book collections are bound by theme, genre or period. Very few are put together around a single central event – and for good reason. It’s a challenge to the skills of the writers to co-ordinate well enough as a group to overlay stories without spoilers or boring repetition.

The Wenches have risen to the challenge in this collection of sweet Regency romances set in 1815 at Lady Holly’s Last Chance Christmas Ball, which she has hosted for the last fifty year to illuminate the charms of those ladies who might have been overlooked for whatever reason. The lives of the Stretton family, who host the ball on behalf of the Dowager, their grandmother, are weaved through every story. Naturally, most of the guests are friends and well-known to them and all have their reasons for looking for – or avoiding – love, from past scandals to broken hearts, unsupportive families and financial troubles. While the men scoff at its powers, the ladies hold out hope. After all if there is one season designed to empower love, it has to be Christmas. Every year, the glitter of Lady Holly’s ball weaves its magic for someone; this time, ten romances are born,rekindled or saved, ensuring that 1816 was a busy year for local vicars!

The ball is held on the 28th of December each year. The stories range from just beforehand as guests plan their travels and the family plan the festivities through Christmas Day to the ball itself and the beginning of the next school year.

Each story is delightful, charming, heartwarming and so utterly romantic that they renewed my faith in love, hope and romance all over again. The heroes are dashing, brave men with good hearts outwardly cloaked in a range of guises from permanent bachelor to embittered soldier, steadfast citizen and light-hearted rake. The heroines are pretty, spirited, generous and smart. After I had finally finished reading the book, I went back and read each story again, just to enjoy the moment when love conquered all with a kiss. If you are looking for just one book to lift your spirits in this last frantic week before Christmas 2015, I recommend you grab a copy of The Last Chance Christmas Ball.

 

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The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney, Anne Gracie, Joanna Bourne, Nicola Cornick, Jo Beverley, Susan King, Patricia Rice and Cara Elliot (Kensington) is available in paperback and ebook. I purchased my own copy, inspired by my love for the individual works of the authors. If you are unfamiliar with the Word Wenches blog, and you love historical romance, you can sign up for updates here.

New release: Play Me by Kimberley Kincaid

Mischief Under the Mistletoe banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for the box set Mischief Under the Mistletoe. I am going to focus on Kimberly Kincaid contribution, Play Me. However, it would be remiss of me not to let you know that  Mischief Under the Mistletoe includes 19 short stories by 19 different authors. The stories are adult romance books varying from sweet to super steamy. The box set will be on sale for only $0.99, that’s 19 stories for only $0.99, which is a bargain guaranteed to raise your spirits and get you swinging to that holiday vibe well ahead of the Christmas holidays. The fact that the stories are short means you can dip into them whenever you get a free moment, whether it’s baking, waiting for the school Christmas carols rehearsal to end or grabbing a quick coffee in the midst of holiday spending frenzy. Here in Australia, of course, you can also nip out to the beach and luxuriate in sun and stories. I advise you poor folk up north to stay indoors and grab a chair close to the fire.

I haven’t read Kimberley Kincaid’s books before, and I am so glad I have had the chance to review one. It’s been one of those occasions when you finish a book by a new (to you) author and think, ‘That was fabulous!’ and then promptly hit the internet to find out what kind of backlist she has available.

Sophie Drayton has run away from the family nightmare that is the music industry. She is studying to become a librarian and working part-time in an all-night diner to pay her bills, which is where she first sees Emilio Barrett, doodling in a journal of some kind. Sophie has certainly seen enough of the wild life to know that Emilio is bad news, and she is determined that this time around her head – and not her heart or her hormones – will rule her decisions. But somehow she can’t seem to keep the sexy stripper from invading her thoughts. Perhaps that’s because Emilio has a mind of his own, and he has decided Kimberley’s the one for him. Now he just has to convince that his part-time job is just that; a job to keep him earning enough money to look after himself and his mum and siblings until he can get his chosen career as a musician off the ground. But when he figures out Sophie’s connection to the music industry, he stalls on telling her about his dreams and desires. She seems to hate the business. Will Sophie’s past come back to haunt them, or will Emilio prove that a bad boy can be also be a good man?

This was a thoroughly enjoyable romance touching on important contemporary issues as well as sizzling between the sheets. The characters were well rounded. Sophie’s passion for books made her come alive. Emilio’s smouldering Latino looks and his comfort inside his own skin made him a good foil for Sophie’s cerebral approach. I also found the way Kimberley Kincaid explored the issue of family and how it moulds us very interesting. Sophie’s family is wealthy but damaged. Emilio’s family has always struggled and yet they are bonded in a way that Sophie envies. Emilio is afraid Sophie will think he is trying to abuse her connections if she finds out about his hopes and dreams to be a musician. When things go pear-shaped – as was inevitable with both of them keeping secrets – both of them believe their worst fears have come true. How do they manage to work through their fears and find the courage to reach out to one another? You’ll have to read Play Me to find out!

Heat rating:
Mischief under the Mistletoe: sweet to sexy
Play Me: hot!
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More about Mischief Under the Mistletoe:
This box set contains is composed of nineteen contemporary romance novellas about holiday hotties just waiting to be unwrapped! The stories are written by a range of  NY Times, USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award Winning Authors. This anthology won’t last long. Grab it while it’s HOT!

Mischief Under the MistletoeMischief Under the Mistletoe
By Kristin Miller, Claudy Conn, Melanie James, Mindy Klasky, Holly S. Roberts, Stephanie Rowe, Diane Rinella, Kate Angell , Kimberly Kincaid, J.D. Tyler, Robin Covington, Suzanne Ferrell, Kathy Ivan, Selena Laurence, Jennie Marts, Teri Riggs, Jennifer Theriot, M.J. Fredrick and Deb Julienne

Note:
This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 17 till 23 November, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours. I was provided with a free advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.