The Forbidden Duke by Darcy Burke Narrated by Marian Hussey
Second chances at a happy ever after don’t come around every day. For spinster Miss Eleanor Lockhart, suddenly homeless and in need of a situation, it is like a fairy tale come true when her new employer decides to re-launch her into society. Eleanor lost her chance for happiness as a young girl when a rogue ruined her and left her to take the brunt of society’s punishment. Ten years later, the leader of the gang of rakes and rogues, now reformed, has been commissioned by his stepmother to assist Eleanor in becoming the angel of the ton.
Titus St. John, Duke of Kendal, is the Forbidden Duke. After years of debauchery, he changed to become the man his father would be proud of, unfortunately, it was too late for Miss Eleanor’s reputation. What started out as a favor for his beloved stepmother quickly turns to something more. Who is saving whom in this lovely Cinderella story of second chances?
Darcy Burke does an excellent job of showing weakness without making her characters weak. We all have our flaws, but we do not have to be defined by them. This was definitely a story I would listen to over and over again, and a series I want to read in its entirety.
When I was younger I believed that freedom, independence would come when I gained my driver’s license and I could come and go as I pleased. While the ability to drive did offer some freedom and independence, I still had a curfew, laws I had to obey and responsibilities that came with that freedom.
Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of our freedom from Britain, our day of Independence, I have to wonder if we are truly free. Freedom, to be unfettered, released, unburdened, is not possible. If you own a home, a car, have a job or a family, you know responsibility often outweighs freedom. We have the choice to be free but that freedom also comes with a price. The responsibility of freedom is often a heavy burden. The price is paid by soldiers, politicians, citizens…too often, the price of freedom is paid by those who can least afford the cost. Families whose loved ones go off to war, children in poverty because their parents chose their personal freedom over the burden of taking care of them, or their government’s greed overshadowed the needs of its citizens. Freedom isn’t free.
Yet, today of all days, as we celebrate our independence as a country let us not forget that by choosing to be free someone has to pay the price. Sacrifices must be made to gain our freedom. The men and women who fought wars, the slaves and immigrants who built this country, the business people, inventors and visionaries who imagined a better way of life, each sacrificed something to gain that freedom. Even today we know that our freedom often comes at a cost to others. Freedom of religion means even those who we do not agree with, have that same freedom. Freedom of speech allows those with opposing views to say what they think. With each freedom we express, sacrifices must be made.
As we celebrate our Independence Day, remember those who made the sacrifices and those who are still paying the price for freedom. To our forefathers and mothers who risked death, loss of property, family to an idea that all men are created equal. To those who still battle to say we are all men, to the women who have fought alongside their men folk who were forgotten in the pages of history, to the slaves and immigrants who generations later are still struggling to gain their independence, let Freedom Reign.
To misquote Dr. King, let me end with no one is free until all are free. Freedom, if not in fact, let it be in spirit. Let us judge our countrymen not by race, religion or sexual preference but by their contribution to our country. Let us unite as a people greater than our parts. I’m proud to be an American, though not always proud of our choices. We are not perfect but we strive for a perfect union. Let us put aside our differences and celebrate our combined heritage of independence.
US Armed Forces AnthemAs we celebrate this holiday, let us not forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Memorial’s day is a chance to remember those who gave their lives for all we hold dear. It is a time of remembrance but it is also a time of celebration. We are free because they answered the call and served this country.
As an arm-chair historian I have read of the many sacrifices our forefathers gave to create this great country. Many lost homes, fortunes, family, friends, and many lost their lives. Freedom isn’t free. We owe so much to those who fought the battles for our freedom. Who risked everything to sustain our way of life and create a country that offers so many opportunities and gives its people so many privileges.
I never served in the military, nor protected my community or loved ones from fire or danger, but I am proud to be the daughter, daughter-in-law and mother of those who answered the call. To my father, now deceased, who served during Vietnam in the Air Force, to my father-in-law who served fourteen years in the Marine Corp with four tours to Vietnam, to my son who served ten years in the Army with two tours to Korea and two in Afghanistan, to my son who is a first-responder and another who is a volunteer fireman and first-responder, thank you for your service. To my cousins and uncles and my grandfather who served in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Merchant Marines, thank you for doing your duty for your country and your family.
To those whose loved ones did not return, God bless you and thank you for your sacrifice. To all of us who stand in honor of those who offered their lives for this country, I salute you. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (US Armed Forces AnthemJohn 15:13 New International Version)
I just finished The Golden Hour, the fourth in the Nora Tierney series by M.K. Graff. I have enjoyed the progression of the main characters: Nora Tierney and Detective Inspector Declan Barnes, from antagonists to partners. The Golden Hour is a little darker than the first books in this series. It deals with the very real threat of biological terrorism but the true theme of this story is creating your own family from the people who love you. Nora’s British family, the good friends who have been there for her during her darkest days and sweetest memories, her dear friends Kate, Simon and Val, as well as the newest additions to her circle, Paul’s parents, make up the people she has chosen to care about and call family. Their loyalty to each other is tested and proved. When Declan’s case and Nora’s stalker bleed over into each other, Declan is faced with the very real possibility of losing Nora and Sean forever. When he realizes how much they both mean to him, it is a beautiful and heart rending moment of clarity and self-doubt. It is in that moment the reader can truly feel who the man Declan is, not just the detective, but the vulnerable person who loves Nora and her child. As he rushes to save his family he is torn between duty to his country and the well-being of his family. A true hero does what is right even at the risk of losing it all. Adversity changes a person. When faced with the threat of losing everything that makes life worth living, Declan and Nora show their true characters. Like all of us, they are weak but their innate goodness, strength and love pull them through the abyss and they will be better because of it. This story made me angry, made me laugh and it made me cry but in the end, the tears were those of joy. This was one of the best books I’ve read, it captured the heart and gave a little squeeze. I can hardly wait to read the next book and see what new adventures await Nora, Declan and Sean.
The Elemental Series by Brigid Kremmerer
The latest book in this series Sacrifice is a hang onto your seat, fingernail marks in your palms, story of action and emotion that will have you reaching for the box of tissues.
This YA (young adult) series has been an intense rollercoaster ride of romance and excitement. It isn’t a teen anxiety dump of over emotional reactions, this is a real issues with a paranormal twist. Kremmerer gives credence to the difficult life of today’s teens, this isn’t a “Leave it to Beaver” world. While it is enjoyable fiction, it is so well written that is feels real. You remember what it was like to be a teenager, relating to the Merrick brothers and their friends as if they are part of your life. If you have not read this series, what are you waiting for?
Four orphaned brothers with powers of the elements and little else. Trapped by well meaning adults, a system not set up to handle special needs and circumstances, their own kind trying to kill them, add in normal teen choices and difficulties and you have a series that reaches out and grabs you.
Sacrifice is focused on the oldest brother Michael Merrick, he has giving up his own childhood to raise his brothers. He is the interpretation of a true hero, he tries to do what’s right even when it would be easier to walk away and never look back. Michael struggles to keep it all together, protect his brothers and do what he believes his father would expect him to do. He opens his heart and home to others and is the kind of man you want in your corner.
Fall in love with the Merrick brothers, read this amazing series and tell me what you love about it or what you don’t.
A punch to the gut, this newest novel by Jennifer Harlow took me by surprise with its intensity. Unlike the other FREAK books, the humor was minimal but the drama and emotion were at a premium. The heroine, Vivian Dahl is a self-described selfish bitch. Words like love, honor and sacrifice aren’t in her vocabulary. With only herself to depend on most of her life, the real red-headed step-child, she is used to being on the losing end of things. When sexy werewolf Jason comes to her rescue she begins to see herself in the mirror of his loving gaze. He makes her want to be better, stronger, worthy; this novel takes us on a fast-paced journey through a werewolf civil war as we see Vivian’s transformation. Can she be the woman Jason needs her to be? This heart wrenching battle of right and wrong gives us a glimpse into what we as human beings can do when those we love are threatened.
Jennifer Harlow always delivers. Her characters are strong, while some are unaware of their strength until tested, others know they are strong because they have had to be. It is their courage even while shaking in their boots, that make her characters real and memorable. She makes us think even as she entertains. The beauty and grace with which she puts words together defies the genre snobbery with poetically descriptive emotional scenes combined with her fast paced style.
Harlow manages to make her stories both comical and emotional, funny and frightening. This adventure of FREAKS agent Beatrice Alexander takes us on a journey to Texas. On special assignment with the dreamy un-dead Oliver Montrose we see the evolution of their friendship and Agent Alexander’s talent as they battle psychotic vamps and bad guys with guns. Bea suffers abuse from Oliver’s jealous ex-lovers, kidnapped and tortured, she has to fight her own fear and her selfish desire to survive in order to rescue herself and those she loves.
It is amazing how this fun paranormal with all its fantastic characters can be so well written. It makes the unbelievable feel almost mundane. We take Harlow’s account as fact. She weaves her story of the monster control agents with what we believe about the FBI. She shows a very real account of detection as Agent Alexander goes through the motions to uncover the killers targeting Dallas.
This is another fun, fast paced, action filled adventure in the life of the FREAK Squad but don’t write it off as just another romantic comedy. Jennifer Harlow fills this novel with layers of personality, fear, passion, love, friendship and vengeance. The theme of friendship is woven throughout the story. What would you do for a friend? Would you risk your life to save your friend’s life? This novel will leave you feeling hopeful and happy. Since I jumped to the next in the series I know what comes next but I think I might have to reread it just to get ready for whatever comes next.
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