March 11, 2017

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Rules for the Reckless, Book 5

Meredith Duran writes a smart and sexy book about a strong woman and politics in 1860’s Great Britain.

Jane Mason lost her parents and her father’s brother became her guardian. Her father was a maverick businessman who made a fortune and then turned to politics, trying to better lives in Great Britain. But he was also smart enough to leave the money in trust for his daughter. His brother takes over his seat in Parliament, but he is not the man his brother was. He is consumed by greed and is determined to get his hands on his niece’s fortune.

Jane was brought up educated and to speak her mind, but her uncle hides her away in the country and tries to will it out of her. Jane is smart enough to know that she is treading on thin ice, and pretends to become the “brown mouse” that her uncle wants. When she is informed that she will be marrying her cousin, she is determined to find a way out of that marriage and out on her own. She arranges a “marriage” but her uncle finds out and stops it. She learns this from Crispin Burke, a very good looking but evil politician in cahoots with her uncle. He offers her a way out if she will spy on her uncle for him and she agrees.

When Crispin is attacked and left for dead, Jane manages to “marry” him, finding her way out of the arranged marriage and into independence. Except Crispin doesn’t die. Instead he awakens with amnesia, believing Jane to be his wife and forgetting all the bad politics he’s been involved in. Together they form a strong alliance for good, but Jane is afraid once he gets his memory back he will get rid of her – and she has fallen in love with him.

Lots of political intrigue permeates this story but it is the romance that is the most intriguing. A very entertaining and enthralling read.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT by Meredith Duran. Pocket Books (February 28, 2017). ISBN 978-1501139024. 400p.


March 5, 2017
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I admit I fell for the title of this book, thinking it would be a foodie book. It really isn’t, although food does play a part. But it is more a family saga, moving between small towns in France and New York, spanning almost a hundred years.

It starts just before World War II when Ondine helps her mother with the cooking and cleaning in the family’s cafe. She is just sixteen years old when an important artist rents the house down the road for the summer. The mysterious “patron” wants his lunch delivered every day, and Ondine rides her bike with her basket of food for Picasso.

He is laying low, caught in a mess – he’s married and has mistresses, all of whom are goading one another. Ondine eventually models for him, and he promises her the painting. But Picasso takes off without giving it to her.

Ondine’s parents try to marry her off to the town baker, thinking his influx of money will help the cafe. But Ondine is waiting for her boyfriend Luc, gone off to sea to make enough money to marry her. Eventually she ends up in New Rochelle, New York, with her own restaurant. Things go awry and she moves back to France with her daughter, in search of the painting that was promised her.

There are two story lines going on here. Ondine’s granddaughter returns to France to try and find the Picasso, so it moves back and forth between timelines, and the mystery makes for a very entertaining and interesting read. There is a bit of romance as well, but it feels more like a device to further the plot.

Historical novels based on someone famous have become quite popular. Fans of Paula McLain (The Paris Wife) or Nancy Horan (Loving Frank) will probably enjoy this book, although I don’t know how much of it is historically accurate. Perhaps the bits about Picasso and how he lived are the most authentic but it is all interesting. I found it a bit slow in the beginning but it picks up once the dual story line kicks in, ended up being a terrific read. Book groups will find much to discuss here.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COOKING FOR PICASSO by Camille Aubray. Ballantine Books (August 9, 2016). ISBN: 978-0399177651. 400p.



Reckless Read Giveaway!

March 3, 2017
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To celebrate the publication of


Fifth in the Rules for the Reckless Series

One lucky reader will win an autographed copy of

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Fool Me Twice!



I am really delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for Meredith’s latest!

Praise for A Lady’s Code of Misconduct:

“Political intrigue and conspiracies abound in Duran’s engrossing fifth Rules for the Reckless Victorian romance (after Luck Be a Lady), which boasts plot twists galore…Duran is at the pinnacle of her craft as she weaves together humor, forgiveness, and love in a flawlessly executed plot. Jane, Crispin, and the rest of the characters are all well drawn, and the love scenes strike the perfect balance of steamy and sweet. Each layer in the story is suspenseful and delightful, making this the best installment so far.” Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW

“A sham marriage, political intrigue, and a case of amnesia provide a backdrop for this absorbing Victorian romance. Although Duran (Luck Be a Lady, 2015, etc.) has written a novel as layered as an onion, the characters are well-drawn and the plot flawlessly executed. Add in some very steamy sex, and the fifth installment of Duran’s Rules for the Reckless series can’t help but delight. This book weaves its spell so thoroughly that the most fortunate reader will be the one who has time to read the entire thing in one sitting. A masterful tale of suspense, forgiveness, and love.” Kirkus STARRED REVIEW


USA TODAY  bestselling author Meredith Duran’s A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT is the fifth sizzling novel in the Rules for the Reckless series—a sexy and evocative Regency romance between a famous heiress and an infamous crime lord. 

Trapped in the countryside, facing an unwanted marriage and the theft of her fortune, Jane Mason is done behaving nicely. To win her freedom, she’ll strike a deal with the most dangerous man she knows—a rising star in politics, whose dark good looks mask an even darker heart.

The bitter past has taught Crispin Burke to trust no one. He’ll gladly help a lovely young heiress, provided she pays a price. Yet when a single mistake shatters his life, it is Jane who holds the key to his salvation. And in a world that no longer makes sense, Crispin slowly realizes that she may be the only thing worth fighting for…

About Fool Me Twice:

In the vein of Sarah MacLean, a sexy and evocative Regency romance between a vengeful duke and a fiery redhead from an author who is a veritable tour de force in the genre. “Readers need to make room on their keeper shelf for Meredith Duran” (Fresh Fiction).


Running for her life, exhausted and out of options, Olivia Holladay wants nothing more than the chance to make a home for herself. So when she realizes that the infamous Duke of Marwick might hold the key to her freedom, she boldly disguises herself as the newest and bravest in a long line of the duke’s notoriously temperamental housekeepers. Little does she know that the wickedly handsome Alastair de Grey has very different plans for her.


As his new employee, Olivia is a fearless upstart. As a woman, the daring redhead is just what Alastair needs to rouse him from darkness to the siren call of revenge. He has suffered a betrayal so deep that he will use whatever means necessary to destroy his enemies—even his brazen and beautiful domestic. But his vengeful plan fails to account for his single weakness: an irresistible and growing passion for the enigmatic Olivia.

meredith-duranAbout the author:

Meredith Duran is the author of ten previous novels, including The Duke of Shadows (winner of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition); Wicked Becomes You (included on the Woman’s World List of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010), and the USA TODAY bestseller and RITA Award Winner Fool Me Twice. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women. Visit her at MeredithDuran.com, on Twitter @meredithduran and Facebook AuthorMeredithDuran.

To win an autographed copy of FOOL ME TWICE by Meredith Duran, please send an email to contest@gmail.com with “FOOL ME TWICE” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by March 10, 2017. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your prize will be sent by Simon & Schuster.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.

3/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™




February 11, 2017
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Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers, #3; Desperate Duchesses, #9 

Eugenia Snowe runs the most exclusive agency in London for governesses. There are waiting lists for her services, and she only places her governesses with the best families. So when Edward Reeve bursts into her office, demanding a governess, she tries to show him out but he’s not leaving.

He’s also gorgeous and one of the richest men in London, despite not having a title as he’s a byblow. But his half sister and brother are titled, and orphaned, and in desperate need of a governess since he is now their legal guardian.

Ward, as he is affectionately known, isn’t taking no for an answer. He plays on her sympathies and soon finds himself with a Snowe governess, but she isn’t working out. He also finds himself starting a correspondence with the beautiful Mrs. Snowe.

Eugenia has been widowed for years and never even thought about another man. Until she is pursued by the brilliant Ward. He proposes an affair but Eugenia falls in love. All Ward is concerned with is making sure his half siblings have the best possible start in life, and because he hasn’t socialized with the gentry, he has no idea who she is, other than perhaps a former governess.

Another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.


2/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

Avon (January 31, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062389459. 432p.


BREATHLESS by Beverly Jenkins

February 9, 2017
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Old West Series, Book 2

As my regular readers know, I haven’t been reading romance, at least historical romance, for very long, just a few years or so. But as a librarian, I know how popular it is and wanted to learn more about the genre. To that end, I showed a documentary at my library that was put out by the Romance Writers of America called Love Between the Covers. It’s available for streaming from Amazon Prime and Netflix and probably other places, too, and if you have any interest in romance novels, I highly recommend it. I found it fascinating.

Many of the my favorite authors were featured, along with one I had never heard of: Beverly Jenkins. According to Wikipedia, she is an African American author “of historical and contemporary romance novels with a particular focus on 19th century African-American life. Jenkins was a 2013 NAACP Image Award nominee and, in 1999, was voted one of the Top 50 Favorite African-American writers of the 20th century by the African American Literature Book Club. Jenkins’s historical romances are set during a period of African-American history that she believes is often overlooked. This made it difficult to break into publishing because publishers weren’t sure what to do with stories that involved African-Americans but not slavery.”

So a very interesting time period indeed, one I certainly knew nothing about. Breathless is set in the Arizona territory, and the main character, Portia Carmichael, manages an upscale hotel for the aunt and uncle who took her and her sister in. Portia’s mother was a whore who sent her children away when they got in the way of her business. Because of her childhood, Portia has a strong fear of men, which she gradually got over as she lived with her new family.

But she’s not all the way there yet – Portia loves her job and her home and never wants to marry. She can’t understand her younger sister’s constant flirting either. Until Kent Randolph shows up at the hotel.

Kent is an old friend of the family, and Portia hasn’t seen him since she was a girl, when he nicknamed her “Duchess.” He has been drifting for years, and is smitten the minute he sees Portia. As they get to know one another again, they both fall hard and Portia is confused, to say the least. Kent is getting past all her barriers and she his.

There are some interesting problems that crop up and I feel like I really learned a few things about the American west and black culture of the time. But it was the romance that got me!

An interesting romance for sure, but with all the requisite passion and troubles along the way to the happy ending.

2/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

BREATHLESS by Beverly Jenkins. Avon (January 31, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062389022. 384p.

IF I ONLY HAD A DUKE by Lenora Bell

February 4, 2017
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The Disgraceful Dukes, Book 2  

Once again I start a series in the middle – literally – this is book 2 of a trilogy.

Lady Dorothea Beaumont is an only child whose mother has spent a lifetime training her to marry up. But Dorothea’s first three seasons were a disaster and she’s not at all sad about it. In fact, she spent a summer with her maiden aunt in Ireland and loved it. Her plan is to move in with her aunt and enjoy her freedom. Her mother, on the other hand, has other plans.

Dorothea is dragged out once again to a ball where Dalton, Duke of Osborne, asks her to dance. The Duke is the most eligible bachelor and hardest to pin down, so his selecting Thea for the first dance makes her immediately and eminently marriageable. Her parents are delighted, but Thea is not – instead, she runs away to the Duke, demanding he take her to Ireland and save her from marriage to an old duke. Feeling somewhat guilty, he agrees and they hit the road.

Adventures abound, not to mention love and sex. This was a fast, fun read and I hope I can find the other books in this series.

2/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

IF I ONLY HAD A DUKE by Lenora Bell. Avon (August 30, 2016). ISBN: 978-0062397744. 384p.


ONE FOR THE ROGUE by Charis Michaels

January 11, 2017
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Bachelor Lords of London Series, Book 3  

I still haven’t found the first book in this series but if I stumble across it, I’ll definitely read it. Like most romances, they really don’t need to be read in order but it is more fun when I can do it that way.

Charis Michaels appears to be a new romance writer and she is definitely on my to-be-read list. In fact, I had stopped reading Avon Impulse books but I’ve changed my mind because of this author.

We briefly met Beau Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh, in the Virgin and the Viscount. At the end of that book, Beau’s brother Bryson turns the title over to Beau, who has no interest in being a viscount whatsoever. He refuses to move into the mansion, instead lives on a small, dirty boat that he is working on.

Lady Emmaline Crumbley is in dire straights. Her parents married her off to a Duke who was forty-some years older than she was, and then they died. The Duke died shortly thereafter leaving her the Dowager Duchess and dependent on her stepson who is considerably older than she. She is also responsible for taking care of her teenage brother who is “simple”.

Emma is determined to get to America and sell off the books her father had published, it’s her only chance at financial freedom. But the new Duke wants to get his hands on the money in trust for her brother, and keeps them under close watch.

The previous viscount makes an offhand remark that he wished she would teach his brother the ways of proper society, and she offers to do so in exchange for passage to America for her, her brother and the books.

This is not as complicated as it sounds, and it’s a good story. Emma and Beau have a strong attraction and this is their love story – and it’s pretty good. A very enjoyable read.

1/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

ONE FOR THE ROGUE by Charis Michaels. Avon Impulse (January 10, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062412973. 416p.


THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian

January 9, 2017
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A prodigious amount of research has obviously gone into the writing of this novel by Chris Bohjalian, whose books cover a wide variety of subjects.

Many people sleepwalk; most fortunately without causing themselves severe harm. Others are not so fortunate and in their walks can do injury to themselves and even possibly kill themselves. Annalee Ahlberg has a history of sleepwalking and is enrolled in a medical project to try and help her. She is also taking medicines prescribed for sleepwalkers.

The novel is written from the viewpoint of Lianna, the oldest of her two daughters, and describes one instance where Lianna actually saved Annalee’s life when she pulled her back from the Gale River Bridge near their home in Vermont. Both Lianna and her younger sister Paige have had episodes of walking in their sleep although nothing apparently as severe as Annalee.

One evening Annalee disappears and just does not appear shortly afterward. After a massive search by neighbors, friends and authorities it becomes fairly apparent that she is dead, possibly drowned in the Gale River. Paige starts to swim the river fairly frequently looking for any clue or sign pointing to the whereabouts, dead or alive, of her mother. No trace is found.

Lianna has a meeting with the police to attempt to determine if they are still investigating her mother’s disappearance. In the course of attempting to get information she meets Gavin Rikert, a detective with the local police department. Lianna and Gavin develop an attraction for each other and it comes out that Gavin is a sleepwalker who is also being treated by the same doctor that worked with Annalee. Also discovered by Lianna is the fact that her mother and Gavin met for talks several times without her father being aware of it. Were they lovers?

Bohjalian has no problem keeping the reader glued to the book. He provides information about forms of sleepwalking, which among other things can include sleep sex on the part of one of the partners. A very intellectually rewarding novel as well as commanding the rapt attention of the reader, and certainly another well done book by Chris Bohjalian.

1/17 Paul Lane

THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian. Doubleday (January 10, 2017).  ISBN 978-0385538916. 304p.


THE OLD MAN by Thomas Perry

January 4, 2017
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The refrain from an old song is “The Old Man ain’t what he used to be.” But Dan Chase is the very viable exception to that supposed rule.

Thirty five years before the story begins, Dan was an extremely capable agent for U.S. Army Intelligence. He was sent to Libya to covertly assist a rebel army by presenting 20 million dollars to a man acting as the agent for the rebels. The deal went sour when Dan found that said agent had kept the funds. He acted based on his own assessment of the situation and absconded with the money. Now 35 years later he is living in Vermont, retired, a widower with a grown daughter on her own. He has two huge dogs to keep him company.

Unlike other retirees, Dan has amassed a cache of “survival” gear including weapons, cash, fake passports and licenses. And just when he believes himself safe after all the years that have passed since the action in Libya, he is attacked by mercenaries that want to kill him. His instincts propel him into action that finds him embroiled in fighting hired killers, stuck in a precarious car chase, and not knowing if those hunting him were hired by the man in Libya from whom he took the cash, or his previous employer, the US government.

In fleeing from his home in Vermont, he rents a room in an apartment owned by a divorcee who happens to be attractive and drawn to Dan. When he is forced to leave this apartment and flee his enemies the woman goes with him and apparently is in love with him.

Perry’s writing is fast, compelling, and draws in the reader. The only reservation I experienced was that the ending is sudden and too pat. This does not make the reading experience any less enjoyable, just not fitting the temper of the rest of the novel. But I certainly would look for a sequel and pick it up if Perry decides that he would like to go in that direction.

1/17 Paul Lane

THE OLD MAN by Thomas Perry. Mysterious Press (January 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-0802125866. 352p.


THE SPARTAN DAGGER by Nicholas Guild

December 26, 2016
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A well told tale of a feud taking place in Greece during the Peloponnesian conflict period occurring about the 4th century BC. During that era, the city states of Athens and Sparta were jockeying for supremacy in the area.

Guild has published many novels with diverse subjects including books set in the ancient world. In these novels his research has led him into fiction in settings that existed during the periods discussed and allowed him to paint protagonists with the probable thoughts and reactions prevalent then.

The Spartan Dagger follows two men living in the times depicted, traveling throughout Greece for many reasons and reacting to the events occurring at the time. Sparta has a culture and system for developing almost superhuman warriors taking young boys away from their families and inculcating them with ideals of war and bravery. The phrase when men went out on war was “Come home with your shield or on it,”meaning victory or death but never surrender.

Shortly before the period of this novel, Sparta had held off a force of about 250,000 Persians with a mere 300 men at Thermopylae giving enough time for Athens to get their navy ready for war. In addition, time was saved for Sparta itself to rally their regular army.

Two Spartan brothers were ordered by their father to go out and prove themselves men by killing members of the tribe of Helots than living in subjugation to Sparta. They do so, coming upon a family who were eating dinner. They kill the father, mother and a daughter but a son escapes. His name is Protos, meaning destiny, and his starts that night. He chases after the brothers managing to kill one and takes his dagger. He spares the other brother but vows he will eventually kill him.

This event starts the many years of conflict between the two. The Spartan boy in manhood becomes a statesman and leads men into battle. Protos finds himself traveling throughout Greece and due to a natural ability as a warrior becomes a leader of forces opposed to Sparta. Each finds love in the book which plays an important role in their development.

Guild is again successful in taking the reader into another era and making events live. Very well done.

12/16 Paul Lane

THE SPARTAN DAGGER by Nicholas Guild. Forge Books (December 27, 2016).  ISBN 978-0765376510. 384p.