Tuesday, December 1, 2015

review || THE PIRATE'S TEMPTING STOWAWAY { release day } by Erica Ridley

Intrepid Reads | December 1, 2015 | Historical Romance
Dukes of War, book 6


Captain Blackheart leads a simple life of roving the seas, wenching and treasure-hunting. He steers clear of romantic entanglements that could tie him to land. He shouldn't have any trouble keeping his hands off the gently-bred lady he's commissioned to abduct—except his cargo turns out to be feisty and passionate! She'd be a prize worth treasuring, if having her aboard didn't jeopardize everything...

Clara Halton thought the worst loss she could suffer was to be stripped of her family, stricken with consumption, and left to die alone. Then she meets Blackheart. Their attraction is ruinous...and irresistible. When he delivers her like so much plunder, his mission is over — but hers has just begun. She'll force him to acknowledge their connection, even if she must storm his ship to do it!

{ about erica ridley } .

Erica Ridley is a USA Today bestselling 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.

{ conversation with erica } .

Tell us about the Dukes of War, and The Pirate’s Tempting Stowaway!

The Dukes of War historical romance series features roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.

The dread pirate Captain Blackheart was once an unassuming barrister...until a press gang abducted him and forced him into the Royal Navy. Now that he’s got his freedom, he’s making exceptionally good use of it. Wine, women, commandeering hapless frigates to steal their treasure… It’s the perfect life, until he’s commissioned to abduct a genteel lady—and realizes he wants her!

Clara Halton thought the worst loss she could suffer was to be stripped of her family, stricken with consumption, and left to die alone. Then she meets Blackheart. He’s arrogant, adventurous, and irresistible. An uncertain future is the last thing she needs — but Blackheart is the one thing she wants. How can she convince a man who lives at sea to lay anchor in London and tie the knot?

Do you read anything besides romance?

Yes! Pretty much, if it’s fiction, I love it. Mysteries, suspense, horror, sci-fi, fantasy--there’s nothing I won’t read! In fact, my brain needs to get lost in something completely different once in awhile, just as a change of pace. By the time I finish reading a non-romance book, my battery is usually charged back up and ready to dive back into romance!

What do you think is the best way to publish these days?

I think it depends on the book and the author. I have been published multiple times by traditional publishers as well as the indie route. I would do both again. The advantage to traditional publishing is that big publishers are amazing at distribution. With them, my books are in bookstores, grocery stores, and everywhere readers are. The advantage to indie publishing is that authors can offer their readers books that are too “different” to be commercially viable through traditional publishers, who usually try to fit proscribed size and genre limitations. Self-publishing gives more freedom to address niche markets.

What was your nickname growing up or now?

Fraggle, based on an unfortunate resemblance to “Red” Fraggle on the first day of 7th grade!
What one thing (modern convenience) could you not live without?
The internet! I get the jitters every time my phone runs low on battery.

If you weren’t a writer and could be anything you want, what would it be?

I love to travel, and I love languages, so my non-writer dream job would be traveling the world, learning and teaching other languages. I have a friend who was born in Italy, studied in Spain, then moved to the United States, and now teaches French. My kind of lady! I would happily be a fry cook, if it included travel around the globe. ;-)

{ excerpt } .

In this scene, Clara has been abducted from her home and is en route to England on Captain Blackheart’s pirate ship. (Aka Mr. Gregory Steele.) Despite their best efforts, neither can deny their attraction. Yet he’s been paid to get her to England safely...and untouched...

“What would you do if you weren’t a pirate?” she asked softly.

Steele didn’t have to think twice about the answer. “Die.”

Simple as that. He loved being captain of his own ship. He was living the life he’d been born to lead.

Ten years ago, he’d been a simple barrister. No—not a simple barrister. A great barrister. His name alone shook fear into those who would argue against him. Law was his life. His steady, predictable, respectable, unremarkable, utterly boring life.

Until the day he’d found himself in a spot of fisticuffs at a dockside tavern. Two ruffians had instigated a fight with the protective brother of a barmaid. Steele had finished it. As he’d stepped out of the tavern, a bag had covered his head and he was immediately knocked to the ground whilst multiple assailants bound his hands and his feet.

When the ropes were untied, he was miles from shore—and one of a new batch of sailors in the King’s Royal Navy.

Much like a privateer’s legalized piracy, “pressing” unwilling or unsuspecting men into service was the most effective way the Navy had to recruit new sailors.

Despicable. And life-changing.

As much as he’d hated being pressed and resented being stripped of free will, life at sea was more excitement than he’d had in years. He’d always loved a challenge. The first was how to turn the tables, how to be the one with the power instead of at his captor’s mercy. From the moment his limbs were cut free from their binding, he’d vowed to be his own man again and to never give that up.

“Being Blackheart isn’t my job,” he said quietly. “It’s my life. It’s who I am. It’s freedom.”

She bit her lip, then nodded. “I did get that impression.”

“You’re a clever woman.” The words were flip, but he meant them truly.

Something in her eyes indicated she must have realized it, too.

She reached up and stroked a finger against his beard. “It’s getting longer.”

His heart raced at her touch. “I may have to change my name to Blackbeard.”

“That’s been taken.” Her lips curved.

“Then I’ll be ‘Salt-And-Pepper Beard.’” He massaged his jaw. “Although it perhaps doesn’t have the same ring.”

Her eyes crinkled. “It is quite unfashionable. You’d certainly be barred from Almack’s.”

“I barred myself when I learned they didn’t offer rum.” He caught her hand in his and placed her palm against the side of his beard. “Do you hate my whiskers?”

She shook her head. “I like them far more than I should.”

His body heated at the idea. “Oh?”

She licked her lips. “I like you more than I should.”

He swallowed the urge to give her even more reasons. Or meant to.

These were dangerous waters. His favorite kind. The wild impetus that sent him flying off a swinging rope onto a neighboring ship was the same impetus that had him stroking her soft cheek with the rough pad of his thumb and lowering his mouth to hers.

He should stay far, far away. But he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. His heart thumped in anticipation.

She parted her lips the moment his touched hers.

His kisses were demanding. Possessive. She twisted her fingers in his hair and met him kiss for kiss. Just as hungry. Just as demanding. He slid his hand down her back, down the curve of her waist, the flare of her hips.

Her breathing was as fast as his. Faster. Her fingers reached the waistband of his breeches right as he was bunching up her nightrail in his fist, raising it ever higher. Seeking to feel her hot flesh beneath his palm.

He lifted her leg, hooking her thigh over his hip. Tempting both of them.

No touching, he told himself urgently. Just another kiss or two. Nothing more.

But her kisses were intoxicating. He was drugged; he was helpless. Hungry for more.

He forced himself to sink his fingers into the silk of her hair, rather than bury them elsewhere. He could stop this kiss anytime he wanted. Maybe. But he didn’t wish to. Ever. He wanted her to feel the scratch of his beard against her breasts as his mouth sought her nipples. Feel it brush between her thighs as he sought something more. As he gave her release. Oh God, did he ever want release. If they could just—

“Land ho!” came the shout from above the skylight.

In one swift movement, Steele yanked the hem of her nightrail back down to her ankles and leapt off of the bunk as if it were about to burst into flame. It had been close.

He looked away. Caught his breath. Meant to catch his breath, anyway. There was no hope of calming his racing heart while his pillow still smelled of her perfume. While his fingers still tingled with the knowledge that if he’d wanted to…she’d wanted to. With the knowledge that his crew were on deck—and likely peering down the skylight, the bastards—and they’d be docking any moment and then she’d be gone. Forever.

There. That was the cold water he’d needed. It was over. They wouldn’t see each other again.

He tossed her the day dress hanging on the wall. “It’s time.”

{ review } .

Erica Ridley has proven again and again that she is a historical romance author who writes stories that I can enjoy. This series has been lovely to read; I've enjoyed the families and the friendships, and this latest story was no different.

When thirty-nine year old (err, nine and thirty) Clara was left on her own due to being deathly ill, the last thing she expected was a man, a pirate, to come rescue her. Having lost his parents to consumption, he looks at Clara, looks at her surroundings, and decides to take her aboard his ship.

I loved the slow romance between these two, and I loved how Steele wanted Clara to have what she needed -- a home on land, her grown daughter. Steele makes sacrifices throughout the story, further painting him in a very positive light when he's known as a ruthless pirate. Beyond that, I absolutely was thrilled to read the banter Steele and Clara had:

She snatched the last wooden carving from off the table, hands shaking. "I will brain you with this baby hedgehog and knock the charisma right out of your head."

"You wouldn't," he assured her. "It's 'art.'"

Beyond Steele and Clara, though, I loved Steele's shipmates and their loud rowdiness paired with belly laughs. I enjoyed this group of people.

{ previous reviews in series } .


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