Friday, March 7, 2014

Once Upon a Hero - Excerpt, Review, Giveaway


Title – Once Upon a Hero

Author – C.N. Bird, Samantha Holt, Lily Magee, Em Taylor

Genre – Historical Romance

Publication Date – 1st February 2014

Length (Pages/# Words) – 50,000 words

Publisher – Indie

Cover Artist – Samantha Holt

Once upon a hero boxset 


Four tales of love throughout history.

Pompeii by C.N. Bird
69 A.D.
Following the loss of her father and her mother years later, Hadriana is saved from a life of prostitution by her closest friend Victus. Through rebuilding and many loves, one night finds them unable to resist their feelings for one another any longer. With their new found affection and moving forward in their lives, the city of Pompeii seemingly doesn’t have a happy ending in store.

Hunting His Highland Lass by Samantha Holt
Scotland, 1292
Rory MacPherson has returned home to find his castle overrun by the English and his timid wife missing. So when he hears of her tales of bravery, he’s just a little surprised. But his main concern is whether she is still alive or has been captured. Upon discovering her intention to run to her father’s and to leave their affectionless marriage for good, Rory realises just how much sweet Isla means to him. Can the warrior get past his fears of being too rough for her?

Though fear of capture drove Isla out, it’s the fear of returning to her marriage that keeps her travelling across the unforgiving Highlands. Not that doesn’t care for her husband, but she can no longer bear desiring a man who clearly doesn’t want her. Believing that he must be sharing his bed with another lass, Isla plans to beg her father for refuge from the English…and her husband. But the journey is dangerous and Rory is a determined man. Will he even let her go?

A Love Remembered by Em Taylor
England, 1811
When Lord Benedict Mallory is lost at sea while fighting in His Majesty's Navy, Lady Cassandra Strong knows her happy ever after with the handsome duke's son will never be. That is until she spots her friend's footman. He bears a striking resemblance to the Lord who was presumed drowned.

A chance encounter with the newly restored Earl leaves Cassy with no option but to marry Lord Benedict. Can they overcome his loss of memory and forge a marriage for themselves?

An Honourable Enemy by Lily Magee
Russia, 1812
War has been kind to Capitaine Amaury de Poitiers. With every victory over the Russians, Napoleon’s Grande Army brings ever greater glory to France. Highly regarded by both his superiors and his men, his career looks set to soar.

When he is tasked with guarding a prisoner of war critical to the war effort, an archduchess no less, Amaury finds himself enchanted by her. The only surviving member of her family, the proud Katinka of Viasma is overwhelmed by grief and the desire for revenge upon the French for her family’s death. Despite her initial hostility, Amaury finds himself becoming ever more drawn to this feisty, angry yet fragile young woman and is overcome by the need to protect her. Katinka in turn finds herself confused by her increasing attraction to the witty, chivalrous capitaine who refuses to give up on her despite her temper.

Their longing for each other is undeniable but both of them know that the barriers between them are great. Amaury finds himself torn between his mission, his love and his honour. Katinka is a noblewoman and he is but a common soldier. To be together could cost Katinka everything.

Can Amaury and Katinka ever overcome the barriers of war and class that separate them?

Excerpt from A Love Remembered by Em Taylor
(I apologize for the wonky spacing...Not enough coffee yet to fix it...)
Ben sat on a stool on the kitchen table as Cassy none too gently tended to his 

wounds. He had dreamt about a woman who looked just like her. Had it been Lady 

Cassandra Strong? Had his dreams been trying to remind him of who he really was?

He felt comfortable in the large, dark kitchen, surrounded by the smell of baking 

bread, the clang of pots and the whispered conversations of the maids. The cook 

surreptitiously watched the young lord and lady as Cassy dipped a clean rag in water 

and pressed it against his eye.

God’s teeth, he should not be sitting in this position, his thighs apart and her standing 

primly between them. Every time he looked down, he could see the steady rise and fall 

of her ample bosom, made even more ample by the empire waistline and stays that 

she wore. The thin muslin gown did nothing to quash the heat of her and he felt himself 

harden in his breeches, despite the pain in his eye caused by her inept nursing skills.

Did every young gentleman on the Ton lust after the ladies in such a manner? Her 

rose petal lips pursed slightly as she studied him. That did not help matters. Any decent 

fellow would, at worst, be imagining kissing those lips. In his fevered imagination, that 

delicate mouth was wrapped around…

“Yes, well,” he said, jumping to his feet and causing her to step back in alarm. “I 

thank you for everything but I must be on my way.” Damn, the girl. Why could she not 

have worn a fischu? 

“Lord Sefdom!” Was she breathless? Was she discomfited by his closeness? His 

palms itched to close around her breasts. He flexed his fingers and side-stepped 

her. “Of course. I should ask the cook at Apringdon House for a steak to put on your 

eye if I were you. It will bring down the swelling.” He nodded curtly. He knew of some 

other swelling he would prefer not to be present. He clasped his hands in front of his 


“Please God, tell me it is not true.” A woman’s voice, which came from behind the 

kitchen door, rang through the room.

“Her ladyship,” whispered the cook and the maids lined up. Ben turned towards the 

entrance to the kitchen, as did Cassy. The butler entered first and held the door open as 

an older woman in a dark blue gown and an older version of Cassy’s face swept regally 


“Cassy!” she admonished. “What the devil are you doing? You have been seen 

sneaking around the lane with a gentleman in tow. And I see it is true.”

My Review
     Once Upon a Hero is an anthology of historical romances, each with a total swoon-worthy main character, with all the attributes of a true hero: caring, protective, sexy, and sensitive.   Like good anthologies, I got caught up in each story, and had a hard time shifting gears from one time period to the next.  But that just shows the talent each author had in putting me "in the story" each time.
     They take the reader on a journey from Pompeii, to Medieval Scotland, to Regency England, to Revolutionary France.  Two of the authors I am already familiar with and love.  The other two are now on my radar, and I will look for more from them.
     In CN Bird's story about Pompeii, I nearly cried.  And that's tough for me.  I don't really cry much reading books.  But it was like a train wreck, or the Titanic.  Since it's Pompeii, the reader knows exactly what will happen to them, how they will be ripped apart, but the story is so compelling you can't stop reading.
     Samantha Holt's highlander story was a story older than time itself: miscommunication between a man and woman, each think they know what the other is thinking, but they're nearly tragically wrong.  
     Em Taylor is my newest favorite Regency author.  She tells an amnesia story, one that has been done, but in this case, done well.  She inserts her subtle humor in places, making me grin stupidly to myself while reading, especially the scene on the balcony.
     And kudos to Lily McGee for writing a French Revolutionary story with substance, especially a story so short.  It did get a little muddled in the second half, but it still ended in a breath-taking conclusion.
     All of the stories were packed with historical details, a cast of lovely supporting characters, a stunning setting, and all the tiny details writers strive to insert into their work, all while making it seem effortless.  These are authors I will continue to look for, and read more of.  


Amazon Kindle Link


$10 Amazon GC
2 x ecopies of Saved by a Rake by Em Taylor
2 x ecopies of To Steal a Highlander’s Heart by Samantha Holt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. Thank you so much for hosting us Anne and thank you for the lovely review. you made us smile too. We really appreciate it. ~Em

  2. Thank you so much for being on the tour and reviewing this amazing book :) Tonya

  3. Thanks for hosting and reviewing, Anne!