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Spotlight: Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

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Spotlight: Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins
Series: Studies in Scandal #2
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on June 27, 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 320
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LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher―an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches―Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

Read an excerpt:

“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.

“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”

“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”

“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”

His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.

“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”

What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.

At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.

“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”

His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.

“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”

Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.

“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”

“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”

“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”

Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.

“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.

Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.

His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”

“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”

Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”

Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”

“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”

Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”

“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”

“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”

Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

About Manda Collins

Manda Collins is the author of several books, including Ready Set Rogue and The Lords of Anarchy series. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams

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Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams

Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams
Published by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. on January 3, 2017
Source: Pump Up Your Book!
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
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No more wedding marches for her!

Wedding planner Roxie Honeycutt can make happy-ever-after come true for anyone except herself. Freshly divorced and done with love, she's okay with watching clients walk down the aisle. What's not okay? Sharing a charming Victorian house with accountant Byron Strong. He's frustratingly sexy and determined to keep her confused.

Roxie thought Byron's expertise was numbers, yet somehow he sees her for who she really is. Somehow he understands the hurt she hides behind a trademark smile. Suddenly romance is tempting again, even if it means risking another heartbreak.

Wooing the Wedding Planner is the type of romance I enjoy. Both Roxie and Byron are good, solid characters on their own and their relationship gradually grows. Yes, they know they’re attracted to each other way before they do anything about it, but they both have pasts that are standing in their way. The problems aren’t too big though, they never seem insurmountable, which I like.

I could be friends with Roxie. She’s trying to be happy after her divorce, to make the right choices for herself, and she’s good at her job. For the record, her family is terrible. Byron is sexy and smart. Due to a mix-up, they are both at the Victorian, although he’s living in a separate apartment. He’s a widower and has always believed that Strong men have one true love and that love lasts a lifetime. His family is fabulous, funny, accepting, supportive. I never doubted that they would get their happy ending, but I enjoyed seeing how they got there.

This was a just a good, nice read that made me smile.

Book Excerpt:

“What was wrong with the old Roxie?”

His words stuck with her. And his kiss.

It was difficult to forget a kiss like that, especially coming from someone…well, someone like Byron. Roxie had spent more time than she’d like to admit trying not to think about the kiss – about how sweet it was. She’d forgotten kisses could be so sweet. She’d tried extra hard to forget how his lips had lingered. And how in lingering he’d awakened starbursts inside her. Starbursts of eternity.

She frowned deeply. Being touched…it had been so long since she had really been touched. The hollowness in her had turned into a resounding ache, and for a few moments she’d thought about bringing Byron’s mouth back down to hers. For a few moments, she’d craved more than his companionship. She’d craved the contact. The promise of heat that came with it.

But had she wanted it – had she wanted him – for the single reason that heat could erode loneliness? There was trust there. There was affection. For those small starbursts of eternity, there had been longing and the promise of flame. It had been too long since she’d felt the sheer, electrical pulse of new chemistry.

Why had Byron’s kiss made it seem like so long since she’d felt the flame? The passion?

GIVEAWAY!

Amber is giving away a $50 B&N Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a $50 B&N Gift Card.
• This giveaway ends midnight April 28.

Good luck everyone!

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About Amber Leigh Williams

Amber Leigh Williams is a Harlequin romance writer who lives on the US Gulf Coast. She lives for beach days, the smell of real books, and spending time with her husband and their two young children. When she’s not keeping up with rambunctious little ones (and two large dogs), she can usually be found reading a good book or indulging her inner foodie. Amber is represented by the D4EO Literary Agency.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Published by Enhanced Media Publishing on December 28, 2016 (first published 1813)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Romance, Classic
Pages: 354
Format: eBook
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Mrs. Bennet has but one aim in life: to find a good match for each of her five daughters. Mr. Bennet, a mild and indolent man given to witty cynicisms, refuses to take this vulgar project seriously; he ridicules his wife instead of giving her support in her schemes. One of the daughters, Elizabeth, becomes prejudiced against her future suitor, Darcy, because of his arrogance and his uncalled-for interference with his friend Bingley’s courtship of her sister Jane. In interfering with Jane and Bingley, Darcy is influenced by Mrs. Bennet’s undisguised husband-hunt and her impropriety in general; he mistakenly believes that Jane is only seeking an advantageous match and that her feelings are not sincere. In spite of his disapproval of the Bennet family, Darcy cannot keep himself from falling in love with Elizabeth, and he proposes to her. The tone of the proposal (it is evident that his love for Elizabeth is a blow to his pride) and her own prejudice cause Elizabeth to coldly reject him...

How can I really write any comments about Pride and Prejudice that haven’t already been written? This is probably my third time reading it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The dialogue, and the story relies on its dialogue, is sparkling and fun. Elizabeth and Darcy are a wonderful couple and complement each other well.

This time around I actually chose to read it because my daughter is reading it for her English class and it’s nice to be able to discuss the books she’s reading at dinner or on car rides. I didn’t read A Tale of Two Cities with her, and I only partly remembered Dracula, but I’m glad I joined her in this one.

Amber and I have talked about the story some. It’s interesting, since she’s looking at it from a different perspective. She’s 17 and it’s the first time she’s read it. Neither of those things can be said of me. I think the thing that struck me most is how she sees Elizabeth Bennet as an early version of the typical YA heroine. She’s strong, well-read, says what she thinks. She doesn’t allow society to dictate her choices and behaviors. At the same time though, she’s fun and more than willing to laugh at herself and others. And she still gets the perfect guy in the end. She is delightful, but even her flaws are positives.

Jane, as Amber sees it, is a little too perfect. Pretty, kind, always seeing the nice in everyone. Once again, her flaw is a positive too, always believing the best in everyone.

The other characters don’t really rate much notice from Amber. Wickham’s the bad guy, and Mr. Collins is rather stupid. She does have to write five essays, so I’m sure she actually does have to think more about the other characters, but we haven’t really discussed them much.

They’ve been watching the 2005 movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. I haven’t seen it, have you? Is it worth watching? All I’ve gotten out of her is that it’s pretty true to the book and Bingley does not look like she thought he should.

Next up for Amber is The Great Gatsby. I haven’t read it; should I?

About Jane Austen

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Austen’s use of biting irony, along with her realism and social commentary have earned her great and historical importance to critics and scholars.

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