Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Gilded Cage: A Novel of Chicago by Judy Alter

02_The Gilded Cage



The Gilded Cage: A Novel of Chicago by Judy Alter



Publication Date: April 18, 2016
Alter Ego Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 318 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Born to a society and a life of privilege, Bertha Honoré married Potter Palmer, a wealthy entrepreneur who called her Cissy. Neither dreamed the direction the other’s life would take. He built the Palmer House Hotel, still famed today, and become one of the major robber barons of the city, giving generously to causes of which he approved. She put philanthropy into deeds, going into shanty neighborhoods, inviting factory girls to her home, working at Jane Addams’ settlement Hull House, supporting women’s causes.



It was a time of tremendous change and conflict in Chicago as the city struggled to put its swamp-water beginnings behind it and become a leading urban center. A time of the Great Fire of 1871, the Haymarket Riots, and the triumph of the Columbian Exposition. Potter and Cissy handled these events in diverse ways. Fascinating characters people these pages along with Potter and Cissy—Carter Harrison, frequent mayor of the city; Harry Collins, determined to be a loser; Henry Honoré, torn between loyalties to the South and North; Daniel Burnham, architect of the new Chicago—and many others.



The Gilded Cage is a fictional exploration of the lives of these people and of the Gilded Age in Chicago history.



"The Gilded Cage is a wonderful recreation of early Chicago and the people who made it what it is. Central character Cissy Palmer is a three-dimensional, real, vibrant person. The Gilded Cage is fiction, but firmly based on fact—the Chicago Fire, the prisoners from the War Between the States interred in Chicago, the newcomer Potter Palmer, the explosive growth of wealth in a prairie town, deep poverty adjacent to great riches—the American experience laid bare. You don’t have to be a Chicagoan to love this book." -Barbara D’Amato, author of Other Eyes

My Review
Five Stars
Copy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for an honest review


Amazon | Barnes & Noble



About the Author

03_Judy AlterJudy Alter is the award winning author of fiction for adults and young adults. Other historical fiction includes Libbie, the story of Elizabeth Bacon (Mrs. George Armstrong) Custer; Jessie, the story of Jessie Benton Frémont and her explorer / miner / entrepreneur / soldier / politician husband; Cherokee Rose, a novel loosely based on the life of the first cowgirl roper to ride in Wild West shows; and Sundance, Butch and Me, the adventures of Etta Place and the Hole in the Wall Gang.



For more information visit Judy Alter's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.



Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 23

Excerpt & Giveaway A Holland Reads



Tuesday, May 24

Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past



Wednesday, May 25

Review at History From a Woman's Perspective



Friday, May 27

Review at In a Minute



Monday, May 30

Review at Book Nerd



Tuesday, May 31

Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews



Wednesday, June 1

Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More



Thursday, June 2

Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books



Monday, June 6

Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne



Tuesday, June 7

Guest Post at The True Book Addict



Wednesday, June 8

Spotlight & Giveaway at It's a Mad Mad World



Thursday, June 9

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at The Book Junkie Reads



Monday, June 13

Review at Reading Is My SuperPower

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation



Wednesday, June 15

Interview at Jorie Loves a Story



Thursday, June 16

Review at The Lit Bitch



Friday, June 17

Review at New Horizon Reviews

Review at Jorie Loves a Story



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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

By Helen's Hand (Helen of Sparta #2) by Amalia Carosella

02_By Helen's Hand


By Helen's Hand (Helen of Sparta #2) by Amalia Carosella

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback;


Genre: Historical Fiction


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With divine beauty comes dangerous power.



Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.



But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?
My Review
Five Stars
Copy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for an honest review
"By Helen's Hand" by Amalia  Carosella was a fantastic read. I was completely captivated and drawn into the world of  Helen. In this part of the story, Helen is struggling against her destiny.  Carosella drew me into the world of Helen. Although I knew of her story, after reading this story she felt real and I connected with her and her struggle.  Carosella's passion for the time period seeps through the  pages and the tension rises up to meet the reader. I did not read the first book in the series, Helen of Sparta but I think that it will only add to an already enriching story.

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

03_Amalia Carosella AuthorAbout the Author

Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.



You can also connect with Amalia on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter here and here.



Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 16

Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past



Tuesday, May 17

Review at The Reading Queen



Wednesday, May 18

Review at Book Lovers Paradise



Thursday, May 19

Review at 100 Pages a Day



Monday, May 23

Review at Creating Herstory



Tuesday, May 24

Review at Book Nerd



Wednesday, May 25

Review at Let Them Read Books



Thursday, May 26

Review at Helen's Daughter



Wednesday, June 1

Review at History From a Woman's Perspective



Friday, June 3

Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!



Monday, June 6

Review at Ageless Pages Reviews



Wednesday, June 8

Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!



Thursday, June 16

Review at Impressions In Ink



Friday, June 17

Review at Layered Pages



Monday, June 20

Review at Just One More Chapter



Wednesday, June 22

Review at CelticLady's Reviews



Friday, June 24

Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past



Giveaway

To win a $40 Amazon Gift Card, sponsored by Amalia Carosella, please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.



Rules



– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 24th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.



By Helen's Hand





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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Loving Eleanor By Susan Wittig Albert

02_Loving Eleanor

Loving Eleanor By Susan Wittig Albert

Publication Date: February 1, 2016
Persevero Press; Thorndike (Large Print)
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Large Print

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical Fiction

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When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women's deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years.

Now, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert recreates the fascinating story of Hick and Eleanor, set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War. Loving Eleanor is Hick's personal story, revealing Eleanor as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation's First Lady, as well as by a compelling need to care and be cared for. For her part, Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.

Drawing on extensive research in the letters that were sealed for a decade following Hick's death, Albert creates a compelling narrative: a dramatic love story, vividly portraying two strikingly unconventional women, neither of whom is satisfied to live according to the script society has written for her. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see and celebrates the depth and durability of women's love.

My Review
Four Stars
Copy received from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
I've obviously been living under a rock since I had no idea that Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had a love affair with Lorena Hickok "Hick."  In "Loving Eleanor" Susan Wittig Albert brings to light the intense friendship between Hick and Eleanor or ER has Hick, affectionately refers to her.  Albert examines the inner struggle that Hick deal with when she realizes that she has a huge responsibility placed on her shoulders.  After ER has passed away their letters remain and she has to deal with what to do with them. In those letters are their love for one another and their intense friendship.  ER's inner struggles, her real thoughts and feelings as a woman, not just a first lady. My heart ached for them because it was not just a love affair between two women. It was an intense relationship.  ER had a huge responsibility to her country and to her family.  Often and more often than not, her  desires and feelings remained second or unimportant.  This was a very beautiful read.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in the Roosevelt family or the WW I era.  It was a very complicated time with many momentous events that have shaped our current world.                                                                                          

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

IPPY Award Winner Badge

Praise

"Albert captures Hick's spirit with energetic prose, painting a colorful picture of her fascinating life together with and apart from Eleanor. Although this memoir is fictional, the author draws upon thousands of personal letters, first-person accounts by others, and further research to present a compelling possible narrative of the relationship between Eleanor and Hick. Albert's illuminating afterword adds important context to her narrative choices, and a comprehensive bibliography will encourage additional research. This warm, extensively researched novel will entrance readers and inspire them to look further into the lives of two extraordinary women." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Albert captures the turbulent thirties and forties with affecting detail, writing a novel notable not only for its emotional authenticity, but for its careful historicity. The nuances of Eleanor and Hick's relationship are both moving and involving. Loving Eleanor is an intelligent love story with huge historical appeal." —Foreword Reviews

"Susan Albert has done it again with another engaging, rich portrait, this time of women in love. Drawn from history, the love story of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok is full of excitement, drama and pathos. Both women of great intelligence and deep feelings, Eleanor and Lorena move from lovers to lifelong friends in the context of the most turbulent times of the 20th Century. As same-sex relationships finally move toward full acceptance in our culture, Albert's book reminds us that love has always been love, no matter the partners." —Robin Gerber, author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way

"Loving Eleanor, Susan Wittig Albert's novelized memoir of Lorena Hickok's intimate relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, is both richly nuanced and impressively detailed. Drawn from the thirty years of correspondence Hickok donated to the FDR Library toward the end of her life, "Hick's" voice felt utterly authentic to me, always real, raw and compelling. Hick is a dichotomy—a tough, streetwise Associated Press reporter, and a tender, devoted friend and lover. This is not only an important book, but a great read. Loving Eleanor deserves to be at the top of your reading list!" —Ellen Hart, author of The Grave Soul, a Jane Lawless Mystery

"Susan Albert has, with imagination and deep knowledge of the historical record, supplied the missing pieces of the love story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Here is everything we wish we knew. I couldn't put it down." —Leila Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara,

"This birds-eye view of the FDR years is engaging from the first sentence. With Eleanor Roosevelt's long-time lover as its narrator it navigates the catastrophes of the era and the heartbreak of women loving women in an unwelcoming time." —Rebecca Coffey, author of Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story

About the Author

03_Susan Wittig AlbertSusan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul's Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman's Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

For more information please visit www.susanalbert.com and www.LovingEleanor.com, or read her blog. You can also find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Like the Loving Eleanor page on Facebook.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 26
Review at Bibliotica

Wednesday, April 27
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 28
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Friday, April 29
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 2
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, May 3
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Wednesday, May 4
Review at A Holland Reads

Thursday, May 5
Interview at A Holland Reads

Friday, May 6
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Spotlight at To Read, or Not to Read

Monday, May 9
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 10
Review at Back Porchervations

Thursday, May 12
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, May 16
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 17
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 18
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, May 20
Guest Post at Creating Herstory

Monday, May 23
Review at Unabridged Chick
Interview at Layered Pages

Tuesday, May 24
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, May 25
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, May 26
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Monday, May 30
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, May 31
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

Three copies of Loving Eleanor by Sisan Wittig Albert are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Loving Eleanor


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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Camelot's Queen (Guinevere's Tale, Book Two) by Nicole Evelina

02_Camelot's Queen

Camelot's Queen (Guinevere's Tale, Book Two) by Nicole Evelina

Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Lawson Gartner Publishing
eBook; 358 Pages

Series: Guinevere's Tale
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

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History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first.

Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.

Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.

Amid this tension a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.

This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but prepared to suffer its downfall as well.
My Review
Four Stars
Copy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for an honest review
What a great addition to the “Guinevere's Tale." I really enjoyed the first book . Just like the first book, the author gives us an insight into Guinevere.  She really lets us into her thoughts and emotions.  I love the complexity of this character and all the different depths that the author analyzed with her.  Guinevere is by no means perfect and we, as readers, can see how she grows into the role of queen.   Since in the first book Guinevere was a child, here she is a woman in love and dealing with many conflicting emotions.  One area that the author shows us, is her struggling relationship with Arthur.  The classical characters such as Lancelot and Merlin make an appearance and the world of Guinevere is filled with fantasy.  I always love when an old concept challenged and Eveline challenges the fantasy of King Arthur and his queen. I love when a series grabs my attention and this is one series I really enjoyed. 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

03_Nicole EvelinaAbout the Author

Nicole Evelina is a St. Louis historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, has been short-listed for the Chaucer Award in Early Historical Fiction. Camelot’s Queen is its sequel.

Later this year, she will release Been Searching for You (May 10), a romantic comedy that won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests, and Madame Presidentess (July 25), a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential candidate, which has been short-listed for the Goethe Award in Late Historical Fiction.

She hopes to have the final book in Guinevere’s Tale available in late 2016 or early 2017.

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

She spent 15 years researching Arthurian legend, Celtic Britain and the various peoples, cultures and religious practices that shaped the country after the withdrawal of Rome. Other historical interests include the Middle Ages and women who made their mark on history. She’s also a frequent visitor to Chicago, where Been Searching for You takes place.

Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Tumblr.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 25
Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 26
Excerpt & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, April 27
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, April 28
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, April 29
Review & Excerpt, & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise

Saturday, April 30
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Laura's Interests

Monday, May 2
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Tuesday, May 3
Review at The Baking Bookworm

Wednesday, May 4
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, May 5
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Tuesday, May 10
Review at Curling up by the Fire

Wednesday, May 11
Review & Giveaway at Singing Librarian Books

Thursday, May 12
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, May 13
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, May 16
Review & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Seize the Words: Books in Review

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hawke (Cold Fury Hockey #5) by Sawyer Bennett

Hawke (Cold Fury Hockey, #5)


review at
http://http://ramblingsfromthischick.blogspot.com/
First I’m going to start with my love for Sawyer Bennett! She is so amazing! I tend to flock towards historical more than contemporary and then if I do read a contemporary author there are certain ones that I stick to, for example anything Julie James or Kristan Higgans. Well now I have to include Sawyer Bennett to that list. Anything Sawyer Bennett! I first discovered Bennett when I was reviewing an audio book “Ryker.” Although I had heard of Bennett I was not at all interested in hockey nor reading about athletes. Or so I thought. Bennett can write about the hockey puck and I would want to read it! She has a great talent for making the characters in her story seem like real people. When I was reading Hawke I felt a big connection to both the hero- Hawke Therrien and heroine- Vale Campbell. 

Hawke plays for the “Cold Fury” a North Carolina hockey team. ( I would like to say I have never seen a hockey game in my life and I was captivated by her descriptions of the game). He is a wild man and not afraid to show it. Earlier in his life him and Vale were inseparable. They both partied hard and loved harder. It seemed that nothing could tear them apart. Just before Hawke is about to take off for his big chance to play professional Vale breaks it off with him. Hawke is angry and hurt. He can’t understand how Vale can just switch off their love from one day to the next. Although he tries to get her to explain why, she refuses and walks away. Hawke never looks back. Although he still loves her he is not going to beg her and he makes his own life and eventually loses contact with the people that are from his hometown including Vale’s dad and their mutual friends. 

Hawke is a big deal in the Cold Fury, he parties hard but plays harder. He is a professional thru and thru. He is shocked when he learns that Vale will be working for the team as a physical therapist. Vale for her part has left the past behind her. She is no longer the hard-partier that Hawke knew and she realizes that after their shared past she can no longer look back. She is very cold and distant with Hawke and tries her best to keep him out of her life. She has moved on and she has more important things to worry about then their past heartbreak. 

Like I mentioned before, I loved both Vale and Hawke. I was curious to know why she broke it off and it was hard to understand her motives until the truth comes out. When Hawke finally learns the truth he tries to make up for the past they lost but faces a lot of resistance from Vale. As Vale and Hawke begin to know each other again it was easy to see why they were so in love. I loved their dynamic and their intense love for each other! I also loved how Bennett had them come together and develop a friendship. As in past “Cold Fury” books, Bennett does not have her character’s waste time with immature and unnecessary and exhausting drama. Her characters seem like real people genuinely trying to find their way to love and happiness. When I started “Hawke” I couldn’t put it down and when I finished it I couldn’t stop thinking about Vale and Hawke! I highly recommend it and really enjoyed it and I am undoubtedly a HUGE Bennett fan!

One Pink Rose by Julie Garwood

One Pink Rose (Rose, #2)
Books like “One Pink Rose” are the reason I fell in love with romance novels years ago. This is a classic Julie Garwood love story. Julie Garwood was one of my all-time favorite writers and I stayed up many nights during my summers reading her and loving her heroes and heroines. This book was written in 1997 so I can see how romance novels have changed and evolved but let me tell you “One Pink Rose” is proof that classics are still better! “One Pink Rose” is part of the Claybourne’s series. The Claybourne’s are a family in Montana. They are typical rough and tumble type of heroes. They have very good old-fashion values and love their family. This is about the youngest Claybourne, Travis.

Travis is a great hero. He is looking for a man that he believes swindled his mom. Travis adores his family and mom and is determined to find the man he believes stole from her. His mother asks him to do a favor, she wants him to accompany Emily Finnegan to Golden Crest Montana so she can marry the man she has been corresponding with. Travis and Emily instantly react to each other. Travis thinks that Emily is crazy and Emily doesn’t care what Travis thinks. After nursing a broken heart, she is determined to take her destiny into her own hands and marry.
Travis can’t believe that Emily would set out to marry a man she has only shared letters with. He can’t believe that he promised to accompany her after three previous couples couldn’t complete the task and most importantly, he can’t believe that he wants Emily from himself. But Travis is not the marrying type and he refuses to give his heart away.

I absolutely loved this story. It was funny, sweet, romantic, and full of unexpected fights, flying frying pans and some very dangerous men. This is classic Garwood-which I love. Travis and Emily were so cute and funny together. I started reading and when I looked up I was half way through the story. I couldn’t put it down, the writing was engaging and the story moved along so smoothly. This is a very chaste story, no sweaty hot and heavy action but it was still very sweet and I really enjoyed it. I wish there were more stories like these!

Needless to say, this was a fun read. I really enjoyed it and was reminded about why I fell in love with romance novels.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Juliana (Volume I, 1941-1944) by Vanda

Have I got an exciting new blog tour & giveaway for you all! Vanda is touring with HF Virtual Book Tours for the release of her novel JULIANA, set in prewar New York City! So, read all about the book, check out the schedule of tour stops, and enter to win your own copy!

02_Juliana

Juliana (Volume I, 1941-1944) by Vanda

Publication Date: February 14, 2016
Booktrope Editions
eBook & Paperback; 375 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Woman/LGBT

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JULIANA is the story of dreams, the dreams of two women who randomly, inevitably cross paths, of stage stardom and soulful songs amid the deceptions required in a prewar 1941 New York City, where love was presumed to be straight, and destiny was supposed to be written in the stars.

It’s 1941 and Alice “Al” Huffman comes from the potato fields of Long Island with her beau, her best girlfriend and her girlfriend’s beau to make it on the Broadway stage only to find she has no talent. On the kids’ first day in New York City, they meet Maxwell P. Hartwell III, a failed nightclub owner and Broadway producer, who, according to Al, looks a little like Clark Gable. He invites them to a nightclub where Al hears Juliana, the glamorous, perpetually-on-the-brink-of stardom singer, for the first time. Al is instantly drawn to her and seeks her out. Juliana is a sexual risk-taker who easily reels in the mesmerized Al.

Al is increasingly pulled into a secret gay underworld of men who wear dresses and women who smoke cigars, while her childhood friends continue in their “normal” lives. Al glides easily between the two worlds until these worlds begin to collide.

Cameo appearances are made by Walter Liverace, Ethel Merman, Tallulah Bankhead and others.

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble

Praise

"… captures the fear, excitement, and eroticism of a young lesbian's awakening in the the 1940s." — Kirkus Reviews

"Vanda creates a historical novel about a time period in which we know very little about queerness—WWII... Vanda's narratives, prowess of timely language and setting and character development lend a poignant message: to be queer was to be anti-American.— July Westhale, Lambda Literary Review

"Juliana is the opening act in a series of stories that will cover, discover and recover LGBT history.... Vanda's clean-shave style in Juliana amplifies the creative ways in which lesbians and gays in the 1940s compartmentalized their identities like meals at an automat.....I can't wait for the next edition of yestergays' news to come out" — Alison Fradkin, Curve Magazine

"Spell-binding, entrancing. A gay underworld with the sights and sounds of a lost New York." — Lisa E. Davis, author of Under the Mink

About the Author

03_VandaVanda's novel, Juliana (Vol. 1, 1941-1944) to be released in February by Booktrope Editions is about LGBT life in 1940s New York City. This novel is the first of a series of novels about the same characters living through successive decades of LGBT history.

As a playwright Vanda has received numerous honors, among them an Edward Albee Fellowship. Her play, Vile Affections, published by Original Works was a finalist for a National Lambda Award. Her play, Patient HM, which later became The Forgetting Curve, won the Pride Stage and Screen's Women's Playwriting Award and another play, Why'd Ya Make Me Wear This, Joe, won Celebration Theater's (where Naked Boys Singing originated) Best New LGBT Play. Vile Affections played at the New York International Fringe Festival to sell-out audiences and was published by Original Works in 2008. The Forgetting Curve was produced in Boston in September 2014 and the producer has plans to bring it to New York.

Vanda's non-fiction story, "Jack," was published in Prairie Schooner in Summer 2011 and another non-fiction piece, "Roger: Lost Between Philosophies," which appears Pentimento was selected by New Millennium Writings for Honorable Mention from a submission pool of 1,300. Other short prose pieces have been or will be published in Sinister Wisdom, The Outrider Review and The Grub Street On-Line Journal.

My Review
Four Stars 
Copy received from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
"Juliana" was a beautiful story set in NYC during the 1940's.  I'm personally a huge fan of early history of NYC so this was a great read for me.  The time period paired off with the great characters in this book made Juliana a engrossing and enlightening read !  Through the adventures of Alice Huffman, Aggie, Danny and Dickie, we are able to experience what life was like for aspiring performers with big dreams. Aside from the professional struggle is the conflicts that they face when they feel a self awakening that they are not ready to deal with.  The attitudes of the characters are very reflective of the times and I loved that the author stayed true to the personal development of the characters.  I can't wait to see what Vanda has in store for volume II

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Juliana


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1906 : A Novel by James Dalessandro

02_1906 Cover1906: A Novel
By James Dalessandro

eBook Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Crossroad Press
eBook; 368 Pages

Genre : Historical Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

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Every disaster has a backstory, none more thrilling than this one. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning tale of political corruption, vendettas, romance, rescue—and murder—is based on recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Told by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Victorian-era city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle—fought even as the city burns—that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor.

With the appeal and texture of The Alienist, Carter Beats the Devil, and the novels of E. L. Doctrow, James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | KOBO

Praise

“…an imaginative and dense interplay between fact and fiction …of corruption, crime lords and the great San Francisco earthquake...” -Publisher’s Weekly

“Imagine ‘Gone with the Wind’ set against the backdrop of the great San Francisco Earthquake…it steals your breath away.” -Bookideas.com

“A Bold, Sweeping Novel…Richly Textured…Extraordinary.” -Vincent Bugliosi (author ‘Helter Skelter’)

“loaded with admirable historical detail and raptor civic corruption as murderous as the San Andreas Fault.” -Oakley Hall (author, the Ambrose Bierce mysteries)

“…will keep you at the edge of your seat.” -The New York Sun

“..action packed…exciting and vivid.” -Kirkus

“A riveting account of corruption, greed and murder…” -Dallas Morning News

My Review:
Copy From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
"1906" was an amazing read! The story was filled with action and none stop emotions! I think this book had a little bit of everything and yet seemed to balance all aspects of the story equally.  I don't often read about books set in San Francisco and this was a refreshing read. The time period was fascinating.  I really enjoyed learning about Victorian times in the US since I often read about Victorian time periods in England.  After I finished reading 1906  I was hungry for more details about this time in history.  I usually donate books to the library when I'm done reading them but this one I plan to re-read in the near future.  The characters jump out and stick with the reader even after the story is finished. Great read! 

About the Author03_Author James Dallesandro

James Dalessandro was born in Cleveland Ohio, and educated at Ohio University and UCLA film school. In 1973 he founded the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ken Kesey, the nation’s largest literary event. He has written for Playboy, the Examiner newspapers, San Francisco magazine. He was writer of the House of Blues Radio Hour and created the nationally syndicated program “Rock On” with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. He has published four books: Canary in a Coal Mine (poetry); Bohemian Heart (noir detective fiction); Citizen Jane (True Crime); and 1906: A Novel (Historical Fiction). He is award winning writer/director/producer of the documentary film THE DAMNEDEST, FINEST RUINS (PBS/KQED), and writer/producer of the Hallmark Movie “Citizen Jane,” based on his book. He is screenwriter of “1906” the upcoming Pixar/Warner Brothers live action film based on his novel of the same name. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Katie and best pal Giacomo Poochini.

My Review
Five Stars

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Review at Book Nerd

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Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Untamed Earl by Valerie Bowman / Chapter 1 and Review




Lady Alexandra Hobbs, the daughter of the Duke of Huntley, has intended to marry Lord Owen Monroe since she first glimpsed him from the window of her bedchamber, back when she was just a girl. But the duke has already chosen Alex’s infamously spoiled elder sister, Lavinia, for Owen. And now there’s no turning back.

Owen has spent most of his bachelor years drinking, gambling, and skirt-chasing. He won’t see another pound from his parents, however, until he’s engaged to Lavinia. Desperate, he accepts an offer from her innocent and spirited—and absolutely beautiful—sister Alex: She will
turn him into a perfectly tamed suitor, and show him how to woo the shrew. But when Alex’s true motives come to light, will their bargain lead to recriminations—or to a romance that defies everyone’s expectations?





Chapter 1 
CHAPTER ONE



London, October 1816

“You heard me, Owen, and this time I’m putting my foot down.” The stamp of a boot lent credence to that particular claim.

Owen tugged at his sleeve and did his best to keep from rolling his eyes. He’d been summoned to his father’s study for what was likely the sixth time in as many months. Only this time, Owen had the misfortunate to be completely … sober. Blast, he should have stopped at the club and been even later than he already was to his father’s favorite pastime, dressing down his son. At least it would be more palatable if he were half in the bottle.

“I understand,” Owen drawled, standing up from the leather-upholstered chair that sat in front of his father’s large mahogany desk. Owen inched toward the door. He had learned over years of such meetings that it was best to get out quickly before his father had a chance to toss more empty threats at his head.

“No. I don’t think you do understand,” the earl said, stamping his foot against the wooden floor again.

Owen pressed his lips together to keep from saying something he’d regret. Which was usually everything he said. “I understand perfectly. You’re tired of my drinking?”

“Yes!”

“My gambling?”

“Yes!”

“My fondness for light skirts?”

“Yes!”

Owen picked an imaginary bit of lint from the front of his impeccably tailored blue coat. The garment had cost a small fortune, but then again, high fashion didn’t come cheap and Owen prided himself on being well dressed. Well dressed, well fed, well entertained. Well everything. He focused his gaze on his father’s red face. “There, you see? I’ve cataloged all my faults. You want me to find a wife and ‘settle down.’ I understand entirely.”

“No. You don’t understand, Owen.” His father clutched at the lapels of his own burgundy coat and tugged viciously. Owen winced. There was no need to take it out on the garment. “You don’t understand at all,” the earl continued. “How many times have we had this discussion?”

“Too many to count,” Owen muttered under his breath. He was already thinking of the hand of cards he’d be playing tonight at his favorite gaming hell.

“What was that?” His father narrowed his eyes on him.

Oh, devil take it. His father had heard his mutter. “Quite a few,” Owen answered in a clearer voice.

“And how many times have you left here and done absolutely nothing to comply with my wishes?” his father replied, still tugging on his lapels.

“Too many to count,” Owen muttered again, glancing down at the tabletop so he wouldn’t have to witness the assault on the garment.

“You’ve never complied with my wishes!” The Earl of Moreland banged his large fist against the desk. The inkpot bounced. “Damn it, Owen, you’re to inherit the title one day. You’re to be an earl, for heaven’s sake. You’re to take your seat in Parliament and be a productive member of Society. You cannot continue to comport yourself as if you’re nothing more than a gadabout.”

“But I am nothing more than a gadabout.” Owen sighed and scratched at the underside of his chin. “Haven’t you told me that ever since my days at Eton?”

“We’re not going to talk about that again,” the earl replied, a thunderous expression hovering across his brow.

That’s right. His father had never even asked him what happened. Just assumed the worst about his son. And Owen had set about proving him right ever since.

“And you’re not a gadabout,” the earl continued. “Or you won’t be.” He banged his fist on the desk again. At least he’d surrendered the poor, blameless lapels. “I’m tired of having this conversation with you to no avail. I’m tired of seeing you while away your days drinking and gambling. I’m tired of hearing stories about your exploits all over town.”

Owen rubbed a knuckle against his forehead. “Oh, come now. They aren’t all over town, are they?”

His father’s jowls shook as he clutched his lapels even more tightly again. “Don’t be impertinent.”

“I’ve long since passed impertinent. And please have a care for your jacket, Father.” Owen smoothed a hand over the thigh of his coffee-colored breeches. Also not cheap. Living the lifestyle to which he’d grown accustomed was, in fact, quite expensive, and his monthly allowance from his father was the means by which he maintained his lifestyle. Hence Owen’s willingness to come here regularly and receive his dressing-down. It was a means to an end. He kept his father happy, and a large bank draft was deposited into his account each month. Of course, he sent a sizable portion of his allowance each month to an orphanage near one of the gaming hells he frequented, but he’d never tell his father that. Why spoil the man’s bad opinion of him? Besides, Owen wasn’t in the business of untarnishing his reputation. In fact, he’d been doing the exact opposite for years. It was a sport for him, really, much like training his beloved horses.

“Damn it, Owen. You must care about something.

Owen did care about something. He adored his younger sister, Cassandra, and his horses. In that order. Neither had ever let him down. Neither had ever believed the worst of him. “I care about the damage you’re wreaking on your lapels,” he drawled.

The earl lifted his chin. “That’s it. I’ve given you plenty of opportunities. I’m officially finished putting up with your behavior. You will return here one month from today with an affianced bride or else!”

Owen’s gaze flicked over his father. Was that spittle on his chin? The old blighter really had his back up this time, didn’t he? But Owen couldn’t help himself. “Or else what?”

“Or else … or else I will cut off your allowance. Yes. That’s it. I should have done it long before now. I am not giving you another pound until you are properly engaged.”

Owen arched a brow and picked another invisible piece of lint, this time from his coat sleeve. “That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?”

His father’s face turned even redder, if that were possible. “No. I don’t.”

Owen studied his father’s countenance. By God, the old man was actually serious. Or at least seemed to believe he was serious. His face was a mottled purplish color and his neck was bulging beneath his neckcloth. Yes, Father was serious, indeed. Owen groaned. He’d always known this day would come. The day when his father insisted he take a wife. He supposed he couldn’t escape the parson’s noose forever. He’d had a good run, actually.

Owen shrugged. “Fine. If I must choose a wife, I’ll pick one out. Someone biddable, willing, quiet. One who’ll look the other way. Someone passably pretty and exceedingly meek.”

His father shook his head. “You don’t understand, Owen.”

Owen flicked at his cheek. “Understand what?”

“I’m not asking you to choose a wife. I’m telling you whom you’ll marry.”

Owen’s head snapped up. “You mean to say you’ve already got a candidate in mind?”

His father nodded, his jowls shaking vigorously once more. “Yes. Her father and I have already been discussing the contract.”

Owen leaned back into his seat, the wind knocked from his lungs. Well, he hadn’t seen this coming. Not at all. And he was rarely caught by surprise. He leaned far back in his chair, stretched out his long legs in front of him, and crossed his feet at the ankles. Perhaps this was even more serious than he’d guessed. “Discussing the contract? Good God. Who is it?”

His father cleared his throat, released his beleaguered jacket, and calmly folded his hands on the desk in front of him. “Lady Lavinia Hobbs. The Duke of Huntley’s eldest daughter.”

Owen scanned his memory. Hobbs? Lavinia Hobbs? The name was familiar, but he couldn’t recall a face. Blast. There were far too many pretty little daughters of overly entitled aristocrats to remember them all. And they were certainly not the sort of company Owen preferred to keep. The Duke of Huntley owned land adjacent to Father’s in the country. He knew that much. He’d been to parties at the duke’s country estate countless times. But none of that mattered to him at present. What did Lavinia Hobbs look like? More important, what did she actlike? Was she biddable? Was she meek?

He couldn’t recall and he wasn’t about to ask his obviously enraged father. No matter. One eligible innocent was as good as another, Owen supposed. What did it matter whom he married? He’d stop his merrymaking long enough to participate in a wedding, get an heir or two off her, and then resume his style of living. It was more the norm than the exception among his set. It signified little. This was nothing to worry about.

“I’m certain she’s fine, Father. Whatever you say.” Again, Owen stood to make his way to the door. He’d simply go to the club and get a good drunk going, and then he would continue to live his life exactly the way he had been doing for the last thirty-one years. A sennight or so before his next visit to his father, he would track down this Lavinia Hobbs, toss around a bit of charm, smile at her, kiss the back of her hand, and finally ask her to marry him. She’d jump at the chance, of course, because despite his sullied reputation, he was still one of the most eligible bachelors in the ton. Inheriting an earldom tended to whitewash even the most tattered reputation. Then, he’d return here in a month’s time, announce his success to his father, secure his allowance, and go about his routine, while Lady Lavinia planned a wedding worthy of a future earl and the daughter of a duke. After the wedding, he’d install the chit in one of their homes in the country, and that would be that until it was time to beget an heir. Not so difficult, really. He shrugged.

“You agree so easily?” His father’s bushy eyebrows flew to the top of his forehead.

Owen grinned at his father. “Yes. Lavinia Hobbs it is. I’ll see you in a month, Father.” He made his way toward the door.

“Not so fast.”

Owen paused, his fingers resting on the door handle. He turned slowly and arched a questioning brow in the earl’s direction. “Yes?”

The earl cleared his throat. “There is a catch.”

“A catch?” Owen echoed. He didn’t quite like the sound of that. “What catch?”

“Her father insists that she should choose you.”

Owen’s hand fell away from the door. He turned to fully face his father. “Chooseme? What do you mean?”

“Apparently, the girl’s got it in her head that she will marry only for love.”

Owen scowled and rubbed a hand across his forehead again. “Love? What nonsense is that?”

“Her parents value her highly and are quite indulgent of her. They’ve promised her she can marry for love. Until she fancies herself in love with some chap, she won’t accept his suit.”

Owen did roll his eyes this time. “How droll. Good God, Father, why this girl of all girls?”

“Because she comes from impeccable lineage. And once the match is made, the combination of our lands will secure the future of the title for centuries. She’s the perfect mate for you. But you are going to have to be the biddable, willing one.You are going to have to be the meek one. You are going to have to court this girl. Make her see your, ahem, assets, however questionable they may be.”

Owen snorted. “Your faith in me is truly astounding, Father.”

“Be that as it may, you’re going to have to convince her not only to marry you but fall in love with you as well.”

Owen’s grin widened. “I doubt it will be as difficult as you believe. I do possess a modicum of charm, you know?”

His father’s face adequately reflected his skepticism. “There’s one other thing.”

Owen groaned. “Dare I ask?”

“You cannot tell her that we are already planning a contract.”

Owen rubbed his temples. He wished he hadn’t had quite so many brandies last night at the club or quite so few earlier this afternoon. “Seems the whole thing could be put to rights with just coming out and telling her we’re to marry.”

“Absolutely not. Her father will stop the proceedings if she is made aware. She’s a bit, er, excitable, it seems.”

Owen scowled. “Excitable?”

“Gets her back up about certain things if she’s not happy.”

“Fine. Whatever you say. I’ll think of something. I’ll manage it.” Owen turned again, wrenched open the door, and took a step into the corridor.

“You have a month to get her to agree to your proposal, Owen,” his father called.

Owen turned his head and grinned at his father. “That should be plenty of time.” He strolled off down the corridor, whistling to himself. A month to get a Society miss to fancy herself in love with him? How difficult could it be?



Copyright © 2016 by Valerie Bowman

Review:
Four Star
Copy from publisher and author for an honest opinion
Ever since I read the first book in the Playful Brides series, “The Unexpected Duchess” I cannot get enough of Valerie Bowman. I’ve been waiting for this book since I finished and loved, “The Irresistible Rogue.” For anyone that has never read this series Bowman takes a very witty and historical spin on tales such as Cyrano de Bergerac, The Importance of Being Earnest and other classics as The Philadelphia Story and gives it a spin. Bowman is one of those authors I leap to read her work. I really enjoy her heroines, heroes and her plots.

“The Untamed Earl” is a spin of the “Taming of the Shrew.” Alexander Hobbs is the sister of the alluded to shrew. Lavinia, her older sister, is definitely a shrew. When she was young she became very ill and since then Alexander lived in her sister’s shadow. For the most part Alexander accepted this lot in life, but when her parents arrange for her sister to marry the man that stole her heart years ago, Lord Owen Monroe, Alex takes matters into her own hands. Years ago Alexander met Owen by her balcony and since then he stole her heart.

Lord Owen is Cassandra’s brother; she is the heroine from “The Accidental Countess. Owen has a bad reputation not only in society but also with his family. His parents think it’s time for him to marry and start taking his life seriously. With Lavinia’s parents they arrange a marriage proposal for Owen and Lavinia, but Lavinia’s parents insist that she must fall in love with him and accept him on her own terms. Lavinia is a shrew in every sense of the word. She is an awful bully and Owen realizes that although he has had no luck with other conquests, Lavinia is more than he had bargained for. Alexander offers up her help. She tells Owen that if he helps her launch in society then she will help him with her sister.

I really like Alex and Owen, individually and as a couple. They were very sweet and they had great chemistry. There are some sad and heart-breaking moments and before long Alex realizes that her plan might need some reinforcements. I have really only two small complaints. One there was so much action and change of scenes in the previous book and this book was one ball after another. Second, I now have to count down the days until the next book in the series- The Legendary Lord which is about Viscount Christian Bancroft. I really loved the glimpses that the author gave us of his character and I cannot wait to see what she has in stored for him and Sarah. I really enjoyed this great shrew of a story and loved how the author finally gave Alex and Owen the chance they needed. Although the book is a part of the series, it is easily a standalone. However, the heart of the story is the friendship of Cassandra, Lucy and Jane -which I was happy to see them make an appearance. If anyone has time to sit around and binge read, I definitely recommend they do so with this funny series.

**ARC provided by Publisher**





VALERIE BOWMAN was an RT Reviewers Choice Award nominee for Best Historical Novel 2013 in the category of Love and Laughter for SECRETS OF A RUNAWAY BRIDE, and in the category of Best First Historical in 2012 for SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT! She has been featured as a bride on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta, and in guest posts for USA Today’s Happily Ever After and Publishers Weekly’s Beyond Her Blog. She’s received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist while also becoming a top pick for Romance Reviews Today, Fresh Fiction, and BN.com (Bookseller Best Picks) with SECRETS OF A SCANDALOUS MARRIAGE. Valerie has recently been nominated for the 2014 Kirkus Prize with THE UNEXPECTED DUCHESS