Monday, September 29, 2014

Book review: His Wicked Seduction

Remember when I mentioned how I've been corresponding with author Lauren Smith and how she was kind enough to send me advanced reading copies of her novels? Well, the first book of hers that I reviewed, The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall, has finally hit the bookshelves! I cannot wait to get my own physical copy and I'm sure you can't as well! You can read my review of TSoSH here and buy the book online here.

Lauren has also kindly consented to allowing me to post my review of her next novel, His Wicked Seduction, so I thought I'd finally share it with all of my lovely readers!

I hope you all enjoy!

If there's anything you'd like me to review, you may send me an email at  :)


His Wicked Seduction
The League of Rogues, book 02
Lauren Smith


Godric, Duke of Essex, Lucien, Marquess of Rochester, Charles, Earl of Lonsdale, Cedric, Viscount Sheridan, and Ashton, Baron Lennox have unwittingly been dubbed by the society pages as the League of Rogues, a merry band of debauched nobles hellbent on seducing their way through the beau mond and occasional demimonde. As word of the pen name reaches their little group, the 5 rakehells are all too happy to oblige their new but notorious sobriquet. After all, a gentleman honors his titles.

Having met the League in authoress Lauren Smith’s first book about our rogues, Wicked Designs -- Godric’s book and possible salvation -- Smith begins Lucien’s story in more familiar territory. Having been chased back to the buxom of town (and the ton) thanks to Emily Parr, new Duchess of Essex and Godric’s wife, Lucien finds himself in constant company of Miss Horatia Sheridan, younger sister of Cedric, Viscount Sheridan, and sole reason for his current discomfort.

Having helped rescue the chit from a carriage accident that took both her parents many years ago, Lucien can’t help but hold a soft spot for the then-young lady. Over the years, he has watched her bloom, albeit from a close but chilly distance, from a young girl to a beautiful lady. And while our hero recognizes that his tendre for the young miss has bloomed into an aching love for the wisened woman, he fears for his black past as well as the repercussions of romancing his bestfriend’s sister.

Horatia, deeply grateful for the comfort the red-headed Marquess extended to her during such a painful time of her life, cannot help but cling on to the heroic memory of her older brother’s friend, no matter how cold he is to her at present. Still, after so many years of perceived unrequited yearning, Horatia is finally ready to give Lucien a woman’s love, and no longer a child’s infatuation.

Soon, a threat to their not-quite-peaceful coexistence emerges in the form of a near accident and death threat, a story arc carried over from Godric’s book. Worried that their childhood nemesis, Hugo Waverly, is upping his game, so to speak, the League decides to have Cedric, along with his sisters Horatia and Audrey, hightail to Lucien’s estate in Kent.

Once properly ensconced in the country, Horatia and Lucien begin to wonder if they can put away their demons and maybe discover that a future with each other is bright, even amidst the bleakness of their present.

Smith blows my mind once again with her artful story-telling and edge-of-your-seat plots! It is no secret that I favor series’ over standalones and with the LoR, I’m proved, once again, why it is so. While I did highly enjoy Godric and Emily’s story, there were precious few moments outside of the two. Here, however, having already established most of the men in the league, we were treated to many interesting anecdotes and supporting stories sans Lucien and Horatia.

A particular favorite series trope of mine is character development and buildup, as well as a glimpse of the previous leads. In HWS, we re-visit Emily and Godric and sneak a peek at how married life is faring for them. More than that, however, I like to keep guessing at whose story will develop next. In this, Smith humors me plenty. I was kept constantly guessing as to who ends up with whom. Her way with characters and words are kept so human that each character has a specific and definite relationship. Chemistry is oozing from their pores, and you are left with many a ship to root for.

For example, while Cedric’s youngest sibling, Audrey, has expressed interest in Jonathan, Godric’s younger half-brother, I love the playfulness and historically gender-bending friendship she shares with Linus, the youngest Russell brother. While inter-sex friendships were encouraged for children, they defied the odds and kept a close relationship even as a in-the-marriage-mart Miss and Cambridge graduate. And speaking of young Linus, we also peep a light flirtation between he and a daughter of a close family friend, Lucinda. I suspect the two can cause many a jealousy between their respective love stories.

Gregory, Lucinda’s brother, has also shown a possible partner for the youngest Russell sister, Lysandra, as evidenced by the sparks that I detected during a very fun snow fort battle. Lysandra, a character I already love due to our similarities in name – and nature! She’s a bluestocking of the tallest order! – is also a contender for Charles, Earl of Lonsdale and a member of the league. Jane, mother of the Russells and current Lady Rochester, is a matchmaking mama and is promoting a match between the two. Ironically, Charles is also whom Audrey tries to seduce in the beginning of HWS so I am curious as to see what adventure Smith has in store for him. Back in London, Ashton, Baron Lennox, may have met his match with businesswoman Lady Melbourne – a seductress of the tallest order. Lastly, Cedric is paired with Miss Anne Chessley in the epilogue leading me to believe that his story is next in the saga.

It is no easy feat to keep the sheer number of characters and possible matches in a single novel but Smith manages this beautifully. And even with all the excitement found in the book – duels, accidents, murder plots, fires, hidden identities – she is able to infuse a warmth and familiar joviality and gaiety in the book. A competitive snow battle reminiscent of the Pall Mall game in Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton book 2) comes to mind, as well as Lady Rochester promoting a bit of devilry and sibling rivalry to push her eldest into action. Another scene is the founding of The Society of Rebellious Ladies – a bit of teasing and mocking by Emily, Horatia, and Audrey due to the high-handedness of the men of their lives.

We also can’t forget the story between our leads, Lucien and Horatia. Though both appear to accept their deeper feelings for each other, a rarity amongst the usual denial rakes favor in hisrom novels, it is more heartwarming to know that Cedric was the reason the two were so apprehensive to pursue their burgeoning relationship. It is usual with ladies to forge friendships that will test fire, especially during the Regency when ladies were not even considered their own persons, but a rarity with the men. I applaud Smith for sticking to her guns and showing us a story where friendship is the unifying factor.

If there is one thing left to say about Smith’s prowess in writing, it is that she weaves her wand and poof – you are entranced. Lucien and Horatia saw to that. Besides, who doesn’t love a man who buys his woman a dress, propriety be damned?

The Sunday Currently Vol. 5

C U R R E N T L Y . . . 

 R E A D I N G NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

 W R I T I N G my Christmas list!

 L I S T E N I N G to Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons

 T H I N K I N G of budgeting. Phew.

 S M E L L I N G crisp, cold rain.

 W I S H I N G to complete my Christmas list already! (The Pamandanans like to get this out of the way ASAP)

 W E A R I N G a disney princess nightgown.

 L O V I N G the weather.

 W A N T I N G to settle all account with a previous client.

 N E E D I N G to finish my shopping list!

 F E E L I N G relaxed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Sunday Currently Vol. 4

C U R R E N T L Y . . .

 R E A D I N G Community helpers pins on Pinterest.

 W R I T I N G Activities and worksheets for community helpers.

 L I S T E N I N G to Chasing Time - Allan Pownall

 T H I N K I N G of tomorrow's activity with the kids.

 S M E L L I N G baby powder.

 W I S H I N G to stretch my paycheck until the next payday. Or for more money.

 W E A R I N G beige polo and brown skinnies.

 L O V I N G food.

 W A N T I N G to lose weight.

 N E E D I N G to diet. Seriously.

 F E E L I N G full.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Sunday Currently Vol. 3

C U R R E N T L Y . . . 

 R E A D I N G Fables: Camelot, Bill Willingham

W R I T I N G Lesson plans and schedule blog posts.

L I S T E N I N G to Mayer Hawthorne's The Walk. #SoLongYouDidMeWrong

T H I N K I N G of braving the weather to head to the bookstore.

S M E L L I N G cigarette smoke. Again.

W I S H I N G my paycheck comes through tomorrow!

W E A R I N G my nightrail and dressing gown. Which is my pretentious and fancyshmancy way of saying I'm still in my jammies and robe.

L O V I N G all the opportunities to find, if one remembers to look. :)

W A N T I N G a new book! Or five.

N E E D I N G to get off my ass and shower.

F E E L I N G happy.

Cheska's Doll

Before & After
There was a time when make up artists and friends used to ask me to model for them but those days have long since passed. So imagine my surprise when budding make-up artist Cheska Gonzales asked if I would sit for a session for her!

I met the beautiful Cheska about 3 years ago, give or take, and the two of us took an immediate shine to each other. Keeping this in mind, I agreed to sit for her and we decided to make a date of it and invited fashion blogger Mackenzie Molina, aka Preppy Steeze, to join in on the fun. The two immediately got along and you can read about Mack's session with Cheska here. :)

For my session, Cheska did the classic smokey eye look. I'm usually barefaced so the changes her work wrought was staggering! I tend to shy away from very obvious looks but I am pleased to say I am happy with the results.

I'm definitely bringing my Kardashian A-game.

Thank you, Ches! You work magic. :)

You can contact Cheska and inquire of her services through:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book review: The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall

A couple of months back, I exchanged messages with a budding author in goodreads. The messages were short, sweet, and just filled with discussions about book genres and the like. A few days into the chat, she generously offered to send me not one, but two -- TWO -- advanced reading copies of her yet-to-be-published novels in exchange for honest reviews. I tell you, I could not believe it. It's hardly something I ever thought of, let alone consider, happening to me. I was ecstatic, of course! I've read and made a review of both books since then but I promised the authoress I wouldn't publish them until release date, or her go signal.

A week ago, she asked us to post one of our reviews on goodreads, even if the book technically doesn't reach your shelves until the 29th of September. Bearing that in mind, I figured it'd be okay to share my review with my readers already.

Hope you all enjoy!


The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall
by Lauren Smith


To defeat a dark evil, they must face his family’s past…

Bastian Carlisle, the Earl of Weymouth, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Even though tragedy and mysterious hauntings have driven his family away from his ancestral home, Stormclyffe Hall, he is determined to restore the castle to its former glory. His plans are disrupted when a stubborn American shows up on his doorstep hoping to pry into his family’s tragic history.

Jane Seyton, an American graduate student, is convinced there’s more to the tragedy of Stormclyffe Hall than history claims. Ever the scholar, she is determined to discover the truth, even if it means putting up with the arrogant, yet sexy, Bastian.

Although Bastian wants nothing to do with the pushy American, it soon becomes clear that something evil is in the house—and that something is targeting both Jane and Bastian. The two must join forces to purge the ghosts of Stormclyffe Hall once and for all—even as they try to fight a physical attraction between them that grows more and more impossible to deny.

Lauren Smith's The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall begins in Regency England, where Richard, the handsome Earl of Weymouth, wakes to find his weak bride out of bed during the rampage of a storm. Concerned, he checks on their month-old son, Edward, and tempers the little heir's sounds of distress. Not long after, he spies his much beloved bride standing in the cliffs near the castle, braving the weather, and in her apparent suicide. Heartbroken beyond repair at his Countess's, Isabella's, untimely passing, and confused by her reasons (or lack thereof), the Earl falls in a drunken stupor for months before succumbing to his death.

Thus so, we find ourselves at present day England following American grad student Jane Seyton. After years (6, to be exact) of horrible nightmares all regarding her fascination with the dark and imposing Stormclyffe Hall, estate of the Earls of Weymouth, and home to many paranormal-loving fans tales and urban legends, her academic life reaches its pinnacle when the current Earl of Weymouth allows her access to visit his family's haunted manor, and so allowing her to make a detailed and researched dissertation on her topic -- The tragic stories of some of Britain's ancient castles and manor houses with a particular emphasis on Stormclyffe Hall and its effect on modern day Weymouth England. His sole condition was for her to wait until renovations were completed. Jane, having estimated that 4 months is time enough, decides to brave the lion's den and heads on over to the feared hallowed walls of the castle.

Here she meets Sebastian Carlisle, Earl of Weymouth and playboy-academe extraordinaire. Having long since forgotten about his promise to the American scholar, Bastian is not thrilled to find himself having to deal with a nosy American chit hellbent on exposing his family's dark secrets and tragic pasts, on top of personally overseeing a renovation to a cold manor home with seemingly insurmountable problems (and plumbing), and managing a staff that trembles at the mere sight of their own shadow.

At wits end, he comes face to face with his great great grandmama's spitting image in his drawing room. Great. Rankled and with no good humor in the near future, he girds himself to kick the striking scholar out of his home and away from his family's private business. With a heart broken from her months-long failed engagement, the firecracker of a miss is determined to see her research through and refuses to kowtow to the arrogant Earl's demands that she leave. Sparks immediately fly between the two and both are left to wonder if it was just an immediate case of lust that threatened their just-promised co-existence or if something otherworldly permeates the air.

Without giving too much away (as well as the various plot twists!), I bow down to Lauren Smith's amazing aptitude for spinning words into tales that enchant and ensnare the reader in its trap. The chemistry between our h/h is sizzling at its lowest and scorching at its best. With none of the propriety strictures of Regency England between the two, we are instead given a realistic take on two people determined to avoid each other fall prey to their strong attraction.

Jane is no milk-and-water miss and isn't afraid to go out there, guns blazing, for what she wants. It must be the American in her. Bastian, on the other hand, is every girl's dream come true. A dark and brooding hero one moment, and a charmingly teasing rake the next, he embodies the term dreamboat. A perfect blend of what we love with the arrogance of regency england's titled peers mixed with a modern day playboy, he hits every fantasy come to life. The good, the bad (and I mean baaaaaaad), the beautiful, and the ugly. A real man with real concerns and burdens.

As the two explore the inexplicable pull they have for one another, they also explore the manor's history and secrets. It is no surprise that with so beautiful a setting, the two find themselves falling deeper and deeper in its trenches, as well as each others'. That is exactly what TSoSH does to the reader. It takes you to the edge of your seat, fingers locked in a death grip, and you feel yourself getting lost deeper and deeper in Smith's work.

A truly wonderful read, you can't help but be glad you picked up Lauren Smith's gothic romance. And like the winds whispering, calling your name, you follow gladly. And you will be all the better for it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Sunday Currently Vol. 2

C U R R E N T L Y . . .

R E A D I N G  Goodreads recommendations.

W R I T I N G  Lists and budgets.
L I S T E N I N G  to the sound of my puppy chewing dentastix. Oh, and some Bright Eyes.
T H I N K I N G  of absolutely nothing. Thank the good lord.
S M E L L I N G  baby powder.
W I S H I N G  for a camping trip with friends!
W E A R I N G  a beige polo and jean shorts.
L O V I N G  my new job!
W A N T I N G  to shop for an entirely new wardrobe.
N E E D I N G  to control my eating habits.
F E E L I N G  Free.