Eileen Dreyer’s TWICE TEMPTED Review & giveaway


Twice Tempted cover image

Fiona Ferguson’s troubles began with a kiss . . . 

It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne.

But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive.

Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way. (Synopsis from the Hachette Publishing website)


TWICE TEMPTED (Drake’s Rakes) is the fifth in the series and my introduction to Ms. Dreyer.  Though evident that a lot of water has already passed under the bridge I never felt lost or that vital information was missing.

TWICE TEMPTED is well researched with great attention paid to detail. It’s also fast paced, intelligent with an intricate continuing storyline, and engaging, highly appealing characters.  Fortunately for readers this could describe many historical romances available today. We truly have an embarrassment of riches.

Fiona and Alex are secondary characters from previous books. They’re blessed with wit, intelligence, and above average attractiveness. Both are strong and used to protecting and putting others first. 

Fiona’s been responsible for herself and her twin Mairead from an incredibly young age. 

Her resourcefulness, honor, loyalty, and responsibility are incredible. 

Alex Knight aka the White Knight. Alex feels responsible for others. The trait is both a blessing and a curse. It’s also led to his current rock and a hard place position.

Truly, a picture perfect hero and heroine but…..

What really distinguishes TWICE TEMPTED, for me, is the brilliance and singularity of Mairead, Chuffy, and Lady Bea. I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered their like portrayed as they are. Not only do they shine brightly but they cast a warm glow, enriching both the plot and characters around them. They’re treasured, respected, and the way their unique abilities and intelligence are utilized is marvelous.

Ms. Deyer would be added to my list for intelligent, richly peopled, complexly plotted writing; however the addition of those three characters has placed her at the top. Mairead, Chuffy, and, Lady Bea, as difficult and different as they are, have completely beguiled me.

4.5 stars

Eileen’s giving away a print copy of TWICE TEMPTED, open internationally. You can enter at Miss Ivy’s Book Nook Take II


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Lucy Kendall worked for Child Protection Services for ten years. Time and again she witnessed the systems failure to protect the innocents. Well, Lucy’s had enough. After quitting CPS she becomes a private investigator. With her clandestine network for tracing and tracking she’s taking matters in her own hands and unlike Lady Justice, Lucy isn’t blind. She clearly sees the guilty and knows exactly what needs to be done.

Lucy Kendall is a thought provoking protagonist. She’s aware of the inner darkness that allows her to be judge, jury, and executioner; the consequences when she’s finally caught. It’s not a question of if but simply when. By correcting the lapses and mistakes of a system that fails those it’s assigned to protect Lucy is simply providing a service for society and thereby preventing further victims.

Lucy may be a killer but she isn’t your typical vigilante. She doesn’t consider herself infallible nor is she intractable. Lucy makes every effort to ensure her prey is guilty. She asks herself hard questions and it never becomes routine or easy. But things are seldom that black and white. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, what if she’s wrong? The other characters Lucy meets on her twisted route to find Kailey Richardson, Chris, Justin, and Todd to name a few, are well developed, expanding the scope and plot in unexpected ways. The path to Kailey is one of the most sinuous trails I’ve ever read.

It’s surprisingly easy to like and relate to Lucy. Pedophiles can’t be cured or fixed. Why are they allowed back in society? They’re predators and a danger to children, shouldn’t that trump everything else? Registering isn’t enough to stop them, after all, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Pedophilia and other child abuses make ALL GOOD DEEDS a disturbing read that, none the less, holds the reader in a viselike grip. Ms. Green peels back the curtain revealing an ugliness and depravity that hurts your heart and leaves an indelible mark. It’s bound to make moral compasses spin madly. W hen children are involved most of us can easily be swayed to desire an eye for an eye and more. ALL GOOD DEEDS saving grace, the bright shining thread through all the ugliness is hope. I’m on board for whatever & wherever is next with Lucy.
4 stars

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the red book of primrose house

3.5 stars
Texan transplant Pru (Prunella) Parke was offered and accepted the position of head gardener at Primrose House in Sussex. Using the famous Red Book of Humphry Repton, Pru’s mission is to restore the gardens to their former glory. Hiring Pru, versus the local applicant, has created tension and bad feelings locally. Are those feelings strong enough to justify the murder of one of Pru’s crew?

THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE (Potting Shed Mystery #2) was my introduction to Pru and Christopher.

Pru is half English (mother) and Texan (father). Her mother’s stories about England created a yearning in Pru, from a young age, to live in England. She finally makes the leap and at the end of #1 is offered the head gardener post at Primrose House ensuring her stay in England.
There’s a lot I like and enjoy about Pru.
Her maturity, she’s fifty-four.
Her work ethic, gardening isn’t easy work but it does have numerous benefits physical and mental.
She’s intelligent, has a sense of humor and is courageous. Not many people would pull up stakes leaving everything behind and move to another country.
Now here is what bewildered me about Pru. Feeling an affinity for another country or place when you’ve grown up hearing stories about it and experiencing many of its traditions is understandable. There’d naturally be a desire to see and experience it yourself. What’s hard to fathom is why Pru would want to suppress her Texan. She pretty much has the British reserve down with the exception of a cry or two. These lapses are completely understandable given the circumstances. What I didn’t see was any real evidence of the justifiably famous Southern warmth and charm. On the contrary, she tries to keep Texas from her speech and hides to drink ice tea? Why? Is there an attempt to explain this in the first book?

Christopher Pearce, Pru’s fella. Christopher is a DCI at the Met in London. He’s handsome, intelligent, and not the least reserved when with Pru. They have the weekends but soon discover that isn’t enough. Nor is he close enough to suit him when the garden vandalism incidents begin. He’s aware of Pru’s penchant for getting involved and the danger that can entail. His protective streak is endearing, even more so as he can’t always be there or fix everything. His feelings obviously run deeply. There’s no shortage of passion and intensity between these two.

THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE is the only mystery I can recall where the prologue is the murder from the victims point of view. The first chapter then pre-dates the murder giving the reader a unique perspective. This literary device actually made it easier for me to suss out the who in whodunit. The secondary characters are well developed. However, taking into account the ending of THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE and the nature of Pru’s work these appear likely to change each book, with a few exceptions of course.
THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE is an entertaining niche cozy liberally laced with clever red herrings and a mature protagonist who is taking life by the horns and giving it her all. The gardening details combined with the historical aspect of the Red Books and their author is especially interesting. Personally speaking, historical additions always make a good read better.
Reviewed for Miss Ivy’s Book Nook Take II & Manic Readers




hello from the gillespies

Let’s meet the Gillespies………

Angela Gillespie is fifty-five and has recently started suffering from frequent severe headaches, menopause or something more? She’s been married to Nick for thirty-three years. They’ve always been best friends, the rock for the other when necessary and together there’s nothing they can’t face and overcome.  Therein lies the problem.  Nick has shut Angela out. He spends his days, when not seeing to the station maintenance, closeted in the office researching his Irish roots and talking to Carol, the Irish genealogical researcher.

Angela herself has taken to escaping into a fantasy world.

The situation with Nick, concern for her children and their varied issues combined with her health fears are about to overwhelm her.  It’s this mood and advice from her dearest friend Joan that prompts her to write a completely honest Christmas letter this year. No bright side spin just the plain unvarnished truth. Maybe putting it in writing will help her to gain some perspective.

When Nick unintentionally sends the letter never meant to be seen by anyone other than Angela it’s the catalyst for changes, desired or not.

Nick feels he’s let Angela, his children, and those who came before him down. He’s run up massive debts and had no choice but to accept an offer that’s bound to set his neighbors against him. Worse yet, he can’t bring himself to talk to Angela. He simply can’t bear to face her disappointment. Despite his deep abiding love for Angela, his inability to speak puts him further from her with every passing day.

Genevieve is the oldest twin. Hairdresser to the stars in New York, Genevieve is a bit on the snarky side. Without a shy bone in her body she grabs life by the throat and wrings as much as she can from it. Unfortunately, Genevieve’s filter issues and lack of discretion are about to bite her…

Victoria’s the quieter twin. Nick believed Victoria would take over the station but her life took a different path when she and Fred Lawson broke up. Victoria was a successful radio producer in Sydney until her radio personality locked himself in the booth and went on a drug and alcohol fueled rant. Victoria finds herself the scapegoat for his meltdown.

Rosalind aka Lindy is the daughter born after the twins.  Lindy’s always felt left out because of the close relationship between the twins.  I found Lindy to be a whiner.  She’s my least favorite character.

Ignatius aka Ig is Angela and Nick’s surprise late life baby boy. Ig is a delight from beginning to end and one of my favorite characters.

Celia is Nick’s aunt and, much to their dismay, spends a lot of time with the family. She was married to his uncle and helped run their successful small parts business. Celia’s one of those difficult people. It’s hard to like her but for many reasons she’s earned and deserves respect. She’s never really approved of Angela and their relationship is an uneasy one. Angela’s remarks in her Christmas letter don’t improve on it much.

Joan is Angela’s oldest and dearest friend. Joan and her husband own a neighboring station. She’s been there for Angela, in fact the whole family, and always will be. Friends like Joan are a true blessing.

Would it really be so awful to tell the truth? Perhaps not bluntly but making honesty palatable and a priority can’t be a bad thing can it?  Personally, the truth is preferable over any of the alternatives.  In HELLO FROM THE GILLESPIES Angela and the rest of her family are about to discover how powerful the truth is.

In the tradition of Maeve Binchy, Ms. McInerney introduces readers to the Gillespies and immerses them in their lives.  Though ordinary hard working people the Gillespies live on an exotic (for me) Australian sheep station with seasons the complete opposite of ours.  Everything about that vast landscape and sky is fascinating. The Gillespies location may be alien but their problems, with a few exceptions, are similar to everyone else’s making them easy to relate to.  The Gillespie’s travails allow escapism while also giving readers potential insight into their own particular situations and dilemmas.  Escapism and a broadening perspective, it’s a win on both levels.

This is my first book by Ms. McInerney but not the last. I’ll definitely be scoping out her back list.

3.5 stars

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Paula Quinn is at Book Nook Take II today celebrating her latest release, THE WICKED WAYS OF ALEXANDER KIDD,  She’s naming her Top 5 Favorite Heroes & giving away a signed copy.  If you’d like to be entered just follow the link & tell Paula your favorite 5 Heroes to be entered!  Look forward to seeing y’all there. 🙂

wicked ways of alexander kidd

“Well?” Trina continued as if there had been no interruption. “What do ye intend to do aboot treating me like one of the men?”

He stared at her for an instant, looking like he simply couldn’t believe her audacity. It amused him. “Disobey me again,” he smirked, “and find yarself marooned—just as I would do to one of me crew.”

He moved to enter his cabin. He wasn’t going to win by keeping her away. Not this time. She squeezed past him—hell, everywhere she went she had to squeeze past him and rub up against his solid planes and rigid muscles, thanks to the tight quarters on the ship. It was driving her mad. Now was no different. This time, she didn’t slip away. This time she stopped in the center of him, pressed against him, unable to move, to breathe. She looked up into his dark eyes and felt his heart accelerate against her.

“Disengage yerself from me, Caitrina,” he demanded quietly.

“Nae.” She defied him yet again.

She felt every inch of him tense and tremble against her. She exhaled and felt the quickening of his breath and his shaft hardening against her hip.

She didn’t want to move for the rest of her life, and without thinking she reached her hands up to clasp his shoulders. “I dinna’ mean to continue disobeying ye. ’Tis just that yer demands are impossible to—”

He reacted instantly, lifting her off the floor and into his arms while he slammed his door shut with his foot. He didn’t give her a chance to speak but covered her mouth with complete mastery and barely leashed control. She opened to his curious tongue and cupped his face in one hand. The other traversed the sculpted lines of his shoulder, down his arm, curled tightly now around her back.

Coming up for a breath, she licked his lips. She bit them and he groaned like a beast she should fear. When he bent her back over the crook of his elbow and exposed her throat to his hungry mouth, she knew whatever he wanted to do to her, she would allow.

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Paulette Mahurin’s HIS NAME WAS BEN


His Name was Ben_final4 copy

Hearing the words “it’s cancer,” threw Sara Phillips’ life into chaos, until an unexpected turn of events and a chance encounter with a stranger changed everything—his name was Ben. Based on real events, Ben and Sara discover that when all else fails, healing can come in the most unexpected ways. Chilling and heart wrenching, His Name Was Ben is a triumph over the devastating circumstances and fear experienced when faced with a terminal illness. In this narrative, the power of love conquers shadows and transforms the very nature and meaning of what it is to be fully alive.

Amazon     Amazon UK     Goodreads     Shelfari  

All of Paulette’s proceeds go to dog rescue.

Here’s an article if you’d like to read further about Paulette’s efforts to rescue and aid dogs.

From the award winning, best-selling author of, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, comes a story filled with soul and passion that will leave the reader thinking about it for days after the last page is closed.

“Paulette Mahurin compassionately renders an insightful tale about love and life in the moment, when a moment is all there is. Both ordinary and extraordinary, Sara and Ben kept me up at night rooting for them, as did Mahurin of course, a writer of exceptional heart, for her tender and wise depiction of love against all odds. A rare pleasure, His Name Was Ben is not to be missed.”—Lee Fullbright, author of The Angry Woman Suite  

“Against the biggest of obstacles a couple can face, the positive message is that it is never too late to start living.” –Christoph Fischer author of Sebastian.



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Paulette Mahurin lives with her husband Terry and three dogs, Max, Bella, and Lady Luck in Ventura County, California.

While in college, she won awards and was published for her short-story writing. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into this fictionalized novel in 2014. Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction of the year 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine.

Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminister Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue.
Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs.



Madeleine’s Christmas Wish

The bachelors in Ella Quinn’s Marriage Game series make a habit of resisting the irresistible. But during the season for giving, surrendering to temptation may be the greatest gift of all…

A French spy, Georges, Marquis Cruzy-le-Châtel, has lived in England for years, sacrificing his life for his country—but not his heart. For he’s never been able to forget his childhood friend, Madeleine. And now, in her hour of need, he is there to rescue her…

The victim of a ruthless statesman, Madeleine, Comtesse du Beaune, has been abducted and sent to England to work in a brothel. Her greatest wish is to return home for Christmas, and her only hope of it is to marry Georges—though she will be his wife in name alone. Yet as they steal across the snowy countryside, Georges decides to woo her—with kisses that melt the winter’s frost and leave her longing for a holiday miracle…

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To participate in Ella’s giveaway please go here & or here.

Madeline's Christmas Wish_ebook

Ella Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives on a sailboat St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband of over thirty years, two bossy cats and a loveable Portuguese Water Dog. Ella loves when friends connect with her.

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Scandal At Almacks - Book Cover



Beautiful Jenny Longtree was expected to do her duty and accept the marriage proposal of a man she abhorred, Calvin Hazeldeck, an old and rich mortician whose offer of a marriage settlement would save her family from destitution brought about by her father’s bad shipping investments.

Then unexpectedly, Jenny’s dear uncle, Sir Roger Addington, who had been informed of the family’s dilemma, offered his favorite niece a London social season as a last chance to find a husband on her own.

But in the whirl of the London season, Jenny realizes that without a dowry her chances of obtaining a marriage proposal are practically non-existent.

Then on the last ball of Almack’s, and when Jenny feels that time is slipping away, Lady Jersey, the head patroness of Almack’s, introduces her to Sebastian Billington, Lord Corville. As they dance the waltz, Jenny realizes she has fallen in love at first sight with a man she is likely never to see again.

And during the seductive dance with Lord Corville, something happens that has Jenny lying on the floor at Lord Corville’s feet, having momentarily passed out. When she comes to, she finds a sea of faces staring down at her and scandal exploding all around her.



 If you’d like to be entered in the giveaway for two (2) ecopies go here.


Lord Corville was surprised that Lady Jersey had led him directly into a vision of lovely youth. Usually wallflower duty was how it sounded, giving an opportunity to dance a few sets to girls who were in their first season and not likely to obtain dancing partners on their own because they lacked pedigree or were pretty enough but lacked an attractive dowry. The Almack’s patronesses took their duty to young girls in their first or second season very seriously, and in every ball the two in charge could be seen walking about, matching young ladies to reluctant young men.
Sebastian seldom if ever glanced toward the wallflower area, but now he regretted it. The moment he gave his gloved hand to this girl and led her to the dance floor, it was all he could do to keep his balance until they began their waltz.
Her touch was so sensual, he felt her hand not on his but directly on his groin. A hot frisson coursed along his nerve endings, and his whole body shuddered in anticipation. If he felt so much with only the soft touch of her hand on his, what would he feel with her in his arms?
Suddenly realizing where his mind was going, he shook off such outlandish thoughts. He was a bit foxed and couldn’t even remember what Lady Jersey said the girl’s name was during the introduction. He should have skipped that stop at Rothyn’s townhouse, as they’d dipped into bottles of claret before coming here.
Of course, it was turning out amazingly easy to keep his promise to his sister Camie. One dance with a wallflower debutante? Why this beautiful girl lacked dance partners was beyond his understanding. She was as lovely and as rare as an orchid, and her scent intoxicated him even more than the claret.
He had never felt such jumping sensations as he was now feeling while waltzing with her. Her eyes as she looked at him were sparkling blue aquamarines, and the tingling ripple the mere touch of her hand had started now throbbed along his groin so that his hand tightened on hers even as his breeches tightened. He quickly forced his eyes away from her lithe form, for just a quick glance at her curves unhinged him.
They swayed around the vast ballroom, and the lights from a thousand candles and the twirling couples confused him. The lovely girl in his arms became three identical girls who twirled round and round like the racing dials of a mad clock. He heard the waning notes of the waltz as it was coming to its end and felt so dizzy that, had he not held her, he would have lost his balance. He looked into the girl’s beautiful eyes and his gaze drifted downward. Her breasts, the tops of them peeking alluringly from her filmy gown, were so fetching that he wondered when he had ever seen a better pair. There was a small dark mole on her left breast, and a tiny rosebud by it, and so compelling was the tiny beauty mark that he was hypnotized.
The music had stopped. He looked into the girl’s lovely blue eyes and wondered why they were wide with alarm, and her voice was loud and clear in the silence that followed the conclusion of the waltz.
“Oh!” she exclaimed.
Her hand on his shoulder slipped away as she fell to the floor, her crumpling body settling softly on his feet. Sebastian leaned down toward her prone body.
After a few seconds, the girl opened her eyes. A crowd had rushed forward, and there was a large circle of people around her and Sebastian, three or four deep, looking down with concern. And silence, as everyone just stared.
The girl was helped up by two gentlemen while Lord Corville continued to stare, speechless.
Lady Jersey broke the silence. “What happened to you, my dear?”
A twittering of exclamations rose like a deafening wave, and then sudden silence fell again as the crowd waited in suspense for the girl’s reply.
The girl spoke slowly but clearly, so that everyone heard her words. She looked directly into Lord Corville’s eyes and said, “Lord Corville touched me inappropriately.”


My thoughts…

Genevieve aka Jenny barely escapes the clutches of the loathsome mortuary owner, Mr. Hazeldecker when her recently knighted Uncle Roger offers her a season in London. Unfortunately Uncle Roger’s second wife, Malvura, isn’t happy with his decision and goes out of her way to make it uncomfortable for Jenny. 

Sebastian, Lord Corville or Seb as he’s known is tiring of his mistress, Letitia, who isn’t keeping to their no ties agreement and his sister, Camille or Cami, is pressuring him to marry.  Seb isn’t long on trust with women and love. To get Cami off his back he agrees to attend a dance at Almack’s.  Unfortunately he does so while foxed…

SCANDAL AT ALMACK’S is a sweet love story full of malicious machinations against Jenny and Seb. Will they be able to overcome and find their HEA?  While Jenny and Seb’s  love came about too quickly for me it’s still an entertaining way to spend an afternoon. 

3 stars 
Scandal At Almacks - Author Photo


Gloria Gay has lived in San Diego, California the greater part of her life, where she worked as a legal secretary for twenty-five years and as a stringer for a local newspaper. Her heart, though, has always been with art and literature and it was one of the happiest days of her life when she wrote her first book.

Boroughs Publishing Group recently published her fifth Regency romance, Lovely Little Liar. Scandal at Almack’s, with the same publisher is Gloria’s sixth Regency romance. Her debut novel, First Season, earned a four-star review from Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is also the author of Forced Offer, Canceled Courtship and Known to All.

She lives with her husband, Enrique, an architect, in San Diego, California, and couldn’t be happier that their children and grand-children live nearby.





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“All Modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn”
—Ernest Hemingway
Who hasn’t read these classic adventure stories? You don’t have to be a boy to envy, admire, and appreciate these two timeless tales. Were you aware that these books have never been out of print? That speaks volumes about their appeal.
Penguin Classics is reissuing THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN and THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER with new introductions by Twain scholar Kent Rasmussen. What insights will Mr.Rasmussen shed light on that we, as readers for pleasure, may have missed?
In addition HUCK FINN contains a foreword written by Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Republic of Imagination. A paen to the indispensable role fiction plays in democracy, citing HUCK FINN as one of the books responsible for shaping American identity.
Pretty heady stuff, huh?  These editions would be the perfect introduction to the world of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer for the adventurous reader on your list.
If you want to enter the giveaway for a print copy of each book (Sorry US only~1 book per winner) you can enter here.

Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (Penguin Classics; ISBN: 978-0-14-310732-3; On-sale date: October 28, 2014; $8.00).

By turns praised, derided, banned, and celebrated, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Mark Twain’s enduring masterpiece, an incomparable adventure story, and a classic work of American humor.   Amazon

Few books have taken so deep and enduring a hold on the American imagination as THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (Penguin Classics; ISBN: 978-0-14-310733-0; On-sale date: October 28, 2014; $9.00). Younger readers delight in the sheer pleasure of following the rollicking, mischievous adventures of Tom, a consummate prankster with a quick wit. Yet older readers recognize the somber undercurrents lurking dangerously beneath the secure and wondrous world of boyhood. A classic that has lost neither its popularity nor its capacity to delight, Tom Sawyer is a treasure of American literature.  AmazonAbout the Authors:

Mark Twain (1835-1910) was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri. Starting out as a typesetter, he went on to work as a steamboat pilot, prospector, and journalist before publishing his first major book, The Innocents Abroad.

R. Kent Rasmussen is the author or editor of nine books on Mark Twain, including the award-winning Mark Twain A to Z, as well as more than a dozen other books. He lives in Southern California.Azar Nafisi is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, Things I’ve Been Silent About, and The Republic of Imagination. A passionate advocate of books and reading, she appears regularly on major media and speaks to packed audiences around the world. She lives in Washington, D.C.


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never marry a viscount

Sophie Russell’s done a lot of growing up since the embezzlement scandal surrounding her father and his subsequent death. The three sisters have lost everything and been cast adrift to make their own way. Convinced their father’s death was murder, Bryony and Maddy take positions with two of the prime suspects on their list. Sophie, deemed too young, has been left in the care of her former nanny who still lives in a cottage on Renwick, the estate the girls used to call home. In the past, Sophie believed Renwick boring, preferring London and its shallow pursuits. Now she’s come to appreciate its peace and natural beauty. She’s also able to hone the cooking skills she learned from hanging out in the kitchens. Cooking is a form of art for Sophie, a feast for the senses and her escape from reality. When Nanny Gruen falls and breaks her leg while Sophie is out on the town spying on the current resident of Renwick, Viscount Griffiths, her removal from the cottage to recover leaves Sophie in dire straits.
Instead of crying and wringing her hands, Sophie packs her few meager belongings and heads to the manor house where she becomes the cook.

NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT is a devilishly delightful mistaken identity tale and murder mystery.

Sophie’s the whole package: gumption, wit, beauty, and determination. One of her most admirable qualities is her refusal to compromise her principles. She stands her ground, refusing to be overwhelmed or intimidated.

Alexander is mourning the loss of his half-brother and living under a cloud of suspicion regarding his wife Jessamine’s death when we first meet him. His inheritance of the title and ability to make money grow has made Society more accepting–at least on the surface. Alexander could care less about what others think of him. He’s lived under a state of high alert since his father married his stepmother, Adelia. Alexander believes she’s made several attempts on his life. Hence Dickens, his butler-cum-bodyguard, with Alexander since he was fourteen. Alexander can’t wait for the time he can remove Adelia’s hateful oppressive presence from his home.

Alexander is darkly handsome, realistic, blunt, and wickedly sensual. He’s well earned Sophie’s nickname, The Dark Viscount.

Adelia is a nasty piece of work and Alexander should be given a medal for tolerating her all this time.

Dickens and Prunella are the butler and stand in cook. They’re a wonderful addition to the story. Big hearted, honest, and a source of comfort and friendship to Alexander and Sophie.

Despite being the third in the Scandal at the House of Russell trilogy, NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT can be read as a standalone with no problems. Coming in at the end often leaves the reader feeling the loss of information from prior books. Fortunately that couldn’t be further from the truth in this case.

NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT opens in a bright, light-hearted, humorous vein with each page turn inexorably drawing the reader into a web of malice, betrayal, and madness. Ms. Stuart skillfully blends humor, tension, mystery, and sensuality. Her strong characters never tilt too far in either direction or compromise their beliefs. Such a balancing act can be difficult, especially when both characters are so strong. Sophie and Alexander walk that fine line wonderfully. The initial misunderstanding and double entendre’s intended or otherwise had me laughing to myself and were a nice break in the tension. Some of my favorites were:
Alexander’s conference with his new cook, Madame Camille aka Sophie…This whole scene is hilarious and rife with sexual tension, at least on Alexander’s side.

“I have very strong appetites,” he said slowly. “It takes a great deal to leave me sated, and I bore easily.”
“I promise my efforts won’t leave you bored,” she said.
Sophie on herself….”All right, I’m vain and realistic,” she amended. And later…She wasn’t going to pretend to be anything other than who she was. She’d been through enough, and she was tired of being tactful.

Sophie and Alexander were truly a delight to read. Through the humor, misunderstandings, and passion Ms. Stuart steadily builds the underlying tension to a heart pounding climax.

NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT beautifully balances romance, suspense, mystery, and heat with characters you want to spend time with. A marvelous reading experience.

4.5 stars

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