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I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Wish List 5: Presidential Biographies

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Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme.  I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  I had a goal to read a non-fiction book on each President and First Lady (where they exist).  Each year more and more come out and go on my list (even for those I have already read books on).  Sadly, I’ve been REALLY slacking on my reading in this category.  Hopefully this will change that.

The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century by Scott Miller

the president and the assassinA SWEEPING TALE OF TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY AMERICA AND THE IRRESISTIBLE FORCES THAT BROUGHT TWO MEN TOGETHER ONE FATEFUL DAY

In 1901, as America tallied its gains from a period of unprecedented imperial expansion, an assassin’s bullet shattered the nation’s confidence. The shocking murder of President William McKinley threw into stark relief the emerging new world order of what would come to be known as the American Century. The President and the Assassin is the story of the momentous years leading up to that event, and of the very different paths that brought together two of the most compelling figures of the era: President William McKinley and Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who murdered him.

The two men seemed to live in eerily parallel Americas. McKinley was to his contemporaries an enigma, a president whose conflicted feelings about imperialism reflected the country’s own. Under its popular Republican commander-in-chief, the United States was undergoing an uneasy transition from a simple agrarian society to an industrial powerhouse spreading its influence overseas by force of arms. Czolgosz was on the losing end of the economic changes taking place—a first-generation Polish immigrant and factory worker sickened by a government that seemed focused solely on making the rich richer. With a deft narrative hand, journalist Scott Miller chronicles how these two men, each pursuing what he considered the right and honorable path, collided in violence at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

Along the way, readers meet a veritable who’s who of turn-of-the-century America: John Hay, McKinley’s visionary secretary of state, whose diplomatic efforts paved the way for a half century of Western exploitation of China; Emma Goldman, the radical anarchist whose incendiary rhetoric inspired Czolgosz to dare the unthinkable; and Theodore Roosevelt, the vainglorious vice president whose 1898 charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba is but one of many thrilling military adventures recounted here.

Rich with relevance to our own era, The President and the Assassin holds a mirror up to a fascinating period of upheaval when the titans of industry grew fat, speculators sought fortune abroad, and desperate souls turned to terrorism in a vain attempt to thwart the juggernaut of change.


Grant by Ron Chernow

grantPulitzer Prize-winner and biographer of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and John D. Rockefeller, Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most complicated generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant.

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and inept businessman, fond of drinking to excess; or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War; or as a credulous and hapless president whose tenure came to symbolize the worst excesses of the Gilded Age. These stereotypes don't come close to capturing adequately his spirit and the sheer magnitude of his monumental accomplishments. A biographer at the height of his powers, Chernow has produced a portrait of Grant that is a masterpiece, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had been dismal, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War, he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in the Civil War, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the Battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee after a series of unbelievably bloody battles in Virginia. Along the way Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. His military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff. All the while Grant himself remained more or less above reproach. But, more importantly, he never failed to seek freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him 'the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race." After his presidency, he was again brought low by a trusted colleague, this time a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, but he resuscitated his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.

With his famous lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as "nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero." His probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.


The Lost Founding Father: John Quincy Adams and the Transformation of American Politics by William J. Cooper Jr.

the lost founding fatherWhy has John Quincy Adams been largely written out of American history when he is, in fact, our lost Founding Father?

Overshadowed by both his brilliant father and the brash and bold Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams has long been dismissed as hyper-intellectual. Viciously assailed by Jackson and his populist mobs for being both slippery and effete, Adams nevertheless recovered from the malodorous 1828 presidential election to lead the nation as a lonely Massachusetts congressman in the fight against slavery. Now, award-winning historian William J. Cooper insightfully demonstrates that Adams should be considered our lost Founding Father, his moral and political vision the final link to the great visionaries who created our nation. With his heroic arguments in the Amistad trial forever memorialized, a fearless Adams stood strong against the Jacksonian tide, the Gag Rule, and the expansion of slavery that would send the nation hurtling into war. This game-changing biography reveals Adams to be one of the most battered but courageous and inspirational politicians in American history.

Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America's Destiny by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager

Andrew JacksonWhen the British fought the young United States during the War of 1812, they knew that taking the mouth of the Mississippi River was the key to crippling their former colony. Capturing the city of New Orleans and stopping trade up the river sounded like a simple task--New Orleans was far away from Washington, out of sight and out of mind for the politicians.

What the British didn't count on was the power of General Andrew Jackson. A formidable military leader with a grudge against the British and a heart for the common man, he rallied the divided inhabitants of New Orleans, bringing together Frenchmen, Native Americans, freed slaves, pirates, and Kentucky woodsmen.
In their now trademark fashion, Kilmeade and Yaeger will trace the development of Jackson's character and bring the reader to the scenes of one of the most pivotal--and surprising--battles in American history.


President McKinley: Architect of the American Century by Robert W. Merry

president mckinleyIn this great American story, acclaimed historian Robert Merry resurrects the presidential reputation of William McKinley, which loses out to the brilliant and flamboyant Theodore Roosevelt who succeeded him after his assassination. He portrays McKinley as a chief executive of consequence whose low place in the presidential rankings does not reflect his enduring accomplishments and the stamp he put on the country’s future role in the world.

Republican President William McKinley in his two terms as president (1897 – 1901) transformed America. He established the US as an imperial power. Although he does not register large in either public memory or in historians’ rankings, in this revealing account, Robert W. Merry unfolds the mystery of how this bland man managed so much powerful change.

McKinley settled decades of monetary controversy by taking the country to a strict gold standard; in the Spanish-American war he kicked Spain out of the Caribbean and liberated Cuba from Spain; in the Pacific he acquired Hawaii and the Philippines through war and diplomacy; he developed the doctrine of “fair trade”; forced the “Open Door” to China; forged our “special relationship” with Great Britain. In short, he established the non-colonial imperialism that took America into global preeminence. He expanded executive power and managed public opinion through his quiet manipulation of the press. McKinley paved the way for the bold and flamboyant leadership of his famous successor, Teddy Roosevelt, who built on his accomplishments (and got credit for them).

Merry writes movingly about McKinley’s admirable personal life, from his simple Midwestern upbringing to his Civil War heroism to his brave comportment just moments before his death by assassination (it was only six months into his second term when he was shot). Lively, definitive, and eye-opening, President McKinley resurrects this overlooked president and places him squarely on the list of one of the most important.


Are you interested in other Presidential biographies?

Wish List 5
Becoming George                 Lincoln                     Wilson              
Washington                 ★★★½☆☆                 ★★★★☆      
★★★★☆                                                                          


If you are looking to add more books to your list, here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month: (to be updated as they go live)

  • Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede –
  • Colleen @ A Literary Vacation –
  • Erin @ Flashlight Commentary –
  • Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books –
  • Stephanie @ Layered Pages –

keep calm and support book bloggers



Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cover Crush: A Dinner to Die For

Cover Crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

a dinner to die for

Not only is this a big building (and it obviously is the home of someone in society) but the colors are what grabbed my eye.  I can’t tell if that is traces of snow on the ground and building or just wear and tear on an old, somewhat shabby building.  I love it though!  And it definitely gives off the vibe of a mystery novel.  Also, you should check out the covers of this entire series if, like me, you love covers with big, beautiful buildings on them!

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (To be updated after they go live)

keep calm and support book bloggers




Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Series Highlight: Maggie Hope Mysteries by Susan Elia MacNeal

-the Maggie Hope Mystery series-

About the Maggie Hope Mystery Series

Maggie Hope: An American-born math whiz living in London works as a codebreaker and spy during WWII, aiding Britain in the war against the Nazis.

Titles in the Maggie Hope Mystery Series

mr churchills secretary
Book 1: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary
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May 1940. As England stands alone against imminent Nazi invasion, betrayal and treachery threaten to bring her down from within.

Maggie Hope, a young American in London, finds work as a secretary to the newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill. When the P.M. is threatened by assassination, Maggie is thrown into the worlds of spies, secret agents, code-breaking and betrayal. As she searches for her missing father, she finds herself in the center of a conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister and destroy England.

Racing from the damp streets of London to the hallowed halls of Trinity College to the code-breakers’ huts of Bletchley Park, Maggie struggles with the brute realities of a world at war. She penetrates the heart of an undercover spy ring and, despite revelations of the most horrific kind, carries out one of the war’s most deadly missions.

princess elizabeth's spy
Book 2: Princess Elizabeth’s Spy
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The saga of Maggie Hope continues when MI-5 sends her undercover as a tutor to Windsor Castle, to protect the young Princess Elizabeth, England’s future queen.

When Princess Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting is murdered, Maggie realizes the threat must come from someone inside the castle walls and does everything in her power to protect the (often willful) princess, while searching for clues, mastering royal etiquette, and navigating the upstairs-downstairs nature of a tutor’s role in the castle hierarchy.

his majesty's hope
Book 3: His Majesty’s Hope
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Maggie embarks on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive — a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad — and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war — and of her own past. 

the prime ministers secret agent
Book 4: The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent
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World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow—including one of Maggie’s dearest friends—Maggie partners with MI-5 to uncover the truth behind their unusual symptoms. What she finds points to a series of poisonings that may expose shocking government secrets and put countless British lives at stake. But it’s the fight brewing in the Pacific that will forever change the course of the war—and indelibly shape Maggie’s fate.

mrs roosevelt's confidante
Book 5: Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante
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December 1941. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C., along with special agent Maggie Hope. Posing as his typist, she is accompanying the prime minister as he meets with President Roosevelt to negotiate the United States’ entry into World War II. When one of the First Lady’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into Mrs. Roosevelt’s inner circle — as ER herself is implicated in the crime. Maggie knows she must keep the investigation quiet, so she employs her unparalleled skills at code breaking and espionage to figure out who would target Mrs. Roosevelt, and why. What Maggie uncovers is a shocking conspiracy that could jeopardize American support for the war and leave the fate of the world hanging dangerously in the balance.

the queens accomplice
Book 6: The Queen’s Accomplice
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England, 1942. The Nazis’s relentless Blitz may have paused, but London’s nightly blackouts continue. Now, under the cover of darkness, a madman is brutally killing and mutilating young women in eerie and exact re-creations of Jack the Ripper’s crimes. What’s more, he’s targeting women who are reporting for duty to be Winston Churchill’s spies and saboteurs abroad. The officers at MI-5 quickly realize they need the help of special agent Maggie Hope to find the killer dubbed “the Blackout Beast.” A trap is set. But once the murderer has his sights on Maggie, not even Buckingham Palace can protect the resourceful spy from her fate.

the paris spy
Book 7: The Paris Spy
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Maggie Hope has come a long way since serving as a typist for Winston Churchill. Now she’s working undercover for the Special Operations Executive in the elegant but eerily silent city of Paris, where SS officers prowl the streets in their Mercedes and the Ritz is draped with swastika banners. Walking among the enemy is tense and terrifying, and even though she’s disguised in chic Chanel, Maggie can’t help longing for home.

But her missions come first. Maggie’s half sister, Elise, has disappeared after being saved from a concentration camp, and Maggie is desperate to find her — that is, if Elise even wants to be found. Equally urgent, Churchill is planning the Allied invasion of France, and SOE agent Erica Calvert has been captured, the whereabouts of her vital research regarding Normandy unknown. Maggie must risk her life to penetrate powerful circles and employ all her talents for deception and spycraft to root out a traitor, find her sister, and locate the reports crucial to planning D-Day in a deadly game of wits with the Nazi intelligence elite.

About the Author

susan elia macneal

Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of The New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series, starting with the Edgar Award-nominated and Barry Award-winning Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, which is now in its 22nd printing. She is currently at work on The Prisoner in the Castle, the eighth novel in the series.

Her books include Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, His Majesty’s Hope, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante, The Queen’s Accomplice, and The Paris Spy. The Maggie Hope novels have been nominated for the Edgar, the Macavity, the ITW Thriller, the Barry, the Dilys, the Sue Federer Historical Fiction, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Fiction awards. The Maggie Hope series is sold worldwide in English and has been translated into Czech, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Turkish. It is also available in large print and audio. Actress Daisy Ridley (Star Wars, Murder on the Orient Express) has bought the film and television rights to the series.

Susan graduated from Nardin Academy in Buffalo New York, and also cum laude and with honors in English from Wellesley College. She cross-registered for courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Harvard University. Her first job was as the assistant to novelist John Irving in Vermont. She then worked as an editorial assistant at Random House, assistant editor at Viking Penguin, and associate editor and staff writer at Dance Magazine in New York City. As a freelance writer, she wrote two non-fiction books and for the publications of New York City Ballet.

Susan is married and lives with her husband, Noel MacNeal, a television performer, writer, and director, and their son in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Find Susan Elia MacNeal: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook




Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Review:The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam

02_The Lost Season of Love and Snow
The Lost Season of Love and Snow
by Jennifer Laam
e-Book, 352 pages
St. Martin’s Press
January 2, 2018
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.

At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects. It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin.

Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible.

What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death. With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court.

I always find novels set in Russia to be refreshing – a bit of history that I am least familiar with and it always presents a new time period or historical figure to me that I know nothing about. The fact that a historical novel is set in Russia will give me immediate interest in picking it up to learn more. More than simply bringing me a new historical figure, Laam brings a literary figure who I know nothing but the name coming into the reading experience – Alexander Pushkin. I also love novels that look at an event from a distinctly female perspective, especially when it is one that tends to be male driven.

In some ways this book reminds me a bit of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner. A female character, this time one that isn’t that well known, who is reviled for her actions and she is trying to sort of set the record straight with her side of the story. Natalya has her own set of circumstances that she is up against from the beginning, her goals don’t exactly align with those of her mother or sisters, and she has to push back to get what she wants. I found her enjoyment of the literary things in life to be something that I could particularly connect with and I was able to quickly understand who she was.

Jennifer Laam’s writing is beautiful. It flows naturally from one thought or scene into the next effortlessly. I felt I was on a constant wave throughout my time spent with the book, being continually pushed forward. You can easily get caught up in the whirlwind of it all. The Russia of that time brilliantly came to life right from the pages and enveloped me in that world.

I have Laam’s other two novels and I am sliding them higher up the TBR pile based on my experience with The Lost Season of Love and Snow.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Also by Jennifer Laam:

the secret daughter of the tsar
The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

the tsarinas legacy
The Tsarina’s Legacy

Find Jennifer Laam: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


Tour Wide Giveaway

As part of the tour I have the opportunity to share the Tour Wide Giveaway.  Up for grabs are 2 paperback copies of The Lost Season of Love and Snow! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.  If you have any questions please contact the HFVBT tour coordinator. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to US only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


Lost Season of Love and Snow


Follow the Tour!

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On the HFVBT Website or on Twitter: #TheLostSeasonofLoveandSnowBlogTour

Monday, January 8
Review at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, January 9
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, January 10
Review at Creating Herstory

Thursday, January 11
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, January 12
Feature at Passages to the Past

Monday, January 15
Review at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, January 17
Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, January 18
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Review at Just One More Chapter




Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cover Crush: Murder on Christmas Eve

Cover Crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

murder on christmas eve

It has been well established through this series that I LOVE covers with big, old houses on them.  Add to that the beauty of the snow on the trees and garden and I’m right there!  Not my typical genre, but this cover is a beauty!

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (to be updated as they go live)

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Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Book Alert: Earl Interrupted by Amanda Forester–Excerpt & Giveaway

CVR Earl Interrupted
Earl Interrupted by Amanda Forester
Book 2 in the Daring Marriages series
e-Book & Mass Market Paperback; 386 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca
January 2, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:

After restoring his fortune as a notorious privateer, Captain Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, goes to London in search of a bride. Instead, he finds unexpected dangers and unknown assailants. He is shot and left for dead. Life on the high seas was far calmer.

Enter Miss Emma St. James. She may appear sweet and demure, but she quickly proves herself to be equal to any challenge, including saving Darington’s life. Just when Darington is sure he has found his perfect bride, she reveals she’s betrothed to another.

Now things REALLY start to get complicated…

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | RJ Julia

Earl Interrupted graphic 2

I have a wonderful “first kiss” excerpt for you today!

“First sailed at twelve, joined right after my father’s death. First tour saw action at the Nile with Nelson,” said Darington in his understated manner.

“You were with Nelson at such a young age? Why, you are quite the hero,” exclaimed Emma.

“I ran powder. Tried not to get shot.”

“An admirable goal. I fully support it!”

Dare turned back to her with warm eyes. “Considering my recent experience, I quite agree.” His dark features gleamed a roguish enchantment in the moonlight.

A shiver ran down her spine.

Dare shrugged out of his greatcoat and, ignoring her murmurs of protest, put it around her shoulders. The heavy wool coat was warm from his own heat and stoked a fire within her. His scent lingered and she breathed deeply, feeling a little giddy at being draped in his coat as if wrapped in his arms.

“You should keep your coat. It is cold and you are still recovering,” Emma protested.

Dare gave her another of his shrugs and stepped close to her, reaching into the pocket of his coat that was wrapped around her. “This is for you.” He held out his hand, revealing a small, white shell.

Surprised, Emma took the small shell from his hand. It had a light gray, curved outside shell and a glossy, smooth, pink surface within. She looked up at him, wondering its significance. He continued to stare at her with an expectant air. She wished she understood the meaning of the gesture.

“Thank you.”

“It is for you,” he explained. “A gift. There are no flowers in January and your guardian is not present so…”

“Oh! A gift for me?” Emma realized this was his attempt at wooing her and her heart cracked open. “But how did you…? Please do not tell me you walked all the way to the beach to find me a shell.” She looked down from the edge of the cliff to the beach below.

“I confess Jonathan assisted me.”

“But you should not attempt such a thing. You are still recovering.”

“You said the purpose of the gift was not the object but the effort involved in the giving.”

“Oh, Dare!”

“Did I do it right?” The earnestness in his eyes made her heart ache.

“Yes, yes, you did it very well. Thank you. I will cherish it always.”

“Good.” Dare opened his mouth to say something but turned away instead, staring out over the ocean. She could not begin to guess his thoughts. Without his greatcoat, he appeared thin and lonely in the pale light, leaning on his walking stick.

Clearly, he had not given up his attempt to convince her to marry him. She would never take advantage of the situation to accept an offer made only out of obligation, but what if his heart had been truly touched? He certainly had gone to great effort. Would he act the same way out of a sense of honor? Given what Emma knew of the enigmatic man before her, he probably would.

Though she was already standing next to him, she stepped closer. “I must insist you take back your coat. I do not wish you to catch cold in your condition. And truly, you should rest.”

“No, no, my condition is very well, thanks to you.”

“But that does not mean you should freeze. Here, take back your coat. I am very warm, I assure you.” She stepped forward and attempted to place the coat back around his shoulders.

“No, I insist you keep it,” he protested, trying to keep the coat around her. Somehow, they ended up with one shoulder of the coat on him and one on her, standing so close their bodies brushed against one another.

Emma froze at the contact, looking up at the dark eyes of the Earl of Darington. His eyes burned with a fierce intensity, his lips parted. His dark look was similar to when he had defended her from the highwaymen. This was the true Darington. He kept a calm, distant facade, but raging beneath the surface was something wild and dangerous. Her heart pounded, but instead of pulling away, she pressed closer.

He slowly wrapped his arms around her, inside of the greatcoat, pulling her closer to him. Her hands flew to his chest, but she did not push him away. Without a word, he slowly lowered his head. He stopped just inches away from her lips. She waited, the air between them crackling with anticipation. Was he going to kiss her? Was he going to come so close and not kiss her? Waiting was agony.

Swiftly, he put an end to the debate and claimed her mouth with his. His lips pressed against hers and he pulled her closer, parting her lips with his tongue and deepening the kiss. Emma reached up and wrapped her hands around his neck, holding on tightly as her heart soared. She had never experienced anything like the sensation of kissing Darington. It was like flying, though her feet never left the ground.

When they finally parted, they both took deep breaths. His great coat slid to the ground, forgotten. She was certainly more than warm now. When his hand slid away from her waist, she noticed that it trembled.

“Forgive me,” he murmured, turning to face the crashing waves once more, holding his hands rigidly behind his back.

Emma took several more breaths before attempting speech. “That was…” She had not the words to describe it.

“An imposition on your person,” finished Dare without turning to her.

“No, no, that was not what I was going to say.”

“It was not?” He turned to her, a note of hope in his voice.

“No,” she replied firmly. “That was…quite remarkable.”

amanda forester

AMANDA FORESTER holds a PhD and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing novels was decidedly more fun. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. Amanda lives near Seattle, WA.

Find Amanda Forester: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

 
Tour Wide Giveaway!

As part of this tour, I am happy to be able to present the tour wide giveaway.  This giveaway is for one of FIVE copies of If the Earl Only Knew, book 1 in the Daring Marriages series!  If you have any questions please contact the tour coordinator.  Entries are made via the Rafflecopter below or on any of the participating sites.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: The Duke of Ice by Darcy Burke

duke of ice
The Duke of Ice
by Darcy Burke
Book 7 of The Untouchables series
ARC, e-Book, 262 pages
Darcy Burke Publishing
December 26, 2017
★★★★☆
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Heat Rating:
3 flames

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received from Publicist for Review

Everyone Nicholas Bateman ever loved has died. Except Violet Caulfield, which must mean he never loved her. Nine years after she threw him over to marry a viscount, Nick is a widowed duke who prefers isolation. When a friend convinces him to leave his lair of self-imposed solitude, he considers taking another wife, provided she agrees to his terms: no emotional attachment of any kind.

Now widowed, Lady Violet Pendleton hopes for a second chance with the man she’s always loved. But she isn’t prepared for the desolation in his soul or the animosity he still bears toward her. Despite those obstacles, it’s clear their passion hasn’t dimmed. However, the heat between them isn’t enough to melt the Duke of Ice, and this time Violet may find herself the jilted party. Can love, once so tragically lost, finally be found?

You certainly can see why Nick is nicknamed the Duke of Ice in this book! All of the male characters in the Untouchables series have had the qualities of their names, but Nick certainly fully inhabited his! Due to this in part, I found it a lot harder to get into this relationship than I have in other Untouchables books. I really didn’t like him that much throughout much of the book, and even later on, I liked him, but didn’t love him. While that might normally be something that would bring down my enjoyment of a romance novel, in this case it felt right specifically because he is supposed to be stand-offish. Violet on the other had I did like. Both of them suffered bad things in their past, but she chooses to move beyond that and be happy, which is my personal perspective on life. This is a story of second chances, resolving misunderstandings, and moving beyond what you think fate has dealt you. In some ways, it’s even about third or fourth chances. Can they change enough to be able to be together? Are these stumbling blocks too big to overcome?

I enjoyed reading about the house party that is held throughout the first half of the novel. I don’t think that I have read many books that have a large group of people staying for multiple weeks at a country estate, so it was fun to see the types of things that they would have done to occupy themselves.

This book also heavily introduced the two main love interests that will be in the next book in this series, The Duke of Ruin. Typically they are just passing characters, but events in this novel will have a significant impact in the next book based on the book description. I really enjoyed these characters (possibly more than Nick and Violet) and look forward to meeting them again and seeing where life takes them.

The romance factor here was hot enough. As this is a story of second chances, we are treated to romance flashbacks as well as on the current timeline. It was interesting to see how they have changed based on life’s circumstances, but are still the same in many of the ways that matter.

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Also by Darcy Burke:

Other titles in this series include:

the forbidden duke
The Forbidden Duke
(Book 1)

the duke of daring
The Duke of Daring
(Book 2)

the duke of deception
The Duke of Deception
(Book 3)
[My Review]

duke of desire
The Duke of Desire
(Book 4)
[My Review]

duke of defiance
The Duke of Defiance
(Book 5)
[My Review]

the duke of danger
The Duke of Danger
(Book 6)

Burke%2c Darcy- The Duke of Ruin (final) 800 px %40 72 dpi low res
The Duke of Ruin
(Book 8)
Coming Soon

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