Category Archives: Romance

Madeleine: Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans by Wanda Maureen Miller

The satisfying story of Madeleine, one of the filles a la casquette and a forgotten French policy to colonize the wilderness known as Louisiana.

When the master of the de Mandeville chateau began to take an inappropriate interest in his wife’s ladies’ maid, 17-year-old Madeleine Boucher finds herself enrolled in the French government’s program to provide suitable females as potential brides for their pioneering countrymen in their Louisiana colony. Madeleine is accepting of this fate; it is a chance for her to have a future in a new world far from the shadow of poverty and her early life as the daughter of a serf on the de Mandeville estate, a chance to be her own person and no one’s servant ever again. Along with 59 other filles a la casquette, she’s provided with a trunk (casquette) of household basics with which to start her married life with whomever she chooses as her husband.  The girls with their chaperones, Ursuline nuns traveling to their convent in New Orleans, board Les Belles Soeurs, the ship which is to be their home for the next 3 – 4 months as they make the long journey by sea from France to the Port of New Orleans. They endure cold, heat, storms, sickness, diminishing food supplies, and the constant threat of pirates along the way.

Through no fault of her own, the lovely Madeleine is mistakenly identified on the ship’s roster as a member of the de Mandeville family rather than from the de Mandeville chateau. However, she doesn’t correct the error, hoping to prevent others from treating her like a mere servant. But rather than acting like a fragile flower from an aristocratic family, Madeleine pitches in to pull her own weight and help out any way possible, all the while keeping a cool head under the considerable stress of the ocean crossing. She catches the eye of the ship’s captain, Jean Paul Beauchamp, and although there is an immediate and mutual attraction between the two, they manage to maintain the utmost decorum and respect for each other. On their last night aboard ship before debarking for the final journey upriver to New Orleans, Captain Beauchamp admits to Madeleine that despite his deep regard, his life will always be the sea.

When the girls finally arrive safe and sound in New Orleans, they are dismayed by the rough, crude conditions. Still, the warm and friendly welcome from the colonists lifts their spirits and soothes their disillusionment. They are soon showered with marriage proposals from men of all manner of background, circumstance, and situation. Madeleine is attracted to a young French army lieutenant, Jacques Bouligny, the younger son of an aristocratic family back in France. Jacques, in turn, is just as enamored of her but is away from New Orleans more than not quelling the rising turmoil among the Indian tribes inhabiting the Louisiana territory.

One by one, all the casquette girls except Madeleine make their selection of a husband and leave to start their new lives. She chooses to stay with the Ursuline sisters, assisting in their hospital and school for girls as she waits for Jacques to declare himself or Captain Beauchamp to return, having changed his mind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this new story of Madeleine and the filles a la casquette, set in the early 1700s in the wilds of southern Louisiana. It was an interesting and adventurous historical fiction novel laced with an irresistible romance. The heroine brought to mind Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Emma Harte from A Woman of Substance or Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlett O’Hara (without the negative personality traits.) I read with anticipation of the resolution of Madeleine’s romantic relationships. Would things work out for her and Jacques, or would Jean Paul come back into the picture? I thought the plotline involving the Natchez exciting yet troubling. The tension of this situation was always hovering in the background. The same can be said regarding the reality of slavery.  The characters of Moses, Rima, Lying Boy, Laff, and Lame Doe were some of my favorites, and I enjoyed their presence in the story. I hope to see more of them in the next book.

As the story covers almost 25 years, there is plenty of action during that time frame; there was never a dull moment in the book. This one kept me up reading way past a decent bedtime.

I recommend MADELEINE: LAST FRENCH CASQUETTE BRIDE IN NEW ORLEANS to readers that enjoy historical fiction with a romantic storyline or those that would like a story about a forgotten French policy (filles a la casquette) in the history of Louisiana and New Orleans. This story contains details related to sexual relations and is better suited to a more mature audience. I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through France Book Tours.

Wanda Maureen Miller

on Tour April 12-16 with Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans    

Madeleine: Last French Casquette Bride In New Orleans

(historical fiction/romance) Release date: April 1st, 2021 at Atmosphere Press 272 pages Goodreads 📚📚📚

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SYNOPSIS

In 1728, beautiful, resourceful Madeleine Boucher is one of the last in a group of poor young girls given modest dowries in trunks, or casquettes, by the French government—then shipped off to America, where they are intended as wives for the French settlers in the Louisiana Territory. Despite a series of romantic travails, Madeleine remains dedicated to finding passion and securing the promise of her new adopted land, free from prejudices of the past.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans_Wanda Maureen MillerWanda Maureen Miller (or Mo) grew up on an Arkansas farm in the 1940s and 1950s, got educated, moved to California, and taught college English. She has published six books —a historical romance, The French (1983); three textbooks, Reading Faster and Understanding More, Books 1, 2, and 3 (5 editions, 1976 to 2001); her slightly fictionalized memoir, Last Trip Home (2018); and now Book 1: Madeleine, Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans. Retired, she plays pickle-ball and is working on Book 2: Solange, Daughter of Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans. To find our more, please visit her website, and follow her on Facebook Visit the publisher, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter
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Shifting Sides (A Shift in Space, #0) by Danielle Forrest

Whether you like romance in your SciFi or SciFi in your romance, Shifting Sides is the book for you!

Emma, the USS Endeavour’s pilot, was transporting a team of scientists and their families on a mission to study planet HD85512b’s suitability as a human colony. The plan was she and the crew would live and work on the planet, gathering all the data they could, and return to Earth after a couple of years. What they didn’t figure on was HD85512b, also known as Ara, was already inhabited by the Danaus.

Beeyun watched as the Endeavour landed in a field literally in the backyard of his property on Ara debarking dozens of aliens who began to set up buildings and disrupting the natural setting he was sworn to protect and preserve. Each night, attempting to drive the interlopers off, he would wait for them to return to their ship and then tear down everything they’d done that day. But every morning, they would start over again and re-build. One hard-working and persistent alien caught his attention right off. As much as he disliked the aliens wreaking havoc on this property, he admired the feisty female who worked long after the others stopped and bravely ran toward danger when it appeared.

Emma knew the crew of scientists did not like her and felt she was beneath them, a necessary evil, so to speak, as none of them could pilot their ship. It had been a long, lonely, and tiresome journey to HD85512b for her. But still, she tried to fit in and help make the temporary colony a success in any way she could. But rather than things improving as she worked her heart out for them, the crew became more and more unstable, aggressive toward her as well as each other. Then, one afternoon, they grabbed her and tied her to a post in the middle of the field as a ‘sacrifice’ to The Beast that came unseen in the night to destroy their work. But then The Beast came…

Although a prequel in the new A Shift in Space series by Danielle Forrest, SHIFTING SIDES is a fully developed and full-length novel of science-fiction-romance. I thought it was dynamite! The plot is intriguing from the very start, and there is never a dull moment. There were new and interesting things occurring all along the way as the very exciting story unfolded.

I loved the main characters of Emma and Beeyun and rooted for them the entire time. Emma is a loner and a take-charge kind of gal without a lot of the strange hang-ups or inadequacies that seem to accompany many kick-ass heroines; she appears to be a well-rounded and fully-competent young adult. Sure she’s got some conflicts in her past and present life, but they are pretty normal at the outset. Our alien hero, Beeyun, is smart, compassionate, and, although purple, still one sexy guy. I liked the path their relationship took: not too fast, not too slow. Supporting characters offered a variety of interactions and chances for conflict and helped round out a great plot. I really liked the young family of Lacy, Rickelle, and their daughter, Jacie.

I recommend SHIFTING SIDES to science fiction readers who enjoy their stories with a romantic plotline or romance readers who like their love stories to “take them to the stars.” I’m so looking forward to the next book in this series.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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A Very Marisol Christmas (Christmas Central, #7) by Caroline Mickelson

A charming Christmas treat!

With his beloved wife gone, Marisol Jimenez’s grandfather, Timoteo, decides to fulfill his lifelong dream of living by the ocean, so he signs a ten-year-lease at a brand new senior living facility in Galveston, Texas. His selected apartment, Number 5, has a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico, and Marisol has the movers place her grandfather’s favorite chair and the one that had belonged to her grandmother, in the best spot in the apartment to enjoy the magnificent view.

Everything is perfect, well, until the wealthy and equally aged Olivia Grayson and her attorney, the single and handsome Declan Shaw, show up to claim the same apartment. Olivia, with no family left and no close friends, had also signed a ten-year-lease on apartment 5, sold her mansion and extraneous possessions, and had no intention of living anywhere else. As the leases were both signed on the same day and the management company is clueless as to who signed first, neither party is willing to compromise and accept a different apartment. So Olivia moves into the second bedroom, hoping to force Timoteo out eventually. To protect and support their respective senior citizen, Marisol and Declan both decide to camp out on couches in the apartment’s living area until a resolution is reached. Unfortunately, as it’s only nine days until Christmas, that resolution is not going to be happening any time soon.

What the couples do not know is that the temporary leasing agent that had double leased the apartment is none other than one of Santa’s elves, Rapz, who was trying to develop an off-season side hustle as a matchmaker. But fearing Rapz’s double leasing ploy isn’t having the desired effect of getting the two couples together, Santa sends him and a fellow elf named Jolly back down to Texas to clean up the mess.

A Very Marisol Christmas is the 7th entry in the holiday-themed Christmas Central series by author Caroline Mickelson. It is a fun and charming story that won’t disappoint when the time comes for a happily ever after in more ways than one. I recommend this book to romance readers looking for a quick and happy holiday pick-me-up.  

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Readers Copy from Hidden Gems Books.

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Hero Bear: Small Town Romance (Fate Valley Mysteries, #1) by Scarlett Grove

Grizzly bear shifter Sunshine Blackthorn arrived in Fate Valley, Missouri, before Christmas to be the maid of honor at the wedding of her good friend from school, Melody Banks. Like Sunshine, Melody is also a shifter, a cougar, and she had discovered her fated mate, a rare shifter-human match, through the matching program, Mate.com. The first order of business is for a memorable bachelorette party, and after a fun night of dancing and not a few drinks, Melody and the other bridesmaids talk Sunshine into signing up on the site to find her own match.

Former Marine, Harrison Cole, came to Fate Valley after his enlistment was complete to work as a firefighter. But after a close call at a fire, he begins to think that maybe there should be more to his life than just service to the community. Also a grizzly bear shifter, he, too, signs up to see if Mate.com can give him a hand in finding his fated mate.

The day of the wedding is gorgeous, but during the ceremony, a fire suspiciously breaks out in the Fate Rock Chapel. Rather than letting it ruin the whole event, though, the wedding is quickly moved to the wine cellar adjacent to the chapel where the reception was to be held. Harrison is one of the responding firefighters, and he and Sunshine are drawn to each other by their grizzly bear instincts over the surrounding chaos. Their realization that they are fated mates in seconded when the Mate.com program matches them up as well. They immediately work to getting to know each other better while they search for the chapel arsonist among the wedding guests, not all of whom are precisely ecstatic about the human groom wedding the shifter bride.

Hero Bear has a nice mystery and investigation going on, but the focus of the story is really the romance of the two grizzly shifters getting together. This is apparently a spin-off story from an earlier series, and although it can be read on its own, I have the feeling it would have been more enjoyable if I’d read the previous series beforehand. There were a few references and cameo appearances from characters from these books. Alert: the book does contain explicit sex scenes.

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Melkor & Purity (Melkor & Purity, #1) by Kim Faulks

Melkor 1

One year, Purity Jane Anderson sent her Christmas wish letter to Satan. She wanted a puppy. Lucifer gave her a hellhound.

I found this, the first book in the Melkor & Purity series, to be very entertaining, smart, and creative. Although presenting a vision of Hell similar to that described by Dante, we meet a Lucifer he certainly never envisioned – he almost seems like a pretty decent guy. In fact, the story really begins when he tries to fulfill Purity Jane Anderson’s Christmas wish for a puppy but, as he sees something intriguing in the young girl, he hooks her up with a hellhound of approximately the same age level.

Purity and Melkor grow up together as friends with frequent play dates and I thought the characterizations of the two leads when children very amusing. Purity is a lively, mischievous child, a real handful for her very traditional parents, and Eric is the bratty little brother we all grew up with.

I liked how the author developed their characters as they aged. They expressed the same kind of moodiness, angst, and withdrawal from their families to become independent units pretty much the same as most teens display. Bullied at school for being overweight, Purity has lost some of her earlier sass and is burdened with low self-esteem. And when high school graduation arrives and their friendship has grown to more, both struggle with communicating their desire to leap friendship to love.

But there is more to their story, Purity is fated to become a hunter and Melkor is a hellhound and both are meant to protect, to stand between the horrors of Hell and this world. I look forward to reading more about Purity’s training to take up her destiny and Melkor taking his place in Lucifer’s hierarchy in the next books.

The narrator for the Audible edition of this book is Heather Murdock with Hot Ghost Productions and I thought she did a competent job giving voices to the various characters in the story with only a few mispronunciation.

I recommend this book to readers that enjoy paranormal, coming-of-age stories.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Sweet Dreams at the Goodnight Motel: A Valentine novel (Valentine, #6) by Curtiss Ann Matlock

Goodnight

When Claire Wilder reads the mysterious yet hopeful message about searching for ‘real life’ on the wall of the truck stop women’s room, she is inspired to kick off the trappings of her divorce-afterlife and hit the road herself. She quits her job, cuts her hair, packs her car and heads to … Valentine, Oklahoma. It was supposed to be just for one night: time enough to get an impression of the place she was born but never really lived. She just wanted to see where her father’s people – a father she’d never known – had lived and, eventually, passed away. And in her heart of hearts, she wanted a clue to why her father had never tried to contact her.

Claire has a lot to wonder about. On her way out of town, she’d run into her ex-husband, Andrew, who had had second thoughts about his impending marriage to his much-younger fiancée, and now wanted to try for a reconciliation with Claire (something Claire had been wishing for since the divorce two years earlier.) But having made her mind up about this solo trip, Claire surprises even herself by putting Andrew off and wanting to think about it.

Settled in at Valentine’s only lodgings, the Goodnight Motel, Claire begins her search for answers, starting with some of the locals who might have actually known her father or his family. With the help of the charming and gentlemanly, Winston Valentine, she successfully locates her grandparents’ final resting spot. However, the next morning she awakes to find her car and all her belongings have been stolen, and the thief  has left behind his frightened and very vulnerable, pregnant girlfriend, Sherrilyn.  As Claire tries to help the girl, she becomes more and more a part of the small rural community and her search for her father and his people becomes more and more a search for her real self and a real life.

This sixth book in the author’s Valentine series is a solid, satisfying story of not just one woman’s search for herself but two. Claire has been drifting through life reacting and not actively living, passively adapting around and to the actions of others, relying on others to make her a life, waiting for her father to return to her and her mother, to rescue them. It is good to watch as she finally takes the steps to lead her own life as she desires, overcomes her lethargy, and takes charge. The lost soul, Sherrilyn, is a beaten down thing but her pregnancy has given her a goal and the beginnings of some strength to protect herself and her unborn child. She stands firm when she doesn’t want to have an abortion against the abusive Denny, and refuses to agree to give up the baby for adoption. The characters that populate the pages of the book seem so very real, not unlike those that populate your own community.

I recommend this book for readers that like a story of overcoming the odds and taking charge of one’s life. There is romance and a strong sense of accomplishment throughout the book for many characters.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Teardrops and Flip Flops (A Gone to the Dogs Camper Romance #1) by Lark Griffing

Teardrops

When George, Ruby Dunning’s husband of twenty-four years, passed away, he had been planning a big surprise for her. He’d always known about his free-spirited wife’s desire for adventure and over their years together how she’d reined that all in to be with him – the ultimate homebody.  Now, he was going to support her in her need for spontaneity and freedom; he secretly bought her a top-of-the-line teardrop camper to pull behind her new Jeep. However, before he can present her with this gift, he succumbs to a heart condition that he’d also kept secret from her. So, when the call comes from the saleswoman that the teardrop trailer is ready for pick-up, the grieving Ruby goes to take possession and hears how George has selected and planned this all for her.

Ruby takes time from her editing job to try the camper out and eventually goes on the road with it for longer periods of time writing and editing articles as needed by her boss. Along the way, she acquires a stray dog, uncannily named “George,” and begins to come to terms with her grief and her new life as a single woman on her own.

Teardrops and Flip Flops is a great story with a great title. Not only is there the teardrop camper but Ruby sheds quite a few teardrops as she sorts out life without George (the husband.) And flip flops are appropriate as well in referring to her footwear as well her changes of heart.

The description and circumstances of what Ruby was going through was real and heartbreaking, and the author has developed some great supporting characters to surround our heroine. With this book ending on a bit of a cliffhanger, I am looking forward to reading the further adventures of Ruby and George (the dog.)

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Twist of Fate (Passion Down Under Sassy Short Stories #1) by Mollie Mathews

Twist of fate

Broken-hearted, Jonathan James has just returned from London to his home in Wellington, New Zealand, following a sudden divorce, and the last thing he needs is to find his suitcase with the only possessions he brought home has been switched with another that looks just like it. Confronted with stilettos and sexy women’s clothing rather than his own comfy jeans and t-shirts, he immediately goes in search of the owner – one “Danny Zouski” – who he imagines must be a drag queen, cross-dresser, or performer of some kind.  He’s in for a surprise.

Short and sweet, Twist of Fate was a delightful story, and for me, an introduction to the author Mollie Mathews. Fun writing and imaginative, I hope to read more of her work soon.

The audiobook edition of Twist of Fate is read by the author, Mollie Mathews, herself, and it was a charming experience to listen to her read her own book. This is a short story with a lot of heart and fun characterizations to boot. According the author’s note at the end of the story, she is considering expanding this to a full-length novel. I sincerely hope she does!

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Unforgettable You (Silver Springs, #5) by Brenda Novak

Unforgettable You

Jada Brooks and Maddox Richardson were high school sweethearts until a tragic accident at a party during their senior year in which her younger brother, Atticus, was paralyzed, tore them apart. He was sent away, out of town, to another school. Jada, left behind, found herself pregnant and an outcast in her own family, blamed for what happened to her brother. Against her family’s wishes, she had the baby, moved to LA on her own, and eventually married someone else.

Now, years later, she is coming home after a sad divorce with ten-year-old Maya by her side. But she’s not the only one returning to Silver Springs. Maddox, a successful school administrator, has been hired by Aiyana Turner at the Silver Springs-based New Horizons Boys Ranch, where he had once been a pupil himself, to open up a new girls’ school.

Unforgettable You is a story with a number of twists. Even after the passing of 11 years, Jada and Maddox are still in love with each other. Her family never liked Maddox, and to complicate matters, it was Maddox’s brother, Tobias, under the influence of drugs, that shot Atticus the night of the party – a party that Jada had taken him to behind her parents’ backs. Jada’s father had recently passed away leaving her mother on her own and trying to support herself and Atticus with the income from a faltering bakery. Maddox and Jada had only been intimate one time and she didn’t know about the pregnancy before Maddox left and because of all the intertwining blame, she never searched him out to let him know that they had had a child.

It is a heartbreaking story but one of forgiveness and second chances. I found it to be a very emotional reading experience and with so many obstacles to overcome I was really rooting for a happily ever after ending. I recommend this book for romance readers that like secret baby stories and second chance romances. Although Unforgettable You is part of the Silver Springs series, it could easily be read and enjoyed on its own.

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A Curve in the Road by Julianne MacLean

Abbie had a premonition that something bad was about to happen.

Dr. Abbie MacIntyre has just started the hour-long drive back home after Sunday dinner with her widowed mother when a car crosses the center median of the highway careening into Abbie’s SUV and sending it off road, rolling over and over until landing in the bottom of a ravine. She is successfully extracted from the wreckage and transported to the nearest medical facility suffering a minor head wound. The driver of the other vehicle, smelling heavily of alcohol, is in the same unit and in far worse condition awaiting airlift to a proper trauma hospital.

Abbie’s mother comes to her daughter’s side and both repeatedly attempt to contact Abbie’s husband, Dr. Alan Sedgewick, to notify him of the accident. (Abbie was supposed to have met him that evening at their son’s hockey game.) They are unsuccessful until emergency workers deliver the personal items of the drivers retrieved from the accident site to the hospital and Alan’s cellphone is discovered among the detritus. To everyone’s shock and horror, the drunk driver is Abbie’s own husband.

This is just the beginning of A Curve in the Road by Julianne MacLean. Once I started reading this book I didn’t want to put it down. The story is emotional and full of surprises as family relationships and secrets are revealed in the aftermath of the accident. Abbie’s perfectly normal life will never be the same again as the answers to how and why her loving, cardiologist husband who rarely drank even a glass of wine was driving drunk and was not headed to their son’s hockey game. This book is recommended to readers that enjoy a contemporary setting with romantic plotlines of betrayal, forgiveness, and second chances.

OH, and it features an awesome golden retriever as well.

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