Any Old Diamonds

Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1) by K.J. Charles: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR -Buddy Read with Adam

Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1)

Blurb:

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.

The Duke’s remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he’ll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec’s new best friend.

But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.

Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what’s between them…all without getting caught.

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4 Stars

There’s something so comforting about a K.J. Charles historical romance. Well, as comforting as intrigue, murder, jewel thieves, and filial retribution can be…which for me is as effective as a cozy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate. #content

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Lord Alexander has harbored rage for years after his family was turned away by his father, Duke Ilvar. The Duke and Duchess remain quite wealthy while their children live in poverty. With their anniversary coming soon, the Duke has commissioned a diamond parure for his wife and Lord Alexander (Alec) hires renowned jewel thieves to steal it.

Jewel thief, Jerry Crozier is unapologetic about his profession and instructs Alec that he must get in the good graces of the Duke and his wife. This is a really tough pill to swallow for Alec who has to alienate important people in his life to see the mission through. Part of the mission requires Jerry and Lord Alexander to become the very best of friends. The benefits they discover and partake in are strictly a bonus.

Jerry is harsh and doesn’t sugarcoat his past nor what he expects out of the present/future. Alec is independent but craves someone to take control in the bedroom (Jerry was good at doing control type things and let’s just say I was here for it). I do wish Jerry and Alec had more getting to know you moments instead of always hopping on the orgasm train… which isn’t totally a complaint but I wanted more. I could *see* some subtle moments during those intimate times, moving them closer together. Yet, I would have definitely welcomed more relational development.

The plot has a lot of moving pieces and I really like all the ground work that has to be laid in order to pull off the heist. There are lots of twists and turns along the way.

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Holy plot twist Batman. I also enjoyed the mentions of the Vanes and Cirencester from the Society series. Any Old Diamonds is not a touchy feely romance. It’s sexy, entertaining, gruesome, and suspenseful, with plot twists around every bend. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

The Bibliophile

The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

The Bibliophile

Blurb:
To toughen him up, Nathanial’s father has indentured him to a ranchman, Cayuse Jem, a large, raw-boned, taciturn man Nathanial’s father believes will help teach his son to “become a man.” Cut off from his books and the life he has always known, Nathanial is not only forced to co-exist with Cayuse Jem, but to truly get to know him. In doing so, Nathanial discovers there is more to this silent horseman than meets the eye. And, in the process, Nathanial also learns a few things about life, about human nature, and about the differences in being a man and a boy…

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4 Stars

Well, this one snuck up on me. My love for historical romance pushed me over the edge on choosing The Bibliophile and I’m glad. It’s a unique, nineteenth century story told through journal entries for one of the main characters, Nathanial. This style might not work for some and even though I would have liked some more perspective, I enjoyed it and moved right along from entry to entry.

Nathanial has been ordered to leave his studies and take his place as the only son beside his rich father to learn the family business. He’s an academic at heart and feels the most joy spending his days surrounded by books and having intellectual discussions on anything and everything. Unfortunately, Nathanial becomes indentured as a ranch hand to toughen him up and make him “a man.” Luck is shining down on him because he’s dropped off with Cayuse Jem, a huge, burly man that is the complete opposite of his father.

Cayuse, man of very few words, is a horse trainer with a very patient and gentle hand. He doesn’t believe in bending a horse or person to his will, but to coax them gently. He uses this approach with Nathanial from the first day which builds trust and a deeply meaningful connection. Cayuse slowly built him up after Nathanial’s father and grandmother spent years tearing him down.

There’s a sweetness to the relationship between Cayuse and Nathanial. Nathanial is a virgin in every way, including never being kissed. He finds safety and validation with Cayuse in just being his boy. During an era of reserved life, their relationship and love is simple and peaceful. Cayuse may be a man of few words but that doesn’t make what they have any less meaningful. There’s some erotic heat between the eager pupil Nathanial AKA Boy and Cayuse that helps get through some of the more difficult times.

The Bibliophile has relatively low angst for a M/M historical romance. The angst comes from other circumstances and a devastating loss to both men. The transition from indentured servant to lover was odd. I enjoyed the entries but would have liked Cayuse’s POV. We get to know him through Nathanial’s eyes but there’s so much missing. I think having that extra insight would have helped the transition not feel so abrupt when they become lovers and smoothed some of the other areas that lacked finesse.

Overall, I really enjoyed seeing Cayuse and Nathanial ride into the sunset with their HEA. Recommended for fans of historical romance and classic literature.

P.S. I clearly missed a TON of classics while taking Lit in HS/college because Nathanial is a lover of it all, references them throughout, and left me in the dust with anything beyond Shakespeare.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

The Replacement Husband

The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson: Review by Lost in a Book

The Replacement Husband

Blurb:

Goddess-blessed Owen Honeyfield is destined to enjoy perfect good fortune, and the arrival of handsome and eligible Tom Drake in his country town appears to be just the latest manifestation. Tom’s proposal is the fulfillment of Owen’s desires, but Owen is left heartbroken and at the mercy of Arthur, Tom’s disapproving elder brother, when his betrothal takes a disastrous turn. His reputation ruined and his bright future shattered, Owen must choose between loneliness and practicality.

Arthur Drake has taken responsibility for Tom’s scandalous behavior all their lives. He doesn’t think much of his brother’s engagement, knowing that even Owen’s sweetness won’t be enough to influence Tom for the better. When Tom’s impulsive selfishness threatens to ruin the lives of everyone involved, Arthur has only one honorable choice. He’ll need to repair the damage Tom has done and fight for his own happiness, knowing all the while he may never be able to take Tom’s place in Owen’s heart.

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4 Stars

This is the second M/M historical I’ve read by Eliot Grayson (I believe the second book they have released, too) and I’m a fan. The Replacement Husband isn’t a cookie cutter historical with having its goddess element and the ability for these main characters to be open about their relationship. The unique approach may be a negative for historical romance sticklers who prefer the secrecy and the heightened angst from societal and criminal implications when two men fall in love. However, all the readers that stay away from M/M for those very reasons may appreciate a historicalish romance where not only can two men be together, it’s accepted and celebrated.

As the blurb mentions, Owen is blessed by the goddess with great fortune, blessings, and a husband to live happily ever after with. He lives at home with his parents and waits to meet the one. The wrong one comes in the form of Tom Drake, a charming man with dazzling eyes and the inability to follow through. After Tom becomes engaged to Owen, a series of events take place and Tom’s brother Arthur has to pick up the pieces or Owen’s reputation is ruined.

Arthur, being nothing like his brother, begins to immediately fix the problems. Owen and Arthur’s tentative relationship grows into much more as they navigate their new life. There’s a lot of heat between the blushing virgin and growly Arthur. I adored Arthur with his commanding presence and his sweet nature towards those he loves. Owen is somewhat likable but also very much a pushover. I’m happy he finds his place with Arthur but wish he had more of a backbone when it comes to the other characters and the situations he falls in.

I was engaged throughout the story and appreciate that the goddess element isn’t a heavy focus. I wish the epilogue gave us more because we didn’t get a lot of time with Owen and Arthur together together on page outside of sex. Still, I felt warm and fuzzy at this lighthearted *historical* where love is love and men can marry men. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

New Release by Eliot Grayson

The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson is available now.

“This book will be available as part of the New Year, New Author giveaway on Prolific Works from December 28-January 3. There are 28 M/M authors participating, so check it out! It will be for sale and available in Kindle Unlimited starting on January 4.”

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Blurb:
Goddess-blessed Owen Honeyfield is destined to enjoy perfect good fortune, and the arrival of handsome and eligible Tom Drake in his country town appears to be just the latest manifestation. Tom’s proposal is the fulfillment of Owen’s desires, but Owen is left heartbroken and at the mercy of Arthur, Tom’s disapproving elder brother, when his betrothal takes a disastrous turn. His reputation ruined and his bright future shattered, Owen must choose between loneliness and practicality.

Arthur Drake has taken responsibility for Tom’s scandalous behavior all their lives. He doesn’t think much of his brother’s engagement, knowing that even Owen’s sweetness won’t be enough to influence Tom for the better.  When Tom’s impulsive selfishness threatens to ruin the lives of everyone involved, Arthur has only one honorable choice. He’ll need to repair the damage Tom has done and fight for his own happiness, knowing all the while he may never be able to take Tom’s place in Owen’s heart.

Buy Links:

Goodreads        Amazon

Author Links:

Prolific Works link for readers:
https://claims.prolificworks.com/gg/9et98E0aPrQNqVGv1kqG
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Band Sinister

Band Sinister by K.J. Charles: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Group read with fellow Unicorns, Adam and Chelsea

Band Sinister

Blurb:
Sir Philip Rookwood is the disgrace of the county. He’s a rake and an atheist, and the rumours about his hellfire club, the Murder, can only be spoken in whispers. (Orgies. It’s orgies.)
Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda live in rural seclusion after a family scandal. But when Amanda breaks her leg in a riding accident, she’s forced to recuperate at Rookwood Hall, where Sir Philip is hosting the Murder.
Guy rushes to protect her, but the Murder aren’t what he expects. They’re educated, fascinating people, and the notorious Sir Philip turns out to be charming, kind—and dangerously attractive.
In this private space where anything goes, the longings Guy has stifled all his life are impossible to resist…and so is Philip. But all too soon the rural rumour mill threatens both Guy and Amanda. The innocent country gentleman has lost his heart to the bastard baronet—but does he dare lose his reputation too?

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4ish Stars

Whoa! Anyone else have to reread the title page on this one just to make sure it was a KJC book? No murder? No angsty relational and/or time period peril? This is insanely lighthearted compared to her previous writes. It’s practically fit for teenage consumption if you throw a chasity belt on it. (Is that still a thing?) I couldn’t help comparing the feel of Band Sinister to her others and I think the Grinch KJ Charles’ heart has increased in size.

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Ok, so I’m a huge fan of KJC whether we are chasing antacids with alcohol just to get through the angst/death or this spoon full of sugar featuring Sir Phillip Rookwood and Guy Frisby. The blurb does a great job setting the stage for this story so let’s get this party started.

Rookwood and Frisby dislike each other greatly. It’s more of a my family has had awful interactions with yours and your family has ruined my family type dislike and not really between the two men. Unfortunately during that time period, past family shame is enough to cloud the rest of the generations. Much to Rookwood’s dismay, Frisby’s sister (Amanda) is injured on his property and will be recovering there for at least a fortnight. Guy is devastated about his sister’s injury and beside himself with the idea of staying in the same location as the Murder. Well, he is until the men of the house begin to seem actually human; kind, compassionate, sociable, and spirited.

Frisby becomes aware of Sir Phillip’s preferences and that sets off a sexual awakening long suppressed. Phillip is like a blood hound and is on the trail as soon as Frisby begins to question what he desires. The men get to know each other as Amanda heals and Phillip volunteers to teach Guy in all things pleasure.

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There’s some heat along the way with the MCs and the added spice of the other men in the house having the propensity to share. Throw in some family drama, town drama, a very lively Amanda, KJC’s trademark humor laced with snark, a HEA, and Band Sinister is an entertaining, low angst read. I have to mention that Amanda is a kick ass female character and I highly enjoyed when she was on page.

It took a bit of a time getting in the groove. Due to the slow start, I liked the second half more than the first. It was another enjoyable read by one of my favorite authors. I think I prefer the Tums and alcohol compared to the low angst sweetness but I can’t wait to read Corvin’s story and see him brought to his knees. I’ll definitely continue on if this is a series. Recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

 

Salt Magic, Skin Magic

Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch: Review by Lost in a Book

Salt Magic, Skin Magic

Blurb:

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray. When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

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4.25 Stars

Well, Well, Well. This is a captivating (and a tad gruesome) read. Sign me up for immediate membership into Lee Welch’s fan club. I’ll patiently await my official VIP card, please and thank you.

Lord Thornby is trapped on his father’s estate. Still. After being kept there somehow for well over a year, the days are bleeding together and he’s barely keeping a hold on his sanity. Thornby’s father and step-mother arrive back in town and there’s an increase in the already peculiar happenings taking place around the Yorkshire estate. Luckily, John Blake shows up to investigate some unexplainable magical happenings.

Thornby and Blake have an immediate dislike and are forced to work with each other to make sense of what is holding Lord Thornby hostage. Their dislike changes fairly quickly and a necessary companionship is formed. They have great chemistry, entertaining banter, lots of heat, and are frequent passengers on the orgasm express. Apparently danger turns them on…

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Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a historical paranormal romance that is very well done. I was enthralled from the very beginning and didn’t want to stop until the end. Once the plot picked up, I was on edge until the end. There are many PNR/fantasy elements taking place. Some of them made sense and other elements weren’t fully explained and left me wondering if it’s slightly lacking world building is setting up another book? I’d definitely read it.

I wanted to give it more stars but I needed more at the end. There’s a HFN but where do they go from here? That could be me just being picky but I didn’t feel completely settled at the end. Still, very enjoyable and definitely recommend.

Copy provided for honest review.

The Henchmen of Zenda

The Henchmen of Zenda by K.J. Charles: Reviewed by Lost in a Book.
Also reviewed on @BMBR.

Tag team with Adam

The Henchmen of Zenda

Blurb:

Swordfights, lust, betrayal, murder: just another day for a henchman.

Jasper Detchard is a disgraced British officer, now selling his blade to the highest bidder. Currently that’s Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. Michael wants the throne for himself, and Jasper is one of the scoundrels he hires to help him take it. But when Michael makes his move, things don’t go entirely to plan—and the penalty for treason is death.

Rupert of Hentzau is Michael’s newest addition to his sinister band of henchmen. Charming, lethal, and intolerably handsome, Rupert is out for his own ends—which seem to include getting Jasper into bed. But Jasper needs to work out what Rupert’s really up to amid a maelstrom of plots, swordfights, scheming, impersonation, desire, betrayal, and murder.

Nobody can be trusted. Everyone has a secret. And love is the worst mistake you can make.

A retelling of the swashbuckling classic The Prisoner of Zenda from a very different point of view.

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3.75 Stars

It’s official, I’ll absolutely read it if KJC writes it. The Henchmen of Zenda is an intriguing, snarky, ever changing ride with a psychopathic Duke, his hired swords, and never ending betrayals.

Please check out the warning KJC has issued on this book. It isn’t a romance but there are romantic-ish elements. There are smexy times and a very compatible pairing between the MCs. However, the romantic-ish elements should be classified as more of mutual understanding with open communication and a fond unconventional companionship.

Jasper Detchard and Rupert of Hentzau are working side by side as hired swords for Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. They immediately dislike each other as Hentzau is social with a zest for life that Jasper finds infuriating. Their wit and challenges soon turn to a partnership with benefits as they work under Elphberg and around the schemes to unseat a future king.

The plot shifts constantly throughout as circumstances change and alliances are made. I’ve never read The Prisoner of Zenda and will say that this version is definitely not for the squeamish. There is a trigger warning for abuse of a secondary character. There are also many murders that take place in detail.

The beginning and end of the story are fast paced and captivating. There was a lull throughout the middle that took a bit longer to get through but the quality of writing never falters. I appreciate the strong representation with the women characters and the support of them by the MCs. Obviously I would have liked more romantic elements because I like a side of *swoon* with my reads. However, that’s on me since we are clearly warned. I’m glad I took a chance and recommend it for those that love historical adventure.

Kidnapped by the Pirate

Kidnapped by the Pirate by Keira Andrews: Review by Lost in a Book

Kidnapped by the Pirate

Blurb:

Will a virgin captive surrender to this pirate’s sinful touch?

Nathaniel Bainbridge is used to hiding, whether it’s concealing his struggles with reading or his forbidden desire for men. Under the thumb of his controlling father, the governor of Primrose Isle, he’s sailing to the fledging colony, where he’ll surrender to a respectable marriage for his family’s financial gain. Then pirates strike and he’s kidnapped for ransom by the Sea Hawk, a legendary villain of the New World.

Bitter and jaded, Hawk harbors futile dreams of leaving the sea for a quiet life, but men like him don’t deserve peace. He has a score to settle with Nathaniel’s father—the very man whose treachery forced him into piracy—and he’s sure Nathaniel is just as contemptible.

Yet as days pass in close quarters, Nathaniel’s feisty spirit and alluring innocence beguile and bewitch. Although Hawk knows he must keep his distance, the desire to teach Nathaniel the pleasure men can share grows uncontrollable. It’s not as though Hawk would ever feel anything for him besides lust…

Nathaniel realizes the fearsome Sea Hawk’s reputation is largely invented, and he sees the lonely man beneath the myth, willingly surrendering to his captor body and soul. As a pirate’s prisoner, he is finally free to be his true self. The crew has been promised the ransom Nathaniel will bring, yet as danger mounts and the time nears to give him up, Hawk’s biggest battle could be with his own heart.

This May-December gay romance from Keira Andrews features classic tropes including: a tough alpha pirate too afraid to love, a plucky virgin captive half his age, enemies to lovers, first-time sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending. 85,000 words.

 

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4.25 stars

There’s just something about pirates that make me want to sail away on the open seas with my very own badass, sword swinging side piece. I’ll just have to settle for being a fly on the wall as Captain Hawk and Nathaniel come together and then come together.

Please check out the blurb because it does a great job explaining the premise of the story in detail about Captain Hawk, the score he wants the settle, and how it relates to Nathaniel.

I really enjoyed this story about a Captain that secretly wants peace and a sheltered Nathaniel that has only ever known what it’s like to be deemed a failure. The men are drawn to each other from the very beginning even though Nathaniel is treated as a prisoner. He has a sweet and eager demeanor that slowly breaks down the hardened Captain.

Kidnapped by the Pirate is entertaining, enthralling, and has a list of elements that would make me one-click. Bonus is that it’s all very well delivered. We have pirates, submission, an age-gap, sexual discovery, historical setting (FYI- not historically accurate), angst, and enemies to lovers all within the pages of incredible world building and well fleshed primary and secondary characters. Let’s not forget the sexy times.

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Captain Hawk and Nathaniel’s transition from enemies to lovers is realistic and the HEA is hard fought and well deserved. The epilogue is sugary sweet but still left me giddy AF.

I listened the audio version of this and was very happy with the narration. Cornell Collins did a great job bringing all the characters to life and I would definitely listen to another audio narrated by him.

Definitely recommended.

Think of England

Think of England by KJ Charles: Review by Lost in a Book

Think of England (Think of England, #1)

Blurb:

Lie back and think of England…

England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.

Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.

As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.

As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…

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4 Stars

Well, this was gruesome with a game of Clue vibe. Was it Colonel Mustard in the study with a lead pipe?

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Not so much. But, it did have suspense, intrigue, and a side of romance. Captain Archie Curtis is on the hunt for clues after a military incident gone tragically wrong. He ends up at a country house full of other guests with seemingly gracious hosts. It’s there he meets Daniel da Silva, another house guest. Daniel is unapologetically campy with a poets heart and a badass set of skills. I LOVE him. Seriously, he has a Julius’-esque (from KJC’s Society of Gentlemen series) fierceness with a brand of snark that could be dressed up as something that sounded sweet, but only someone with at least half a brain would understand the razor sharp cut of his remarks. Brilliant.

Curtis and Daniel together is FIYAHHHHHH. The Captain has gone through life without exploring his sexuality and is able to have a glorious awakening at the hands of Daniel. There is some romance in Think of England but it isn’t the focus. It has a solid HFN that I believed with very likable characters. One more time for Daniel. *purrs*

As I mentioned above, this story is gruesome and with many parts that had me wishing for a Xanax with a side of wine. It took a tad longer for me to read because I *knew* something was going to happen and if I continued, I would need to sleep with the light on.

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Fine!! I did it and liked it… even if I needed some warm milk and a blanket to soothe my nerves and missing fingernails. It got intense. Thankfully the romance let me catch my breath. One thing I’ve noticed time and time from KJC is her ability write strong main and secondary characters. She doesn’t have to take away the women’s backbones in her stories to prop up the men. Just like she doesn’t have to have one doormat male to make the other seem more masculine or strong. Everyone is able to stand on their own but it’s always better to have people at your back. It’s absolutely refreshing to see this translate in her books every time. The non-villianous women and the MCs in Think of England were legit with steel backbones that left me smiling.

Definitely recommended for fans of suspense and historical romance.

New Release & Giveaway for Bed of Flowers

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Bed of Flowers by Erin Satie is LIVE!  First in a new series, Sweetness and Light.

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About Bed of Flowers:

Bonny Reed is beautiful, inside and out.

A loyal friend and loving daughter, she’s newly engaged to her small town’s most eligible bachelor. She’s happy for herself—but mostly for her family, who need the security her marriage will bring.

An old enemy shatters her illusions.

First Baron Loel cost Bonny’s family her fortune. Now he’s insisting that her fiancé has hidden flaws, secrets so dark that—if she believed him—she’d have to call off the wedding.

How will she choose?

When the truth comes out, Bonny will have to choose between doing what’s right and what’s easy. Between her family and her best friend. And hardest of all—between her honor and the love of a man who everyone wants her to hate.

Get your copy today:

Amazon      iBooks      Google Play      Kobo      Barnes & Noble

 

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Excerpt #1:

This is from Loel’s perspective; he’s just kissed Bonny’s wrist.

“You know that you are beautiful,” he said.
She began to shake her head, but he didn’t wait for her to contradict him. He would not offer the courtesy of pretense.
“I do not think you understand how beautiful.” How could she? She’d never seen much of the world. He’d circled the globe and he’d never met another woman who could compare. “If you wanted a husband who would prostrate himself at your feet and worship you, you would have no trouble finding one. If you demanded this of him every day of your married life, year after year until his knees crumbled to dust, he would still get down on those ruined knees to thank God that you chose him.”
Miss Reed tittered. “Don’t be absurd.”
He was dead serious and she knew that, too. “If Charles Gavin has convinced you that he is your equal, he is a liar. When you chose him, it was an act of grace.”

Excerpt #2:

Loel has been sick and Bonny has been nursing him back to health. He’s finally recovering and now that he can think straight, he realizes that he shouldn’t be all alone in his greenhouse with an unmarried woman. (They’re in a greenhouse because it’s warm, and because he raises orchids for a living).

“You shouldn’t be here,” said Loel.
Bonny abandoned the lever pump with the water tank only half full. She’d fought her family and she’d been ready to defend herself against the whole town of New Quay—all for Lord Loel. Who, it turned out, also wanted her to go.
“As you like.” She snatched up her things and waved at the basket. “That’s for you. It should see you through the day and perhaps most of tomorrow. Best of luck for a speedy recovery.”
“Wait.”
Bonny flicked him a scathing glance. He’d work himself to exhaustion, fall over—probably hit his head on the way down—and lapse back into a fever. And he’d deserve it.
“I’m thinking of you,” he said.
“You and everyone else.” Bonny’s anger cooled. Without it, she was just… tired. “But I was thinking of you.”
“Well, stop.” He covered his face with his hands, breathing hard. “Did I ask for your regard? Did I invite it?”
“No.” Quite the opposite, actually. In the beginning, she’d intruded and he’d chased her away. Their encounters had proceeded more or less according to the same template ever since.
And yet she would have sworn that he was fond of her.
“Would you be more comfortable if I fetched you some clothes?” she asked. “If you tell me where—”
“Go.” His head sank further toward his lap. “Please.”
Bonny sank down to her knees. Something like curiosity drove her, a nagging conviction that she was on the verge of an important discovery. She gently pulled Lord Loel’s hands away from his face.
The torment she read in his expression startled her. He’d been sick and now he was nearly better. He ought to be happy.
“You’re upset. Why?”
“Because your kindness is wasted on me.”
“How? You’re better, aren’t you?”
“At what cost to you?” He grimaced. “Who will punish you for helping me? How? Miss Reed—”
“That doesn’t matter when your very life was hanging in the balance—”
“It matters to me.”
His anger was real and it had increased since her arrival. The harsh tone, the urgent delivery—he meant every word. And yet Bonny’s impression that she was listening to a foreign language that she only vaguely understood had increased in perfect tandem.
She might have remained confused forever if something bright hadn’t drawn her attention to the roof of the glasshouse. A ray of light caught on the dirt-clouded glass, then fractured into a brilliant sparkle. Bonny tipped her face up to the sky, attentive to this small miracle of nature for precisely the length of time required to identify, categorize, and dismiss it: just the sun cresting the horizon, dawn breaking into day, nothing to be concerned about.
She looked down, problem solved, and caught Lord Loel staring at her mouth. Hotly, fixedly, with a heat that struck an answering chord in her.
Oh, she thought, wondering how she’d been so stupid. Now I understand.
And she kissed him.

 

 

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About Erin Satie:

Erin Satie is the author of the dark and elegant No Better Angels series of historical romances set in the early Victorian period. She’s currently hard at work on her new series, Sweetness and Light.

Erin is a California native who’s lived on the coasts and in the heartland, in tiny city apartments and on a working farm. She studied art history in both college and graduate school—research is always her favorite part of starting a new book.

Her favorite part of finishing a book, whether reading or writing, is the happily ever after.

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