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review 2018-01-13 02:48
Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath
Beyond Scandal and Desire: A Sins for All Seasons Novel - Lorraine Heath

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mick grew up knowing he was illegitimate and experienced all the society pitfalls because of it. All he has ever wanted is for his father to publicly acknowledge him but when his father refuses, he decides to ruin his half-brother heir. 
Aslyn has been the Duke of Hedley's ward for most of her life after her parents died. With it understood that she would eventually marry Hedley's son and their very protective nature, Aslyn has been sheltered. Starting to feel stifled, she begins to push for more freedom. After meeting Mick, she senses a freedom she has never thought to experience.
Mick wants revenge but how far will he be willing to get it?
"I intend to take from him everything he holds dear---including the lady at his side." 
The first in a new series, Beyond Scandal and Desire focuses on the eldest child of Widow Trewlove, a woman who took in unwanted babies. While we are introduced to Mick as a very successful business man, he alludes and mentions how tough it was growing up poor and with the taint of being a bastard. The revenge he seeks is a bit different; he simply wants his father to acknowledge him and hopes this will open higher society doors to him. It's a little heartbreaking that Mick obviously just wants to feel acknowledged by his father, making him feel meaningful since he was given away. Mick was the hero where circumstances force him to have a tough outer shell but is angry and hurt over feeling abandoned. He was somewhat romance hero trope (a bit more sensitive) but how he fell for heroine made him very enjoyable to read.
Why did this man have such an effect on her?
Why did everyone else seem so small in comparison?

Our heroine Aslyn starts off very sheltered and buttoned up but with some inner thoughts that hint at a will striving to break free. I, personally, thought Aslyn stole the show a bit with her living in quiet desperation. Her journey and growth from accepting her gilded cage, to starting to question, finding herself, and finally expressing and owning what she wanted was so satisfying. Usually it is the hero who stands tall during the declarations of love but, here, oh the heroine brings it and I was cheering her on. Aslyn could have taken the easy road but she spoke her truth and I delighted in following along on her journey.
Never before had he ever been so weak-willed.
He was a man of strength, and yet he thought for her he'd go to his knees.

With a mysterious painful beginning, I was sucked into the story right away. I took pleasure in the slow buildup and burn Heath provided, we get to know Mick and Aslyn (does start to feel a smidgen too slow as the anticipation for reveals starts to settle in). There are some scenes with Mick interacting with his family that helped fill out his character (and introduce future series heroes/heroines) and I wished there had been more for Aslyn. The Duke and Duchess of Hedley don't get as flushed out as I would have liked and their son definitely gets too much of a thinly veiled villain w/ maybe future redemption arc. While I enjoyed the slower buildup, the story had too much of a top heavy feel, the ending felt rushed. I would be lying if I didn't say I started watching the page count after I got around 60% waiting for a reveal that would have repercussions in Mick and Aslyn's relationship. The reveal was extremely needed too, but with how late it finally happened, I was left feeling a bit bereft and missing some crucial emotional angst and growth between the two; my favorite romance components. At minimum, this story needed to be 100 pages longer (my old romance reading heart would have delighted in a full sequel book finishing Aslyn and Mick's story with working things out after full reveal). 
The buildup and getting to know characters first half will have you engrossed into the story but the very late reveals give the ending a rushed feel. Some secondary characters felt too thin but Aslyn's growth and journey along with her instant connection and simmering romance with Mick will have you appreciating and taking pleasure in the story.
All his life he'd been searching for acceptance, and here it was in the form of a woman with a tilted-up nose and crooked smile. 

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text 2018-01-12 18:10
Beyond Scandal and Desire: A Sins for All Seasons Novel - Lorraine Heath

“Associating with him, no matter how innocent, will lead you along the path to ruin.”

She bloody well didn’t care.


This heroine is starting to bring it

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text 2018-01-11 21:34
Reading Update: 10%
Beyond Scandal and Desire: A Sins for All Seasons Novel - Lorraine Heath

He’d been scheming for far too long to cast it all aside now. He’d climbed as far as he could up the social ladder. To reach the higher rungs, others had to fall—far and spectacularly, like fireworks burning out on their way down. He would be paid what he was owed. And God’s mercy on anyone who stood in his way.

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text 2017-10-09 13:30

Romance stars Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath, Megan Frampton, and Vivienne Lorret prove in this collection of stories that love is the most magical during Christmas…
“I Will” by Lisa Kleypas
To be reinstated into his father’s will, Andrew, Lord Drake, must court a respectable woman-his friend’s spinster sister, Miss Caroline Hargreaves. After he blackmails Caroline into helping him, the charade begins-but is it really a charade once love takes hold of their hearts…?
“Deck the Halls With Love” by Lorraine Heath
Alistair Wakefield, the Marquess of Chetwyn, devastated Lady Meredith Hargreaves when he proposed to another. But when he becomes free to pursue her, it’s too late for she’s on her way to the altar…. As Christmas approaches, Chetwyn vows to lure Lady Meredith back into his arms.
“No Groom at the Inn” by Megan Frampton
James Archer detests his mother’s matchmaking ways. When ordered to attend a Christmastime house party filled with simpering maidens, he produces a fiancée-Lady Sophronia Bettesford. James and Sophronia pretend to be in love for one month. But their pact soon turns into love.
“The Duke’s Christmas Wish” by Vivienne Lorret
To the Duke of Vale, science solves everything-even marriage. When the impulsive Ivy Sutherland makes him question all of his data, he realizes that he’s overlooked a vital component in his search for the perfect match: love.

About the Book

A Christmas to Remember Anthology
by Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath, Megan Frampton, and Vivienne Lorret
Avon Books
Publication Date
September 26, 2017
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About Lisa Kleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.
Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s prestigious RITA. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.
Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction under the name Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. You can visit her website at http://www.meganframpton.com. She tweets as @meganf and is at Facebook.com/meganframptonbooks.
Vivienne Lorret loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two teenage sons (not necessarily in that order . . . but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is the author of Avon Impulse’s “Tempting Mr. Weatherstone” and The Wallflower Wedding Series. For more on her upcoming novels, visit her at http://www.vivlorret.net.

Author Links

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review 2017-06-07 09:08
Waking Up With the Duke by Lorraine Heath
Waking Up With the Duke - Lorraine Heath

Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, is being emotionally blackmailed (by his own cousin, mind you) to give the cousin’s wife what she desires (and what she lost three years ago after the accident provoked by Ainsley himself leaving her husband in a wheelchair and unable to feel anything below his belt)—a baby.

Ainsley would have no problems siring a child, since he’s virile and able, but it’s the willingness that is lacking. Not because of who he would be bedding (a woman he’s been mourning not meeting first), but because she is a married, respectable woman. Thankfully, she’s even less willing that he is...Or is she?

This series has been “dealing” with unorthodox historical romance themes and premises since the beginning...A betrayed husband exiling his new bride to the country while fornicating his path through London, a woman “tricking” his younger brother into marriage by making him believe she was his son’s mother, and now the youngest of the three brothers serving as an early-model Victorian sperm bank falling in love with the woman in the process.
Unorthodox, as far as formulaic templates as they can get, and in the hands of someone else they probably wouldn’t have worked (I’m doubtful some other author would actually tackle something like it), but since Lorraine Heath is a master (in my humble opinion) she’s managed beautifully.
Yes, I didn’t like one of the themes, but that’s on me. There’s no dispute the writing or storytelling.

This story was, in all aspects up there, alongside (okay, to me it was even better) Passions of a Wicked Earl, the first installment about the oldest son of the scandalous Duchess of Ainsley, who also got her HEA in this book.
The why it was even better comes down to the characters. I actually liked Ainsley, the hero, who in no circumstances was a jerk or jackass. He was considerate, honorable, tender, protective (yes, emotionally blackmailable, but that’s on his cousin), so was it any wonder the heroine fell in love with him? I liked her as well, despite some instances toward the end when I wanted someone to slap her silly for being an idiot, but she came through in the end, and her emotional journey was pretty realistic.

Their romance was beautifully written, the progress organic, believable, and rather realistic (despite it being fiction). It was emotional, bittersweet, emotionally draining in a few chapters and/or paragraphs, beautiful...and hopeless. She was married to his cousin, and he was acting merely as stud. No matter their feelings, those were the facts, and sometimes (oftentimes) love doesn’t conquer all.

But if you’re like me and you’ve read some spoiler-y reviews, you know about the twist, and although knowing might lessen the emotional impact of the story (for me it didn’t, really, I was still leaking at the appropriate times), it certainly can heighten the anticipation of the moment. It actually made the plot even more gripping, and although the pacing was spot-on, it was a little torture reading while waiting for the other shoe to drop.
If there was a character in this book I didn’t like, it was the cousin, the blackmailing rat-bastard. Handicap or no handicap, his explanations, reasoning, and motivations were puny and self-serving, and his actions (except the smartest idea he had about the human sperm bank) unforgivable.

If you like your books with wonderful characters, explosive chemistry, beautiful romance with just the right amount of drama and bitter-sweetness, spot-on pacing, and masterful storytelling, this is definitely the book for you.

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