This is a prequel to the Dark Romance Standalone STALKER.
Some secrets are meant to stay hidden …
Secrets could kill you. My husband is the prime example. I’m a trophy wife. Someone’s prized possession, just there to be pretty. My dreams were pushed aside for his. Until one fateful night, one chance encounter, all his dirty secrets were exposed. And then my supposed husband is killed. I should be sad, but all I feel is anger. My husband is a lying, cheating bastard. And if that isn’t bad enough, I’m now the prime suspect for his murder. Only his brother believes I’m innocent, and in his support, I find relief. However, I will find the real killer and bring him to justice … before he tries to end my life too.
WARNING: This book contains strong language, explicit situations, and disturbing content.
About the author and where to find her:
Clarissa Wild is the USA Today Bestselling author of FIERCE, a college romance series, but she’s best known for the dark Romance novel Mr. X. She is also a writer of erotic romance such as the Blissful Series, The Billionaire’s Bet series, the Doing It Series and the Enflamed Series. She is an avid reader and writer of sexy stories about hot men and feisty women. Her other loves include her furry cat friend and learning about different cultures. In her free time she enjoys watching all sorts of movies, reading tons of books and cooking her favorite meals.
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All-around bad boy, and twenty-five-year-old heir to the Jameson fortune, Tommy Jameson, knows three things:
- His family is disappointed in him.
- Overcoming his addictions won’t necessarily crush his vices.
- He is wildly in love with Sugar Scarborough, a girl who is dealing with her own addictions and an insatiable need to please.
Danger sends Tommy, Sugar and their friend, Julian Fitzpatrick, a heavily medicated, socially dysfunctional genius, fleeing from Green Willow Recovery Center. Now, together, they will face the outside world and uncover a horrifying mystery while being forced to confront their inner demons.
About the author and where to find her:
Tess Oliver is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Freefall. She is a former teacher, who now dedicates her morning caffeine rush to writing romance instead of teaching math and reading. Tess lives in California, the land of perpetual sunshine and traffic, with her husband, kids and five dogs. She is a longtime romance junkie, who likes her hero to be an alpha with a twist of compassion and if he has long hair and rides a horse or a motorcycle all the better. She writes young adult, new adult and adult romance in both contemporary and historical settings. When she’s not reading or writing romance, she can be found hiking, vacuuming up dog hair or baking goodies for her family.
Maggie MacKenzie wants nothing more than to hold her own child in her arms. But after three years of marriage, she and Riley have yet to conceive. The heartbreak of disappointment is almost more than she can stand. Riley MacKenzie would do anything for his wife, and watching the sadness fill her eyes every time she holds a new niece or nephew is torture. He decides what Maggie needs is a no stress vacation where they can concentrate on—certain bedroom matters. But their vacation ends up mirroring the first time they met in more ways than one, and they realize that spontaneity is sometimes the best way to get what you want.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Riley, likely my favorite of the MacKenzie brothers is back in action in this hot follow-up to his original novella which paired him with his now-wife, Maggie. After three years of marriage and partnership, Maggie and Riley are looking to expand their family but to date, they have had no luck despite a lot of practice. Riley and Maggie have never had a problem with the practice but each is justifiably frustrated with their lack of success and the waning heat in their relationship. Determined to bring the heat and the passion back into their relationship, Maggie impulsively hops a flight to Egypt to be with Riley at his dig site. Maggie’s suitcase is packed with more than just clothes and as soon as Riley sees her and the toys, the heat returns and some of the frustration fades away.
Being away from Maggie is hard for Riley but as an archaeologist, some opportunities are just too good to pass up. Riley is a world-class archaeologist and when he got the call to search for the more myth than truth Egyptian Book of Souls, he jumped at the opportunity. According to the myths, the one in possessions of the Book of Souls will wield untold power and though many have searched for it, none have every discovered its final resting place. As expected, Riley has come closer than any before him and with a renewed spirit thanks to a night of phenomenal sex with his wife (and a real shower!) Riley uncovers the lost Book of Souls.
Both Riley and Maggie can feel the innate power of the Book of Souls and after just one night in their possession, they both know it is something that can never fall into the wrong hands. Luckily Maggie and Riley are just a few steps ahead of the bad guys because in a moment of pure evil, Riley and his entire team is threatened for possession of the book. The bad guys are bad for a reason and prove they are willing to go to any length necessary to possess the Book of Souls.
The Bottom Line: Riley’s appeal in this read is as it was in the first. It’s hard to beat intelligent, hot and kinky and Riley has it all in spades. His reignited passion and desire for Maggie takes him over the top on the hot scale and Maggie’s response is equally steamy. Clearly the two are meant for one another and their compatibility shines through in both the sexy scenes and in the moments of danger. There is never any question of their devotion to one another and in a very happy ending, they get exactly what they deserve! In all, I am still totally smitten with the MacKenzie family and really love these follow-up novellas to the original stories. These reads are full of interesting, fully-developed characters who are more than the naughty bits they often engage in. Hart has created a series dedicated to a large family that is as sexy as they are interesting.
About the author and where to find her:
Liliana began reading romance novels with all her new found free time, and when she ran out of things to read, she decided to write her own novels. The result was a 150,000 word thriller—a dazzling adventure—where the heroine was a thirty-year-old virgin assassin (Yes, you read that right). She couldn’t imagine why people weren’t knocking down her door to read it, but she persevered and began writing a second book. She finally got the hang of things, and eventually learned that losing one’s virginity wasn’t all that romantic after all. All of her books involve some kind of suspense (she just can’t help herself), laughter, and a lot of steamy sex.
Since the failure of her first attempt, Liliana’s books have won awards such as: The Daphne Du Maurier, The Suzannah, The Linda Howard Award of Excellence, The Maggie, and many others. Her affiliations include Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America.
Liliana loves to cook, and is addicted to reading, Internet Boggle, kickboxing, and Bones. She lives in a big, rambling house in Texas with a couple of cats to keep her company. She loves to get emails from readers.
Enjoy the Adventures!
Chrissie Parker is not an ordinary college freshman. Her father, Jack, is a beloved music icon from the sixties. She was raised in a sheltered world of privilege. Then a whirl-wind spring romance with British superstar Alan Manzone rockets her into a tabloid media frenzy. Some loves prove impossible to leave behind, even at UC Berkeley, though Chrissie is determined to live a normal life as a college girl. Just when things start getting on track for Chrissie, Alan storms back into her world, desperate to reclaim the love of the girl he should have never have let go of and cannot forget. Chrissie must also contend with Neil Stanton, a guy from her hometown who she never wanted to see again, working as a campus janitor, and as irritating and unavoidable as ever. Chrissie fast learns what it means to be a girl of tokens and tears: the clandestine girlfriend of a famous man, and the loved friend of a guy who is perfect for her, but unable to claim her heart. As Chrissie fights to build her own future, she is caught between the love of a friend and the love of her life.
People think Chrissie Parker has a picture-perfect life. She leads an opulent lifestyle in Santa Barbara, her father, Jack, is a beloved music icon from the sixties, and she possesses a wealth of musical talent that will certainly lead to a promising future. But behind the façade, everything is far from perfect. When Chrissie journeys from Santa Barbara to New York City for an audition at Juilliard, romance is the last thing on her mind. She never anticipated encountering British Superstar Alan Manzone, a musician fresh out of Rehab, tormented by his own weakness and troubled past. Alan’s life is everything Chrissie’s is not; exciting, glitzy, and an all-out train wreck. Chrissie is soon consumed by Alan’s shocking pursuit of her, his dark secrets, and his desires. Determined to save Alan from himself, is it possible Alan, this beautiful and brilliant musician, is really rescuing Chrissie from her artfully concealed secret addiction that even her best friend is unaware of? Can two lost people find a love meant to last a life time in only three weeks?
About the author and where to find her:
I’ve written 26 books in 25 years. I write contemporary romance novels about messed up rich girls with perfect looking lives & naughty little souls and the hot mercurial men they take captive…and on occasion messed up rich girls from exciting periods in US and British history, and the poor Lords and Pirates they hold under their spell.
Fifteen-year-old Polarity Weeks just wants to live a normal life, but with a mother diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, that’s rarely easy. Her life gets exponentially more disastrous when her sixth-period history classmates start ogling a nude picture of her on the Internet. Polarity would never have struck such a shameless pose, but the photo is definitely of her, and she’s at a complete loss to explain its existence. Child Protective Services yanks her from her home, suspecting her parents. The kids at school mock her, assuming she took it herself. And Ethan, the boy she was really starting to like, backpedals and joins the taunting chorus. Surrounded by disbelief and derision on all sides, Polarity desperately seeks the truth among her friends. Only then does she learn that everyone has dark secrets, and no one’s life is anywhere near normal.
Read the first chapter on the Publisher’s website ==> Click Here
About the author and where to find her:
Brenda Vicars has worked in Texas public education for many years. Her jobs have included teaching, serving as a principal, and directing student support programs. For three years, she also taught college English to prison inmates. She entered education because she felt called to teach, but her students taught her the biggest lesson: the playing field is not even for all kids. Through her work, she became increasingly compelled to bring their unheard voices to the page. The heartbeat of her fiction emanates from the courage and resiliency of her students. Brenda’s hobbies include reading, making things out of re-purposed wood, pulling weeds in the garden, and going to Zumba classes.
Carolina Cold Fury star Garrett Samuelson never wants to miss out on a single minute of fun. Whether he’s playing hockey, hanging out with friends, or walking the red carpet with a new date on his arm, he lives every day to the fullest. When he meets Olivia Case, he sees someone who’s exactly his type—confident, sexy, smart . . . his next fling. But the more he pursues her, the more Garrett shares a side of himself that other women don’t normally get to see. Olivia has been keeping a secret. While Garrett lives for the next thrill, Olivia’s not sure she’ll live to see the next day. She’s undergoing treatment for some serious medical issues, and she doesn’t have time for a relationship with no guarantees—especially one with a hot-as-sin womanizer who won’t take no for an answer. But as she gets to know the real Garrett, Olivia can’t help falling for him . . . hard. To reveal the truth would mean risking everything—but you can’t score without taking the tough shots.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
There are hot men with skills and then there is Garrett Samuelson. As Garrett’s story opens, he is still indulging in his man whorish ways but knows the party is about to come to an end as the next Cold Fury is about to begin. Sure, Garrett loves the ladies and they certainly love him but hockey is everything and getting back into a season takes a back seat to nothing!
Olivia Case is bright, beautiful and, very sick. She is devoted to her friends and family, loves her job, has always been a committed relationship kind of girl but, cancerous is an indiscriminate bitch and doesn’t care that Olivia is far from done living her life. With an uncertain future ahead of her and with the encouragement of her best-friend, Olivia decides it is now or never and she is going to break some of her own rules and experience a little bit of life. Garrett Samuelson seems like an excellent place to start and given his reputation, scoring a one-night stand shouldn’t be all that difficult.
When Garrett meets Olivia he experiences something he long thought he lost the capacity to feel, the desire to see a woman more than once and in an upright position and fully clothed. Olivia is like a breath of fresh air and with her intelligence, beauty and, willingness to go with the flow, Garrett is interested in more than just sex. For what may be the first time in his life, Garrett is ready to take things slowly and see what the future holds with one and only one woman. Though Olivia is pleased that Garrett is respectful of her and her feelings, she feels like there is a timer counting down on both her relationship with Garrett and her life. Olivia is well aware of Garrett’s “dating” habits and after a few brief discussions and some very heated kisses, Olivia convinces Garrett that she is more than ready to get horizontal. What neither counts on is how extremely good together they are and the feelings that one sexual encounter awakens in each.
Olivia does not, under any circumstances want Garrett to know about her condition and all Garrett wants is to be closer to her. At odds with their desires and unwilling to open up fully to the other, Olivia and Garrett stumble around a lot in an effort to protect one another. Olivia doesn’t want Garrett to feel responsible or obligated to her in any way and can’t believe that the one-time playboy is so willing to change his ways for a sick and potentially dying woman. Garrett is true in both his actions and his words and once the truth comes out, he does everything within his power to support Olivia and convince her that no matter what her situation is, he wants to be with her. In fact, it takes Garrett about a nanosecond to realize that there really is something in his life that is far, far more important than hockey.
For a time, Olivia and Garrett make things work but Olivia is so very fearful of hurting Garrett in any way that she allows her fears to not only consume her but to rule her. In a moment of shear panic, Olivia leaves Garrett with little to no explanation and shatters his world. To make matters far, far worse, Olivia refuses to answer her phone and/or respond to texts. Not only does she shut Garrett out but also her family and best friend. With no way to actually talk to her, Garrett reaches out to her family and friends and each and every one comes to his aid. Sure, everyone gets that the cancer is scary and potentially life-threatening but Olivia’s actions are those of a coward and everyone, including her knows it!
The Bottom Line: Through and through Garrett is one of the hottest and best books I have read! From the moment she finds out about her cancer, Olivia pisses me off. She has love and support surrounding her at every turn yet she allows her fears to dominate her thinking and her actions. In the moments when she is free and happy, Olivia is endearing and fun but the dark moments have a tendency to overshadow everything. From the first page, I fell for Garrett and rooted for him right up to the very end!! I love a bad boy gone good and Garrett certainly epitomizes that. Garrett may have a man whore reputation but at his core, he is a good man with a huge capacity for love and caring. Olivia takes up residence in his heart almost immediately and Garrett is more than happy to put away his past dalliances and focus all of his attention on Olivia. Sure, Garrett is scared for Olivia and wants her to be happy and healthy but he never lets his fear overshadow his love for her and his every action speaks to that. In all, Garrett is both a heartbreaking and completely uplifting read. Bennett delves into some serious darkness with the cancer diagnosis but she beautifully balances that darkness with a message of hope, support and, love. Garrett is as sexy as he is caring and make no mistake about it, the naughty bits are all kinds of sexy as hell and totally appropriate for this read. The cherry on top of the sexy sundae is the epilogue and though I won’t spoil it for you here, I will say that is one of the most satisfying parts of the entire read. Even better? Zack, book three of the Cold Fury Hockey series is already available for pre-order and I have already one-clicked!!
About the author and where to find her:
USA Today Best-Selling author, Sawyer Bennett, is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and they have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.
Holly Newbury’s life is on hold in the cozy English village of Chilton Crosse. While her friends are marrying, having children, and embarking on successful careers, Holly is raising her three younger sisters and working part time at the village art gallery. Her life feels incomplete, but family is more important to her than anything. Then a film crew’s arrival galvanizes the community, and Holly becomes fast friends with Fletcher Hays, the movie’s love-shy American writer. The production of an Emma film isn’t the only drama in town, though. Their father makes a choice that threatens everything she gave up her dreams for. Holly’s sisters endure growing pains. And Fletcher plans to return to America as soon as filming is over, ruining any chance of their relationship blossoming further. After years of sacrificing for others, Holly must find the courage to take a risk on a future she never dared to expect.
When Noelle Cooke inherits a quaint English cottage and an art gallery from her famous Aunt Joy, she welcomes a departure from her San Diego routine. But the lure of the Cotswolds, combined with a locked cottage room and a revealing journal, entice her to stay and discover more, including a way to save the gallery from financial ruin. And that means remaining in England. When her childhood sweetheart, Adam Spencer, begins work on a restoration project in Noelle’s village, their friendship blossoms. But as her feelings for Adam deepen, she struggles with memories of what might have been and yearns for a future once thought lost. Faced with a life-altering revelation Aunt Joy took to her grave and a wrenching choice regarding the man she loves, Noelle could lose far more than her heart.
About the author and where to find her:
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels. Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”
Beatrice Summerhill loves risk. She’s not afraid to go for what she wants, regardless of anything or anyone standing in her way. Enter Luca Fiorelli, the “Italian Stallion” racecar driver. Normally, Bea would have dismissed the preening peacock without a thought, but Luca somehow manages to get under her skin—and her covers. She can’t resist him, and she knows he’s not good for her, so she shuts him out. Until he dangles the most tempting carrot in front of her: an irresistible business venture that will take her career to the next level and make her a female Donald Trump. Unfortunately, Luca not only holds the key, but he’s taken it for ransom. All Bea needs to do is give a little and close the deal… If she’s willing to risk everything—including her heart.
Source: Author and Purchase
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Beatrice Summerhill has proven time and time again that world domination is not out of her grasp. She relies on her gut to guide her in all things business related, she relies on her assistant, Inga to fill in any blanks she may have missed (as if!) and, she takes what she wants with cold and calculating determination. She is beautiful, she is exceedingly smart, she is tremendously successful, she is fiercely loyal to those she loves and, she is desperately lonely. Thanks to her father, the late Reginald Summerhill, Beatrice has spent her life avoiding serious commitments that may lead her to believe she needs – or worse! – wants a man’s approval. To Bea, men have long been toys that can be played with and then discarded, objects of desire to be sure but never, ever something she needs nor an impediment to her goal of achieving world domination.
Luca Fiorelli is everything a woman could possibly want. He is a sexy and successful Italian racecar driver, he is world famous, he is polite and sincere and, he is secretly one half of a motor company that is on the verge of revolutionizing the car industry. Luca can have any woman he wants and from the moment he met her, he has wanted Beatrice Summerhill and no other. Luca is fascinated by Bea and loves every aspect of her personality, even the surly and stubborn bits. In real life she is calm, cool, collected and, seemingly uninterested in what Luca has to offer. In bed, she is uninhibited, stunning, sexy and, seemingly very interested in what Luca has to offer. All Luca has to do is convince Bea that her real life personality and her in bed personality can peacefully coexist and neither has to give up anything in order to be with him on a long-term basis.
Luca rocks Bea’s world to her very foundation and that is at once thrilling and terrifying. Needing Luca and wanting him are two very different things: Bea’s real life persona certainly doesn’t want to need him and her in bed persona certainly wants and needs him. Bea can find no way to reconcile her wants and desires so she constantly pushes Luca away with both her words and her actions. Little does Bea know, Luca is willing to play the long game in order to win her over and he has the perfect plan in place to achieve his goal. Bea has no idea how Luca is involved with the car company she is looking to invest in but she does know he has access to the men she needs to meet with. She need only spend one, work-free week with Luca and he will make the proper introductions. Though being away from work and at Luca’s disposal for a week is a near-crippling thought, Bea’s intense desire to always win and always be successful outweighs her fear and so, she packs her bags and heads to Italy.
With just a week to convince Bea of the truth of his feelings and intentions, Luca sets out to thoroughly and completely seduce Bea. In the moments when she lets herself go and pries herself away from her damn mobile phone, Luca is able to work his magic. Bea truly enjoys Luca’s company and she certainly enjoys their sexual exploits but her fear of ceding control is still quite overwhelming. Much of their week together is beautiful and fun but in the moments when Bea lets the fear overwhelm her, she is cruel and heartless and on the verge of throwing away a true and proper happily ever after with a man who so clearly adores her.
The Bottom Line: Over the course of this series I have prepared myself for Beatrice and her story, I have like Bea and looked forward to her story. I can honestly say, I wasn’t at all prepared for this story!! Bea isn’t just calm, cool and collected, she is also paralyzed by her fear, a raging bitch and, until the very end someone I completely disliked. OK, your daddy sucked and did a number on you but at some point, you have to make the conscience decision to either give up completely or get over it and take a stab at real happiness. Up until the very end, I had serious doubts about Bea’s ability to pull her head out of her ass and found myself wanting to reach into the book and choke the bitch right out of her. On the flip side is Luca, sweet, endearing, sexy and lovable, Luca. My affection for Luca has never wavered and yet again, he proved himself to be a true and wonderful man. His patience, his kindness and, his willingness to give Bea everything (seriously, what that man is willing to give up is stunning!) is simply endearing and from the moment I met him, I have rooted for him. With his sexy accent, his keen intelligence and, his ability to deal with the prickliest of the Summerhill sisters, Luca really is all any woman could possibly want. To see Luca finally get what he desires most is tremendously satisfying and a fine end to a series I have come to absolutely adore. Though I am sad to see the Summerhill series come to an end, I am glad each sister got her own book, each sister got her own HEA and, the series ended while still being strong and fresh and nowhere close to being played out and/or boring. Kate Perry has created a truly fantastic family in the Summerhills and I find myself thinking now that it’s over, it may be the perfect time to start again from the beginning :)
About the author and where to find her:
Aria is an elemental artist—she creates fire from her hands. But her power is not natural. She steals it from lightning. It’s dangerous and illegal in her world. When she’s recruited to perform, she seizes the chance to get away from her family. But her power is fading too fast to keep stealing from the sky. She has no choice but to turn to a Granter—a modern day genie. She gets one wish at an extremely high price. Aria’s willing to take a chance, but then she falls in love with the Granter . . . and he wants his freedom. Aria must decide what she’s willing to bargain and how much her own heart, body, and soul are worth. In a world where the sport of elemental powers is the most popular form of entertainment, readers will be swept away by a romance with stakes higher than life and death.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
In the brave new world occupied by Aria Kilandros, the control of the elements is not only a very real thing but something that is revered, admired and, coveted. Science cannot explain why a certain number of people are born with the ability to control the elements but for those who can and are very adept with their abilities, there is fame and a fortune to be made. What science can explain is that the abilities tend to run in families, the gifts emerge around age thirteen if they are going to and taper off in the twenties. For those with elemental gifts, there is only a small window of opportunity to make their name and their fortune.
To become a famous elemental artist, one must have excellent control, a sense of showmanship and a great desire to achieve greatness. To that end, there are those among the artists who do not have a natural born gift but one that is manufactured, stolen. Aria Kilandros is one of those artists and every single day of her life, she lives in fear of being discovered. At just seventeen years old, Aria has made a name for herself as a fire artist and if her plans work out as she hopes they will, she will soon be able to leave the minor league shows for one of the larger, more prestigious leagues. Though she wasn’t born with the ability to control fire, Aria has acquired the ability and sees it as her ticket out of the hell that is her life. Her father is a controlling and abusive man, her mother is a broken shell of the woman she used to be, her brother is an ex-con and, she must rely on her best-friend to help her restore her abilities on an ever-increasing basis. Aria’s abilities are remarkable but they come at a very, very high cost. For years she and her best-friend have born that cost together but when Aria gets called up to the big leagues, she is forced to find a new means by which to replenish her abilities.
Life in New York is a mixed bag for Aria. On the one hand she is living her dream, she a player in the most prestigious elemental league and on the other hand, she is growing increasingly more desperate and her fire is waning and becoming unmanageable. Enter Taj, the most beautiful boy Aria has ever seen and the one person who can grant her greatest wish. Taj is an entity of legend and myth, a Granter and with the right words and the proper payment, he can secure Aria’s abilities and her future. Granters are, in many ways tricksters and though Aria is in desperate need of Taj and his abilities, she also has to be very, very careful. For several days, Taj and Aria spend every available second together. For his own reasons, Taj is no hurry for Aria to make her wish and for reasons of her own, Aria is in no rush to make her wish. Love was certainly never in the cards but Aria cannot help herself and as fate would have it, love may be the one and only thing that can save she and Taj. Oh, a snow-white gator might also come into play and do some saving as well.
The Bottom Line: As I was pulling my information for this post, I looked at the overall rating for this read on Goodreads and found myself completely confused. I even double-checked the title and author to be sure the low star rating is actually for the book I read. I find myself thoroughly confused and, it seems at odds with a great many reviewers. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the elemental artists to the Granters and back again. I was sucked into this read and pleased with it from beginning to end. Aria is wise beyond her years and has had to go to extraordinary lengths to protect herself, her family and, her secret. Though her choices aren’t always the best, they are made and Aria is always willing to accept the consequences of her actions no matter how awful those consequences may be. Even more fascinating than Aria and her talents are the Granters and their abilities. I found the story of the Granters and their role in human events to be quite intriguing and perfect match for the world Whitney has created. Granters have enormous power and the ability to alter the very world humanity inhabits though many are loathe to take on the role. Aria and Taj are a fine pairing and though their path is very, very rocky they do get a fitting ending. I found myself very much hoping this story was going to go on into a second book but alas, the The Fire Artist is a fully completed novel which leaves no stone unturned and no question unanswered. At the end of the day, I find I am quite alright with being at odds with my fellow reviewers on this read and fully recommend giving it a try.
Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Lady of the Flames (Book #3: A Most Peculiar Season Series) by Barbara Monajem
Lord Fenimore Trent’s uncanny affinity for knives and other sharp blades led to knife fights, duels, and murderous brawls. Five years ago, he faced a choice: marry Andromeda Gibbons, the woman he loved, or find a safe, peaceful use for his blades by opening a furniture shop—an unacceptable occupation for a man of noble birth. The choice made itself when Andromeda turned to another man. The furniture shop prospered, but now Fen’s partner has been accused of treason. In order to root out the real traitor, he may face another unpalatable choice—to resort to the violent uses of his blades once again. Once upon a time, Andromeda Gibbons believed in magic. That belief faded after her mother’s death and vanished completely when Lord Fenimore, the man she loved, spurned her. Five years later, Andromeda has molded herself into a perfect—and perfectly unhappy—lady. When she overhears her haughty betrothed, the Earl of Slough, plotting treason, she flees into the London night—to Fen, the one man she knows she can trust. But taking refuge with Fen proves to mean far more than getting help—it means learning to believe in love, magic, and the real Andromeda once again.
Excerpt from Lady of the Flames (Book #3: A Most Peculiar Season Series):
“It’s time for bed now,” Fen said.
Andromeda’s eyes widened, but mercifully she was too exhausted to try any of her wiles on him. Not that she seemed so inclined at the moment, but earlier, when their eyes had met for a few seconds, he’d wondered. Oh, how he remembered kissing and licking those lovely feet—and stopping right there, for if he hadn’t, his tongue would have wandered elsewhere and feasted indeed.
He knew for certain that she remembered it, too.
But he also doubted that she could undress by herself. “There are no women here, so I suppose I’ll have to unlace your stays.” He knew he sounded surly but couldn’t help it. Time was when he’d wanted nothing more than to love this woman forever.
“If you don’t mind,” she said stiffly, standing up, hissing as her injured feet touched the rug. She pulled a small reticule from the top of her stays and set it on the dresser. “If I can put up with it, surely you can, too.”
He swore under his breath and went behind her to undo the hooks at the back of the gown. Quickly, he unlaced her stays and stood back. “I’ll give you something of mine to wear. It’ll be too big, but you need more than a shift.” He went over to his chest of drawers, pulled out a nightshirt, and tossed it onto the bed.
This would not be comfortable or easy, but they both had to sleep. “There’s a chamber pot under the bed. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He went to the door. “Call me when you’re ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“To go to bed.” She frowned, and he added, “When you’ve changed into the nightshirt and used the chamber pot and done whatever else you have to do. There’s a hairbrush on the dressing table if you need it.”
“Very well, but why would I call you?”
“So I can come to bed, too,” he said.
She was already pale with fatigue, but now she went stark white. “You can’t come to bed…in here…with me!”
Considering the way she’d thrown herself at him five years ago, this should be hilarious. It wasn’t. It made him want to swear and throw things. “I have nowhere else to sleep.”
“No other bedchambers?”
“One, but it belongs to my valet.”
“No settee? No sofa?” She clenched her small fists.
“Only chairs. And before you ask, we’re out of sofas in the shop, too.” A damned good thing, because he didn’t relish sleeping in the showroom for all his workers to find in the morning. “I need what little sleep I can get. The next few days are going to be hell in too many ways.”
If she took that as an insult, so be it. She put her hands on her hips and tried to look fierce, but her lip trembled.
He relented a little. “Don’t be a fool, Andromeda. We’re not going to do anything we shouldn’t.”
She narrowed her eyes. “No, we certainly are not.”
Lord, what a fiasco. “Then what’s bothering you?”
“I won’t be able to sleep at all if you’re naked!”
He burst out laughing. Was that all that bothered her?
“It’s not proper,” she shouted, crimson with rage. The fire crackled, sounding as angry as she. “It’s not right!”
“Hush,” he retorted. “Someone might hear you.”
“Just because I’m now completely ruined doesn’t mean I should be treated like a trollop.”
Where had she got that idea? He’d thought he was treating her rather well. “I won’t be naked, you idiotic girl,” he said. “I’ll wear what I have on now.”
“It’s still not right,” she said. “I’m unmarried. I can’t share my bed with a man.”
“In case you have forgotten,” he said between his teeth, “it’s my bed, and I don’t want you there, either.” He lit a candle from the branch on the dresser and went to the door. “But unless you wish to sleep on the floor, that’s the way it will be.” He left the room, shutting the door behind him.
About the author and where to find her:
Barbara Monajem grew up in western Canada. She wrote her first story, a fantasy about apple tree gnomes, when she was eight years old, and dabbled in neighborhood musicals at the age of ten. At twelve, she spent a year in Oxford, England, soaking up culture and history, grubbing around at an archaeological dig, playing twosy-ball against the school wall, and spending her pocket money on adventure novels. Thanks to her mother, she became addicted to Regency romances as well. She is the award-winning author of several Regency novellas, many of which include elements of magic, and the Bayou Gavotte series of paranormal mysteries. Apart from writing, she loves to cook (especially soups), and the only item on her bucket list is to be successful at knitting socks (which she doesn’t expect to achieve). She lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.