Release Blitz: The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee

 Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 Length: 68,000 words
Cover Design: Fantasia Frog Designs
 
Blurb
 

A man with nothing finds everything.

Abandoned at birth, WWI veteran Hal Stanton faces bleak employment prospects in post-war London. Desperation spurs him to reinvent himself to hook a wealthy wife, one he will be devoted to even if he feels no real passion. But when he meets his fiance’s cousin, Julian Needham, it’s all he can do to keep his heart in check and his eye on the prize.

From the moment he’s introduced to the charming stranger Margaret plans to marry, Julian suspects the man’s motives yet fights a relentless attraction. He’s determined to reveal Hal as a fraud but must handle the matter delicately to protect his sweet cousin’s feelings. A weekend at the family estate should allow time and opportunity for him to expose Halstead Wiley.

Even as the men match wits in a battle of attempted unmasking, powerful sexual attraction threatens to overcome them both and win the day. Can a true love connection possibly grow between these adversaries without destroying lives and loved ones?

Excerpt

Drawing up in front of the Needham house on the curved driveway, Hal felt as if he ought to be arriving in a carriage and four rather than Margaret’s Daimler motorcar. The sprawling limestone house was a convoluted collection of roof peaks, turrets, and wings added on over the years. It looked like a castle, proclaiming nobility dwelt within and an outsider like him would never belong.

Hal didn’t resent the upper class their wealth, power, and prestige. He merely wanted to become one of them. Was that so awful? A friend had once come to Hal’s flat begging a sanctuary to spend a night or two. The stay had turned into something more like two months. But Hal certainly understood that desire to lay down the burden of constant struggle to survive and find a quiet, comfortable resting spot.

Margaret would be his safe place, and he would be hers, making certain she never wanted for companionship. In return, he’d have a nice house, good food, and a fine wardrobe. He would guard her fortune as if it were his own, spending wisely and increasing it shrewdly. He wouldn’t be a burden but a life companion in an easygoing, if chaste, arrangement.

He got out of the passenger side of the car, and Margaret came around to join him. “What do you think? The house may appear grand, but don’t let the battlements fool you. Inside, it’s quite shabby. Despite a respectable family name, my aunt and uncle aren’t wealthy by any means.”

Hal tucked her hand through the loop of his arm. “I’m not nervous. I’m quite ready to meet them and explain why I’ve fallen in love with their one-of-a-kind niece. This must have been a wonderful place to grow up with all those nooks and crannies to explore.”

“It truly was. Mother and I could have afforded to stay in our own home after Father died. But I’m so glad we came to live with Aunt Agnes and Uncle Harold; otherwise, I never would’ve had brothers like Julian and James.” She frowned. “After nearly two years, I still have trouble thinking of James in the past tense.”

Hal recalled James had survived France but died in the influenza epidemic almost immediately upon his return home. He put an arm around Margaret and hugged her. “You must miss him terribly.”

“His passing has been difficult for me but nearly killed my aunt and uncle. They’re still mourning. And Julian…” She shook her head.
“Misses his brother and perhaps blames himself for being alive,” Hal guessed. “I understand that feeling, having lost many comrades at the front.”

Margaret stopped at the doorstep and turned to him, eyes shining. “You survived because God had more for you to do in this life. He brought you to me, for which I am ever grateful.”

Hal hated himself just a little more at her declaration. When he’d begun this plan, he’d imagined landing a wealthy older widow who knew the score and didn’t mind so long as she had a handsome young husband to show off to her friends like a trophy. But then he’d met Margaret. He’d been so taken with her blend of sweetness and assertiveness that it had seemed possible to make a sham marriage work. Now he was stuck with the plan he’d devised.

The door opened before they knocked. A stooped older man with a paunch swelling his waistcoat greeted them. “Welcome home, Miss Margaret.”
“Hello, Grover. You’re looking very dapper today. I’m so glad to be back. I’ve missed home these past months. May I present my fiancé, Mr. Halstead Wiley.”
The butler bowed. “Good day, sir. Welcome to Barton Park.”
Hal almost returned the bow, then recalled his proper standing and nodded politely instead. “I’m happy to be here.”

Grover escorted them to the drawing room, where Mr. and Mrs. Needham and Julian were already gathered. Hal assessed the room before following Margaret inside. Pale blue walls and rug offered a sense of tranquility and the room was not overly cluttered. The dark, heavy pieces of furniture from an older century didn’t fit the pale color palette that suggested a more chic, modern décor.
Margaret’s aunt and uncle rose to greet him. The outdated style of Mrs. Needham’s gown didn’t detract from her aura of grace and refinement as she offered her hand. “Mr. Wiley, we’re pleased you could come. Darling Margaret is the daughter we never had, and we were eager to meet the man she’s chosen.”

“Quite so,” Mr. Needham said.

Hal wasn’t certain if he was meant to shake Mrs. Needham’s hand or kiss it. The customs of the gentry weren’t familiar to him. He gave a polite press before letting go, then turned to offer a hearty shake to Mr. Needham. “The pleasure is mine. Your niece is a prize.”
“Yes she is.” Mr. Needham gave Hal an assessing look with gray eyes very much like his son’s.
Hal scanned the rest of the room to find Julian standing near the window. Sunlight burnished his brown hair with golden highlights. His well-cut profile with its straight nose and strong jawline was haloed in light. When he turned his stern gaze toward Hal, a little hum of anticipation awoke within him.

Hal squelched this reaction to a man he considered an adversary. Needham had invited him here to poke holes in his story, so he must be on guard every moment not to give himself away. If this wedding were to be called off, he’d be jobless and desperate again. One would expect work to be plentiful in the aftermath of the Great War with so few veterans returning, but the economy was in shambles. Odd jobs were all Hal had been able to find, spurring him to his mad scheme to land a wealthy woman.

He offered a bright smile. “Good to see you again, Mr. Needham.”

As much as it wasn’t, it actually was. Needham intrigued Hal, not only his physical demeanor but his affectionate manner with Margaret and his magnetic presence. Had they met under other circumstances, he and Julian might have been friends—or probably something more than friends, for Hal guessed “confirmed bachelor” Julian shared his attraction to men.

Hal dragged his thoughts away from the sorts of activities they might have gotten up to in another time and place, as he sat beside his betrothed on a sofa. “You have a lovely home,” he complimented his hosts. “Its history must be fascinating.”

“Thank you,” Mrs. Needham said. “Barton Park was built in 1640 and belonged to several families before the Needhams took possession.”

Her husband added dryly, “You may learn the entire history on every second Wednesday of the month, when the house is open. I daresay the tour guide is more educated on both the history and the architecture than we are.”

“Tours?” Julian abandoned his spot by the window to stride across the room with long-legged grace. “When did this begin?”

“Surely I mentioned this in one of my letters. A company that arranges tours approached us this past summer,” Mrs. Needham explained. “At first, your father refused to speak with their representative, but when we learned other owners of other estates were allowing tours, we decided to give it a go. It’s a respectable way to share one’s heritage and is little trouble at all. Thus far, the tourists, both domestic and foreign, have been orderly and respectful.”
“Not at all annoying having strangers troop through one’s home,” Mr. Needham continued in his sub-Saharan tone. “And you’d know about this if you paid the least attention to what your mother writes, or if you came for a visit every so often.”

Julian stood before his parents, scowling. “You did not mention this in any of your letters. I’d no idea you’d reached such a…” He glanced at Hal and seemed to reconsider airing his family’s financial business. “That you were considering such a thing.”
“It has become quite common these days for historical houses to be on display,” Mrs. Needham pointed out. “As you’ve said, times are changing.”
“More’s the pity,” the elder Needham growled.

Hal sat very still, wishing he were someplace else and not witnessing this family argument. He’d had no idea the Needhams were in such difficult straits until today. Apparently, their children hadn’t either. Surely Margaret would want to offer financial help, which would cut into the inheritance from her father’s side. He was a horrible person to immediately consider how the Needham family’s misfortune might affect him and his plans.

“Honestly, I think it’s rather brilliant to open the house to tours.” Margaret smoothed the folds of her modish knee-length dress. “Tourists enjoy seeing grand houses from a former century. The building should earn its maintenance at the very least. But if you require more financial assistance, please let me know. I want to do my part for the family.”

Julian Needham quickly added, “I can offer help as well. My investments are doing well enough.”
“We’re not quite destitute, although apparently our home has become a museum artifact to be gawked at by strangers,” Mr. Needham said.
“Thank you, my dears, for your generous thought. But such a discussion is most inappropriate at this celebratory occasion.” Mrs. Needham turned her attention to Hal. “Tell us how you two met.”

“We were both browsing at a bookstore. I shared a recommendation with Hal, and we talked for hours. You can see how that conversation ended.” Margaret turned her beaming smile on Hal. “Or never ended, for we always find something to discuss.”
“I was taken with Margaret from the moment we met. She manages to be both imaginative and levelheaded at the same time. One doesn’t let a quality woman like Margaret slip away.”
“Your family approves the arrangement?” Mr. Needham probed.

Hal seized a quick breath before plunging into his embroidered history. He hadn’t tried to pretend to Margaret that he came from any sort of gentility, instead inventing middle-class parents of modest means.

“My parents have passed, and I have no extended family. But I’m certain both Father and Mother would have welcomed Margaret with open arms.”
“Tell us about your parents,” Needham senior pushed.
“My father owned several shipping concerns. But in one year, a freighter was lost at sea and another seized by pirates. This put a great strain on his fortune and took a toll on his health.”

Hal patted his chest, indicating possible heart failure or a broken heart. Let them decide which. “He passed away within a year, and my dear mother followed soon after. I believe she couldn’t face life without him.”

Mrs. Needham gave a soft murmur, and Margaret reached to pat Hal’s hand. He bowed his head, hoping he wasn’t overdoing the drama.
“Were you left penniless then?” Julian’s tone was cool and less than sympathetic.
“Julian!” Mrs. Needham exclaimed at his shocking ill manners.

“It’s all right, Mrs. Needham. It is quite reasonable to wonder about the stranger your niece has brought home. I should have followed custom and asked permission for her hand.” Hal offered an apologetic smile, then continued trying to reassure them he had nothing to hide.

“I invested the small inheritance I received and have increased it over the years, so I live quite comfortably. I won’t pretend to be more than I am. I come from a middle-class background, and I’m in love with a woman who is clearly above me. But I care for Margaret very much.”
The last part at least was true. Hal took her hand, gazed into her eyes, and prayed his selfish intentions could be forgiven.
Margaret smiled. “As I care for you.”

Julian made a small sound that might have signaled either acceptance or disgust.

Hal darted a sharp glance at him.

“It’s a lovely afternoon. I should like to take you on a tour of the land before supper,” Margaret said.
“Perfect weather for an invigorating walk,” Hal agreed and blessed her for freeing him from the relentless questioning.
“I’ll go with you.” Julian had not taken a seat during the entire conversation, and now he started for the door. “I should like to see how the farms are doing.”

They bid their elders goodbye and entered the hallway. Margaret excused herself to change into proper attire.
Hal had brought no walking shoes and lingered awkwardly with Julian, who scanned him up and down.

“You’ll want a pair of Wellingtons. The fields and woods are muddy. And a drover’s coat to cover this fine wool.” He fingered the lapel of Hal’s jacket, tailored for a gentleman and discovered by Hal in a secondhand store.

Julian stood so near, Hal felt the heat of his body and inhaled the scent of his shaving lotion. Did Julian mean to be intimidating? Probably, because he stared at Hal with the assessing eyes of judge, jury, and executioner.

When Julian at last stepped back, Hal took a deep breath. Unfortunately, the man wasn’t only a barrier to breach, he also unleashed attraction such as Hal hadn’t felt in a long time. Perhaps Julian sensed his desire and was baiting him to make an impulsive move.

But Hal wouldn’t reveal himself so foolishly. Nothing could come between him and the quiet, calm, comfortable life he craved. He must convince this doubting Thomas before he derailed Hal’s matrimonial plan.

Dear Readers,

I began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, I was the designated ghost tale teller guaranteed to frighten and thrill with macabre tales. I still have a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.

As an adult, I enjoy reading stories about people damaged by life who find healing with a like-minded soul. When I couldn’t find enough such books, I began to write them. Whether you’re a fan of contemporary historical or fantasy romance, you’ll find something to enjoy among my books.

To stay informed about new releases, please sign up for my newsletter. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter @Bonnie_Dee.

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Gorgeous Aussie setting for this mid 19th Century romance

The StationThe Station by Keira Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a re-release of one of Keira’s earlier historical novels and, like the rest, it’s heavily endowed with quality research and a real sense of place.

The place in this instance is Australia, in the mid 19th century when the British were still sending their criminals out to the ‘penal colony’ and where many settlers were able to make new lives for themselves.

This very much reminded me of the film starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman where she blazes a trail as a woman station owner in the Aussie outback – just with the addition of a gay couple.

And what a couple, Irish stable master Patrick was the perfect older man for the young aristocratic Colin as they struggled to deal with the harsh realities of a thousand mile journey across New South Wales.

I loved them both so much. Patrick doing his best to stay unconnected, Colin so enthusiastic to learn all he could from the older man. Their relationship slow burns its way through blow jobs, hand jobs and frotting until it eventually explodes in a beautifully tender first time.

This is a gorgeous example of how to do a historical romance.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Release Blitz: Lost In Time by A. L. Lester

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Cover Design: JM Snyder

Publisher: JMS Books

Length: 54,000 words approx.

The Gate (a FREE short story introducing the characters from Lost In Time)

Amazon US | Amazon US | JMS Books

 Blurb
Lew’s life is pleasantly boring until his friend Mira messes with magic she doesn’t understand. While searching for her, he is pulled back in time to 1919 by a catastrophic magical accident. As he tries to navigate a strange time and find his friend in the smoky music clubs of Soho, the last thing he needs is D etective Alec Carter suspecting him of murder.

London in 1919 is cold, wet, and tired from four years of war. Alec is back in the Metropolitan Police after slogging out his army service on the Western Front. Falling for a suspect in a gruesome murder case is not on his agenda, however attractive he finds the other man.

They are both floundering and out of their depth, struggling to come to terms with feelings they didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. Both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures, and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?


Author Bio
A. L. Lester likes to read. Her favorite books are post-apocalyptic dystopian romances full of suspense, but a cornflake packet will do there’s nothing else available. The gender of the characters she likes to read (and write) is pretty irrelevant so long as they are strong, interesting people on a journey of some kind.

She has a chaotic family life and small children, and she has become the person in the village who looks after the random animals people find in the road. She is interested in permaculture gardening and anything to do with books, reading, technology and history. She lives in a small village in rural Somerset and is seriously allergic to both rabbits and Minecraft.
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Another wonderful historical from Cat Sebastian

The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series, #3)The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Historical romances are one of my all time favourites and I can’t get enough of Cat Sebastian’s world of post Regency England shortly after the time of Waterloo.

In this one we have a brilliant frenemies to lovers tale which links back to the earlier two books through the ‘Mad Earl’ and his recently returned from exile young son and his reprobate uncle.

Enlisting the help of one of the Ton’s most proper gentlemen to help rehabilitate the rake, this story skirts through all the typical activities of the hoi polloi as Julian and Courtney desperately avoid falling in love.

While book one remains my favourite, this one comes in second as I absolutely adored the prim and proper Julian who was afraid he’d linger ill and alone all his days.

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Cover Reveal: Lost In Time by A.L. Lester

 Add to Goodreads

Pre-order: JMS Books

Cover Design: JM Snyder

Publisher: JMS Books

Length: 54,000 words approx.

The Gate (a FREE short story introducing the characters from Lost In Time) out December 23.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books

Blurb

Lew’s life is pleasantly boring until his friend Mira messes with magic she doesn’t understand. While searching for her, he is pulled back in time to 1919 by a catastrophic magical accident. As he tries to navigate a strange time and find his friend in the smoky music clubs of Soho, the last thing he needs is Detective Alec Carter suspecting him of murder.


London in 1919 is cold, wet, and tired from four years of war. Alec is back in the Metropolitan Police after slogging out his army service on the Western Front. Falling for a suspect in a gruesome murder case is not on his agenda, however attractive he finds the other man.


They are both floundering and out of their depth, struggling to come to terms with feelings they didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. Both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures, and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?

Author Bio

A. L. Lester likes to read. Her favorite books are post-apocalyptic dystopian romances full of suspense, but a cornflake packet will do there’s nothing else available. The gender of the characters she likes to read (and write) is pretty irrelevant so long as they are strong, interesting people on a journey of some kind.

She has a chaotic family life and small children, and she has become the person in the village who looks after the random animals people find in the road. She is interested in permaculture gardening and anything to do with books, reading, technology and history. She lives in a small village in rural Somerset and is seriously allergic to both rabbits and Minecraft

Website: http://www.allester.co.uk/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ALLester_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ALLesterAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/allesterauthor/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/A.-L.-Lester/e/B01MZ6R1QR/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/allester

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Release Blitz: The Mistletoe Kiss by Ruby Moone

 Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 26,600 words
 
Publisher: JMS Books
 Blurb



By 1816, widowed bookseller Lawrence Fenton has spent a lonely lifetime hiding who he is. He has convinced himself his feelings for his far too young, gorgeous, but troubled assistant Christy Shaw are nothing more than pride in his protégé and concern for his plight.


Christy’s life involves walking fine lines: one between his mother and his abusive stepfather, one where he must keep his needs hidden, and hardest of all, one where he must keep his feelings for his serious employer to himself.


Lame since birth, Lawrence cannot imagine anyone wanting him, least of all Christy. But when Christy’s life threatens to spiral out of control, Lawrence steps in. Then Christy’s emotions spill over into a kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas. Will Lawrence be able to face the long-buried truth about himself and keep Christy by his side?

 Author Bio

Ruby lives in Lancashire in the northwest of England. All through school she was told she would never get anywhere if she didn’t stop daydreaming. Eventually it occurred to her to write down the daydreams, and voilà! the beautiful men in her head came to life. Ruby writes historical and contemporary gay romance but has a definite weakness for handsome men in billowing white shirts, breeches, and cravats. Oh, and she loves tea. Lots of tea.

Facebook – Ruby Moone

Twitter – @RubyMooneWriter

Website and Blog – www.rubymoone.com

Email – rubymoone@gmail.com

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This historical is not for me unfortunately

Sweet WilliamSweet William by Dianne Hartsock

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a bit messy because there isn’t enough time for the story to develop and there’s a whole load of exposition thrown at the narrative.

It’s also a bit off for a historical in that William’s behaviour is wholly out of keeping for a man of his standing and the laws as they pertained to homosexuality at that time.
He’s reckless in his potential exposure of his nature and within the first few pages has been in compromising positions with three different men.

I’m afraid it just didn’t work for me as too many elements felt placed in just for the sake of it as a plot point rather than being an extension of where the story was going.

Both men felt too young as well, at aged 19 and 22 (if I worked it out correctly) for the positions they were in and the conclusion felt rushed. I believe this is a new edition of a previously published work but I’m unsure if anything has been added.

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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