by Addie Jo Ryleigh
Respectable Lady Katherine Baxton, striving to meet the requirements of her station, has become the ultimate dutiful daughter. And now, the Duke of Blackthorn’s betrothed. Far from a love match, Kate is nevertheless determined to do as expected and marry.
That all changes the night she panics at her impending future and runs, stumbling upon a private grove, a mysterious tree . . . and a half-naked man.
The youngest son of a viscount widely thought to have purchased his title, Jackson Cooper demonstrates his disdain for the aristocracy by affording himself every luxury available—drinking, wenching, and gambling—while eschewing anything representing the ton. Jackson has little care for his reputation and no desire to marry. His escape from London is all but complete.
Until fate—in the form of a beautiful, mysterious lady—interrupts his plans, enticing him with the very thing he never wanted.
“What is your name?” As much as he longed to forever think of her as his private wood sprite, he needed more.
Her voice held a touch of hesitation. “Kate.”
He wrapped her name around his mind and held it tight, all the while knowing, illogical or not, she would always be his seductive nymph.
“This is unwise.” His base desire cursed him for injecting prudence into the moment . . . and in opposition, his common sense decried his lack of better judgement for having her in his arms.
He ignored both.
Kate remained silent as he lifted his hand and traced his gloveless finger over her cheek, mesmerized by the smooth silk of her skin.
As much as he wanted to pull away, flee before it became too late, he was lost.
He curved his hand around the back of her neck, urging her closer. Their eyes remained locked as he lowered his head, drawn to the inviting promise of her lips. Instinctively, Jackson knew the moment he acted on the sweet provocation, everything would change. I don’t give a damn.
He needed to possess her.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Addie Jo Ryleigh writes historical regency romances that feature rakish heroes and strong feisty heroines.
Addie Jo has lived in the same cold-winter-hot-summer area of Minnesota her entire life. Sharing in the raising of her three extremely rambunctious boys is her very understanding husband who endured being dubbed “The Duke” by his co-workers. Keeping Addie Jo company while she writes (besides her wonderfully loud children) is her yorkipoo, Bella, who is never far from Addie Jo’s side. And recently the newest addition to their family, a black lab puppy named Max.
Addie Jo has always had a love and passion for romance books and became engrossed in historical romance (particularly Regency) soon after graduating from Lurlene McDaniel’s young adult books. Currently, Addie Jo reads any genre that has a great emotional story that keeps her reading into the early hours of the morning.
Addie Jo has a bachelor degree in accounting and is a financial coordinator when not playing chauffeur for her hockey-playing boys, cuddled up with a good book, or writing her next story.
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Once Upon a Lady by Addie Jo Ryleigh is a historical romance with paranormal elements and is part of the ‘Soul Mate Tree’ series. Lady Katherine (Kate) Baxton is all but engaged to the Duke of Blackthorne, complying with her father’s desires but not necessarily her own. A chance encounter with Jackson Cooper, facilitated by a mysterious gnarled tree, leads Kate on a journey to discover her heart’s true desire but Jackson may not be as willing to admit his encounter with the Soul Mate Tree will have the same result on his life choices.
This story is a fun addition to the collection of stories surrounding the mysterious and venerable tree that brings lovers together. The author does a nice job of depicting the constrained life that society females faced and the limited options available to them. I didn’t feel the characters were as well-developed as I would have liked, but the little I did learn about them made me want to know more about them. I liked most of the secondary characters and would like to read about their paths to love as well, particularly the remarkably understanding Duke of Blackthorne. I was a little surprised at some of the choices Kate made, especially considering the implications of her actions, but I enjoyed watching the arc of her development. This was an entertaining story and I hope to read more tales about these characters.
A copy of this story was provided for review