Interview with Author Allison Pataki + Giveaway

Allison PatakiMy guest today is Allison Pataki, the author of The Traitor’s Wife, today featured review. The book does an amazing job retelling a story that we all think we’re familiar with from a completely new perspective. I would recommend The Traitor’s Wife to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Before we hear from Allison telling us a bit about herself and how she came up with the idea for the story, check out this gorgeous book trailer for The Traitor’s Wife.



Marlene: Welcome Allison! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Allison: Sure thing! I am an author in the process of publishing my first novel, The Traitor’s Wife. It is a historical fiction because, well, the only thing I love as much as reading and writing is studying history. That’s the work side of things.

On the other side of things, well, I am a wife to my college sweetheart. I am a daughter and a sister, the third kid in a family of four. I am a mother to a sweet little mutt that my husband and I adopted. I am a friend, a volunteer, an in-law, an upstate New Yorker living in Chicago. I love to cook, travel, do yoga, and, of course, read and write!

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Allison: I would definitely say I am a planner – though the descriptor of “pantser” sounds way more fun. I’ve never heard that one before!

A typical day of writing begins pretty early. My dog and I begin the day by taking a walk along the river. This is a great time to think, shake off any sleepiness (the cold weather helps with that!), and get focused on whatever project in which I am currently involved.

After breakfast (and coffee!) I sit down to write. I generally work from home, so I have the liberty of dictating the background noise and, for me, that is always music. I will make a playlist or a Pandora station that seems to complement whatever topic about which I’m writing.

If time and life allow, I can sit there and work all day. Obviously I take breaks for lunch, another walk with the dog, etc. But, usually, I work up until dinner.

Often times, at some point, I will need to take a break to read up on something or do a little more research or digging. But, a really great day, in my book (pun intended) is one that I can devote entirely to writing. It doesn’t always work out like that, obviously!

Marlene: Why did you choose historical fiction as your genre?

Allison: It is without a doubt my favorite genre to read. To be honest, I never really thought about writing any other type of book. It is just what inspires me.

In college, I loved studying English and literature, but I also loved studying history. I decided to major in English and then take as many history classes as possible.

A genre that combines the two, as both a reader and a writer, is a win-win.

Marlene: Is the research part of the fun, or is it something that you have to get through in order to get to the fun parts?

traitors wife by alison patakiAllison: It’s absolutely part of the fun! I usually begin the research with little more than an idea. The person by whom I’ve been inspired, or the time period. As I uncover and digest the facts, pieces of the story or ideas for a character begin to take shape in my head. The research is undoubtedly what facilitates the development of the novel.

And research is not something that is “gotten through.” It’s ongoing. I am going back and reading and re-reading the research as I’m writing. Even now, when The Traitor’s Wife is just weeks away from publication, I’m still learning about the Revolutionary War time period and the people involved. If only I could keep adding details and throwing in these fun facts!

Marlene: The Benedict Arnold story is one that we all think we know. What drew you to re-tell a story that everyone feels like they are already familiar with?

Allison: Benedict Arnold’s story is what most people know. But not Peggy Arnold’s story. In fact, I would venture to guess that many people don’t even know Benedict Arnold had a wife, let alone one as powerful, intriguing and interesting as Peggy. That is precisely why I wanted to tell this story with Peggy as the subject.

As I researched for The Traitor’s Wife, I kept asking myself: “how come I’ve never heard this before?” I hope readers will feel the same way.

Marlene: Although the title of the book is The Traitor’s Wife, the point-of-view character is the traitor’s wife’s maid. What led you to choose the below-stairs perspective to tell the story?

Allison: At first, I thought about writing The Traitor’s Wife from the perspective of Peggy Shippen Arnold. She is, as you pointed out, the traitor’s wife, and the novel’s inspiration.

But as I researched the history, I realized that I really wanted to tell this story through the eyes of an observer. I wanted a narrator, a fictional character, who would meet Peggy Shippen Arnold and get to know her as the reader is doing so. A narrator who could watch the events unfolding, but at a little bit of a distance.

The novel would have been entirely different had I written it from Peggy’s perspective – both for the reader, and also for me, as the writer. I think introducing Clara’s perspective allowed it to be a more well-rounded story.

Writing from Clara’s perspective allowed me to interject feelings like hope, optimism, insecurity, and idealism into the novel. All of the feelings that one might have felt as he/she witnessed a new nation’s fight for independence.

Marlene: You are from a political family. How did your background help you in understanding the motivations of the characters?

Allison: I can’t say that it was too applicable in this case, simply because it is two entirely different times. The political landscape back then was not really like what it is today. George Washington didn’t even want our nation to have political parties.

What I did think about, however, was how Arnold’s personality, ego, and insecurities made him very ill suited for the public role he assumed. And, as a result, why he became such a bitter man.

If you are going to be a leader, you are going to be a target, and you must accept that. In politics – then and now – one must be able to work with others, to allow insults to roll off the chest, and to put one’s own personal woes to the side to work for the greater good. Arnold seemed to struggle with that.

Benedict Arnold was a skilled general and heroic patriot, yes, but he was not skilled in negotiating human relationships. That got him into trouble. He made enemies both in the army and in the Continental Congress.

Marlene: What is your favorite scene from the book and why did you pick that scene?

Allison: Probably the opening scene, when George Washington’s rider approaches the Arnold house. Washington is on his way! Further down the Hudson River, the treason is being uncovered, and yet, Peggy and Benedict Arnold are convinced that they have succeeded in their plot.

That is, until the second rider approaches. From this messenger, the Arnolds learn that their plan has been unearthed. And yet, Washington is still on his way! Chaos ensues.

I like that the novel begins with immediate tension and disaster. The rest of the novel then goes back and works up until this very moment, this fateful and disastrous morning.

Marlene: Title of a book that you’ve faked reading:

Allison: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I always just thought – because I had seen the musical, the movie, and listened to the CD over a hundred times – that I had as good as read the book. I knew the plot, right?

Wrong! This past year I decided to go back and actually read it, all 1,000+ pages of reading it. And boy is it a masterpiece. Totally worth the long slog.

Marlene: Title of a book that you’ve bought for the cover:

forgotten garden by kate mortonAllison: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. All of her covers have a similar look, and I think they are beautiful and whimsical and intriguing. I saw The Forgotten Garden in airport bookstores for months and always picked it up to admire the cover.

I’m glad I did so, because I loved it, and am now a huge fan of hers!

Marlene: Book that you most want to read again for the first time:

Allison: Gone With the Wind.

I haven’t read it in years. Scarlett O’Hara is perhaps my favorite female character in literature.

Marlene: As a debut author yourself, what words of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Allison: Be forgiving. The first stuff you write is not going to be great. It might not even be good. Mine certainly wasn’t. But keep at it. Seek the input and advice of people you trust, and people who want to support you and help you grow as a writer.

If you feel impassioned to write and you have a story that you are consumed by, then write it. Write it, and edit it, and rewrite it, and edit it some more. Stick with it.

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future?

Allison: More historical fiction. I thought, while writing The Traitor’s Wife, that I would never love another book I worked on as much, ever again. But I was surprised. I found another topic that, to me, is equally fascinating and fun.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Allison: Morning person. I mentioned coffee above, right? 🙂



Allison and Kismet Book Tours are giving away a Kindle Paperwhite to one lucky commenter on this tour. This giveaway is open to anyone living in a place where Amazon ships. Wow!

And for more chances to enter the giveaway, visit the other stops on this tour.

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below:
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Review: The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki

traitors wife by alison patakiFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical fiction
Length: 496 pages
Publisher: Howard Books
Date Released: February 11, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America’s most infamous act of treason.

Everyone knows Benedict Arnold—the infamous Revolutionary War General who betrayed America and fled to the British as history’s most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold’s co-conspirator, Major John André, who was apprehended with Arnold’s documents in his boots and hanged at the orders of General George Washington. But few know of the integral third character in the plot; a charming and cunning young woman, who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it.

Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold’s age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as Military Commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride’s beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she hides a past romance with the handsome British spy John André. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former lover and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Arnold.

Told from the perspective of Peggy’s maid, whose faith in the new nation inspires her to intervene in her mistress’s affairs even when it could cost her everything, The Traitor’s Wife brings these infamous figures to life, illuminating the sordid details and the love triangle that nearly destroyed the American fight for freedom.

My Review:

The Traitor’s Wife is the best kind of historical fiction; the story feels true even though the reader knows that there isn’t any way to verify how people felt, or what they said in every conversation.

You end up wanting this to be the real story. And maybe it is.

History is so often written from the perspective of the men who seem to be the prime movers and shakers, but, history is written by the victors. For much of history, women were put on a pedestal and kept in their place. That place was not supposed to be in battle, in government or in writing the history books.

The Traitor’s Wife sees that key betrayal of the American Revolution from the point of view of the woman who caused it, and the woman who prevented it.

Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold

We all know the story of Benedict Arnold, and his betrayal of the Revolutionary cause. His name has become a byword for treachery. What makes The Traitor’s Wife such a fascinating story is that it isn’t Arnold’s story–it’s his wife’s story.

Also that it is not the tale of her view of her husband’s treason–it’s the story of how she encouraged and aided that treachery. Historical records show that Peggy Shippen Arnold was part of the plot, but they don’t tell us why.

This is a fascinating version of events, because it doesn’t just put Peggy Arnold at the center, but it explains why she did it. More than plausibly, and in a way that rivets the attention.

Peggy Shippen Arnold and daughter
Peggy Shippen Arnold and daughter

Peggy is seen through the eyes of her maid, Clara Bell. Clara may not have existed in real life, but she should have. She sees her mistress much more clearly than the men she manipulated.

Clara is the heroine of this tale. While the Arnolds and their conspirators forget that the maid is even in the room, Clara hears and sees everything, and risks her life to assist the Revolution.

So Clara is the person we follow. She starts out as a young woman awed by the splendor of the Shippen household after her impoverished childhood. She bears the brunt of Peggy Shippen’s cruelty, and quietly resists, until she can find a way to make her resistance count.

Escape Rating B+: There are two women at the center of this story; Peggy and Clara. They end up as counterpoint to one another; Peggy is cruel and manipulative to the point of being almost a caricature, and Clara seems to be a bit too good to be true.

It is easy to cast this tale as the fall of Peggy into the depths which we feel she deserves, and the rise of Clara to independence, freedom and true love. Poor Benedict Arnold ends up as the stock character of the foolish older husband manipulated by his beautiful and charismatic young wife.

Except for the introduction of Clara, that could be the true narrative. That’s what makes The Traitor’s Wife so compelling. It feels right.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post by Jane Kindred on Loving Russia + Giveaway

jane kindredMy special guest today is Jane Kindred, the author of the absolutely fabulous House of Arkhangel’sk series, as well as the book of the day, the decadently delicious Prince of Tricks. Jane’s guest posts always pack one hell of a punch, and this is no exception. So do her books!

On Loving Russia When it Doesn’t Love You Back
by Jane Kindred

If you’ve spent any time at all on social media in the past six months, or own a television, you’re probably aware of the controversy surrounding the upcoming Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi in the Russian Federation. Following the passage of similar local laws throughout Russia in 2012, Putin’s government passed a Draconian law in 2013 that criminalizes the public discussion or support of “non-traditional sexual relations.” Anti-LGBT human rights abuses and crimes have been on the rise, with hate groups abducting and filming the torture of alleged gay youths to “teach them a lesson,” while authorities look the other way or actively encourage such crimes, even when they result in death.

Many LGBT groups have called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics and of its sponsors. Others, including the International Olympic Committee and sponsors such as Visa, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola, have dismissed the concerns, despite the fact that the Olympic charter stresses human dignity and disavows “discrimination of any kind.” For better or worse, the Sochi Olympics go on.

And for better or worse, so does my Russian-based series featuring a pair of gay and bisexual demon protagonists whom I like to call my “Russian leather demons.”

prince of tricks by jane kindredMy erotic m/m fantasy novel, Prince of Tricks, takes place in Russia and in the celestial city of Elysium, patterned after St. Petersburg of the early 20th century. Russia has never been a particularly friendly place for men who love other men, so it hasn’t been easy for my boys, even before the recent political developments. Belphagor has been in and out of the gulag system over the past 100 years, so he’s experienced the country’s worst. And yet, like me, he still loves Russia. And loves it enough to share it with his Vasily, despite the danger.

Having spent the last eight years of my life falling in love with Russia and writing these books (the Demons of Elysium series and the related epic fantasy series, The House of Arkhangel’sk), I’m extremely disheartened by the path this country I love has been taking. It’s hard to maintain that love in the face of increasing hatred. I can no longer travel to Russia (my choice, for reasons of personal safety as well as taking a moral stance), and my books cannot be sold there.

As things began to escalate in Russia over the past year, I found it increasingly difficult to keep writing the Demons of Elysium series, to keep celebrating Russian culture and my love for it. I wondered if it was time at last to let these books and these characters go. But I believe the only positive act I can take is to continue my love affair with (almost) all things Russian by continuing to write my now subversive stories.

I dedicated Prince of Tricks to Pussy Riot (two members of the Russian feminist punk group were imprisoned in 2012 for staging a protest performance against Putin’s government in a Moscow church) and others in Russia whose voices are being silenced by these laws. I wish I could do more. But as the Human Rights Campaign says, Lyubov Pobezhdaet Nenavist…Love Conquers Hate.

About Jane:

Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, the Demons of Elysium series, and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

Prince of Tricks Button 300 x 225


caviar-gift-basketJane is giving away a fabulous Caviar gift basket from the House of Caviar, or one $150 gift card to one US winner. Ten winners will receive their choice of a $10 gift card from either Amazon or B&N. Wow!
To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter below.
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Review: Prince of Tricks by Jane Kindred

prince of tricks by jane kindredFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance, M/M romance, fantasy
Series: Demons of Elysium #1
Length: 375 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date Released: January 7, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

When desire rises, angels will fall. One, by one, by one…

Demons of Elysium, Book 1

Over the past century, Belphagor has made a name for himself in Heaven’s Demon District as a cardsharp, thief, and charming rogue.

Though the airspirit is content with his own company, he enjoys applying the sweet sting of discipline to a willing backside. Angel, demon, even the occasional human. He’s not particular. Until a hotheaded young firespirit steals his purse—and his heart. Now he’s not sure who owns whom.

A former rent boy and cutpurse from the streets of Raqia, Vasily has never felt safer than in the arms—and at the feet—of the Prince of Tricks. He’s just not sure if Belphagor returns those feelings. There’s only one way to find out, but using a handsome, angelic duke to stir Belphagor’s jealousy backfires on them both.

When the duke frames Vasily for an attempted assassination as part of a revolutionary conspiracy, Belphagor will do whatever it takes to clear his boy’s name and expose the real traitor. Because for the first time in his life, the Prince of Tricks has something to lose.

Product Warnings
Contains erotic sex: m/m, m/m/m, m/m/m/m…oh hell. Let’s just say “mmmmmm!” and be done with it. Also one m/f scene. Smart discipline meted out with a great deal of love and charm. Erotic sex acts requiring copious amounts of elbow grease.

My Review:

midnight courtIf you’ve read Jane Kindred’s House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy (Fallen Queen, Midnight Court and Armies of Heaven) then Prince of Tricks serves as a even more decadent backstory to the action in that series.

If you haven’t read the Arkhangel’sk series, then Prince of Tricks is the start of something amazing. It’s an erotic love story between two demons in a world where Heaven is nothing like what we imagine.

When angels and demons fall, they fall to Earth. Our Earth. A place where history either presages or parallels the courts of Heaven, but in a way that both surprises and haunts.

The story is Belphagor’s. He is the Prince of Tricks of the title. Bel is an airspirit who has lived his life in the lowest places of the supernal realms. Once he was a rent-boy, now he’s a gambler who reigns over a table at a dive in Raqia, the demons’ quarter.

It’s clear that Bel has spent most of his life using other people, generally to their mutual satisfaction, so that he can survive a life where any vulnerability will be exploited.

His life has also been much longer than appears. At least a century, for all that he looks to be in his mid-twenties. Demons (and angels) don’t age while in Heaven. But Belphagor has fallen to earth more than once, and it’s marked him.

But someone has made him vulnerable, and that’s where this story begins. Bel has been in love with Vasily since the first time the younger demon attempted to pick his pocket. But he felt that he needed to wait until Vasily grew up. At least chronologically. A lot of this story happens because Vasily still needs to figure a few things out emotionally. He uses the wrong man to make Belphagor jealous.

Wrong not because of any jealousy Bel might finally discover that he feels, but wrong because Vasily sets himself up to be used in political maneuvering by an politically ambitious (and morally corrupt) angel. Vasily becomes the scapegoat for something much bigger than he or Belphagor imagined.

And Belphagor goes to surprising lengths to rescue the man he has finally managed to admit that he loves.

Escape Rating A: If you’ve read the Arkhangel’sk trilogy, Prince of Tricks is a must-read. Although the trilogy is about the fall and rise of the imperial family, Belphagor is often the prime mover of events, and he and his tempestuous relationship with Vasily are a big part of that story. If Vasily had not found a way into Bel’s heart, Bel wouldn’t become the demon who saves the queen.

But this story is about the beginning of the relationship. It can be read without having read the trilogy, but it cannot be read without fans and cooling drinks!

Not just because Bel and Vasily push each other to their sexual limits (Bel is extremely dominant, Vasily is not just defiantly submissive, but emotionally needy), but because Belphagor is an expert at using others’ sexuality both to prove his dominance and to seduce or beguile them into assisting with his own game. Or sometimes just for fun.

The combination is explosive.

Prince of Tricks Button 300 x 225

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The Warrior and the Flower by Camille Picott + Giveaway

warrior and the flower by camille picottFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Fantasy
Series: 3 Kingdoms #1
Length: 307 pages
Publisher: Pixiu Press
Date Released: March 20, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Yi, a retired soldier, has lost everything he loves — his wife, his daughter, and his home. He seeks refuge from his heartache by plunging into a secret mission for the World Emperor. The assignment takes him to the doorstep of a brothel, where he witnesses the madam beating a young girl. Drawn by the child’s striking resemblance to his lost daughter, Yi rushes to her defense and negotiates for her purchase — after all, how hard can it be to care for one little girl? But between the child’s inquisitive nature and the dangerous secret she carries, he gets more than he bargained for.

My Review:

There obviously isn’t enough Asian-inspired fantasy, because The Warrior & The Flower is not just a captivating epic fantasy, but everything feels fresh and new because of the setting. So if you enjoy epic fantasy but are starting to feel like everything is a bit too similar, try The Warrior & The Flower.

So what do we have? The story feels like a classic; the warrior with nothing left to live for finds new hope and purpose by adopting a child. But it’s so much more than that.

The warrior of this tale, Yi, has lost his wife and child in the endless war between his people and the Sky Kingdom. The attack on his home is not random, he was guarding a strategic military asset, but his guardianship was a secret, which means that someone at his Emperor’s court has betrayed both the Emperor and Yi.

Yi either wants revenge, or death. Possibly both. Instead, he has his duty. A duty which requires him to travel back to court. Along the journey he rescues the child Tulip from a beating which would have killed her.

Tulip is a very precocious eight. The only world she has ever known is the Empire’s pleasure city, and her home in the brothel where her mother works.

But Tulip is much more than just a child; she also carries a secret, the import of which is not known to her. All she knows is that she can call the lightning.

It’s not until she is taken out of her setting, and brought to court, that she discovers who and what she is.

All she wants to be is Yi’s daughter, and she’s afraid that her secret will take that future away.

Escape Rating A: This story is captivating on so many levels. Yi starts out his journey at such a low point in his life, that watching the character emerge from his despair would make a terrific story all by itself.

Yi begins his journey not wanting to feel anything. He believes that it would be a betrayal of his love for his family to be anything other than a stone-faced and stone-hearted warrior. He doesn’t want to get involved with anyone or anything, including the old friends who come to drag him out of his depression.

Tulip changes everything. He starts out simply rescuing her, but then discovers that he has acquired an obligation to keep and care for her. He doesn’t want to care, but she melts his heart, bit by bit. Her uncanny resemblance to his dead child makes it both easier and more difficult for him. He is drawn to her, but feels like any consideration is a betrayal. And he has to learn how to care for a child; his wife raised their daughter, and he is often befuddled.

When they reach court, entirely new facets of Yi’s position, and the story, are revealed. The political infighting and backstabbing pushes the story along at a breakneck pace. Yi is more than a warrior, and his trusted position makes him both a target and a force for change.

Yi’s change of heart, or Yi finding his heart, reminded me a bit of the plot of the video game, The Last of Us. Hard-hearted warrior finds new life through caring for a child who is more than she seems. Classic, yes, but done excellently in The Warrior & the Flower by showing Tulip’s refreshingly candid point of view.

The story ends with Yi and Tulip beginning another journey together. I can’t wait to find out what they discover.



Camille is giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post by Victoria Vane on Cupids in Disguise + Giveaway

Victoria VaneToday’s very special guest is Victoria Vane, the author of the indescribably delicious Devil DeVere series. Jewel of the East (reviewed today) is a treat, just what I expect from the “Queen of the Georgian Romance”. Her guest post today is about DeVere, talking about him in a way that heroes (or anti-heroes) don’t usually get talked about. DeVere is Cupid, at least for his friends. A surprising turn for the reprobate we meet in A Wild Night’s Bride.

A Cupid in Disguise
by Victoria Vane

Devil DevereFor those who are unfamiliar, The Devil DeVere is an ongoing hot historical romance series that features a wide cast of characters who are all connected by the series namesake, Viscount Ludovic “the Devil” DeVere.  Although DeVere is the primary protagonist in only four of the eight stories (and counting), he is a master manipulator who plays an integral role in each and every one. Although DeVere is a rakehell of the first order, he is also intensely loyal to, and fiercely protective of,  those few who are fortunate enough to be counted in his inner circle.

In the first book, A Wild Night’s Bride, he brings his grieving best friend Ned back to the land of the living. Poor Ned’s night begins at a high end brothel and ends with an actress in the King of England’s bed!  In The Virgin Huntress, DeVere conspires with Ned’s daughter Vesta to help her get her man who happens to be his young brother Hew. His own path to a happy ever after is a very rocky one and takes three books to tell! The Devil You Know, The Devil’s Match , and A Devil’s Touch

And now, in Jewel of the East, he has reprised his cupid role once more by bringing together two damaged souls who are close to his heart. Simon Singleton (Devil in the Making and The Trouble with Sin) is one of DeVere’s oldest friends. Believed dead, he has just returned home after six years as a prisoner of war. The horrifying experience has left its mark in myriad ways.

jewel of the east by victoria vaneExcerpt: Jewel of the East

For six years, while others perished of dysentery and starvation, Simon had clung to the feeble thread of hope that one day he’d return home to reclaim the lost dreams of his youth, that he would somehow reassemble the fragments of his life.

But now, he was himself a shattered shambles of a man. Feeling neither alive nor dead, he was doomed to this horrific half-existence, destined to be a mere observer. Life as he remembered it—the one he had desperately hoped to resume—was over.


Salime, better known as Jewel of the East, is a courtesan with a mysterious history and scars of her own. When her livelihood is compromised, DeVere hires her to be a companion to Simon.

Excerpt: Jewel of the East (book #5)

Salime looked puzzled. “I do not understand what you would ask of me. I am no healer.”

DeVere answered, “He is in great want of one who understands a man’s needs. I believe that you alone might be able to comfort him…to relieve his distress. ”

“Ah.” She nodded. “I begin to comprehend. You have such confidence in me, Efendi?”

“I have every confidence in you, my dear. Should you accept my proposition, I am willing to provide you generous compensation.”

She frowned. “It is not for money that I accept. It is only for you. You have asked this of me, so how can I refuse?”

He returned a soft smile. “I pray, Salime, that one day you meet a man worthy of such devotion.”


devils touch by victoria vaneExcerpt: A Devil’s Touch (book #4.5)

Ludovic was exhausted. He had left DeVere House near midnight—after he and Ned had gotten Sin foxed enough to abduct him from the rooms he had refused to leave. They had remained at DeVere House only long enough to see their friend comfortably installed in DeVere’s own luxurious chambers, where Simon would awake to find himself in Salime’s tender care.

Although it was a highly unorthodox proposition, Ludovic had full confidence in Salime’s ability to effect Simon’s cure. He had departed London in the belief that no further intervention would be needed. Simon was a man with a man’s needs. Even blemished as she was, Salime was still an exceedingly desirable woman, and one skilled in all manner of pleasure. They were alone together in the lap of luxury. Nature would surely take its course.

Once more, DeVere proves a veritable sage. In Jewel of the East, Simon and Salime discover a true connection of souls that far surpasses even their physical passion. I hope that readers will be enchanted by this sometimes lyrical story of emotional healing and romantic love.

The Devil DeVere Series

(Library Journal Best E-Book Romance 2012)

A Wild Night’s Bride  ( #1)
The Virgin Huntress  (#2)
The Devil You Know (#3)
The Devil’s Match (#4)
A Devil’s Touch (4.5)
Jewel of the East (#5)
Devil in the Making (Devilish Vignette#1)
The Trouble with Sin (Devilish Vignette#2)
A Devil Named DeVere
(a full length compilation of the three Diana and DeVere stories)

Also by Victoria Vane

The Sheik Retold
Treacherous Temptations
A Breach of Promise

About Victoria
Victoria Vane is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction range from historical to contemporary settings and include everything from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her biggest writing influences are Georgette Heyer, Robin Schone, and Sylvia Day. Victoria is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for her sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in 2014.
Twitter: @authorvictoriav


trouble with sin by victoria vaneVictoria is generously giving away a copy of The Trouble With Sin to ALL commenters! Wow!

So, in order to get a copy of the story that starts Sin’s redemption (ooh, that sounds naughty) just leave a comment and include your email address. Tell us what you love about historical romance and get one.

Review: Jewel of the East by Victoria Vane

jewel of the east by victoria vaneFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available:
Genre: historical romance, Georgian romance
Series: Devil DeVere #5
Length: 191 pages
Publisher: Vane Publishing
Date Released: January 18, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Maimed by misfortune… healed by love…
His wounds run deep… Having once lived his life only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, Captain Simon Singleton has returned from war a shambles of a man. Although free from six years of captivity, he’s still fettered by fears that confine him to a life of seclusion.

Her scars are well-hidden… Once the crowning jewel of the most lavish brothel in London, the exotic Salime finds her reputation and livelihood destroyed by a bitter rival. With a closely guarded secret stripped away, she fears no man will ever desire her again. Seeking aid from one who once saved her life, she accepts a proposition to become a companion to his war-scarred friend.

But love is the eternal cure… When circumstance brings these two damaged souls together, fate ignites a love story worthy of the Arabian Nights.

My Review:

Jewel of the East is a sensual love story between two damaged and scarred people, brought about by their relentlessly manipulative matchmaking friend, the Devil DeVere.

trouble with sin by victoria vaneWe’ve met both Simon and Salime before, and in somewhat better circumstances. Simon, better known as Sin, was one of DeVere’s school chums. Their escapade with the lion got all of them expelled and rusticated.

They were all a lot younger and in Sin’s case at least, considerably lighter at heart. Sin didn’t think any of his antics would catch up to him, until the morning they all fell on him at once. He’s been paying ever since. (Sin’s last straw, or his parents’ last straw, is detailed in The Trouble With Sin).

DeVere and Ned Chambers (Ned’s story is in A Wild Night’s Bride) have believed that Sin was killed in action in the Colonies. Instead, Sin has been languishing in a prison hulk for six long years. He may have returned from the dead, but the man who comes back is not the same as the one who left.

Six years as a prisoner of war in a hellish situation has left Sin with horrific nightmares and a full-blown case of PTSD to add to the permanent injury to his right hand. He needs healing, and Bedlam was not the place for it.

DeVere has a solution. DeVere always has a solution. Sin can hide in DeVere’s London house and be mostly alone. As he needs to be; part of his PTSD is that he can’t bear to be touched.

Sin is incapable of realizing that he is also helping DeVere. DeVere’s friend, the exotic courtesan Salime, needs a place to stay and a task to perform. The sensual and erotic skills that she acquired in the East are just the perfect solution for Sin’s current aversion to touch.

Salime can make him beg for it.

Salime thinks she’s doing a favor for DeVere. It doesn’t take long for her to come to value Simon for himself. She never realizes that DeVere is meddling, and matchmaking, both Sin and herself into a relationship that will heal both of them.

Escape Rating A-: Jewel of the East is a decadently delicious addition to the marvelous Devil DeVere series. And while it would be possible to read Jewel without having read the rest of the series, if you love historical romance you would be missing an absolutely treat.

wild nights bride by victoria vaneIt was great to catch a glimpse of how the characters from the previous books are doing, especially DeVere, Diana and Ned Chambers. Even though DeVere is not the star of Jewel, his influence on events is keenly felt throughout the story. His house, his friends, his matchmaking, his manipulative meddling. And he’s right again, just as he was in A Wild Night’s Bride.

Sin and Salime have both been deeply wounded before they reach this point. Sin’s path to recovery, while difficult, seems more straightforward. We know what damaged him, and we see him working against his internal barriers to become whole again.

It’s easy to see why Salime wants to help him for his own sake, no matter how she starts out. Sin has a lot to overcome, but he is trying.

The road that Salime took to reach her present circumstances is not as clear. She was kidnapped in childhood and sold into slavery in a sultan’s harem. While that sounds romantic, it clearly is not. DeVere rescued her from a life of prostitution after she was scarred and discarded. But in England, she became a famous courtesan, until the unveiling of her scarred face got her tossed out of her place.

But Salime has led a life where she can never reveal her feelings for anyone. She has made a living in the only way she knows how, and she knows it is precarious at best. Her facial scar makes her feel unworthy.

What Sin gives her is that as she heals him, he gives himself to her without reservation. Not just physically, but also emotionally. She’s never been loved. Desired, but not loved. She’s sure his feelings can’t be real. So she runs away.

Salime tells Sin most of her personal story through stories, much like Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights. He uses those stories to track her down. It’s beautifully done, but I would also love to have heard her tell her story without embellishment. She is exotic, and I would love to know more of her story.

I’ll have to content myself with future installments in DeVere’s story. Or future tales of DeVere’s meddling. They are the same marvelous thing!

JOTE Virtual Tour 1200x600

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

golem and the jinni by helene weckerFormat read: paperback provided by the publisher
Formats available: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Length: 486 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date Released: April 15, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

My Review:

The Golem and the Jinni is so many different things, all at the same time. It’s been called magical realism, but that’s one of those terms that you have to define before you even begin.

It’s main characters are two beings that most people would say are creatures of myth and legend, but who find themselves in the midst of New York City in 1899.

I’m sure there’s an allegory, or any number of them, in that the story centers around the immigrant neighborhoods of the time, and that one creature is from Jewish legend, while the other was born out of stories of the Arabian Desert.

There is an opposites attract element, as Chava the golem was built out of clay, while Ahmad the Jinni is a fire spirit. Although I say “opposites attracting” this isn’t a romantic story, except in the broader definition of “Romance” as “Adventure”. Chava and Ahmad have adventures that inevitably lead them towards each other; because only they can understand what it feels like to be so completely different from everyone around them.

And that also reflects the immigrant experience.

What is felt strongly in this tale is both journeys of self-discovery. Chava starts out as a blank slate; she was created with certain characteristics, but has to learn how to be her own person. Even though she can’t change her essential nature, she still does change. The curiosity she was made with give her the ability to grow, even as she is forced to hide her essential nature.

Ahmad is let out of his bottle, just like the jinn of the stories. He has no memory of how he got to New York, the centuries he has spent imprisoned, or even how he was captured. But he knows who he is, or who he was. Even though he is out of the bottle, he is still forced to remain in human form by the original curse. So Ahmad also has to discover how to be what he is now, and let go at least some of his bitterness that he is no longer all he used to be.

Each of them has a mentor, a guide to the immigrant community they find themselves in, a person who also knows their secret.

Ahmad has to learn that his actions have consequences. Chava was born afraid of the consequences if she ever loses control of her actions.

They both believe that their meeting is chance. They’re wrong. Fate is directing both of them toward the fulfillment of an ancient curse.

Escape Rating B+: The evocation of New York City at the height of the melting pot is a big part of what makes this story special. You can feel the rhythm of the city, and the way that Chava and Ahmad fit into their respective ethnic enclaves conveys both the universality of their experience, and the seemingly subtle but often impossible to traverse cultural divides between the various immigrant communities.

They are each avatars of their people’s respective mythologies, and yet they have more in common with each other than with the groups that created them.

Chava tries her best to fit in, Ahmad barely gives lip service to the idea that he should. She is restrained, he is self-indulgent. Their respective stories of learning and adaptation bring the city alive.

But we needed a villain in order to bring the story to crisis and close. The insinuation of that villain, and the way his quest tied up all the loose ends, stole a bit of the magic. While Chava and Ahmad seem meant for each other because of their mutual otherness, discovering that it was literally true subtracted rather than added to the tale. But so much of the story is just fantastic, that I was glad to see these two reach beyond their mythical and mystical past to find a future together.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 1-26-14

Sunday Post

As you read this, I am in Philadelphia, trying not to freeze. The American Library Association Midwinter Conference is in Philly. Why, oh why couldn’t they have picked someplace warm this year?

Oh, that’s right, they saved the hot spot for the SUMMER conference. The June conference this year is in Las Vegas! (Yes, I know, it’s a DRY heat)

Current Giveaways:

Late Last Night by Lilian Darcy (ebook)
Tourwide Giveaway from Susannah Sandlin: $25 Amazon Gift Card, $10 Amazon Gift Card and Author Swag Pack

deeper by robin yorkBlog Recap:

A Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
B+ Review: Forward to Camelot 50th Anniversary Edition by Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn
Guest Post by Susan Sloate on Writing About the Kennedy Assassination
B+ Review: Late Last Night by Lilian Darcy + Giveaway
A+ Review: Deeper by Robin York
B Review: Chenoire by Susannah Sandlin + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (75)

Coming Next Week:

share the love giveaway hopThe Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (blog tour review)
Jewel of the East by Victoria Vane (blog tour review, guest post + giveaway)
The Warrior & the Flower by Camille Picott (blog tour review + giveaway)
Prince of Tricks by Jane Kindred (blog tour review, guest post + giveaway)
The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki (blog tour review, author interview + giveaway)
Share the Love Giveaway Hop

Stacking the Shelves (75)

Stacking the Shelves

Last weekend, I resisted the impulse to buy books at RustyCon. However, I am being tempted again.

ala midwinter philadelphiaThis weekend is the American Library Association Midwinter Conference, otherwise known as ARC-city. There will be ARCs everywhere I look, and all just waiting to jump into my bag. Free for the taking.

Of course, then I have to carry the things around the conference until I get back to my hotel. By the fourth (fifth, sixth?) book, the lead weight encumbers decision making. Too much of a good thing can be very heavy!

I really hope that more publishers are getting on board with the idea of offering NetGalley or Edelweiss eARCs!

For Review:
All for You (Coming Home #4) by Jessica Scott
City of the Sun by Juliana Maio
Come Home to Me (Whiskey Creek #6) by Brenda Novak
Dash of Peril (Love Undercover #4) by Lori Foster
The Day He Kissed Her (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #3) by Juliana Stone
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
Honor’s Knight (Paradox #2) by Rachel Bach
Hunting Shadows (Ian Rutledge #16) by Charles Todd
The Masterful Mr. Montague (Casebook of Barnaby Adair #2) by Stephanie Laurens
Shadow Boxer (Alterations #2) by Jen Greyson
Third Daughter (Dharian Affairs #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

The Mane Event (Pride #1) by Shelly Laurenston

Borrowed from the Library:
Another Man’s Moccasins (Walt Longmire #4) by Criag Johnson