Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Thursday, June 30

Title:  Just Like Heaven*
Author: Julia Quinn
Series:Smythe-Smith family #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon
Format:  mass market paperback, digital ebook
Date/Year:  May 2011
Reviewed by: Booklover1335

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review




Summary from the publisher:

HONORIA SMYTHE-SMITH IS:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug" as a child
C) NOT in love with her older brother's best friend
D) All of the above

MARCUS HOLROYD IS:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) NOT in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) All of the above

TOGETHER THEY:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever AND world's worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love.

It's Julia Quinn at her best, so you KNOW the answer is...

D) All of the above

My Musings:

I've been a Julia Quinn fan for years! The Bridgerton series is one of my all time favorite historical romance series, but over the course of the last few years with some of her other novels such as The Lost Duke of Wyndham series, I became somewhat disenchanted. I didn't really care for them so instead of going out and purchasing them as soon as they were released, I waited, and a few I just never picked up.

That is not the case with Just Like Heaven. It was superb! The heroine is the star of the book and is one of my favorites so far this year. She's sincere, loves her family, and has character. She's part of the Smythe-Smith family (even the name is hilarious) that fans of Ms. Quinn's have read about for years, and I have to admit I was wondering how the author was going to make a romance out of a musicale that is a joke in the Ton. But she did it, and in spades.

Just Like Heaven is one of those rare friends to lover stories. The hero and the heroine have known each other since childhood and grew up as neighbors. Honoria was always a bit of an outsider in a large family...always tagging along with her older brother and his friend Marcus. Marcus is an only child who craves the kind of love and family that the Smythe-Smiths have and they welcome him with open arms into their lives. As they grow older they grow apart, but then discover each other again, not just as friends, but as something more, and find that the love that each has been searching for is with each other.

I simply adored Just Like Heaven!  I loved that Honoria loved her family and felt that tradition is so important that she endures the annual Smythe-Smith musicale even though she knows she is horrible, but smiles and puts her heart into it anyway.  I love that Marcus sees and appreciates Honoria for the person that she is, and claps enthusiastically for her because he understands why she smiles even though it’s painful to listen to.  Because that’s what friends do for each other, they support you and love you anyway.

This book is romance at it's best. Witty dialogue, touching moments, funny moments that will make you laugh out loud...it's a feel good book, that you will hate to put down. I adored the book! It's like a cupcake, cake (that is the substance that grounds the book), frosting (sweetness that will make you purr in delight), and some sprinkles of fun to top it all off. I highly recommend it. A great book for JQ fans, and even for readers who are contemplating trying out a romance novel.

And to illustrate I have my own version of a Smythe-Smith recital :)  These are five and six year olds playing a song, which I’m sorry to say you won’t  be able to recognize until 0:44 into the video. 


This is why I think it is representative of the story...  some of the cuties played with enthusiasm and for the love of the music (not realizing just how bad they were), some of the cuties knew how bad they were, but endured the embarrassment of the performance for their families in the audience, and some probably knew how bad it sounded but had fun despite it all.  It’s painful and precious at the same time. But for me it represents all of the Smythe-Smith heroines (which we meet in JLH and will be in future books).  Sometimes you cringe for them, but me, I couldn’t help smile from ear to ear throughout the whole musical program I attended, as well at the entire book :)  I was reading Just Like Heaven when this performance happened and it definitely struck the right chords for me!  Just Like Heaven was a romantic symphony of characters, despite the cacophonic musical performances, that I can almost guarantee that will make you grin from ear to ear in reading enjoyment!

Ratings:

Overall: 4.5 stars (I really loved it!  I think it is the perfect summer romance, but obviously not everyone agrees with me)

Sensuality level:  2.0 (for a romance, this book actually has very few love scenes between the hero and the heroine. Being a romance reader that LOVES steamy romances I was not disappointed in this book in the least, because it was so well written that I didn't care that it didn't go much beyond kisses.)    

For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here

Other Reviews:

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)



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Winners: Lendle, A Wedding Wager & $10 Amazon GC

Did you know you can now earn extra entries in giveaways for sharing the exclusive excerpt flipbooks on Facebook and Twitter?  It's super easy.  Just click on the icons at the top left hand corner of the flipbook when you have it open, sign in at the prompt...and your done!  It's easy peasy lemon squeezy :)  Just thought I should point this out in case you hadn't noticed the new addition to giveaway rules (when applicable).

Now for the winners of previous giveaways:

 

To celebrate the release of Lessons in Indiscretion, author Karen Erickson would like to giveaway a $10 Amazon gift card to lucky Musings follower...





To celebrate the release of the second book in Jane Feather's Blackwater Brides Trilogy, A Wedding Wager, her publisher Pocket Books, would like to giveaway a copy of the book to one Musings follower...






And the winner of the Lendle (Kindle Loaned Book) Giveaway is...

 
(please also send me the title you would like loaned to you in your email)

 
 

Congratulations!   As always, you can click on any of the links or the book covers found on this blog to purchase the books you are dying to read...even if you didn't win them.  If you didn't win one of these, don't lose heart because I'll have some new ones for you soon!

If however,  you've been lucky enough to have already won these book(s) in another giveaway please let me know so that alternate winner(s) can be selected.  Because of 4th of July, and I know that many people are leaving on a short vacation and many not have Internet access (or choose not to spend their time online), I am going to extend the amount of time that winners have to contact me to claim their prizes.  The winners will have until Saturday July 9th to contact me with your mailing address, otherwise alternate winner(s) will be selected.  For new followers to Seductive Musings please take note I do NOT email you that you have won.  The blog post serves as the announcement and it is your responsibility to contact me with your mailing address. You can send your mailing address to me by using the Contact link in the menu bar at the top of the blog then filling out the form.

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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Guest Author & Giveaway: Jenn LeBlanc featuring The Rake and the Recluse

Wednesday, June 29

When you read do you have a mental picture of the characters and the world you are reading about?  I do, though sometimes the pictures I am imagining are not very clear to me, so occasionally I will use a mental image of a place, picture or personality that I think closely resembles what I think it/he/she should look like.  What can I say, I'm a very visual person :)  Which is why when I found out about my guest's illustrated romance, I was completely intrigued by the idea of a romance with pictures!  And delicious ones at that ;)

Author and photographer, Jenn LeBlanc is my special guest today to share with us her illustrated historical romance, The Rake and the Recluse (including some lovely illustrations, of the yummy hero variety).  Read and enjoy!


Welcome to Seductive Musings Jenn! For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story and what makes writing sexy historical romances so compellingly seductive to your muse?

Hi! Thank you so much for having me! I so very much love to share my muse. I think a great love story comes down to some very simple things. Happenstance and connection. I mean really of all the billions of people in the world it can’t be sheer luck that people find each other. I like to think of it as happenstance, something wonderful that brings the right two people to the right place (both literally and figuratively) at just the right time. The second part is that connection. That something. It.

That’s what I love about the time travel. I believe that happenstance is akin to fate, and fate endeavors to bring the right people together, but what happens when they aren’t even born in the same century? Fate takes over, and what happens next is all in the story.

There’s an adage that says “write what you know”, and you’ve done exactly that, but in an unexpected way since your historical romance, THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE, is not just a historical romance, but an illustrated romance. Combining your love of both writing and photography. I found this aspect so intriguing! 

Can you describe for us what makes an illustrated romance different from a more traditional romance, as well as what type of images readers can expect when reading your novel and how they are incorporated into the story? And how well do the images translate on the Kindle and other black and white readers compared to the color Nook? Are there differences in them? Sorry there are so many questions here, but I am so very curious about illustrated romances...after all I love a good Muse :)

An illustrated romance is different from every other romance simply because it incorporates illustrations throughout the novel as opposed to just the cover. Think of it like your favorite cover on steroids; I bring that cover to life throughout the book. The images included are everything from details of specific items in the book. One of the characters handles a river stone, and there is an image of a hand with that stone. There are images of the hero and heroine embracing, of the hero by himself rather wet and mostly unclothed after swimming. So as the story has a range of scenes and emotions so do the images.

The images are incorporated into the story just like you would find them in a traditional story book, right where they belong, to enhance the reading experience. The images are primarily black and white, but there are color images at the end of every chapter, because everyone loves a little color. As far as e-readers go, if you’ve looked at any of your covers in an e-reader, that is exactly how the images will look on your e-reader. While I think the best format for the book is the iPad, color Nook or computer screen (any book you purchase can be read on your computer with the right free software) I love the images on my Sony reader as well, and have heard that even on the Kindle they are quite beautiful.

Your debut self published novel, THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE is the first book in your Rake series. Can you tell us a little bit about the books that will be in this series, how many there might be, and how they are all connected?

The books are to be written in pairs, the first being The Rake and the Recluse (of course) and the story of those two gentlemen. I have several novellas planned from characters within this particular story, as well as another full-length pair similar to this one. So far that is what has been planned. Originally the book was supposed to be a six-part serial novel, with both complete stories included, but it is currently divided into the story of each of the brothers. The novels are all connected by two families, the Trumbull family and the Larrabee family. The Larrabees are the time travelers.

If you had an opportunity to provide only a two or three sentence "teaser" quote from THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE, to grab the attention of potential readers and give them a glimpse and feeling of what the story is about what would it be?

"Francine looked up at him, frustrated. “No, I am most decidedly not all right,” she said sadly. “You walk into a room and I’m overwhelmed by your scent. I walk past the study and I can feel you inside. I’m within reach of you and my skin is sensitive to the point that the very air around me makes me tremble. When you look at me, your eyes burnish my soul. I can feel you touching me, within and without, and you don’t even have to move. I know how you feel. Your calloused hands, the strong muscles that move under your skin against mine. The way you touched me. Here, and— here. The way your lips conform to mine, willing my mouth. I am overcome, overwhelmed, saturated. I feel you surrounding me, and I want nothing more than to feel you inside of me, as one with me. No, I am most decidedly not all right,” she said."

Tell us about your hero, Gideon Trumbull, the Duke of Roxleigh. What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Francine, fall in love with him despite being from a different time? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE?

Ah Gideon, I am so very smitten with that man. He has a terribly difficult upbringing. Beyond the expectations of his position as the future Duke of Roxleigh he loses both of his parents long before he should. He tends to hide behind his responsibility to the crown, avoiding all things emotional, until this woman falls into his lap and under his roof. On the surface, which is where he keeps the majority of the people in his life, he is gruff, powerful, and stoic. He expects only the very best from himself, and those around him, and has very little patience for society and their hierarchy of popularity. Francine isn’t sure why she is so drawn to him at first. She sees what everyone else has always seen, this unstoppable force of nature that no one dares cross. But she saw something else there, when she was injured, something deep inside him, a very real terror that he had caused her irreparable harm.

With both of them fighting each other, and themselves, it takes a bit of time to come together but when they do there is nothing that can separate them. Gideon’s story really is very endearing; he has quite a road to travel to become the man worthy enough, the man he is supposed to be —not the duke— but the man for Francine.

What's your favorite scene or moment from The Rake and the Recluse, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

Oh that is such a difficult question! There are so many things I love about this novel, but so many of them I can’t share due to their spoileriffic qualities. One of my favorite things about Gideon is that he loves to ride--it is the only place he is able to find peace in his ordered life. It speaks to the passion he has, the passion he keeps carefully tethered. Here is a little snippet about that, as well as the image:

"Samson’s grace and surefootedness at breakneck paces was the closest Roxleigh had ever come to some semblance of peace in his life. His head was never clearer, his nerves were never calmer, and his mind was never more unbound than when he rode Samson. He listened to the horse’s steady breathing, the exertion of his exhalations, and the steady beat of his hooves, punctuated by the swift silence of the jumps and the exclamation of the landing, like a staccato symphony. His mind unfurled its stressed tethers with the smooth action of Samson at full speed."



What are five fun facts about you or this book, that readers would love to know?
  1. The book was photographed over eight day-long shoots, spread out over an entire year, because shortly after starting the project my muse, Mr. Derek Hutchins, moved to California to pursue his modeling career. He and I have become very good friends over the course of this project, and I’m actually going out to visit him next month.
  2. I grew up in a foster home, though I was not one of the foster kids--my parents opened their home to fostering. So the background in the book with Francine growing up in the system is actually from my experience as a child with foster sisters and brothers.
  3. I also did a great deal of research into British, American, and French sign-language for this book. I adore sign language and love that it is one language that has the possibility for universal understanding.
  4. When I wrote the book I did not intend to illustrate it. It was only once I decided to shoot the cover, then met Derek and made this connection, and realized what the possibilities could be with e-readers that I decided to fully illustrate the book.
  5. I cannot read paper books very well. I have an issue with my hands and actually holding open books for a long period of time is very painful. I had stopped reading much as it took months for me to finish a book. Then I got a Sony reader in January of 2009 and have read close to 400 books since. I think they are the best things ever invented.
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or new projects that we can look forward to?

I am currently working on the illustrations for Perry’s book (Gideon’s brother) and the expected release for that is February 2012. I am also writing a novella for an upcoming historical anthology expected in January of 2012. Beyond those two I have several novellas and a couple short stories that I will publish between now and then to keep my fans happy.

As for Derek’s fans, I’ll be shooting more for his portfolio when I go visit in July, and I have several very exciting projects slated where I’m working with other romance authors who are in need of sexy man photography.

If you could ask readers a question what would it be?

If you were to be whisked away to a different time and place, where would you hope to end up?

Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be?

When you grow up, you will learn that growing up is overrated.


Francine Larrabee woke up on the wrong side of the century. She was fairly certain she went to sleep in her own comfy bed, but she doesn’t quite seem to be there now. Only adding to her problems is that she has no voice, is constantly being glowered at by a large, stunning man who is obsessed with propriety, and she is apparently betrothed to another horrid little man, determined to ruin her, and any other girls that get in his way.

How does she find herself in the past, when she couldn’t even find herself in her present? How does a self sufficient businesswoman survive in a time when women were still considered property for the whole of their lives and what is she going to do with this man who draws her to him so fiercely.

Read an excerpt, and read an exclusive excerpt for Musings readers in the flipbook below (or in a google doc here)


Congratulations Jenn!  I absolutely love the idea of an illustrated romance, but I guess anyone familiar with this blog should know that...ya know because I love a good Muse :)  The Rake and the Recluse released as a digital book earlier this year, but it is also available as a print book too.  I can only imagine how well those illustrations look on paper :)

If you would like to learn more about author and photographer Jenn LeBlanc you can find her at her website www.illustratedromance.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

To celebrate Jenn LeBlanc's first illustrated romance, The Rake and the Recluse, she would like to giveaway one digital copy of the book to a very lucky Musings follower.  Here's how you can enter to win:

Ways to earn entries:
  • Mandatory:  Answer the question Jenn asked readers in the interview, AND leave her some comment love about this book and/or illustrated romances. (good for 1 entry)
  • Mandatory: You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • If you have a blog, or even if you don't, you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they successfully enter to win and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries. You can blog about it with a link to this post, post it on Facebook, Twitter, email...or even word of mouth (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) . Please note that to earn the points they must mention your GFC name so that I can match you.
  • You can also earn extra entries by sharing the flipbook excerpt on Facebook, Twitter, your website or blog or other social media sites. You can earn 5 entries for each place that you share it and leave a link in the comments.
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment 
Rules and disclaimers:
  • This contest is open to US & International readers
  • You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country
  • The contest will end on July 2nd at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using Random.org
  • The winner(s) will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Winners will be subject to one copy per household, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, that you will only receive one copy of the title in the mail
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice
Good Luck!
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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)








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Guest Author & Giveaway: Meredith Duran featuring A Lady's Lesson in Scandal

Tuesday, June 28

Today, it is my great honor to have the author who wrote, what I consider to be, the best first line in a romance novel last year.  So often books blur together, especially historical romances (at least for me since I read so many).  But when I can remember a specific line from a book that I read months and months ago, I consider that AMAZING storytelling!

Historical romance author Meredith Duran is my special guest today to share with us her newest novel, A Lady's Lesson in Scandal, which I have no doubt will contain many memorable lines and/or moments.  Read and enjoy!


Welcome back to Seductive Musings Meredith!

Thanks so much for having me!

For some readers the first sentence/beginning of a book is one of the most important moments, maybe even just as important as the last sentence/ending in the story.  I still remember the first line from Wicked Becomes You, and how much I absolutely loved it, “England was a wicked bitch who wished him ill”.  LOVE. IT!  What is the first sentence from A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal?  What do you think it says about the story to come?  And how important is this to you to get just the right line/beginning?

The first sentence of A Lady’s Lesson:
“By the time the whistle finished shrilling, Nell was already out the door.”
This opening line isn’t quite so vivid as Alex’s opinion of England in Wicked Becomes You, but it certainly hints at Nell’s feelings about the factory where she works—and the fact that she’s willing to hustle (in the figurative as well as the literal sense) to achieve her goals.

As for how to determine the “right” beginning (a great question!), I’m never clear on where to start until I’m well into writing the book and have a good grasp on the characters’ deepest fears and needs. To wit: A Lady’s Lesson originally started with the excerpt now featured on my website, in which Nell breaks into Simon’s house. That’s quite an action-packed scene and it captures Nell in a moment of profound crisis. Ultimately, though, I realized that we needed to know who she had been right before her world shattered. So, I backed up in the narrative and began with what appears to be another ordinary day in Nell’s life, but which, by midnight, has called into question everything she thought she knew about herself.

Most authors have a synopsis, outline or idea of what the story they are about to write will be.  However, sometimes during the writing process your “Muse” might speak to you and lead you in a different or unplanned direction.  What surprised or changed the most from your original intent of A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal?

I am wholly unaccustomed to writing about well-adjusted men, but Simon—despite my intentions, and his own personal history—turned out to be one!

To be fair, he didn’t appear well-adjusted when I started writing this book. He’s downright beautiful, popular with widows and wives, bored with social niceties, and makes a performance of being untroubled by the world’s good opinion. That sounds like the classic rake, does it not? And since I’d never written a true rake before, I was game to do so.

But, no. Whereas a true libertine is completely self-involved and singularly intent on his own pleasure, Simon is full of curiosity and thoroughly intent on making others enjoy themselves (even—and despite—their intentions to the contrary). He’s too pleased with himself to indulge in the sort of self-loathing that motivates true libertines–and too curious about other people, about what motivates and impedes them; too imaginative and too compassionate in some ways to count as a true rake.

It took me about 120 pages to realize that his resemblance to a libertine was, in fact, his camouflage. Once I did, and went back and rewrote him, voila: true chemistry was born between him and our heroine.

Tell us about your hero, Simon St. Maur.  What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Nell , fall in love with him? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal?

Occasionally in life you meet someone whose extreme charisma is born of his complete comfort in his own skin. Simon is one of these people. He knows his own strengths but he also has no illusion regarding his flaws.

The very fact that he’s not hard on himself (or on anybody else: he doesn’t judge the milkwater misses for behaving as debutantes must; doesn’t scoff at pompous landowners for prating about their hunting hounds; doesn’t revile the trappings of his station, rather enjoys them, in fact) makes him a fascinating match for Nell.

Nell has lived a hard life. By necessity, she is wary, mistrustful, and ungenerous in her judgments. Moreover, she has every reason to scorn this man’s promises until he has proved that he will honor them.

She’s a challenge to Simon, who rarely runs up against anyone he can’t persuade. That said, he also understands her at an intuitive level, because he has a strong instinct for self-protection (born of his upbringing) that borders on wariness. Most people in Simon’s life, even his friends, don’t know him nearly as well as they think they do. He simply protects himself more subtly than Nell does–-not with defiance but with layer upon layer of impenetrable charm.

This is a romance, then, between two people who don’t trust anyone—Nell, because she has been burned; Simon, because, among other things, social success in his world punishes honesty and true intimacy. At the start of the book, both of them are very comfortable with their own strategies of self-protection. But these begin to fracture and fail as they fall in love with each other, which makes for some splendid tension and conflict.

To sum it up: A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal is a variation on the classic Pygmalion tale. The East End slum rat becomes a lady. But Simon’s transformation is no less dramatic.

What's your favorite scene or moment from A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

Initially, forced into Simon’s world, ignorant of the rules that govern it, Nell is at a real disadvantage. But gradually the balance of power between them begins to shift. A pivotal moment in this transformation takes place after Nell has successfully completed her etiquette training, proving herself adept at a dinner table where each place setting comes with seven pieces of silverware. Afterward, sensing her exhaustion, Simon decides to give her the night off, and asks her, for once, what she would like to do.

I had so much fun writing the pool game that follows. I won’t spoil it, but I’ll share the lead-up.

The white ball cracked into the red, sending it spinning into the top pocket. Nell straightened with a broad grin. She had an unlighted cigar clamped between her teeth, and as she cast down her cue, her hand went to the glass of whisky she’d balanced on the table’s edge. “Three more strokes to me,” she said. She plucked the cigar from her mouth and pointed it at his eye. “How’s that feel, laddie?”
  
“I’m trembling,” Simon drawled.

“As you should be.” She winked at him, then tipped back her glass for a long, unfeminine swig. Simon’s gaze wandered down the line of her throat to the low neckline of her golden gown. The lean, graceful tension of her bare upper arms fascinated him. He regretted the long white gloves that disguised the tender curve of her inner elbow. Uncreative schoolboys might dream of orgies featuring nuns, but the truly precocious dreamed of a woman like this: bohemian and endlessly surprising. Self-possessed and quick-witted enough to keep any man on his toes.

Generally boys grew up to realize that such women existed only in dreams. Finding one in his billiards room somewhat took his breath away.

Her swallow was noisy. She smacked her lips as she set down the glass. He’d invited her to behave without a care for propriety, and she’d spent the last half hour testing the sincerity of his offer. “A dead heat,” she said gleefully.

He retrieved his cue, grabbing a length of sandpaper to roughen the leather tip. “Not for long, of course. But by all means, enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Oh, I expect it won’t be long,” she said comfortably. “You’ll be fouling, this next strike.”

He snorted. “My dear, misguided twit, you’re playing the top scorer in the Oxford-Cambridge matches of seventy-five and seventy-six. I never left St. James’s Hall that I wasn’t carried out shoulder-high.”

“Oh ho, a sharper!” She retrieved her glass to make him a toast. “My sympathies on your coming defeat, then, boy-o. Bound to be bitterer than your whisky.”

He laughed as he exchanged sandpaper for chalk. She was a sharp-toothed tiger wrapped up in silk. “I think I’ll make you pay for that taunt.”

“Will you, now! And what price for your arrogance, me pretty lad?”

He looked up from the chalk, smiling slowly. “I am pretty, aren’t I? High time you noticed.”

Color rose in her face, but she did not look away—not even as she returned the glass to the small shelf behind her and placed her cigar beside it. Eyes remaining on his, she came padding around the billiards table in her stocking feet.

It was he who broke the gaze to look downward, to the white silk stockings that revealed glimpses of the slim shape of her toes. Her small feet flexed gracefully, the arches deep, her ankles trim—she was lifting her skirts higher than her short steps required.

He felt his smile deepen. Oh, he knew what she was on about, here.

As she arrived at his side, the delicate scent of lilies reached him. Somebody, the French maid, had put perfume on her, and it seemed to spread tendrils that twined into his brain and tightened around it, strangling his good sense.

Her breasts brushed his arm as she leaned past him to set the red ball at the billiards spot. “You’re going to lose,” she purred, glancing up at him from beneath her long, dark lashes. “In that dining room, you may know what’s what, but this is my sort of table.”

“Hmm.” He held her eyes, arrested by the glint in them. That glint invited him to commit mischief: she wasn’t the only one intending to misbehave. “Perhaps we should make a wager on it.”

I assure you, this is a wager he will come to regret. :)

What are five fun facts about you or this book, that readers would love to know?
  1. Nell was originally called Polly. The name began to seem too soft for her. She conceals her tenderness as a survival strategy. I couldn’t picture her answering to such a mellifluous name.
  2. I cannot outline. I have outlined several books from A to Z. All of these outlines sound good to me, but I’ve never finished one of these books. Oh, to be a plotter! But after so many false starts, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the only way I can prepare for writing a book is by developing the characters. Knowing what will happen to them vitiates my enthusiasm.
  3. Certain gymnasiums in Victorian London had swimming pools! I’m not sure why this surprised me so much, but it did. Simon’s a habitual swimmer (with a body to match :).
  4. Most parts of the East End did not have a steady public water supply until the 1900s. Before doing the research for this book, I hadn’t realized quite how dire life was in the slums of late Victorian London.
  5. In primary sources from late Victorian England, factory girls appear to be the natural forerunners to flappers! Bold, independent, spirited, outspoken, these girls were famous for not taking any guff. My only regret is that I did not get to include a scene I wrote in which Nell and her best friend, Hannah, head off to the music hall to see a show. Factory girls did not sit at home at night embroidering. Many of them had very active social lives after dark!
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or new projects that we can look forward to?  Will you be writing any series that we can eagerly anticipate?

I’m finishing up my next book, At Your Pleasure, which has a tentative release date of May 2012. This is my first Georgian, set very early indeed (1715, the year George I took the throne). I had a glorious time researching this era! The conflict in AYP revolves around an aspect of the Jacobite movement not often explored in historical romances – namely, Jacobitism in non-Catholic English circles. As I mentioned on twitter recently, the hero of this book may be my first true, undisputed, sword-wielding, bad-ass Alpha. I adore him... but as husband material, I’m pretty certain I’d prefer Simon. :)

If you could ask readers to finish a sentence, what would it be?

Ha.  “I’d be shocked and thrilled to read about a hero who...”

Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be?

Happiness is not a gift, but a practice to be cultivated daily.


IN GRITTY, WORKING-CLASS LONDON, SHE DOES WHAT SHE MUST TO SURVIVE . . .

When Nell Whitby breaks into an earl’s house on a midnight quest for revenge, she finds her pistol pointed at the wrong man—one handsome as sin and naked as the day he was born. Pity he’s a lunatic. He thinks her a missing heiress, but more to the point, he’ll help her escape the slums and right a grave injustice. Not a bad bargain. All she has to do is marry him.

A NOTORIOUS LADIES’ MAN COULD TAKE HER FROM POVERTY TO OPULENCE . . . BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

A rake of the first order, Simon St. Maur spent his restless youth burning every bridge he crossed. When he inherits an earldom without a single penny attached to it, he sees a chance to start over—provided he can find an heiress to fund his efforts. But his wicked reputation means courtship will be difficult—until fate sends him the most notorious missing heiress in history. All he needs now is to make her into a lady and keep himself from making the only mistake that could ruin everything: falling in love. . . .

Read Chapter 1, and an additional excerpt (the original beginning of the book)


Congratulations Meredith!  Today is A Lady's Lesson in Scandal's official release day, so if you've been tempted hopefully you will be able to find it at your favorite local bookseller....if not you can always find it online :) 

If you would like to learn more about Meredith Duran and the historical romances that she writes, you can find her at her website www.meredithduran.com, the blog she shares with fellow romance writer Sherry Thomas, Twitter, and Facebook.  One of my favorite things on her website is the section for each book called the "stories behind the story" I absolutely love this!  It's basically the literary equivalent of a "cutting room floor."  I'm always fascinated by things like this :)

To celebrate the release of Meredith's newest historical romance, A Lady's Lesson in Scandal, her publisher Pocket books would like to giveaway one copy of the book to a very lucky Musings follower.  Here's how you can enter to win:

Ways to earn entries:
  • Mandatory:   Complete the sentence that Meredith asked readers to finish in the interview, AND  leave some additional comment love for the author regarding her books that you may have read, or what intrigued you the most about A Lady's Lesson in Scandal. (good for 1 entry)
  • Mandatory: You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • If you have a blog, or even if you don't, you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they successfully enter to win and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries. You can blog about it with a link to this post, post it on Facebook, Twitter, email...or even word of mouth (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) . Please note that to earn the points they must mention your GFC name so that I can match you.
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment 
Rules and disclaimers:
  • This contest is open to US addresses only
  • You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country
  • The contest will end on July 2nd at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using Random.org
  • The winner(s) will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Winners will be subject to one copy per household, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, that you will only receive one copy of the title in the mail
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice
Good Luck!


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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)


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Monday's Muse:

Monday, June 27

Sorry, but the image containing the Monday's Muse has been removed from this blog so as not to violate any copyright issues.  Thanks for your understanding!

If you didn't already know, Lorelei James's newest Rough Rider novel, Chasin' Eight, releases this week (tomorrow actually) and I am so freaking excited about it!  That's why this week's Muse is our "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy"  (literally) Muse :)  He may, or may not be, a cowboy (what with the white jeans and all) but he wears that saddle might fine, don't you think?  I finished Saddled and Spurred a little over a week ago and I have been having major cowboy withdrawal (a la James) so Tuesday can't come fast enough for me!!!!

Have y'all read this series? (normally I'm not Southern...or Western in my accent.  I'm from the Midwest, but something comes over me) If so which one is your favorite?  I happen to know someone who's been lucky enough to have already read Chasin' Eight and she says that it's her favorite of all of them.  That to me is saying a lot.  I honestly don't think I could choose a favorite...because I have some mad love for the entire series.  I love love love them all for different reasons.  Anywho....


This week at Seductive Musings:
  • Monday:  Hopefully later today I will have the winners from the outstanding (as in yet to be announced winners) giveaways, if for some reason this doesn't happen I will try and post them on Thursday instead.
  • Tuesday:  Author Meredith Duran will by my guest to celebrate the release of  her newest historical romance, A Lady's Lesson in Scandal (which I am reading right now)
  • Wednesday:  Self published author and photographer Jenn LeBlanc will be my guest to give us insight (in a mighty tempting way I might add) into her illustrated historical romance The Rake and the Recluse (is anyone else as intrigued by the idea of an illustrated romance like I am... ya know, being the Muse lovers that we are?)
  • Thursday:  I will have reviews for Julia Quinn's Just Like Heaven, and Karen Erickson's Lesson in Indiscretion
  • Friday:  Lorelei James will be here with a fun way to share more about her newest Rough Riders novel, Chasin Eight, where I have a feeling that the heroine Ava does indeed save a horse by riding her cowboy :)
  • Tempting Trailer: This week it is for Caridad Pineiro's romances including her romantic suspense, The Fifth Kingdom, and the first book in her upcoming Sin Eaters paranormal romance series, The Lost.  I was so intrigued by the video that I am seriously thinking about picking up The Fifth Kingdom when it comes out in July.  Here's a peek at the video:
Also of Interest:
  • yeah, I still don't have anything for you here.  I'm still mega behind and have absolutely NO clue what is going on in the blog world except for what's going on here at SM (and some days that is even questionable).  If you know of ANYTHING that you would like for me to share, shoot me an email.

Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week, especially Musings authors Lorelei James, Karen Erickson (two weeks in a row!), Lori Foster, Meredith Duran, Paula Quinn, Vicky Dreiling,  and Stephanie Julian!


Booklover signature (revised)

*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)



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My FREE Kindle Quest

I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy one...so in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
Goal: $119
Current Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card balance: $90.00
If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca gift cards on this rewards site)
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