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Reader Post: Cathie Caffey!

Hi everyone! As you can see HelenKay Dimon was unable to guest with us on Thursday – she’s had a lot on her plate, and spent a lot of time at the vet with her 14 year old dog : – but all should be better now, thankfully, and she’ll be here next week! Yay! BUT! Now, we have my good friend Cathie visiting with us! Some of you “know” her because she’s written some reviews, as Cathie M, but here she is again! (Oh and yes, I know I didn’t match up the covers – but that’s because I’m crazy and I like them evenly distributed throughout. Or, images at least. Also, typos, if they are any, sorry! I just did a strict copy and paste. :X)

Its a joy to be able to post here on Lime’s blog! As reading is a favorite of mine, especially traditional regency romances lately, I wanted to talk a bit about finding Indie re-released books. I use the term, “Indie” to mean eBooks that authors independently publish, that are not with an established eBook publisher that has a site online that publishes multiple authors. (Some Indie authors do name their own publisher name for their books but there is no site, or its basically a link to their site and only their books). As a rule, just look up the name of the publisher the author gives and you can usually determine that way. There’s so many small publishers that its hard for me to keep track to know whats out there so most of these I found from recommendations from readers letting me know about them or discovering them from searches, reviews and just them popping up when I am looking at a genre of romance in general on Amazon.

I’ve also read quite a few of those who released their books for the first time and some awesome. I could write for hours about those! So I thought I’d stick with the re-releases for this post. Know that my likes may so vary than others. Lime and I tease each other because one book for her can be a fab read and me not so! (and I’m so not a picky reader so we laugh about that!). I for one, am not expert in this, but wanted to share my experiences since for me lately, its been harder for me to spend $8 on just one eBook when I have discovered quite a few great reads for much cheaper! I love the re-releases that I missed of authors earlier books! Remember traditional regency line? Those were the category size prints of sweet to warm regency romances from Zebra and Signet regency romances (no longer have those lines). I find them so much a comfort lately and had missed them when they were out in print. Too those earlier historical romances of authors we read now that we missed?! Some authors are re-releasing them as well. I’ll give some examples below but the prices can be awesome, often as .99 cents! to $2.99. As a general rule for me, I stick to $2.99 and less for the eBook re-releases. That’s just me but some have re-releases at $6.99 and higher of their re-releases which for me is tough since I like to read lots!

I suggest you download a sample of the eBook you may want to read from Amazon or Smashwords. I do mostly because I hate when no covers are included. Its a huge pet peeve with me! I figured if I was in the store buying a print, there be no way I’d buy a book without a cover and same goes with eBooks. I have bought them before without a cover and requested a refund because of that, so now I always download a sample from Amazon or Smashwords first. (If you use BN, I believe they have samples too but I’m more familiar with the Kindle program than the Nook program. Many in the beginning have seem not to have their covers, it but I seen more improvement lately with them having them. When I get the sample, I can check if the cover is included. If its not, I look to Smashwords to see if its available there and I can always add the cover if they left it off. The samples there seem longer at Smashwords and I get a real feel for the story. There are quite a few authors tho, that publish their Indie books on Amazon only and no covers and I’ve sampled them and started out so good but they haven’t put on Smashwords or other non-DRM sites for me to get so I sadly haven’t bought them and missing out on some good reads. I’ve too found some of the Indie books over on All Romance eBooks (ARe). I’m not sure if there are more places that sell them non-DRM.

So here are some .99 cents re-released earlier historical romance reads that I loved with short descriptions and longer descriptions are at the links! (no particular order and I limited myself to 5 or this post would never get done, there’s lots I loved out there!) I’m not sure how to figure out length of books on Amazon so I check word count over at Smashwords and seem to category lengths except for one that is full length novel. So a couple questions for you, what have you found in regency, historical or anything in romance as a bargain price that you recommend? And too any other places you know to go for Indie books?

Lady Silence by Blair Bancroft

After more than six years of war, Colonel Damon Farr wants only to retreat into his library and forget the world. Instead, he is confronted daily by the mystery of a young woman with a secret past and no voice. He calls her Lady Silence. Is she a fraud who has wormed her way into his life? Or is she the spark to resurrect a soul lost in battle and teach him the meaning of love?

Lady Dearing’s Masquerade by Elena Greene

Lady Dearing became society’s most notorious widow after kissing a stranger at a masquerade but his seductive voice still haunts her dreams. Sir Jeremy Fairhill has given up hope of finding her, but when he investigates the infamous widow who’s taking in children from London’s Foundling Hospital, his sense of duty clashes with a dangerous passion for the elusive, alluring Lady Dearing.

A Proper Companion by Candice Hern

Robert is a rakish earl recently betrothed to a beautiful young girl in her first Season. Emily is an impoverished spinster hired as a companion to his grandmother, the dowager countess. Robert agrees to help his grandmother find a husband for Emily, but how is he to bear the thought of her in another man’s arms?

Conor’s Way by Laura Lee Guhrke

To save her farm, Olivia needs a man who’s not afraid of hard work. But after the Civil War, men like that are rare, and she has to hire ex-boxer Conor Branigan for help. The hard Irishman doesn’t plan to stick around, but Olivia sparks dreams of what he’d lost long ago. When her farm is at risk, he has to stay to save it, but can he let go of the past and make a new life, or is it too late?

The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner (aka Jennifer Ashley)

(Note, this is a historical mystery series, first book in the series. I love her historical romances and got hooked on these too!)

London, 1816 Cavalry captain Gabriel Lacey returns to Regency London from the Napoleonic wars, his career ignominiously over. He stumbles onto the case of a kidnapping, the accused a prominent MP. Lacey’s search for the girl leads to the discovery of murder, corruption, and dealings with a leader of the underworld. At the same time, Lacey must face the everyday troubles of his own life.

Too, doing a search today, I found Nicole Jordan’s Velvet Embrace at .99! I’ll stop now, so its your turn now!

Guest Review: It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern

It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern
Historical Romance released by Avon March 29, 2011

We asked our readers what story they would most like to see from four bestselling authors. They responded . . .

A handsome hero returns from war, battle-scarred and world-weary. But family duty calls and he must find a bride.

A young lady facing yet another season without a suitor never expects to find herself the object of his affections.

It Happened One Season

Four amazing talents

Stephanie Laurens
Mary Balogh
Jacquie D’Alessandro
Candice Hern

have come together to create one of the most unforgettable events of the year. The results are spectacular—each story is as unique as a lover’s first kiss.

It Happened One Season is an Anthology with the same four Avon Historical Romance authors that wrote It Happened One Night in 2008. In It Happened One Night, there was a common theme that the authors Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern created. Each author wrote a story about a proper young lady free from society’s constraints due to being stranded at a remote inn where she comes face to face with the one that ends up being her HEA (Happily Ever After). This time around, the publisher had readers suggest what themes they would most like to read. A winner was picked, and they had the above mentioned story lines as well as:

  • The hero must find a bride because and produce a male heir.

The big difference with It Happened One Season, versus It Happened One Night is that there are several requirements in the story while the previous one was more open. So for me, reading one story after another, felt too much of the same story at first. Once I put aside repetitiveness, I enjoyed the next three stories more. They were focused on the hero and heroine rather than the circumstances and changed my opinion of the book. Since these four authors are all favorites of mine, I rarely have any criticism. I’m a huge fan of historical romance so I’m never one to have much of any issues with what I read since I love a variety despite having favorite themes (beauty and the beast, marriage of convenience, etc). After a bit of a slow start with the first story, the rest pulled it up.

First up was The Seduction of Sebastian Trantor by Stephanie Laurens. Our hero Sebastian Montgomery Trantor, is very well read and indulges in hieroglyphics, which I believe is decoding hidden words through codes.  He resides in an Abbey healing both physically and emotionally from the war. Sebastian’s brother, Thomas, interrupts his serene life with a visit. Thomas and his wife have five children, all girls, so he tells Sebastian to marry so their cousin- a wastrel- won’t inherit. Thus, Sebastian goes and attends the Season. Sebastian hides out in the library at a ball and discovers the heroine, Tabitha Makepeace searching a desk. Tabitha has discovered that engaged girls are being blackmailed and she is determined to discover who the culprit is. Sebastian and Tabitha end up working together to solve the crime. Sebastian figures a fictional engagement to Tabitha would benefit them both. He wouldn’t have to attend any more balls and Tabitha could use his decoding skills to find who is blackmailing the ladies.

Tabitha feels she is a plain un-marriageable female on the shelf. Even though Sebastian lets her believe it’s a fictional engagement, he plans to convince her that it would solve both their issues if they enter a marriage of convenience. Stephanie Laurens story was one of the longest in the anthology. It was adventurous and fun to read about the sleuthing. Although the HEA does happen, and they declare their love for one another, it didn’t truly click with me- that spark that I usually can sense from the hero and heroine wasn’t quite there. Beautiful wording by this author, very poetic, but that feeling of ‘real and breathtaking’ when they came together just wasn’t there for me.
Grade: C

The second story is Only Love by Mary Balogh. Cleopatra Pritchard, Cleo, is a young widow that was married for five years and widowed for five years. Now 27, she believes that she will never marry again, as no one wants or wanted her. Cleo also thinks she’ll never have a lover. She was married to Colonel Aubrey Pritchard who was 23 years her senior. He didn’t want to court her, and wanted a biddable, plain lady to minister to his needs and not be a distraction to his men. Cleo felt so plain and overweight at that time of her life, she would have married anyone. Cleo has matured and gained confidence in the past decade, but her manner and behavior can still be awkward especially around men. Cleo has spent the last 4 Seasons with no suitors. Just as Cleo is about to give up and focus on her volunteering she meets Jack Gilchrist.

Cleo had met Jack once before when she was married as he was in the Colonel’s troop. Jack’s brother Matthew, informs Jack that he must find a wife and marry. Although Jack’s physical scars have healed, his emotional ones from the war have not. He hasn’t recovered from his aversion to being in the public and loathes others calling him a hero. He saw so much devastation in the war, that when he returned, stories about him and the adoration that society subjected him to had him re-living the war over and over. When Jack sees Cleo at the ball, he’s happy to see someone there he knows that isn’t a young marriage minded miss.

Cleo never forgot a kiss they shared some years back, the only passionate kiss that she’s experienced. Jack  remembers it as well and never understood why he reacted to her that way at their one and only meeting. When together, Cleo’s shyness nearly disappears. Jack blurts out a proposal, because he thinks they would suit. Mary Balogh has a way with bringing different things, people, and events into the story that bring smiles and chuckles as well as sadness- almost tears. The relationship shows in the hero and heroine’s words and behavior. I thoroughly loved Cleo and Jack’s story! Even now, a couple weeks after reading, I still smile when I think about them. Another huge positive of each of these stories is being able to read an Epilogue that held a beautiful future for them. Especially so with Only Love.
Grade: A-

Hope Springs Eternal by Jacquie D’Alessandro gives us the story of Miss Penelope Markham, who was involved in a scandal due to her art. Penelope is witty and often gets herself into trouble because of her carefree ways. As a gifted artist, she’s been dismissed from being an art teacher and returns home where she meets the hero for the first time. Alec Trentwell served in the war with Penelope’s twin brother, Edward. Penelope often wrote to Edward who shared his letters with Alec. Thus Alec felt he got to know Penelope – so much so that he feels responsible for her. Edward died in the war, but during his life he was Alec’s commanding officer and best friend. Alec feels guilty for Edward’s death, so he plans to tell Penelope what happened to her brother in the war and apologize. Alec then plans to spend his time secluded in the small cottage he purchased. Alec is suffering from flashbacks and nightmares about all he experienced in Waterloo and Penelope senses Alec’s emotional scars.

Alec enjoys Penelope’s company, so he puts off his original plan and conversation. Alec is enjoying his new life and is afraid he will lose Penelope if he tells her how Edward died. Alec is told to wed to provide a heir, and conveniently, he and Penelope are in love with each other. Despite that, he’s terrified he will lose her. This story by Jacquie D’Alessandro may at times bring you close to tears. It is a beautifully emotional novella. Jacquie is presently writing contemporary romances. I dearly miss her historical romances and hope she comes back to writing more of her wonderful historicals.
Grade: B

The last story, Fate Strikes a Bargain by Candice Hern, brings us Captain Nathaniel Beckwith and Philippa Reynolds. Again following the “being required to marry and have a heir” theme, Nat’s brother, Lord Dearne interferes with Nat’s matrimonial plans. Philippa and Nat meet when Nat discovers her hiding in an attempt to escape the crush of a ball. Nat finds Philippa refreshingly candid and tolerant of his dark mood.  Philippa’s herself and her respect for his emotions leads them to having very open and frank communication. Philippa is empathic as she’s dealt with her physical disability all her life. Philippa was born with a severe limp.  She tolerates her over-protective parents but doesn’t limit herself or let it hinder her enjoyment of as active a life as she can physically handle. But Philippa’s disability often causes a sort of social ostracism. Nat sees past that much in the same way she sees past his manners (or lack thereof). While they both feel like they don’t fit in with society, they realize that they fit together!

Nat can be harsh with his words, but not towards her, and Philippa is too eager for confrontation and very blunt! It was refreshing to see how they meshed. A bargain of marriage is made, though Philippa’s parents force some courting where they get to know each. During this time they begin healing together, and find so many strengths between and within them. Nat had loved the army, but grew increasingly melancholy as he realized that the fighting at Waterloo had left him traumatized with nightmares and flashbacks of the battle. This is very evident through the story and emotional to read.  The author details the feelings that Nat and Philippa are experiencing nicely. As their relationship grows, the bargain is sweetened! And the epilogue is bittersweet! Well worth reading. It ends up that fate and love brings Nat and Philippa together after all.
Grade: A

When the book started I thought it would end up too similar, but they end up being so unique and special stories. I hope the authors do this again!

Overall Grade: B+

Caffey (Cathie)

Guest Review: Jeweled by Anya Bast

Hi all! I’m Cathie, a reader who met Limecello in chats over the last couple of years and always enjoyed getting recommendations from her as well as giving her recommendations books to read. We’d have some in common and then some we’d be on the opposite ends of. Its all about us being our own reader with our own likes and dislikes as well as what works for one, might not work for another. So this made it fun with Limecello. I had told her I was reading a book to review and was thrilled she asked me to post on her blog. One thing I love to do is to try to tell other readers, as many as I can, what they are missing reading. So thanks Limecello.

book cover Jeweled by Anya Bast
Historical Fantasy released by Berkley Heat Nov 2, 2010

A new series of erotic magic and fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author.

In the Court of Edaeii, magic-imbued Evangeline is rewarded for her gift in manipulating emotion with a sapphire stone set into the perfect curve of her lower back. Her greatest rival in the royal court is the enigmatic Anatol, instilled with the power of illusion. He may best her in magic, but he is her absolute equal in passion.

They share something else—they’re both targets of low-born revolutionaries. Rescued by Gregorio, the brilliant revolutionary mastermind, they’re given sanctuary. But in this warm refuge, Evangeline soon finds herself torn between the magic of one man she has always desired, and the excitingly new and radical moves of another. For her, there is only one choice: indulge in pleasure without limits.

I had the opportunity to review JEWELED by Anya Bast and grabbed that chance! I’ve read various books of Ms. Bast’s but never have read a erotic historical fantasy. I have read very little of fantasy romance, and pretty much none of straight fantasy, so I then worried I wouldn’t do so well with a review of this genre. I started out with taking notes and it was taking away time from the book, but also, being able to enjoy the book. So I put all the notes away and just sat and read this book from beginning to end in enjoyment, and so glad I did!

JEWELED is an oh so fascinating read! And so passionate! I firmly got caught up in this world and still haven’t left it. Its set in no certain time period that was indicated, thus, an ‘alternative historical’. There’s some indications with one of the themes of the heroine being fascinated with the inventions that were happening (sewing machine, printing press). But as you read, its just ‘the time it is’ in the story and works! Set in a unique and creative world, I could feel that Ms. Bast really had a world planned out and everything flowed smoothly into it. Its set in a country called ‘Rylisk’ and they are in the city called ‘Milzyr’. The heroine, Evangeline has been in a palace called ‘Belai’ where all those with Magick in their blood reside . Evangeline was taken from her family at age 4. She is isolated within the Palace with others who work on their Magick over the years. The Magicks started with the family of ‘Edaeii’ but with very little family left, they relied on finding those with any Magick and building on it through the years by isolating them. This family of the Edaeii also took over the city with their wealth and power, leaving the poor not taken care of.

Evangeline’s Magick is consisted of feeling both physically and emotionally cold, but no other emotions are with her. She instead draws emotions from those around her and weaves those feelings back to those around her to manipulate what feeling they have. In other words, she can control and change the emotions around her. Anatol’s Magick consists of illusion and light.

As Evangeline comes of age, she becomes jeweled by performing her Magick skills in front of the Edaeii family. Once she is chosen to be part of their Magick family, she is jeweled with a sapphire stone placed in her back. In the men, its placed on the back of their neck. Its here we meet one of the hero’s, Anatol, who goes through the ceremony to be jeweled but wants nothing to do with the Edaeii family as he has heard the rumors of a possible revolution happening to take out this family and palace. When this does happen, Evangeline is totally unprepared to live outside of the palace while Anatol plans to survive through this. Anatol has falling in love with Evangeline from afar for many years. As the city takes over the palace, there’s violence that occurs which I do tend to skip over. But its necessary to the story in the power of how this city took over.

As Evangeline and Anatol survive trying to blend in as well as hide at other times, Evangeline has a difficult time dealing with not using her Magick but also learning to be herself, to feel herself for basically the first time in her life. As their relationship grows strong, Evangeline has strong feelings for Anatol but its not complete. Its here we meet Gregorio who is helping the city take back their home and life and make their government for everyone. Gregorio may be the missing part that makes Evangeline complete. Evangeline struggles with her own self esteem and feeling emotions again, especially determining what love is, and mostly wondering if she’s good enough for both Anatol and Gregorio.

As a reader I was enchanted by Anya Bast’s JEWELED. Evangeline goes through so much within this story that I felt I could see her grow from the beginning of the book to the very end. I could feel empathy for her feelings of her being worthy. Both Anatol and Gregorio are so different but with the same goals. I did look up to both Anatol and Gregorio for their protectiveness of her. She had her own strengths and other times her strengths were with them and I didn’t find this as a weakness of her. I found it made her stronger knowing she could depend on others in her life but also that she could include them as part of her life as well. The passion that was shared through this story grew from two to three and it worked. I realized that it couldn’t be any other way but the way it was told. I found this book not only a gripping adventure with an exciting fantasy to read, but also breathtaking in the love that grew between them all to become one in love. Ms. Bast has created an erotic historical fantasy that I’m already waiting for the next book. Its been awhile since I read the book and I can still visualize as well as see the scenes still within me as a reader. This one’s a keeper, an A for me!