Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Readers review Masquerade by Joanna Taylor

Masquerade by Joanna Taylor Masquerade by Joanna Taylor is addictive, engrossing and available to buy NOW! Some of our readers were lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Masquerade – here’s what they thought:

Masquerade is a delightful new book about Regency London, the main characters are warm and engaging especially Lizzy the main character who really has you believing in her and wanting everything to turn out well for her.  Lizzy is a girl from a brothel who still has something of the country girl about her and although the hero is a Lord she still has much more knowledge of the world and life than he does.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and read it in only a couple of days, the writing style is easy and holds your attention throughout.  I enjoyed reading about Lizzy’s exploits especially when she got one over on one of her rivals which was well deserved.  I would like to read more about Lizzy’s future if the author sees fit to write a sequel.

The book is well written by someone who I haven’t read before but shall now look out for.

Jane

Masquerade by Joanna Taylor is a love story set in Regency London and the author’s experience is quickly apparent as she draws you into the story right from the start of the book.  Her descriptive skill makes it easy to imagine the time, the place and the characters, who seem utterly credible in spite of their language occasionally becoming a little stilted and unnatural.  The main characters are immensely likable, which adds greatly to the enjoyment of the story.  Lizzy is a street girl but her intelligence, strength of character, resilience and positive attitude make her someone to be admired rather than despised or pitied.  Edward, Lord Hay, is a kind, calm man whose inherent niceness prevents the reader from judging him too harshly for paying a prostitute for services rendered.

The book touches on many serious subjects, such as women’s rights and the vulnerability of certain groups in society who struggle to survive due to gender, class, economic factors etc.  However, although the reader may pause to reflect on such matters and on the differences between people (as well as the similarities under the surface) it is very easy reading and first and foremost an absolute ‘feel good’ story.

Lynne 

Not the typical book I would read but boy was I hooked to it , Loved it for various reasons but mainly because of the developing romance between two characters with two totally different starts in life. Definitely worth a read!

Emma

Joanna’s first historical novel is a must read book. I’m a fan of her spotlight series so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. A true love story set in the late 1700’s, Lizzy is a girl with a personality. No simpering heroines here! Edward, stiff and formal at times, is different with Lizzy around and enjoys her outspokenness and lively nature. Throughout their time together Lizzy evaluates her future and makes a decision that will change both of their lives forever.

Tracey 

Masquerade was a lovely read. It flowed beautifully and I wanted to read more. I’m hoping that Joanna will write more books like this in the future.  I will definitely be reading them if she does. Having read the Spotlight series by Ms Taylor I was intrigued to see if she could make the transition to a Regency romance. The answer? – Yes, she can.

The heroine was believable, had a history and wasn’t some innocent thing who had no wits about her.
The nuances and ridiculousness of the Regency era was well written even mentioning how uncomfortable the clothing was. I loved the story and guessed the correct answer at the end!! If you love a period romance you won’t go wrong with this book.

Rebecca

An incredibly easy book to read, you just want to carry on reading and reading. Lord Hays sounds quite incredible – in fact totally irresistible. I found the section about the Vauxhall Gardens really interesting. I had heard of them, but reading this book, you could really imagine them and there was so much detail about what really happened there.

Sheri 

Masquerade tells the story of Lizzy, a working girl, and Edward, a nobleman, set during Regency London.  It begins beautifully, the first 3 or 4 chapters describe the start of Lizzy’s day in Piccadilly and contain some of the best ‘scene setting’ I’ve read for the period it is set in.  The writing flows easily and I was drawn in to the story to the point that I just carried on till I finished at 2.30 in the morning.

Though I really enjoyed the story, it wasn’t the story I was expecting to read. From the blurb on the back, I was expecting a dark, mysterious, erotic story.  However by about chapter 6, I realized the book is a close retelling of a very famous film from several years ago.  It’s very cleverly done and great fun guessing or realizing how the scenes from the film (which is set in the 20th century) have been covered, but if you know the film well, you won’t get many surprises and just like the film, it’s a sweet romance, rather than an erotic grand passion.  I do think though that the author does write beautifully about the regency period and I would love her next book to be an original, slightly darker, more erotic tale set during this time.

Sarah

I was sent a copy of Masquerade to review and i must say it wasn’t what i was expecting at all.I was hooked from the first page and was rooting for Lizzie all the way through the story.At heart is a genuine love story which has echoes of Pretty Woman but is set in the Regency era.
We find out how how difficult life is for the lower classes and the dream of finding a rich lord for these girls to take them out of their poverty and this is.exactly what happens to Lizzie.
The descriptions are vivid and the plot is engaging and you want to find out if Lizzie has met the man of her dreams and will she let him through her wall or will she be too scared to get her heart broken again.You fall in love with her character she is is a country girl who is really kind, innocent, trying to be a working girl and also trying to toughen herself up and she is extremely intelligent and well read.But fallen on hard times after being duped into becoming a working girl.
A really enjoyable love story without any of the sex scences that have become the norm these days-i really enjoyed it because of that!

Sandra

Masquerade is quite simply a beautiful, mesmerising and breath taking love story with a difference. Lizzy and Lord Hays are polar opposites in society, she is the commoner from the gutters whilst he is the highly ambitious aristocrat. But as the two meet and are both drawn to each other it soon becomes clear that once you remove all of those trappings which we cloud ourselves in we are indeed all the same, money or no money. Regency London is portrayed vividly in this book from the dizziness and facade of the high society balls to the slums of the gutters and you can almost envisage yourself in Lizzy’s place.
Joanna has drawn two characters who are very likeable, Lizzy has something about her which you can’t help but root for her and Lord Hays is quite simply delicious (picture a more approachable and albeit sexy Mr Darcy and you’re half way there!) But it is the chemistry which sizzles throughout the story which is the real winning aspect of this book. What did surprise me most about Masquerade though was the lack of explicit sexual scenes but what was in its place was just enough to keep me wanting more and indeed using more imagination and I think this worked in the books favour and was actually a breath of fresh air for a change!
I really didn’t want their journey to end and therefore I tried to delay the ending as much as possible but seeing as this is a book you will want to devour in an instant this was no mean feat! It would therefore be a real treat to see a follow up…

Clair

Very pleased to have been chosen as a reviewer. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel set in Regency London. Lizzie is a strong engaging character that you can’t fail to like from the start. Once we’re introduced to Lord Hays you know they’ll get together at the end but the question is how. What rocky road will they travel, who and what are their stumbling blocks?

I would have liked it to have had a little more depth to the historical background but although I have a love of history, I read very little historical romance in comparison, so perhaps this is the norm. The details reflect the times very well, from the lives of the downtrodden prostitutes to the ‘lucky’ courtesans, from the stirrings of social conscience towards the slave trade, and the chance of a new life in the New World.

Is there a follow-up? I hope so. I will certainly try Joanna Taylor’s other titles under her pseudonym as CS Quinn.

Andy

Grab some great deals on Boxing Day!

 

We hope you’re all sat in your pajamas, breathing deeply through the food coma and trying to ignore the snores emanating from the overstuffed armchair by the fire. You could also be packed into your wellies, sloshing through the mud in the brisk winter air and looking forward to a hot cup of tea (or cider) as you tromp back in through the door.

Whether you’re stretching your jaw or stretching your legs, Boxing Day is a great excuse to appreciate a great read and we have three amazing books priced at only £1.99! Grab some gritty paranormal romance with Caged Warrior, contemporary with a supernatural twist in A Little Night Magic or sexy erotic drama with Break in Two. Something for everyone . . .

Unless you’re the person snoring in the overstuffed armchair. Best just let them be . . .

 

Happy publication day to Lia Riley!

You fell in love with Lia Riley’s breakout debut, Upside Down, second book in the series Sideswiped made you clamour for more. Now, with Inside Out, Lia Riley brings her evocative Off the Map series to its stunning conclusion.

When Talia first moved from California to Australia to study abroad, she never dreamed she’d find the love of her life. Bran understands her like no one ever has before. And despite the numerous challenges they’ve faced, they’ve always managed to figure out how to stay together. But this time they’ll face their toughest hurdle yet. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?

We would follow Bran and Talia anywhere in the world with their gorgeous story, and for the final book in Lia Riley’s romantic Off the Map series we are hoping the journey ends in a Happily Ever After!

Inside Out publishes today, out in ebook for the first time! We hope you love the ending as much as we do, although as every good author can vouch, it’s only the beginning . . .

Cara McKenna on her inspiration for HARD TIME

Cara McKenna on why she didn’t have a Hard Time setting an erotic romance in a prison . . .

 

I couldn’t tell you precisely when I knew I wanted to write a book about a convicted felon, only that it was a year or more before I ever thought to pitch the idea to my editor. It was a vague sort of wish-list idea, jotted down on my mental notepad and left to sit around in a dusty corner of my head while I attended to contracted projects.

As I’d first envisioned it, the romance would be a purely epistolary one, comprised solely of letters between an inmate and a woman on the outside—a correspondence born of both curiosity and caution, then steadily evolving into something more intense and explicit, and always a touch dangerous. Though I never articulated it to myself, I had imagined that it would be a passionate but doomed affair, the felon serving a life sentence and having no chance at parole (and guilty of his crime, as well.) Loads of longing and hollow hope, leaving it to the reader to imagine what might have happened if the two had been able to be together, that sort of thing—more lit fic than a true romance. More of a concept piece than the novel that little seed ultimately grew into.

Last autumn I’d been struggling to come up with an idea that really clicked for my next book, the third of a three-book contract. I’d been wanting to revisit Darren, Michigan—the struggling Rust Belt city I created for an earlier story, After Hours—and had been wondering what sort of sub-setting I could use. After Hours was set on a locked psychiatric ward (I love grim, institutional stories, whatever that says about me.) Cousins Correctional Facility already existed in that world; many of its inmates wound up at the psychiatric hospital. The moment I realized I could set this new book in a prison, I was instantly infatuated with the notion. (Readers who are familiar with my backlist may have noticed that my heroes are often pretty pent-up, not having gotten laid in a while for a variety of reasons, so writing one who’s been locked up for five years…? Right up my weird alley.)

It took a little effort to convince my then-editor that a story about a felon could be sexy, as opposed to plain old scary, but in the end, I think my naked obsession with the idea swayed her. At least enough to run it by the editorial director, who thankfully shared my enthusiasm.

There’s a point in Hard Time, about halfway through the book, where the heroine discovers that the hero is about to be paroled. (She’s an outreach librarian, in charge of the prison’s literacy program.) By then they’ve been interacting cordially in public and exchanging secret, heated letters for months, but she’s suddenly faced with a reality she hadn’t anticipated. Every worry she has—Is he really as good a man as he seems? Is he dangerous? Is it wise to try to pursue him in the larger world? Will our heat even translate into a kiss, and beyond?

These are some of the same worries I had, myself. Or perhaps more pointedly, Can I pull this off? Will readers stand by this heroine, if she chooses to pursue a romance with a felon with a heinous crime in his past? Will readers feel the depth and strength of her infatuation and understand her decisions, or condemn her as an unforgivable fool?

Well, Hard Timee is out now, and I’m sure readers are falling into both of those camps. It’s not the easiest romance, certainly, but I hope some readers will enjoy that about it, and embrace the contentiousness. Many questionable decisions dot the paths of both characters’ lives before they ever meet and embark on their risky love affair, and writing it was a bit of a risk in itself.

I can say already, however, that the risk has paid off, at least for me—few books have been such a joy to create.

 

 

———-

Cara McKenna writes contemporary romance and smart erotica, sometimes under the name Meg Maguire, and has sold more than thirty-five novels and novellas to Penguin, Piatkus, Harlequin, Samhain and Signet Eclipse. She’s known for writing no-nonsense, working-class heroes with capable hands and lousy grammar. She was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, and a three-time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee. Cara writes full-time and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her own bearded hero.

www.caramckenna.com

https://www.twitter.com/caramckenna

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure – Part 3

In this last installment of Erin Knightley‘s adventures in England, we come back to the beginning, to that fated day when she would finally try . . . black pudding . . .

Which brings us back to the hockey puck . . .

We were staying at a delightful little bed and breakfast that was probably a good 200 years old, tucked away deep in the country. The floorboards were squeaky, the stairs precipitously steep, and the bathroom roughly the size of my broom closet. In other words, it was terribly rustic and charming. But when the kind innkeeper got it in his head that we should try his famous black pudding, well, what was a girl to do?

So I ate it. The pudding, with the oh-so-appetizing ingredient of pig’s blood, somehow passed my lips, and it was . . . not awful. Meatier than I expected, a little bready like stuffing, and not at all gelatinous like us Americans expect when encountering something called pudding. Thank God – things would have gone very differently if it had been wiggly! Still, I can now say that I have experienced it, and when my characters refer to it, you can rest assured this author knows what she’s talking about.

And no, I won’t be eating it again 😉

So wrong-side driving, a bit of rain, and one slightly embarrassing mishap involving a radiator, a sleepy, robe-wearing innkeeper, and a nearly melted television aside, this trip was truly everything I hoped it would be. I certainly hope that my writing will be that much richer in the future because of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to treat myself to a cream tea. I’ll leave the pudding to you, dear reader.

 

Come back soon, Erin! We promise we won’t make you eat pig’s blood again! WE PROMISE!!!!!

 

The Baron Next Door is out now in both paperback and ebook. The Earl I Adore releases on the 6th of January 2015  in both paperback and ebook!

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure – Part 2!

Read on for Part 2 of what happened once Erin Knightley alighted on English soil . . .

With my mother as my traveling companion and nine glorious days set aside for the experience, I anxiously awaited the trip for what it was: a dream come true. And was it ever! First things first: shortly after arriving, I met my editor, Anna, and publicist, Clara, at Fortnum and Mason for my very first tea. Oh, the decadence! Smartly attired waiters, gentle piano music in the background, personal pots of fragrant teas, and a delectable selection of finger foods. This was where I encountered that oft-mentioned treat of the Regency novels: clotted cream. My characters had eaten it, yes, but I had no idea what it actually looked like, let alone what it tasted like!

Astonished that I had never tried it, Anna and Clara watched with interest as I topped a scone. I was thinking it might be closer to whip cream, but quickly discovered it was more of a pot of buttery clouds than sweetened fluff. So rich, so creamy, so perfectly delicious – I could easily see why the lords and ladies of the ton would indulge!

Emboldened by the success, I eagerly went about experiencing even more. A tour of the Tower of London? Check! Hyde Park? Check! A spot of tea and a bun at The Pump Room in Bath? Check! We explored Sydney gardens, which was such a big part of The Earl I Adore, and we toured the Assembly Rooms, which was prominent in all three of the Prelude to a Kiss Series. We stayed in a Georgian townhome with its original 1790 kitchen (and kindly ignored the slightly burnt toast). We ogled Chatsworth and ooo’d and ahh’d our way through Blenheim Palace and Stourhead. I soaked in every detail of the fabrics, furniture, and furnishings of those glorious old homes, and paid more attention than was probably proper to the detailed and often naughty ceiling murals and statues.

It was all so very magical and wonderful (minus that one time I almost got us hit by a bus five minutes after picking up the rental car, which we’ll just pretend never happened).

 

Check back tomorrow for the final part of Erin’s trip! Does she eat the black pudding? Have we scarred her for life?!

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure!

Blightly was honoured recently with a visit from one of our favourite authors, Erin Knightley! Her warm and clever Regency romance The Baron Next Door had only just come out in paperback and we were getting reading for the upcoming sequel The Earl I Adore!

Over the next three days Erin will be telling the story of her trip to England where she visited the inspirations for her books! Keep reading below for Part 1 of Erin Knightley‘s English Adventures!

 

 

 

 

I sat there, staring at the plate before me, trying to figure out how I had gotten into this. The eggs, rasher of bacon, and toast were normal enough—delicious even—but beside them was a round, black, hockey puck slab of food, the likes of which I had never laid eyes on.

“Go on,” the innkeeper said, nodding encouragingly. “You’ll love it, I promise!” His charming enthusiasm was endearing, despite the eyebrow-raising breakfast he had just set in front of me.

Right. When in Rome, etc., etc. I took a deep breath, cut the tiniest morsel you have ever seen from the black disk, and crossed my fingers that my constitution was as good as my characters’ in the Regency world in which I write. 

I, Erin Knightley, romance author, world traveler, and thoroughly modern girl, was about to try black pudding.

So, dear reader, you may be wondering how I came about finding myself in this position, some 4,000 miles away from my cozy little house on a lake in North Carolina and the obligatory bowl of cereal with which I usually break my fast.

It had all started with an email. “Congrats!” it had said, the exclamation point effusive coming from my wonderful agent. “Piatkus has purchased the UK rights to both The Baron Next Door and The Earl I Adore!” It went on to explain that in a few short months, my Regency-set novels would be on the shelves of the country I had adored since the moment I picked up WHITNEY, MY LOVE back in the ‘90s.

And thus began my giddy, gleeful planning of a trip to England to coincide with the debut of The Baron Next Door. Not only could I meet my new publisher, sign books, and stay at the quaintest of quaint bed and breakfasts across the country, but this was my chance to really research the places I wrote about. Oh, to wander the venerated halls of manor houses, to visit the streets Jane Austen had tread, and traverse the ‘rolling countryside’ so often described in Regency-set novels (guilty!). I wanted to sample the traditional English fare, take tea with a side of scones, and discover what, exactly, clotted cream was.

Check back tomorrow for more of Erin’s story!

The Baron Next Door is out now in ebook and paperback!

FALLING AWAY cover reveal!

COVER REVEAL!!

Just when we thought we couldn’t be any more excited about Penelope Douglas’s Falling Away . . . We love this cover – hope you all do too!

Falling Away, Jax’s story, is out on the 6th of January – pre-order here:

Amazon UK

Apple

Kobo

Google

Too excited to breathe? CALM DOWN. We know how you feel. While waiting for Jax to grace us with his presence, why don’t you enter the competition to win a copy of Bully, Until You and Rival? It’s open internationally!

Enter here!

 

Happy publication day Cara McKenna!

‘Gritty and compelling. McKenna is a master at capturing realistic situations and characters’ Maya Banks

‘Sweet, smoking hot, stand out’ Beth Kery

YES! Finally the UK can get our hands on one of the hottest books out there! Utterly intense, unforgettable and not for the faint-hearted, Hard Time will turn your world upside down.

Happy publication day Cara McKenna!
——————–
My pounding heart went still, eerie as birds fallen silent in the wake of a gunshot.

He was big. Tall frame, wide shoulders-but not burly. His near-black hair was due for a cut, curling under his ears. Dark brows, dark stubble, dark lashes and eyes.

And he was handsome. So handsome it broke your heart.

A deck of cards was split between his hands, paused midshuffle. Some of the men wore navy scrub tops and bottoms, some navy tee shirts, a few white undershirts. This man wore a tee, with COUSINS stenciled on the front, above the number 802267. Those digits imprinted on my brain, burned black as a brand.

He watched me. But not the way the others did. If he was trying to picture me naked, his poker face was strong, though his attention anything but subtle. His entire head moved as I passed through his domain, but his eyes were languorous. Lazy and half-lidded, yet intense. A hundred looks in one. I didn’t like it. Couldn’t read it. At least with the horny jerk-offs, I knew where I stood.

I wondered what the worst thing you could do and still only get sent to a medium-security prison was. I hoped not to ever learn the answer.

And I hoped to heaven inmate 802267 hadn’t signed up for any of the day’s programs.
——————–
Praise for Cara McKenna:

Hard Time delivers erotic passion unlike anything I’ve seen.‘ – Under the Covers

For all of its forbidden nature, this is a lovely, heartfelt romance’ – Dear Author

‘Ultimately, we learn that people are more than just labels, snap judgments are often misguided, and new life is found in the most unlikely of places. There’s nothing sugar-coated here, and the romance stands out more because of it’Heroes & Heartbreakers

‘The emotions, actions and reactions of all the characters were honest and real. I kept wondering the whole time whether Annie and Eric were going to find a way to make it work’ Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews