Two Fantastic Historical Romance Authors

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https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780373299379_cinderella-and-the-duke.html

Two of my favorite Historical Romance authors have new books out, just so you know.  Yes, they’re on my summer reading list.

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https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780373299386_forbidden-night-with-the-warrior.html

The funny thing is writers are told to read a lot, and I do, but I don’t actually write Historical Romance myself.  Go figure.

The thing about Historical Romance is it often gets a bad rap for being too mushy, but I can assure you, as a history buff, the Historical Romance I read and recommend is always good, solid historical setting.  You can almost smell the sweat.  😉

Michelle Willingham, An Enduring Author

101959508I’ve read and reviewed several of Michelle’s books.  I can’t find a complete review of my favorite, Taming Her Irish Warrior, so I’ll be posting a different one.  http://www.michellewillingham.com/book/taming-her-irish-warrior/

The thing that got me most about this particularly story was how it was marketed.  The title, the cover art, the blurb, everything about the marketing is typical Harlequin Historical Romance.  But, it is not a typical Harlequin Historical Romance novel, in my opinion.  Sorry.  It’s just not.  This baby would stand against any of the glossy hardback regular Historical Fiction in its accuracy, vividness, and believability.  The Hero is blond and she doesn’t actually tame him.  That title just not make sense.  Both the hero and heroine are living, breathing creatures, not stock models.  The image also doesn’t make sense after reading the story.  Yes, of course, they make love, but the image doesn’t reflect how they go about it, the challenges they each face because of previous trauma.  Now, I realize the marketing is geared to the brand and because that’s what the readerships is used to.  I get that.  But, in this case, I believe this novel could have brought in a lot of *new* readers with a few minor polishes.

Anyway…

Michelle has an extensive backlist and she’s still going strong.  She’s done some Indie Pub too, which featured some great Time Travel.  I love me some Time Travel, you know.

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I messaged Michelle on Twitter and this is what she said:

“My new releases for this year include “A Dance with the Devil” which just released last month, and Forbidden Night with the Warrior, which comes out July 1st. I’m looking forward to this new medieval series that was inspired by “Indecent Proposal.”

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As for valuable insights regarding writing craft:

My advice is to write every day, when at all possible. It helps to keep your head in the story. I will often put down the skeleton of a story, and if I get stuck, I’ll go back and flesh out a scene. It usually will help me to find any problems in the story and pull it back on course, if it’s gone off the tracks. But most of all, write for yourself. Entertain yourself with something you enjoy reading, and the writing will take care of itself. :)”

Thanks, Michelle!

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I was pregnant with my last child when I read and wrote the following review.  That child is now big enough to steal my shoes and walk out the door in them.

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HER WARRIOR SLAVE by Michelle Willingham

*It’s not your imagination. I really am reading more Romance genre novels these days. All those mushy pregnancy hormones, you know, and I gotta have a Happily Ever After. I weep over dog food commericals, okay? So, if you’re an author or an author associate with a Romance novel which needs reviewing, I’m your girl, the Blogging Book Reviewer Now On Semi-Bedrest! Any mushy Romance novel will do, the mushier the better. Not interested in Heroines who don’t absolutely adore babies and small fluffy animals. eBooks are happily accepted.*
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Okay, on with the review.
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HER WARRIOR SLAVE is a good one for you if graphic descriptions of naked body parts trip your personal ‘ick’ factor, but you never met a chocolate you didn’t like. The romantic tension is good and then they’re all over each other like a bad rash.
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Iseult is a passionate lass who previously didn’t have a lot of sound judgment in a place and during a time when such treats were not well tolerated. She got knocked up and then her lover left her for the monastary, of all things. As you might expect, that didn’t exactly make her feel good about herself. So, she had a baby out of wedlock and her family figured her marriage prospects were pretty much shot. Since women didn’t have many career prospects back then, her life was a bust. But, it got worse. Someone kidnapped her baby. So, while Iseult is distraught and desperately searching for her baby, a chief’s son falls madly in love with her and presents her with an option too good to be true. Marriage to wealth and privilage. Her family’s thrilled for her, of course, and his mother not so much, but she agrees to it even though she doesn’t love him because, well, what else is she gonna do? Meanwhile, she keeps searching for her baby.
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Then, one day her husband-to-be buys a beaten up slave whose sense of dignity isn’t exactly typical of his supposed class. When it’s discovered Kieran’s a talented wood carver, the husband-to-be orders him to carve a likeness of Iseult. He obeys. Stupid husband-to-be. You know, some guys really need to learn not to take their women for granted.
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Eventually, Kieran learns of Iseult’s desperate search for her son and their romance builds as they come to know each other as human beings and man and woman, rather than mistress and slave. Soon, he becomes driven to find her baby, which, of course, would make any mommy swoon. I call it Excellent Dad Potential and if you want to be a mommy don’t marry a guy who doesn’t got it. Needless to say, they can’t live without each other after that.
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If you want to see the original, click here-   http://enduringromance.blogspot.com/2009/04/her-warrior-slave-by-michelle.html

 

Enduring Authors

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If you scroll down, you’ll see have changed the posting schedule.  This Friday will be my first Interview & Review feature for my favorite authors from my old book review blog, Enduring Romance.   http://enduringromance.blogspot.com/

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Susan Grant will be my first Enduring Author.   http://www.susangrant.com/

April 13th, good morning add:

Michelle Willingham just responded and will be our Enduring Author next week!

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Thanks, Michelle!  http://www.michellewillingham.com/

Review: SPECIAL DELIVERY BABY by Sherri Shackelford

Will Canfield is a founding father of Cowboy Creek.  He’s got no time to be a father to a foundling too.48a125_4d931f1e59414f7894eae6540be3cd7a

The Civil War is over, but it’s left a mark on him.  A bad leg and a cane are the outward signs.  He’s also Mr. Uptight Grumpypants.  Sure, he wants to settle down to peacetime bliss, but with a sweet, dulcet bride with good manners.  Not a rowdy redhead with the crazy idea of rodeo show.  Texas Tom turns out to be a girl, Thomisina, but no one knows where the baby came from.

Thomasina averted a disaster of cattle storming down main street and then she had the nerve to insist she had every right to hold her show in Cowboy Creek.

The baby was well-fed and came with carefully folded, hand-sewn clothing and every indication she was loved.

Will can’t get his female friend to help with the baby, since she and her husband have one of their own on the way.  And he can’t get Texas Thomasine out of his town or off his mind.

Dude, it’s time to loosen up.

But, Will and Thomasina hardly have time to court, even if they could.

A gang’s in town stirring up trouble, like spearing a bull just before Tom’s show.  It goes crazy, people get and almost get hurt.  Someone gets dumped, badly injured, during the ruckus.  Tom almost gets kidnapped.  Now her pa is dead, she’s free game to cowboys who don’t like to take orders from a female.  Even her buddy from the old droving days seems to turn on her.  Meanwhile, the baby still doesn’t have her mama.

Thomasina decides it’s high time she got into a new line of work.  She enlists help to learn how to dress like a girl and finds out she and her pa actually socked away a tidy sum of money.  Still, she feels she needs to work or she’ll go crazy.

And Will is almost finished building a big house, but his last bride-to-be is long gone.

Thomasina turns Will’s shirts pink trying to work at the laundry.  She tries working in the café dining room and just about boxes the ears of the unruly offspring of guests.

Seems like they both always turn up when there’s trouble.  And then there’s the preacher’s daughter who looks after the baby and seems to be getting too attached to it.

The characters in this story are well-rounded.  Thomasina grows and adapts in a believable way, but holds on to her feisty personality.  Will can’t shake his attachment to her, despite the fact that she doesn’t fit his idea of good wife material.

The baby and her care were believably portrayed, but I would have liked to see her more involved in story and encountered her on more pages.  I don’t fault the author for that, because she obviously knew what she was doing.  I suspect the publisher doubts readers want babies more involved.  Maybe that’s true for other readers, but not me.  What’s so scary about babies?  Big, bad babies, seriously?  If you’re going to have a baby in a story, then really have her in the story, I say.  Let the poo fly where it may.  Builds character.

Ms. Shackleford has a wonderful, growing book list.  Check her out.  http://www.sherrishackelford.com/book-inner

 

Review: THE GOVERNESS’S SECRET BABY by Janice Preston

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*This is the first book review I’ve written in a very long time.  It is by no means a professional review.  I buy the books I review and I only review books I at least like, which is why my reviews are always positive.*

I wanted this book from the first time I saw the cover.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  Harlequin Historicals are almost always blessed with beautiful cover art.  So, I checked out the book first to see if the titular governess was, in fact, a governess.  And not a glorified babysitting gold-digger.  I hate that.  Yep, Grace is young, but she successfully completed a training program for governesses.  You don’t do that in any century, unless you’re dedicated.  Next, I needed to make sure the child was more than cute luggage.  She is.  And the Hero?  Was he involved with the baby?  Check.  So, I read the book.

Orphaned, Grace Bertram was brought up comfortably by her uncle and aunt, but not with love.  As a naïve teenager, she fell prey to a sweet-talking boy who convinced her that he loved her.  But, as is often the case, he took off when he found out she was pregnant.  With no law or ethos or social program to help, she was compelled to place her baby girl for adoption.  Back then, of course, that meant a closed adoption, she wouldn’t know who parented her child.

But, she had a plan.  Hardly a kick-butt heroine, Grace finds her own courage and purpose nonetheless.  You know, like most of us not born with a sword in our hands.  She was of sufficient social class and financial means to undergo training to become governess.  (Otherwise, she would’ve been lucky to end up a nursery maid under the charge of a nanny.)  This would ensure her survival without marriage, of course, but most importantly she would find her daughter.

Nathaniel was an heir with a lot to spare, but his father was killed in the same fire which scarred his face.  He shut himself away, fearing the scorn of others.  Especially female others.  But, then, his beloved sister and her husband died too, leaving him guardian of their adopted toddler.  After all this heartache, he decided to give this precious child the family and home he lacked.  But, he’d need some help.

Following a tip, Grace discovered that her baby had been adopted and then orphaned, like her, and sent to live with a grim uncle.  Despite the loneliness of life in a dark mansion tucked away in Northern England, she jumped at the chance.  Her plan had worked!  She’d found her daughter and could now raise her.

The fact that she was actually Clare’s birthmother would stay secret.  It’s presumably the only way to keep her with Clare.

Despite Nathaniel’s misgivings, Grace doesn’t recoil at his appearance.  She’s young, but affectionate towards Clare.  And she’s pretty.  He’d hardly be a heterosexual male if he didn’t notice that.  Of course, he wonders why she’d agree to such a gloomy post when her governess friend snagged a glamorous gig working for royalty in another, much warmer and dryer, country.

Soon, they’re playing Chess and he’s finding excuses to be around her, like teaching her to drive the carriage to town.  It’s kinda scary.  The local preacher pops up, all young and handsome, and doesn’t make it any easier.

Nathaniel really isn’t my type, as heroes go.  I’m more into the tall, boyishly handsome goofball type with the…finely…sculpted…

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…backside.  What were we talking about?  Oh!  Right.  Sorry.

This is a ‘Beauty & the Beast’ kind of story, so the hero’s the tortured ‘how can anyone love me’ kind of guy.

I loved that Nathaniel decided to hire a governess instead of a nanny, because he recognized that Clare would quickly outgrow a nanny and lose that loving person.  Instead, he decided to hire one person capable of fulfilling both roles.  Also, he spends time with Clare during a historical time period when men hardly bothered with their own legitimate, biological offspring.  He turns his pain into compassion instead of resentment.

Grace is very young and sweet and I love that it’s her maternal instinct which drives her forward.  I am so sick of kick-butt heroines who were seemingly born that way.  Who can relate to that?  Most of us need to grow up and gain confidence through experience.

The big secret that Grace is actually Clara’s mother eventually breaks, of course, but only to Nathaniel.  Of course, he ought to dismiss her by the standards of the day.  But, too late, he’s in love with her.  Can’t let her go.  More than that, can’t let his mommy find out either.  ‘Mama Bear’ already worries Grace is trying to snag him for his money, ’cause she saw how he looked at her.  Can’t let on that he’s in love with Grace ’cause she’d just hate him.  Then, an accident forces his hand and he’s got to come clean.

I loved the twist that the governess is secretly the baby’s mother, kind of like Mrs. Doubtfire, a parent willing to do anything to be with his or her child.

I’d put the Heat Level at Sensual.  The couple do make love.  It’s believable and not graphically detailed.  Nothing gross or stupid, no need to skip that part.  😉

Here is this book’s page on Ms. Preston’s website, with links to various outlets-   https://janicepreston.co.uk/my-books-2/the-governesss-secret-baby/

I like to buy direct from Harlequin.  It’s very difficult to find Historical Romance in my local stores, the site calculates Rewards points for me, and my money lets the publisher know she should publish more books by my favorite authors.  😉  http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=67688

The other books in the Governess Tales are listed with this book on the Harlequin site.  I haven’t read them.  Here are their book covers:

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