Tag: Avon

Sunday Spotlight: Dare to Love a Duke by Eva Leigh

Posted December 16, 2018 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Dare to Love a Duke is the third book in Eva Leigh’s London Underground series. It features Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield and Lucia, the owner of the Orchid Club, also known as Amina. This story looks pretty good with secret identities and masked Dukes in secret clubs.

We’re pleased to be featuring an excerpt from this book so read on to check it out…

Sunday Spotlight: Dare to Love a Duke by Eva LeighDare to Love a Duke (The London Underground, #3) by Eva Leigh
Series: The London Underground #3
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: December 24, 2018
Format: eBook
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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For a dashing duke and the proprietress of a secret, sensual club in the London Underground, passion could lead to love… if they dare

Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, knows he should be proper and principled, like his father. No more dueling, or carousing, or frequenting masked parties where Londoners indulge their wildest desires. But he’s not ready to give up his freedom just yet. The club is an escape, a place where he can forget about society and the weight of his title… and see her, the woman he’s wanted forever.

Lucia—known as Amina—manages the Orchid Club, a secret society where fantasies become reality. But for Lucia, it’s strictly business, profitable enough to finance her dream: a home for the lost girls of the streets. Surrounded by lovers, she only observes, unwilling risk her future for any man. No member has ever intrigued her...until him, the masked stranger whose heated looks sear her skin. After months of suppressed longing, they dare to give in to temptation…

But the late duke’s legacy comes with a shocking secret, and the scandal threatens to destroy everything Tom loves… his family, the Orchid Club, and even Lucia.

Order the Book:

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Excerpt

Tom took a glass of wine from a passing footman, then sipped as he surveyed the room. He took his usual place by the window. The moment a woman in a red dress began approaching him, he moved on. Over the course of the year, he’d fielded many offers of sex from interested parties, but he’d never accepted. That wasn’t why he came to the Orchid Club.

He crossed the threshold of the ballroom. This was where he’d first met Amina, a night he’d never forgotten. As always, the notes of a waltz drifted from the musicians as the guests on the dance floor surrendered to the seductive air of unfiltered desire. This was not sanctioned London. It was the secret, dark side. The place where people of all walks of life came for release, to cavort and be free.

He sensed a charge like unheard music, a subtle threading of awareness moving invisibly through his
body. Despite being engaged in watching the unfolding action, Tom became conscious of a new presence
in the room.

Amina had arrived.

She glided through the chamber, calm and assured, a small, unreadable smile playing about her lips as she stopped to chat with guests, making certain they had everything they needed. Tonight, her mask was emerald green, embroidered all over with gold thread and tiny pearls. The mask matched her richly hued gown, which hugged her curved body.

Tonight, her thick black hair was pinned up, though small brilliants seemed to twinkle in the dark waves. But it could have been his imagination. For surely whenever she was near, he had eyes for no one but her.

Riveted, Tom watched her glide through the ballroom, expertly weaving through the crowd. She kept that slightly removed smile on her face as she talked with the celebrants. Occasionally, she waved over a servant to provide more refreshments to the guests.

She checked with the musicians and adjusted the position of a candelabra on a table. This is my realm, she seemed to silently declare. The ruler of Bloomsbury. The empress of the Orchid Club. Regal and confident, her head held high, her shoulders back.

She caught sight of him, and he straightened to his fullest height. A thrum of excitement pulsed through him, all the way to his bones, as she approached. The lingering clouds of his unease lifted the nearer she came. This close, he could see the deep brown of her eyes shining behind her disguise. Her pupils were large, fathomless.

“Rogue,” Amina said when she stood before him.

“You chide me baselessly.” His heart took up double time to have her so close and to hear her low, throaty voice again. Every now and again, he caught a hint of an unknown accent in her words, yet he could never ask after her origins.

She had to be from somewhere warm, a place where, beneath a gleaming sun, dark-eyed beauties felt temperate breezes caress their tawny skin. The thought of all Amina’s flesh bared to the sunlight
made his mouth water.

“I’m not a capricious creature,” she said crisply. “I do nothing without reason.”

“If you are my judge, I’m entitled to know the offense for which I am accused.”

She clicked her tongue. “Even worse that you don’t know.” At his mystified silence, she explained, “Six weeks. It’s been six weeks since I’ve last seen you within these chambers. I thought you’d enlisted or run off to Argentina.”

He smiled to himself. “You think me an adventurer?”

“I think you dreadfully rude to have disappeared,” she said coolly.

He bowed. “Family obligations, unfortunately, have kept me away.”

A corner of her mouth lifted. “I forget, sometimes, that people have families.”

Despite her wry smile, a note of melancholy tinged her voice, making him contemplate her kin. Did she
have any, and did they know what she did to earn her bread?

Then, she said more lightly, “You’re here now. That’s all that matters.”

“Thinking of this night has been a balm to me these past weeks,” he said candidly. There was no need to dissemble or tell flattering half-truths. Not here. Not with her.

“If you’ve been troubled, I am sorry for it.” Sincerity firmed her words. Perhaps he was, to her, more than another masked guest, something beyond a means to keep a roof over her head. God knew she held greater significance to him than her role as manager of this establishment.

He bowed. “I’ll find my way through my difficulties.” Or so he hoped. Every step put him deeper and
deeper into unknown, perilous territory. “Good,” she said. “It would pain me to think of you
in distress.”

The London Underground

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: December 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!


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Sunday Spotlight: The Duke I Marry by Cathy Maxwell

Posted December 2, 2018 by Rowena in Features | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

The Duke I Marry is the third book in Cathy Maxwell’s Spinster Heiresses series and it promises to be another historical adventure into the romance pairing of Miss Willa Reverly and Matthew Addison, the new Duke of Camberly. We’re stoked to be sharing a super cute excerpt from the book today so check it out…

Sunday Spotlight: The Duke I Marry by Cathy MaxwellThe Duke That I Marry (Spinster Heiresses, #3) by Cathy Maxwell
Series: Spinster Heiresses #3
Also in this series: If Ever I Should Love You, A Match Made in Bed (Spinster Heiresses #2)
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Format: eBook
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
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Goodreads

Once upon a time there were three young ladies who, despite their fortunes, had been on the marriage mart a bit too long. They were known as "the Spinster Heiresses"...

Is it wrong for a woman to want more?

Not if she is a Spinster Heiress. They do not settle. Any young miss would be very lucky to find herself promised to a man like the Duke of Camberly. However, Miss Willa Reverly has watched her friends marry for love. Camberly may be the prize of the season, but she will not be "sold" to any man. She wants his devotion or she wants nothing at all.

When is a Marriage of Convenience inconvenient?

Newly named to the ducal title, Matthew Addison is determined to discover the secrets behind Mayfield, the bankrupt estate he has inherited. He doesn't have time to coddle a headstrong heiress who is determined to ditch him over something as silly as "love." Little does he know that his questions will place her in jeopardy. Now he must do what he must to save them both.

Could it be that in running from danger they might be racing headlong into a truly unexpected fate: falling in love?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE BOOKS || KOBO

Excerpt

The time had come.

The moment everyone had gossiped about. Willa was going to let Camberly have her because he was her husband. Giving in to him was her duty. She wasn’t truly his duchess unless they did the deed.

She experienced a pang of regret that she’d overheard his words to his sister about not loving her. Willa was practical. In spite of the marriage vows, she wouldn’t even have thought of love if it hadn’t been for Kate’s words.

Now, it seemed all she could think about. Love. Having a husband who loved her. Just as Soren loved Cassandra, and Leonie’s husband, Rochdale, all but worshipped her.

And yet, everyone envied Willa. Matt was a prize. She had become a duchess. The point game had gone to her.

So why did she feel sad?

It might have to do with the kiss in the coach. Her first kiss. She hadn’t known what she was about, but he had apparently liked it because he hadn’t stopped touching her since she’d kissed him. For most of the afternoon, when she had been with him, his hand had been at her arm or her waist, guiding her and moving her along until he’d swept her up and carried her to his bed. Willa sat up on the mattress. His bedroom furnishings were dark brown against ivory walls. The bed itself had been made for a giant. It had a massive headboard that was almost black with age. The bedclothes were a dull gold. Someone, most likely Annie or Matt’s valet, had turned down the covers.

Rather bravely, she said, “What do you want me to do?”

He’d tossed his jacket onto a nearby chair and was tugging on the knot in his neck cloth when her question gave him pause. An uncertain look came into his eye, as if he, too, was feeling his way. And then he answered, “Let me take down your hair.”

The request was unexpected—and she couldn’t imagine anything she would more dearly love. The weight of it had added to her building anxieties. “Yes, please.”

He smiled and pulled his neck cloth free to join his jacket before offering his hand. “Well then, stand.” She thought he meant the floor until he helped her balance on the mattress. This way, she was taller than he was. He wasn’t so intimidating this way. Was that his intent?

He began removing the pearl­tipped pins.

She held out her hand to receive them just as she did with Annie. The familiar arrangement helped her relax. “There are plain pins in there as well.”

“I will find them.” His touch was gentle, his expression intent. He reminded her of a sculptor she’d once observed working on his art. The ten­ sion between Willa’s shoulders and neck began to unwind. “I’ve wanted to see your hair down since the moment we first met,” he said.

“I have too much of it.” He smiled. “We shall see.”

Her gaze took in the room. This was obviously his domain. Just as she noticed when she’d visited Mayfield several months ago, there were signs of neglect and wear. A huge wardrobe took up a good portion of one wall. There was a washstand, a desk, chairs—all the usual items in a bedroom, including a privacy screen in one corner.

However, Willa’s personal effects were here. She was surprised. She had assumed she would have her own room. In fact, beyond his shaving gear, there seemed to be nothing else of Matt’s in this room. What brushes and small boxes and bottles were on the washstand belonged to her.

He had collected all the pearl pins and was now searching for the plain ones.

“I was thinking this was your room,” she said, “but my things are here.”

“This is our room.”

She looked down at him. “We’ll share the same room?” She had never heard of such a thing. Her parents had separate suites of rooms.

“You are my wife, Willa. You sleep by my side.”

“Forever?”

“As long as our natural lives.” He pulled the last pin from her hair. It was as if that last pin held it all in place. Her hair tumbled down around her shoulders, flowing almost to her waist.

It was pure pleasure to have the weight of it off her neck. As she did every night when she took her hair down, she rotated her shoulders—and then stopped. Her breasts were at his eye level and they had his attention.

A warmth roiled deep in her lower belly and a curiosity in her mind.

His eyes had darkened with interest. He rested his hand on her waist. He raised his gaze to her. It was almost a sin for a man to have such dark lashes or such sparkling blue eyes.

“I want you, Willa. Do you understand exactly what that means?”

In this moment, it was as if they were the only two people in the world.

“I’m told to do what you tell me.” Her mother’s instruction didn’t seem daunting at all right now. “And I will, although I don’t know how good I will be at counting backward from a hundred.”

If she had popped him in the nose, he couldn’t appear more startled. “Count backward?”

Willa nodded, sinking down on the bed. She removed her kid slippers. It had bothered her to stand on the coverlet in them. “Mother suggested it. She said that way it will be all over before I know it.”

Matt burst out laughing. He sat on the bed beside her as if it was the most natural thing in the world. “Count backward?”

Willa wasn’t certain what was so funny. Should she not have told him? She nodded warily.

He caught her mood. “Please, I’m not laughing at you. I’m just . . .” He paused as if looking for a word and found it. “Charmed. I’m charmed to hear you say that. Your honesty, Willa, is a gift.” He leaned back, resting on one arm, and gently pulled her with him. “You were told to count to a hundred?”

“Backward,” Willa added. She caught her hair and pulled it over one shoulder so it wasn’t beneath her. His gaze met hers. He sobered. “My hope is that you are enjoying yourself so much, you can’t remember how to count.”

Her mother had not said anything about enjoyment. However, Cassandra had. “Is that why everyone claims you are a good lover?” An hour earlier she wouldn’t have dared to say such a thing. However, being with him—like this— seemed completely right. Why, they both were still dressed.

“Now the pressure is on,” he said in mock dismay followed by a self­deprecating smile. “That ‘lover’ gossip is stuff and nonsense. They prattle on like that because they have nothing else to talk about. The only opinion I am interested in is yours and, together, we’ll find what pleases us both.”

That was a very nice promise. Especially the word “together.”

He stroked her hair, watching it flow through his fingers. “So lovely,” he murmured before lifting his gaze to meet hers. “Willa, kiss me the way you did in the coach.”

How could she refuse such a simple request? Willa leaned toward him. Their lips met.

And she was kissing him.

Spinster Heiresses Series

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: December 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Cathy Maxwell

CATHY MAXWELL spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, "Why do people fall in love?" It remains for her the mystery of life and the secret to happiness.

She lives in beautiful Virginia with her children, horses, dogs, and cats.


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Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Posted November 19, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia QuinnReviewer: Rowena
The Other Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys, #3) by Julia Quinn
Series: Rokesbys Series #3
Also in this series: Because of Miss Bridgerton, The Girl with the Make Believe Husband
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
four-stars

She was in the wrong place...

Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers' hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain's bed…

He found her at the wrong time...

Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he's stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he's stuck with her.

Can two wrongs make the most perfect right?

When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew's secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?

The Other Miss Bridgerton is the third book in Julia Quinn’s Rokesbys series and we’re finally getting Andrew Rokesbys story. I’ve wanted Andrew’s story since George and Billie’s book and when I found out that we were finally getting it, I was thrilled. I couldn’t request this book fast enough.

So Andrew is the Rokesby brother that has been missing from the other books. He was in the navy but now? Nobody really knows what Andrew does and where Andrew is. Well, he’s the captain of a bunch of ships that delivers goods all over the world and he also happens to be a delivery boy for the government, only nobody knows about that part of his job. If he happens to stash some of his goods in a cave, that’s his business and nobody else’s so when Poppy Bridgerton, Billie Bridgerton’s cousin, happens upon his cave of nobody’s business and goes searching for treasures, Andrew has no choice but to abduct her for the trip that he’s going on and lock her in his cabin until he can figure out what to do with her.

Poppy is visiting her best friend Elizabeth for a spell and while out on her daily walks, comes across a cave of treasure so she investigates and gets caught up in some business that is not hers and has no choice but to let herself be kidnapped or…something else that she doesn’t want to think about. The captain assures her that they’ll only be gone for two weeks so she has to think quickly and make sure that Elizabeth doesn’t come searching for her or she’ll be ruined.

A huge bulk of the book takes place while Poppy and Andrew are out at sea, making their way to Portugal so that Andrew can conduct his business. They slowly but surely fall in love with each other while they spend their hours getting to know each other. Sure, they didn’t plan on things turning out the way that they did but I thought they made the best of the situation before them. I really enjoyed their conversations and seeing them grow closer with each passing day. They were both great characters on their own but I enjoyed their scenes together.

The pacing of the story was a bit on the slow side in the beginning (or actually while they were on the high seas) and then super rushed in the end. I thought it felt like they were out to sea for forever and their relationship progressed super slow and then toward the end of the book, the pacing picked up so quickly that their reunion was a bit of a letdown…not that it was a complete letdown because I enjoyed seeing them come together but I wished there was more time when they returned to England to really come together. I thought that Poppy didn’t spend nearly as much time being pissed off at Andrew like she should have been but in the end, I still enjoyed the heck out of the two of them together that I couldn’t stay mad about that.

Julia Quinn is a pro at writing lighthearted historical romances that has you laughing and sighing at the same time and The Other Miss Bridgerton is proof of that. I laughed and I sighed and I just had a great time with this one so I’m a happy camper.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

The Rokesbys

four-stars


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Review: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Posted November 5, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Diamond Fire by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3.5
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3)
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

together with their parents

NEVADA FRIDA BAYLOR

&

CONNOR ANDER ROGAN

invite you to join

their wedding celebration

November 6, 2018

Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

This was such a short story but I thought the Andrews duo did a pretty bang up job of packing a serious punch. We got some Rogan and Nevada action, we got some House Baylor shenanigans, some House Rogan bonding and we got some Catalina showing some serious promise action too so all in all, I was a happy camper.

So the blurb will have you believe that this book will be all about Nevada and Connor’s wedding, and while that is the huge backdrop of the story, the main focus of the actual story is on Catalina trying to make sure that there is a wedding after a bunch of family shenanigans throw those plans up in the air. We have a missing family heirloom, some family unrest and Catalina coming out of her shell and putting people on notice.

I read this book in one sitting because I still can’t get enough of this world. I love the Baylors, the Rogans (Connor’s Mom is whoa!) and being wrapped up in their world again appeals to me on every level. I adored reading the first three books from Nevada’s POV and I didn’t know if I’d enjoy Catalina’s POV as much because they’re such different characters. Nevada is an in your face, take charge kind of person while Catalina is a lot more reserved. She kind of tends to see the best in people and is always so nice but holy cow, don’t let that fool you. She can get down with the best of them and I seriously cannot wait to see her really come into her own, into her powers and into herself as a person.

There’s just a tiny glimpse of a romance here (which was a bummer for me since I wanted more from this guy) and Catalina doesn’t trust it so I can see that playing a huge role in her books and I’ll just be over here like…

Overall, this book was too short but it definitely satisfied the craving that I had for something new. It proved that Catalina and Arabella can definitely hold their own as the main characters and I can’t wait to see where Catalina’s books take her. I can’t wait to board that train once it comes out. Fans of this series won’t be disappointed in this addition to the series and it will definitely make you thirsty for more so stay thirsty, my friends. 🙂

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Hidden Legacy

four-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Posted November 4, 2018 by Rowena in Features | 6 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

The Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews get a lot of love from all of us. Casee, Holly and I have all read the books and loved them too. We cannot wait for Catalina’s books to come out. We’re all waiting on pins and needles to see where her books will take us. The adventures that await us has us giddy with excitement and Diamond Fire is the story that will bridge Rogan and Nevada’s stories to Catalina’s. So to say that we’re excited to feature this book on the blog today is putting it mildly. Check it out…

Sunday Spotlight: Diamond Fire by Ilona AndrewsDiamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3.5
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5)
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 160
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.

Order the Book

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE PLAY

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Catalina

I fought my way through the hallway of Mountain Rose house trying to dodge the children. Everything I ever read about my future brother-in-law on Herald suggested that Connor Rogan was a loner with no immediate family besides his mother and his cousin, Kelly Waller, who didn’t count.

Herald lied.

The gaggle of children was coming right for me.

I clutched my tablet to my chest and braced myself.

They ran around me in circles, giggling, and dashed down the hallway, leaving a little girl holding a stuffed unicorn in their wake. I let out a breath.

Rogan had oodles of relatives, scattered all over the Mediterranean, and all of them descended on his mother’s house to attend the wedding. I liked kids, but there were somewhere between twenty and thirty children under the age of twelve on the premises and they traveled in packs. The last time I ran across this gang of preteens, they knocked the tablet out of my hands. Nothing could happen to the tablet. All of the wedding files were on there.

The little girl and I looked at each other. She was probably five and supercute, with brown hair and big dark eyes. She wore a pretty lavender dress decorated with tiny silk flowers. If Mom had put me into that dress when I was her age, it would be covered with mud and engine grease in about five minutes. When I was five, I either played outside or in Grandma Frida’s garage, while she repaired tanks and field artillery.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m Catalina.”

“Mia Rosa García Ramírez Arroyo del Monte.”

I had seen her before, I realized. She always seemed to follow Mrs. Rogan around. She trailed her to the porch, to the study, to the media room. She even wanted to sit next to her in the dining room.

Mia Rosa thrust her unicorn up. It was almost as big as she was and decorated with blue and silver plastic jewels the size of grapes and way too many sparkles.

“This is Sapphire.”

“She is very pretty.”

“She lives in the midnight clouds and her horn glows with moonlight.”

Of course. Jewel Legends. It was a popular kid cartoon with mythical animals. I was too old for it, but Arabella, my younger sister, caught the very beginning of it. Everything had to be Jewel Legends for a while: notebooks, backpacks, phone cases . . . And then she went to high school and that was the end of that.

“I want a sparkly gun,” Mia Rosa announced in a slightly accented voice.

“Um, what?”

“There is a gun that lets you put more sparklies.”

“You want a bedazzler?”

Mia Rosa nodded several times. “Yes. My mommy said you were the go girl and I should ask you.”

Go girl. I hid a sigh. “I’ll see what I can do. What is your mommy’s name, so I know where to deliver the bedazzler?”

“Teresa Rosa Arroyo Roberto del Monte. Thank you. But don’t give it to mommy. Give it to me.”

Awww. She said thank you. “You’re welcome.”

She curtsied and ran after the kids, dragging her unicorn.

My phone chimed. I glanced at the text message. Arabella has written, “Where are you??? Get here!!!” and added a gif of a crying baby with photoshopped rivers of tears. I took off at a near run.

It all started with Nevada firing the wedding planner. The first wedding planner.

Usually my older sister was a perfectly reasonable person. Well, as reasonable as someone can be when she is a human lie detector. However, two weeks ago Simon Nightingale disappeared, and House Nightingale hired us to find him. Just three months ago our family registered as a House, and our small PI firm went from Baylor Investigative Agency to House Baylor Investigative Agency. The Nightingale case was our first investigation. The entire Houston elite was watching us, and it drove Nevada a little nuts. A lot nuts. She was pretty much a nutcase.

The first wedding planner was fired because she argued with Nevada. My sister would explain the way she wanted things done and the planner would tell why they couldn’t do it that way. Most of the time “couldn’t” meant “we won’t do it because it’s a Prime wedding and it’s not the way things are done.” Finally, the planner explained to Nevada that it wasn’t really her wedding, but a wedding of House Rogan and she needed to stop impeding it with “ridiculous demands,” such as serving queso as an appetizer at the rehearsal dinner. The planner was promptly escorted from the premises.

The second planner was fired, because she kept lying. Her approach to wedding planning was to pacify the bride by pretending that everything was under control even when it wasn’t. She didn’t want to be micromanaged. But, my sister was an epic control freak and her attention to detail was legendary within the family. Nevada would ask if something was a problem, and the planner would repeatedly assure her that things were fine, despite being warned that Nevada could sense her lies. Things came to a head when Nevada asked her point-blank if she and Mrs. Rogan had come to an agreement on the caterer. After being told for the tenth time to not worry about it, Nevada snapped. I realized that the second planner was let go when I saw her running to her car in five-inch heels with a look of pure panic on her face. My sister had burst onto the porch behind her, yelling, “Is it fine now? Is it still fine?”

We didn’t bother with a third wedding planner. Arabella and I took a weekend, armed ourselves with takeout, and after thirty odd episodes of Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? and four seasons of Bridezilla, we decided to plan the wedding ourselves. It was that or there would be no wedding.

Unfortunately, while Rogan and his mother treated us with perfect courtesy, the rest of his family wasn’t quite sure about our status. Both Arabella and I were registered as Primes, but our records were sealed. Also, our family wasn’t wealthy, and Rogan was a billionaire. With me being eighteen and Arabella turning sixteen, they didn’t feel we had any authority. I had a feeling we ranked as “poor relatives who run errands,” somewhere just above hired help. Apparently, I was the go girl. I didn’t even want to know what Arabella was.

Just what I needed. I already felt like a clumsy trespasser in all of this beautiful luxury. This wasn’t my home. My home was in the loft of the warehouse. If there was any way to not be here, I would’ve taken it. But I loved my sister.

It would be a lot easier if we could do all this in Rogan’s house, but Rogan and Nevada declared Rogan’s home a wedding-free zone and hid there whenever they could.

I turned the corner and walked into a room where Nevada stood on a dais, wearing high-heeled shoes and the in-progress wedding dress, which currently was muslin marked with blue pencil lines. Two people crawled around her, pinning the hem.

Arabella stood in front of her, her arms crossed over her chest. Both Nevada and Arabella were blond, but Nevada’s hair was closer to clover honey, while Arabella’s resembled gold corn silk. I was the only brunette in the family, besides Mom. Right now the similarities between my two sisters were really apparent, and if you didn’t look at their faces, Arabella seemed like a shorter smaller copy of Nevada.

Ooo, I should tell her that next time we fought. She would hate that.

“What is it?” I asked.

“She wants lilacs in her wedding bouquet.”

“Okay . . .” Nevada had said she wanted carnations, but we could stuff some pretty pink lilacs in there. I didn’t see the problem.

“Blue,” Arabella squeezed out. “She wants blue lilacs.”

No and also no. “Nevada . . .”

“I had to hide in a bush of French lilacs yesterday and they were very pretty and smelled nice. The card on the tree said, ‘Wonder Blue: prolific in bloom and lush in perfume.’”

I googled French lilac, Wonder Blue. It was blue. Like in your face blue. “Why were you hiding in a bush?”

“She was being shot at,” Arabella said with a sour face.

“So you stopped to smell the lilacs while people were shooting at you?” I couldn’t even.

“Mmm. I was in a greenhouse and they made a lovely hiding spot.”

I decided to go with logic. My sister was a logical person. “You asked for a spring wedding. You chose pink, white, and very light sage green as your colors. There is no blue anywhere in the wedding.”

“Now there is.”

“Your bouquet has pink carnations, pink sweet pea flowers, white roses, and baby breath.” Three varieties of pink carnations, because she couldn’t pick one. And Nevada would never know the panic in the floral designer’s eyes when we told her it had to be a carnation bouquet. Apparently, carnations weren’t upscale enough for Mad Rogan’s wedding. Poor woman kept trying to suggest orchids.

“And blue lilacs,” Nevada said.

“It will clash,” Arabella growled.

I googled sage bridesmaid dress, held the tablet toward Nevada, and scrolled through images. “Look at the flowers. Pink and white. Pink. Pink. White. Pink and white.”

“I don’t care,” Nevada said. “I want blue lilacs.”

And I want to fly away from here, but that wouldn’t happen anytime soon, would it?

“Anyway, I have to get back to the office,” Nevada said. “Text me if anything.”

“The queen has dismissed us,” Arabella announced.

I dropped into a deep curtsy. “Your Majesty.”

“I hate you guys.”

“We hate you back,” Arabella told her.

“We hated you before the wedding.”

“Before it was cool to hate you.”

“Get out!” Nevada growled.

I walked out of the room.

Arabella caught up with me. “We can’t do lilacs. It ruins the theme.”

“I know.”

“What are we going to do?”

“Sleep on it,” I told her. “Let’s go home.”

“Catalina,” a woman called.

I turned toward the sound. Arrosa Rogan, Nevada’s future mother-in-law waved at me from the doorway, from her wheelchair.

“May I speak to you in private, dear?”

Oh-oh. This couldn’t be good. “Yes, ma’am.”

“I’ll wait for you outside,” Arabella said.

Hidden Legacy

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Sunday Spotlight: November 2018

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About Ilona Andrews

“Ilona Andrews” is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

They have co-authored four NYT and USAT bestselling series, the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels, rustic fantasy of the Edge, paranormal romance of Hidden Legacy, and Innkeeper Chronicles, which they post as a free weekly serial. For complete list of their books, fun extras, and Innkeeper installments, please visit their website at Ilona-andrews.com.

four-half-stars


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