19 June 2014

Once Upon A Wager by Julie Lemense - Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway

When Lord Alec Carstairs returns from war, hailed as a hero, only Annabelle Layton knows the sort of man he really is. They’d been friends before a passionate kiss changed everything, before a reckless wager left her broken and bloodied, and he abandoned her.

Hardly the actions of a hero.

But shocking lies have distorted the past. Can Alec uncover its painful truths, and still keep his distance? Can he deny his forbidden desire, even as it flares hotter than ever?
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Buy The Book:
Amazon - http://amzn.to/1uCYy39

Ms. Lemense had an amazing set of characters, and a wonderful storyline – the novel was divided into two parts: the pre-wager and the post-wager.

Annabelle wasn’t your ordinary lady. She grew up in an unconventional home with weird parents, but she loved it. She had always liked Alec, and her older brother’s party might be her chance to show him that she was all grown up.

Alec wasn’t blind to miss it. But he wanted to gain his father’s respect, and to gain it, he must find someone suitable for his future, an according to his father, Annabelle wasn’t. But things changed when the wager happened, and all hell broke loose.

I wonder what was the bet all about. I was definitely curious because of the mystery surrounding it. It must have something to do with the money, but there was MORE to it than just that, or so Ms. Lemense would like us to think…

The Post-wager showed how much of a  survivor Annabelle is. She had suffered through a lot, the loss, and the abandonment. She’s really a strong person and I so admire her for it. She tried to hate him at first, there were a lot of encounters between Alec and Annabelle, and despite all this, you can feel their emotions, and the sparks flying whenever they were together in the scene.

There was indeed MORE to what happened that day of the wager, and it is up to you to find out. The deception, the lies and betrayals will astound you, and you will be surprised on who’s to blame. I was so sure it was all that person, and then suddenly, a confession was made that had really broken my heart. They needed to uncover the truth first, because their past is threatening their future.

Regency Romance had always been one of my favorite genres. This is my first book by Julie Lemense, and to say that I was completely enticed by her is an understatement. I love this book, Alec an Annabelle, most especially Sophia who won me over the first time her name came up in the book, even Jane whom I unexpectedly like as well before the novel came to its conclusion. Julie Lemense had managed to make me fall in love in a number of pages. If you love regency romance, and a mystery, you need to read this one!

•Complimentary Copy was given in exchange for an honest review.•

Just as evening fell, Alec walked up the crushed stone drive to Astley Castle. Despite its rather grandiose name, it was more accurately a fortified manor house, although it did have a moat. Briefly the home of Lady Jane Grey, England’s unfortunate Nine Days Queen, it had also served as a garrison for Cromwell’s forces during the Civil War before passing into the Layton family. Tonight, however, the house gave no hint of its troubled history. Japanese lanterns were strung, not only in the trees leading up the drive, but also in those surrounding the house, and the effect was magical. In the early dusk, a gentle light bathed the grounds, softening the lines of the old home, coloring it with pale pinks and darker purples. Alec heard strains of music and conversation. In fact, it appeared to be a remarkably conventional party, which was something of a surprise. Surely, circus animals were lurking somewhere.

The oversized front door was open to the evening air, and dozens of people were assembled in the Great Hall, which was brightly lit with wall lanterns. Chandeliers decked with wax candles flickered high above as Gareth’s parents received their guests. Sir Frederick, who often panicked in crowds, was hiding his misgivings well, and Lady Layton was radiant beside him. Gareth stood next to her, dressed in a colorful approximation of evening attire, but he seemed distracted. His eyes were darting the crowd and looking for someone. A footman with the champagne tray, no doubt. Alec did not see Annabelle.

But then familiar, melodious laughter washed over him, and he turned. A willowy, honey-tressed blonde stood at the center of a crowd of adoring men. Her face was hidden from view, but her gown—the color of moonlight—caressed her curves like a lover. Alec braced himself, every nerve taut. As if sensing his presence, she looked over her shoulder and smiled.

God in Heaven, he should never have come here tonight.

Annabelle had been only four years old the first time he saw her. He’d joined his mother on a neighborly visit to Astley Castle, and the little girl had utterly charmed him, struggling to sit still while Lady Layton served tea to her guests. Delicate, soft, and pink, like a rosy-cheeked doll, she’d roused all his protective instincts before kicking him in the shins to gain his attention.

If only he could see the girl she’d once been in the woman standing before him. Even two years ago, there had been hints of her, hiding in the body of a goddess. But there was nothing childlike about Annabelle now. She was spectacularly lovely, with arched brows, high cheekbones, and cornflower blue eyes that took his breath away.

Excusing herself from her admirers, she walked toward him with a slow smile. Then again, walking was not the right word. Swaying was the better choice, and all he could do was stand there, heart slamming in his chest as she approached, the gossamer silk gown caressing her curves. Were it dampened—as was the fashion with London’s faster set—it would be almost transparent. Just like that morning when she had gone swimming in the fountain, casting a spell over him like a sorceress.

A Georgetown University graduate with a degree in English Literature, I have been a Regency romance addict since I read my first deliciously bad Barbara Cartland novel. These days, I prefer the complex characterizations and plotting of Julie Anne Long, Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran. A member of the Romance Writers Association of America, I am currently working on my next two novels, as the ghosts who live in my haunted, gilded age-era home try to sneak their way into my stories.

Author Links: Website  |  Once Upon A Wager  |  Facebook

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1 comment:

  1. Fabulous review Charlene :)

    Thank you for supporting Julie on tour.