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Alexandra Hawkins Interview - author photo

I’m delighted to welcome USA TODAY Bestselling Author ALEXANDRA HAWKINS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you for inviting me!

~~~~~~~

 

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

Alexandra:
I was born at a hospital in Joliet, Illinois.  However, I spent the first four years of my life on a farm in Grandridge, Illinois.  The two-story white farm house belonged to my great-grandparents and I have fond memories of the place.  The farm had plenty of land for me to explore, there were feral cats in the barn, and sheep in the pasture.

My parents eventually divorced so my brother and I were raised by my mother in the rural outskirts of Ottawa, Illinois. To give you an idea how rural—there were sixteen students in my eighth-grade graduation class.  About a year later, we moved into town.  I had what most people would view as a typical small-town childhood.
Alexandra Hawkins Interview - me at 3
Me at the age of three

Alexandra Hawkins Interview - pic of me at 17, wearing my dance squad unifor
Me at 17, wearing my dance squad uniform.

 

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

Alexandra:
I have my moods but most days I’d describe myself as easy-going.


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

Alexandra:
I favour both, though I’ll admit that I have a sweet tooth.


R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Alexandra:
After my grandmother died, my mother gave me an old woollen throw that belonged to my great-great grandmother.  It’s over a hundred years old and shows a little wear since it’s kept several generations warm.  My grandmother used to store it in a cedar-lined linen cupboard.  The throw still smells faintly of cedar and reminds me of her.

Alexandra Hawkins Interview - Great-Great Grandmother's throw
My great-great grandmother’s throw

 

R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Alexandra:
I guess it doesn’t come as any surprise to those who know me that I’d choose England.  My grandmother used to tell me family stories when I was a child, so I had developed a very romantic view of the British Isles long before I wrote my first novel.


R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Alexandra:
I mulled this question over for days.  Honestly, I can’t think of one defining incident.  Although, I confess, I have experienced numerous minor ones.  I suppose the worst of the lot occurred when I was in high school.  For a scene in a play, I thought I’d be daring and I walked out on to the stage wearing only a black full slip.  It sounds awful tame by today’s standards, but I was young.  I was quite proud of myself until my mother revealed that our pastor had watched my performance.  The news sort of sucked all the fun out of my brazenness.

~~~~~~~

 

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

I’ve had a wonderful time, Carol.  Thank you!

 

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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A Raven's Heart

(Secrets and Spies, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

August 1815. The war with France is officially over, Napoleon’s an exile on St Helena, but Europe is still a very dangerous place to be.

Kidnapped and held for ransom at nineteen, ducal heir William Ravenwood knows the only person he can rely on is himself. Now part of a spy ring that includes his friends Nicolas and Richard Hampden, he’s the smuggler known as The Raven, a ruthless agent who specializes in rescuing hostages and prisoners of war from captivity.

Raven longs to discover the fate of his colleague, Christopher ‘Kit’ Carlisle, who’s been missing, presumed dead, for over two years. He’s also equally determined to stay away from the one thing he knows is dangerous to his health – the bane of his life, his best friends’ infuriating and provocative little sister, Heloise.

Heloise is a brilliant code breaker, one of the English government’s most valuable assets. She’s also loved Raven for years, but considering that he rejected her at sixteen, before her face was scarred rescuing her brother from an icy river, she’s certain he doesn’t want her now, despite his outrageous flirting.

But when Heloise decodes a message that proves Kit is alive and a prisoner in Spain, Raven realizes she’s in grave danger. With French agents determined to silence her, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe – even if that means taking her to Spain with him as an unwilling hostage.

As they face French deserters and Spanish freedom fighters, Raven and Heloise try to ignore the simmering attraction that’s been building between them for eight long years. The differences between them are striking but they’ve always had a strange underlying bond. Heloise might be scarred outwardly, but Raven’s wounds are all on the inside. He knows he’s not worthy of her love—a shadowed Hades pining for sun-kissed Persephone—but he’s not above showing her passion for the short time they’re together.

A master at decoding complex messages, Heloise finds Raven frustratingly hard to read, but as their lives hang in the balance she’s determined to unravel his secrets and unlock his dark, elusive heart…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I loved TO STEAL A HEART, Ms. Bateman’s debut novel, and the first book in her Secrets and Spies series. I was hoping that A RAVEN’S HEART would be just as good, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. 

Six years ago, nineteen-year-old William de L’Isle, Viscount Ravenwood (Raven), was kidnapped and held for ransom. A proud and stubborn man, his grandfather, the Duke of Avondale, refused to pay the kidnappers, hoping to thwart their plans by hiring Bow Street Runners to find his grandson.  Meanwhile, William endured eight weeks in captivity, facing beatings and potential death every day. Finally, he managed to escape by killing one of the guards, but the experience left him a changed man. He has never forgiven his grandfather, refusing to have anything to do with him and rejecting the titles due to him following his father’s death.  Instead, he joined Lord Castlereagh’s spy network, working alongside his childhood friends and fellow spies, Richard and Nicolas Hampden. Ruthless, deadly and efficient, it is a job he excels at, killing without guilt or remorse.

Heloise Hampden, Richard and Nicolas’s younger sister, has always had a rebellious streak, hating the restrictions placed on women by society and longing for freedom and adventure. When her face is scarred trying to save her brother from drowning, thus curtailing her marriage prospects, her life becomes one of scholarly pursuits. Her skill at code-breaking brings her to the attention of Lord Castlereagh and she relishes the opportunity of serving her country decoding French messages. When a fellow code-breaker is murdered, and an attempt is made on Heloise’s life, Castlereagh assigns Raven to protect her.

However, Raven and Heloise (or Hellcat as he calls her) grew up on neighbouring estates and, as her brothers’ friend, he was a frequent visitor to the Hampdens. There has always been a strong spark of attraction between them that neither would acknowledge. They managed to conceal their true feelings by exchanging barbed insults, but the mutual attraction shows no sign of abating.

Hellcat Hampden had been the subject of his guilty daydreams for years. What had started out as adolescent musings had matured into fevered erotic fantasies that showed absolutely no sign of abating.

♥♥♥

She was fluent in five different languages, but in Raven’s presence she could barely string a coherent sentence together.

Heloise decodes a letter suggesting that Raven’s friend, Kit Carlisle, who has been missing for two years, is alive and an exchange of prisoners is possible. This exchange is to take place in a small Spanish village just over the French border and Raven is determined to rescue his friend, but he must also protect Heloise and there is only one way to do that – take her with him.

Raven is one of those gorgeous, cynical, arrogant, tormented heroes that I can’t resist, while Heloise is my sort of heroine – intelligent, headstrong, stubborn and unconventional, although she does have one sinful extravagance which Raven certainly approves of!

These two have an amazing chemistry and I enjoyed their entertaining and witty repartee.

He chinked the rim of his own glass against hers and downed the contents.“Bottoms up.” 

With a mental shrug Heloise did the same. Her throat caught fire. Tears sprang to her eyes. When she could catch her breath she croaked out, “Good Lord! That’s vile.” Raven grinned and took her empty glass. “Good girl. Now, as you rightly said, I have to ‘go captain.’ Is there anything else you require?” 

“Only your absence,” she managed. 

He backed out the door with a mocking flourish. “Your humble servant.”

He took two more glasses from a servant. “Here, drink this.”

 She accepted it without thinking. A drunken reveler jostled her arm and a cold wash of champagne splashed onto her chest and trickled down between her breasts. “Oh, bugger-and-arse!” she muttered.

 “That’s what I love about you, Hellcat. Always so ladylike. Just when I despair that the impulsive hellion I grew up with has vanished, you say something like that and the world rights itself again.” 

She growled at him. Actually growled. 

“You shouldn’t do that, either,” he admonished gently. “It makes little wrinkles in your nose.”

Every scene just sizzles with sexual tension and their feelings of frustration, longing, fear, regret and desire are palpable. Ms. Bateman creates a delicious sense of anticipation and when they finally make love, it just feels right. The love scene is beautifully done – tender, romantic, sensual and laced with moments of humour. There is just the right balance between the action and romance and the dangers Raven and Heloise face along the journey only serve to heighten the sexual tension.

Raven believes that because he embraced his darker emotions, he is unworthy of someone as good as Heloise. When he tells Heloise of everything he endured during his imprisonment, it gave me a real understanding of the deep emotional impact it had on him and how he was changed by the experience. Only Heloise can cut through the anger and bitterness to convince him that he is loyal, brave and fearless; willing to do whatever it takes to protect those he loves and cares about. Heloise is his anchor and keeps him grounded.

I like how Raven doesn’t see Heloise’s scar as ugly but as proof that she is a survivor and I love his words to her.

“You’re like the moon. IT has craters and scars and shadows. But only an idiot would deny that it is beautiful.”

The scene between Raven and his grandfather is an emotional one. Raven comes to realise that his grandfather is only human and made mistakes just as he himself has. He now sees rejecting his father’s titles as an insult to his parents’ memory and to everything he could be.

Ms. Bateman has obviously undertaken a lot of research to create a real sense of the period and I love how she weaves fascinating historical details, mythology and real people into the story. I particularly like how her expert knowledge of antiques comes into play  where she refers to the ancient Japanese art of Kinstukuroi, cleverly revealing how much Raven cares for Heloise.

MY VERDICT: A well-written and engaging story with fascinating characters, adventure, danger, sizzling sexual tension and witty repartee. Highly recommended.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Secrets and Spies series (click on the book covers for more details):

To Steal a Heart (Secrets and Spies, #1) by K.C. Bateman A Raven's Heart (Secrets & Spies, #2) by K.C. Bateman A Counterfeit Heart (Secrets & Spies, #3) by K.C. Bateman

 

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley for the purposes of an honest review**

 

Nicole Locke Interview - author photo

I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Historical Romance Author NICOLE LOCKE to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you so much. It’s wonderful to be here today!

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Nicole:
I was born in Southern California, but raised in Oklahoma, and spent much of my childhood flying between the two states. In one, I lounged on the beach and dived through the waves. In the other, I was surrounded by wheat fields and blown away by the wind. I don’t know if any childhood is ideal, but mine came pretty close.


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

Nicole:
I am most definitely temperamental. But maybe I spent a lot of time in the waves and wind as a child because whatever emotion it is, I don’t hold on to it very long.


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

Nicole:
Savoury. I’m a salt-aholic, and in fact, I’m eating Jalapeno crisps as I’m typing this. I also like vinegar, lemon, lime, and I often drink those with hot water. I don’t know if I’ve always been this way, but my grandmother used to drink the juice out of a pickle jar, so I’d say it’s a family trait.


R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Nicole:
This is a tricky question for me because it means if I lost or broke a possession, I would be heart broken. I have nothing like this. There are items I’ve inherited and acquired along the way that I find beautiful, but with the exception of my family photos, I wouldn’t mourn them.

I think it’s my family’s quirks that I treasure the most. My husband’s absolute need to get to the airport five hours before any flight leaves. My 15-year-old son’s fiddly curiousity that compels him to fix things or make them into something else. I call him my magpie.

Then there’s my 8-year-old daughter’s sheer unmitigated ability to shrug things off. Her ‘Oh well” side to her. Lose a cardigan? Oh, well! Hit the giant red button and set off airport alarms? Oh, well!

I’d say it’s those moments…and my family, that I hold most dear.


R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Nicole:
I treasured our time in London where we lived for eleven years. When the kids have flown the coop, I would love a flat somewhere in Marylebone where my husband and I could spend months out of the year.


R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Nicole:
So many! But the one that has had the most lasting effect was the time when I was on a basketball team (anyone who knows my short stature will be astounded by this).

My teammates had contests on who could dress the fastest for practice. Distracted constantly, I was almost always last. But one day, I was really going for it, and made it out (not first, but close). Yay!

Except as we all sat on the court, I realised immediately that all I had on was my top and knickers. No shorts!

I never forgot that moment and neither did anyone else. To this day, when I leave the house and especially if I’m rushing, I look down to see if I’m dressed. My mantra? “Keys, check. Clothes, check.” 

~~~~~~~

 

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

It’s been a pleasure, Carol.

 


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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Elisabeth Hobbes Interview - author photo

I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Historical Romance Author ELISABETH HOBBES to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you for inviting me onto the blog.  It’s great to be here.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Elisabeth:
I was born and grew up in York.  It was such an interesting place to live and my love of history definitely comes from being surrounded by medieval walls, Roman remains, Viking archaeological sites, Regency crescents and ghost stories.  York is also famous for having over 360 pubs and a lively music scene so as an older teen it was a fun place to hang out with friends and see which of us looked old enough to get served (better not show this to my mum)!

As well as being close to the town we were lucky enough to be within distance of the North York Moors (which I featured in The Blacksmith’s Wife) and the coast including Whitby, famous for Dracula and the best fish and chips in the country.  My mum took my sister and I on lots of day trips to castles and stately homes, so it was inevitable I was going to end up doing something related to History.

Elisabeth Hobbes Interview - Medieval walls of York where I grew up
Medieval walls of York where I grew up


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

Elisabeth:
Definitely temperamental.  I have two children on the Autistic Spectrum and am trying to combine a writing career with 4 days a week teaching Primary Year 1 and running the house so I’m continually frazzled.  I always promise myself I’m going to spend some time each week relaxing with a face mask on and listening to something calming but I never seem to find the time.  I suffered very badly with postnatal depression after both children and one thing that is guaranteed to get me ranting is the appalling lack of funding and provision for mental health care in the UK, especially in young people.

 

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

Elisabeth:
Definitely a savoury person.  I’ll always go for a starter rather than a pudding and can eat my own bodyweight in spicy chicken wings.  When I was pregnant I used to get the train into Manchester to get hot & sour soup.  I do like chocolate but I can take or leave it.  Crisps on the other hand…


R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Elisabeth:
I don’t think I can call my children possessions, though they are my most treasured thing, so I’ll say my laptop.  It’s the first thing I would rescue in a fire (after my children are safe of course) because as well as all my manuscripts, lesson plans and resources, it is where all of my photos of my children are stored and I’m aware how much I would lose if it ever dies.  I always mean to print them and put them in albums but as I said before, time gets away from me.

 

R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Elisabeth:
I’d have a chalet in Monetier les Bains in the French Alps.  The medieval village is beautiful, the skiing is great and there are some amazing restaurants.  My husband and I have visited the same resort for years and know it really well now and have recently started to take our children with us when we go skiing (they’d stayed with grandparents up till now).   I could ski all winter and go cycling or walking in summer and look at the view when I get writer’s block.  Maybe I’d answer your earlier question differently if I lived somewhere so relaxing!
Elisabeth Hobbes Interview - Where I would love to live
Relaxing in Monetier les Bains in the French Alps.


R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Elisabeth:
I have a very high embarrassment threshold (much to my daughter’s horror).  I’m always the mum who dresses up for Halloween and gets on stage to do karaoke first. I can’t think of anything major but given that I spend most of my week standing in front of thirty children putting on silly voices, arguing with hand puppets and pretending to be unable to understand why my sums are wrong, I hate speaking in front of adults and go bright red and speak too fast whenever I have to.

 

~~~~~~~

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

It’s been a pleasure.  Thank you for inviting me and asking such interesting questions.


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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Mistletoe and the Major

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1815)

Cover Blurb:

 Previously published in the anthology Under the Kissing Bough. 

The Major is home from the wars at last… 

Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth, has devoted eight tumultuous years to fighting Napoleon. Finally, Europe is at peace, and he can retire to his estates and the lovely wife he hasn’t seen since their brief, unhappy honeymoon. The innocent girl he loved from the first moment he saw her, but who shied away from him on their wedding night.

The beautiful woman who greets him at Otway Hall on Christmas Eve is no longer the sweet ingénue he remembers. This new and exciting version of his beloved countess is strong, outspoken, and independent, and she’s willing to stand up for what she wants. The question is—does she want the husband who returns to her arms more as a stranger than a spouse?

Now the real battle begins. 

Felicity, Lady Canforth, has had eight long years to regret that she sent her husband from a cold marriage bed to face brutal combat, danger and hardship. The only child of elderly parents, Felicity came to marriage innocent and ignorant, and unable to conceal her shock at the sensual power of the earl’s caresses. Before she found the nerve to offer Canforth a more generous welcome, he was called away to war. The Major left behind a countess who was a bride, not a wife; a woman unsure of her husband’s feelings, and too timid to confess how fervently she desires the man she wed.

Fate has granted an older, wiser Felicity a second chance to win her husband’s heart. Now nothing will stop her from claiming victory over the famous war hero. This Christmas, she’ll deploy every ounce of courage, purpose and passion to seize the life and love she’s longed for, ever since Canforth left to serve his country. Whatever it costs, whatever it takes, she’ll lure the dashing Major back into her bed, where she means to show him he’s the only man she wants as her lover—and her love.

After years of yearning and separation, will a Christmas miracle heal the wounds of the past and offer the earl and his bride a future bright with love? 

❄❄❄❄❄


I started my Christmas reading early this year with a lovely, heart-warming second-chance short story from Anna Campbell.

It was love at first sight for Edmund and Felicity (Flick), but they had only been married for two weeks when Edmund received orders to join his regiment. In their short, awkward time together, they had never felt at ease enough with each other to openly discuss their true feelings and were still little more than strangers when Edmund left. After eight long years, Edmund is finally able to return home and is determined to build a real marriage.

Even within the constraints of a short story, Ms. Campbell can still pack a real emotional punch. She made me feel Edmund and Flick’s initial feelings of uncertainty, regret and fear after their long separation. The years running the estate have given Flick a degree of confidence lacking in her younger self. The only child of elderly parents, she was shy and inexperienced when she married and regrets not having been braver and more responsive to her husband’s lovemaking. I like how she is determined to seize this second chance.

Edmund has his own fears. War has changed him, and he is uncertain of the welcome he will receive from Flick, but she sees that he is still the same kind, considerate man she remembers. I like the scene involving the ‘burnt letters’, when Flick’s misunderstanding of the situation leads them to finally talk openly about their feelings for each other and confess their love.

MY VERDICT: A delightful start to my Christmas reading.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the author for the purposes of an honest review. **

 

 

 

Heather Snow Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Award-Winning Historical Romance Author HEATHER SNOW to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you so much for having me! I’m delighted to be here.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Heather:
I was born in Kansas City, Missouri. For most of my childhood we lived just a few houses down from my grandparent’s house, so I could walk to Nana’s anytime I wanted, which was lovely. She made the best shortbread cookies! I was also blessed to have my great-grandparents in my life until my mid-teens.

Though I grew up in the city, my great-grandfather owned a small cabin on a lake a couple of hours out of the city. Many fall and spring weekends, and the majority of my summers, were spent there with the three generations of our family. It was, and is, a magical place with lots of woods and shoreline to traipse through, pretending you are a great explorer or a mermaid princess. To this day, the lake is one of my favourite places to be and I’m so grateful that my children get to experience it as part of their childhood, too.

Here are some pictures of me and my great-grandfather and his dog, Cleo, as well as of my own boys kayaking across the lake.

Heather Snow Interview - Heather and Bampse
Me with Bampse

Heather Snow Interview - Heather and Cleo
Me with Cleo

Heather Snow Interview - Lake boys
My Lake boys


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

Heather:
I’m quite easy-going, thank goodness, because I am the lone female in a house full of boys who are, shall we say, not. I’m practical and even-keeled, which comes in handy when trying to keep them all in line!


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

Heather:
I like sweets as much as the next girl, but if I had to choose, savoury. The problem is that the savouries I adore most are the yummy carbohydrate filled ones, which are just as bad for me as the sugary ones! Sigh.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Heather:
I thought long and hard about this and I have to say I don’t have one. Certainly there are things I would regret losing in a disaster—mainly photos/paintings of loved ones past and videos of my sons when they were little—but if I came away with my family, all would be well.

 

R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Heather:
I’ve been bitten too hard by the travel bug to choose one place. The world is so amazing and diverse, and I want to see it all! Two years ago, we bought an RV, and we’ve spent several weeks traveling around the US with the boys, visiting our national parks, seeing mountains and lakes and deserts. We even spent time in Canada this year, which was breath-taking.

Heather Snow Interview - Travel-Yosemite
Yosemite

Heather Snow Interview -Travel-Lake June
Lake June

Heather Snow Interview -Travel Canada
Canada

I’d love to have the money to rent an apartment/home in several places for a minimum of three months at a time. I’d like to experience what it would be like to live in different cities and countries—not just vacation there. That would be my dream—three to six months in London, New York, Budapest, San Francisco, Portland, Prague, and on and on and on! While I’d only really get the flavour of the area in such a short time, it would be such an interesting life!

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Heather:
There are many I’m afraid, but the first that comes to mind is when I was 16 or 17. I wanted to go out on a date with a boy who was a bit older than me. It was summer, and my younger cousins were visiting. My mother said I could go—if I took my little brother and two cousins with us. To his credit, my date wanted to go out with me badly enough that he said yes…and spent his evening entertaining an 11, 12 and 13-year-old, too.

A few dates later (we eventually were allowed out on our own), he brought me home and walked me to my porch, where he leaned in to give me a kiss. Little did we know my entire family was lying in wait in the living room. They proceeded to yell “Ooooooh” at us when he kissed me. Ah, family. Gotta love ‘em.

~~~~~~~

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

It was a pleasure.

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Facebook Friend Page
Twitter

Satyr's Son

(Roxton Family Saga, #5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1786)

Cover Blurb:

Roxton Family Saga Book 5: Henri-Antoine and Lisa’s Happily Ever After 

London, 1786. Lord Henri-Antoine has returned from the Grand Tour to a life of privilege and excess. A vast inheritance allows him every indulgence, free from responsibility. Yet, Henri-Antoine maintains a well-ordered existence, going to great lengths to conceal an affliction few understand, and many fear.

Miss Lisa Crisp is a penniless orphan who relies on the charity of relatives to keep her from the poorhouse. Intelligent and unflappable, Lisa will not allow poverty to define her. She leads a useful life working among the sick poor.

Under startling circumstances, Henri-Antoine and Lisa meet. There is instant attraction. When they find themselves attending the same wedding in the country, Henri-Antoine offers Lisa a scandalous proposition, one she should refuse but yearns to accept. Following her heart could ruin them both.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is final book in Ms Brant’s outstanding Roxton Family Saga and, although all the other books in the series are fabulous, there is just something special about this one that captured my heart and I totally fell in love with Henri-Antoine and Lisa’s story.

Lord Henri-Antoine (Harry) Hesham is the second son of the late Renard, fifth Duke of Roxton, and his much younger, beloved wife Antonia. Handsome, arrogantly self-assured and rich, Harry can have any woman he fancies, and his licentious behaviour with actresses and other men’s mistresses suggest that he is following in the footsteps of his late father whose scandalous exploits, before marrying Antonia, were legendary. However, Harry has suffered from the ‘falling sickness’ (epilepsy) since birth, something which is a closely guarded secret known only to his immediate family and his best friend Sir John (Jack) Cavendish. At the age of 25, Harry still suffers seizures, although they are less frequent, and he has tried to convince his family that he is cured. To maintain this deception, he employs a group of loyal and trusted servants – “the lads” – to look after him in the event of a seizure and ensure that he is safe and well away from public view. Although Harry professes not to be the marrying kind, Jack genuinely believes that he will one day find his soul mate.

“I believe there is someone out there for you, and that she will be the great love of your life because that is what you need, Harry. And it is what you deserve. And because you are a romantic I know that when you fall in love you’ll well and truly fall, as if off a cliff. And when that happens, don’t fight it; embrace it.”

Since being orphaned at the age of nine, Lisa Crisp has lived with Dr Warner, an eminent physician, and his wife, Minette, Lisa’s cousin, but is largely ignored.

To the Warners, Lisa was simply there, like a piece of furniture, or a scullery maid, and thus rarely thought of at all.

Intelligent and capable, Lisa assists in Dr Warner’s dispensary, which provides services for the sickly poor, giving aid and comfort to the patients and writing letters for those who can read but not write. She has earned a reputation for being trustworthy and calm in a crisis. Lisa’s ability to remain cool in an emergency plays an important part in her unconventional, first meeting with Harry. Lisa knows from experience that he is having a seizure and, although Harry is a total stranger, she cares for him ensuring that no-one sees him in such a vulnerable state until help arrives in the form of “the lads”.

Having heard what happened from Jack, Harry is intrigued by the young woman who remained so calm and capable and totally unfazed by his condition and wants to see her himself. Lisa is surprised when he arrives at Dr Warner’s to thank her in person and a definite spark of mutual attraction flares between them. When Harry returns to present Lisa with a beautiful writing box as a ‘token’ of his gratitude for all she did for him, the discovery that they are both attending a friend’s wedding has them both wondering if they might be attending the same wedding.  In fact, Lisa’s aunt had been chief lady in waiting to Harry’s mother, Antonia, who had sponsored Lisa ‘s attendance at Blacklands, an exclusive boarding school. Whilst there, Lisa developed a close friendship with Miss Theodora Charlotte (Teddy) Cavendish but, when Lisa was expelled from school for scandalous behaviour, the two girls lost touch with each other. Lisa is therefore surprised but thrilled to receive an invitation to Teddy’s wedding to Sir John Cavendish.

Their romance blossoms against the background of Teddy and Jack’s wedding celebrations, but can a duke’s son and a penniless orphan, with ink-stained fingers, have a fairy tale happy ending?

I think Harry is the most complex of all the heroes in this series. At face value, it would be easy to dislike him because, at times, his behaviour is reprehensible, but dig deeper and beneath that arrogant, overbearing veneer, there is a vulnerable man beset by fears and insecurities. In the poignant scene where he talks to Lisa about his father, there is a sense of the deep loving bond between father and son and how devastated the twelve-year-old Harry felt when he died. He has never fully recovered from that loss and, when he thinks that he is losing Lisa, it is anger, frustration and fear that makes him lash out and say cruel and hurtful things to the two people he loves the most. It also makes him feel insecure about himself.

…if he’d not had position and wealth, what was he, and how wanted would he be?

Harry has the added burden that he knows the falling sickness carries a great social stigma, not only for the sufferers but their families too, and has always been determined that his family would not be subjected to scandal and ridicule.

Like Lisa, I discovered that Harry is kind, generous, caring and loving. With the large inheritance he received from his father, he set up the Fournier Foundation to fund dispensaries providing free medical help for the poor, medical research and scholarships for students from poor backgrounds who showed great potential. I like how loyal and generous he is to Jack and truly wants to see him happy.

Lisa’s calmness and capability are definite advantages when dealing with Harry and I like her confidence and directness which he finds so disconcerting. She actually has the nerve to rebuke him at one point:

She had rebuked him, then dismissed him as a lackey. A girl in a plain gown and scuffed shoes, whose fingers were ink stained, thenails short, the skin rough from work, and whose family were possibly one step up from the gutter, had dared to reproach him, the son of a duke, the brother of the most powerful duke in the kingdom.

and later shocks him by kissing him first!

She also sees the real man behind the arrogant mask and comes to understand him in a way that others have failed to, and I like how she realises the significance of his walking stick. I can understand her willingness to become his mistress because she loves him deeply and if this is the only way she can be with him, then so be it. I also admire her unselfish reasons for not accepting Harry’s proposal of marriage. She does not want to bring scandal to his family or drive a wedge between him and his brother, Julian.

As with all Ms. Brant’s books, the romance is beautifully written; sweet, tender, romantic and sensual, without being overtly explicit. I particularly love the scene in the Neptune’s Grotto where Harry and Lisa finally consummate their love which reflects all these qualities. Although he would never admit it in a hundred years, Harry is a romantic at heart and I love the notes he leaves in the secret compartments of Lisa’s writing box.

I loved Teddy in Proud Mary and was hoping she would get her Happy Ever After with Jack. They are a delightful couple and Jack’s calm affability is the perfect foil for Teddy’s exuberant nature.

The rest of the extended Roxton family play an important role in the story especially.

  • Antonia, the matriarch of the family, always wise and loving, but still able to reduce her 40 year-old-son to a whining four-year-old!
  • the female members of the family who show genuine warmth and kindness to Lisa, something that had been sadly lacking in her life.
  • Antonia’s husband Jonathon who is always a tower of strength and there when Lisa needs him the most and offering some sound advice.
  • Elsie, Antonia and Jonathan’s adorable daughter, who strikes up a friendship with Lisa and whose interactions with her brother Harry, reveal how much he loves his little sister.

I admire Michel Gillet, Harry’s major domo, for realising that Lisa has a rare inner beauty and is willing to risk the formidable Duke of Roxton’s wrath by telling him so. I also like Dr Warner who shows how much he cares for Lisa and appreciates all the work she has done for him.

How I Imagine Harry

Satyr's Son - Harry

How I Imagine Lisa

Satyr's Son - Lisa

I am sad to say goodbye to all these wonderful characters whose stories I have loved so much but I hope that perhaps, one day, Ms. Brant might decide to revisit them.

MY VERDICT: A wonderful ending to this superb series. HIGHLY RECOMMMENDED.


REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

 

Roxton Family Saga (click on the book covers for more details):

 Noble Satyr Midnight Marriage Autumn Duchess Dair Devil Proud Mary Satyr's Son

**I received a complimentary copy from the author for the purposes of an honest review. **

 

 

 

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