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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’


(The Brides of Bath, #6)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency era)

Cover Blurb:

All the characters from the first five Brides of Bath books will be serving up some Christmas cheer, while Glee Blankenship sharpens Cupid’s arrow.

Unbeknownst to scholarly Jonathan Blankenship, his sister-in-law Glee has decided this Christmas he needs a little push to make him see that his dear friend of four years, Miss Arbuckle, will make his perfect mate.

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This was a charming, entertaining and heart-warming friends-to-lovers romance with an endearing hero and heroine.

Jonathan has always considered Miss Arbuckle (Mary) as his dearest friend. They share the same reading interests and he admires her intelligence but has never really seen her as a woman.

Poor Mary has been in love with Jonathan from the moment they first met but is pragmatic enough to accept that he wouldn’t look twice at a shy, drab, bookish spinster like herself in a romantic way.

Enter her fairy-godmother in the shape of her friend Glee, Jonathan’s sister-in-law. Glee is convinced that Jonathan is in love with Mary and just needs a push into realising it. According to Glee…

“I do know that he loves you. He first fell in love with your mind; now, he needs to be stunned by your appearance”.

And stunned he is! I love Jonathan’s reactions to Mary’s transformation.

For some confounded reason, he could barely catch his breath, and against all his control, this…this attractive Miss Arbuckle had a profound effect on him. Below the waist.

In addition, he can’t seem to take his eyes off her womanly bosom and has the urge to do bodily harm to her newly-acquired suitors. Jonathan is adorably sweet but somewhat slow in realising that he is in love with Mary and so it takes some sneaky scheming on Glee’s part to bring about the couple’s Happy Ever After.

I love how Glee is constantly making the prim and proper Mary blush with her complete openness. It was amusing to visualise Mary looking anywhere but below Glee’s neck as she is nursing her baby.

I haven’t read the other books in The Brides of Bath series but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I like Cheryl Bolen’s engaging writing style and the story had an authentic Regency feel to it.

Full of romance, charm and humour, this novella was the perfect holiday read and I look forward to reading more of Cheryl Bolen’s books in the future.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

Read December 2014

The Brides of Bath series (click on book cover for more details):

The Bride Wore Blue (The Brides of Bath #1) by Cheryl Bolen With His Ring (The Brides of Bath #2) by Cheryl Bolen A Fallen Woman (The Brides of Bath #3) by Cheryl Bolen To Take This Lord (Brides of Bath, #4) by Cheryl Bolen Love In The Library (The Brides Of Bath, #5) by Cheryl Bolen A Christmas in Bath ( Brides of Bath, #6) by Cheryl Bolen

 

 

I would like to thank Cheryl Bolen for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency era)

Cover Blurb:

No good deed goes unpunished

To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake’s bedroom—and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?

Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Is fate offering him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion that lasts a lifetime?

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This was a charming marriage of convenience story from one of my favourite authors who never disappoints.

I loved watching both Blair and Philippa discovering so many things about each other but also about themselves during the course of the story.

Blair’s decadent life style has begun to pall and he feels he is simply going through the motions. When he meets Philippa, she is unlike any woman he has ever met and he is totally captivated by this small, bossy woman who makes him want to be a better man. I love how his actions show him to be honourable and caring. When they are caught in a compromising situation, he steps up to defend Philippa’s honour, saying she is blameless and offering marriage. His anger against her family for belittling her makes him swear that she will never feel insignificant again. I also love him for making her feel like a “goddess”.

Philippa has always regarded herself as unremarkable and is content to be the mainstay of the family, managing the farm and the household. However, I love how being with Blair makes her question that belief and encourages her to take the first step towards independence even though it means an uncertain future with Blair. I could also relate to Philippa’s yearning to be wicked just once in her life. If you think you are going back to a boring country existence, why not enjoy Blair’s rakish skills? I was pleased that the trust that had grown between Philippa and Blair couldn’t be broken by her sister’s devious manipulations. I don’t think I would have been quite so willing to forgive Amelia as Philippa was!

The love scene was handled delicately and I loved the fact that Blair felt like a novice too.

How strange to recognise that despite his experience, tonight he was a novice like his bride. Never had getting everything right mattered so much.

He was perfectly in tune to his wife’s fears and, despite his own desires, he was willing to take things slowly, even retreat to the next room but fortunately he doesn’t have to…

“You don’t want to sleep alone in a strange place? I can understand that”
Her eyes flashed with annoyance, surprising him. “No, I don’t want to sleep alone. But that’s not what I meant.”
“What do you mean?”
Her lips tightened with displeasure. “You’re the blasted rake. You work it out.”

This novella was a delightful start to my Christmas reading.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read December 2014

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(Wicked Widows, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

THE TRUTH COULD RUIN HER

In Manda Collins’s Why Lords Lose Their Hearts, Perdita, the widowed Duchess of Ormonde, keeps a dangerous secret—the truth of how her brutish husband died. But a mysterious avenger seems to know it, too, and when anonymous threats turn into public attacks, there’s only one friend she can turn to for help—her husband’s former secretary, Lord Archer Lisle. The man who witnessed her every heartache. The kind of man whose love she can only dream of …

WILL HIS LOVE SAVE HER?

The youngest of the Duke of Pemberton’s five sons, Lord Archer Lisle is used to waiting his turn. For years, he could only stand by, seething, as Perdita suffered at the hands of her husband, but now she’s under threat from another source—one who will stop at nothing to make her pay for the late duke’s death. But the good-natured Archer can be dangerous when crossed—and he’ll do anything to keep the woman he’s adored for so long safe in his arms…

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This is the final book in Manda Collins’s Wicked Widows series, although there is a Christmas novella, Once Upon a Christmas Kiss, which features Sir Lucien Blakemore, a secondary character in the series, as the hero.

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.

I adore Archer. He is the epitome of everything a hero should be…gentle, caring, patient and funny. I also like the idea of the unrequited love being on the hero’s side rather than the more usual scenario of the heroine pining away for the hero.

From that moment on he had been a goner. And in spite of himself he’d fallen in love with his employer’s wife.

His strong protective instincts come to the fore when he shows his determination to keep Perdita safe even if his methods are a little unusual.

I had somewhat conflicting views about Perdita. Having been under the control of her abusive husband for so long, I could understand why she values her independence and her need to make her own decisions. However, I was really frustrated by her stubborn refusal to take Archer’s concerns for her safety seriously.

Thus far, the threats against her had not persuaded the headstrong Perdita to curb any of her normal activities, a resistance for which she was inordinately proud.

On the other hand, she is kind and compassionate towards her servants, always setting them at ease and also refuses to do anything that might place her sister Isabella or her friend Georgie in any danger.  I love how she castigates Lord Dunford when he treats Archer as if he were a mere servant.

The romance is both tender and passionate and Archer is so tenacious in his resolve to persuade Perdita to marry him despite her fears.

“You may do what you wish to convince Dunthorp to  propose, but I will do whatever it takes to convince you that the only man you should marry is me.”

Knowing what she suffered at Gervase’s hands, he is such a considerate and generous lover putting her pleasure before his own and taking care not to do anything she is uncomfortable with. I enjoyed the bolder Perdita …

“I’d like to watch you lose control.”

  Of course, her words had the expected effect and she gave an evil laugh. “You did that on purpose,” he said, flipping her neatly onto her back. “I think I’m going to have to get used to this naughty side of you, Perdita. I had no idea you had it in you.

“I can think of something I’d rather have in me.”

I adore Archer’s family. His parents, the duke and duchess are genuinely fond of their sons and, in spite of the usual sibling disagreements, it is plain to see the strong bond between the brothers. There is plenty of banter between them and the story about the Kimball twins is so funny.  I love Archer’s mother because she is instrumental in convincing Perdita to trust what her heart tells her.

Isabella, Trevor, Georgie and Con are on hand to push and prod Archer and Perdita into each other’s arms and to provide practical help against the threat to Perdita.

Ms Collins maintains the suspense well and I didn’t guess the identity of the mastermind behind all the threats. However, there was one scene where you needed a strong stomach and the villain’s back story definitely stretched my credulity.

In spite of my quibbles, I did enjoy this book but not as much as the first two in the series.  It appears that Archer’s brothers are getting their own stories as Lord Frederick Lisle is the hero of  A Good Rake is Hard to Find, the first book in Ms Collins’s new Lords of Anarchy series, which is due to be published on 31st March 2015.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read November 2014

 

Wicked Widows series (click on cover 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 Once Upon a Christmas Kiss by Manda Collins

 

 

 

 

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(League of Rogues, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb::

Can the League’s most wicked rakehell be tamed? Or has this Rogue fallen too far?

Horatia Sheridan has been hopelessly in love with Lucien, her brother’s best friend, ever since he rescued her from the broken remains of her parents’ wrecked carriage. His reputation as London’s most notorious rakehell doesn’t frighten her, for under his veneer of cool authority she has glimpsed a man whose wicked desires inspire her own.

Lucien, Marquess of Rochester, has deliberately nurtured a reputation for debauchery that makes every matchmaking mother of the ton quake with fear. His one secret: he is torn between soul-ripping lust for Horatia, and the loyalty he owes her brother.

That loyalty is put to the test when an old enemy of the League threatens Horatia’s life. With Christmas drawing near, he sweeps her away to his country estate, where he can’t resist granting her one wish—to share his bed and his heart.

But sinister forces are lurking, awaiting the perfect moment to exact their revenge by destroying not only whatever happiness Lucien might find in Horatia’s arms, but the lives of those they love.

Warning: This book contains an intelligent lady who is determined to seduce her brother’s friend, a brooding rake whose toy of choice in bed is a little bit of bondage with a piece of red silk, a loyal band of merry rogues and a Christmas love so scorching you’ll need fresh snow to extinguish it.

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This is the second book in Lauren Smith’s League of Rogues series and I couldn’t wait to be in the company of those loveable rogues Godric, Lucien, Cedric, Charles and Ashton once again.

Lucien…

The hero falling for his best friend’s sister just happens to be one of my favourite tropes. I enjoyed that “forbidden love” aspect which raises the heat level of the sexual tension between Lucien and Horatia and causes such a dilemma for Lucien.

Lucien has managed to hide his attraction to Horatia beneath a show of coldness. Horatia deserves better than someone as debauched as him and he is unwilling to expose her to his darker passions.

She was too good a woman for him, and he was far too wicked to be worthy of her. Rather like a demon falling for an angel.

Of course, he finds it harder and harder to resist Horatia’s allure and I enjoyed watching him lose control and succumb to temptation.

“Christ. I’m no saint woman. I can’t… Oh to hell with it.”
The warmth of his breath tickled her lips before he devoured her throat in a slow languid kiss.

Horatia…

Horatia is the perfect match for Lucien with her intelligence and strength. She knows what she wants and is willing to go after it and I liked that about her. I enjoyed the smouldering scene in the Midnight Club when Lucien introduces Horatia to passion in the hope that it might scare her away, only to find it has the opposite effect. I love the scene afterwards when they are looking at the stars. There seems a special connection between them and it’s a lovely romantic moment when Lucien calls Horatia his ‘lovely stargazer’.

I love Lucien for being there whenever Horatia needs him most – comforting the distraught fourteen year old girl when her parents are killed or easing the pain of losing her beloved cat, Muff.

This moment, this embrace, was everything that mattered. A man who would do this for her was the only man she could ever have, ever want.

Although, I know Cedric loves his sister and wants to protect her, I felt like shaking him until teeth rattled because of his actions towards Lucien. Cedric fails to see beyond Lucien’s reputation to the honourable, caring man beneath until Lucien proves to be a true hero risking his life for those he loves.

What I love about the secondary characters is they each have their own distinct personalities. Ms Smith gives us a little more insight into both Charles and Ashton’s characters and I enjoyed seeing Godric and Emily so deliriously happy. I adored Audrey, Horatia’s sister, and fell in love with Lucien’s mad-cap siblings. My favourite secondary character has to be Lucien’s mother, Lady Rochester who actively encourages Horatia to seduce Lucien and whose voice can still have her sons running for cover!

“Sit down, all of you.” She’d spent twenty years perfecting that tone of voice and Avery, Lawrence and Linus all but dove for the nearest chairs.

I love how all the ladies band together to form The Society of Rebellious Ladies and the snow ball fight between the ladies and the men is hilarious. It reminded me of the deadly game of Pall Mall the Bridgertons play in Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me.

The plot had plenty of action, danger and betrayal as the League’s enemy, Hugo Waverly, plots his revenge, threatening not only the League members but their families as well. I wasn’t prepared for the tragic event which occurred towards the end. It was a bit of a shocker.

My Favourite Quote

He tugged long slender strip of crimson silk out from the center pages. Too long for a bookmark, it was embroidered with silver stars and crescent moons. “I thought you might find other uses for that.” Horatia nibbled her lower lip with a gleam in her eyes. Damn the woman, she was perfect. Too bloody perfect.

His Wicked Seduction is another wonderful addition to such an entertaining series. Eagerly awaiting Cedric’s story now.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read November 2014

League of Rogues series so far (click on the book cover for more details):

Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues, #1) by Lauren   Smith His Wicked Seduction (The League of Rogues, #2) by Lauren   Smith

My sincere thanks to Lauren Smith for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.

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(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 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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