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The Bastard

By Charlotte on January 23, 2012 6:35 AM

Marrying for money's a major mistake. That's a lesson 18-year-old Jeannette Boucher learns on her wedding night in Brenda Novak's Valentine's-right historical romance The Bastard (Amazon Digital Services, December 2011).

bastardmd 210.jpgJeannette and her penniless family have taken refuge in England following the French revolution, and an arranged marriage is the only way the former aristocrat can support them. So the black-haired French beauty says "I do" to a wealthy baron more than twice her age. Desperate for an heir, he's willing to overlook her lack of a dowry. Problem is he's impotent and needs a little help from his friends (plural ... multiple partners means no one will know the child's true father). They'll be taking turns in the marriage bed to make sure the powerful baron gets what he wants.

 

But that's a deal breaker for Jeannette. After her younger brother accidentally overhears the shocking plan, she slips from her husband's estate, uses a knife to hack off her long, dark hair and, with the help of some painful breast bindings, goes undercover as a homeless boy. The disguise helps persuade a handsome officer to give her work on a royal navy ship bound for London, where Jeannette hopes to get an immediate annulment.

 

Sympathetic to the "boy's" plight, Lieutenant Crawford Treynor assumes the role of protector. The illegitimate child of noble Lady Bedford and her secret lover, Treynor sees himself in the "lad" he knows as 13-year-old Jean. Treynor had run away from his adoptive home after a nasty beating at about that age and enlisted in the navy so he's compelled to help this "boy" find his way.

 

Once they set sail, the complete lack of privacy makes it difficult for Jeannette to hide her identify. But that doesn't stop Novak's feisty heroine. When her hand's forced, she lives in the ship's rat-infested bowels, eats maggot-infested food and barely sidesteps a flogging, tattoo initiation and losing her virginity ... on several steamy occasions with just enough s-e-x to elicit a blush or two.

 

The well-bred lady survives only with Treynor's help. Setting aside his initial anger over being tricked into an alliance, the lieutenant risks his career to help Jeannette escape her impossible marriage. And, she finds herself falling in love with a nameless bastard who can't (or won't) promise her a future.

 

Although known for writing modern suspense thrillers like Inside and White Heat, Novak returns to historical romance with ease. Her first venture in the genre, Of Noble Birth (Harper Collins; November 1999), also involved high-seas adventure. But this go-round ups the ante.

 

The Bastard's a pure-pleasure read packed with strong, sexy characters at odds with their stations in life. Filled with action, the story moves quickly and, though somewhat predictable, includes plenty of Novak's-signature surprises to keep things interesting. The perfect Valentine's Day companion, this one will put you in the mood for love.

 

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Author: Brenda Novak

Penned: December 2011

Other Works: Of Nobel Birth, Inside, In Seconds, White Heat, Body Heat, Killer Heat, The Perfect Murder, The Perfect Liar, The Perfect Couple, Watch Me, Stop Me, Trust Me, Dead Right, Dead Giveaway, Dead Silence, Cold Feet, Taking the Heat, Every Waking Moment and more.

Time Out: Once your hooked by this captivating tale, the 374 pages will fly by in a matter of days.

Beach Worthy: Naturally! Sand and sea are the perfect backdrop for this shipboard romance.

Available:

$11.99 paperback; $3.99 digital from Amazon.com

 

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By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.

Tips:

If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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