Sunday, June 14, 2015

review || THE MAJOR'S FAUX FIANCEE { blog tour }

The Major's Faux Fiancee by Erika Ridley

Publisher: Intrepid Reads (6/1/2015)
Series: Dukes of War, book 4
Genre: Regency Romance
Source: NetGalley/Author
Purchase links || amazon | add to goodreads

Rating: ★1/2

Enjoy the emotional, humorous fourth book in USA Today bestselling author Erica Ridley's new Dukes of War regency romance series!

When Major Bartholomew Blackpool learns the girl-next-door from his childhood will be forced into an unwanted marriage, he returns home to play her pretend beau. He figures now that he's missing a leg, a faux fiancĂ©e is the best an ex-soldier can get. He admires her pluck, but the lady deserves a whole man—and he'll ensure she gets one.

Miss Daphne Vaughan hates that crying off will destroy Major Blackpool's chances of finding a real bride. She plots to make him jilt her first. Who cares if it ruins her? She never wanted a husband anyway. But the major is equally determined that she break the engagement. With both of them on their worst behavior, neither expects their fake betrothal to lead to love...
about Erica || Erica Ridley is a USA Today best-selling author of historical romance novels. Her latest series, The Dukes of War, features roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.  

When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

{ q+a with erica } .

How long have you been writing? 

I’ve been writing off and on since I was a child, but I decided to try to become a professional author in 2006. My first book was published in 2010—but not until I’d written three other manuscripts.

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? 

Team Plotter, all the way! I use the writing software Scrivener to organize my ideas and keep plot threads and character details consistent across each series. For me, knowing ahead of time what is supposed to happen helps me to sit down and make it happen. Without a roadmap, I find myself spending too much time staring helplessly at a blank page. (Or catching up on Words With Friends instead of writing!)

How many rejections have you received? 

I have no idea! I think I would’ve gone a little crazy if I had kept count. Like many authors, I had dozens of rejections to query letters and requested partials before I landed a literary agent, and the rejections didn’t stop there. My agent spent almost a year trying to shop a book that we both loved but ultimately did not sell. It was the following manuscript that earned me my first contract.

What was the best writing advice someone gave you? 

The difference between success and failure is that failures quit.

What is one thing about yourself that very few people know?

I live on a macadamia farm in the rainforests of Costa Rica. It’s not a secret, but I doubt many people imagine a historical romance writer lying on a hammock with her laptop as hundreds of wild parrots chirp overhead and howler monkeys call in the distance. I love it here!

{ excerpt } .
Daphne could barely even hear the music over the thundering of her heart at what this moment meant to him. Bartholomew wasn’t just dancing with her. He was risking all the rejection and humiliation he’d had to cloister himself into his town house to avoid.

He was confronting his deepest fears just for the chance to waltz in the garden with her.

She touched the side of his face. “You don’t have to do this if you’re afraid someone might see.”

“I don’t care about anyone’s opinion but yours. If I fall…” His lips curved wryly as he met her eyes. “I think I’ve already fallen.”

Her heart thudded. “Then it’s fortunate we find ourselves in each other’s arms.”

“Indeed.” He lowered his mouth. Slowly. Giving her plenty of time to turn away.

She slid her fingers into his hair and lifted her lips to his. He was what she wanted.

His kisses were gentle. Tender. She didn’t want gentleness. Her heart yearned for him too sharply to be content with mere tenderness. 

Her kisses were hungry, demanding. She wanted every taste, every sensation to be seared upon her soul. If she couldn’t keep him in her arms, she would keep moments like these in her memory. Cleave them to her heart.

His feet stilled and, slowly, he broke their kiss. Their private waltz had come to an end.

She couldn’t repress the small sound of disappointment that escaped her throat… until she realized how far they now were from the ballroom. Although still and bare, the gardens’ trees and fountains provided a dark, secluded nook, sheltering them from prying eyes and the winter wind.

They were alone. Scandalously, deliciously, alone.

She didn’t think for a moment that it meant he was finally willing to introduce her to hedonistic pleasure—no matter how many nights she dreamt of just such a liaison—but she was greedy for any part of himself he was willing to share.

He led her to a stone bench and pulled her onto his lap.

Eagerly, she wrapped her arms about his neck, thrilling at the warmth of his embrace. He could have forced her to go back inside. Yet he cradled her in his arms instead. She wished she could be there forever. Her heart beat so rapidly, pressed against his.

He kissed the top of her head, the side of her temple, the shell of her ear. Letting her know he wanted more. Letting her know it was her choice. 

Of course she would choose him.

She lifted her parted lips to his. He took her mouth. Her soul. His arms were heaven. She devoured him, her tongue dancing with his. He held her closer. The heat and passion of his kisses proved the intensity of his desire matched that of her own.

Her skin grew hot. Her clothes, restrictive. She wished she could tear his greatcoat from his beautiful shoulders. Feel her mouth on his warm neck, his muscled arms, his bare chest. To taste him on her tongue and know that he was hers.

The fantasy was so intoxicating, it stole her breath. Robbed her ability to think. 

His kisses heated her flesh. All she could do was lose herself in the moment. Surrender to his mouth, his touch. 

And pray he never let her go.

{ review } .
Now, if this wasn't a different type of twist to the friends-to-lovers story, I don't know what is.

Friends-to-lovers, meet historical romance. 

And oh, how fun it was to see this little trope in an 1800s setting.

When Daphne's father died, her care was handed over to a pirate named Captain Steele. He is now bringing over suitors for her, as she's getting nearly too old for the turning season. However, when Daphne turns twenty-one, she will come into possession of money -- she just needs to stay unwed until that time, in which she can support herself and will not need a husband.

You see, Daphne believes in a number of people and causes, and she supports them -- something she will be unable to do if she were to take a husband. In need of being able to stay unwed, she writes to her childhood friend (...he was a few years older, but a friend nonetheless) and asks for him to become betrothed to her -- at least until she comes of age, at which point, they can go their own ways.

Bartholomew is every bit the rake his reputation calls of him. He doesn't believe he deserves a happily every after, and is ok with never becoming a suitor. When he and his twin went to war, his twin died and he lost a leg. Guilt eats at him daily; he doesn't feel he should be the one to have lived.

He receives calling cards and such from those who would like for him to be theirs, but he has them tossed. When one comes in from the Vaughan homestead, he decides to take it -- he's curious is all.

Little Daphne is all grown up, he discovers...

I enjoyed this historical -- I tend to be picky with them and this one was good throughout. I enjoyed watching Bartholomew's struggle with his guilt, his feelings, and his body image. As much as he didn't want them, he grew deeper feelings for Daphne and was ok pretending to be content that they would part ways.

I loved how strong of a character Daphne was. She was strong-minded and independent, two things that were not necessarily "good" things in that time period. As her feelings grew for Bartholomew, she was aware that they may not be returned but that didn't stop her from loving him.

...and quite honestly, I loved when she calls him out on his feelings and issues at the end. 

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