Fiction Friday: Blog Tour- Never Trust a Pirate By Valerie Bowman

Never-Trust-a-Pirate-Blog-Banner

I am incredibly excited to be a part of the blog tour for Never Trust a Pirate by Valerie Bowman. I love Valerie Bowman’s books. Her characters are always so colourful and funny.

Never Trust a Pirate is a part of the Playful Brides series which is one of my all-time favourite historical romances. I’m going to be sharing an excerpt of the book below but first I wanted to share a quick synopsis:

 

Summary: The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .

A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…

Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust—and win her heart—as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?

Never Trust a Pirate is part of the Regency-set Playful Brides series by Valerie Bowman.

Chapter One

London Harbor, July 1817

Only three steps. Only three steps separated him from the map. It was there, laying on the rickety wooden table in the captain’s stateroom aboard a ship aptly named Le Secret Francais. The only sound in the cramped space was his own breathing. Sweat beaded on his brow. He’d come this far. Braved the murky, cold water, swam out to the ship moored at the London docks. Climbed aboard silent as a wraith, dressed all in black. Wrung out his clothing to keep it from dripping so there wouldn’t be a trail. Managed to steal into the captain’s quarters as the man slept, and now, now only three steps remained between him and the priceless map.

One water droplet fell to the wooden plank floor like a hammer against steel. The sound of his breath echoed to a crescendo. The blood pounding in his head became a distracting whirring noise.

One step forward. The ball of his foot ground onto the plank. Stealth and silence. Always. The calling cards of the best thief in London.

The captain stirred slightly in his bunk and began to snore.

He froze. One leather-clad foot arrested on the wooden plank. A pistol rested on two nails directly above the captain’s bunk. If the man awoke, he might shoot first at any noise. The captain well knew the value of the treasure he carried.

He counted to ten. Once. Twice. He had long since mastered the art of keeping footing on a ship. He waited until his heartbeats became steady again before taking the next step. A slight creak in the wood floor. A hint of movement from the captain. Another endless wait. Impatience was a roiling knot inside his belly.

Out of the shadows now, he stood only one step away from the table bolted to the floor. The moon shone through the window above the captain’s bed, shedding light on the man’s balding head. The map lay spread out, anchored by pins in the four corners. He would have to remove those pins. Ripping the paper would be too noisy.

Another interminable wait as the captain turned away from him in his sleep. His snores subsided.

He glanced over at the bunk. The pistol shone in the moonlight. One hard swallow. He never carried a pistol. Too loud. Pistols brought the crew, the wharf police, and anyone else interested in such activity. The only weapon he carried was a knife, tucked in the back of his breeches. A weapon of stealth.

Another count to ten before taking the final step. There was no time for an in-depth study of the map now, but a quick glance revealed the destination. The island of St. Helena, off the western coast of Africa, circled in bold scrawl. The map of the route planned for Bonaparte’s next escape. That bastard in the bed had been planning it.

All ten fingers itched to snatch the paper and run, but he forced himself to take a deep, silent breath. Carefully, he dislodged the first pin at the top right corner. It popped out easily. The top of the map rolled toward the center, making a slight flapping sound. Breath held, he glanced toward the captain again. No movement.

He stuck the pin back into the table to keep it from rolling, then his hand darted to the next pin at the bottom right corner. It also popped out easily. He quickly stuck it back into the wood. With two sides free, he carefully rolled the map toward the center. Reaching up to the top, he grasped the third pin. No movement. It was lodged deeply into the wood. Must pull harder. With one black-gloved hand, he clasped the pin between a thumb and two fingers, pulling upward with as much strength as he dared. His own breath in his ear was the only sound … that and the water lapping at the sides of the ship.

The pin finally gave way. He pressed a hand to the top of the map, to keep the freed top left corner from curling and making a noise. His chest and torso flattened against the map and the table, he pressed the third pin back into the wood.

Click. An unmistakable sound. One he had heard too often before. Another hard swallow. Damn it. He’d been so preoccupied with keeping quiet, he hadn’t realized the captain’s snores had subsided.

Half-splayed across the table, he contemplated his options. The door was ten paces to the left, the open window five paces to the right. Would he fit through the window? It’d be a hell of a time to learn the answer was no.

“Step away from zee map, if you don’t want a bullet through your back.” The captain’s voice was harsh and angry.

He slowly rose from his position hunched over the map, arms braced upright at right angles near his head to show the captain he had no weapon. “Ye wouldn’t shoot an unarmed man, now would ye, Cap’n?”

“I’d shoot a thief without thinking twice,” the captain replied with a sneer, nearly spitting the word thief.

He glanced down at the map. Studying it in case he was forced to leave without it. He had been in worse situations, more times than he could count. He considered the knife in the back of his breeches hidden beneath his shirt. It would be simple, easy and quick to snake it out and whip it into the bastard’s throat. But a voice in his head reminded him … justice must be served in proper course.

“Turn around,” the captain ordered. “Slowly.”

“Why?” he asked, trying to garner some precious time.

“Because I want to see zee face of zee man who would steal my secrets.”

He began his turn. Slowly. So slowly and so quietly that he could have sworn he heard a drop of sweat from his forehead hit the wooden plank of the floor. He finally stood facing the older man.

Êtes-vous le Renard Noir?” the captain asked.

Pourquoi veux tu savoir?”

Visible in the light of the moon, the captain narrowed his eyes. “Ah, perfect French? Why do I find zat difficult to believe from an obvious Englishman?”

“Obvious?”

“Who else would want zis map?”

His fingers ached to choke the bastard. He might not be able to kill him, but he could wound the scoundrel. Nothing wrong with a wound. He whipped his hand behind his back, grabbed the knife, and hurled it at the captain. It hit the arm that held the pistol. The captain howled. The pistol fired. Smoke filled the cabin with its acrid stench. He ripped the map and fourth pin from the table and ran to the door.

Steps sounded on the planks above the captain’s cabin. In the pitch black belowdecks, he forced himself to wait in the shadows under the stairs until the first group of rescuers filed down the steps into the captain’s cabin. He flattened the map’s scroll and folded it into a six-inch square.

“He’s escaped, you idiots! Find him before he jumps from the ship!” the captain yelled in French.

The group dutifully filed back up to spread across the decks. The captain came running out, clutching his injured arm, blood seeping between his fingers, crimson dripping down his nightshirt. He made his way up the stairs and ran off across the deck.

Springing from the shadows, he raced back into the empty cabin. He flew over to the window, said a brief prayer to fit through the tight space, hoisted up to the ledge, and pushed his upper body through. He ripped off his black tricorn, stuck the folded map to his head, and pulled down the hat as firmly as possible.

A rope swung outside the captain’s window two feet to the right. Thank God for small favors. He lunged at it and grabbed it. Noiselessly, he lowered himself down the rope, bracing both feet against the hull to rappel toward the water. Lowering quietly, he winked back at the figurehead of a saucy French woman carved beneath the captain’s cabin. As soon as he made it into the water, he let go of the rope and swam like a mackerel fleeing a shark toward the shore, careful to keep his head out of the foul-smelling drink. He counted on the black of night and the murky Thames to hide him from the searchers on the ship.

As he covered the distance between the French ship and the shore, he could hear the Frenchmen yelling and running about. He dared a glance back. Every lantern on the ship appeared to have been lit and the crew was scurrying about like a bevy of ants on an infiltrated hill.

He swam to the darkest spot on the far end of the docks, around the bend from sight of the French ship, and pulled himself ashore beneath a creaky dock using only his forearms. Exhausted, he rolled onto his back and lay breathing heavily in the pitch-black night. One hand went up to clap the top of his tricorn and a wide smile spread across his face.

He’d done it. He’d escaped from a French ship with the map detailing the planned route to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena. Of course he had. He was the Black Fox.

April Book Haul

It’s that time of the month again! April is almost over (HOW is the year moving so quickly???) which means it’s time for another book haul.

April Book Haul

I was really good this month and bought a pretty reasonable amount of books. Are you laughing at me? Stop it. I swear I’m serious! I’ll show you.

My SPCA book haul was pretty small especially considering I made my mother buy a few of these. It was just slightly over R100 and I am incredibly proud of myself for that.

SPCA Book Haul There are a few Buffy books that I realised only after buying that they were all part of various series so I’m probably not going to read them. Then there’s “The Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes. I haven’t read much by her besides “Me Before You” and “After You”. I enjoyed those books immensely though so I’m guessing I’ll enjoy this too. Nora Robert’s “Dance Upon the Air” and “Heaven and Earth” were two books I had been looking for since I found the third book (I think it’s called “Face the Fire” but I’m not too sure) at the SPCA book sale earlier on in the year. I don’t remember the series that well but I know that I loved it. “The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena” was one of those “I’m going to read this series eventually so I should just buy the books” purchases. Have I started the series yet? Nope. Are you surprised? I didn’t think so. Lastly I bought Kardashian Konfidential. I wasn’t sure if I wanted it but since it was R20 my mother convinced me to take it. Can you see where I get my spending habits from?

Of course after this small haul I felt a bit bad because none of these books were books that made me go “Omg I can’t wait to read these”. So I decided  to go to Bargain Books and they were having a sale. So I just browsed. And came home with this:

Bargain Books Haul

Now THOSE books made me say “Omg I can’t wait to get home and start reading”. Especially since every time I visited Bargain Books  since last year November, I would pick up “All the Bright Places” and wish that it was discounted. All of these books actually are books that I really wanted for a long time so this haul made me really happy.

Then the week after that I was working on a Saturday and decided to reward myself with a visit to the bookstore. I found this gem for sale.

Empire of Storms

Look at how gorgeous it looks in the sun. Why don’t I take more book pictures in the sun?

I didn’t do much reading this month (hey I just started work okay? I am adjusting to being an adult) but I did read and enjoy Glass Faerie by Rachel Morgan.

What was your April book haul like? What did you read? I’d love to know below.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- Glass Faerie by Rachel Morgan (Creepy Hollow #7)

Glass Faerie (Creepy Hollow, #7)Glass Faerie by Rachel Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*am holding the fifth star of my rating hostage until the rest of this series is released*
I feel like this was a really quick read and I say that as someone who’s in a severe reading slump. Glass Faerie is the third part of the Creepy Hollow series and is the story of Emmy, a faerie who has lived as a human up until now. Not only is Emmy a faerie, she is also Griffin Gifted. We all know how the Guild is towards the Griffin Gifted so Emmy’s new world just got a whole lot more complicated. I loved how there was so much mystery and uncertainty about Emmy and her background. What is she? How is she whatever she is? I liked the character of Dash but honestly I was just interested in seeing Chase again. I think he may be my favourite Creepy Hollow character of all time. I loved how Rachel Morgan shows us a different side of Creepy Hollow. It has been a while since book 6 and this one and the book clearly shows how much things have changed. I feel like the Creepy Hollow world keeps evolving and I love that! It makes everything so much more realistic and fun to read.
I flew through this book and I kinda regret that because I have no idea how long the wait for the next book is.

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Life Update: April

I feel like I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like. Life has been getting in the way but there’s been lots of exciting things happening so I thought I would do a quick life update.

 

LIFE UPDATE- APRIL

 

Firstly, I finally got a job! I feel like I’ve been searching forever so you guys have no idea how thrilled this makes me. I also graduated. Which, while exciting, left me a bit disappointed since it turns out that my degree was literally a piece of paper. Can no one give me a degree on like a solid piece of cardboard?

I’m glad that after years of effort, I finally got the degree in English that I’ve always wanted. It also doesn’t hurt that I will no longer have to wake up at 5AM to attend a class that may be cancelled due to a student protest or just cut short by a tired lecturer.

I’ve also been stockpiling books (who’s surprised? No one? Yeah, that’s what I thought). I don’t have that much time to read anymore but I just like having the books nearby. I’m going to share a recent bookhaul soon.

 

What have you been up to in April? What are your plans for the long weekend? I’d love to know below.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- I Dared the Duke by Anna Bennett (The Wayward Wallflowers #2)

I Dared the Duke (The Wayward Wallflowers, #2)I Dared the Duke by Anna Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Duke of Blackshire arrives home determined to move his grandmother to the country in an attempt to protect her. Someone is trying to kill the Duke and he doesn’t want his beloved grandmother to be collateral damage. However Alex encounters an obstacle in his grandmother’s companion, Beth. Beth sees Alex as uncaring to his grandmother and refuses to leave. So they strike a compromise that will please Alex, Beth and the dowager duchess.
This was a really intriguing read with a surprising end. This was a well-written book that I really enjoyed. The character of Alex was absolutely terrifying but I fell in love with him by the end of the book. Something that really stood out to me was the ending. As much as I love historical romance novels, I usually skip the end scenes since they’re sickening, boring declarations of love. That wasn’t the case here and I really enjoyed that.

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March Book Haul

Originally I thought that my March book haul was really tiny but upon further investigation it’s really not:

 

First there was the SPCA booksale where I seriously scored some great deals:

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Then there was a spontaneous bookstore visit where I found these:

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And last by certainly not least, I finally got With Malice by Eileen Cook. And it was on sale!!! I also decided that this was a perfect time to complete my Wallflower series by Lisa Kleypas:

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I’ve actually only read The Search by Nora Roberts (it was SO good) but I swear I’m going to start on the other books. Eventually…

What did you purchase in March? I’d love to know below:

Fiction Friday: Book Review- My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

My One True Highlander (No Ordinary Hero, #2)My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. Majorie is kidnapped when she goes to surprise her brother before his wedding. Her captives are kids and their reckless behaviour leads her to being prisoner to a very attractive man. I really enjoyed this book and loved the chemistry in it. Graham and Majorie are a great couple and they’re realistic characters. This was a well-written book that I recommend to anyone who enjoys historical romance.

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