Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The tiny village of Hemshawe is the sort of place where nothing ever happens…until a handsome ex-soldier and his matchmaking sister let the imposing manor house at the edge of town. The friendly Londoners shake up the staid people of Hemshawe, and villagers see each other in a new and oh-so-appealing light.

Suddenly long-sparring enemies become lovers, a town festival heralds a new start for a fallen woman and a dandy, and a man who has given up on love gets a second chance with the woman he never forgot. And the matchmaker herself? She won’t rest until she finds her own happily-ever-after…

A Madness in Spring by Kate Noble

Adam Sturridge has made Belinda Leonard’s blood boil since childhood, and the feeling is mutual. But when a would-be matchmaker arrives in the village of Hemshawe, she’d determined to erase the thin line between love and hate. Now, Belinda and Adam are faced with falling for someone they’ve always considered an enemy — can they overcome old prejudices and discover how to rub each other the right way?

The Summer of Wine and Scandal by Shana Galen

When viscount’s son and dandy Peregrine Lochley is temporarily exiled from London to the country for his misdeeds, the last thing he expects is to encounter an intriguing woman. But Caroline Martin has a secret to hide, and it just might be too scandalous for even this debauched rogue.

Those Autumn Nights by Theresa Romain

Ten years ago, wealthy Eliza Greenleaf broke lowly soldier Bertram Gage’s heart—but the last decade brought changes in fortune to them both. Now that he’s made his mark on the world, a twist of fate brings the Greenleaf family under his power. Will this war-hardened officer triumph over his former lover…or will Bertie and Eliza give love a second chance?

The Season for Loving by Vanessa Kelly

Miss Georgie Gage, matchmaker extraordinaire, is resigned to life as a spinster—almost. When notoriously aloof bachelor Fergus Haddon arrives from Scotland to spend Christmas with the Gage family, Georgie thinks she’s finally found her own perfect match—if, that is, she can get the handsome Highlander to agree!



This is a delightfully entertaining enemies-to-lovers romance and Belinda and Adam are such an engaging couple. Their journey to a happy ever after is fun to watch and Ms Noble writes with wit and charm.

“Yes, do tell me more about the house I grew up in,” Adam drawled.
“I need no reminder that you grew up here. You are littered across my memory like horse manure on a path.”




This is an emotive story of forgiveness and redemption. The foppish Peregrine turns out to be a wonderful hero and it is heart-warming to see how he champions Caroline in front of everyone at the village fair.

“If there is a woman who is close to perfection, I would have to say it is Miss Martin.”

I also love how Caroline’s father never judges his daughter for her mistake which is in sharp contrast to Peregrine’s father.




This is a poignant second-chance story in which Ms Romain captures Bertie and Eliza’s feelings of regret, forgiveness and renewed love beautifully.

Was this only a kiss? It drew forth his whole body, entrancing and enchanting him. The taste and scent, the sweet little sound she made as she rose onto her tiptoes to kiss him more firmly.

New-to-me author Ms Romain impressed me with her writing and I’m eager to read more of her books.




Sweet, kind, matchmaking Georgie Gage finds her own happy ending with dour Scot, Fergus Haddon. They are a perfect complement for each other and I love how Georgie changes Fergus’s life in so many ways.

She was everything he wanted- generosity, acceptance, and love. Everything he’d convinced would be forever denied to him.

This is a lovely, heart-warming romance enhanced by some colourful secondary characters.



MY VERDICT: Overall, four well-written, entertaining and romantic stories which are perfect reading for the approaching holiday season.

Read November 2015

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.**

(Maiden Lane, #9)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian – 1741)

Cover Blurb:


Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother’s investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London’s premier pleasure garden, Harte’s Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can’t be controlled.


Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn’t have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden’s larger-than-life owner, he’s already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He’s not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.


In spite of her lack of theatrical experience-and her fiery clashes with Asa-Eve is determined to turn Harte’s Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There’s no denying the smoldering fire between them-and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.


This is the ninth book in the excellent Maiden Lane series and each time I marvel at Elizabeth Hoyt’s ability to make every book such an outstanding read.

At the age of nineteen, Asa was disowned and disinherited by his sanctimonious father for wanting to work at Harte’s Folly. Luckily he found a home with the kindly Sir Stanley Harte who was more like a father than his own father ever was. Even after his father’s death, he no longer feels he fits in with the rest of the family and rarely visits his brothers and sisters. Now owner and manager of Harte’s Folly, it has become the most important thing in his life, leaving no room for anything else.

It was his life’s work, his soul and heart.

The illegitimate daughter of a duke, Eve was raised in her father’s house but is constantly haunted by terrifying events from her childhood; events which have convinced her that she could never enjoy a normal relationship with a man.

She knew that she would never feel “nice” with a man.
It would never be beautiful for her.

She has never had any friends and the only people she really cares about are her half-brother, Valentine, to whom she owes so much, and her loyal servants.

Pairing the big, crude, hot-headed, virile Asa with the plain, prim, naïve Eve seems like a recipe for disaster but, once again, Ms Hoyt takes the most unlikely couple to create an unforgettable romance. The romance builds slowly with the inevitable clashes at first.  Asa sees Eve as “one of those harbingers of doom that were always lurking about some hapless hero of classical myths”, and Eve regards Asa as “proud, bombastic and very, very annoying.” Gradually Asa becomes intrigued by Eve’s mixture of outspokenness, courage and vulnerability she tries so hard to hide. He’s certain that behind that cool exterior lies a passionate woman. Although she hates and fears Asa’s savage, unrestrained nature, he stirs an excitement in her and makes her feel alive for the first time.

I love Asa – such a larger than life character – and I soon discovered that, beneath that fierce exterior, he has many unexpected sides to him; to quote Eve – a lover of opera, fighter of highwaymen, saviour of stray dogs.

Despite her traumatic childhood experience which was truly terrifying, Eve still has an innocent inquisitiveness about sexual matters; one Asa is more than happy to satisfy in both words and deeds! This leads to some highly charged and explicit scenes, but ones which I feel are totally in keeping with Asa’s blatantly sexual nature.

He had no shame. No, more: he reveled in shamelessness.

I love their conversation about the castrato in which Asa’s words alone leave Eve “wide-eyed and breathless”. She wasn’t the only one left breathless!! When they first make love, Asa is so tender and considerate and his asking “May I?” before he removes each item of her clothing is so endearing. I also adore how he calls her “his little harpy” and would do anything to keep her safe, including murder.

A happy ending is never in doubt, but I love an author who can keep me on tenterhooks until the very last minute. I cheered Eve for not being willing to accept anything but a man who loved her above all else and there were frustrating moments when I wanted to knock some sense into Asa until he realises what is truly important to him.

As always in this series, the secondary characters play a major role in the story and I particularly like Eve’s friend and bodyguard, Jean-Marie. When Eve persuades Asa to visit his brothers and sisters, it’s an opportunity to catch up with many of the characters from the previous books, who certainly have their hands full when the family gathering doesn’t go exactly to plan!

We learn that Bridget Crumb, the Duke of Montgomery’s housekeeper, has an agenda of her own and there are also a few surprising revelations about the duke himself. The scene towards the end of the book certainly has me anticipating their story in Duke of Sin!

MY VERDICT: Another wonderful addition to this superb series and one  which ranks among my other favourites, Scandalous Desires and Thief of Shadows. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!




Read November 2015

The Maiden Lane series so far (click the book cover for more details):

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3) by Elizabeth Hoyt Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6) by Elizabeth Hoyt Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8) by Elizabeth HoytSweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9) by Elizabeth Hoyt


**I received a free copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. **

I’m delighted to welcome author of sexy sophisticated Historical Romance MIRANDA NEVILLE to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Hi Carol. I am so happy to be with you – I always enjoy our meetings of Facebook and it was lovely to meet you in real life in London recently. I’ll look forward to meeting up again at the Historical Romance Retreat next year.


Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

I was born in little old Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK (in hospital). Very shortly thereafter I moved to a tiny place called Wardour, known for its ruined medieval castle and a newer 18th century mansion. Our house was right in between, a Georgian folly converted into a farmhouse. I am one of five children and we had a marvellous time exploring the countryside and (strictly against the rules) climbing up the old castle.

Wardour Castle


How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Easy-going. Not that I don’t get annoyed, but I am over it soon—holding a grudge is too exhausting.

When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Both! I adore food, everything except eggplant (aubergine in British English) and kale. But If I have to choose I’ll go for savoury. In a restaurant I’ll always choose a starter over a dessert. My besetting sin is fats: butter, cream, olive oil. I’ll take any of those over sugar. If I had to choose an ideal meal it would be fresh French bread, butter, Scottish smoked salmon, and a selection of cheeses. Maybe a salad on the side!

What is your most treasured possession?

As I get older I find myself less interested in stuff that I have to find a place for. If my house was on fire and I could only save what I could carry, I would go for my photograph albums, which cannot be replaced. Also, on a more mundane level, my laptop. Everything is backed up online but it would be a pain to have to retrieve my writing!

If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

I live in Vermont, which is a beautiful, rural state. I love cities, so definitely a city. It’s hard to choose between London, which even after decades in the US feels like home, and New York, which is always thrilling. Probably New York: if I had my own place there I would visit much more often to take advantage of the museums, theatre, and other cultural riches.

Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

There are so many! Once, suffering from jet lag, I was taken to a reasonably fancy party given by people I didn’t know. One glass of wine and I tottered on my high heels and crashed to the floor. Everyone was very nice but I’m sure they thought I was a complete drunk. As a Regency heroine would say, I was mortified.


Thank you for taking time out to be here today, Miranda and sharing these interesting facts about yourself.

Thank you, Carol. Very fun questions.


If you would like to find out more about Miranda and her books, here are the links:





Genre: Historical Romance (Regency 1822-1824, Epilogue 1872)

Cover Blurb:

A romantic tale of young love and old Edinburgh from the pen of a consummate storyteller and acclaimed Scottish historian.

It’s 1822 and Scotland’s capital is a city of both splendour and squalor. Kate Dunbar is worked like a slave all day and preyed upon at night in the gloomy vaults that lurk under the Old Town’s South Bridge but never gives up hope of a better life for herself and her beloved young brother Andrew.

When wealthy young medical student Richard Hope walks into her life, Kate knows that his interest in her could lead them both into danger. Yet it’s not long before the two of them have fallen head-over-heels in love.

Others are watching the young lovers. Radical booksellers Peggy and Nathaniel Henderson have Kate and Andrew’s best interests at heart. Their greedy and grasping uncle doesn’t, and he soon soon starts laying his own evil plans.

Kate and Richard’s passionate and poignant romance intertwines with the richly-imagined colour and pageantry of King George IV’s historic visit to Edinburgh in 1822, and culminates in the heart-stopping drama of the Great Fire of Edinburgh of 1824.

Can their love affair have a happy ending or will fate, the evil that threatens them and the rigid rules of class and society allow them only one sweet moment of happiness?


How do I to begin to review one of the loveliest and most compellingly written books it has been my pleasure to experience?

I listened to the audio version, narrated by Lesley Mackie, who has the most melodious voice. A Scott herself, her narration is perfectly pitched and cleverly vocalised so that the listener is never in any doubt which character is talking at any given time. There is a lot of the Scottish vernacular used and this adds depth and great feeling, as well as showing the difference in class of the wonderful mix of characters. Ms Mackie differentiates expertly between male and female, rich and poor alike, and it is a very professional performance indeed.

The story begins with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson:

“To look over the South Bridge and to see the Cowgate below, full of crying hawkers is to view one rank of society from another in the twinkling of an eye”

which pretty much sums up the difference in the class structure of the time.

The title One Sweet Moment and also the brief synopsis suggest just another love story.  I don’t mean this in any derogatory sense but, as a lover of history as well as a finely written romance, I was delighted to find that this wonderful book was so much more than was suggested; in fact, it’s depth and content is greatly underplayed.

This was my first Maggie Craig novel and it was purely by chance that I discovered it on ITunes for audio download. I thought it might be a nice book to listen to whilst out walking, but instead found myself ignoring everyone and grabbing every moment I could to devour this thoughtful and beautifully moving story. It’s written by a lady who obviously knows her stuff – the history of Scotland, Edinburgh and the people of that city.

The book (with a perfect epilogue which winds the story up in the most poignant way) spans approximately 50 years. It is the story of Kate Dunbar, a brave and defiant young woman of the lowest orders, living in abject poverty in the vaults of Edinburgh’s South Bridge with her young physically handicapped brother Andrew. Orphaned and at the mercy of their maternal Aunt and her vile husband, they accept and live in the most degrading manner, with little chance of escape from the daily, tyrannical and abusive behaviour doled out by this uncaring and evil pair.

One evening into the Pearl Fisher, the Oyster Bar kept by Kate’s Aunt and Uncle and where she is obliged to work without payment, come three young privileged medical students, one of whom is immediately attracted to Kate. Richard Hope, handsome and wealthy, is as far outside Kate’s world as it is possible to be. His family is rich and well connected but still he persists in gaining an acquaintance with her. He finds his intentions are entirely honourable and he treats Kate and the other occupants of the vaults with respect and eventually she comes to like and love him, and he her.

This is a time of radical political stirrings. It is only 70 years since the great Jacobean uprising. The people of Edinburgh are split in their views, some wishing for independence and Kate has some such friends. Richard becomes embroiled with Kate’s champions, book shop owners Nathaniel and Peggy Henderson, and finds himself looking at the poorer inhabitants of Edinburgh from a different, and more sympathetic perspective.

This is such a wonderfully meaty book, full of intrigue, romance, abuse of the worse kind and body snatching. The Edinburgh of the time, beautiful but also poverty stricken, is captured in this magical tale. Maggie Craig is a consummate story teller; her extensive research and love of her homeland and its people are obvious. Her prose flows with twists and turns and captures the imagination. I hated the villains and desperately wanted Kate and Richard to find their happy ending. As I have said previously, this tale was so much more than ‘just a love story‘. It is a must read for all HR lovers and for anyone who loves a wonderfully compelling story.

This was one of those ‘let’s buy it, it’s cheap and sounds intriguing‘ purchases but Maggie Craig is now one of my top five authors. This is a definite keeper for me.

I later went on to read Gathering Storm, which is another absolutely superb historical set in Edinburgh during the time of the Jacobean uprising – not to be missed for lovers of history.

MY VERDICT: A beautiful and compelling love story.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!





Footnote: The author has recently commented “Fair chuffed to discover that Edinburgh City Libraries have added One Sweet Moment to their literary map of books set in the City”….I’m personally not surprised, well deserved! And earlier this year I visited Edinburgh and followed her trail…a clever author/historian who can make a place and people so real.





Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(The Heart of a Duke, #7)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

She’s longing to be loved:
Lady Cara Falcot has only served one purpose to her loathsome father—to increase his power through a marriage to the future Duke of Billingsley. As such, she’s built protective walls about her heart, and presents an icy facade to the world around her. Journeying home from her finishing school for the Christmas holidays, Cara’s carriage is stranded during a winter storm. She’s forced to tarry at a ramshackle inn, where she immediately antagonizes another patron—William.

He’s avoiding his duty in favor of one last adventure:
William Hargrove, the Marquess of Grafton has wanted only one thing in life—to avoid the future match his parents would have him make to a cold, duke’s daughter. He’s returning home from a blissful eight years of traveling the world to see to his responsibilities. But when a winter storm interrupts his trip and lands him at a falling-down inn, he’s forced to share company with a commanding Lady Cara who initially reminds him exactly of the woman he so desperately wants to avoid.

A Christmas snowstorm ushers in the spirit of the season:
At the holiday time, these two people who despise each other due to first perceptions are offered renewed beginnings and fresh starts. As this gruff stranger breaks down the walls she’s built about herself, Cara has to determine whether she can truly open her heart to trusting that any man is capable of good and that she herself is capable of love. And William has to set aside all previous thoughts he’s carried of the polished ladies like Cara, to be the man to show her that love.

*** Please note, this is an approximately 48,000 word novella.



Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(The Survivors’ Club, #1)

Cover Blurb:

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

In Mary Balogh’s engaging and seductive new novel of drama and romance, a woman comfortable in her solitude allows temptation to free her heart, when a daring war hero shows her how truly extraordinary she is.


Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous–if beautiful–aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?

The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.



Source: Complimentary copy received from the author in return for an honest review

(Accidental Heirs, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

When a scheming marquess’ daughter offers her one hundred pounds to publicly kiss a nobleman, a desperate Jessamin Wright agrees. She believes the money will save her failing bookstore and finally free her from her father’s debts. But when Jess bursts into an aristocratic party and shocks the entire ton, she never expects to enjoy the outrageous embrace she shares with a grim viscount.

Lucius Crawford, Viscount Grimsby, has never met, or kissed, anyone like the beautiful suffragette who unsettles him with a single touch. He has always strived for control and avoided passion at all costs. Lucius is determined to protect his title and restore the estate he’s unexpectedly inherited, but Jess’ appearance in his life poses a threat to his plans and his heart. After a country house party brings them together once more, neither can resist temptation, and both find that one scandalous kiss just isn’t enough.


I’m thrilled to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author MARY BALOGH to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you, Carol.


Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

I was born in Swansea, an industrial port city in South Wales, toward the end of World War II. The city had been almost flattened by heavy bombing and there were very few material possessions. We had ration books, but even using those was not easy as there were terrible shortages of everything in the stores. It all seemed quite normal to us children. The bombed buildings were our playgrounds, our imaginations our greatest asset. Those toys we had we prized and looked after. Looking back I can see that it must have been a miserable, precarious time of deprivation and insecurity for our parents. But I had the happiest childhood any child could ask for. It never really occurred to me that we were living on the very edge of poverty.

Me with my mother, father and older sister, Moira

How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Mainly easy-going.


When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, so a bit of both, I suppose.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t think I have one. I am not much attached to physical things. A possession I value greatly is a ring I wear almost constantly. I was doing a reading to a library group of about a dozen people about ten years ago. At the end a Native American lady showed me some of the silver rings she makes, including the one she was wearing. She asked me if I would wear it as a token of friendship. It reminded me a great deal of my engagement ring minus the diamond—I could (and can) no longer wear it as somehow it was too small even though I have not gained much weight. She took the ring off her own finger and put it on mine next to my wedding ring and it fit perfectly. I was very touched and thanked and hugged her, but did not get her name and probably would not recognize her again if I saw her. But I have never forgotten her gesture of friendship and still wear her ring every day.

If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

It would have to be the Swansea area of Wales, where I grew up. It must be one of the most beautiful places in the world, close to the sea as it is. And there is the Welsh culture and heritage, which I miss after almost 50 years of living in Canada.


Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

I’m not sure about MOST embarrassing (we tend to block those out), but an embarrassing moment happened a few days ago. We were at the 70th birthday party of my husband’s closest friend. The house was crowded with people, and my husband must have mentioned my books. His friend’s five sisters all wanted books. My husband went home and brought back a large bag of books and I found myself in the midst of a book-signing session. If I could have melted into the furniture, I would gladly have done it.


Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Mary.

It has been my pleasure, Carol.


If you would like to find out more about Mary and her books, here are the links:





(The Ravenels, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A twist of fate…

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills…

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?


Like every other Lisa Kleypas fan, I have been waiting eagerly for this book, which heralds her return to writing historical romances after a gap of five years. Well, I have to confess that I had mixed feelings about the book. Some aspects I really enjoyed but others I found disappointing.

At first, Devon’s actions seems to confirm him as totally heartless and selfish. He simply wants to be rid of his inherited responsibilities without any concern for those people his actions will affect, but gradually he comes to the realisation that…

The sword had been suspended above him from the moment he’d been informed of Theo’s death. There was no choice to make. Whether or not he wanted the responsibility that came with the title, it was his.

The scene where he holds a weeping Kathleen shows that he is compassionate while dramatic events later in the story reveal a man willing to sacrifice himself for others.  However, the notorious Ravenel temper erupts on more than one occasion.

I love the funny exchanges with Kathleen when he is discussing his plans to modernise the plumbing at Eversby Priory.

“The plumbing is adequate,” she said defensively.
One of his brows arched. “Sufficiently adequate for me to take a shower bath?”
She hesitated before admitting, “You won’t have a shower bath.”
“A regular bath, then? Lovely. What kind of modern vessel shall I find myself soaking in tonight? A rusted pail?”

Kathleen’s high-handedness and rigid adherence to rules is irritating at times, but I understood how much she was influenced by her upbringing with Lord and Lady Berwick. I admire her genuine concern for the fate of the servants and tenants when she believes Devon intends to sell the estate, and her pluck in standing up to him.

“Welcome, my lord. And Mr. Ravenel. I will provide a list of the household inventory as soon as possible, so that you may loot and pillage in an organized fashion.” Her voice was refined, the cut-glass syllables frosted with dislike.

Her willingness to look after her late husband’s sisters shows a considerate and compassionate nature.

My main problem is that I never fully believed in the romance between Devon and Kathleen. It seems to lack coherence and there is no steady development of the relationship. In fact, they spend a good proportion of the book apart. I never felt there was a defining moment when I truly believed they were in love. Yes, there were some steamy love scenes but, for me, I didn’t sense the deep emotional connection between them and I kept asking myself – Whatever happened to those heart-stopping, sigh-worthy moments that have always been such a memorable part of her books?  Even Devon’s declaration of love failed to stir a little flutter in my heart.

I often found the secondary characters more interesting than the main ones.  I adore Devon’s younger brother, Weston (West).  He has a major drinking problem but, when Devon puts him in charge of managing the tenants’ drainage problems, he finds a purpose in life (after hearing some home truths from Kathleen) and becomes a sober, fit, hard-working man. There is an amusing scene where Devon goes to meet him at the station and fails to recognise him at first. I also liked the amiable relationship that develops between West and Kathleen.

I was definitely interested in the tentative romance between quiet Helen and ruthless, department store owner Rhys Winterborne, and I am seriously wondering how Ms Kleypas will redeem him in the next book, Marrying Winterborne, given his actions towards  the end of this book. Then I recall a certain St. Vincent who badly needed redeeming at the start of The Devil in Winter and look how he turned out!

I love the quirky, irrepressible twins Pandora and Cassandra, who reminded me in many ways of Beatrix Hathaway and, of course, not forgetting Hamlet, the pig!

MY VERDICT:  This may not be her best book but there were still many things I enjoyed about it and I certainly intend to read the rest of the series.



Read November 2015

The Ravenels series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas – expected publication date 31st May 2016

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