Re-Release Day Review: A Duke Deceived (Book #1: The Deceived Series) by Cheryl Bolen

A Duke Deceived (The Deceived Series Book 1) by [Bolen, Cheryl]

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The unexpected and overwhelming proposal of marriage by Richard Moncrief, the Duke of Radcliff, was a dream come true to dowryless Bonny Barbara Allan — and her worst nightmare. For her reticent husband spoke endlessly of her beauty, yet never of his love. And her clandestine visits to help her cousin weren’t easing matters at all …  His obsession with the fair Bonny Barbara Allan was ruining the duke of Radcliff’s heretofore orderly life. But how could he trust his new bride — and vow his undying love — when she was secretly meeting another man?

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Source: Author, NetGalley, and Purchase          Rating: 4½/5 stars

At 34 years old, Richard Moncrief has never given much thought to the long term.  As the Duke of Radcliff, his fortune was made and set long ago which has left him with time on his hands, money to burn, and a group of rowdy friends only interested in the pleasures life has to offer.  In the blink of an eye, the life Richard Moncrief has so wholeheartedly and unabashedly lived comes into question the night he meets Bonny Barbara Allan.  To his friends’ great surprise, Richard’s days of drunkenness and debauchery have come to an end as he sets his sights on marriage, family, and forever.

Bonnie Barbara Allan is beautiful, intelligent, kind, loyal, and from a titled family, but she has no money for a dowry and very little hope of making a love match.  What wears on Barbara the most is not so much the idea of a loveless marriage, but the idea that some man will ask for her hand simply because of her beauty, that is, failing to see beyond the façade to her true character.  When Richard Moncrief approaches Barbara she assumes it is because of her looks, but when he steps in to help her with her dying mother, Barbara hopes the Duke of Radcliff is a man capable of looking beneath the surface. 

Overcome with desire and a deep sense of need to see Barbara happy, Richard proposes to and marries Barbara within weeks of meeting her.  Both are deliriously happy with their marriage, but both also harbor secret concerns.  Barbara is certain (without asking!) that Richard cannot possibly love her and only wants her for her beauty while Richard is certain (without asking!) that Barbara cannot possibly love him because her heart belongs to another.  Though the first days and even weeks of their marriage are happy, events, people, and their own unfounded concerns conspire against the new couple and will stop at nothing to tear them apart.

As the weeks drag by, Barbara does her best to hide her fears and concerns and learn to fit into the esteemed role she has married into.  She desperately loves Richard but simply cannot understand his erratic and often insensitive behavior.  For Richard’s part, he his convinced his wife truly belongs to another and rather than asking questions and doing his own investigating, Richard reverts to his bachelor lifestyle hoping to shame or guilt his wife into changing her ways, missing, and loving him. Of course, life has a way of forcing the truth to come out and when it does, all hell breaks loose, hearts are broken, and some fences are never again going to be mended.

The Bottom Line: I’ve said it so many times before regarding Cheryl Bolen’s books and I’m saying it again, every book is like revisiting old friends.  I fall into these books, these worlds, and these characters and simply don’t want to come out until the very last page.  From the moment I met her, I liked Barbara and wanted nothing more than for her to be happy and fulfilled in her life.  I very much liked Richard as well, even in his moments of prideful stupidity.  What I liked more than anything else?  Richard and Barbara together and married from early moments in the book.  I liked knowing there was no way out of the marriage for either and all the angst and worry and frustration at their shared, though unrevealed, fears were going to be resolved and they would live happily ever after.  The machinations of others to tear apart Barbara and Richard very nearly work, and I loved every minute of the drama, in all its time period appropriate politeness and propriety. I can’t imagine there will ever be a time when I won’t so enthusiastically adore on of Cheryl Bolen’s period pieces.  I find them to be well-written, entertaining, authentic, and simply enjoyable.

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Spotlight: King’s Ransom (Book #1: South Side Sinners MC Series) by BT Urruela and CD Bradley

Dimitri King is a killer … and an addict. Born into one of the most ruthless motorcycle clubs that ever ran the streets of St Louis, the only life he has ever known is destroying him from the inside out. A lifetime of trauma, bad decisions, and heinous violence has left him on the brink of complete disaster, but one mission will change everything.

Annalise Hale, daughter of Senator Ronald Hale, is the prima ballerina of the St. Louis Ballet. The picture-perfect trophy from afar, her life is a delicate facade that hides unspeakable pain.


All she wanted was to escape.
 
She never dreamed of this.
 
Blameless in her father’s crimes, she is caught up like an exquisite pawn when the Sinners take her. Face-to-face with Dimitri King, like two sides of the same broken mirror, they have scars so deep, pain is the only feeling they know.
 
A match made in heaven but forged in hell, will they find their wounds fit together to create something beautiful or will the sins of their pasts be too great to overcome?

BT Urruela is a combat wounded amputee, purple heart recipient, contemporary author who has written both independent and traditionally published books. He is a RARE under 40 award recipient, Co-founder and Brand Ambassador for VETSports, People Magazine Tribute for Heroes winner, Cover Model, Motivational Speaker and Philanthropist. He lives in Florida with his two dogs, Kiko and Scout.

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I’m just a girl who likes to daydream and sometimes I write them down to share. Growing up, the literary world was my safe haven. A wonderful place of fantasy beyond the bounds of reality. As an adult, I put that behind me to practice medicine. My husband and I owned our own practice, had two children, and lived a somewhat normal life. Fate had other plans. In the span of a year, we sold our practice, bought a 96 acre farm in the hills of West Virginia, and adopted 3 of our patients (ages 1,3, and4). It has been an adventure of ups and downs and learning to laugh at ourselves. Yet, somewhere in the midst of kids, chickens, and toothpaste covered dogs, I began to write again. My late night / early morning escape lets me dream beyond all limits. I hope that you will enjoy the journey of the stories as much as I have writing them.
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Spotlight and Sweepstakes: Where Forever Ends by K. Street

My life is split into two parts—then and now. 
 
Then: I was a wife. Married to a man who was my world and the father of my child. Then, one day, half of my heart was ripped out of my chest. 
Now: I’m a widow.  A single mom who has spent the last nine months trying like hell not to drown in an ocean of grief.  I survive in the in-between, but surviving isn’t the same as living, and I’m not sure what living looks like anymore.
That is, until Jase Turner, my older brother’s best friend and my former crush, comes back into my life. We’re two people tethered together by strands of similar sorrow.  My husband had my past.  Jase wants my future.  And maybe where forever ends is just a different beginning.

K. Street has been making up stories since she was old enough to talk and began writing at the tender age of eleven. She resides in central Florida with her husband and daughter, as well as a tiny menagerie of pets; including a dog, a cat, and a bearded dragon. K is a foodie with an affinity for coffee, peach Moscato, and dark chocolate. When she isn’t plotting her next story K enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, chatting with her readers, and cheering on her favorite hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

 

Spotlight and Sweepstakes: Shadowed (Team Zero Series) by Rina Kent

She ran from monsters but fell into the trap of the most dangerous one.
Zoe: Shadow is as untouchable as his name. A fighter. A killer. A mafia man. To avenge my mother’s death, I barge into his world head first. It starts as a game. A bet. A push and pull. But then it spirals into a web of secrets and forbidden desires.
The more I get to know the man within, the harder he consumes me. He’s too much. These feelings are too much. I run, but can I hide from a monster?
 
Shadow: To protect my deadly secret, I drown in killing and madness. The facade  hides my darkness and pushes everyone away.  Not her. Zoe provokes me.  Challenges me. She twists her fingers in my black heart and stirs a part I thought was long dead.  Then she runs. She calls me a monster. Well, this monster will  never let her go.
    
Rina Kent is a lover of suspenseful plots and edgy characters. She has always been obsessed with romance. Storytelling is in her blood. Plotting is her addiction. Flawed and gripping characters are her drug. She makes it her mission to give them all types of trouble before granting them happy endings.
 
When not scheming her characters’ fate, Rina manages a hectic schedule divided between studying and living with the most supportive husband and a not-very-supportive cat.
SWEEPSTAKES: ENTER NOW
 

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Excerpt: The Other Half (A Door Peninsula Passions Novel) by Katherine Hastings

When spoiled socialite Cassandra Davenport takes things one step too far, her grandfather gives her an ultimatum… prove she can live without her famous name and riches or give up her place in the family legacy. With nothing but $100, her tiny dog, and a car that should have died in the eighties, she heads to the family cabin in Door County to prove she’s more than just a pretty face with a trust fund. Jake Alton doesn’t know much about the woman who showed up at the dilapidated cabin next door, other than the fact she’s putting a damper on his solitary and secluded lifestyle. Even though he tries to avoid this intruder to his sanctuary, the beautiful woman proves impossible to ignore.  Can true love conquer the divide between them, or will secrets and differences tear them apart?

Excerpt
“I’m cutting you off.”

“What?” The word came out harsher than I’d intended, and his eyebrows rose in a challenge.

“It’s my money that has allowed you to live this way.” His hand swiped over the photo again. Unable to stare at it any longer, I ripped it off the desk and crumbled it up before tossing it on the ground. 

“What am I supposed to do?” Panic changed the tone of my voice to a pitch similar to a whining five-year-old. “Please don’t do this. Don’t sell the company. Don’t cut me off. Just give me a chance to prove it to you. Please, Grandpa.” I was begging now, but I didn’t care. The darkness had stripped me of my desire to go after my dreams these past two years since my parents died, but knowing they were being ripped away had me grasping the air desperate to get them back.

“It’s too late, Cassandra. I’ve lost faith in you. You’re not capable.”

“I am, Grandpa! I swear I’m capable!” Sucking back the tears I straightened back up. “I got off track. Yes, I admit it. But you taught my father everything you know, and he taught me everything he knows. I’m the best of both of you. Just let me prove it. Please don’t do this.”

He sucked his cheek between his teeth like he did often when giving a thought careful consideration. Sitting back in his chair, he rubbed a hand across his bald head. “You think you have what it takes?”

“I know I do.” Raising my chin, I gave him my most confident stare, wishing there wasn’t mascara dripping down my face and snarls in my hair to destroy the appearance of a woman capable of taking the reins of a billion-dollar company.

“Then you must prove it.”

“Anything. I will do anything, Grandpa.”

While he stroked his face, I stroked my dog, waiting for his decision. A decision that would alter my entire life.

“If you want to prove to me you have what it takes, then I want to see you out in the world on your own two feet. I want to see you succeed without your name or my money. I want you to get your hands dirty and rise from the ground like I did. To understand the strife of the people you consider below you… the type of people who will one day be your employees and count on you to make decisions that secure their jobs and their income. Their very livelihoods. I want you to live like the other half.”

“Anything, Grandpa. Just tell me what to do.”

Silence settled over us while I struggled to control my breathing and the minutes ticked by. Just when I couldn’t take the suspense any longer, I saw a flash in his eyes and a smile lifted one corner of his lip. 

“I know how you can prove it to me.”

“How?”

“You are going to leave New York City and travel to a place where I’m certain no one will know you. You will find a job, pay your bills, and live with people who don’t own private jets and travel in limos. You’ll live amongst good people and hopefully you will come back here with an understanding of how the world really works and with a new appreciation for the life you can have. Should you choose to work for it instead of having it handed to you on a silver platter.”

“I can do that, Grandpa! I swear I can!”

“Good. Then I will make arrangements and you can prove to me you have what it takes, and you aren’t just a spoiled Park Avenue Princess.”

I put my hand up as if taking an oath. “I will. I promise.”

His eyes, a mirror of my own, narrowed into slits. “There will be rules.”

“What kind of rules?”

“You can tell no one who you are.” Leaning forward, he pressed his elbows into the desk and steepled his fingers. “No one. You will not use your name to get any favors. If I find out you told people your name to pave your own way and make things easier, the deal is off.”

“Okay. I can do that.”

“You will not tell your friends where you are and get them to help you. The only money you get is the money you earn on your own.”

“Ok. Fine. No friends. No outside money.”

“I mean it, Cassandra. I want you to live like the common man and woman so you might appreciate them more. Don’t think Eleanor didn’t tell me how you treated her. I won’t have you treating people you feel are inferior to you that way again. No one is inferior to you. No one.” 

Cringing, I nodded.

“Do you agree to my terms?”

“I do.”

“I’ll be keeping tabs on you. If you so much as take a penny from someone to pay a bill, or call those wretched friends of yours, I’ll know. Then the deal is off, and the company will be sold before you can come crying back with your latest sob story. And you will be cut off completely until you get your parent’s trust when you turn thirty.”

“It won’t come to any of that. I promise I’ll do better, Grandpa. I can do this.”

Katherine Hastings loves love. It’s why she writes romance novels. Getting lost writing a romantic adventure is one of her favorite pastimes. When she’s not on an adventure with her characters, she can be found at her home in Wisconsin snuggling her husband, two Boston Terriers, and the world’s naughtiest cat. Two things make Katherine want to leave her happy home these days… going for rides on her dressage pony or floating at the beach in her big inflatable raft. Writing her novels while floating in the lake is one of her ultimate pleasures… that and Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, of course.
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Series Cover Reveal: Second Chances Series by Stephanie Rose

 

Lucas was all I ever wanted, but he was the man I could never have.  All we had was friendship and my silly hope for more.  When he left and took all of that with him, I moved on. Settled. I figured that happiness wasn’t in the cards for me. Until, one night of drinks with an old “friend” gives me a hope I never expected, but don’t know what to do with.  This time, I have the chance I always dreamed about—but I’m not free to take it. 

***
Ten years ago, Samantha was only a friend, a sweet girl I never wanted to hurt.   Now, she’s everything I want and nothing I can have.  She belongs with me, even if she’s not really mine, and I can’t settle for anything less than all of her. Now that I’ve got a second chance, I’m grabbing it with both hands.  Why did it take so long to realize that it was Always You?

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I spent my life searching for love, but Evan was right there all along.  As gorgeous on the inside as he was on the outside, I never had to wonder if he loved me. He showed me with every glance, every sweet touch, every scorching kiss.  I wanted nothing more than to give him my forever—until I found out I may not have one.
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Paige was the girl of my dreams.  So beautiful in every way; no one would ever compare. I feared she would never be mine, and then she became my everything. I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life.  I wanted her to be my forever. But love may not be enough.  Why do I have to say good-bye to the love of my life? How can I let you go—when it’s always been only you? After You I had the happily ever after . . . until it was gone.
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Three became two. And I was alone.   Our time—my time—was over. Alone was the right way to be. The only way. Life was me, my son, and my memories. Until the day I met someone who turned my lonely existence upside down.   This man made me smile, made me laugh, made me ache for his touch.  But I couldn’t.   He shouldn’t awaken feelings I resolved to bury with my husband. But he did.   I couldn’t let his presence make my heart race. I couldn’t let him into our little world, where he fit so perfectly. I couldn’t want Nick.   But I did.
***

I rescued people.  My family relied on me to lend a hand. Everyone thought of me as the fixer, but no one had the first clue how to fix me. Until Ellie.  The freckled beauty’s sorrow was like a well-worn shirt—easy and familiar, difficult to part with—and she wore it comfortably. And though I was hers from the moment our eyes first met, she’d never be mine. I loved her in the here and now, but how did I compete with a ghost?
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How can there ever be anyone After You?
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After seven years of marriage, Lucas and Samantha are still crazy, head over heels in love. But happily ever after is now overrun by a teenager in a hurry to grow up, and a toddler demanding everyone’s full attention.
With their children pulling them in every direction this holiday season, life is hectic and time alone together is at a premium. Lucas and Samantha’s only Christmas wish this year is to prove they’re still Always Us.

 


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Spotlight and Sweepstakes: Wicked Passion by Amanda J. Greene

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James Stonewoll is an Elite Assassin for the Under Realm Syndicate—an expert hunter and merciless killer. As a former pirate, he thrives on danger, the more perilous the mission, the  better and he can’t resist his newest contract: eliminate a rebel shape-shifting magic thief that  stalks the border of the Under Realm kidnapping and murdering innocent Others. But never  did the centuries old vampire anticipate playing hero to a mythical temptress with luscious curves, tantalizing lips, and hypnotic eyes.
Captured and held prisoner, Katya Moro was trapped in a seemingly endless loop of unimaginable agony as her magic was slowly being torn from her soul. A gasp away from death, she is rescued by a sinful kiss and awakens in the strong arms of a powerful warrior whose roguish smile, sharp fangs, and intense strength unlock dormant instincts within her, an all-consuming madness that demands complete surrender.
Gazing down at her, James knew he had to kill her. Dark Magic Wielders, like the beautiful female he’d found, were a grave threat to human society and were not permitted to roam the mortal world. But Katya’s smoky voice and sweet kisses stir a fierce hunger inside him. She is unpredictable, uncontrollable and wickedly seductive—his perfect kind of dangerous. To keep her safe, James will protect her from the magic thieves that hunt her and his fellow assassins until he can find a way to return Katya to her home in the Under Realm.Can Katya’s passion conquer the darkness within his soul?

About the author and where to find her:

Amanda J. Greene is the author of the captivating Rulers of Darkness and enticing Under Realm Assassins series. Fans of Nalini Singh’s, Gena Showalter, and J.R. Ward will fall in love with Ms. Greene’s dangerously sexy heroes and strong, kick your teeth in heroines.
She lives in Southern California with her supportive military husband and their two fur babies—a sweet cocker spaniel and a rambunctious black mouth cur mix. Between working full time in higher education and family life, she finds time to write and create detailed worlds with exciting characters for her ravenous readers.
“Amanda’s vampires are seriously sexy and I can’t get enough!” – Kristina’s Books & More

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