A visual tour of Alonissos (the setting of Fate Captured)

The culmination of the story of Fate Captured, Book 1 in my Greek Tycoons series, takes place in the beautiful island of Alonissos. Having just returned from my annual visit, it’s only fair I pay tribute with a post choked in stunning visuals.

Location

Alonissos belongs to the cluster of the Northern Sporades along with Skiathos and Skopelos. But, unlike these two larger islands that attract throngs of tourists, Alonissos retains the breath-taking natural beauty of the North Aegean islands without the noise, the clutter and the sometimes offputting touristy feel.

Map image – http://www.greeka.com

To me, the island of Alonissos holds emotional value as it is the place where my husband proposed back in 2002. What’s more, it’s the place that inspired me to start penning my Aegean Lovers series. It was only fair that I chose that setting. And, luckily, it’s an ongoing affair. I visit it every summer as my in-laws have a summer house there. Want to take a tour?

The Beaches

Alonissos has sixteen beaches one can access by car and countless bays accessible only by boat. Here are the most popular.

Agios Dimitrios

Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

Leftos Yialos

Leftos

Tzortzi Yialos

Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

Megalos Mourtias

Meg. Mourtias

Kokkinokastro

Image via e-thessalia.gr

Votsi

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Chrissi Milia

Chrissi

Milia

Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

Alonissos in Mythology

The island’s ancient name was Ikos, and its first inhabitant was Stafylos (meaning “grape”) the son of Dionysus and Ariadne. Its second name “Achilliodromia” references Achilles whose father, Pileas, is said to have been buried there. Variances of that name are still seen as names of inns or restaurants: Liadromia, Hiliodromia. The Achaeans sailed from here to reclaim Helen of Troy and also Jason set off from Alonissos for his quest for the Golden Fleece.

The Old Village

Image via Sightseeing in Alonissos

Offering a magnificent view of the Aegean, Hora (as the locals call the Old Village) bears the trademark windy-street/steep-stairs combo of the Greek islands. More artsy than touristy, the little shops and cafes offer quality products, full of local charm.

Image via Sightseeing in Alonissos

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Patitiri

Image from Sightseeing in Alonissos

The picturesque central port of Alonissos is also the current capital of the island. Its name means “wine-press” in Greek.

Agii Anargiri

The chapel of the Holy Unmercenaries (Agii Anargiri) is tucked in a verdant slope at the edge of a cliff with breath-stealing views of emerald waters. It’s the place that I just have to visit each and every year. I also chose this as the location for a wedding that takes place in Fate Accompli.

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The lilac

Alonissos pushes the envelope forward where colors are concerned. Instead of the traditional white and blue of the Aegean, here you see lots of lilac (my favorite color) as a main color or in trimmings.

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Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

The Marine Park

The National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades is the first marine park established in Greece and a member of the Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean. Mostly known for its efforts to protect the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus Monachus) it is also the natural reserve for hundreds of plants and animals.

I captured a picture of a Monachus Monachus seal back in 2008, and it’s one of my most treasured pictures.

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How to get there

From Athens, you can take a flight to the island of Skiathos and then a flying dolphin or a catamaran to Alonissos. Alternatively, you can use the passenger bus service to reach the port of Agios Konstantinos (100 miles from Athens – one and a half hours drive) and then take a flying dolphin, ferry or catamaran for a three-hour trip to Alonissos. There are also direct flights to Skiathos from various European cities.

With such beauty how can I not be inspired to write my love stories in this setting?

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For a sensual romance story set on this breath-taking island, pick up Fate Captured, free through Kindle Unlimited.

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Discover the enchanting The Lady of the Pier trilogy

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I’m a fan of Effrosyni Moschoudi’s books. Nostalgia blends with romance and adventure in the fantasy novel The Necklace of Goddess Athena, but The Lady of the Pier trilogy adds a karmic paranormal element that binds worlds and eras in a beautiful tale. Top that off with the beauty of the Greek seascape, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. It is no coincidence that the The Lady of the Pier: The Ebb, Book 1 in the trilogy, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards quarter-finalist.

And now, both The Lady of the Pier: The Ebb and the upcoming The Lady of the Pier: The Flow are on a $0.99 sale. Don’t miss out!

What is The Lady of the Pier trilogy about?

The Lady of the Pier trilogy tells the stories of Sofia and Laura – two girls from two different worlds who have a mysterious connection. In book 1, although similar in some ways, the two stories are seemingly unrelated. In book 2, they begin to merge and in the concluding volume, The Storm, they become one story. The author recommends to start reading from book 1. The Storm is in the editing stage and will be published in December 2015.

For free excerpts, visit http://effrosyniwrites.com/books/

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LOVE WILL GO ON FOREVER, SEEKING A SECOND CHANCE.

BRIGHTON, 1937

Dreaming of wealth and happiness, Laura Mayfield arrives in Brighton to pursue a new life. She falls for Christian Searle, a happy-go-lucky stagehand at the West Pier theatre, but when she’s offered a chance to perform there, her love for him is put to the test. Charles Willard, a wealthy aristocrat, is fascinated by her and pursues her relentlessly. Will Laura choose love… or money?

CORFU, 1987

On a long holiday with her grandparents, Sofia Aspioti meets Danny Markson, a charming flirt who makes her laugh. Although she tries to keep him at arm’s length, worried that village gossip will get back to her strict family, she falls desperately in love. That’s when strange dreams about Brighton’s West Pier and a woman dressed in black begin to haunt her. Who is this grieving woman? And how is her lament related to Sofia’s feelings for Danny?

Only 99c on Amazon!

Purchase Links: Amazon US  |   Amazon UK

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She won’t find peace until she finds redemption.
But it’ll take more than love; it’ll take two worlds, to merge into one.

BRIGHTON 1938

Laura and Christian enjoy a blissful summer, while Charles watches from a distance, waiting for the right time to intervene. This time, he’s prepared to do something truly vile as to leave nothing to chance. WWII breaks out, and Laura does her best to settle in a new life, having paid a terrible price. Will she find happiness at last, or will the past continue to haunt her?

CORFU 1988

Sofia arrives in Vassilaki brokenhearted over Danny. Just as a new boy comes into her life, the strange dreams start anew. Now in Brighton, she meets Danny again, but he blows hot and cold.  When she sees a female apparition on the West Pier, she finds out the locals call her ‘The Lady of the Pier’. Is this the woman in her dreams and why is Sofia the only one who can see her?

Official launch date: June 26, 2015

Available on preorder – only 99c for a limited time!

Purchase Links:  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

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The concluding part of the trilogy, The Storm, is currently in the editing stage.

It will be released in December 2015.

About the author

profpic 690x884 png 300dpiEffrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she often sat alone in her granny’s garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies and ants. Through adolescence, she wrote dark poetry that suited her melancholic, romantic nature. She’s passionate about books and movies and simply couldn’t live without them, particularly the ones starring Robert Pattinson, who is the constant inspiration behind her vulnerable romantic heroes. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her British husband Andy and a naughty cat called Felix. Effrosyni is a proud member of the writer’s group, eNovel Authors at Work.

What others say about Effrosyni’s writing:

“Effrosyni layers her words on the page like music.”

~Jackie Weger, National Best-selling Author

“Ms. Moschoudi is proving to be a skilled storyteller who takes her readers on a wonderful ride.”

~David M. Wind, author of Queen of Knights

Connect with Effrosyni

Site: http://www.effrosyniwrites.com

Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/effrosyni

Effrosyni at Enovel Authors at Work: http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/effrosyni-moschoudi/

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7362780.Effrosyni_Moschoudi

Blurb Thursday #1 (What’s hot and what’s not)

A new blog category! As you probably know, I’ve been hosting for three book tour companies through my promo blog, MM Jaye presents. I get to read literally hundreds of blurbs each month, and some are strikingly good while others (in my opinion) don’t work too well.

So this is where I’ll present and talk about new blurbs, showcasing what’s hot (and what’s not) about them.

This week:

Wish for Me (The Djinn Order #1)

by A. Star

Publication Date: April 27, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk

Official Synopsis

When the snarky Glory St. Pierre discovers the gold mechanical vase in her deceased grandmother’s basement, she has no idea that she has uncovered a priceless treasure: a genie lamp. With a real genie inside. A very sexy genie with a not-so-sexy grudge against the entire human race.

Irving Amir hates being called a genie. He’s a Djinn, and he is none too happy to be in the service of Glory, who is as intolerable, and beautiful, as humans come. Now he owes her his gratitude for freeing him and three wishes. Damn his luck.

But an arrow through the shoulder alerts Irving to the fact that he is being hunted, and after a truce dinner with Glory ends with them both almost being killed, hating each other goes right out the window.

As feelings change and love starts to develop, they must dig through the secrets and lies to find the truth…a truth neither of them will ever see coming.

WARNING: Not suitable for ages 18 and under. A significant source of bad language, sexy times, and dirty jokes. If you suffer from a lack of a sense of humor, take with plenty of wine. If the symptom persists, see a doctor.

My take

First off, the cover is beautiful. Mysterious and inviting. The winding mechanisms brand it as a steampunk novel, and while the romance aspect is not obvious, the title helps. My only objection is with the author’s name. In thumbnail size, it’s barely discernible.

As for the blurb? I loved it! In fact, I’ve picked it up for reviewing (through Xpresso Book Tours). Let’s break this down:

Blurb post 1

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Blurb3

blurb4As for the Warning at the end, I found it ingenious. Witty, no-nonsense, it proves this will be a fun read.

If your interest is piqued, here is its purchase link: Amazon

You can also add it on Goodreads.

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What’s your take on this blurb? Does it do what it’s supposed to do?

Web of Love – A Valentine’s short

Last February, I entered a short-story contest, requiring a Valentine-themed story of no more than 1,000 words. I wrote Web of Love but when I tried to submit it, I saw the contest was for US citizens only. Bummer. I then published it on Writersky, a platform similar to Wattpad, and for months it was the most-viewed story there. As a way to wish to all of you “Happy Valentine’s Day”, I’m publishing a new, retouched version of Web of Love. Three PoVs, a spider and a sprinkling of magic in a little over 1,000 words. I hope you enjoy it.

Rating: PG-13

Gothic hear

Web of Love

Lorelai strode to the door and yanked it open, ready to pounce on whoever dared mess with her blissed-out state of mind.

No one was there. She looked down. The fine hairs on her nape stood on end.

“No, no, no. Please don’t let that be from Hank.”

Smart, sexy, gorgeous Hank who, last night, after worshipping every inch of her body and turning her into a puddle of goo, had said he loved her.

Not that she hadn’t beaten him there. She’d known she was in love for quite some time, and she was ecstatic he felt the same way, but by now, he should have known that Lorelai Pierce, the best-selling dark fantasy author, and heart-shaped, red velvet boxes did not mesh well.

Please, don’t let him be like my ex! The guy whose sole goal in life was to “girl her up”. They’d broken up two years ago, but still, every Valentine’s Day, he’d send her…

Wait. What’s the day today? Of course. The cheesy gift might not have come from Hank after all. With her heart kicking her ribs like a wild stag, she picked the box up and tugged at its too pink ribbon, bracing herself for a flower scent overload.

Her shriek put even Tabitha, her demon-hunted heroine, to shame.

***

“Didn’t you have a pet spider here?” asked the old lady in a distinct Italian accent.

Mike stabbed the Styrofoam block with his shears. “Yeah, she’s … gone.”

Gone, as in hand delivered to Rory, disguised as a Valentine’s gift. Way to go, Mike! Really mature to freak Rory out by sending her his gargantuan tarantula in a heart-shaped box. Maybe his impulsive act of vengeance had temporarily soothed his boiling anger, but now his heart was clenched as tight as the twenty-piece pink roses bouquet he’d just bound with … black ribbon? He rolled his eyes. With a flick of his wrist, his shears snapped the ribbon, and the roses spilled on the counter. He looked at them feeling helpless.

The biggest money-making day of the year, and he felt like storming out of his own shop. But how could he feel any different when Rory–his sweet, loving Lorelai–was cheating on him? How was he supposed to keep his wits together when he had gone to her house to see her laughing in the arms of a tall, muscular man? The man who had visited his flower shop earlier, looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift for “the love of his life”. Rory’s giggles and her “Oh, Hank, stop” cries had carried through her living room window. And all this time, he was standing like an idiot outside, holding the perfect purple hydrangea and lavender rose bouquet, its color blending into his chilled hands.

The bouquet ended up in a trashcan, but he’d made sure she got her Valentine’s gift all right. With her insect phobia, he bet that by now the entire neighborhood had a pretty good idea what it was.

A customer entered, and he looked up, locking eyes with … Rory! Cheeks pink from the cold, a dazzling smile stretching her full lips, that girl was the farthest thing from freaked out; she was a Valentine’s Kodak moment!

“Mikey!” She skirted the counter and threw herself at him. “Oh my God, Mikey!” Pulling back, she placed her hand in front of her face, making him take a step back. “The answer is yes!”

“What?” He held her hand away to take a better look. She was wearing a diamond ring. His diamond ring. The one he’d meticulously removed from his perfect bouquet. The one he’d made sure not to include in the heart-shaped box he’d delivered the spider in.

Rory was ready to burst at her seams with excitement. “When you didn’t show up and never answered my calls, I thought maybe you’d somehow seen me with Henry and came to the wrong conclusion.”

The nerve. “You with Hank,” he said through gritted teeth.

Rory bobbed her head. “Yes. Hank, as in my brother Henry Johnston, Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Navy. The one you’ve never met? The fleet is back from South Korea and he popped over before he went to see his girl.” She threw a hand over her head. “Ooh, he’s a goner! I’ve never seen him so in love. I think very soon yet another Lorelai will join the family.” Her plump lower lip curled. “I wish you’d come over to meet him, though. Only Hank and you can make me laugh so hard.”

“Oh,” was all Mike said.

Jesus almighty, that guy was her brother? How could he have been so stupid … acted so impulsively? Now he’d ruined… But wait a second, Rory was beaming at him and wearing his ring. He ran his hand over his heart and didn’t feel the ring in his breast pocket. How on earth…?

And now she was crying. “Mikey, I love you.” She took a look at the ring and threw her arms around his neck.

Mike held her soft body against his and inhaled her lemony scent. He had no idea how disaster had been averted, but he wasn’t spoiling anything for them. Ever again.

“I love you too, baby. So, so much! Happy Valentine’s Day!”

 ***

Hank’s mind drew a blank at the image before him. Lorelai looked ecstatic. No problem there. That was the reaction he was going for when he’d planned his surprise. What was totally out of place was that instead of his beautiful flower arrangement, she was holding a crawly, hairy beast! And instead of screaming bloody murder, her face was a picture of bliss.

“How did you know?” She beamed a huge smile at him. “I mean, I don’t remember mentioning it, but I had a pet tarantula in my teens. I had even named her. Tabitha. That’s who I named my series’ heroine after. When I lost her, I cried for days. This one,” she gazed at the spider adoringly, “looks exactly like her.” She placed the insect—whose size alone should qualify it for an animal designation—in a large glass container. Swirling around in a manner too girly for Lorelai, she looked at him with bright, sparkly eyes.

“When I saw the red box with the pink ribbon, it looked like a sappy Valentine’s gift, and I thought no, not him, too.” She went up to him and curled her arms around his neck. “But you do get me. Like no one ever did. I love you, Henry Johnston.”

Hank decided to let the mystery of how his beautiful bouquet turned into a hairy monster go for now, and he held her close. She was the most fascinating woman he’d ever met. Independent, mysterious, unconventional. But also so refreshingly genuine.

“Looks like I still have a lot to learn.” He pulled back and gazed into her dark, moist eyes. “But I promise you this. When I’m done learning, you won’t know where I start and you finish,” he said and took her mouth in a searing kiss.

 ***

“I’d better pay for this and let you two lovebirds enjoy your day.” The old lady placed a small gardenia pot on the counter. Mike reluctantly removed his mouth from Rory’s and turned to her.

“It’s on the house. Best day of my life!”

“Why, thank you, young man. That’s so generous. Here’s the address I want this delivered to.” She slipped a piece of paper across the counter to him.

“Right. You haven’t signed it though. Who shall I say it’s from?”

“Just jot down my first name. Everyone knows me by that.”

Mike raised his brows. “Which is…?”

Her smile was surprisingly youthful.

“Valentina.”

New Year’s Teaser – Don’t Kiss, But Do Tell!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, ALL!

depositphotos.com - Vektor by ayeleskeshnet
depositphotos.com – Vektor by ayeleskeshnet

I hope that the first day of January was a teaser of what this year has in store for you. And I hope you’re really really excited! But before we experience the events, surprises and life lessons of 2015, let’s revel in that tingling sensation of anticipation.

Isn’t the anticipation of what’s to come—that adrenaline-inducing, right-before moment— sometimes more thrilling than the actual event? That’s what romance and urban fantasy author, Amanda Byrne, thought when she came up with No Kiss Blogfest: a meme for posting the scene from a published book or WIP where the couple almost kiss; where the tension burns hot, but something or someone gets in the way of it getting out of hand.

I’m taking part with a scene from Fate Captured, a prequel to Fate Accompli, which I’m currently penning. I won’t introduce the scene. Let’s see how it works:

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The coast guard disappeared inside the health center.

Trish couldn’t make out Markos’ face in the darkness, but she felt him draw back and exit the vehicle. He then opened her door and stepped aside.

She got out, stooping slightly as she knew that any effort to stand tall would make her fold in pain, but she managed to look up and smile. “Are you in any shape to play the part of the gentleman?”

Markos gave a half smile. “I’m always in shape to play the part of the gentleman.” He offered her the elbow of his strong arm. “Shall we?” he said in a too formal tone.

You’d think they were about to enter a ballroom instead of the local health center. As patients.

Trish burst out laughing but instantly regretted it, folding in two. “Oh, you’re mean!” she cried, her face a mask between pain and mirth.

He chuckled and helped her up. “Trust me, if I had my way, I’d lift you in my arms and carry you inside.” He pointed to his bad arm. “But I can’t do it single-handedly, no matter how much I’d like to impress you.”

Trish’s heart swelled. That man was drop-dead gorgeous, incredibly brave and kept saying the right things at the right time. Even when his intention was to rile her up. She could so see herself falling for him.

“You’ve already impressed me for good.”

In the darkness, his gaze was so intense, she felt a tingle run down her spine. He tucked a stray strand behind her ear and then stroked the contour of her chin with his knuckle.

“That’s my line.” His voice could melt butter.

If a simple caress stunned her to the point of numbing her mind, how would a kiss feel?

She closed her eyes, trying to focus on what he’d said.

“How so?”

His hand left her chin and came to rest on her lower back, pulling her in. Reflexively, she placed both her hands on his hard chest. “You saved my life.” He cocked his head as if seizing her up. “You didn’t stop to think the implications. You jumped right in! Her eyes snapped open just as his large hands—the one attached to the bad arm included—gripped her shoulders hard. “You could have been gravely injured.” His face and eyes were now hard; almost scary. He tightened his grip and shook her once. “In fact, what is a foreign girl doing alone on an island halfway around the world, working the night shift at a remote bar and then jumping thugs? Are you that imprudent? You could have been killed!”

Trish didn’t know about killed, but buzzkilled she was.

With a snap, outward move of her hands, she extricated herself from his hold.

Imprudent? Who did you learn your English from? Your great-grandmother?” she spat out. “And how would you call getting plastered—oh, sorry,  foxed I meant—effectively bringing your defenses down when you clearly have unfinished business with the mob? Prudent?”

Markos closed the space between them.

“What I do on my island is my own business.”

She drew up, bringing her nose an inch from his. “Whereas a foreigner, much less a foreign girl has no such right, right?

Markos’ jaw was so clenched she thought it would shatter, but his eyes told a different story.

Now. He would kiss her now.

“Are you two stepping in to be treated or not?”

They both turned at the same time. The coast guard’s dark form cast a long shadow over the health center’s threshold.

Markos jerked his chin. “Go ahead.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, ignoring the fire burning her wound. “Age before beauty,” she said, smiling sweetly.

Markos eyed her for a moment and then strode toward his friend. But not before she saw the corners of his mouth lift in a barely-there smile.

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Seriously, I don’t know how I will make a Clean (apart from the Spicy) version out of these two. They’re getting naughtier by the, well, page.

Feel free to make any comment you wish as this is an unedited WIP. If that whetted your appetite for more almost-kisses, visit Amanda’s blog where you’ll find all participating authors’ scenes.

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Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (4,000 views and counting…)

The Viscount Who Lived Down The Lane by Elizabeth Boyle (Review)

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A charming take on The Beauty and The Beast, this historical romance, the fourth in New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle’s “Rhymes with Love” series, will leave fans of the genre truly satisfied. Make sure you enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win one of ten print copies of the book, courtesy of the author. Also, scroll down for a sample of Ms Boyle’s excellent writing.

The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane

Rhymes with Love # 4
By: Elizabeth Doyle
Releasing October 28th, 2014
Avon Romance

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Cover (1)

My Review

Laura Tempest is a disaster magnet. And Lavinia, her identical twin, is even worse! But when they are offered a sponsored Season in London full of social life among the best of the ton, Lavinia drags Louisa with her. While Lavinia is set on finding a respectable husband, Louisa’s practical mind knows that their family’s tarnish won’t be covered with pretty frocks and intricate hairdos. She’s not the marriage sort, anyway. So she brings Hannibal, her devilish one-eyed tomcat with her. With him at hand, no one will bother her.

All Viscount Wakefield wants is his thick drapes shut and his bottle of Madeira full. After the retreat to Corunna, amidst the Peninsular War, that shattered his leg and his heart, he resents still being among the living. But when a cat from hell wreaks havoc in his household and his tempestuous mistress (Miss Tempest, indeed!) decided she wants to put everything to rights, including his life, he bans both cat and lady from his house. So she starts working on his garden. And suddenly that demmed drape insists on letting sunshine creep in even when he’s sure he left it hermetically shut. Just like his heart.

This historical romance was a delight! The language was as authentic as it gets, the plot, although not highly original, delicious, but what made the difference for me were the characters. True to themselves down to the bone, they never falter, and that’s including pets! From the elderly butler and the impertinent new cook to the two kids that are hired as extra help, and Hannibal the cat (unforgettable Hannibal) they all get memorable, fast-paced scenes that often made me think that I’m watching a farse on stage.

The dialogues are witty, the settings well-rendered (although maybe a bit underdescribed) and the main characters set so many obstacles along the way, I really wondered how the HEA would come about. If I must complain about something that would be that the final reconciliation scene was too easy, and there are loose ends concerning other characters, but Ms Boyle has promised that everything will be sorted out in the next installment where we’ll learn what Lavinia is up to. I’m surely picking that one up!

All in all, I truly enjoyed this delightful historical romance. In terms of character development, I would say that Ms Boyle is among the best. This new version of The Beauty and The Beast put a smile on my face–not an easy task with a swollen cheek after a wisdom tooth extraction. 🙂

Excerpt

London, Hanover Square

November 1810

“What is it, Haley?” Lord Charleton asked, sparing a glance at the door of the breakfast room where his secretary stood, hovering about like a nervous sparrow. “Is it Rowland? Tell me he hasn’t landed in the suds yet again.”

“No, my lord.”

The man’s brow furrowed a bit. “Couldn’t be Wakefield.”

“Certainly not, my lord.”

The baron glanced up. “Wouldn’t mind if it was. Demmed waste having him mope about, locked up in that house of his.”

“Indeed,” the secretary replied, and if Charleton wasn’t mistaken, there was a note of irony to the man’s declaration—one he chose to ignore, instead pinning a glance on the impudent fellow.

Under the scrutiny, Haley’s jaw worked back and forth as if the words were stuck there in his craw.

“Well?” Lord Charleton prodded. “Out with it. Before my kippers grow cold.” As it was, the baron shoved his plate forward and set down the paper he’d been reading.

Mr. Haley cleared his throat and held out a letter. “I’ve come across a small debt your wife owed—”

There it was. That cold stillness that came every time someone had the nerve to mention Isobel’s name.  How  Lord  Charleton  wished  he  could forget her passing so this wrenching pain would fade from his heart. Yet, still, even a year after her loss, it was a sharp ache he woke up with, one that haunted him even after he closed his eyes at night.

Now here was his secretary bringing her up when he’d quite forbidden the matter.

“Pay it,” he ordered in a tone that said he wanted nothing further to do with any reminders of her.

“But, my lord—” Haley shuffled about.

Lord Charleton removed his glasses and slowly cleaned them. Then once they were perched back up on his nose he stared coldly at the fellow. He was a good man, Haley. An excellent secretary, but why the man continued to bring up Lady Charleton, the baron could not understand. Speaking slowly and deliberately, so there was no mistaking the matter, he said, “You know what to do. Take care of the matter and leave me be.”

“If you insist, my lord . . .” Haley’s voice trailed off tentatively. It wasn’t so much a reply as one last prod.

Truly? He was going to ask yet again? If he wasn’t the most thorough and honest fellow the baron had ever hired—well, actually Lady Charleton had found him and insisted he be hired, but that wasn’t the point. Haley had become rather cheeky of late and Charleton wanted nothing more than to fire him on the spot.

But Isobel wouldn’t have approved, and so Charlton inclined his head, reined back his ire and said with a final note, “Just see to it as Her Lady- ship would have wanted.” Then he went back to his paper and ignored Haley, who stood for a few more moments in the doorway.

And if the baron had looked up, he might have seen the wry, wily smile that had led Lady Char- leton to hire Mr. Haley in the first place.

CHAPTER 1

London

Six months later

Areowwwwww!  The unholy complaint filled the

carriage.

“You should have left that foul creature back in Kempton,  Miss  Tempest,”  Mrs.  Bagley-Butterton complained for about the hundredth time.

Which equaled the number of times Hannibal had let out that ear-piercing yowl from the basket in which he was trapped.

“He  doesn’t  like  being  penned  up  so,”  Miss Louisa Tempest said in defense of her cat. “And I couldn’t leave him behind.”

There  was  a  sigh  of  resignation  from  beside Louisa. Miss Lavinia Tempest, Louisa’s twin, made a very deliberate show of looking out the window. She wasn’t about to rise to Hannibal’s defense.

Never would.

Louisa suspected her sister shared Mrs. Bagley- Butterton’s exasperation and wished poor Hannibal back in Kempton as well.

“I only hope your godmother is an understanding sort,” the matron continued, shifting in her seat in the carriage and eyeing the large basket on Louisa’s lap with an air of disdain and suspicion. She had protested vehemently against the cat being brought along, but she could hardly prevent the matter when the carriage conveying them to London belonged to the girls’ father, Sir Ambrose Tempest. “I know I wouldn’t have that cat in my house.” She sniffed loudly.

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Elizabeth BoyleAuthor Info

Elizabeth Boyle was an antipiracy paralegal for Microsoft before settling down to write full-time. Her first novel, Brazen Angel, which won Dell’s Diamond Debut Award in 1996, also won the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best First Book, and was a finalist for Best Long Historical Romance. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. She is also the author of Brazen Heiress.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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A rough road to love: His Road Home by Anna Richland (Review)

His-Road-Home-Anna-Richland (1)

His Road Home is an original love story, both heart-warming and heart-rending, that brings together an unlikely couple. Read on for my review and an excerpt from the book.  If you’re US-based, make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, as the author will make a $50 DONATION to The Fisher House Foundation in honor of a veteran of the winner’s choice. The virtual tour is organized by Tasty Book Tours.

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His Road Home
By: Anna Richland
Released October 13th, 2014
Carina Press

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His Road Home final cover

My Review

A marine biologist, Grace Kim, is more into her whale expeditions than into complex people relationships. Yet she finds herself engaged—with all the unwanted family hoopla over her finally settling down—when she doesn’t even know the guy! The fact that he’s just returned from Afghanistan seriously injured after a heroic effort complicates the situation even more. Demanding answers from a speech challenged double amputee, when everyone expected her to play the part of the fiancee, took Kim on a guilt trip on top of her frustration when all she wanted was to go back to her single, quiet life.

But after sweet texting each other while Ray was on a tough rehabilitation program, and she’s deployed to Alaska, Kim starts feeling a lot more toward him than guilt. And when she accompanies him on his cross-country drive back home, their faltering friendship turns sizzling hot. But can Kim be strong enough to support Ray, or is she again stereotyping?

His Road Home is a jolting read. So much for the heroine to deal with here until she settles for unconditional love: prejudices, guilt, objective practical difficulties, social demands … that’s one hell of a tough road to take. And Kim is by nature untrained to be that kind of tough. But Ray is such a sweetheart—on top of being dark and handsome—he makes everything fall into place without exerting any emotional pressure.

There are amazing heart-warming moments in this book as there are painful, heart-wrenching images. From Afghan war-zones and the Gulf of Alaska to a cross-country road trip, this one is quite a ride. The writing is no-nonsense, fitting the bill perfectly. The character development is expertly done, and the HEA while bumpy is right there; uplifting and empowering. What I felt, though, was that this was a story that needed more space to naturally evolve. It seemed that it was squeezed into a small book, giving some scenes a rushed, choppy feel. There were aspects that I’d like to see more of. Like get to know Kim’s traditional Korean parents and their ways more. Or have a better feel of Grace’s role on the Alaska expedition.

That aside, I enjoyed this original and thought-provoking story. It blows many cliches into smithereens, but what’s left standing—proud and tall—is true love. ‘Cause love is all you need, right?

EXCERPT: Grace Arrives at the Hospital

Chapter 2

The rose-tinted stone buildings and immaculate landscaping of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, reminded Grace of a university campus more than a military hospital. On the parking shuttle route, signs pointed to the Warrior Center and celebrated Warrior Pride, and she half expected men in blue paint and kilts to swarm the bus.

The massed display of flags inside the main lobby pressed home the weight of her false pretenses. The closer she drew to reception, the harder the fictions she hadn’t created but had been too obedient or timid to unravel squeezed her stomach. Five feet from the front desk, her charade bit more uncomfortably than the airplane seatbelt she’d worn all night.

“May I help you, ma’am?”

No one else was behind her. She was the ma’am.

The man on the other side of the desk smiled at her. “Are you here to see someone?”

Although she’d read his name in dozens of news articles, she hadn’t said it aloud. Her first attempt was a whisper. “Reynaldo Cruz.”

The keyboard clicked as he asked, “Are you Sergeant Cruz’s next of kin?”

“No.” Her stomach somersaulted as another lie rose to the surface to join so many others.

“Whoa, ma’am.” He reached across the desk as if to catch her. “Sergeant Cruz arrived yesterday from Landstuhl, but we have to ask because sometimes people pretend to know soldiers who’ve been in the news.”

That was her, a pretender. She clutched her jacket over her chest, chilled even inside the building, and hoped the airplane bagel didn’t revisit the scene.

“Name and photo identification, please.”

“Grace Kim.” Her driver’s license shook until she dropped it on the counter.

More clicking and peering before he said, “I don’t have you listed.”

If she couldn’t find out why Reynaldo Cruz had turned her life upside down, she’d never put it back together. Her chest expanded with bottled frustration.

“Hold on, I’ll call the ward to get permission.”

While the receptionist muttered into the phone, she willed the hot ball in her throat to dissolve. If she had to leave, this farce would end without an explanation to share with her family, her boss, her co-workers. The reporters calling her parents would change their tone, and people in Pateros would stop eating at the restaurant.

“Duty nurse confirmed you’re Sergeant Cruz’s fiancée.”

Relief snapped through her, even as the label made her squirm.

“Petty Officer Boichek will escort you. Visiting hours until twenty-hundred.” He clarified, “That’s eight tonight. I’ll add you as a permitted visitor. Here’s your temporary badge.”

Her escort was a woman, younger than her. “Morning, ma’am. This way to the elevators.”

As they left the lobby, Grace’s clogs clomped on the gleaming bare floor. At least her escort wouldn’t hear her thudding heart.

“No matter what, when you see your warrior, smile.”

Anna RichlandAuthor Info

Anna lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. Like the heroine of her debut paranormal romantic suspense novel, First to Burn, Anna joined the army to pay tuition, a decision that led to a career on four continents.

She donates a portion of her book proceeds to two charities: the Fisher House Foundation, which provides free accommodations near military hospitals for families of wounded soldiers in the US and Great Britain, and Doctors Without Borders, which delivers emergency medical care in more than sixty crisis zones world-wide.

To sign up for Anna’s newsletter and find out about her next release, The Second Lie (The Immortal Vikings, Book Two), visit her website at www.annarichland.com

Author Links

Website: http://www.annarichland.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnnaRichlandAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7440825.Anna_Richland

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