A Lucy Review: The Captain’s Flirty Fireworks by Eleanor Harkstead and Catherine Curzon

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

When a hunky fireman and a gorgeous gold medalist meet on Guy Fawkes Night, sparks are sure to fly!

For fireman Rob Monteagle, this Guy Fawkes Night seems like it’s going to be anything but fun. After all, who wants to spend the noisiest night of the year saving careless cats from trees or rattling a fundraising bucket at Longley Magna’s annual bonfire, the pride of the village’s bad-tempered old retainer?

For Ollie Tresham, the night isn’t looking any better. He might have won gold in the Olympic showjumping ring yet he’s still expected to meet the public at his dad’s charity fireworks extravaganza. But when a rogue rocket heads straight for the showjumper, it takes a quick-thinking fireman like Rob to save the day.

As the flames of the bonfire smolder, Rob and Ollie’s night is just getting started. And it’s sure to go with a bang!

It’s hard to go into much detail about this story, as it is very short (32 pages of content) and the blurb says a lot.  It is a little misleading because it makes both men sounds as if they were dreading their respective plans for the evening and that doesn’t come across.  They do meet in the pub when Ollie needs someone to help rescue Mrs Cooper’s (a neighbor) cat from a tree.  Rob is new in the village and wants to make friends, get to know people.  He is also captivated by Ollie and his jodhpurs.  “…wondering how to strike up a conversation – wondering who would want him to.” He’s seen Ollie on his horse before and fell in lust.

Ollie is a medal-winning rider.  And wears jodhpurs.  I mention it twice because they are very nearly a character unto themselves in the story, being mentioned 24 times!

There’s a little bit of a misunderstanding, falling into bed with some of the cutest conversations every while doing so and a beginning of a possible couplehood.  It was a very quick, engaging read.

The cover, showing Ollie on his horse, seemed a little too serious for the tone of the story.

Sales:  Amazon | Pride Publishing

Book Details;

ebook, 43 pages
Expected publication: November 5th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN 139781913186395
Edition Language English
URLhttps://www.firstforromance.com/book/the-captains-flighty-fireworks

Love Historical Romance? Check Out the Release Blitz for Lost and Found by Liv Rancourt (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 75,000 words approx.
 
Price: 2.99 (4.99 from October 20)
 
Blurb
 

A dancer who cannot dance and a doctor who cannot heal find in each other the strength to love.


History books will call it The Great War, but for Benjamin Holm, that is a misnomer. The war is a disaster, a calamity, and it leaves Benjamin profoundly wounded, his mind and memory shattered. A year after Armistice, still struggling to regain his mental faculties, he returns to Paris in search of his closest friend, Elias.


Benjamin meets Louis Donadieu, a striking and mysterious dance master. Though Louis is a difficult man to know, he offers to help Benjamin. Together they search the cabarets, salons, and art exhibits in the newly revitalized city on the brink of les années folles (the Crazy Years). Almost despite himself, Benjamin breaches Louis’s defenses, and the two men discover an unexpected passion.


As his memory slowly returns, Benjamin will need every ounce of courage he possesses to recover Elias’s story. He and Louis will need even more than that to lay claim to the love – and the future – they deserve.

 
Excerpt
 

The table on the other side of me was empty, at least until I’d poured myself a second glass of wine. Then, crossing the room in a familiar halting rhythm, my neighbor, the man from the café on the Place du Tertre, took a seat.


I raised my glass in a toast of alcohol-fueled enthusiasm. “It’s nice to see you.”


He blinked as if surprised by my words. “I’m not sure I know you.”


His gaze suggested otherwise. “A while ago, you were at L’Oiseau Bleu.” I swirled the wine in my cup. “Are you following me?”


“I had a taste for fish.” Hooking his cane over the edge of his table, he shrugged again. “And I have better things to do than observe the habits of a drunk American.”


We were interrupted by the arrival of my dinner. There might have been humor in his tone, but still, the sting of his words quashed the impulse to invite him to join me.


Turning to the waiter, slick black hair gleaming, he placed his own order. When the waiter brought his wine, I took the opportunity to raise my glass a second time. “Cheers.” I deliberately did not smile. “Comment allez-vous?” How are you, using the formal “vous,” not the more intimate “tu.”


Tu. In all my time in France, I’d never regularly used the personal form of address. To be honest, if English had an equivalent construction, I could have said the same about my friends and family at home.


Bien. I am well.”


His tone, and the slight tremor of his fingers on his glass of wine, hinted otherwise. He turned as if to shield himself from my appraisal. I couldn’t help myself. It was my nature to observe. Assess. Diagnose. “I’m Benjamin Holm.” The distance between us was too great to bridge with a handshake.


He raised his glass. “Louis Donadieu.”


I forced my fork through the crisp crust of fish. Juices ran free, and my mouth watered. I ate, hunger keeping my attention fixed on the food on my plate. Though it had been almost two years since I’d last sat at an army canteen, I still attacked each meal as if someone might steal it away.


At my last bite, I glanced at Louis. He watched me, a pool of stillness amidst the confusion around us. “Did you even taste it?”


“Yes.” Swirling my fork through the drippings on my plate, I fought the urge to smile, unsure of the rules for the game he played.


He sniffed. “Bien.” Shifting in his seat, he poured himself more wine. As long as he wasn’t looking, I continued my assessment. He held his right leg extended, as if he was unable to bend it at the knee, but was otherwise quite vigorous, virile even.


I finished my peas and potatoes, bemused by my strange dinner companion. After a week in Paris, I’d had no luck with my main goal, and this conversation, though tentative, intrigued me.


“Were you injured?” I gestured at his feet with my wine.


“What?”


“In the war. Your leg.” His narrowed gaze suggested I’d transgressed. So, no questions about his health. “Pardon. I did not mean to—”


“No, I was unable to participate in the grand conflict.”


He turned his attention away, leaving me confused. This was less a game than a jousting contest. Rather than bring another helping of rudeness on my head, I swallowed the rest of my wine and prepared to leave.


“What are you doing?”


I paused in the act of reaching for my wallet. “I’m finished. I need to be going.” Though I had no real destination beyond the poor comfort of my solitary rooms. Instead of my wallet, I fished out the photograph. “Here.” I stood, leaning over his table and offering him the picture of Elias. “I’m looking for my friend Elias. Have you seen him?”


Always the same words, bringing the same blank response.


“Maybe he doesn’t want to be found.” He tapped the white edge of the photograph, and I snatched it away.


“He’s my friend.”


“So?”


His acid tone burned through my good humor. Who is this man to follow and then abuse me? “Have a good evening.”


“Good evening, though if you give up so easily, you must not really want to find him.”


Surprise kept me planted by his table. “Do you know where he is?”


He tipped his glass in my direction, the corner of his lips curling in what could not truly be called a smile. Though it wasn’t a scowl either. “No, but if I do see him, I will send him to the heavy-footed American man who lives on the floor above me.”


Tired of being the target of his sport, I straightened, falling into the habitual pose of a military officer. “Again, good evening.” Annoyed beyond what the situation called for, I departed.



About Liv Rancourt



Liv Rancourt writes romance of all kinds. Because love is love, even with fangs.


Liv is a huge fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and loves history just as much, so her stories often feature vampires or magic or they’re set in the past…or all of the above. When Liv isn’t writing she takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether she’s at work or at home. Her husband is a soul of patience, her kids are her pride and joy, and her dogs – Trash Panda and The Boy Genius – are endlessly entertaining.Liv can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at her website (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt). She also blogs monthly over at Spellbound Scribes (https://spellboundscribes.wordpress.com/). For sneak peeks and previews and other assorted freebies, go HERE to sign up for her mailing list or join the Facebook page she shares with her writing partner Irene Preston, After Hours with Liv & Irene. Fun stuff!
 

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A MelanieM Review:Love in Every Season by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Four seasons, four stories, one connection – finding love.
Two men who hate Valentine’s Day discover they might have been wrong.
A Paralympic swimmer gets an unusual incentive to win gold.
Love and lust flourish under desert skies, but nature’s cruel.
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night gets a new twist.

When Charlie Cochrane wants to deliver a collection of stories, I listen and am there because I just love this author’s writing no matter what era her characters are visiting or narrative the story thread is taking.  Here in Love in Every Season, the reader is given a true mixture so there is something for everyone.  A little bit of Shakespeare mixed with steampunk!  Love under the desert skies with a archeological dig in the past.  A mere jog back to the 2012 London Olympics and also a story firmly with its foundation in the near  present.

While I enjoyed them all, three were more firmly my favorites. And  while I really didn’t understand why each story was exactly given the season it was located under.  The first was Spring but the men and the story was focused on their anti Valentine (February) sentiments.  So for me Spring was a stretch.  So I pretty much ignored the season, unless Charlie was talking about fresh new starts which then yes indeed, that worked.

Here are the stories in the order they are presented in the book:

Spring:

Horns and Halos:  Rating: 4 stars out of 5

February 14, 2011.  Both  Jame and Alex are attending a Workshop on (as best I could figure out) Human Resources, LGBT, Recruiting, and Rights for their respective schools/or school districts in England.  Not sure how it works over there being from the US, but as I said I was still trying to figure that part out from their conversations.  They end up as workshop partners and the electricity flows while they try to see if each is gay.  The chemistry is cute and the story an adorable HFN as is all the tales here.  Both are anti Valentine and that gets worked into this and resolved as well.

Autumn

Sand: Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

The time frame is nebulous as is the exact location but you can certainly lock it down slightly  by certain references that Charlie Cochrane is so great at.  We’re pre WWI somewhere in a region that used to be part of the Seleucid Empire, loads of sand obviously  Poor Charles Cusiter has been sent along as a companion/babysitter to grown  manchild and heir Bernard Mottram to whom the female sex has proven an magnetic attraction he cannot stay away from.  It’s been the cause of many scandals and his wealthy mother is tired of it.   Bernard (and Charles as his guard dog  against the fairer sex) has traveled to an archaeology dig in Dahmalia run by Dr. Andrew Parks and his male assistant Yaseen, a place void of women.  Something Bernard’s mother made sure of prior to sending her son there.

Of course, there are slight complications.  While Bernard is dispirited about the lack of women, Charlies fears he has to hide his immediate attraction to Andrew,  Charlies’ homosexuality and the manner in which it is handled here is distinct to that era and “certain types” of gentlemen aboard.  It shows in the language the author uses and the references within the story.   That would include mentions of Mrs. Jellyby, a character in the novel Bleak House (1852–53) by Charles Dickens and Daphne Du Maurier who wrote in the early 1900’s.

The relationship proceeds slowly and only a dramatic event lets the men drop their guards fully.  It ends as only it could, a HFN, with a slight bittersweet knowledge from them (and from us) that they will stay there for only as long as the British are still welcome.  Something we know will be ending soon.  So yes, I guess you could say it is the Autumn of the Empire here. That’s my application for Autumn here.

Summer

Tumble Turn:  5 stars out of 5

Yes, this is my favorite story.  It starts out with the childhood friendship of Matty White and Ben Edwards, who has S9 CP, that would be Cerebral Palsy.  The first chapter is titled Nomination July 2005.  That’s when London is nominated as a possible location for the Olympics in 2012.  The boys desperately want London to win (and of course we know it does).    Ben wants to participate in the Olympics, no matter what anyone says…including the bitter somewhat unpleasant Mrs.White, Matty’s divorced mother. As the story moves forward, the boys age, move apart physically into college and apart in friendship. All the while Ben trains as a Paralympic Swimmer, moving closer to achieving his goals.  No Matty is not the romantic interest here sorry.  But there is one.  For a while I thought he was too.  Nope.  But Matty is the connection.

But the romance that does play out is sweet, heartwarming, authentic, and real.  So too is Ben swimming towards his long held goals.

Everything about this story just connected with me.  Ben’s family, the boyfriend, and the Olympics.  Loved it.

Summer was easy to apply to this story. Summer Olympics.  Why of course!

Winter

What You Will (A Shakespeare and Steampunk fusion): Rating 3 stars out of 5

Charlie Cochrane’s version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night given a steampunk twist with airships versus sailing ships that wreck.  A m/m romance with Captain Antonio and the airship-wrecked Roderigo who is also looking for his twin sister (and all the usual twists you find within the story), excerpt that Olivia had to go off and find another love. Somehow I never connected with any of the characters and the romance here.  I did with the original version, mind you.  But here, something, perhaps, the language itself is lacking.  Neat idea though..  Just didn’t work for me.

Cover art is a bit innocuous for a Charlie Cochrane story.  Bland but I’m not sure what you could do for such a wide variety of stories.  But I would never have chosen this..

Sales Links:  Amazon Precorder

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 158 pages
Expected publication: July 22nd 2019 by The Right Chair Press
ASINB07SFYTPZ9

A Stella Review:The Reluctant Husband (Goddess-Blessed #2) by Eliot Grayson

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

Disowned, disgraced, and with nowhere to turn, Tom Drake is willing to barter anything — even himself — for a reprieve from starvation and despair. Years spent lying to protect his secrets have left him longing for someone to value him, even if it’s only for his body and the blessing of his patron goddess.
Mal Leighton’s cousin and heir is dying. Only a miracle can save him — and if a miracle doesn’t appear, Mal’s damn well going to create one. Marrying Tom for his blessing is his last desperate hope to preserve his family. And if Tom happens to be as irresistibly seductive as he is untrustworthy? Well, Mal can focus on more than one goal at a time.
Tom doesn’t fall in love, and Mal knows better than to believe he’s the exception. But when Tom’s blessing doesn’t provide the quick cure they’d hoped, it’s clear that the goddess expects them to have a marriage in more than name. To save Mal’s family and find their own happiness, they will both need to sacrifice their pride and risk their hearts.

I was a little dubious when I read the blurb of the second installment in the Goddess Blessed series, it’s not easy to fall in love with a main character you already met in the first book and deeply despised. To find Tom here in The Reluctant Husband was a shock. Then I started the reading and saw how a great job the autor did at redime this young man. I soon realized Tom was not at all the one I thought I knew, sure, he did a lot of mistakes and he’s now in need of some help, even if he’s not ready to accept it.  When Mal discovered who Tom really was, he knew the other man was his only chance at saving the life of his dear cousin.

What both of them ignored was the power of the fake wedding they were taking so ligh, was so strong they will unavoidable fall in love.

The Reluctant Husband was a lovely novel, I quickly finished it and it was too soon, I found the MCs interesting and well mixed together, the double POV help me understand better their stubborn minds and hearts.

A short note on the writing style, I said in the review of The Replacement Husband I usually had a hard time with this author, not this time,  the reading flew to me very easily. Not once I was lost, on the contrary I devoured it every word.

I really hope the author will give me more in this series.

The cover art by Fiona Jayde is lovely, I like it a lot.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition

Expected publication: June 7th 2019 by Smoking Teacup Books

ASIN B07RWJVB3N

Edition Language English

A Lucy Pre release Review :The Reluctant Husband (Goddess-Blessed #2) by Eliot Grayson

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Disowned, disgraced, and with nowhere to turn, Tom Drake is willing to barter anything — even himself — for a reprieve from starvation and despair. Years spent lying to protect his secrets have left him longing for someone to value him, even if it’s only for his body and the blessing of his patron goddess.

Mal Leighton’s cousin and heir is dying. Only a miracle can save him — and if a miracle doesn’t appear, Mal’s damn well going to create one. Marrying Tom for his blessing is his last desperate hope to preserve his family. And if Tom happens to be as irresistibly seductive as he is untrustworthy? Well, Mal can focus on more than one goal at a time.

Tom doesn’t fall in love, and Mal knows better than to believe he’s the exception. But when Tom’s blessing doesn’t provide the quick cure they’d hoped, it’s clear that the goddess expects them to have a marriage in more than name. To save Mal’s family and find their own happiness, they will both need to sacrifice their pride and risk their hearts.

This is the second book of the Goddess Blessed series, which is Regency with Goddess flair in a time where all marriage is the same – whether same or opposite sex – except for the goddess blessed, who bring all good luck to those they love.  In the first book, The Replacement Husband, Tom is a loathsome, awful person and I came into this book fully prepared to keep hating him because how could you not?

The book begins by showing where his behavior has taken Tom – he’s been thrown out of the family, disowned, broke and friendless. His secret, that he has been Goddess marked, is one even his brother doesn’t know because their father abused Tom for it.  So much was explained about his atrocious behavior in the first book here and it definitely made Tom more understandable.

Mal runs into Tom accidentally at a gaming club and Tom is desperate enough to offer himself out for money.  Except Mal sees the Goddess mark and has this surge of hope that his beloved cousin, who is more a brother than anything, can be saved by Tom and his Goddess blessing.  He needs Tom.  Mal is the reason I didn’t rate this 5 stars because he repeatedly is so mean to Tom that he fell from my favor more than a few times.

Mirreith, the goddess who’s mark Tom bears, grants good fortune to her chosen but at a price.  They are required to yield “…to another in body and soul.”  Since his father had tortured him with this fact as being disgusting, (and my heart broke for an eight-year-old Tom crying over the dictionary as he looked up the word his father called him, catamite), he has tried everything to not do so, to disastrous results (book one).  “If men or women with her blessing tried to marry one another, or anyone of either sex couldn’t subjugate their strength properly, their luck turned to a curse.”   He tried with both Owen and Caroline, to the pain of all of them.

Mal starts off right away being insulting. “Leighton has just relegated him to a status lower than that of a servant by presenting him to Preston, rather than the other way around.  It was a calculated insult. It was designed to put Tom in his place.”  I was very gratified to see that however low Tom might have fallen, he does still have some sense of self.  “Tom held his ground.  He had nowhere to go, and nothing to lose, and if Leighton strangled him here in the street it would matter to no one, least of all to him.

William, the cousin Mal is so desperate to save, is so very ill and yet is still gracious and sweet. He is so happy for Mal and Tom when he finds out they are married, although Mal doesn’t tell him why they married.  And Mal continues to hurt Tom.  Calling him a whore, putting him down and generally acting just like Tom’s father did.  “I’ll need to be convincing indeed when not even your own wife could keep up the pretense of loving you long enough to bear your child.”  For the life of me I kept wondering why this lovely man, William, was so close with someone who could be so mean.

Tom has so much respect for Mal’s love for William.  “No one in his own family would sit this kind of vigil for him, were he in William’s place. His own father had told him early and often how he wished Tom had died at birth…”   Tom grows close to William as well, reading to him on the sick bed, talking and willing to do anything to make William well.

The good fortune that comes to those Tom loves doesn’t happen because they are faking the marriage. So they have to move forward and try to make a marriage out of it.   Mal has the most distance to cross, as he is the most hurtful.  “…(Mal) could wonder why Tom offered such a generous ration of kindness to Will when he could spare not a whit of it for Mal.  But he knew damn well why.  It was Mal’s own doing.  He’d never given Tom the chance to be anything but the callous rake the world believed him to be, sneering at and berating him, seducing and mocking him….He had no one to blame but himself.”   Because he is good at knowing himself, Mal redeemed himself somewhat for me. “The knowledge that he himself had destroyed his own changes of any kind of happiness through his own cruelty brought him anything but satisfaction now.”

That it takes an act of honor on Tom’s part to turn things around seemed very fitting to me. By the end, honestly, I was astonished that this author was able to take a character I so loathed in the first book and make me love him and care what happened to him in the second.  To me, that is the sign of talent.

Cover art, showing a shirtless Mal? Tom? is a little too generic for me and didn’t do justice to the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: June 7th 2019 by Smoking Teacup Books
ASINB07RWJVB3N
Series Goddess-Blessed #2

The Replacement Husband

 

Love Suspense and Historical Romance? Check Out the Tour and Giveaway for Under The Radar by Lillian Francis

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Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Length: 138,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.


The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.


As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.


“From Polari to Polaris, it’s never been just the nice girls who love a sailor. Lillian Francis effortlessly evokes the claustrophobia and camaraderie of life—and forbidden love—aboard a WW2 submarine.” – JL Merrow

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.  We highly recommend it!

 

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.


http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter @LillianFrancis_
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Facebook Author Page
Lillian’s Lovefest – FB group
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Email: lillianfrancis@rocketmail.com

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A MelanieM Review: Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A tale set in Stuart England, where the king’s life depends on his most loyal of subjects.

Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, delights in his reputation as a charming rogue. Life is never quiet at the court of King James I, especially with his good friend and secret lover, Sebastian Hewel, by his side. As an actor with the celebrated King’s Men, Sebastian has his own admirers, but neither man has eyes for anyone else.

When a plot against His Majesty is uncovered it threatens Anthony and Sebastian’s charmed lives, and they are dragged into the political intrigue and the race to save the king from danger. Fear that a traitor is linked to the King’s Men leaves Sebastian and Anthony with no choice but to stage a very public dissolution of their friendship, so Anthony can be free to be the patron of a new rising actor, and Sebastian can be the prodigy of another noble.

It is a dangerous game they are playing to expose the plotters and still find a way to meet in secret, as Anthony is adamant that they will not sacrifice the love they have fought so hard to win. They will do whatever it takes to protect the king’s life, and their commitment to each other.

I have loved this couple from the start of their relationship.  That was  Rebecca Cohen’s The Actor and the Earl, the first story in the The Crofton Chronicles. That series was told from Sebastian’s pov and actually stretched through their lineage into the modern day Crofton Hall.  It is a terrific series, one I rec to anyone who adores M/M historical romance.

I had thought that Rebecca Cohen was finished with the Croftons, the series over.  But with the release of this new story, the author has also started a new series as well.  This time told from Anthony’s perspective and what a joy and entertaining ride it is.

Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen picks up after the events of Forever Hold His Peace (The Crofton Chronicles #3).  You don’t have to have read that story as the author fills in all the details nicely here.  But if you have, this feels like coming home again and your fingers will itch to go back and pick up the other series as a foundation.  Sebastian is treading the boards as a popular and extremely successful actor of the day, with his ex brother in law Anthony as his patron.  It’s again trying times to disguise their true relationship as lovers behind this masquerade but they are taking precautions and Anthony’s new engagement to Lady Sarah (which also shields her love for her maid Beth) will also help hide them.

Then a plan to kill King James by a Scottish insurgency intent on returning Catholicism and a far different reign to England comes to light and Anthony and Sebastian’s assistance is needed.

What makes this novel so enjoyable is that not only are the characters so well drawn but that the author has done her research for the time period and it all flows together so beautifully.  The plays, the cloths, the court, the politics and intrigue.  It all comes together in high romance, suspense, and no little amount of anxiety at times over the safety of our main couple.  And their happiness!

If you have read the other three books that make up their wild beginning story and path towards love and a real relationship, you can more readily appreciate the stage Anthony and Sebastian are at here in their lives.  If you haven’t, I have listed them for you below.  They are well worth reading before you get to this one, trust me because they are the foundation story for this couple.

Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen ended just as I hoped after such a thrilling adventure for them both.  I can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.    It will sure be one of great romance, high adventure, more than a little suspense and a love that lasted through more turmoils and troubles than anyone could expect.

The story is fast paced, sexy, fun, and so well written that it just flies by.    You will definitely want more once it’s finished.  I highly recommend reading all the Crofton stories as I love them all, including this one.

Cover art:  Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Designs.  Well, I would have thought Anthony would be one with a little less swagger but then again maybe not.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published April 25th 2019
ASINB  07QMTQ6DB
Edition Language English

The Crofton Chronicles Series – Anthony and Sebastian from Sebastian’s pov:

The Actor and the Earl

Duty to the Crown

Forever Hold His Peace (this is where Anthony, Earl of Crofton picks up)

Love Historicals? Don’t Miss the Review Tour and Giveaway for Rebecca Cohen’s Anthony, Earl of Crofton

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Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 66,000 words approx.
 
Blurb



A tale set in Stuart England, where the king’s life depends on his most loyal of subjects.


Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, delights in his reputation as a charming rogue. Life is never quiet at the court of King James I, especially with his good friend and secret lover, Sebastian Hewel, by his side. As an actor with the celebrated King’s Men, Sebastian has his own admirers, but neither man has eyes for anyone else.



When a plot against His Majesty is uncovered it threatens Anthony and Sebastian’s charmed lives, and they are dragged into the political intrigue and the race to save the king from danger. Fear that a traitor is linked to the King’s Men leaves Sebastian and Anthony with no choice but to stage a very public dissolution of their friendship, so Anthony can be free to be the patron of a new rising actor, and Sebastian can be the prodigy of another noble.


It is a dangerous game they are playing to expose the plotters and still find a way to meet in secret, as Anthony is adamant that they will not sacrifice the love they have fought so hard to win. They will do whatever it takes to protect the king’s life, and their commitment to each other.

 

Author Bio
 

REBECCA COHEN spends her days dreaming of a living in a Tudor manor house, or a Georgian mansion. Alas, the closest she comes to this is through her characters in her historical romance novels. She also dreams of intergalactic adventures and fantasy realms, but because she’s not yet got her space or dimensional travel plans finalised, she lives happily in leafy Hertfordshire, England, with her husband and young son. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and sloe gin with lemon tonic in the other.

 

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A MelanieM Review: Valhalla by L.A. Ashton

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

Sakuma has served as a Valkyrie for centuries, smoothly escorting thousands of souls to the grand halls of Valhalla. While the world tears itself apart during WWII, he is summoned to retrieve the soul of a fallen Japanese soldier, Ishii Hiroshi. To Sakuma’s surprise, Ishii refuses his invitation to eternity.

The two meet again and again as the war repeatedly sends Ishii to death’s door, and what should have been a fleeting encounter becomes something much greater for the both of them.

Sakuma is determined to give Ishii the reward he so deserves, but Ishii’s stubbornness may condemn him to an eternity outside Valhalla.

I was lured in by this synopsis, a Valkyrie  sent to summon a soul of a soldier who refuses to die, believing his duty is not yet over.  And the emotional part of this story absolutely won me over.  The bond that grew between Sakuma and Ishii was powerful, based on a shared beliefs, and background even though they were centuries apart.  I found their relationship deeply moving and at the end, it had me in tears.

What kept this story from 5 stars was missed opportunity because, honestly it came close.    Ashton chose to have two Japaneses warriors as their main characters, both of which were shining examples of bushido, also known as “the way of the warrior”, a code of conduct for the samurai, which Sakuma was prior to his death.  In some ways, it is a way of life that both men exemplify to the core.

So why on earth do you mash that up confusedly with Norse mythology?  Surely with all the richness of Shinto major and minor kami, plus some from Buddhism or Taoism, why would you need to twist the maiden Valkyries of Odin  into “integrated” new Valkyries of both sexes. The argument here is because Valhalla had so many new bodies and souls the maidens couldn’t handle them all. Seemed specious and I never bought it. So many holes in this one from people from different religions being sent to a place where the gods of one religion (not theirs) rule.  That part, plus well Valhalla and the Norse religion with Japanese men who were deeply part of their country’s culture if not their emperor and the politics of whatever era they came from (July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945 the invasion of China by Japan for Ishii).  It never felt like a good fit.  More like that puzzle piece someone kept jamming in that section because they needed it to fit there, rather than because it actually did.   No, for me, using Norse mythology in the place of Bushido and the Shinto religion was just a missed opportunity, especially with the well constructed Japanese main characters so essentially Samurai.

As it is, I still recommend Valhalla for the relationship between Sakuma and Ishii, two soldiers separated by duty and centuries and death.  It’s amazingly touching, watching Ishii persevere over and over battle after battle is heartbreaking and the ending is incredibly moving.  For this amazing romance alone I will be seeking out more stories by LA Ashton and recommending that you read Valhalla by L.A. Ashton.

Cover Art: Natasha Snow.  I love this cover.  Moody with the soldier outlined in the background and the light above which could either be a bomb blast or a Valkyrie.  Perfect.

Sales Links: 

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 68 pages
Published December 31st 2018 by NineStar Press
ASIN B07L9GSLGS

A Lucy Review The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Goddess-blessed Owen Honeyfield is destined to enjoy perfect good fortune, and the arrival of handsome and eligible Tom Drake in his country town appears to be just the latest manifestation. Tom’s proposal is the fulfillment of Owen’s desires, but Owen is left heartbroken and at the mercy of Arthur, Tom’s disapproving elder brother, when his betrothal takes a disastrous turn. His reputation ruined and his bright future shattered, Owen must choose between loneliness and practicality.

Arthur Drake has taken responsibility for Tom’s scandalous behavior all their lives. He doesn’t think much of his brother’s engagement, knowing that even Owen’s sweetness won’t be enough to influence Tom for the better. When Tom’s impulsive selfishness threatens to ruin the lives of everyone involved, Arthur has only one honorable choice. He’ll need to repair the damage Tom has done and fight for his own happiness, knowing all the while he may never be able to take Tom’s place in Owen’s heart.

I am a huge fan of historicals and I was interested in this one because many of the social norms of, say the Regency era, were not present.  The Goddess worship, for one, as well as the acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriages and the acceptance of divorce .

Owen has been Goddess-blessed and this means he will enjoy good fortune and a good life.  This extends to those he cares about.  He meets the brothers after a fall on the moors and falls for Tom.  However, when his beloved turns out to be a cheating jerk, it is up to Tom’s brother, Arthur, to try to salvage the situation. In this way it was interesting – Owen’s reputation would be ruined for being jilted because he is Goddess-blessed, so how could this happen? Very reminiscent of true historicals where the female is ruined.

I adored Arthur.  So stoic and steadfast, wanting to make things right while battling feelings for a man (Owen) who was sort of forced into this marriage and who not only loves another, but loves Arthur’s own brother.  Arthur was the highlight for me. 

Owen I wasn’t so enamored with, if only because he comes across as a damsel.  His father wrote the marriage settlement, that Owen didn’t bother to read.  Then I questioned- why do two men need a marriage settlement?  Owen seems very young, very “let’s act stupid so as to not upset the men” which reminded me so much of females in Regency times. “Owen knew very well he was not wrong, but intelligent, confident men of the world were seldom pleased to be corrected by their pretty young husbands, as unfair as that was.”    Even some of the descriptions, “…his hands smoothest up, coming to rest around Owen’s waist, where they nearly spanned its circumference.”

There were times I wanted to shake Owen for not seeing what was in front of him and for pining for Tom.  Owen’s treatment of Tom’s wife was lovely, as was Arthur’s behavior after the “…not unprovoked pillow.” 

This was my first time reading Eliot Grayson and I look forward to more of his books. This twist on the historical worked very well for me.

Cover art by Fiona Jayde fits the style of the book, just a man dressed in era-appropriated garb.

Sales Links:  Goodreads  |   Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 160 pages

Published December 28th 2018 by Smoking Teacup Books

ASIN B07MD3K885

Edition Language English