May Book Club: ‘The Duke and the Lady in Red’ by Lorraine Heath

The second in the series of our Avon Romance Virtual Book Club was The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath.

DukeWhen Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.

However Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.

Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.

We asked our trusty reviewers to share their thoughts on this dark romance.

“Where to begin. This story is yet another new experience for me, as historical romances are a genre I have yet to explore. And let me just say I am glad this one was my first.

With all the secrets and suspense that Heath doesn’t just keep from the characters but the readers aswell it made me want to turn the pages faster and faster till those secrets were revealed. A powerful story not just of love but of beautiful friendships and emotional spirals that you cannot help but fall into the story with such dedication that you want to be in the story with the characters.

And I cannot believe how much I cried; this book could give the fault in our stars a bit of competition as I fell in love with Harry at the very moment he was introduced and throughout his last adventures. Even the last line in the book had me in uncontrollable tears and as I write this I get emotional just being reminded of poor Harry.

This book teaches you to love who you are and to accept others as they appear so as to discover the hidden beauty within. So thank Lorraine Heath for this marvellous tale and I am glad to have gotten to know both Rose and Avendale.”

– Danielle J

“I was a little apprehensive when starting this book as it is the final book in a series, a new author to me and a historical title, which I rarely read, so I had no idea what to expect. What I found was an enchanting tale with larger than life characters, intriguing mysteries woven through their interactions and a need to discover what exactly everyone’s motives were and to get to the bottom of what was going on.

I absolutely loved this book, some books touch you in a way that you know they’ll stay with you and this is one of them. I cried, big ugly tears but I also felt the love and acceptance and let’s face it, that’s what we all want in the end. I really liked the main characters, Rose and Avendale, but for me it was their interactions with those around them that captured my heart. I loved the diversity of the characters and how the author made me fall in love with them all, from the gruff Merrick to the gentle Harry, I was rooting for everybody to get their happy ever after. The main story was thoroughly enjoyable too, I couldn’t wait to read each chapter to discover just what would happen between Rose and Avendale. I enjoyed their early interactions, but as we got to know them better and their secrets came to light, I truly got invested in them and their stories. I would definitely read more books by Lorraine Heath.”

– Michelle M

“I was very surprised to find I actually enjoyed this book. Two flawed people finding love and acceptance. Like all romance novels nothing is ever as straight forward as it seems and it’s just the same with this one.

The main characters are well rounded and the voices sound real and unforced like some romance novels. Lorraine Heath has a flair to her writing that makes reading it so easy.”

– Nikki B

“I was nicely surprised by this book and very much enjoyed the story it told. Historical romance is not a genre I usually read so naturally I was a bit apprehensive about leaving my comfort zone but I am very glad I did!

There is a certain amount of mystery to the main characters that nicely carries on throughout the book as they both try to keep their pasts secret. We learn the truth as we get further in and watch the characters grow.

Rose is a very brave women, who sacrifices a lot for love. There is a very realistic quality to her and how she sees herself compared to how others see her.

Avendale is interesting because no matter what he does for others he always manages to convince himself that he is doing it for his own selfish needs…until he is forced to face his feelings.

I must admit that my favourite character is actually one of the secondary characters. His story is one that most of us have heard before, in variations, but the way in which it was written in this novel was very moving and I freely admit that I shed a few tears for him at some parts.

I would recommend this book, in fact I already have mentioned it to a few people I know, and I will definitely be re-reading it in the future.”

– Sarah C

“I have to admit it took me a while to get into this book. I don’t normally go for historical romances but I was pulled into this one, wanting to find out what was going to happen between Rose and Avendale, what she was keeping secret and how everything would turn out.

When Rosalind Sharpe meets the Duke of Avendale, she sees her next con, one that will set her up for a while, but she gets far more than she bargained for when she falls for him. The Duke of Avendale knows from the moment he sees the woman in red that he has to have her, and the fact that she doesn’t seem to want him makes her even more attractive to him. Theirs is a journey full of lies and secrets and I became pulled in trying to unravel understand them.

I loved the interactions between Rose and the Duke, the way their relationship developed and how invested in it I became. The further I found myself in the story and the more of the Duke’s character that was revealed, the more intrigued I became. The Duke is not the man everybody believes him to be and the kindness and care that he shows for Rose and her brother made me like him all the more. This is not just a love story between Rose and the Duke, but also a story of the love Rose has for her brother and the small family she has created, as well as the affection that the Duke shows to Rose’s brother.

I kept finding myself on the verge of tears when Harry was fully introduced to the story, from his situation and the way in which he handles it, to what he has to go through in his life and the excitement that he derives from the little things. Rose’s love for her brother and willingness to protect him at all costs, mixed with The Duke’s kindness extended to him really touched me and the tears were flowing by the end. It makes for a brilliant read.

Heath has delivered brilliant characters, a charming love story along with some heartbreak and an exciting back story, all rolled together to create a book I really enjoyed. I will definitely be broadening my to-be-read pile to include more of her books.”

– Jennifer K

“Wow, wow, wow – this book is awesome! If you’re looking for a fresh and passionate historical romance with engaging writing then this is the kind of book you need.

This book is the third in Lorraine Heath’s ‘Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place’ series but there’s no need to have read the first two book to read, understand and enjoy this one. I can guarantee that once you’ve finished this book you’ll want to go back and read the first two if you haven’t already.

The whole story was exciting, interesting and surprisingly emotional. How I cried! I adored the interactions between Rose and Avendale – both are flawed characters but with great strength and depth. You can’t help but love them both and will them both to work things out with each other

For a story that is packed with great characters, heartbreaking emotion and passionate forever kind of love, then I would highly recommend this story. Lorraine Heath is a genius in historical romance.”

– Joanna L

“A fantastic story of a lady in need.  The ups and downs of her life and the love of her life. made me smile, laugh at times also made me cry a little. spell-binding from the first page until the last. Many thanks for a lot of enjoyment Lorraine Heath”

– Helen S

Thank you once again to all of our readers who gave us their insightful thoughts on The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath, which can be purchased here. If you wish to become a member of the Avon Romance Virtual Book Club, drop us a line at publicity360@harpercollins.co.uk and we’ll be glad to get you involved!

June Book Club title: All of Me by Jennifer Bernard.

June Book Club: ‘All of Me’ by Jennifer Bernard

The third title in our monthly Avon Romance Virtual Book Club was All of Me, the first in a brand new series from the bestselling author of the ‘Bachelor Fireman’ series, Jennifer Bernard.

All of me

Caleb Hart is a brilliant pitcher, but after a meltdown during his third major league game, he’s been sent back to the local Triple A team to sort himself out. Tasked with providing for his sister and twin brothers, Caleb knows he has to improve his game, quick. Unfortunately, things start out just as badly in Kilby, Texas until he runs into Sadie Merritt outside the Catfish clubhouse.

As the mayor’s assistant, Sadie has been tasked with bringing a petition from a group of conservative townspeople concerned about the bad reputation of the Kilby Catfish. They’re wild on and off the field and some people in Kilby want them gone. When Sadie and Caleb are paired together to improve the team’s image, their instant chemistry comes as a surprise and Caleb decides he wants to spend as much time with her as possible-in bed or out. Sadie has been burned before by a spoiled athlete, but as they get to know each other, she discovers Caleb is irresistible and they plunge into an intense and steamy relationship.

But when Caleb’s ex-con father comes to town, Caleb struggles with supporting his family and keeping his father out of trouble. As the truth begins to come out, disaster follows disaster that threatens the precious new relationship between Caleb and Sadie.

We turned to our team of avid readers for their views…

“This is the first book I have read by Jennifer Bernard and I’ll definitely be reading more. The main characters were strong and well written, both overcoming something and helping each other through their difficulties. This helped to strengthen the relationship that was forming and built up the characters to make them more relateable. There was a great dynamic between all of the different characters and it made for a great read. Gotta love those catfish!!!

There were times I thought some things were over explained and had some unnecessary detail but it didn’t change the fact it is a really well written, funny story even if I still don’t understand baseball.

Looking forward to more in this series.”

– Jennifer K

“I loved this book and the characters.

Throughout the book you find yourself rooting for Caleb and Sadie. They both have their own demons to fight but in the end they help save each other.

I couldn’t put the book down and I found myself getting lost in the characters. I particularly enjoyed the other players’ roles in the book and I am looking forward to the next one. Please tell me there is a next one?!

My favourite parts in the book is where Caleb opens up about this dad and how Sadie (and her friend) handle her ex. I enjoyed the save our slugs slogan too!

This story can be read by all who love a romantic story and this doesn’t disappoint.”

– Lisa C

“If I am completely honest this is not the sort of book I would ordinarily pick up…that being said, I am very glad I did!

This book has jealousy, vindictive behaviour, secrets, a touch of blackmail and the sweetest romance that had me pleading for the main characters to sort through it all.

The story follows Caleb Hart and Sadie Merritt through the start of their relationship. Sadie is a girl who has been through a lot and understandably does not want to make the same mistake again. She is a tough cookie who has a heart of gold, people have taken advantage of that in the past but we see her grow throughout the book until she finds the confidence to stand up for herself.

Caleb has had to grow up quickly and bares the brunt of things he shouldn’t have to. His trust issues are completely understandable having not allowed himself to trust people for a long time, it is hard to ‘take the plunge’ and let somebody in.

The book is nicely written and is easy to read without being childish. Even though we know who the ‘bad guy’ is early on there were still a lot of turns that kept me eagerly turning the pages to the end.

There was a question left unanswered and it allows me to hope that there may be another novel or a short story to follow.”

– Sarah C

“I have to admit that I was a little bit wary about this book having read Jennifer Bernard’s ‘Bachelor Fireman’ series and not falling in love with it as much as others did. But I shouldn’t have worried because this story was sweet, fun and a really good summer read.

Caleb is your typical bad boy ball player – or so you think. In actual fact, he has layers and secrets that make him something more. Your perfect romantic hero. And did I mention he’s gorgeous to boot?

Sadie is done with lying low after a messy (and embarrassing) breakup. She’s the kind of girl that you can really root for – trying to be strong and get on with her life while having to live down some things she is too ashamed to even think about. I’m pretty sure we all can relate!

Together the pair make such a cute couple. They seem to complete each other and I was so happy for them both. Adorable!

The problems the pair face throughout the book add just enough depth to make this an interesting read but ultimately, it’s Caleb and Sadie that are at the heart of this book. And it leads into what I’m sure will be the next ‘Love Between the Bases’ novel.

If you’re looking for a fun, frothy and cute romance to keep you occupied this summer then I would recommend this book to you. Good fun all round.”

– Joanna C

“All of Me” is the first book in Jennifer Bernard’s new Love Between the Bases series.

Caleb’s baseball career is in a bit of a slump. Though it’s clear for everyone to see, he’s just putting too much pressure on himself. His family situation is a mess, and he needs his career to go well in order to solve his problems.

After a huge scandal a year ago, Sadie Merritt is trying to put her past behind her. She’s lucky she has her current job with the mayor, and knows she needs to prove herself again. Getting involved with one of the baseball players though, is not the way to do it.

I absolutely loved this book. I liked that there are real issues that you can relate to and that draws you to the characters. I had a very hard time putting this book down and enjoyed every moment of it. I will be eagerly waiting for the next instalment in this series.”

– Nicola H

Thank you to all of our readers for their literary contributions on All of Me by Jennifer Bernard, which can be purchased here. If you wish to become a member of the Avon Romance Virtual Book Club, drop us a line at publicity360@harpercollins.co.uk and we’ll be glad to get you involved!

July Book Club title: That Scandalous Evening  by Christina Dodd

April Book Club: ‘Broken’ by Cynthia Eden

Welcome to the first in the series of the Avon Romance Virtual Book Club! Our April book was Broken by Cynthia Eden, the start of an exciting new romantic suspense series – LOST.
broken1
The LOST series introduces the Last Option Search Team, an elite unit that must protect the only surviving victim of a serial killer.

Ex-SEAL and LOST founder Gabe Spencer is accustomed to the unusual in his job. But when knockout Eve Gray steps into his office, he’s rattled. For the mysterious woman is a dead ringer for the heiress thought to be the latest prey of the serial killer who goes by the name Lady Killer.

When Eve awoke in an Atlanta hospital, her past was a blank slate. Then she recognized her own face in the newspaper and vowed to learn the truth. Determined to confront the nightmares hidden in her mind, she never expects to find a partner in Gabe.

As Gabe and Eve work together, their explosive attraction becomes irresistible. Gabe knows that his desire for Eve is growing too strong, bordering on a dangerous obsession, but nothing pulls him away from her. And when another Eve lookalike disappears, Gabe vows to protect Eve at all costs. While Eve may have forgotten the killer in her past, it’s clear he hasn’t forgotten her.

We sent out Broken to members of our book club to devour and give us their thoughts. Here is what they had to say…

“The story started off with a great hook, the prologue drew me in and I had to continue reading.

This is the first romantic suspense novel I have read, and I am proud to say that the story has made me fall in love with the genre. My preferred choice is paranormal romance but this story has created a new appreciation for romantic suspense. Both ‘Eve’ and Gabe showed a blooming romance and passion from the beginning that left me on the edge of my seat when new complications threatened to ruin that passion.

And let’s not forget everyone else. This novel has a great bunch of characters that add to the storyline, like Victoria and Dean; you know that the main characters are not alone and that there is great potential for this book to turn into a fantastic series.

I was so worried about the characters and in the short time that I read this book I felt as if I was part of the story. At some points, however, I was confused as to whose point of view was being presented and had to read a page twice because I was unsure as to which character I was following.

But a fantastic book and when it came to the end I was dying to read more and could hardly put the book down. I think for sure that this book had me LOST in the story. ”

– Danielle J

“Eve Gray is a survivor, she survived a horrendous ordeal and consequently doesn’t remember anything prior to waking in the hospital. Eve tries to piece her life together but she is plagued by the black hole that is her past and she begins to suspect that she may have survived a confrontation with a serial killer.

Gabe Spencer is a former SEAL who now owns LOST, a company dedicated to finding the missing and bringing closure to the families involved. When Eve goes to him for help he is unsure whether to trust her or not, but together they delve into her story and deadly secrets begin to unravel.

Cynthia is a wonderfully talented author, she never fails to hook me into her stories whether they be paranormal or romantic suspense. ‘Broken’ was a fantastic start to a new series that had me gripped from beginning to end. I love a book that keeps me guessing and I loved the breadcrumbs and miss-directions sprinkled throughout the story.

The little glimpses we got into the Lost employees and their lives has me eager for more, I can’t wait to discover everyone’s secrets.

‘Broken’ was a definite page turner and I loved the developing relationship between Eve and Gabe. Eve was undoubtedly a strong, capable female who I thoroughly enjoyed reading about.”

– Michelle M

“Set against the background of a small island being battered from storms, it’s a race against time to save the prey, discover the killer and fall in love. Or will all be L(ast).O(ption).S(earch).T(eam)?

I found the book to be a bit formulaic but easy to read. The characters weren’t quite believable and the twists in hiding the killers identity at time got a bit confusing.

I have to be honest and say this is not my normal type of reading matter. I’m more of a paranormal person so reading a book filled with ‘normal’ people was a bit of a change for me.

– Nikki B

“’Broken’, the first book in a new series by Cynthia Eden is a romantic suspense novel and not at all what I was expecting. When I first read the back cover and saw the mention of a serial killer, I have to admit that I had my doubts about it as a romance novel, thinking that either the romance or the suspense would overtake the story and not be balanced….but I was so wrong. I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down to sleep or go to work. Every time I had a spare 10 minutes I had it out to read another few pages and have been telling anyone who will listen all about it.

Eve wakes up in a hospital with no memory of who she is or how she got there, she only knows that something bad has happened to her. When she sees pictures of the victims of a serial killer in the paper, one of them looks a lot like her. She goes to LOST: an agency run by Gabe Spencer, an ex-SEAL who specialises in finding people, and asks him for help in uncovering her memories as well as to find out if she is one of the victims of the ‘Lady Killer’.

With the help of Gabe and the rest of the LOST team, Eve starts to remember bits of her past and the nightmares she had tried to forget, but this brings new dangers to her and the people around her. She trusts Gabe, he seems to be the only one to believe her. As he helps her uncover the secrets of the Lady Killer, Gabe starts to fall for Eve and he falls hard. Their relationship is passionate and strong and Gabe will do anything to protect her. Although the relationship developed a bit quicker than I would have liked it to, it was executed very well.

I became invested in the character and the story and kept trying to figure out who the killer was. More than once I had to stop myself from jumping to the back because I was dying to know who the killer actually was. When the killer was finally revealed, he had in fact been one of my suspects, but I was unable to narrow them down to just one, and I loved the fact that I was still theorising right up until the end. This was a brilliant suspense filled book with great characters and twists and turns to keep you guessing.

I would thoroughly recommend this book and I can’t wait for the next one.”

– Jennifer K

“Well, what can I say other than this was a great book? From the first chapter I was enthralled. A very nice love story going on in the background, but a great thriller story going on in the fore. And a nice little twist at the end. A fantastic whodunnit. Once I’d picked the book up I found it extremely hard to put it down.

I hope the next in her series is as good.

I think I’m hooked on Cynthia Eden’s books. Her writing is enthralling.”

– Helen S

“I was hooked from the beginning!

The book is dark in places but the love story with Gabe and Eve/Jessica shines through.

Throughout the book you find yourself guessing as to who the killer could be and it doesn’t disappoint! I found it hard to put the book down and found myself turning the pages to find out what happens next.

My favourite parts in the book are when you find yourself second-guessing who the killer is and one minute you think you have it then all of a sudden it takes you down a different path.

I loved the other characters from the LOST team and how they were involved in solving this case. I am really looking forward to seeing how each team’s backstory led them to join the LOST team.

This story can be read by all who love a darker romantic suspense story and this doesn’t disappoint.”

– Lisa C

“I have to admit that this isn’t my usual type of book (because I’m a little bit of a scaredy cat) so I was slightly worried about whether I would enjoy it or not. I shouldn’t have been anxious because I absolutely loved it!

Almost from the first page the book was filled with suspense and intrigue. It was so well written that you couldn’t help but want to read just one more page. I don’t know how many times I said that to myself only to find myself still reading 2 hours later! The pace was fast and I felt I couldn’t read fast enough to keep up – I just wanted to know more and more. Just when you thought you knew what was happening and who the bad guy was – you were thrown for a loop again.

The mystery was great but the best part of the book for me was definitely Gabe and Eve. I loved how Eve was a blend of the vulnerable and the strong. She had been through a lot but she was a fighter and it was hard not to like her and root for her to remember, to get closure and to find love. And that was where Gabe came in. Who doesn’t love a hard bodied, strong, sexy man who is 100% dedicated to loving and protecting the girl of his dreams? I loved their love and their relationship as a whole.

A really great book and one I would happily recommend (even if you’ve not tried romantic suspense before) and I now can’t wait for book 2 in the LOST series. A 5 star read.”

– Joanna L

“From the first page I was hooked. I was kept in suspense from start to finish. Cannot wait to read the next book in the lost series.”

– Carrie H

Thank you to all of our dedicated readers who gave us their detailed thoughts on Cynthia Eden’s Broken, which can be purchased here. If you wish to become a member of the Avon Romance Virtual Book Club, drop us a line at publicity360@harpercollins.co.uk and we’ll be glad to get you involved!

May Book Club title: The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath.

An exclusive event with Barbara Taylor Bradford

In celebration of her 30th novel, The Cavendon Women, we’re delighted to announce that Barbara Taylor Bradford will be at Harewood House on Wednesday 25th March for an EXCLUSIVE event!

Barbara is the bestselling author of A Woman of Substance and has sold over 88 million books, across 40 languages. At this exclusive event she will be speaking to Eleanor Mills – columnist and Editorial Director of The Sunday Times – about her latest novel, The Cavendon Women, which focuses on the lives of the Ingham family and the Swanns at Cavendon Hall.

Harewood Hall is a breathtakingly elegant setting – and the magnificent Georgian country house was in fact the inspiration for Barbara’s Cavendon Hall!

To book tickets to this event, click HERE

Harewood house event

Romance writers blog central

After two terrific festivals, here’s a round-up of essential blog posts for budding writers – straight from the horse’s mouth, the pen nib, the authors’ fingers… and don’t forget to check out We heart new talenta competition to bag a publishing contract.

Tips and tricks for the writing process

Promoting yourself and your book

Inspiration

Drawing on the personal

Perseverance and support

Looking at the market

Romance fan blog central

Two festivals, two programmes packed into two weekends. Here’s a round-up of blogs for Romance fans – blogs about romance fiction in all its guises, blogs about writing romance fiction, blogs full of tips for your own romantic lives. For the inside scoop, check out what these Romance authors have to say for themselves, and if you’re a budding romance writer, see the lowdown on author’s tips and tricks. What more can you ask for?

Romance has many faces

Writing Romance

Tips for your romantic life