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Mailbox Monday – 9/25

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Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Tell us about your new arrivals by adding your Mailbox Monday post to the linky at mailboxmonday.wordpress.com.

I won a $15 gift card from Cecelia from her Instagram followers giveaway. Thanks, Cecelia! If you’re on Instagram, you should definitely check her out at @ceceliareads.

Three more ebooks this week. Pianos and Promises is a Kindle Freebie. I picked Midnight Exposure up a week or two ago but forgot to post it. I requestedChristmas Cowboy is from NetGalley.

EBooks

Mailbox Monday – 9/25Pianos and Promises by Jennifer Peel
Published by Snowy Peaks Media on October 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 364
Format: eBook
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From Best Selling and Award Winning Author, Jennifer Peel, comes a three-story collection of contemporary romances. Set in Nashville, the City of Music, Pianos and Promises follows the interwoven lives of three different couples.

Christopher and Jaime
Doesn't everyone say you should marry your best friend?
Jaime has two goals in life: marry her best friend, and buy her very own grand piano. Christopher never gets the memo and marries someone else. But when Christopher's wife dies, Jaime finds herself raising his young daughter and on the end of a very unlikely proposal.
Can their friendship endure a marriage of convenience?

Beck and Call
What happens when a dashing Englishman and an almost-famous country star collide? Sparks. And lots of them.
Call's life always seems to be on the cusp of working out, only to unravel at the last moment. For instance, when she finally meets the guy--the man she's been fantasizing about from afar--their first meeting is nothing like she hoped; in fact, she wishes she never met him.
But can the charming Englishman change her mind?

Cole and Jillian
Can a few hours really change your life?
Jillian knows a thing or two about the country music scene, and she wants no part of it after her country singer ex-husband. But as fate would have it, she's seated next to country legend Cole Pendleton on a red-eye flight home to Nashville from Las Vegas. Between her emotional state, her fear of flying, and maybe a little vodka, she finds herself taking comfort in Cole's arms and lips during their four-hour flight.
Cole is determined to prove to her that he's a man of his word, but can Jillian trust his midnight promises?

Mailbox Monday – 9/25Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh
Series: Midnight #1
Published by Montlake Romance on August 21, 2012
Source: Purchased
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 315
Format: eBook
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Point, click, die.
When two hikers disappear, their hometown in Maine blames the blinding storms. But the truth is far more sinister. Unaware of the danger, tabloid photographer Jayne Sullivan follows an anonymous tip to find the most reclusive sculptor in the art world. Instead, she finds sexy handyman Reed Kimball—and a small town full of fatal secrets.
Five years ago, Reed buried his homicide detective career along with his wife. But when a hiker is found dead, the local police chief asks Reed for help. Why was a Celtic coin found under the body? And where is the second hiker? Avoiding the media, Reed doesn’t need a murder, a missing person, or a nosey photographer. Then Jayne is attacked, and her courage is his undoing. Reed must risk everything to protect her and find a cunning killer.

Mailbox Monday – 9/25Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Series: Copper Ridge #10
Published by Harlequin Books on October 24, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Christmas Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
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It's Christmas in Copper Ridge, and love is waiting to be unwrapped…
Falling for a bad boy once is forgivable. Twice would just be foolish. When Sabrina Leighton first offered her teenage innocence to gorgeous, tattooed Liam Donnelly, he humiliated her, then left town. The hurt still lingers. But so does that crazy spark. And if they have to work together to set up her family winery's new tasting room by Christmas, why not work him out of her system with a sizzling affair?
Thirteen years ago, Liam's boss at the winery offered him a bribe—leave his teenage daughter alone and get a full ride at college. Convinced he wasn't good enough for Sabrina, Liam took it. Now he's back, as wealthy as sin and with a heart as cold as the Oregon snow. Or so he keeps telling himself. Because the girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together…

Thursday’s Tale: Beauty and the Goblin King

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Thursday’s Tale: Beauty and the Goblin King Beauty and the Goblin King by Lidiya Foxglove
Series: Fairy Tale Heat #1
Published by the author on April 27, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Erotic Romance, Fairy tale
Pages: 154
Format: eBook
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For the past ten years, the Goblin King has stayed locked away in his caverns. He only opens his doors for one purpose: he will give one gold coin for every night a girl is willing to spend with him. Despite his fearsome reputation, his fangs and claws, the girls come back safe and sound, and they never say a word about it. One must be very desperate to accept such an offer…or very curious. Well, everyone says curiosity has always been my downfall. Too clever for a girl so beautiful.

Now my family is on the brink of losing everything. My sister Clara knows the goblin king’s story has always intrigued me, and she’s willing to sacrifice me to get her hands on his money. But I finally have the chance to sate my curiosity.

What will I find when I get there? A man who is cruelly cursed, haunted by a past misdeed? Or the man who will unlock all of my secret desires?

It has been a long time since the Goblin King trusted anyone, but if he is willing to trust me, I might be able to save him and his people. But the witch who cursed him is close at hand, and she doesn’t play fair.

Beauty and the Goblin King is definitely a re-telling for grown-ups. Our beauty, Sabela, goes the Goblin King’s castle by choice. Her family needs the gold that the Goblin King gives to girls willing to spend the night with him. Okay, her family definitely pressures her to do it, but she always been a bit fascinated by the stories and this gives her an excuse to allow herself to go.

This is erotica. There are several steamy scenes, but you do get to actually like Sabela and Nyar, the King, and believe in their relationship. She’s brave and curious and open-minded. He’s caring, under his rough exterior, and sexy. It’s only 150-ish pages so we don’t get quite as much character and world-building as we might in a longer story, but I think I prefer my erotic romances on the shorter side. I was rooting for their happily-ever-after, which they do get.

As a re-telling it borrows mostly from Disney’s version, complete with animate forks , plates, etc. This time, however, they are goblins who have been trapped. A couple of them are well-done for minor characters, willing to do whatever they can to help their king. I really appreciated that the supporting female characters were so strong and independent.

I actually enjoyed this re-telling more than I thought I would. It was a fun, quick read. It was a good balance between the tale and the romance. There were some touching bits, a few tense moments, and the ending made me smile.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

About Lidiya Foxglove

Lidiya Foxglove likes her fairy tales to be very naughty indeed. She grew up on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore and fantasy and loves the swoon-worthy romance and happily ever afters, but thinks the best fairy tales also have the thrill of forbidden desires. If she’s not writing, she’s probably reading.

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.

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