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Review: An Heir of Deception by Beverley Kendall.

Summary:

A man devastated by love

After three years of carousing and debauchery, Alex Cartwright, heir to the Duke of Hastings, has put his life back in order. Having embraced sobriety for two years, he has no intention of revisiting the past or risking his heart again. But the return of the very woman who introduced him to the darkest side of hell brings not only the painful, haunting memories of bittersweet love and abandonment, but the son he never knew he had…

A woman silenced by secrets

Threatened by the revelation of a secret that could destroy her family’s place in society and forever tarnish a dukedom, Charlotte fled England on her wedding day five years ago. Now, although it appears that secret is safe, when Alex discovers her other secret—their son—Charlotte has an altogether different battle ahead. She must now fight one love to hold onto the other—the man whose touch still makes her burn, for the child who is her very world.

My Thoughts:
Beverley Kendall appeals to our true sense of fantasy in An Heir of Deception. Reunited lovers are brought to the scene with plenty of heart wrenching sorrow, suspense, misunderstanding and passion. All the wonderful things that can easily make a romance novel one of the best if woven together right. Beverley Kendall has done just that with a poetic writing style that captivates the mind and pulls on the heart-strings.

Our hero is blatantly male in all the right ways that bring forth a true gentleman. One who has suffered heartbreak and gone through his own hell of addiction and survival in the process. Abandoned on the day of his wedding by the bride of his dreams, Alex struggles to get past the pain and anger that immediately become his constant companion. He accomplishes this by hardening his heart and holding onto the bitterness that keeps his mind fortified and his resolve strong. When Charlotte unexpectedly comes back into his life with the son he never knew he had, Alex is again faced with circumstances outside of his control that test his perception of the past and his ability to forgive.

Our heroine is a feminine, gentle and independent woman who had my immediate respect. Not only for enduring such a heavy responsibility as a single parent, but also for carrying the secret burden of her heritage and the impact it could have on those she loves. Charlotte has had to live with the choices she made when she left Alex at the altar. Raising their son on her own has been the catalyst that has gotten her through those lonely years. Only when she comes back into the lives of her family and Alex does she truly analyze her motives for leaving and the truth that she couldn’t face even then. Together they weave through the regret and consequences of their actions. Coming to grips with the unfair circumstances surrounding their love. Knowing that they can’t go back yet hoping for a better future. A future where second chances do come true.

I loved identifying with these characters, they immediately appealed to my sense of human nature because they were realistic and flawed yet put together beautifully and with the artistic brush of compassion that only the author could have originally sensed. That Alex and Charlotte’s story was brought so well to life with words, and portrayed to identify so well with the reader spoke volumes on the behalf of not only the work that went into this book but also the talent of the author.

Rating: 5 stars!

Read an Excerpt:

Charlotte came awake with a start, her heart a stampede of horses thundering over America’s wide-open plains. It took her a moment to get her bearings and catch her breath. She was in England in her old bedchamber. Tears wound their way down across her temples and
settled in the cavity of her ears.
She had dreamed him again. Alex and their last time together. The tears rolled their course faster. The dream now came with a frequency that frightened her. For two weeks now, it had made its nightly sojourn into her sleep.
She’d woken up hot, her senses acute and overwrought, but now the coldness seeped into every pore despite the warmth of her bedchamber. The dreams always left her this way, chilled and dissatisfied. But tonight there was something else, a prickly uneasiness. It was then she realized the source of her disquiet wasn’t the residual effects of her dream but something based firmly in reality.
Charlotte heard a slight movement to her right. She bolted upright, her hands clutching the counterpane close to her chest. In the darkened chamber, she could only make out the shape of
someone—a man—reposed in the chair close to the fireplace.
Fear so effectively gripped her by the throat, all she could manage was a gurgled exhalation, not the blood curdling scream that would bring in the cavalry.“Don’t scream,” a male voice instructed her softly.For a moment Charlotte was convinced her ears were playing some sort of cruel trick on her. Had she conjured his voice up from her dream? Was she that bad off?
He rose from the chair with an unmistakable ease and grace. Alex.
Seconds later, he was standing by the side of her bed, half his face illumed by the faint light from the fire burning on the grate. Not like the Alex of her dreams, this Alex was solid and real,
and darkly forbidding.
“Alex—Alex what are you doing here?” Charlotte barely managed to croak out the question, hot all over once again.
She could feel his silver gaze scoring her, unreadable, unwavering. After a nerve-wracking pause, he asked in a voice both chilling and calm, “When did you intend to inform me you bore me a son?”

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Review: Colorado Dawn by Kaki Warner.

The next in Kaki Warner‘s sweeping new
series about unlikely brides who make
their way west-discovering newfound
freedom and rediscovering love…

After only three letters and one visit during her six-year marriage to a Scottish Cavalry Officer, Maddie Wallace decides to build a life without him. Accepting an assignment from a London periodical to photograph the West from a female perspective, she sails from England, determined to build a new life as an independent woman.

After injury ends his military career, Angus Wallace returns home to find his wife gone, his family decimated by fever, and himself next in line to an earldom. His new mission is clear–find his wife and sire heirs. His search takes him across an ocean and half a continent, but he finally tracks her to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado. There his biggest challenge awaits–to convince his headstrong wife to return home as his viscountess.

Amidst statehood struggles, claim jumping, and railroad disputes their passionate battle rages…until word comes that Angus has become the earl. Now they must decide between a life in the mountains of Colorado, or in the glittering ballrooms of London…and between duty and desire.

My Thoughts:
This was the first book I’ve read from this author, and honestly I enjoyed it. It was simple in its presentation and I distinctly got the feeling all throughout the novel that the author doesn’t cloud the story in a lot of flowery language. That being said, Kaki Warner definitely has a way with writing. She brings together a beautiful word picture of the Colorado lifestyle and landscape in the early 1870’s. The plot and writing style flowed well throughout the novel. Some parts were a little slower as to be expected and of course I would have loved to see a little more chemistry between Ash and Maddie. Yet I even thought that had its advantages as you got a very real feel from this book. Like it was something that could have actually taken place instead of something that was obviously a fantasy. Another thing I thought to compliment the author on was the way she presented the hero, Ash is Scottish. Yet unlike other novels with a Scottish or Irish hero, I didn’t have trouble understanding what he was saying. His brogue didn’t get in the way of the novel, it added a very nice touch to Ash. Even bringing humor to the story because of his accent, which I thought was delightful. Ash is more of the strong silent type, yet typical to male fashion he comes out and just says it! Maddie is also represented well as a woman, she’s independent and guarded yet still longs for a family and a true marriage with her husband. I love how this book focuses on the marriage, it looks at it from different angles. You really feel the pain that both characters went through, the author brings you through that but then also brings the closure that is so often needed in those situations. The elements of this book are real and heart touching, a definite treasure for true romance fans!

Rating: 4 stars!

Read an Excerpt:

“Heard you were looking for Maddie Wallace,” the man said, studying Ash through dark eyes from beneath the brim of his black flat-crowned hat. He was even taller than Ash and solidly built, and he would have carried an air of authority even without the sheriff’s badge pinned to his vest.
Ash nodded. “I am.”
“Mind if I ask why?”
Ash did, so he dinna respond. Tricks plopped onto his belly by Ash’s boot, his rangy body taking up most of the hallway, and began licking the dampness from his front legs.
“Impressive dog,” the man said as he folded the penknife. “Is he as dangerous as he looks?”
“Not to me.”
The sheriff nodded and slipped the penknife into his pocket. Bending down, he let Tricks sniff his open hand, then gently stroked the knobby head.
Ash was surprised. Like most of his breed, Tricks was standoffish with strangers. By accepting the sheriff so readily, it only confirmed Ash’s assessment of the man. A reasonable fellow who wore his position well.
The sheriff straightened. “See that table in the back corner?” He pointed across the hall to the open door that led into the dining room. “The one with the ladies?”
Ash followed his direction and saw the blond woman seated with a dark-skinned woman and a pregnant sandy-haired woman. All three were staring their way. And frowning. “Aye, I see them.”
“The blond is Lucinda Hathaway,” the sheriff explained in a friendly tone. “Owns the hotel. Yankee. Smart. Carries a pepperbox pistol. Far as I know, she hasn’t killed anyone with it. The dark-skinned woman is Prudence Lincoln. She lives at the school the ladies set up for ex-slaves and anyone else who wants to come learn. Whether she likes it or not, she’s under the protection of a Cheyenne Dog Soldier. Ever heard of them?”
Ash had. He’d never seen one, but he’d heard of their legendary fierceness in battle and admired them for it. He was Scottish, after all. But right now he was less curious about Indians than why the sheriff was telling him all this.
“Now that blue-eyed beauty,” the man went on, his voice softening as he looked at the sandy-haired woman. “She’s Edwina Brodie. She might fool some with her southern charm, but she’s pretty handy with a shovel and once even faced down a mountain lion with a bucket of salad greens. And if that’s not enough to give a man pause . . .” Swinging his gaze back to Ash, he gave him a hard look. “There’s me.”
Ash heard the challenge but gave no reaction. “And who are you?”
The sheriff touched the tips of two fingers to the brim of his hat. “Declan Brodie. I’m temporary sheriff here at Heartbreak Creek. And her husband.”
The warning was clear, although Ash had no idea why Sheriff Brodie had issued it. Maddie Wallace was the woman he had come to see, not these females. “Why temporary?” he asked.
“Because I’m a rancher,” Brodie explained, which explained nothing. “As you can see,” he went on, glancing back toward the women, “the ladies are upset. It’s not good when they get upset.”
“Which of us is in trouble?” Ash asked, although he had a fair idea.
Brodie flashed white teeth in a crooked grin that changed his austere face to one that women might find handsome. “Hell, I’ve got four kids and a pregnant wife. I’m always in trouble. But this time, it’s you.”
“What have I done?”
“That depends.” No longer smiling, the sheriff stepped toward Ash.
Immediately Tricks rose.
The sheriff paused, looked from the dog to Ash, but came no closer. He showed no menace, yet Ash sensed an unbendable resolve within the man. He respected that, since it was a trait they had in common.
“Why are you looking for Maddie?” Brodie asked again.
That was the second time the sheriff had casually used the shortened version of
Madeline’s name. Ash dinna like the sound of it on another man’s tongue. “As I told the Hathaway woman, I have news of her family,” he said stiffly. “Is she here?”
Brodie remained silent. Ash suspected he was being assessed by the lawman, and although he dinna like it, he withstood it without showing his growing irritation.
The women continued to watch them and whisper quietly amongst themselves. Ash could feel the censure in their eyes and wondered what he’d done to cause it.
“She’s off making pictures,” the sheriff finally said. “Should be back in a week or so, then she’ll be leaving again for the big meeting up in Denver.”
“Meeting about what?”
“Political thing. Statehood. Delegates are coming from all over the territory. Promises to be quite a gathering.”
“She’s a delegate?” That surprised him. Despite her father’s leanings, she had showed no interest in politics before. But then, that she was here instead of Scotland where she belonged showed how little he knew her.
“No, I am. Part of the job. Or so I’ve been told.”
Ash heard the disgust in the man’s voice and guessed the sheriff wasna excited about the trip. But he’d heard enough to know this was the woman he sought, and his natural impatience caused him to speak more sharply than he intended. “I canna wait another week. Where is she now?”
The sheriff reared his head back and subjected Ash to another lengthy assessment.
Ash was weary of it. “It’s important that I speak to her.”
“You’ll not hurt her?”
“I dinna hurt women.”
After more scrutiny, the sheriff sighed, as if he’d come to a decision he might
later regret. “She headed up to the Alamosa a month ago.”
“The Alamosa?”
“Alamosa River. Things are hopping up there since the strikes.”
Brodie must have seen Ash’s confusion. “Gold strikes,” he clarified. “Miners are pouring in from all over. She wanted to document it. Photograph it. She’s a photographer. Didn’t you know that?”
Of course Ash knew. It was through her photographs that he had tracked her this far. But he thought the woman had more sense than to go haring off to a place as dangerous as a wide-open mining town. “She dinna go alone, did she?”
“She’s got Wall-eyed Willy with her, not that he’d be much protection.”
Bluidy hell.
“You going after her?”
“Aye. I’m going after her.”

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