*BLOG TOUR & REVIEW* ~ Jane Grey: A Homage to the Brontë Classics (The Brontë Brothers #1), by Nina Mason (includes excerpt)

#historical #Victorian #romance

Title: Jane Grey

Author: Nina Mason

Genre: Historical Romance

Time period: 1850

Heat Level: Moderate

Here’s the blurb:

Matthew Brontë, a true romantic at heart, believes the only happiness in life is to love and be loved. And yet, he fears he lacks the capacity to love…until he meets Jane Grey. Jane, a humble English governess, seems perfect for Matthew, apart from one significant snag: Jane can only marry a man of means and Matthew must give up his fortune if and when he marries. When faced with the choice between love and money, which will each of them choose?

More about Jane Grey: 

Set in France’s Loire Valley in 1850, Jane Grey tells the story of a frustrated painter and a beleaguered English governess who comes to France to tutor a flirtatious young heiress in the social graces. Jane Grey meets Matthew Brontë when he takes a spill from his horse near where she is walking—the same way Jane Eyre met Mr. Rochester in the book our Jane is reading at the time. Jane finds it uncannier still that Matthew is a cousin to the author of Jane Eyre.

After Jane helps Gabriel home to his chateau, he offers her drawing lessons to repay her kindness. Regrettably, the only way she can accept his gift is to pretend the drawing lessons are for Lady Cecile Brousseau, her spoiled and selfish pupil.

As the weeks pass, Jane and Matthew discover they have much in common, including shared interests in art, poetry, literature, and gardening. They seem perfect for each other, apart from one significant snag: Matthew cannot marry without forfeiting his fortune, and Jane can only marry a man with the means to support her as well as her dependent relations back in England.

Will the strength of Jane and Matthew’s devotion be enough to overcome this seemingly unsolvable dilemma? Or will Jane be forced to choose her duty to her family over her own desires?

Jane Grey is an original work with subtle shadings borrowed from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey.

Here’s an excerpt: 

“If you don’t mind my asking, was your relationship with the countess an affectionate one?”

“Hardly.”

Matthew’s candor pleased Jane on more than one level. “So, you didn’t love her?”

After an extended silence, he said, looking pained, “To be truthful, Miss Grey, I’ve never loved any woman—and often doubt myself capable of experiencing that most-coveted of emotions.”

His words crushed her hopes and brought more tears to her eyes. “Surely, you are wrong. For you strike me as a man of great passion.”

“I used to be.” His countenance grew even more sullen. “But now, my heart is like a tree in winter. Barren, leafless, and encrusted with ice.”

“Perhaps it will thaw when you meet the right woman,” she offered hopefully.

He brought his face very close to hers and, for a breathless moment, she thought he meant to kiss her. Instead, he said in a strained voice, “I probably should keep this to myself, but my cold heart has warmed some since making your acquaintance.”

For several hellish-yet-heavenly moments, they sat together in silence. His mouth was so close to hers she could feel his breath warming her lips. As her heart leapt toward him, her body impulsively followed. Their mouths met ever so sweetly. Then, mortified by her forwardness, she jerked back and turned away.

“Forgive me. I shouldn’t have been so presumptuous.”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” he said. “I rather liked the feel of your mouth on mine.”

She liked the feel of his, too—very much indeed—but carrying on like a common hussy would only lead to her ruin. “Perhaps we should return to the house and see if Cécile’s headache is any better.”

“Yes,” he said with audible strain. “Perhaps we should at that.”

He stood and offered her his arm. She took his coat sleeve between her gloved hands and let him lead her farther along the path. After they’d walked several paces, he said, “I don’t believe I’ve yet asked your favorite flower.”

“No, you haven’t.”

He waited a few moments before letting out a small laugh. “Will you not tell me what it is?”

“Very well.” She released a sigh. “I shall tell you. As queer as it may seem, my favorite flower is bleeding heart.”

He laughed, drew to a stop, and freed his arm from her grasp. Turning toward the bed to their right, he bent over the boxwood border and plucked several stems of the flower she’d named. Then, he offered the bouquet to her with a gallant bow. “Please allow me to offer you this humble token of my admiration.”

She accepted the flowers with joy in her heart. It was foolish, perhaps, to experience so much elation in response to so simple an offering, but no man had ever given her anything before. He’d also demonstrated tremendous compassion when she told him about her family—and had admitted to liking the brief intimacy they’d shared.

Might he have some feelings for her? Or was he just being kind? Oh—and what about his secret? She must take care not to let him turn her head, lest she end up brokenhearted when the truth came out.

 Here’s the buy-link:

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Grey-Bront%C3%AB-Brothers-Book-ebook/dp/B06XGKX571

Note: Jane Grey will be 99 cents until May 21 and thereafter will revert to the regular price of $3.99

My Review

An expertly crafted Victorian Romance ~ 5 stars

I am familiar with reading Nina Mason’s erotic historical and paranormal romances such as her Royal Pains and Knights of the Tarot series of which I am a big fan. Jane Grey, a standalone historical romance is a departure from the erotic genre as the heat level of this work is classed as moderate and the romance between the main couple is a sweet one. Nevertheless the author’s storytelling ability and character development are once again flawless.

The tale expertly evokes the Victorian novels of the time, in particularly those penned by the Brontë’s, namely Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Anne’s Agnes Grey, to which the work, although an original, pays homage: Matthew, the hero, is a cousin of the Brontës and the book references Jane Eyre in particular. The use of language in the book and the descriptions of the Loire Valley where the novel is set transported me to the time period perfectly. Jane Grey reflects the social mores and the moral dilemmas often found within the literature of this period –  Jane, an impoverished governess can only marry a man of sufficient means to support her dependant mother and siblings and Matthew will lose his fortune should he marry. Can love triumph over this seemingly impossible situation? I was invested in the characters from the off and intrigued to find out where the narrative would go.

Matthew and Jane are perfect for each other, sharing many interests, such as art and literature, interests which Matthew, up until now a man who although having no difficulty in attracting the opposite sex, has never found in another woman. Indeed, before finding Jane, the romance his soul craves has eluded this handsome and passionate artist and his muse has mourned its lack. The quiet and studious Jane soon finds herself falling in love with a man of Matthew’s intelligence and depths, even as she doubts that her feelings will be reciprocated due to what she perceives as her own failings.  However, their relationship is blighted at every turn by the selfish antics of Cécile, the jealous and capricious heiress who Jane is tutoring and the wastrel cousin of Matthew’s benefactor who will go to desperate lengths to wrestle Matthews fortune from him. The passion and longing between Matthew and Jane is evident in their every word and glance and I was willing them to break free of their self inflicted and societal bonds as I was anxious for their HEA.

If you enjoy reading historical novels set in Victorian times, which explore the relationships between men and women and the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ within society, coupled with a sweet yet passionate romance, then this book is definitely for you. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Here’s more about the author:

Nina Mason, the author of eleven published books to date, is an incurable romantic who strives to write love stories that entertain and edify. A research fanatic, she goes to great lengths to ensure the locations and time periods in her books are accurately portrayed (and thanks the Powers That Be for the internet). Born and raised in Southern California, Ms. Mason lived in Oregon briefly before moving to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and college-bound daughter. When she isn’t writing, she makes historic dolls, fairy babies, and putters in her garden.

Contact Nina: ninamasonauthor@gmail.com

Visit Nina’s website: http://ninamasonauthor.com

Follow Nina on Facebook: http://facebook.com/ninamasonromance

Follow Nina on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ninamasonauthor

Get Nina’s newsletter: https://vr2.verticalresponse.com/s/authorninamasonsnewsletter

 

 

*REVIEW* – Fated for Sanchez (Mediterranean Romance), by Kristin Ravelle

Stylish and Smexy Contemporary!

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“Four years ago, I was nearly seduced by Lilli’s obvious sensual assets. Today, I desire her business savvy. My strange luck, her uncle signed over her trust fund before dying in a business investment to me.” Sanchez

********************************************

Lilli Eden has never forgotten the summer she spent in Malaga, Spain, at her friend, Jimena’s. Or Sanchez Varellano, Jimena’s brother. They shared smouldering glances all that summer but no more for Sanchez was engaged. Or so she thought.

Four years on Lilli feels she’s finally grown past their searing mutual attraction but upon gaining control of her parents’ trust fund, she discovers her deceased Uncle Jeremy had secretly invested it in a Varellano business expansion. Sanchez now holds the strings to her and Lucie’s futures for several years.

Sanchez dares to take fate into his own hands. He can redress both Jeremy’s ill thought out offer and an old Varellano family score at the same time. And Sanchez has a private agenda of his own for the ravishing Lilli.

Lilli must decide whether to tempt fate on a chance with Sanchez for dreamt of futures for her and Lucie as the Edens and Varellano share a painful history that brings Lilli and Sanchez together but also threatens to drive them apart. Will fate be on the side of their love this time?

Sweet/spicy heat, Mediterranean Men. Stand-alone novel, HEA.

Buy your copy now to learn how Sanchez dares to manage fate!

My Review

Stylish and Smexy: A Real Gem! – 4 and a half stars

Fated for Sanchez is a sweet and stylish contemporary romance penned by Kristin Ravelle. It is the third book I have read by the author, the other two being Discovery (the Iron Web) a dystopian novel and The Everlasting Spell, a paranormal romance (click on the titles for reviews). This exquisitely crafted romance pairs a drop dead gorgeous Mediterranean hero with a young English woman, who destiny has once again thrown together. Yet the couple need to overcome a number of obstacles, not least their own stubbornness and the vagaries of fate before they can find their HEA.

If like me you are a fan of alpha heroes you will LOVE Sanchez, a successful businessman who exudes natural charm and who is irresistible to the female sex. He is determined to take advantage of the situation and get his hands on the ravishing Lilli, a woman whom he has not been able to forget. If he needs to use a little emotional blackmail in the process then so be it! Although his actions were a little high handed a times, he is an alpha with a heart and it was easy to see why Lilli is so drawn to him.

Lilli is a heroine who I rooted for from the off. Since her parents’ death she has provided for Lucie, her younger sister, whilst her uncle manages their trust fund. On the death of her uncle she is stunned to hear that the fund is now invested in a business venture in Spain, a venture presided over by none other than Sanchez Varellano, a man whom she had a serious crush on four years before. She finds herself in an impossible situation, reluctantly agreeing to a six month engagement and a move to Spain so that her talented sister can have the funds to go to art school to pursue her dream.

The plot thickens as Lilli asks herself what a man like the successful and cosmopolitan Sanchez, a man who could have any woman he desires, could possibly want with her? Does he want her purely for the money she has brought to the table or is there something else at play? Lilli cannot believe that Sanchez wants her for herself alone. She feels like a pawn, yet is conflicted as she is so attracted to this man who made such an impact on her younger self. Can she extract herself from the situation before she loses control over not only her life but her heart?

The plot grows ever more complex as we encounter persons from both Lilli’s and Sanchez’s pasts, a series of misunderstandings and the mystery of an ailing business venture. I was entertained throughout waiting to see if the couple’s growing mutual attraction and their undoubted sexual chemistry and passion would triumph this time or whether fate would once again tear them apart.

Recommended for fans of contemporary romance who enjoy a sweet and spicy read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Details

Amazon US   Amazon UK

Author Contact Details

http://kristinravelle.blogspot.ca/ (Kristin’s Blog)

@KristinRavelle on Twitter

https://twitter.com/KristinRavelle

https://www.pinterest.com/kristinravelle/ (Kristin on Pinterest)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29489820-fated-for-sanchez

 

 

**REVIEW** ~ A Labyrinth of Love and Roses (Touchstone Series #4), by Beth Barany

Sweet and Magical Romance

This is the perfect read for today, the first of May, when the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane is traditionally celebrated. Can Lili and Brett, the heroine and hero of this romance set aside their personal goals to come together and acknowledge their true destiny?

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Book Blurb

From award-winning novelist, Beth Barany, comes another magical tale of romance and adventure — a sweet, Hallmark-like tale.

What if what you wanted got in the way of your destiny?

French MBA grad Lili Grenault needs to succeed at her last pitch meeting to fund her international green tech business. But her grandmother tells her to drop everything, find her one true love, and embrace her magical legacy by Beltane, in one week, or chaos and failure in her life will ensue.

San Francisco investor Brett Barnaby wants to find his great-grandfather’s gravesite in Amiens, France, one of the primary battle sites of World War I. Family legend says that purpose, greater mission, and perhaps even untold riches, will be unlocked when he finds that grave. But his search in Amiens brings up fear, anger, and dire warnings about some wild Green Man. He turns to local Lily Grenault for help.

Can these two independent freethinkers work together to prevent chaos from triumphing and find love in time in the labyrinth of roses?

Goodreads

My Review

A Sweet and Magical Contemporary Fairy Tale ~ ***** (5 Stars)

A Labyrinth of Love and Roses is a quick uplifting romantic read. Set in Amiens, France, where the veil between the human world and the one of ancient earth magic that protects the world is thin. Lili is unexpectedly drawn into this world when her grandmother informs her that at Beltane she needs to embrace her destiny and find and join with her 0ne true love, to prevent chaos ensuing in her own life and to that of the planet.

The reluctant Lily, intent on securing funding for her business, goes clubbing and encounters an American, the drop-dead gorgeous Brett. In return for helping Brett solve a family mystery, he helps her with her business pitch, whilst striving to keep his hands off her as he does not want to mix business with pleasure.

Yet as Beltane approaches, elemental magic awakens, and as Lili and Brett journey into the countryside surrounding Amiens, they are drawn together, even as they attempt to pursue their separate paths. Yet will they deny their destiny and love before it is too late?

This delightful read is a magical one, invoking ancient myths and legends, such as the Green Man. It also involves themes inherent in fairy tales: a quest; acknowledging our destiny; finding our one true love and a trial of sorts. Brett and Lili are destined to be together and I enjoyed how the author described their journey to their HEA.

If you are looking for a novella which merges the myths and legends of the past with contemporary romance, then this is the perfect read for you,

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon US:    Amazon UK

Goodreads:   Site:   Twitter:   Facebook

 

*REVIEW* – A Cupcake Christmas (Touchstone, #5), by Beth Barany

Magical and Upbeat

Banish the winter blues and indulge in this magical romance by Beth Barany featuring a sexy elf and cupcakes – a yummy combination! This short novel (or long novella of 43,000 words) is now available (Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo: $0.99). Scroll down to read my review.

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Book Blurb

What if you risked losing your baking legacy by cooking up a love truly special? Florian MacMillian needs a final job to complete his baking resume—preferably a job where he’s unlikely to blow things up with his unruly magic—before returning to the North Pole and taking his rightful place as Master Baker to all the elves. Kate Delore desperately needs help in her fast-growing cupcake business. Florian is a perfect fit, so she brings him on as baker. For a short time, Florian is happily up to his elbows in batter, and Kate’s business is booming. But when things heat up between them, Florian wonders if he should risk his legacy to cook up something truly special.

To find out more about this book visit Beth.

http://author.bethbarany.com/books/a-cupcake-christmas-a-christmas-elf-story-romance/

My Review ***** (Five Stars)

A Magical and Upbeat Romance

This is a magical and upbeat romance between Kate, a young cupcake entrepreneur, and Florian, a Master Baker in the making, who unbeknownst to the humans around him, just happens to be an elf who is one of Santa’s nephews!

It’s an enchanting read that will help banish the winter blues. Kate is a hardworking young businesswoman who is striving to get her cupcake business off the ground and as such has little time for romance. However, when she takes on Florian to assist her over the busy Christmas period, attraction blooms between them and she fights a losing battle to keep their relationship strictly business. They are such a good fit together, in and outside work!

Florian is not only a hard worker, but he is a talented baker and helps Kate to feel more relaxed about life and more optimistic about where she can take her business. Yet despite their attraction, Florian has only agreed to work for Kate on a temporary basis as he is looking forward to returning to his own world to assume the role of Master Baker that was destined to be his.

The author does a great job of illustrating the conflicts within both Kate and Florian when it comes to their romance, and I was eager to find out if this particular elf was just for Christmas! Indeed, the read contains plenty of tension and emotional turmoil plus increasing mayhem and magic as the plot unravels!

A Cupcake Christmas, book 5 in the author’s Touchstone series,  is the first book I have read by Beth Barany and it was a delightful read! I recommend it to readers who are looking for a feel-good romance with a magical twist.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon:    Kobo:    iBooks:

Goodreads:   Site:   Twitter:   Facebook

**BLOG TOUR** ~ A Cupcake Christmas (Touchstone, #5), by Beth Barany (includes excerpt)

Magical Blog Tour- A Cupcake Christmas

Christmas Elf Romance

Sweet and Sensual

Forget about the Elf on the Shelf! Instead why not indulge in this magical elf romance by Beth Barany. This short novel (or long novella of 43,000 words) is now available (Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo: $0.99). Scroll down to read the book blurb and an excerpt and find out more about the author. To visit other sites involved in the blog tour click here.

CupcakeEbookCover04-Final-200x300

Book Blurb

What if you risked losing your baking legacy by cooking up a love truly special? Florian MacMillian needs a final job to complete his baking resume—preferably a job where he’s unlikely to blow things up with his unruly magic—before returning to the North Pole and taking his rightful place as Master Baker to all the elves. Kate Delore desperately needs help in her fast-growing cupcake business. Florian is a perfect fit, so she brings him on as baker. For a short time, Florian is happily up to his elbows in batter, and Kate’s business is booming. But when things heat up between them, Florian wonders if he should risk his legacy to cook up something truly special.

To find out more about this book visit Beth.

Purchase Links

Amazon:    Kobo:    iBooks:

Excerpts from Chapter One

Excerpt 1 (Florian)

Monday, December 1, San Francisco

“Help wanted. Must be good with pastry baking, parties + kids. Part-time/Holiday Temporary. Competitive pay. Flexible hours. Apply in person. Bring printed resume. Must love cupcakes.”

Florian jumped off the trolley at the bottom of Market Street and checked the address on his smart phone’s map. He peered around at the busy area, looking for his new possible employment, Kate’s Cupcake Cart. He didn’t see it. He must be off by a few blocks. He hustled back up Market Street, one of San Francisco’s main boulevards.

A cold brisk wind had him turning up his collar, pulling down his cap more over his ears—couldn’t have people spotting them and asking questions—and tightening his scarf. He loved the weather at the city on the bay. Way warmer than New York City where he’d been working up to last week, and way, way warmer than back home at the Pole.

He stood on the busy street corner of the city’s Financial District and swiveled, not just his head, but his whole body. He still didn’t see it. He was about to wave his hand to stir up some magic, maybe bring a magnifying glass in front of him—he never knew exactly what he’d conjure—but then saw as the busy crowd thinned for a moment what he was looking for. A small food stand perched on the corner, kitty corner to where he stood. A big sprinkle-top cupcake jauntily capped the sign that stated in broad flourish font, “Kate’s Cupcake Cart.” At the other end of the sign, a frothy cappuccino angled in nice symmetry. He smiled. His sign-making elf cousins couldn’t have done a better job.

*******

Excerpt 2 (Kate and Florian)

Kate Delore finished making the double cap dry with a flick of her wrist, creating her signature swirl on the foam, and handed it to the salt-and-pepper suit-and-tie customer. On the counter, her cell phone buzzed. In quick succession, the heater oven dinged and her phone buzzed again. She handed the man his warmed chocolate croissant cupcake, zapped his iPhone to transact the payment, and thanked him. He replied in French, and then English, smiled at her, and went on his way. She liked her cosmopolitan customers. Maybe one day she’d be able to buy a croissant in Paris and say thank you in English and French. She didn’t have time to dwell on the daydream—when did she ever have time—when her phone buzzed a third time.

She ignored it since at the window the next customer waited. The call was probably another lunch order. She’d have to take it at the next break. She made a mental note to look into an answering service. Kate glanced at the customer, ready to greet him. The tall red-haired man gave her a bright smile. She blinked at him, taken aback by his high-wattage happiness that seemed to roll off him in waves of sunlight.

“A good morning to you,” he said with a lilt.

“Good morning. What would you like?” She glanced at the caller ID when the phone buzzed yet again.

Another number she didn’t recognize. It could be another lunch order, or someone calling about the help wanted ad, or about booking another birthday party. She made a list in her mind for the tenth time this morning—that answering service, another baker, more customer service help so she could breathe a little, and—why not—a personal masseuse and some time away from the business. May as well throw in those last ones too since she was crafting a wish list.

The man didn’t reply to her question, so she glanced back at him.

He was craning his head into her food stand and nodding as if he approved of what he saw.

“Can I help you?” she said, maybe more sharply than she should have to a potential customer. But he was ogling her cart. She checked the time on her phone. Mike would be arriving soon to pick up the day-olds.

“Only if you can help me round out my resume,” he said in a serious tone, all sunlight gone from his voice.

She snapped her gaze back at him. Oh. Right. She’d asked people to come in person. Her brain was like a sieve these days, hence the lists. She opened her mouth to reply, but then he ruined the serious effect and chuckled.

“No, really.” He smiled broadly, the brightness back. “I’m replying to the ad. The help wanted ad. Especially the baking part. I was looking for the oven.” He had a slight musical lilt that evoked Ireland or Scotland. She didn’t know her lilts like she knew her chocolate cream and baking flour.

“It’s not here.” She scanned him up and down from her higher vantage point. The slender man was about her age—in his mid-to-late twenties. He sported a green wool sweater that brought out his sea-green eyes—so striking. Freckles sprinkled across the bridge of his nose and across his cheeks. At the nape of his neck, his curly red hair peeked out under his dark cap.

“Well, with a little more—” He waved his hands around as if he were conjuring up something. “Space, maybe it could.” He smiled sheepishly and tucked his hands under his armpits.

“What? Magic?” She wiped the counter, more out of habit than need.

He shrugged and smiled, making a motion across his lips, as if to zip them shut.

“Top secret, eh? What are you, from the Ministry of Magic?” She folded the towel she’d just been using and straightened the paper cups at her elbow.

He laughed—a big laugh for such a slender man—and shook his head. “I wish. Now that would be fun, wouldn’t it?” His eyes seemed to sparkle and something about his whole demeanor lit up the cold, blustery morning.

Was that a wink?

About the Author

Beth-Barany_MG_6971_cropped-small-vertical

Award-winning author, Beth Barany writes in two genres: young adult fantasy and contemporary fantasy romance.

Inspired by living abroad in France twice and Quebec once, she loves creating magical tales of romance and adventure to enchant readers into new worlds where magic conspires to bring more love into the world.

In her off hours, Beth enjoys walking, reading and watching movies, and traveling, with her husband, author and singer/song writer Ezra Barany.

Beth Barany lives in Oakland, California with her husband, a cat named Leo, and over 1,000 books.

When not writing or playing, Beth runs her own company helping novelists as a book midwife and teacher to help them write, market, and publish their books. She holds authors’ hands while they push their book out into the world. More resources click here.

Goodreads:   Site:   Twitter:   Facebook

**COVER REVEAL** ~ For the First Time (Anthology)

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  Releasing January 12th

You never forget your first time…

A brand new anthology of original, never-before-read stories from today’s hottest authors, including:

Alessandre Torre, Kim Karr, Jen Frederick, Alexa Riley, Lynda Chance, Sarah Castille, Nina Lane, CJ Roberts, Anna Zaires, Nikki Sloane, Cynthia Sax, Avery Aster, Pam Godwin, Skye Warren, Julia Sykes, Cynthia Rayne, Jenika Snow, Debra Presley, Shoshanna Evers, Tamsen Parker, and Nina Levine!

From young heartbreak to a virginity auction, from the chance meeting to the happily ever after, twenty-one exclusive stories explore first love in all its forms. This set includes almost 200,000 words of steamy encounters and sweet romance.

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**REVIEW** HOT BASQUE (A French Summer Novel #2) by Laurette Long

Before the summer is over for certain, while we still have a little warmth and sunshine, I cannot recommend Hot Basque enough to those of you who love gentle, sweet romances. With a beautiful setting in the south of France and some well thought out characters to follow I am sure many of you would give Hot Basque a high rating. You can check it out on Amazon, along with book one in the French Summer Novel series, Biarritz Passion (although they can be read as stand alones).

You can also check out an excerpt of Hot Basque and Laurette Long’s author bio in our recent promo. (Please keep reading for my review.)

COVER HOT BASQUE

Blurb:

Sit back with a glass of chilled rosé and let yourself be carried away to the white sands and pounding surf of the French Basque coast. What could be more relaxing? Find out what’s going on at the Villa Julia, where Caroline and her honey are enjoying the song of the crickets, the glow of the stars and happy romps in the boudoir. Caroline is also doing some matchmaking between best friend Jill and the hot Basque himself, Antoine, he of the smouldering eyes and perfect teeth. And Annabel the sister from hell, is miles away, no need to fret about her. What could be more idyllic? Not a cloud on the horizon…well, maybe it’s looking a bit black to the north, but nothing to worry about, surely??

REVIEW ***** (5* RATING)

Oooh! I am still swooning after this little sweet summer sizzler! Contemporary romance fans will love this gentle summer read, which comes with a little fun and a little drama, in the breath-taking setting of Biarritz, southern France. And, is it just me or does Antoine remind you of a younger Antonio Banderas, albeit Basque, French? Either way, I read Hot Basque with him in mind and was gutted when I reached the end. More please, Laurette!

During the opening chapters the reader becomes acquainted with Irish redhead Jill, Caroline’s best friend, who lives in Edinburgh and is constantly being match made to all the wrong men. They are either dull and boring, or not physically attractive to her. There is plenty of humour surrounding Jill’s character as she was put into some pretty outrageous scenarios that surely did bring a smile to my face!

“She was hauling herself out of the water and up the steps when she felt a pinch on her bottom. A decided, deliberate, old-fashioned, good-handful-of-flesh pinch. She turned around…

Grandad was grinning up at her, gap-toothed, gold chain glinting in his grey chest hairs.

‘Welcome to wor class, lassie. Fair got a wee stiffie on me just watching yer do them jumps!’

He gave her a leer and a wink as she shot up the final steps and made for the showers. What could she do, report him for sexual harassment? He must be at least a hundred and four. He’d never make it to the police station.”

There is never a dull moment in Hot Basque, partly because of all the interesting characters that Laurette Long has created, and partly because of the mood and scenarios that the characters find themselves in. Caroline has been though some troublesome times in the past involving her ex, Liam, and her sister, Annabel, causing trouble. But now her life is full of love as she is living happily in Toulouse with Edward, after giving up her life in England. And, she hasn’t really looked back. Now Caroline and Edward are ready to return to Biarritz for a holiday and Caroline has invited her best friend, Jill to join them.

The story becomes more and more interesting as Julian, Edward’s best friend, and his baby son, Joshua, along with the nanny, Nadia, come to stay at the Villa Julia with them all, after Julian despairs about his wife’s behaviour and attitude to their relationship, and to Joshua. She hasn’t a maternal bone in her body, and with him working extra hours to keep his business growing, and then coming home to look after Joshua – night feeds and all – he is absolutely exhausted.

Unfortunately, Julian’s wife is Caroline’s sister, Annabel. Annabel is a troubled character, constantly desiring attention and popularity. Although marrying into a rich and wealthy family, she has given her magazine career up to live with her new husband in Frankfurt to keep his business thriving. Away from the limelight, and now with a baby she barely has time for, the tension grows between her and Julian.

Caroline is very eager to introduce Jill to local restaurant and café owner, Antoine. Afterall, if it hadn’t been for being swept off her feet with Edward, Caroline wouldn’t have minded the hot Basque, muscled, white smiled, surfer, with his smouldering eyes and beautiful use of the sexy French language, who always calls her ‘la Rose’ herself. Oh yes, there are plenty of French words and phrases, which are used for authenticity, humour and plenty of soft and sweet amour! And, Jill is smitten! So is he, it seems, as he offers to take her out for the day to a small village where his ancestors are from, talking of the history of the area and his family, before visiting a beautiful waterfall. Yes, love is in the air. Oh, and did I mention he had a motorcycle?!

“Antoine had been knocked for six by Jill. Bowled off his feet. He’d offered to take her out for a drive to show her some pretty villages in his ‘pays’. Jill had said she’d love to see his ‘pays’and leaned a bit closer, chin cupped in one hand, ‘décolleté’ slipping off one shoulder in front of Antoine’s mesmerised gaze.”

However, as the story continues, what begins as a serene, love-filled holiday, and a few days of relaxation and fun for Julian, turns into suspense and tension as the situation with Annabel begins to affect them all, ending with Edward going to England to seek her out, and Antoine has a visit from unexpected visitors whilst he was celebrating with his holiday-making friends and introducing Jill to his family.

I love the way in which the author weaves each scenario through all of the main characters, to be able to build up a tense atmosphere from a happy, relaxed holiday to the suspense of those waiting at Villa Julia for news from England. It is brilliant writing, showing how the impact of the drama is reflected on each and every character, as opposed to just those dealing directly with the situation.

“The atmosphere in the villa was oppressive, the three of them wandering around, listening for the phone, listening for Joshua to wake up, unable to settle to any activity for more than a few minutes.”

During these times, more emotion is written into the story, and there was certainly a very strong scene of this nature with Julian that really tugged at the heart strings. It was so heartfelt. The whole change in atmosphere, and how it affected each character makes it very true to life, realistic. The characters and their circumstances are extremely believable, and likeable. The reader will be drawn in as the writing is captivating.

I haven’t read book one, and although these novels can be read as stand alones, reading Hot Basque has made me want to read and acquaint myself with Biarritz Passion. I am also delighted to add that there is a planned French Summer Novel book 3, Villa Julia.

Hot Basque (A French Summer Novel #2) is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker