Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winner: Dearest Friends by Pamela Lynne


Michelle F.!!

Congratulations, Michelle!! I will be contacting you soon to get your information! I hope you enjoy Dearest Friends by Pamela Lynne!

I want to thank each of you readers as well. Thank you for commenting and supporting Pamela Lynne Dearest Friends

And a final thanks to Pamela Lynne for providing such a wonderful excerpt and giveaway for the readers. 

If you did not win and still wish to win a copy of Dearest Friends, you can head over to Babblings of a Bookworm where Pamela Lynne visits Ceri and is offering another copy for giveaway!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Falmouth Connection by Joana Starnes + Giveaway

I am pleased to welcome Joana Starnes back to Leatherbound Reviews! Joana has recently published her latest novel, The Falmouth Connection. For your reading pleasure, Ms. Starnes talks about villains and provides you with quite an engaging excerpt. Enjoy!

Mr. Darcy Vs. The Perfect Villain
Or
A Spot of ‘Cloak-and-Dagger’


Thanks, Jakki, for inviting me to Leatherbound Reviews again, it’s such a pleasure and an honour to be here!

I believe this is my last guest-post on ‘The Falmouth Connection’ blog tour, and I thought I’d finish on a rather different note than I began.

If you have visited ‘The Falmouth Connection’ Facebook page, you might have found several different excerpts from the book. If not, there are links on my website and, if you are intrigued, please come and have a look. Some excerpts are humorous, as interactions between Mr. Darcy and his cousin often are. Some are verging on the silly and, needless to say, they feature Lydia and/or Mrs. Bennet. Others are deeply romantic, like a certain kiss in a deserted garden in the middle of the night. But so far none have introduced the villains – and maybe it’s time to remedy that.

I had a rather different villain in mind for ‘The Falmouth Connection’ – but then I remembered a comment from a reader who was wondering why would we ever try to invent new villains, when Jane Austen has provided us with the perfect one?

  

Ah, yes. Mr. Wickham – the very man we all love to hate!

I must admit that Elizabeth Cohen, another one of my very kind readers, rather hit the spot when she asked if I should start writing stories where Mr. Wickham has some redeeming quality or another, now that I have met Adrian Lukis at the Jane Austen Festival earlier this year and found him to be such a wonderful person and so incredibly tolerant with two young ladies and a matron who frankly should find themselves at the receiving end of a restraining order ;)

    
Maybe I should consider this one day – or maybe not. For now, I’m rather glad that ‘The Falmouth Connection’ was already written before September and no such dilemmas got in the way.

The story needed a villain – and who can do a better job than Mr. Wickham? Not merely because he is a perfect villain in his own right, but also because we all know that no one can push Mr. Darcy’s buttons quite as effectively as Wickham. Childhood frustrations, which we can only speculate on (and we often do, in our variations), then the very real misdeeds he was guilty of in later years, culminating in the ultimate betrayal of making designs on young and innocent Georgiana. The fact that Elizabeth champions Wickham in the midst of Darcy’s first proposal adds fierce jealousy to the already explosive mix!

But fear not, there are no such explosions in ‘The Falmouth Connection’. Mr. Darcy does not get to make the Hunsford proposal and many changes to the plot occur as a result.

One thing will never change though – and that is the deep aversion that the former childhood playmates now feel for each other. And when they happen to meet with weapons in hand, none would back down – and hang the consequences!

 * * * *

Excerpt from ‘The Falmouth Connection’ Chapter 19


Wickham’s eyes remained trained on his chief opponent, who stood before him poised to lunge and just as carefully assessing his own chances. He grinned and could not deny himself the vast pleasure to taunt his hated adversary.

“Lo and behold,” he sneered. “What have we here? I do believe ‘tis the knight in shining armour armed with a fire-iron! Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Darcy, and ill-prepared as well. How do you think your pitiful poker would fare against my blade?” he sneered again and apparently succeeded in giving the other pause, for he saw Darcy swiftly casting around for a better weapon.

Taking advantage of his foe’s momentary distraction, Wickham lunged and struck but Darcy, devil take him, had impeccable reflexes! The fire-iron parried the vicious blow – and might have also dented his blade in the process, Wickham noted with an oath. Well, be that as it may! Darcy could duel with a poker if it pleased him, but he would have the devil of a job skewering anyone with the blunt, crude weapon, Wickham smirked. Yet his smug self-satisfaction faded once his opponent turned and twisted, skilfully avoided yet another blow and lunged to grab a blade from the positively medieval display that Mrs. Pencarrow had chosen to adorn her great hall with – to Wickham’s detriment and disappointment.

  
 

 The damned thing was not even secured on the wall and readily came off the panoply into Darcy’s hand as the maligned poker clattered to the floor.

It seemed it was now Darcy’s turn to goad him.

“You were saying, Wickham?” he shot back with a curl of his lip that his childhood playmate would have dearly loved to reshape with a cutlass.

With a loud grunt, Wickham lunged again, giving his best strike, but blade met blade in yet another parry, and he could only hope that his enemy’s weapon was a mere ornament devoid of substance or blunted by disuse and age.

To his ill-fortune, it was nothing of the sort.

 * *

‘This must be the stuff of nightmares,’ Elizabeth thought, overcome with terror, as the scene before her erupted into violent commotion, the sickening clash of metal against metal echoing in the vast empty hall.

Hands pressed against her mouth in agonising fear, she watched them lunge, thrust, feint and lunge again, the poor light from the few guttering candles making the scene more terrifying still. Not for herself, not for her own safety but his, Good Lord, for his!

How could she have been so blind, so dreadfully blind and dense? Why did she need to see him facing mortal peril to understand at last how much he meant to her? Was she so devoid of reason and imagination that she had to witness this primeval scene before she understood that her whole world would plunge into grief-filled darkness if anything befell him?

 * * * *

For a chance to find out more, please leave a comment to take part in the international giveaway of one e-copy of ‘The Falmouth Connection’.

There are more excerpts available on my website and on the book’s Facebook page, along with images of beautiful Cornwall and of the places that have inspired this story. Please visit and I hope you’ll like what you’ll see.

Thanks again, Jakki, for having me as your guest at Leatherbound Reviews, for your warm welcome and your wonderful support – as always, it’s greatly appreciated!

Thank you, Joana, for a lovely excerpt! I do so love a good sparring scene. And seeing Elizabeth's reaction to it makes it even more enjoyable. 


From the publisher:
Just as Mr. Darcy finally decides to propose to the enticing Miss Elizabeth Bennet, she is summoned to Falmouth, to meet a relation she never knew she had. 

Thus, the ill-starred Hunsford proposal is avoided – but before he could even begin to understand his luck, adverse circumstances hasten to conspire against him, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is compelled to follow the woman he loves to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril where few – if any – are what they seem to be…






***GIVEAWAY TIME***
Joana Starnes is kindly offering ONE (1) e-copy of The Falmouth Connection to one lucky commenter. To enter, please leave a comment for Joana with your Twitter handle or email address. 
Giveaway open internationally!!
Giveaway ends December 1, 2014!
Best of luck!! 

 Connect with Joana Starnes
Read It Now!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper

Book Blurb:
Parks & Recreation meets The Blue Collar Comedy Tour in this third ebook in Molly Harper’s Bluegrass series of contemporary romances: A love triangle of colleagues heats up the winter lodge where they get snowed in for a week.

Kentucky Tourism Commission employee and executive assistant extraordinaire Kelsey is known around the office for having everything under control. So it’s not surprising that she and her boss, Sadie, have everything planned to the second for the office winter retreat. But there are things even Kelsey can’t micromanage.

An unprecedented snowstorm smothers half of Kentucky and knocks out the power, closes the roads, and generally shuts down the state. Luckily, the lodge has working fireplaces and enough food to keep the staff from turning on each other like something out of The Shining. Kelsey wouldn’t mind being stuck inside if it wasn’t for the tension with her not-so-secret crush, Charlie, the office’s statistician. But handsome Ranger Luke, the lodge’s only employee on hand, is there to take Kelsey’s mind off her discomfort. 

Even though this weekend is supposed to be a planning session for KTC, Kelsey can’t help her mind from wandering and finds herself conflicted over Luke and Charlie. Someone’s love will keep her warm, but whose will it be?

Review (unabridged audiobook):
Snow Falling on Bluegrass was the first Molly Harper book I read (well, listened to), and let me say, it was an entertaining experience. As I listened, I found myself snowed in at the lodge along with Kelsey, Charlie, Sadie, and the rest of the Kentucky Tourism Commission.

After Kelsey finally gets the nerve to once and for all break up with her douchebag boyfriend, Darrell, she decides to finally take a chance with her long-term office crush, Charlie. She even goes as far as packing those naughty panties for the retreat. While Kelsey may have the KTC retreat planned down to the minute, she doesn’t plan for a fierce, power-outing snowstorm or for the handsome ranger, Luke, who is more than willing to keep her warm on these cold nights.

The longer the team finds themselves stranded at the lodge, the more Kelsey finds herself battling her libido and keeping the office pot stirrer, Gina, and other discontented employees in check.

There are several plotting devices that I fancy in a story. One element I love in a story is a jealous hero. When competition for Kelsey’s affection seems to rise between Charlie and Luke, I couldn’t help but laugh at Charlie and his acts of jealousy. The other I enjoy is just desserts. Gina, office mean girl, and Darrell, deadbeat ex-boyfriend, get quite the apropos ending. That is all I can say without spoilers. *insert evil laugh*

Harper does a commendable job creating true-to-life characters. Kelsey is a perfect combination of snarky, sardonic wit mixed with benevolence. She relieves the tension, lightening the mood, with her macabre survival humor while simultaneously putting her colleagues at ease. Luke, Charlie, Gina, Sadie, and the rest of the cast are people with whom any reader may work, be friends, or have past relationships. I found it quite easy to suspend my disbelief with how long the snow storm lasted because I was consumed with each character’s story.

Amanda Ronconi, the narrator, did an exceptional job with her inflection. I loved hearing Kelsey’s sarcasm coming through Ronconi’s voice. It truly made the story even more enjoyable. My two minor complaints about the narration were the pace and character voices. At times, I felt Ronconi’s reading was a bit fast, making it easy to miss parts. I also found that the characters’ voices were too similar. If I was not listening carefully, I would not know which character was speaking unless “replied Kelsey” or “Charlie said” were spoken.


It was Harper’s detailed imagery that made listening to the story a true pleasure. It was easy for me to picture the scenery and imagine the story playing out as I listened. If it were not for such excellent imagery, I feel Snow Falling on Bluegrass would definitely be a book better to read than listen to.

Snow Falling on Bluegrass will be a book I listen to each holiday season. 

FTC disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for my unbiased review. 

Connect with Molly Harper
Read It Now!
Kindle | Nook