Tag: Ashley March

Guest Review: My Lady Rival by Ashley March

Posted May 25, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Tracy’s review of My Lady Rival by Ashley March.

When the wealthy middle-class Laurie family purchases a home in exclusive Belgrave Square, London Society is aghast. After all, the consensus is that they’re nothing but lowborn commoners-a family of nouveau riche daring to marry into the aristocracy. Others believe it’s an attempt to prove that their wealth makes them equal to nobility. Only one thing is certain: Belgrave Square will never be the same again.

Upon his father’s death, Alexander Laurie feels the best way to provide his family with the privileges they deserve and secure their business is to establish ties with the London ton. And the best way to do it is by marrying an aristocratic bride. But when his business rival’s beautiful daughter—the one person who can destroy his plans—appears in London, Alex must defeat her attempts at sabotage, even if that means stealing kisses from the enemy.

Alex Laurie is attempting to move his family firmly into the ton. He’s not sure it possible because they were raised in the lower classes and he’s not sure his family is ready for it. Even though the family now has wealth he knows the one thing that will make his dye company the best in the world is the acquisition of the Madonna Dye which is a dye that was created for the Queen. Unfortunately the man who created the dye has disappeared and no knows where.

Alex’s rival is a company from America. The man’s daughter, Willa Stratton, wants the Madonna Dye. Willa wants it for her future because if she gets the dye she believes she won’t have to cave to her father’s wishes and marry a man she doesn’t love. She’ll do almost anything to get the dye recipe and that includes spying on Alex.

Alex and Willa have a history as competitors. Willa has been ruthless in the past getting investors for her fathers company and therefore Alex doesn’t trust Willa. That doesn’t stop him, however, from wanting her desperately. Willa, despite how she lies to herself, wants Alex too. Unfortunately they both realize that they can never be together.

I’ve read novels by March before but this one is definitely my favorite. This a charming novel with some great characters and some very humorous parts. I loved seeing Alex and Willa fight their attraction to each other and make their plays to find the creator of the dye for very different reasons.

I loved the conversations between Willa and Alex. They just weren’t afraid to say anything – well, except for those about their feelings for each other. One great part was when Willa was having a salon with many gentleman callers and Alex decides to invade in order to drive her out of town. He purposely tries to embarrass her by telling everyone she’ll play the pianoforte for them. The problem is that Willa can only play Three Blind Mice and even then, not well, or, in its entirety. lol Willa then tries to embarrass Alex by telling him to play. He proceeds to then beautifully play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Willa was frustrated, to say the least.

“I do not like repeating myself,” she said slowly, “but it seems appropriate to say it again.” She paused, attempting to summon the entirety of her disdain to resonate with each syllable. “I find you—”

“Delightful. Glorious. Amazingly talented.”

“— trying. Extremely trying. God should have sent you to Pharaoh instead of frogs or locusts. It would have been much more effective.”

I did feel that the end was rushed a bit. The timeline didn’t seem correct to me – from the time that Alex talked to Willa about an invention he had developed to Alex supposedly getting letters from investors about said invention. It had only been about 5 days – absolutely no way for Willa to get info to America and get replies. Kind of hard for me to explain it without giving spoilers but it was just off enough for me to question it. Also, though Alex knew he loved Willa the end just appeared too fast for how long things had been drawn out.

Even with those niggles I still very much liked the book. I wish that there would be more stories regarding the Laurie family and friends in the future as I really liked some of the secondary characters: Alex’s friend Mr. Lunsford, Alex’s sister, Jo and a friend of Jo’s named Thea. These were all characters that were intriguing and I just want more! lol. Unfortunately, Ms. March is now self-publishing under a new name and I don’t think we’ll ever get to hear about those characters. Bummer.

Rating: 4 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place.

This book is available from Signet. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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What I Read Last Week

Posted May 15, 2012 by Tracy in Features | 6 Comments

Hello my friends!

Well I”m a bit behind in getting this post up this week.  On Mother’s Day (hope you all had a wonderful day) my kitty decided to follow her ball under the couch.  Yeah, she doesn’t exactly fit under the couch.  She made some distressing sounds so I lifted the couch thinking she would run out.  Silly me.  She didn’t run out right away and I ended up spraining my back (yes, again) because I didn’t want to drop the couch and get splat kitty.  Luckily my hubby came to save the day. 🙂  On top of heading to the doctor yesterday and getting many, many lovely drugs to help me my youngest ended up diagnosed with strep throat. Poor thing is just miserable.  She stayed home with me yesterday and it’ll be the mom and daughter show again today as the doc didn’t want either one of us going out. 

Remember I mentioned that my oldest was trying out for cheerleading?   Well she didn’t make it.  I felt so bad for her and she was pretty upset.  Hopefully we can find another extra curricular activity for her next year.

Enough about pain and suffering let’s get to the good stuff…books!

I started off the week with Karma by Carly Phillips.  This was third in the Serendipity series but the only one I read from that series.  The story was about a cop who was very attracted to a woman whose brother was a constant in the city lockup.  As much as he liked the woman he had a hard time getting around the way she enabled her alcoholic brother.  Then they find out the hard way that the brother owes a loan shark money and she’s the “warning”.  The couple also had another issue with her brother who killed a kid years earlier, that the cop witnessed and did nothing about – even when the brother got off scott free.  This was a good book to start and I was really liking the characters and the story.  Unfortunately it got a bit mired in angst and got a little tedious for me.  It was still a good book but not great.  3.25 out of 5

Next was My Wicked Gladiators by Lauren Hawkeye.  The story revolved around a woman, her husband and two gladiators that her husband “owned”.  You can read my review here.  3.5 out of 5

Lothaire by Kresley Cole is a book that I’ve been meaning to read, as I’ve read the rest of the series, but for some reason it kept escaping my notice.  I finally picked it up and wow, what a really good book.  Lothaire believes that his vampire bride is a goddess whose spirit/soul is stuck in a hick from Appalachia.  He’s determined to find a ring from another goddess that will make his real bride into a vampire and get rid of the hick’s soul.  This was such a good book.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because Lothaire’s no boy scout but Cole really did an amazing job making me like him despite his evilness.  4 out of 5

My next read was Thank My Lucky Scars by Tia Fielding.  This is a very sweet story about Matt who gets into a bike messenger accident and is homebound. He gets onto twitter and ends up talking to his favorite porn star, Brian who he is a huge fan of.  The porn star actually comes to see Matt when he goes to London on business and the men end up falling in love.  This was a very sweet novella that I really liked.  Something about the story really clicked with me because of their situation and how it all worked out.  Good stuff. 4 out of 5

Don’t Judge a Book by Scarlet Blackwell is about Rhys who is a complete book worm and lives an incredibly quiet life with his books.  He works at the library and is in charge of the men who need community service for a offense that they’ve committed.  He’s SO not thrilled especially when he meets Darren who is adorable but is a car thief.  Rhys has no patience with Darren but the men end up finding that they can’t ignore their attraction.  This was another great story that I really liked.  The men were such opposites but I totally saw their continued HEA when I finished the story.  4 out of 5

My Lady Rival by Ashley March was the story of a man and a woman who are rival’s in business.  They have a stormy past with stolen kisses but mostly with the woman, Willa, stealing the investors that Alex was going after.  They are now after the same recipe for an amazing dye that was used on a dress for the queen and doing what needs to be done to get it so it will make their companies number 1.  I really liked this book.  I didn’t want to put it down because it just had a certain charm and humor to it that I thought blended really well with the romance and intrigue.  4 out of 5

Last for the week was A Hole in God’s Pocket by KZ Snow.  This told the story of Jaron who is Amish and gay.  He is conflicted as to whether he should go back to his family now that he’s been gone a while.  He ends up living with Greg who was at one point in his life studying to be a Trappist monk.  The story revolved around the two men coming to terms with their sexuality, their roles in life when it comes to their faith and their attraction to each other.  This was a really good story that was so interesting – I just loved it.  It’s a pretty quiet story but really good.  4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted this past week:
Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy

Happy Reading!

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Guest Author (and Giveaway): Ashley March – Choosing Names

Posted October 17, 2011 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 53 Comments

Today historical romance author, Ashley March, is here as part of her 50 stop blog tour talking about how she chooses her character names. Ashley’s latest novel, Romancing the Countess, is available now from Signet Eclipse.


The Names We Choose

Thanks so much to The Book Binge for having me on the blog today as I continue the celebration of my latest release, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

Since becoming a romance author one of the more frequent questions I get asked is: How do you choose the names of your characters?

Today I get to devote an entire blog post to this answer. =)

When I first began writing, I created an entire spreadsheet of male and female names that I could draw from—not only for heroes and heroines, but for secondary characters who might also one day have their own love stories, as well as for token characters. In addition to including first names, this list also included surnames. I had big plans for this list. I planned to keep up with it and cross off names that I used. I planned to update it as I found new names I liked. I was going to be on top of things…

And then, I, well…I didn’t keep up with it. Although I do look back to that spreadsheet now and then if I’m in desperate need of inspiration, here is the truth of how I’ve chosen names for characters in my books.

In my debut, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, the hero’s name is Philip Burgess, the Duke of Rutherford. The heroine’s name is Charlotte. I had a crush on a Philip when I was a little girl. I also chose it because it sounded somewhat stuffy, which is how some would describe this hero. There was a boy I had a crush on in middle school whose last name was Burgess. There was a fellow classmate in high school (who I amazingly did not have a crush on) whose last name was Rutherford. As for Charlotte, that one’s easy: Charlotte Bronte wrote WUTHERING HEIGHTS, which I love.

In my e-short, ROMANCING LADY CECILY (which is a tie-in to my September release), the hero’s name is August, Baron Sedgwick (I don’t believe there was ever a need to determine his surname). The heroine’s name is Lady Cecily Bishop. I chose August because I really like the band Augustana and because I thought it was a unique name, and the hero had to have a unique name. I chose Sedgwick because I have a preference for surnames and titles that start with an S, and because I also like names with “wick” on the end. I chose Cecily because I adore the heroine of Teresa Medeiros’ YOURS UNTIL DAWN, who is also named Cecily, and have wanted to write my own heroine with that name since I read her book. I chose Bishop because I’ve wanted to write a character with the last name Bishop since discovering that it can be a surname. It sounds very noble, I think, which is both a good comparison and contrast to how Cecily behaves in this e-short.

In my September release, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, the hero’s name is Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, and the heroine’s name is Leah George. I chose Sebastian because I’ve always like the name for a hero, and it seemed like it would be a great name for a very solid, dependable character. Madinger and Wriothesly were both names I found by searching online for English surnames and titles, and I just loved how they sounded in my head. Leah is a biblical name I always thought of as an underdog, someone who is quiet and who you don’t immediately take notice of, and I thought the name fit the character perfectly. I was searching for a last name for Leah, and nothing I found was fitting for me. As I kept saying her name out loud, the surname George popped into my head, and I thought it also fit perfectly.

A few other tidbits:

Places I’ve taken names from: people I know or have met; Twitter and Facebook friends; names in the credits of television shows and movies, online research into British names, surnames, and titles. (Note: If I ever do take a name from someone I know, I only take part of their name, not the entire name, and I only use it for how the name sounds to me, not because of who the person is.)

I’ve made up a name before: Lunsford. Or, rather, I thought I made it up. Only recently I realized that a Twitter friend has that same last name. And I “made up” the name 3 years before becoming Twitter friends with her.

I really want to use the name Basil. I once thought it was pronounced basil as in the spice, but once I realized it was a short a instead of a long a, I’ve been dying to use it for a hero’s name. Unfortunately, I’m not sure my readers would ever forgive me.

As you can see, I draw upon inspiration for names from many different resources. The most important consideration for me, however, is that the name must always fit my perception of the character. Do you have any names you absolutely can’t stand? Would be willing to give Basil a chance? 😉

One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com! 

After spending countless hours memorizing both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, perfecting her tones, and practicing her speaking with any Chinese native she could find, Ashley successfully graduated with a degree in Mandarin Chinese. She was determined to be the next best Chinese translator in the world… Then she discovered writing romances was as much fun as reading them, and her Chinese capabilities have never been the same. When she isn’t writing, Ashley stays busy trying to entertain her two young daughters, attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of Colorado._______________________

 Please note: You must include a valid email address with your comment to be eligible.

This book is available from Signet Eclipse. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Romancing the Countess by Ashley March

Posted September 30, 2011 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Tracy’s review of Romancing the Countess by Ashley March

Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, thought he’d married the perfect woman-until a fatal accident revealed her betrayal with his best friend. After their deaths, Sebastian is determined to avoid a scandal for the sake of his son. But his best friend’s widow is just as determined to cast her mourning veil aside by hosting a party that will surely destroy both their reputations and expose all of his carefully kept secrets…

Leah George has carried the painful knowledge of her husband’s affair for almost a year. All she wants now is to enjoy her independence and make a new life for herself-even if that means being ostracized by the Society whose rules she was raised to obey. Now that the rumors are flying, there’s only one thing left for Sebastian to do: silence the scandal by enticing the improper widow into becoming a proper wife. But when it comes to matters of the heart, neither Sebastian nor Leah is prepared for the passion they discover in each other’s arms….

Leah George should be wracked with grief over the loss of her husband but she feels nothing but relief. She’s known that he was having an affair with his best friend’s wife and the knowledge ate at her every day that he was alive. Leah wants nothing more than to move on with her life – she’s only 20 years old after all – but there are many things and people standing in her way. First there’s society. They expect her to be in widow weeds for a year and she hates that! Then there is her dead husband’s best friend, Sebastian, the Earl of Wriothesly. He wants Leah to say that her husband was just accompanying Sebastian’s wife, Angela, and to quell any rumors of the affair that might appear. She agrees but only because he’s doing it because of his son, Henry. He wants absolutely no speculation that Henry might not be his son.

Leah decides that she needs to break out of the mold a bit and throws a house party just 4 months after Ian’s death. She says to the attendees that the party is to honor Ian and to have them all do the things that he loved to do – but they’re really just things that Leah herself wants to do. Since she only invited those who didn’t know Ian well they have no clue. Sebastian shows up at the house party to berate Leah for her callousness and to try to stop her but he doesn’t succeed. What does happen is that Sebastian finds himself becoming attracted to this woman who was once just an extension of Ian with no personality of her own – but he’s found that’s not who she is at all.

Sebastian himself has been tortured with the knowledge that the wife that he loved and could hardly be away from not only was having an affair but with his best friend. If that wasn’t bad enough Leah says that she has letters that Angela wrote to Ian that state her love for him. Sebastian wants to wallow in his grief but instead he decides to live. He starts spending more time with his son which is a wonderful thing. But then he needs to keep Leah in check – especially when she goes a bit crazy at her house party and people start spreading rumors about not only Leah and Sebastian but also Angela and Ian. In order to stop the rumors Sebastian proposes a marriage to Leah. He states that it is in name only and they won’t consummate the marriage until she’s ready – if she ever is. He tells her it’s because of the rumors and the need for a mother for Henry but he’s really fallen in love with her and wants her near. Leah, though she agrees has issues that stemmed from her marriage with Ian and they are holding her back from truly giving the marriage her all.

This was a very good story that had my attention from start to finish. The tension throughout the book was palpable. From the carriage accident to the house party to the marriage between Sebastian and Leah I could feel whatever the characters were feeling whether it was anxiety, sadness or love.

I have to admit to being confused about Leah for a long time during the book. I understood some of her motivations but for a long while in the story we weren’t given all of the information. The minute everything was brought to light my feelings for her character changed and she became much more likeable. I felt bad for her with regard to her relationship with Ian but was so happy to see her have the possibility with Sebastian who truly loved her.

Sebastian seemed a little obsessed with Angela when I first started the book and I wasn’t sure if I liked him very much. I guess after reading that in the letters she wrote to Ian that she couldn’t stand to be touched by Sebastian any longer I thought maybe Sebastian was a bit dense and blind because how could he not see that? I assume in this case he loved her, never thought badly of her and chose not to notice how she was pulling away from him. I felt as horrible for him as I did Leah after a bit and was quite happy with him when he chose to start living again.

The romance between Leah and Sebastian was not always easy but it was very well written and I enjoyed reading it. The ending was quite satisfying with a conclusion that made me smile. I can say that if you like historical romance you will like this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This book is available from Signet. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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What I Read Last Week

Posted September 12, 2011 by Tracy in Features | 10 Comments

It was a relatively quiet week last week for me.  I had a migraine for daaaaays but unfortunately life doesn’t change all that much for me even with the headache from hell. lol
I’m really excited that GayRomLit is only a month away!  Yay!  I can’t wait to head to New Orleans and see all those lovely bloggers and authors.  It will be great to see Tam, Chris and Kris again and I’ll get to meet Janna, Leontine and Kassa as well as others, I’m sure.  The event itself sounds to be freakin awesome and I’m really excited.  I was looking at the author list a while back and figured out that of the 67 authors they had on their list of attending authors (I’m sure there are more that aren’t on the list) I’ve only read 20 – yikes.  I have books by 4 others that I haven’t read yet but that’s not all that much, now is it?  I should probably make an effort to read more of those authors…we’ll see how that goes. lol

And let’s see…oh, I looked at my Goodreads challenge today.  I signed up for the reading challenge at the beginning of the year and I put how many books I wanted to read for 2011.  I put 400.  I know, was I on dope at that time or what?  I apparently just pulled a number out of my ass and typed it in.   So I looked this morning after not paying it any attention for the past month and as much as I read I realized that I’m 4 books behind!  Yes, behind.  Seriously, what was I thinking? 400? I know no one but me is paying one iota of attention but still – I feel bad for falling down on the job.  Did any of you sign up for it?  If so how are you doing on the challenge?

Ok – what did I read last week?

I stared off the week with Just A Little White Lie by Lynnette Hallberg.  This was a cute contemporary about a woman who finds her fiance at the church on the day of her wedding making out with his ex-fiance.  Nice. Not.  She takes off but breaks down on the side of the road and is saved by a guy who then thinks to use her for his own purposes – namely he wants her to be his fake fiance.  It was a cute book that I had a few issues with – but good. You can read my review here. 3.5 out 5

Next was Breathe Again by Bonnie R. Paulson.  This was a really good book that had Maggie who was trying to deal with her husband’s suicide meeting 2 brothers that help her deal with it all.  They have their own issues as well so the three of them end up helping each other.  You can read my review here. 4.25 out of 5

Next was Romancing the Countess by Ashley March. The story followed Leah who is married to Ian – but Ian dies in a carriage accident along with his best friends wife.  Well, well – what were they up to I wonder?  If you’re thinking that they were having an affair you’d be right.  Leah’s not all that crushed over her husband’s death as she knew about the affair.  Then there’s Ian’s best friend, Sebastian, who’s devastated by the loss of his wife and all he knew about her.  Many things happen and Leah and Sebastian fall in love – but they don’t tell the other.  Can they be together or will ghosts of the past haunt them? A really good story that was on the darker side – not a lot of humor.  4 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)

It Happened One Bite by Lydia Dare was my Tracy’s TBR Challenge read.  This is the start of a new trilogy about vampyre’s in regency England but it has a continuation of characters from the authors previous werewolf stories. This book was Blaire’s book and has her in the Highlands awakening a vampyre who was put under a spell by the previous coven 20 years prior.  This is a good historical paranormal and that had great humor. 3.75 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)

After that was a short called The Wild Side by Janey Chapel.  This was about Ryan who’s normal guys are either jocks or jarheads.  He heads off to work at The Wild Side for Valentines day and finds himself enamored with Nick who is the opposite of his “type” – but that turns out to be a good thing.  Good story.  4 out of 5

In the Heat of the Bite by Lydia Dare was next.  Another story in the regency vampyre trilogy.  This was Rhiannon and Matthew’s story.  I really liked Matthew but Rhiannon was kind of blah for me.  Rhiannon had Matthew pretending to be courting her so that she could have more respectability and of course they fall in love.  The story was a bit different from the previous book and while still good had too many similarities to the previous book for my liking.  3.5  out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)

In the Crease by Stephani Hecht was a complete impulse buy on my part. We have those from time to time, don’t we?  Don’t deny it! lol  The story was about Cole who heads to his hometown to try to talk his sister out of marrying her fiance who was, with his brother, his archnemesis.  Of course he’s trying to do this 24 hours before the wedding so it’s not all that easy.  What ends up happening is that he gets together with the brother, Andy, and the pair find they’re quite compatible.  A very cute story.  A little bit of insta-love but hey, it was only 45 pages!  3.5 out of 5

Another impulse buy – Confessions of a Rentboy by TR Verten.  I read a review for this book on Jenre’s blog, Well Read, a while back and it really appealed to me.  The story is told by Andy and has him telling us about his time as a rentboy in London. He tells us of how he got into the business, some of his clients and experiences as well as his time after the man he falls in love with marries someone else.  It’s a very good book that had me smiling as well as tearing up a time or two while reading. Well written and definitely worth the read. 4 out of 5

And last on the list for the week was Demon Marked by Meljean Brook.  Another fantastic book by one of my favorite authors.  I seriously love this series and will cry huge crocodile tears when it comes to an end.  Can’t it go on forever? Please?  No?  Dammit.  In this book we have a halfling demon who has no memory meeting up with a man who was raised by a demon who had taken over the role of his mother.  He has serious issues and doubts everything a demon says as he thinks it’s a plot.  Not the start of a great romance, I’d say.  But Ash and Nicholas are so good together it’s amazing.  Then there’s the continuing story of Taylor and Michael and them working on getting him out of the frozen field in Hell and wow.  The story is so good and has so many twists and turns I couldn’t stop turning pages.  Just an excellent read as far as I’m concerned! 5 out of 5

My Book Binge Reviews that posted last week:
Happy Reading!

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