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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tasty Book Tours Guest Post + Excerpt + Giveaway: The Earl Next Door by Charis Michaels


Charis Top Five Favorite Historical Romances 

Oh, I do love a good Top Five. I could probably go all night naming top-five lists.  Top-five favorite films.  Top-five favorite television shows.  Top-five television episodes. Favorite foods (don’t get me started).  Shops.  Websites.  The list of lists goes on and on.  
But I especially love talking about my top-five favorite historical romances.  Few conversations better indicate what resonates with me as a writer and a reader.  This is a list that easily falls on my Top-Five Favorite…well, Top-Five lists.
I found it difficult to limit it to just five, but I forced myself to winnow it down.  It gives me great pleasure to share it, and I hope to hear some comments about these books or your own top five.
Ahem.  Here they are.  In reverse order.

  
5.)  The Hidden Heart by Laura Kinsale

Lady Tess Collier is the daughter of a world-traveling earl who raised her in far-flung jungles of the world while he studied tropical plants.  When her father dies in the Amazon, Lady Tess must be returned to the safekeeping of relatives in England.  Enter Captain Gryf Meridon, the mysterious sailor who is hired to convey her home.  
Tess and Gryf’s journey across the Atlantic Ocean comprises the heart of their emotionally fraught love story.  
            The prose in this (and, in fact, all of Laura Kinsale’s books) is positively literary.  I’d go so far as to say that there is no finer example within the romance genre of perfectly crafted sentences, paragraphs, mood, and tone.  
I re-read this book every few years simply to marvel at the craft.  There is a swimming scene in this book—Gryf and Tess in the crystal-blue waters of the Caribbean—that I only had to read once to never forget.  Sigh.  If you love historical romance, this is a must-read.

4.)  Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

I must include this Judith McNaught title (although I love them all) because it was the first romance novel I ever read.  The term “thunderstruck” only begins to describe my regard for the classic Regency plot, the characters, and the fairy-tale setting created by Ms. McNaught.  These all of worked together to pierce my very (sixteen-year-old ) soul.  This is the book that won me to the genre forever.
Here was a cheerful, innocent heroine, earnest and well-meaning; and dark and brooding bastard rogue, commanding but lonely. Their attraction is immediate, but they must work for their happily-ever-after for years.  It is the best sort of work.
This in an old-school romantic saga with 1980s sensibilities, but it is also a guiding, shaping force in the “modern” historical romances we read today.  

3.)  “The Mad Earl’s Bride” by Loretta Chase from Three Weddings and A Kiss

This is a novella but it packs a lovely punch.  The heroine is an aspiring physician who is, as one would expect, regarded as something of an oddity in 1828.  The hero is a wealthy earl who believes he has inherited a degenerative brain disease that will eventually drive him mad and then put him in an early grave.  Understandably he is bitter, hopeless, and more than a little closed off.  
            Relatives suggest these two strangers marry so that she may care for him as he descends into madness and also so she may further her education with the money he leaves behind.
            Instead, they fall in love.  
In the beginning, she is intrigued by the symptoms he believes indicate the ensuing madness.  After that, she becomes equally intrigued simply by him.  How could she not when he is intelligent, masculine, and (she soon determines), a perfectly healthy virile (ahem) man in the prime of his life.  The fun of the book is proving it, especially to the hero himself.

2.)  Kiss the Earl by Julie Anne Long

In case you haven’t discerned a theme, I love a wounded hero.  The more tortured, unlovable, detached, and/or damaged—the better.  The titular hero of this, my favorite book in Ms. Long’s unforgettable Pennyroyal Green series, is all of these things.  
Even better, he’s a total jerk to the heroine from page one.   
            Of course no jerk in a romance novel stays a jerk for long.  And the Earl of Ardmay meets his match in fiery, courageous Violet Redmond, who stows away on his ship to search for her missing brother on the high seas.
            The process by which Violet employs her cleverness, determination—and, yes, ravishing beauty—to inadvertently bring Ardmay to heel (and also to heal) is one of the most skillful arcs I have ever seen in a romance.  
I re-read this one at least once a year.

1.)     1.) The Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

And that brings me to my A-#1, most favorite historical romance novel of all time.  The best of the best.  I can still remember the Hasting’s bookstore in Bryan, Texas, wherein I first slid to the floor and began to read the famous prologue of Scoundrels.  I think I was well into ten chapters before the staff began to lock up, and I was forced to get up, buy the book, and read the rest at home.  
I own four signed copies of this book, and I once read it aloud to my boyfriend (now husband) while he was fishing.
            The story pits a confident, capable heroine against a deeply wounded lord who has sworn off love for good.
The winner is we, the readers.  
The writing is lyrical, the humor is laugh-out-loud funny, and the love scenes are full of heart.  And the suspense?  This hero wants the heroine so badly, but he’s afraid to love.  Will he or won’t he?  I can never turn the pages fast enough.
In fact, I feel like I need to read it again right now….  

The Earl Next Door
The Bachelor Lords of London #1
By: Charis Michaels
Releasing March 1, 2016
Avon Impulse





Blurb
Charis Michaels makes her Avon Impulse debut with the first book in her new historical romance series, The Bachelor Lords of London...featuring a brooding earl and the American heiress who charms him.

American heiress Piety Grey is on the run. Suddenly in London and facing the renovation of a crumbling townhouse, she’s determined to make a new life for herself—anything is better than returning to New York City where a cruel mother and horrid betrothal await her. The last thing she needs is a dark, tempting earl inciting her at every turn…

Trevor Rheese, the Earl of Falcondale, isn’t interested in being a good neighbor. After fifteen years of familial obligation, he’s finally free. But when the disarmingly beautiful Piety bursts through his wall—and into his life—his newfound freedom is threatened…even as his curiosity is piqued.

Once Piety’s family arrives in London, Falcondale suddenly finds himself in the midst of a mock courtship to protect the seductive woman who’s turned his world upside down. It’s all for show—or at least it should be. But if Falcondale isn’t careful, he may find a very real happily ever after with the woman of his dreams…

My Thoughts:

I'm almost done with the book, so my review will go up a little later today. I'm loving this book so far, and I find all the characters engaging. I can't wait to share my thoughts with you all. 

Update:

I have finished The Earl Next Door, and I found the story extremely entertaining. For a debut story it's funny, entertaining, and time worth spent. I found that a list of characters would probably work better for this review. Here we go:

*Piety Grey: What a hoot. Oh my goodness this American heiress is fabulous. She's a fast talker, who magically gets whatever she wants. She's also charismatic and everywhere. However, she's a sweet girl, who wants a chance to live her life as she like, which she couldn't do that in New York. Good old mommy dearest. 
*Idelle Grey-Limpett and her thugs (I mean her stepsons): Mother dearest. She's something else. I totally wanted to throat punch her when she enter the scene. She's horrible person who is extremely selfish. You wonder if it's possible to hate a character that much. She's definitely not vying for the mother of the year award. The stepsons are thugs. 
*Trevor Rheese, the Earl of Falcondale: All he ever wanted was peace and quiet, uncomplicated but that came crashing down when Piety stepped into his life. His life has never been the same. As the story unfolds you get an understanding why he wants an uncomplicated life, and why he avoids people. 
*Lady Frances Stroud, Marchioness Frinfrock: We meet her right off the back. She's concerned about her neighborhood. Busybody of sorts. She plays a huge part into get getting Piety and Trevor together. Deep down she's a softy at heart. Shh, don't let anyone know. 
*Miss Jocelyn Breedlove: She starts off as Lady Frinfrock's nurse/companion. However, they aren't a good suit. Miss Breedlove ends up being companion to Piety, and they become fast friends. 
*Miss Tiny Baker: African American who is a free slave (I'm sure there is more to Tiny's story we just don't know about) who has been with Piety since she was little. Eventually she ends up being on holiday and hanging out with Lady Frinfrock, and friendship develops. 

There you go all the important characters in The Earl Next Door. I have to say it's neat to see most of the characters becoming friends with one another. They develop a bond that you just don't see anymore. Yes, most of the friendships are unlikely, but they find a niche. The Earl Next Door is definitely fun read and Piety makes the story with her high energy and enthusiasm. She lives in a dilapidated home, but she makes the best out of the situation. Her friends try to protect her from her mother. At the same time, Trevor's past makes an appearance, and like most guys he tries to do things himself and protect everyone else by keeping them in the dark. Great move *insert eye-roll* All he needs are friends. When Trevor's trouble arises, Charis does an amazing job on introducing Lord Rainsleigh who is tied into the trouble in a roundabout way. By the end his roll changes to the hero of the next book. Pretty smooth. 

Overall, down right good time kind of read. I laughed. Piety is a big part of the book that she brings life to the neighborhood. She draws these unlikely characters together and have them form a friendship. She tames a surly earl, and smacks him down with her charm. When her feelings get hurt, you feel for her. Granted we do get different views from a few other characters, but Piety is the one that makes the book so good. If you are in the mood to smile, laugh, and engage in a story, you might try your hand in The Earl Next Door

Copy provided by Avon via Edelweiss. 

Excerpt:  


Chapter One 
No. 21 Henrietta Place

Mayfair, London, England
May 1809

Nothing of record ever happened in Henrietta Place.
Carriages did not collide.  Servants did not quarrel in the mews.  No one among the street’s jowly widowers remarried harlot second wives, and families with spirited young boys boarded them in school at the earliest possible age.
No one tolerated stray dogs. 
A calm sort of orderliness prevailed on the street, gratifying residents and earning high praise from Londoners and country visitors alike.  It was a domestic refuge.  One of the last such sanctuaries in all of London. 
Certainly, the stately townhome mansion at No. 21 was a sanctuary to Lady Frances Stroud, Marchioness Frinfrock, who had been a proud and attentive resident since her marriage in 1768.  With her own eyes, Lady Frinfrock had seen the degradation and disquiet that had become prevalent in so many London streets; noble-born men fraternizing with ballet dancers in The Strand; week-long ramblings in Pall Mall.  And the spectacle that was Covent Garden?  It wasn’t to be borne.
What a comfort, then, that Lady Frinfrock would always have Henrietta Place, where nothing of record ever happened.  Where she could live out her final days in peace and tranquility. 
“It looks to be fair for a second day, my lady,” said Miss Breedlowe, the marchioness’ nurse, crossing to the alcove window that overlooked the street.
“A fog will descend by luncheon,” said the marchioness, frowning.
“If it pleases you, we could take a short walk before then,” the nurse said.  “To Cavendish Square and back?  Spring weather is so unpredictable, we should take advantage of the sun before it disappears again for a month.”
“Cavendish Square is not to be tolerated,” said Lady Frinfrock.
Miss Breedlowe looked at her hands.  “Only so far as the corner and back, then?”
“Not I,” said the marchioness, pained.
A sigh of disappointment followed, as it always did.  How unhappily accustomed Lady Frinfrock had become to her nurse’s chronic sighing.  It was obvious that Miss Breedlowe endeavored to be patient, although, in her ladyship’s view, not nearly patient enough.  In return, the marchioness rarely endeavored to be agreeable enough.
And why should a woman of her age and station be prodded through an inane schedule of someone else’s design? To be forced to engage in robust activities intended for no other purpose than to move her bowels?  If her inept solicitors felt that her alleged infirmity warranted the nurse-maiding of sullen, sigh-ridden Miss Breedlowe, then so be it.  They could cajole her to compensate and house the woman, but they could not force her to abide her.  Or to walk to Cavendish Square when she hadn’t the slightest desire. 






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Author Info
CHARIS MICHAELS is thrilled to be making her debut with Avon Impulse. Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A&M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.

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