. . . and you will be, too – whether you like historical romance or not. It has nothing to do with the awesome contest accompanying Robyn DeHart’s virtual book tour. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) Nor does it hinge upon Ms. DeHart’s reputation for penning some of the best period romances in years past. You’ll love this book because you’ll fall in love with the hero and heroine.
Everyone knows an author can stumble from time to time, releasing a novel which doesn’t quite measure up to previous efforts. As a reader who nurses a cynical edge, I expect this – and approach each new title with a tongue in cheek attitude that clearly asks, “Can you make me read to the last page? Well . . . can ya, punk?” (Sorry, I’ll always slip in a Dirty Harry quote when I can.)
I admit, I’m not the easiest reader to please. I get distracted. A lot. Who doesn’t these days? My mind has been known to wander through twenty topics while I turned as many pages, only to later return and re-read the excerpt. It takes witty dialogue, dazzling descriptions, and a fast pace to hook me. Most historicals move languidly and the language is too stilted. For my tastes. Trust me, I have friends who love historical romance to the point that their lives revolve around the next release date from their favorite authors. I applaud them. I applaud their loyalty to the genre and the author. Historical is just not my cup of tea. So why, you might ask, did I choose to read “A Little Bit Scandalous”?
Years ago, I found myself repeatedly goaded by a friend to read historical romance. This friend was one of those zealots I mentioned earlier – a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon’s The Outlander series and many more period titles. No matter how often I defended my penchant for contemporary suspense thrillers and romantic suspense, she simply would not let up. “You’ll LOVE historicals. You don’t know what you’re missing,” she persisted. Finally, to shut her up, I agreed to read one of “those” books. I chose a period romance with a blurb that caught my eye, certain I’d be calling the next day with a smug, “I told you so. Historicals are dribble.”
The book I selected was from a series called The Legend Hunters – “Treasure Me” by Robyn DeHart. It was one of the most delightful, satisfying novels I’d read in some time and sprinkled with a refreshing dash of devilish humor. I was captivated by this intriguing tale in the first few pages and remained spell bound to the end. In fact, every title I’ve read by Ms. DeHart since that first book has left me with the same contented “sigh” at the end. I don’t know how she does it time after time . . . but I’m awfully glad she does!
So when Bewitching Book Tours posted the news of Ms. DeHart’s book tour featuring “A Little Bit Scandalous”, which host do you think was first in line, hand waving, head bobbing as feet jumped off the ground, yelling, “Me! Me! Pick me!”?
Read on for my review, book description and an excerpt from “A Little Bit Scandalous”. And as a side note . . . I still have not read The Outlander series – much to my friend’s dismay.
But first: ENTER THE CONTEST for your chance to win a $25 Gift Card from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner’s choice. Just click the link below.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses their heart. And that’s exactly what happens in “A Little Bit Scandalous” when Monroe (Roe) Grisham, Duke of Chanceworth, tangles with his ward, Caroline Jellico.
After the unfortunate death of his best friend, Roe accepts the man’s sister as his ward. On Caroline’s 18th birthday, he decides it’s time to find her a suitable husband. She shocks him by declaring her love, which he promptly rejects. Caroline grudgingly goes to London with Roe’s mother and is introduced to Society. However, she is heartbroken and soon returns to the country, vowing never to marry.
Fast forward seven years. Caroline has matured into a resourceful and beautiful young woman determined to renovate the family estate she so loves. Loathe to ask Roe for money to repair the property, she decides to utilize her uncanny mathematical skills and ability to count cards by dressing up as a boy and hitting the gaming tables. After a series of impressive wins, Caroline amasses the needed funds without anyone uncovering her identity.
When Roe is pitted in a card game against Grey, the “boy” with a reputation for always winning, he soon realizes his competition is not a boy at all. And a new game begins . . .
As usual, Ms. DeHart delighted me with robust, lively dialogue and a great sense of humor. This author displays an ability to build chemistry between her characters that is so tangible, I sometimes feel like I’m watching a movie. To incite a reader’s emotions in such a way is truly a gift. “A Little Bit Scandalous” is a fast moving, character driven tale layered with an intriguing plot. Even though it’s a period piece, set in the Regency/Victorian era, the story will resonate with any romance reader who enjoys the arc of a good love story.
My rating: 4.5 stars
Put “A Little Bit Scandalous” on your TBR list! You won’t be disappointed.
A Little Bit Scandalous
Forbidden Love Series, Book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Date of Publication: 8-12-13
Number of pages: 212
A gambler in need of redemption
Monroe Grisham, Duke of Chanceworth, is determined to keep his beautiful young ward, Caroline Jellico, out of his life for her own good. Caroline is all grown up now, making it impossible for him to focus on anything but her presence. Hoping to put her out of sight, he leaves it up to his mother to find her a proper husband before he ruins Caroline himself.
A woman in search of a gamble
Mathematics prodigy, Caroline Jellico, is tired of waiting for the elusive Roe to notice her.
A complicated game of seduction
When Roe and Caroline meet across the table, all bets are off. But this game takes more than skill, and the winner may take all but still lose everything.
Caroline stood in the dark. She was not particularly skilled when it came to determining if a man was attracted to her. She hadn’t stayed in London for her Season long enough after Roe had rejected her proposal, but Roe had behaved as if she tempted him, as if their kiss had affected him just as it had her.
Perhaps he behaved that way with any woman who got close enough to him. Somehow she doubted that, though. She’d seen Lady Fairfax, the kind of woman Roe had affairs with. A sophisticated woman with curves aplenty, lovely golden hair, and big blue eyes. Not at all like Caroline’s unruly mouse-brown hair and her own lackluster brown eyes. And she’d seen the kind of woman Roe intended to marry, someone who looked a bit like her, only a much more attractive version.
Caroline had not come downstairs to spy on Roe. She’d wandered down to find a book to read and had seen a particularly interesting looking text in Roe’s study on mathematics. She clutched her dressing gown closer around her as the draft from the night air wafted around her. She’d thought Roe had left hours ago. Evidently not.
She waited a few breaths before making her way to Roe’s study. She intended to walk in and go immediately for the book, say goodnight, and be on her way. Instead, she locked her gaze on him and boldly asked, “Are you and Lady Fairfax having an affair?”
Roe looked up from his desk, then leaned back in his chair, folding his hands over his abdomen. The pose was nothing short of masculine perfection.
She silently cursed her body and its betraying desire.
“We were. Once. But no longer,” he said, his words even, unwavering.
She tried to think of something to say, but merely stood there as the relief washed over her. “She’s quite beautiful.”
Roe nodded. “She is.”
The book she’d come to retrieve was on the bookshelf behind Roe. She could see the reddish leather mocking her. Still, she made no move to claim it. Mathematical treatise could not hold her attention when Roe was near. Her mind barely functioned well enough to hold a conversation, let alone read about the complexities of algebra. “What did she want?” It wasn’t her concern, she knew that. She was nothing to Roe, nothing but a financial burden and he owed her no explanation about anything. Still she was curious.
“Me,” he said with a grin.
I want you, too. But still, his obvious humor in the matter sent another flood of relief through her. If he was still interested in Lady Fairfax, he would not be joking about the matter with her. “I see. Your arrogance knows no bounds, does it?”
He tilted his head as if considering her question. “I don’t believe it does.”
“I came down to borrow a book.” Caroline stood in the same spot, her eyes unable to leave Roe’s face.
“Do you want to play a few hands?” he asked.
“I do,” she said without thinking. They hadn’t played since the night he discovered her disguise, and her hands had been itching to touch the cards, to see the numbers tally in her mind. It would be a good diversion from what her mind was currently considering—all the ways Roe could seduce her. He motioned for her to come forward.
“Pull up that chair.” He indicated the wooden chair that currently sat near the window adjacent to his desk.
She dragged it across the Persian rug and brought it to the edge of his mahogany desk. She would have a difficult time saying no to a game in any circumstances, but this one, here tonight with Roe, it would have been impossible. She had nothing to compete with Lady Fairfax except her skill with cards, something Caroline knew Roe would appreciate and value. So she’d do her best, challenge him, beat him, and then be able to go to bed tonight knowing while she might not be prettiest woman in his life, she was the smartest.
He retrieved a deck of cards from his top drawer and nimbly shuffled them, flipping and fanning them within his hands. He had beautiful hands, large, broad, masculine hands with a light dusting of hair on each knuckle, and neat, manicured nails. Hands that had touched her throat and her face when he’d kissed her.
She felt her cheeks warm and knew they likely burned red. She looked down, inspected her own hands, which she’d never felt were particularly feminine because her fingers were long and narrow. Her own nails were blunt and jagged from her bed habit of picking at them when she was nervous. She remembered, when she’d been very young, her mother had told her that her hands were that of a pianist. Caroline had tried to play sometime after that, but she’d never been particularly musical.
“I met someone tonight.” Caroline hadn’t intended to bring up Penelope so abruptly. Still, her curiosity seemed to know no bounds.
“Yes, the American fellow, I saw.”
Caroline frowned. “No, not Mr. Bishop, although I suppose I met him as well. No, I meant I’d met someone you knew. Penelope, or I should probably refer to her as Lady Granger, though she introduced herself with her Christian name.”
Roe stiffened and the cards in his hand stilled, but it was so brief a moment that had she not been studying him, she would likely have missed it. “Yes, I do know Lady Granger.”
“Of course you do. You were betrothed to her once?”
He met her gaze. “No, we were never officially betrothed. I realized things would not work out between the two of us and we parted ways. It was for the best, as she’d already fallen in love with Lord Granger. They married shortly thereafter.”
Was that jealousy or hurt she heard in his voice? It was hard to tell, but there was a decidedly darker tone. Perhaps she shouldn’t have brought her up at all, if she reminded Roe of their painful past. She had always assumed Roe felt love was beneath him, a pedestrian emotion. She’d never considered he’d once loved and lost.
“Ready?” he asked, indicating the cards in his hand.
“Yes.” He still wanted to play, which relieved her. Perhaps that would lighten his mood.
He dealt her cards and she flipped them over, glanced at both. Twenty. His brow slowly rose.
“Very good.” He checked his own hand. “Dealer takes one. And another one.” His eyes slowly rose to meet hers. He flipped his cards over. “Dealer has twenty-one.”
She turned over her own cards. “We have nothing we’re playing with,” she said. “What do I owe you?”
He cocked his hand to the side. “Nothing. We can merely play to enjoy the game.”
“You don’t believe that. There must always be stakes. You told me that the first time we played. Otherwise, there is no incentive for someone to play with skill. They get lazy, rely on luck. No, there must be something we could exchange.”
“What can you offer me?”
“A kiss,” she said before she thought better of it. She leaned forward, offering herself to him. If nothing else, her advance would give him a chuckle.
“I am not such a scoundrel that I need to win kisses from women at cards.”
“Perhaps.” She eyed him from under her lashes. “But it is not my kisses that I am offering up as prizes. I’m asking for your kisses.” Even as she said the words, her cheeks flamed, but she did not back down. A successful player never backed down from a bluff.
He leaned slowly back in his chair and studied her from behind his cards. “And why would you need to win my kisses?” he asked in a voice that sent fissures of pleasure through her entire body.
A life-long lover of stories and adventure, it was either become a stuntwoman for the movies or live out those adventures from the safety of her PJ’s and computer. Award-winning author, Robyn DeHart chose the latter and couldn’t be happier for doing so. Known for her unique plotlines and authentic characters, Robyn is a favorite among readers and reviewers.
Publishers’ Weekly claims her books as “sizzling romance” while the Chicago Tribune dubs her “wonderfully entertaining.” Robyn is an award-winning author as well as being a four-time RT Bookclub Reviewers’ Choice award nominee, and a three-time RomCon Reader’s Crown nominee.
Look for Robyn’s new trilogy on forbidden love coming from Entangled: A Little Bit Wicked (fall 2012), A Little Bit Sinful (spring 2013) and A Little Bit Scandalous (summer 2013).
Also in 2013, she’ll launch a new historical romantic suspense series with NAL, the first in the series is The Secrets of Mia Danvers (2013).
Robyn lives in Texas with her brainy husband, two precocious little girls and two spoiled cats.