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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’

(Jewels of the Ton, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

He had a perfectly orderly life…

William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that’s the way he likes it. But he’s in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn’t begin to describe what happens next…

Until she came along…

Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It’s disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William’s darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide…

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This is my first book by Shana Galen and I can understand why she is one of the foremost authors of Historical Romance. I loved this opposites attract story with its entertaining blend of romance and mystery.

To paraphrase the opening lines of ‘Hart to Hart’, one of my favourite TV shows:

This is William, the sixth Duke of Pelham. He is rich, powerful and influential. His world is one of order, decorum and punctuality.

This is Juliette, the Duchess of Dalliance. She is a much sought after courtesan. Classically beautiful with pale blonde hair, she can break hearts with just a smile.

and when they meet….sparks are bound to fly!

“I would never be rude to a lady. You, madam, are not a lady. You are nothing more than a well-paid whore.”

Oh yes, William’s hero status is definitely a bit rocky at first, but as details of his early life are gradually revealed, I understood how his cold, heartless father had shaped him into the man he has become. Since birth, his father had drummed into William the principles he must adhere to…’a duke was never uncertain, never faltered, never showed emotion. And a duke was most certainly never late’…any failure resulted in a harsh retribution from his father. One of the delights of this book is watching William slowly emerge from his orderly existence to discover that he doesn’t have to be a prisoner of the past, that he can choose his own destiny.

Juliette is not everything she is perceived to be by the ton, who never know the real woman behind the façade. Divorced from an abusive husband, she still dreams of finding someone ‘who loves the farmer’s daughter and the Duchess of Dalliance and everyone I’ve been in between.’

It is fun seeing how she completely disrupts Will’s (as she insists on calling him) orderly life and makes him realise that he can be both a man and a duke…that it is okay to laugh and have fun. Her refusal to conform to his rigid rules had some hilarious consequences such as when Will physically drags her out of bed because she’s late for breakfast! But Juliette is more than a match for him…

Do you ever cease looking at that watch of yours? I think it must be permanently affixed to your hand.”

“Some of us must live our lives on a schedule,” he answered.

She lifted a plate. “Eat on a schedule, sleep on a schedule, walk on a schedule. Tell me, do you visit the privy on a schedule, as well?”

I felt that Will not knowing the truth about Juliette’s real situation made his willingness to declare his love for her in such a public way so romantic.

“But I’m a courtesan. I can’t be your duchess.”

“Juliette, you are my love. No other woman could ever be my duchess.”

I enjoyed the scene in Will’s club where he is joined by his friends, Lord Andrew Darlington and Warwick Fitzhugh. The banter between them is so amusing.

The plot had enough action and danger to hold my interest and the unresolved story thread involving the ruthless Lucifer neatly sets the scene for If You Give a Rake a Ruby, the next book in the series.

This was a wonderful introduction to Shana Galen’s books and I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in the series.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read October 2014

The Jewels of the Ton series (click cover for more details):
When You Give a Duke a Diamond (Jewels of the Ton, #1) by Shana Galen If You Give a Rake a Ruby (Jewels of the Ton, #2) by Shana Galen Sapphires Are an Earl's Best Friend (Jewels of the Ton, #3) by Shana Galen

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(Scottish Brides, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

He will expose her as the criminal he seeks, or seduce her as the woman he desires…

An old maid—that’s all Lady Christina McMorlan, daughter to the Duke of Forres, is to society now that she’s past thirty. She hosts her father’s parties and cares for her siblings, knowing she’ll never have her own home and family. She has no time to pine, however. By night, she’s The Lady, head of a notorious whiskey-smuggling gang that supports her impoverished clan. They’re always one step ahead of the revenue man—until Lucas Black shows up.

Rejecting his title and the proper society that disparaged his mother, Lucas earns his living running a successful gambling house. He’s also a spy, charged with bringing down the Forres Gang. He thinks The Lady’s just a bored society spinster. She thinks he’s a lost child playing at rebellion. And when the truth comes out, it’s not just their love on the line…

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The perfect combination of intrigue, passion and romance.

This is the third and final book in Nicola Cornick’s enjoyable Scottish Brides series

Lady Christina is the eldest of the MacMorlan sisters and, at the age of 33, considered to be the ‘old maid’ of the family…the dutiful daughter, keeping house for her father, the Duke of Forres. While he selfishly indulges in his academic studies, Christina also runs the estate and cares for the welfare of her father’s tenants. None of her family suspects that, at night, she becomes The Lady, leader of a successful whisky smuggling gang.

I love Christina’s dual personality…the staid spinster who is easily overlooked and the brave woman who is willing to risk her life to support and protect her people from those who would exploit them. Her family see her as a passionless woman but, in her youth, she had been wild and reckless but sacrificed her own happiness to take care of her father and younger siblings after her mother dies.

When Lucas’s half-brother, Peter, is murdered whilst on a trip to Scotland, Lucas is determined to bring the murderer to justice. The Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, is convinced that the infamous Kilmory smuggling gang are involved and Lucas volunteers to go to Castle Kilmory and, posing as a footman, infiltrate the smuggling gang and discover the identity of his brother’s murderer.

I do love a hero who has had to drag himself up by his bootstraps and Lucas did that and more. The legacy of being the illegitimate son of a Scottish laird and a Russian princess and his anger over his father’s abandonment of himself and his mother has fuelled Lucas’s determination to succeed. The hardships he endured taught him to be hard, strong and ruthless. Now he runs the most prestigious gambling salon in Scotland, rejecting the title and lands inherited from his father. Emotions have no place in his life…they weakened a man.

Lucas is totally unsuited to this role as footman, more used to giving orders rather than taking them. His irreverence results in some amusing exchanges with Christina and this is one of my favourites, when they are discussing plans for her father’s grotto:

“Here you have them, Mr Ross. I hope they will give you an idea of what my father has in mind.” Her gaze fell on the top book and she bit her lip, recoiling slightly. “Oh, my goodness! I assume papa does not intend his statues to be quite so overendowed.”

“I now have a mental image of the garden grotto as a woodland glade in which satyrs ravish innocent maidens,” Lucas said, enjoying her discomfiture. He was sure that for a moment her gaze had flickered to his groin as though comparing him to the preposterously huge men in the book.

“Pray remove that image from your mind, “Christina said sharply. “We do not require you to use your imagination, Mr Ross. Not at all.”

It was easy to sympathise with Christina’s insecurities about herself…a complexion that had lost its youthful sparkle and a chin that was showing signs of sagging (I know the feeling well) and I loved that Lucas saw her as beautiful and desirable.


His hand closed over hers and she froze, catching her breath. Her face was in profile and he could see the curve of her lips and a pulse beating in the delicate hollow of her throat. Beneath his hand her fingers trembled. The awareness shimmered beneath them like a heat haze.

The romance was perfectly paced…an intoxicating mix of heart-warming tenderness and delicious sensuality. I could feel the deep emotional connection between Christina and Lucas which made their love for each other both genuine and believable. I enjoyed seeing how Lucas’s love for Christina enables him to come to terms with his painful past.

There was an interesting cast of secondary characters; the merciless excise man, Mr Eyre, who is a vicious adversary, the selfish Duke of Florres, Christina’s father and Gertrude, Christina’s viper-tongued sister-in-law. Robert and Lucy (The Lady and the Laird) and Jack and Mairi (One Night with the Laird) are on hand to lend their support.

There is plenty of drama and excitement and the identity of Peter’s murderer came as a big surprise. The one thing that I could have wished for was a charming Epilogue with a glimpse of the future. Yes, I’m a real pushover for all those cute children.

A captivating and sensual love story and a satisfying finish to this enjoyable series.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September 2014

Scottish Brides series (click on the covers for more details):
The Lady and the Laird (Scottish Brides, #1) by Nicola Cornick One Night with the Laird (Scottish Brides, #2) by Nicola Cornick Claimed By The Laird by Nicola Cornick

 

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(Scandalous Seasons, 1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Hopeless romantic, Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands.

War-torn veteran, Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endless round of meaningless associations. He no longer wants to feel anything, but Lady Emmaline is making it hard to maintain a state of numbness. With her zest for life, she awakens his passion and desire for love.

The one woman Drake has spent the better part of his life avoiding is now the only woman he needs, but he is no longer a man worthy of his Emmaline. It is up to her to show him the healing power of love.

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FOREVER BETROTHED, NEVER THE BRIDE is the first book I have read by Christi Caldwell and I was totally captivated by this charming, romantic, funny and poignant story.

Drake resents the fact that his future had been mapped out for him since he was a young boy. Desperate to escape the exacting expectations imposed by his father, he enlists in the army only to find himself caught up in the horrors of the Napoleonic war…a war that he can never forget.

He would never escape the war. His mind would forever remain on the bloody fields of battle.

Sleepless nights, hellish nightmares and bouts of lost self-control convince him that he is a madman. To retain a hold on sanity, he buries himself in mindless pursuits… drink and women…his relationships devoid of any emotional connection. He has no intention of marrying…he has no intention of submitting any woman to his dark nightmares. Although betrothed to Emmaline for fifteen years, their contact has been limited and, since his return from the war, he has deliberately avoided her. So he knows very little about Emmaline until one memorable encounter leaves him eager to find out more about his intriguing betrothed.

Wallflowers were content to be dull creatures seated on the sidelines, escaping any notice. They were not clever young ladies with cheeky retorts.

A little over 5 feet tall and lacking the requisite curves, Emmaline is considered rather unremarkable by the ton. Everyone knows she is betrothed and, therefore, honour dictates that no other gentleman can court her. Relegated to the being a virtual wallflower and food for the gossips, she has suffered the indignities with only her dear friend, Sophie for moral support. Although she longs for a marriage full of love and passion, her strong sense of loyalty to her father makes her determined to fulfil her obligation and marry Drake. Drastic situations require drastic measures.

“There will be no more opera singers, ballet dancers, young widows, none of it. His days of carefree debauchery are officially at an end. He just doesn’t know it yet, but he will, beginning tonight.”

Oh, Emmeline is such a delightful heroine…mischievous, courageous and funny. Oh yes, she also talks to plants and reads Gothic novels. When she decides to ‘stalk’ Drake, I thought it was hilarious. My favourite scene is when she suddenly appears unannounced in his opera box, proceeds to rebuke him for his behaviour and then makes a dramatic exit, leaving Drake furious.

Drake sputtered around another mouthful of red velvet curtains as Lady Emmaline made her dramatic exit from his opera box. Cursing under his breath, he violently slammed the drapes down, back into place.

I even felt a little sorry for Drake…poor man didn’t know what hit him!

Emmaline’s compassion for and empathy with the soldiers she visits in the London Hospital has earned her their respect, admiration and loyalty. It also helps her to understand Drake and see beyond the protective barrier Drake has erected around himself to the emotionally scarred man beneath. She is perfect for Drake with her warmth, compassion and insight, she makes him laugh and feel alive again.

I love tormented heroes because they always have a tougher time on their road to a happy ending but, it makes their journey more satisfying to me as a reader. Drake’s struggle to confront his wartime experiences and not run from them adds a serious note to the story and the scene where he visits the London Hospital and talks to fellow soldiers is both poignant and heart-warming.

A wave of relief filled him. There was solace in knowing he was not alone – that there were others who shared his struggle.

I love the analogy Emmeline’s brother, Sebastien draws between her old bonnet and Drake and it was a charming touch at the end when Sebastien says to a confused Drake…

“Tell Emmeline to throw out the bonnet I’d given he. Tell her I said her bonnet is just fine.”

Ms Caldwell has gathered an interesting cast of secondary characters, all begging for their own stories; Drake’s best friend, the straight-talking, witty Lord Sinclair (I loved their banter); Emmaline’s bubbly friend and confidante, Sophie Winters and Emmeline’s haughty, over-protective brother Sebastian, Duke of Mallen (he doesn’t stand a chance when Emmeline and their mother gang up against him). There is one more important character I must mention – a little, scruffy, black puppy called Sir Faithful.

Overall, this was an engaging story written with warmth, wit and style and I will definitely be reading the other books in the series.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September 2014

Scandalous Seasons series (click on the covers for more details):

Forever Betrothed, Never The Bride (Scandalous Seasons, #1) by Christi Caldwell Never Courted, Suddenly Wed (Scandalous Seasons) by Christi Caldwell Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous (Scandalous Seasons Book 3) by Christi Caldwell Always a Rogue, Forever Her Love (Scandalous Seasons Book 4) by Christi Caldwell

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(The Rumor, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

He’s a fighter, not a lover.
But that’s about to change…

Lady Imogene Norwood lives a sheltered life of quiet respectability and routine…until she debuts at her first Season. There among London’s elite she meets the wild and broken Lord Atwood. And the very shy English rose suddenly realizes that a little chaos might just be what her heart desires.

Lord Nathaniel James Atwood doesn’t believe true love exists. Since scandal tore him away from his family at an early age, he has spent his life fighting for what he wants. That attitude has made him a rising star in bare-knuckle boxing, and now leads him back to London to reclaim the life that was stolen from him. But upon meeting the innocent Imogene, his beliefs are trounced…as guarding his heart against her proves to be the fight of his life.

Personal Note: This book can be read as a standalone but there are some scenes which are mirrored in Forever and a Day (book 1) and Forever a Lady (book 2) although seen from a different character’s point of view. These scenes might, therefore, seem confusing if you haven’t read the earlier books.

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An enthralling, gritty and emotionally charged story.

This is the last book in the addictive The Rumor series and we finally discover the truth of the mystery surrounding Lord Nathaniel Atwood’s kidnapping and what happened to him during all the years he was presumed dead.

Nathaniel’s experiences…being locked in a windowless cellar for five years, his father’s betrayal and abandonment of him and the years spent surviving the dangers of New York’s notorious Five Points…have left him with deep emotional scars and a scandalous secret he can never share. Caught between two worlds…’He was neither fop nor street boy‘…he has never felt that he truly belongs anywhere. He enjoys sex but love isn’t an emotion he has ever felt or wanted to. Boxing is the only thing in his life that makes sense…it is what kept him alive on the streets of Five Points. Beneath that tough exterior, Nathaniel’s heart is in the right place. Together with his friend, Matthew Milton, he created the Forty Thieves and is committed to protecting those vulnerable people living in the slums.

Imogene is an unusual heroine. The abuse she suffered at the hands of her governess when she was a child has left her with health problems…fainting spells and a stutter. She is tired of being defined by her illness and longs to be independent and, therefore, no longer a burden to her brother, Henry. Imogene knows the sacrifices Henry has made to ensure she gets the medical treatment she needs and she longs to see her brother happy.

Delilah Marvelle’s stories are always refreshingly different and her characters infinitely fascinating. The brawny, tough, bare-knuckle boxing Nathaniel seems an unlikely pairing for the sweet, innocent, fragile Imogene who is twenty years his junior, but Ms Marvelle makes their romance work so beautifully. Imogene reveals a maturity beyond her years when she shows Nathaniel the patience, understanding and respect that he has never known before. I love how protective Nathaniel is of Imogene and how he gives her a sense of worth and confidence in herself so she no longer has to rely on others. Nathaniel’s desire to be in control all the time extends to the bedroom and adds some spice to the love scenes. I enjoyed seeing him come to love and trust Imogene enough to relinquish that control.

The boxing scenes are so visually compelling and Ms Marvelle conveys the brutal reality of the fights so powerfully.

I guessed the reason for Nathaniel’s kidnapping before it was actually revealed but there is a very dramatic scene towards the end of the book which I certainly didn’t anticipate.

The Epilogue provided the perfect ending to the series.

How I Imagine Nathaniel…

How I Imagine Imogene…

Memorable Moments

Everything about him was so beautifully raw and real. She didn’t realize a man could make a woman’s toes curl in her own slippers.
It was divine. He was divine.

♥♥♥

Now take your fancy prick of a wig and get him before I put your liver into your hand and make you swallow it through your nostrils.”

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“You underestimate a woman’s worth and her ability to redefine a man. A woman can give you hope in a world that has none. She can fight for you when you have ceased fighting for yourself and everything you believe in.”

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“I’m trying to save your pretty ass from getting spanked.”
Her brow creased. “You shouldn’t use words like that. Or tea is out of the question.
” He rolled his eyes. “Unless tea involves you fully naked with your arms tied behind your back, I’m not interested.”
She gasped. “No waltz for you, either.”

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God, but she was stealing away pieces of his heart. A heart he didn’t know he had to give.

♥♥♥

I am sad to see the end of this series but I will be eagerly waiting to see what other reading pleasures Delilah Marvelle has in store for me.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read August 2014

The Rumor series (click on the books for more details):

 

Important Note from Ms Marvelle’s Website:

Bonus Chapters from Forever Mine that were not included in this Prequel Novella are available for free download. These two bonus chapters are the untold story of what happened to Nathaniel from Augustine’s point of view. The publisher removed these two chapters from Forever Mine, despite my insisting upon their importance to the series and the novella. Which is why I am offering them for free. I feel this story and the entire series is incomplete without them, and in my opinion, are critical in understanding Nathaniel’s story whom the entire series is based on. I have provided the link to her website:
http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/#!forever_mine/c19oc

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(Sons of Sin, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A REPUTATION AT RISK

What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children-and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name.

Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over.

The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed-until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins . . .

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THIS IS HISTORICAL ROMANCE AT ITS BEST!

WHAT A DUKE DARES is the third book in the marvellous ‘Sons of Sin’ series and, once again, Anna Campbell delivers an emotive, romantic and passionate love story.

How I imagine Cam….

When Camden (Cam) Rothermere, heir to a dukedom, proposes to his childhood friend, Penelope Thorne, he can’t believe his ears when she turns him down. Even his declaration that he esteems and admires her and enjoys her company does nothing to persuade her to change her mind. She refuses to marry for anything but love. Cam has seen first-hand the devastating effect love had on his parents:

“As a result of love, my father descended into cruelty and obsession and my mother became a byword for promiscuity.”

and it has no place in his life now or ever.

How I imagine Pen

Penelope (Pen) Thorne has loved her childhood friend, Camden Rothermere for as long as she can remember and, when he proposes, it should be the happiest day of her life…a girlish fantasy come true. The reality is very different because she knows that Cam can never give her the one thing she desires…his heart. If he truly loved her, she’d even be willing to curb her impulsive and headstrong ways to become the wife he needs…someone dignified and above reproach…someone to help him restore respectability to the scandal-ridden Rothermere name.

So they go their separate ways.

In the intervening nine years, Cam is now the powerful Duke of Sedgemoor, renowned for his cold demeanour, self-assurance and his iron control, devoting his life to restoring the family’s good name. Pen had fled England to travel the continent with her eccentric aunt and Cam was well aware of all her amorous intrigues over the years.

When he receives an urgent summons from his friend, Pen’s brother, Peter, Cam travels to Calais to find his friend with very little time to live and fearful for his sister’s safety. Cam is honour bound to fulfil the dying Peter’s request that Cam find her and bring her home to England.

Ms Campbell took me on an enthralling and emotional roller-coaster of a journey before Cam and Pen finally attain their hard-earned Happy Ever After. I enjoyed every moment…the antagonism and the simmering sexual tension; the temptation and the heady passion; the stark danger and the anguish; the scandal and the poignant emotions, the betrayal and the heartbreak; the tenderness and the enduring love.

I enjoyed the secondary romance between Pen’s brother, Harry and Sophie, the sister of Cam’s enemy, James Fairbrother, Marquess of Leath. Their sweet, tender romance forms a contrast to the hot, passionate one between Cam and Pen. It also precipitates events that cause Cam to finally admit his love for Pen.

The Marquess of Leath obviously loves his sister very much which was a point in his favour and, once he and Cam had settled their differences, I liked him even more. I look forward to reading his story in the next book in the series.

Jonas and Sidonie (Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed) and Richard and Genevieve (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss) all make an appearance and I love the banter between Cam, Richard and Jonas.

Call me a sentimental old fool but I love a good Epilogue and Ms Campbell made me go all misty-eyed when Cam gives Pen her special Christmas present.

Some Memorable Moments

“What in heaven’s name brought you to choose this hovel?”

One slender hand brushed her tumble of hair back from her face. To his dismay, he saw she was shaking.

“Try the weather.” Her tone was sharper than his sword. “I know you could barge through an avalanche without creasing your neckcloth, but we lesser mortals must seek shelter when snow blocks the roads.”

♥♥♥

For a second that extended into eternity, they regarded one another. He should leave. He had no right to absorb every glorious, forbidden detail and imprint it on his mind to remember forever.

♥♥♥

He’d burned to wrench his wife from her chair and muss her neat perfection. Then fling her across the polished table and do things likely to make the butler resign.

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“ Anyway, you know that even if you were off your head with opium or inclined to slobber into your dinner, chits would still line up for the duchess’s coronet.”

♥♥♥

THIS IS CLASSIC ANNA CAMPBELL – COMPELLING, EMOTIVE, ROMANTIC AND SENSUAL!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!

 

My sincere thanks to Anna Campbell for sending me a complimentary copy of this book  in return for an honest review.

The Sons of Sin series so far (click the covers for more details):

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) by Anna Campbell A Rake's Midnight Kiss (Sons of Sin, #2) by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin, #3) by Anna Campbell

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(Wicked Widows, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

IS IT A REASON FOR ROMANCE?

In Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins, young widowed Georgina Mowbray is settling into her role as Lady Russell’s companion quite well—until the lady’s nephew Dominic, the Earl of Coniston, arrives in Bath for a visit. Georgie’s always found him shallow and too smooth, and trusts him as much as she trusts most men…which is to say, not at all. But Con turns out to be more intriguing than she remembers—and completely irresistible…

OR A PROMISE OF PASSION?

Pretty, practical Georgie is nothing like the women Con usually woos—especially since she seems blind to his charms. But his elderly aunt is so fond of her that Con is determined at least to be sociable…with the occasional flirtation thrown in just for fun. But things take a serious turn when a dangerous figure from Georgie’s unhappy past appears and threatens to bring her harm. Con will do whatever it takes to keep Georgie safe. And if he can show her that all men are not menaces, he might be able to keep her in his arms and never let go…

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This is the second book in the Wicked Widows series from Manda Collins.

The series centres on sisters, Isabella and Perdita, and their friend, Georgina… all widows of abusive husbands. They share a terrible secret concerning the death of Perdita’s husband, the Duke of Ormonde, but find themselves threatened by someone who obviously knows that secret and is out for revenge. The first book, Why Dukes Say I Do, told Isabella’s story and this is Georgina’s (Georgie’s) story.

 “…he has nothing more to concern himself with than the betting book or which opera dancer he’s going to bed.”

This is how Georgie sees Con at the beginning of the story. Not very flattering to a potential hero but, of course, Con gradually reveals those qualities that make a good romance hero. It’s clear that he adores his aunt, Lady Russell, and that he had helped her through a very painful time in her life. I love how protective he is towards Georgie when he learns of the potential danger she may be in; how fiercely he defends her honour when Mr. Gilloway, the investigator makes disparaging remarks about her. After hearing how Georgie suffered during her abusive marriage, he comes to fully appreciate how difficult it is for a woman, forced to obey a father or a husband without redress. He had wanted to put a stop to the abuse that Perdita had suffered but, as a duke, her husband was far too powerful for a mere earl. I liked that Con’s thoughts weren’t solely occupied with lustful thoughts of Georgie but he also ‘found her quick wit and kind heart just as alluring as her pretty face’.

Georgie had long ago mastered the art of keeping her emotions in check. It gave her the inner strength to survive the years of her abusive marriage. She also appreciated the well-ordered army life which helped form a welcome counterbalance to the volatile relationship with her husband. Understandably, she has a deep distrust of men and deters any unwelcome attention with her serious demeanour, drab clothes and severe hair styles. I like how she refuses to be intimidated by Con but eventually comes to trust him and recognises his innate sense of decency and goodness. Her fears about remarrying again are very real. She made a terrible mistake in her choice of her first husband and no longer trusts her own judgement as regards men. I love Con for understanding her fears rather than sweeping them aside.

“No one who has endured what you went through could emerge without some sense of scepticism about people around them. It would be impossible not to.”

The romance between them is witty, tender and passionate and Ms Collins manages to convey all the emotion and passion quite beautifully and without being overly explicit. I’m sharing two of my favourite moments:

And with each beat of her heart she felt the threads of their souls knitting knitting together in a fabric no amount of strife could unravel.

It was a kiss of reverence, as if she were as precious to him as a fragile treasure. And Georgie felt her eyes prick with unshed tears. How did he know that what she always wanted deep down in her innermost soul, was to feel valued like that.

I love their conversation in Lady Russell’s breakfast room the morning after they have made love. It sounds perfectly innocent but is full of naughty innuendo.

There is well-drawn supporting cast including Con’s friendLord Archer Lisle who is in love with Perdita but unwilling to tell her. There is some delightfully witty banter between Archer and Con. I also liked Lady Russell who treats Georgie more as a friend than an employee.

”I am an eccentric old woman who has more money than is good for her, who wishes to see her dear friend , who is also her companion, enjoy herself for a change”.

The scene where she gives Georgie a sapphire necklace to wear and reveals her tragic past is both poignant and heartrending. Later in the story, I did find it hard to believe that, given their close relationship, Lady Russell would readily accept, without any question, that Georgie would steal her jewellery.

In the theatre scene, I love how Ms Collins makes reference to her characters in the Ugly Ducklings series, when Con is pointing out some of the more notorious members of the ton to Georgie. Isabella, Trevor and Perdita also make a welcome appearance to offer their help in tracking down the person threatening Georgie.

One reviewer says that Ms Collins’s dialogue is stilted but I totally disagree and found it natural and not at all stilted. I also like how she emphasises the reality of being a wife trapped in an abusive marriage and the limitations on women in general.

There are enough red herrings so that I didn’t guess the identity of the person threatening Georgie until right before the climax. It’s evident there is a master villain at work, who has been using others in pursuit of his or her revenge. At the moment, I have no idea who this mysterious person might be and can only wait for all to be revealed in the final book.

This is a delightful, entertaining romance and I’m really looking forward to reading Perdita and Archer’s story in Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (29th July)

 

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read July 2014

 

The Wicked Widows series (click on covers for more details):

Why Dukes Say I Do (Wicked Widows, #1) by Manda Collins Why Earls Fall in Love (Wicked Widows, #2) by Manda Collins Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (Wicked Widows, #3) by Manda Collins

 

A special thank you to Manda Collins for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

 

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(The Ministry of Marrriage #5)(The Westruthers, # 2)

Genre:Historical Romance

Cover Blurb

Passion to last a lifetime…

The Sweetest Scandal

Beautiful, exuberant, and stubborn Georgiana Black has more spirit than sense—which she learns when an ultimatum to the Earl of Beckenham ends their engagement. Six years later, Georgie is less concerned with impending spinsterhood than with making sure her young sister doesn’t make the same mistakes she did. But soon Georgie stumbles into a scandalous encounter with none other than her former fiancé. Beckenham is still breathtakingly desirable.

The Truest Temptation

Beckenham’s brief engagement to Georgie taught him one thing: when it comes to a wife, he wants a woman who will do her duty and cause no trouble. When the fiery Georgie falls unexpectedly into his arms, Beckenham remembers just how lushly delectable she is. Suddenly, the idea of actually marrying Georgie is irresistible. In a battle of wills, can passion conquer pride?

♥♥♥♥♥

The Westruthers series is a spin off from Ms Brooke’s popular Ministry of Marriage series and features four cousins, Jonathon, Earl of Davenport, Marcus, Earl of Beckenham, Xavier, Marquis of Steyne and Andrew, Viscount Lydgate, all intent on avoiding the parson’s noose. Jonathon succumbed to cupid’s dart in London’s Last True Scoundrel and now it’s Marcus’s turn.

How I imagine Marcus

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“Beckenham’s a dark horse, mark my words. It’s the quiet ones you have to watch.”

How true these words spoken by Jonathon Westruther in London’s Last True Scoundrel turned out to be. Marcus, the eldest of the four cousins, has always been the level-headed, dependable one but, in the previous book, we get a hint of just how devastated he was when Georgie broke off their engagement. In his cousin Cecily’s words…

“…you must know he’s still eating his heart out for that dreadful creature.”

Marcus knows it’s his duty to marry and produce an heir but he wants a countess who will perform her duties without any fuss, leaving him in peace. Someone, totally unlike his former fiancée, the impetuous Georgiana Black.  He decides to seek Xavier’s advice on suitable candidates but arrives to discover one of his cousin’s notorious parties in progress. When Xavier tells him that an unknown woman has claimed his protection, he finds himself involved in a scandalous encounter with none other than his former fiancée.

How I imagine Georgie…
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Six years ago, Georgie’s beauty and vivacity drew men to her like bees to nectar and she enjoyed playing the femme fatale and relished the power it gave her. Only Marcus refused to play her little games and she lost the only man she ever wanted. Her parents were furious when they heard she had jilted Marcus and her father punished her by changing his will leaving all his un-entailed property in Gloucester to Georgie’s half-sister, Violet.

Georgie had refused all subsequent offers of marriage, subduing her impetuousness and devoting herself to seeing Violet settled and happy. Then she intended to set up her own household with the monies left in trust to her by her father. When she discovers that Violet is attending a masquerade party at the Marquis of Steyne’s house, she knows that her sister risks ruining her reputation. Whilst searching for Violet, she finds herself at the mercy of the notorious marquis and insists she is under the protection of the Earl of Beckenham. Locked in one of the empty bedrooms, she is desperately searching for a weapon to protect herself when the door opens…but it not the marquis standing there but her former fiance, Marcus Westruther, Earl of Beckenham.

I loved the romance between Marcus and Georgie…so full of heady sexual tension, passion, wit and charm. I’m sharing a few memorable moments.

In a London ballroom, she was as exotic as a bird of paradise among a gaggle of geese.

~~~~

Her mouth dried as he reached up a hand to loosen his cravat, flick it open, and pull the long strip of linen from around his throat. Then he walked over to the washstand, where a pitcher of water and a basin stood as if ready for guests.
“Take your clothes off,” he said to her over his shoulder. “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

~~~~

He couldn’t be in the same county as Georgiana Black and resist her siren’s lure.

~~~~

How could the strength and warmth of him feel so utterly perfect, when everything else was all wrong?

~~~~

His whole spirit lifted, soared high and bright. Filled with an extraordinary sense of rightness, even as the flame of his passion for her burned ever brighter.

~~~~

That kiss was incendiary, lascivious, thoroughly consuming, everything he’d dreamed.

~~~~

I enjoyed seeing the more playful and seductive Marcus emerge when he is with Georgie while she is now free to be true to her passionate, sensuous nature.  I liked that they were both willing to acknowledge the mistakes of their youth and I love Marcus for appreciating the real Georgie behind her beauty and cherishing her.

There are some lovely funny moments in this book like the amusing scene where Marcus and Georgie have to rescue his rather inebriated group of prospective brides from the grotto or Lydgate’s humorous comment when Marcus is going through the list of potential bride candidates.

Beckenham glanced up from the list. “Doesn’t madness run in the Maxwell family?”
Lydgate ran the feather of his quill between his fingers. “Eccentricity, yes. Madness, no. Never fear. Miss Jennifer Maxwell doesn’t seem to have a tendency to wear a flowerpot on her head instead of a hat or anything like that
.”

I do love the scenes between Marcus, Xavier and Andrew…the witty banter and the obvious familial affection. You know that they have each other’s backs covered

This was a delightful ‘second chance at love’ romance and there is an excerpt from The Wickedest Lord Alive which definitely makes me want to read Xavier’s story. Not long to wait because it is released on July 1st.

REVIEW RATING:  4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read June 2014


The Westruthers series so far (click on the book cover for more details):

London's Last True Scoundrel (The Westruthers, #1) by Christina Brooke The Greatest Lover Ever (The Westruthers, #2) by Christina Brooke The Wickedest Lord Alive (The Westruthers, #3) by Christina Brooke- July 1st 2014

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