Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Lady Meets Her Match by Gina Conkle Spotlight Tour

Finding her is only half the battle

Cyrus Ryland didn’t become England’s wealthiest bachelor by being a pushover, but the mysterious beauty he discovers sneaking around his study during a grand ball enflames his curiosity. They share one dance, but when the clock chimes midnight, she’s nowhere to be found. So Cyrus vows to scour all of London to uncover who she is.

Claire Mayhew is risking it all by forging Ryland’s signature. But the maddening man won’t lease properties to an unmarried woman. He stands in the way of Claire’s dream: running her own business. The midtown property fits her plans perfectly—a place to live as an independent woman of commerce. When she sneaks into his study and forges his signature, she never expects to be attracted to the stodgy bachelor. But if he finds out who she is, all of her dreams could go up in smoke…

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Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Today we’re sitting down with historical romance author Gina Conkle! Gina’s latest book, The Lady Meets Her Match, comes out this April. To celebrate we’re participating in the “Ask Gina Spotlight Tour”, take it away Gina!

  1. If you could be anyone from any of your books, who would you be and why?

  1. I used to think Helena from my first Viking story, but Juliette Sauveterre usurped her. Juliette came out of nowhere when I was writing The Lady Meets Her Match. Colorful and headstrong, she played the “fairy godmother” to Claire’s Cinderella. But, don’t cram salacious Juliette into the frumpy fairy mold. She’s got it goin’ on and she knows it.

Cyrus removed his fine blue coat, the slide of cloth on cloth an inviting sound to her benumbed senses.

“You’re not warming up sufficiently.” He leaned in and wrapped his coat over her shoulders, his deep voice like an intimate connection. “Someone needs to take care of you.”

She shuddered when his breath tickled her ear. His warmth and nearness was just as heavenly as what he draped around her. She could tell he found her refusal more amusing than deterring. Cyrus closed the coat in front of her, his body heat palpable inside. The collar’s woven broadcloth brushed her rain-misted cheeks, his pleasant scent on the cloth. The coat was part of an expensive, well-tailored ditto suit: identical blue fabric with spare gold trim on the coat, waistcoat, and breeches.

“I’ll ruin part of a perfectly good suit.” But she pulled the coat tighter, greedy for the snug feel.

He added more coal to the blaze. The inferno’s orange light danced across white cotton stretched over his shoulders. Muscles moved under the fabric, mesmerizing her while he built a hotter fire. And then there was his offer to waive her rent and give her a loan, an offer apparently free of unique requirements. His act of generosity pinched her conscience.

How dare he be so…nice.

“About the rent, the loan, I cannot accept your kind offer.” She cleared her throat, trying to sound competent. “I’ll find a way.”

Ryland glanced at her but said nothing to counter her refusal. Instead, he dropped to the floor, kneeling before her. Without asking her leave, he removed one shoe and then the other, and set the soaked footwear against the hearth’s ash pan.

“What are you doing?” Her words, like her body, went slack, all of her too worn down.

His head bent close to her knee. One hand, large and warm, curled around her ankle, rubbing life back into her foot. A big, masculine palm moved under the arch, creating delightful friction. She pressed her lips together, holding back a moan of pleasure.

“I would think a land steward’s daughter would know wet clothes are hazardous for one’s health.” He flashed a devilish grin. “You ought to remove your wet clothes, cover yourself with something warm and dry.”

Such as covering myself with you.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This review is going to be difficult for me to write, so I'll try to be black and white. If I had read this title when I received it, not going back to read book #1 first, my thoughts and rating would have been significantly higher. I would have walked away after reading this book with a smile on my face and momentary warm and fuzzy feelings. I would have quickly written a review, knowing the story wouldn't ride my thoughts long while I hitched a ride on the next read.

I didn't do that. I did read book #1, finishing it and immediately starting this book. So I can't help but compare the two. After writing a glowing review, finding Meet the Earl at Midnight on my favorites shelf as one of the wittiest books I've ever read, I found the follow-up to be lackluster. The first book I read cover-to-cover in one sitting, going without sleep... this took me the better part of three days to read.

The Lady Meets Her Match is a fun, quick read to offer a few hours of sweet entertainment. The beginning of the story hooks you right in, keeping you interested in what's to happen next. Especially so, after meeting Claire in the previous book. Claire's mission is an interesting one in the opening, as is her meeting with Cyrus. But I will point out that their meeting doesn't have the same chemistry, wit, and flair as Lydia and Edward from book 1.

I kept wondering when the story was going to evolve, as we were still on the initial meeting until 17% of the book. In actuality, I felt that the reason they met was the only plot of the story that was fully developed. Once it met its conclusion, the book stalled as the reader waited for something to happen next. What did happen was thrown in there piecemeal, and then quickly resolved but never truly pushed the story forward.

One noticeable difference is the amount of romance, lusty thoughts, and inner monologues of physical attraction that were not present in book 1. Pages of how simple touches felt: the brush of a fingertip, the caress of a thigh against thigh, a kiss to a hand, the scent of the lover. While in moderation, this is thrilling. When done in excess, it bogs down the story.

I should mention, while I love romance, I like the journey the best. So when it's injected too soon, or too heavily with the physical aspects of attraction, I tend to get annoyed with the characters. I feel as if they are shallow and empty not to connect on a deeper level. To be blunt, everything I praised in book 1 was absent from book 2. Which doesn't necessarily mean readers won't love this book. I'm a serious, mature reader who is more into wit than looks.

Claire has a great backstory, one that was never broached. The necklace was shown since the first book, with a simple blip of explanation & a non-developed but easily written away theft. As well as Claire's connection to Johnathan never truly being injected into the story – at least not by Claire. She never showed any true emotions over it. The man she loved since childhood betrayed her, and then died. While this led to her independence, I felt the lack of emotion showed Claire as one-dimensional. Also, I was a bit disappointed in never seeing or hearing from Edward. He was so worried about Claire in book one, not allowing Lydia to throw down an it's Claire or me edict, never to write, or visit, or be a passing thought in Claire's head after spending all 26 years of her life as his friend.

By comparison, The Lady Meets her Match wasn't as fully developed as Meet the Earl at Midnight. (I did receive an ARC, so I'm not speaking of formatting issues or proofreading errors). The historical accuracy, sentence structure, the voice, it didn't feel the same to me after reading the two books back-to-back. While the book opened just as strong, the premise never moved forward from there, where it relied on miscommunications, inner monologue telling the reader about physical attraction, and a mystery thrown into the mix near the end of the book which was resolved a chapter later.

My advice: if you are reading this review prior to reading either of the books in this series, read this book (The Lady Meets her Match) first, and you will get the warm and fuzzies and a smile on your face. I promise you will enjoy it and be entertained. I also guarantee you will not spoil anything that happened in book #1 (Meet the Earl at Midnight). Then read book #1, and be blown away.

Genre: Historical Romance | Saccharine Romance | Off-scene wedding | experienced woman | independent woman | Rags to riches | Blackmail/extortion |

Historical Accuracy: I'm not a stickler on this. I don't mind modern words being introduced in the storyline either. When I'm engaged with a read, I don't notice much of anything but the story itself. But I did notice this wasn't as accurate as it could have been.

Romance/sex: Filled to the max with sweet romance. Strong physical connection with a lot of intense flirting. A few scenes of sexual contact, but not explicit or overtly detailed.

Recommended: Romance Fans | Historical Romance Fans | Lovers of the warm and fuzzies where emotional depth isn't necessary.

Will I read more by this author: Yes, absolutely. Even though this book didn't resonate with me, I still cannot wait to see what Gina Conkle will write next.

Also Available in the MidnightMeetings Series

Meet the Earl at Midnight

The Phantom of London. Enigma Earl. The Greenwich Recluse.

Half of his face, shadowed by gold and brown whiskers, showed male perfection, but the other half, a bizarre pattern of scar lines and puckered flesh. Truly, staring at his face was akin to seeing a painting of two men, split down the middle. Lydia recoiled as much from the hot anger flashing in his eyes as from astonishment.


Lord Greenwich is notoriously elusive. His tendency to hide his face in public and refusal to appear in London Society have even earned him some choice monikers, including “the Phantom of London.” Is he disfigured? Mad? Hiding something? With a reputation like that, no woman wants to get near the dark earl. And no one is more surprised than Miss Lydia Montgomery when she is betrothed to the earl in order to save her family from penury. But if Lydia wants a chance at happiness, she’ll have to set aside her fear of Lord Greenwich and discover the man hiding behind the beastly reputation…

Add to Goodreads

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Meet the Earl at Midnight was a delight to read. I was thoroughly engaged, reading the book cover to cover in one sitting (which was a feat, as it wasn't a short book). Gina Conkle is a new-to-me author, who I found when I was awarded the pleasure to read the second book in this series for review. I purchased the first (Meet the Earl at Midnight) in order to be caught up, and was pleasantly surprised.

Gina Conkle's writing style was mature, written in a way to lend to historical accuracy without sounding pretentious (many in this genre add superfluous words to sound historical). The flow was a breeze to read – nothing jarring. The characterization was consistent and flowed cohesively throughout.

The hero and heroine were 3-dimensional characters. Edward was a mysterious, introvert scientist who was physically and emotionally scarred. Lydia was a strong female lead, where the author was able to keep the character assertive without being pushy, domineering, demanding, or overtly annoying. In fact, Lydia knocking Edward down for size was pure perfection. The characters fed from one another. Edward would be misogynistic (according to the era), yet his inability to bend was a comfort, as it made him consistent (unlike in most books where the characters do, say, act, and react in contradicting ways). Instead of turning into an irrational, hormonal female, like Edward expected, Lydia surprised him by taking his insults in stride, and thwarting him at every turn, earning everyone's respect without coming across as crass, unmanageable, and vapid.

I loved the entire cast of characters – flawed, realistic, and consistent. What I adored the most was the dry wit during every interaction between Edward & Lydia. The tension was palatable, the wit was humorous without coming across as forced and over-the-top, and both had me blushing and grinning from ear-to-ear.

Meet the Earl at Midnight was a historical romance, but it wasn't a syrupy sweet romance. Character-&-story-driven, Conkle didn't rely on the usual trope of instant infatuation, lust, and the spewing of undying love.

Slowly evolving, realistic, the reader was drawn in emotionally, feeling as one with the characters as if they were real. Not overtly sexual, Meet the Earl at Midnight was one of the best examples of less is more. The flirtatious, witty banter was heart-racing. After the build-up and tension, a simple kiss to a knee, or an accidental or premeditated brush of a hand, came across as more than an elaborate, sexually explicit scene in many a book.

Genre tags: Historical Romance | Unconventional, experienced woman | True Heroine & Hero | Scarred, alpha male | Earl & a commoner | Artist | Scientist (botanist) | Realistic (not light and fluffy, yet warn and endearing) | Witty humor that is never over-the-top or forced | Introversion | Marriage to beget an heir | Emotionally extorted into marriage | Historically accurate |

Recommended: Historical Romance Fans | Mature readers who appreciate a fully fleshed out story instead of the smoke and mirrors of sex and unnecessary angst (no miscommunications as the conflict, as any of this type of conflict that arises was cleared up within the next chapter)

Will I read more by this author: Absolutely. Starting book 2 in this series after my eyes have a rest and my Kindle charges. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Gina Conkle, a history nerd to the core, loves castles and museums. Her motto is “the older and moldier, the better.” When not enjoying relics, she lives in the present, dabbling in organic gardening at her home in San Diego, California. She lives with Brian, her husband and favorite alpha male, and their two boys.

Connect with Gina

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Google+  ~  tsū

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings 2) by Gina Conkle to read and review for this tour.

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