Lady in Waiting by Marie Tremayne

It takes some major backbone to go from rich and privileged to below stairs laborer, but Clara is doing it. She has to get away from a man who she was promised to wed because he is brutal and gets his jollies from beating women.

Title: Lady in Waiting
Author: Marie Tremayne
Series: Reluctant Brides #1
Publish Date: March 13, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Publisher’s Description: When her father arranges her marriage to a titled but brutal lord, young heiress Clara Mayfield escapes by slipping away under the cover of darkness, finding work as a domestic servant in a grand country manor, the last place anyone would ever think to search for her. But her safety depends on hiding her true identity from both the staff and her intriguing new employer, the Earl of Ashworth.

William, Lord Ashworth is no stranger to tragedy. His father and older brother’s deaths placed the weight of an earldom squarely on his shoulders, and now he must seek an eligible bride from the ton in order to produce an heir. But when a beguiling new housemaid arrives at his estate, he can’t dismiss his fascination with this woman whose eyes hold secrets…and desire.

As Clara weighs the need for secrecy against her growing feelings for the Earl, she finds herself losing a man who was never hers to love in the first place. And when circumstances beyond his control rip the lovely servant from the safety of his estate, the Earl of Ashworth is forced to make a choice that could forever shake his family name.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In some cases…spoilers. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

It’s a different world back then. Women didn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, which is unfortunate, because smart women being ignored is just plain stupid. Anyway, this book does have a bit of brutality, but nothing gory. There is a happy ending, but it took a lot of work to get there for both the hero and heroine.

This was not a fluffy book – it was more than fainting couch kind of fluff. It had meat to it and a strong woman to guide the story. Clara has to change her name and do work that she had never done before, work that she does not have the skill to do but she put her whole might into her cause and did what she had to do.

Marie Tremayne released this book on March 13, 2018. It’s her first book and it’s backed by Avon books. I got to see and meet Marie Tremayne in Kansas City at KissCon. She was an elegant lady with a sense of humor that was sharp. Even though this is her first book, it does not mean that it needs polish or that it’s lacking in anyway. It was well written and the style fit with the lady herself.

 

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What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell

Historical Romance.  Governess and Duke.  Not a simple romance, but a life story from a fascinating woman meeting a abused and neglected duke.  It’s a story that I could not put down.

Title: What a Difference a Duke Makes
Author: Lenora Bell
SeriesSchool for Dukes #1
Publish Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description:  Wanted: Governess for duke’s unruly children

Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.

Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke

Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won’t be quite so easy to control. And there’s something else she can’t seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.

Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny

As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she’s the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win?

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


 

Nervous Nellie says…

I told you I’d break your bloody nose.  Now get in the carriage and leave, you craven piece of maggot droppings.

That’s a Duke defending a Lady, that’s what that is!! Awesome romance.  Plain and simple.  Two common folk that lead a not so uncommon life.  The Duke is a tradesman.  The Governess is an orphan.  Both are emotionally damaged, but then again, how can they not be when they were abused as children.  There is no cliffhanger and there is a very feel good and satisfying ending.  This is definitely a book to get lost in for a few hours.

Photo by Alexander Petrenko / alexstudio.ch

I actually met Lenora Bell.  I did! Scout’s honor and all that!  Let me tell you that she would totally fit in the era she loves to write.  SHE belongs on the cover of the books she writes as she is as pretty as any cover model, as kind as any of her heroines.  She’s also an amazing historical writer.

I bought her series The Disgraceful Dukes when I saw her in the Kansas City Kisscon.  Her next book in this School For Dukes series won’t be out until September 18, 2018, which will feature the sister of the hero Duke from this book.  Now, that’s going to be a blast because India is someone I would LOVE to have as a friend in real life.

Ok, about this book.  It was a great vacation to take on a beautiful spring/summer day sitting outside in my lawn chair.  Mari is a strong, independent 20 year old that has to make her way in the world alone.  She gets dumped on by the proprietor of the governess-for-hire service and gets her trunk stolen on the first day she’s in London.  Her life kicks into overdrive after that.  Chasing two youngsters who are feeling misplaced and unloved is quite a challenge, but Mari knows a thing or two about feeling misplaced and unloved.

Edgar, Duke of Banksford, has had enough crap happen in his life to rival Mari, which makes them a perfect match.  He doesn’t know what to do with children.  Hell, he doesn’t even know what to do with himself.  He’s trying so hard that he’s spinning his wheels.  Then comes Mari.

Everyone needs someone to share the bad things as well as the good things.  Someone who knows the secrets and will keep them as well as defend them.  These two are perfect matches, but sometimes it takes the boldness of the woman to take the first steps.  Mari is the one that tugs the Duke along his path whether he wants to or not.  She is his hero and mine too.

 

Dark Lands: War of the Sentinels by Lyn Kelly

The cliffhanger strikes again! The next installment of the Dark Lands series is a fast pace read that leaves you wanting more.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

DArk landsTitle: Dark Lands: War of the Sentinels
Author: Lyn I. Kelly
Series: Dark Lands Series 03
Publish Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
Source: Provided by Author

Publisher’s Description:Welcome to the Dark Lands…again. In one explosive instant Sundown Thompson has found herself lost in the Dark Lands past, a world with which she is both familiar and estranged. The Willkeeper has no record of her. The Glorian Council does not recognize her. And the names Webb, Raven, Caleb, and Just Jake mean nothing to those around her. In the third book of Lyn I. Kelly’s Dark Lands series Sundown must tenuously navigate between a future she knows all too well and a past not prepared for what is coming. All the while an unrestrained evil known as Hekla, born during the living world’s creation, marches across the centuries intent on entering the Dark Lands and claiming what he perceives as his birthright. With horrors from Sundown’s future finding their way across time, she and her new allies, some familiar, some new, must stop these nightmarish intercessions before the past and future collide and the Dark Lands is irreparably marred.


Luna Lovebooks says…

I really enjoyed the third installment for the Dark Lands series. I think it may be my favorite yet! I really enjoyed getting to look into Glorian’s past. Once again the story is well written and action packed. Kelly does a great job of tying in the previous installments without giving too much away.

Sundown gets her turn to shine in this novel and we learn more about her power over time and the consequences it has for Glorian and the Dark Lands. My favorite new badge4v5character is Lucien although it is a tragic meeting. I also love how we learn about some of the quirks that characters from previous novels have. We are talking impetuous here people! There were times that the time loop – space time continuum thing can be a bit confusing if you think about it too much, but it doesn’t distract from the story.

Overall this is my favorite so far out of the Dark Lands series. It is well written with plenty of action and twists. Of course there has to be another cliff hanger ending that makes you want to know what is going to happen next and the fate that awaits the characters. I can’t wait to see what the next installment has in store for Webb and the residents of the Dark Lands! I give it four time rifts.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out these other books taking place in alternate realities: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Series Spotlight: Esther Diamond (audio) by Laura Resnick

Laura Resnick (author) and GraphicAudio have teamed up to create the Esther Diamond series audios, and it’s a fantastic pairing! If you like full-production audiobooks, you don’t want to miss this series!

I am so excited about the Esther Diamond series’ audiobooks being produced by GraphicAudio! They are fantastic. Try it out for yourself with this sample.

I’m gonna break this Series Spotlight down into two sections: one to talk about the series and one to talk about the audio production because they both deserve their own spotlight.

Series

Esther Diamond is a struggling New York actress. While working on an off-broadway play as a chorus nymph and understudy to the female lead, the lead actress disappears.

Enter Maximillian Zadok, a 350-year-old wizard, stationed in New York by the Magnum Collegium to fight mystical evil. Max implores Esther not to take up her understudy duties for fear she will go missing, too. Once Max convinces Esther that there is mystical evil afoot, Esther rushes to help Max find and stop the culprit before she becomes the next victim.

Meanwhile, the lead actress’s disappearance is also being investigated by Detective Connor Lopez, a sexy Latino with blue Irish eyes. Lopez finds Esther intriguing and would like to get to know her better. Unfortunately, Lopez doesn’t believe in mystical evil, even though Esther’s tried to tell him that it exists. While he is strongly drawn to Esther, he fears she’s unstable, dangerous, and possibly felonious. Their involvement complicates his life and jeopardizes his job, but he has trouble staying away.

During their adventures, Esther, Max, and a number of their friends encounter evil sorcerers, demons, voodoo loa, zombies, vampires, spirits, cursed objects, missing corpses, mob hit men, death omens, drag queens, entitled young adults, harried production assistants, and narcissistic actors. The mysteries are intriguing and well written, but I think it’s the main characters that really shine in the series. They are complex and layered, unique and intriguing, each with their own secrets that are slowly revealed over time.

This series has magic, mystery, and adventure, but it also has humor, friendship, and relationship tension (not everything is rosy in this romance) that builds with each book. It’s more glossy than gritty, on the lighter side of urban fantasy, but the protagonists have depth, and it’s easy to care about them. I highly recommend the series for a fun urban fantasy read.

If you’re not an audiobook fan, you can find the Esther Diamond series in digital and print formats at your favorite online retailer.

Audio Production

I’ve mentioned on this blog before how awesome I think GraphicAudio is. They make audiobooks into full-production masterpieces. They’re essentially radio-plays, for those of us who are old enough to have heard of those. There is a full cast of characters, so the voices are all different and the “he said” and “she said” of regular audiobooks aren’t needed. There’s music and sound effects in all the right places, which enhance the story greatly. As a big fan of audiobooks, I absolutely adore these productions. They are just so much fun!

Graphic Audio did a FANTASTIC job with the Esther Diamond series. I cannot imagine a better casting of voices, especially Colleen Delany as Esther Diamond, Thomas Keegan as Detective Connor Lopez, Bob Payne as Maximillian Zadok, and Tim Carlin as Lucky Battistuzzi. The voice  acting is fantastic and really conveys the character personalities and emotional content of the story. The GraphicAudio actors bring each character completely to life in a way that only the very best voice actors can in regular audiobooks.

The background music and sound effects add such depth and dimension to the story that you really do feel as if you are listening to a movie. It’s that much easier to feel the tension of being stalked when you can hear the footsteps behind you, or to visualize a street fight when you can hear the impact of fists, the grunts of the combatants, and the splash of blood on pavement.

I don’t think I’m capable of expressing just how emotionally involved I feel when listening to GraphicAudio productions. It is an amazing medium for some genres, and I really encourage authors, particularly indie sci-fi and fantasy authors, to consider GraphicAudio for their books before any other audiobook company. Your listeners will experience a much richer version of your creation than I think you’ll find elsewhere.

A rich creation is exactly how I’d describe the Esther Diamond series on GraphicAudio. Five stars for this superb production.

You might also like:

GraphicAudio boasts a number of sci-fi and fantasy series by well-known authors such as Piers Anthony, Stephen Blackmoore, Peter David, Alan Dean Foster, Simon R. Green, Charlaine Harris, Jim C. Hines, Cherie Priest, Stephen Lawhead, Kelly McCullough, Ari Marmell, Elizabeth Moon, Michael Moorcock, Lilith Saintcrow, R.A. Salvatore, Brandon Sanderson, Michael J. Sullivan, Brent Weeks, and Eileen Wilks. They also have a number of audio adaptations of both Marvel and DC comics.

Nell’s Gossip and Book Hunt 5/6/2018

Welcome to my Sunday book hunt and author gossip.  Keep coming back for updates on book releases and news from favorite authors.

We certainly have some books for you today! Things are exciting around here – not only has spring arrived but there is a super deal out there for a fabulous author, Laura Bickle.

Laura Bickle created one of my favorite characters ever. Sparky, a salamander familiar and elemental, is half the investigation team with Anya Kalinczyk being the other half. If you want a super read, check this out: Anya Kalinczyk series. 

In more recent publishing is Laura’s series, Dark Alchemy also known as Wildlands series . The news this week is that this series is on sale as Kindle Monthly Deals for May! Each price pointed at .99, a person can hardly go wrong with that entertainment value!

Title:
Dark Alchemy
Author: Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #1
Released: March 24, 2015
Publisher’s description: Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up – desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain – her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

Title: Mercury Retrograde 
Author: Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #2 (or Wildlands series)
Released: October 27, 2015
Publisher’s description: Something venomous has come to Temperance …

It’s been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance’s resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.

Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels―the biker gang Sisters of Serpens. Unlike some, the Sisters don’t want to kill the basilisk―they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters’ own murderous skills.

Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival. With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind in this action-packed sequel to Dark Alchemy.

LOOK OUT! Owl is on the adventure path again!! Also, Kristi Charish is a B & N spotlight pick! How exciting is that?? What that means is that you can get Owl and the Japanese CircusAdventures of Owl #1, for $1.99 until Monday, May 7, 2018!! Take this series for a spin –

Title: Owl and the Tiger Thieves 
Author: Kristi Charish 
Series: Adventures of Owl series #4 
To Be Released: May 7, 2018
Publisher’s description: In this fourth Owl novel, Kristi Charish (The Voodoo Killings) melds sparkling fantasy with the grit of urban underbelly—with a detour through the world’s most spectacular cities. This is perfect for fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and fantasy lovers everywhere.

Through no fault of her own, Alix has found herself essential to the fate of the world as we know it. She didn’t mean for this to happen—she was quite happy being merely the notorious antiquities thief, and ex-archeologist, known as Owl.

However, years ago, Owl reluctantly entered the secret world of the supernatural. Her goals: complete one job, escape one bounty on her head, continue her thieving in peace.

Fast forward to today. Now, she has become a key player in a brutal paranormal civil war that is rapidly getting out of hand. The leader of one of these factions—a lethal opponent called the Electric Samurai—grows more powerful by the second. To stop him, Owl sets out to find the long-lost, legendary group known as the Tiger Thieves.

But will it be too little too late? One thing Owl misses about “normal” archaeology: there are few emergencies with thousand-year-old relics.

 

HOLD ON TIGHT!! Here comes Harry Dresden! Whoo! Hooo!
Title: Brief Cases 
Author: Jim Butcher 
Series: Dresden Files #15.1 
TO BE RELEASED: June 5, 2018
Publisher’s description: An all-new Dresden Files story headlines this urban fantasy short story collection starring the Windy City’s favorite wizard.

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue–and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you’ll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published “Zoo Day,” Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

The collection includes:

* “Curses”, from THE NAKED CITY, edited by Ellen Datlow
* “AAAA Wizardry”, from the Dresden Files RPG
* “Even Hand”, from DARK AND STORMY KNIGHTS, edited by P. N. Elrod
* “B is for Bigfoot”, from UNDER MY HAT: TALES FROM THE CAULDRON, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in WORKING FOR BIGFOOT
* “I was a Teenage Bigfoot”, from BLOOD LITE 3: AFTERTASTE, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in WORKING FOR BIGFOOT.
* “Bigfoot on Campus”, from HEX APPEAL, edited by P. N. Elrod. Republished in WORKING FOR BIGFOOT.
* “Bombshells”, from DANGEROUS WOMEN, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
* “Jury Duty”, from UNBOUND, edited by Shawn Speakman
* “Cold Case”, from SHADOWED SOULS, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes
* “Day One”, from UNFETTERED II, edited by Shawn Speakman
* “A Fistful of Warlocks”, from STRAIGHT OUTTA TOMBSTONE, edited by David Boop
* “Zoo Day” – brand-new novella, original to this collection

DO YOU NEED AN ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN FIX? Jennifer Estep will be self-publishing Venom in the Veins, Elemental Assassin #17. Aren’t we all so happy for self publishing! We’d all be stuck holding the bag if the publishers got their way about some series! Anyway, here is what Jennifer has to say about her new book.

Print book: The print book won’t be available to order until release day, June 12. I’ll share those links as soon as they are online. The price will be $14.99.

The print book will NOT be stocked in your local bookstore so you will have to order it online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also, the print book will be trade paperback size—not the smaller mass market size as the previous books in the series.

Audiobook: There will be an audiobook, and the awesome Lauren Fortgang will once again be the narrator. I’ll share more info about the audiobook as it becomes available.

Title: Venom in the Veins
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #17 
To Be Released: June 12, 2018
Publisher’s description: Blood might be thicker than water, but venom is stronger than just about anything …

It was supposed to be a nice, quiet, simple dinner with friends—but nothing is ever nice, quiet, or simple when you’re Gin Blanco, the Spider, notorious assassin and current queen of the Ashland underworld.

This time around, someone seems to be targeting Stuart Mosley, the president of First Trust bank. Lots of people have grudges against Mosley, but the more I investigate, the more Mosley’s problems seem to be connected to some of my own, especially when it comes to the Circle, the evil, shadowy group that is secretly responsible for much of the crime and corruption in Ashland.

But when another blast from my dark and deadly past as the Spider comes to light, I wonder if I’ll be able to survive this dangerous new enemy, who has a burning thirst for revenge that will only be satisfied with one thing: my death.

Read the first chapter: http://www.jenniferestep.com/books/venom-in-the-veins/

 

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