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Archive for April, 2015

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(The Heart of a Duke Series, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

For ten years, Lady Daisy Meadows has been in love with Auric, the Duke of Crawford. Ever since his gallant rescue years earlier, Daisy knew she was destined to be his Duchess. Unfortunately, Auric sees her as his best friend’s sister and nothing more. But perhaps, if she can manage to find the fabled heart of a duke pendant, she will win over the heart of her duke.

Auric, the Duke of Crawford enjoys Daisy’s company. The last thing he is interested in however, is pursuing a romance with a woman he’s known since she was in leading strings. This season, Daisy is turning up in the oddest places and he cannot help but notice that she is no longer a girl. But Auric wouldn’t do something as foolhardy as to fall in love with Daisy. He couldn’t. Not with the guilt he carries over his past sins… Not when he has no right to her heart…But perhaps, just perhaps, she can forgive the past and trust that he’d forever cherish her heart—but will she let him?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Sparks fly in the finale of the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place series, as the last wicked rogue meets his match.

When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.

However, Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.

Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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(Sons of Sin, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Anything can happen in the moonlight . . .

Justice. That’s all Nell Trim wants-for her sister and for the countless other young women the Marquess of Leath has ruined with his wildly seductive ways. Now she has a bold plan to take him down . . . as long as she can resist the scoundrel’s temptations herself.

From the moment Nell meets James Fairbrother, the air positively sizzles. Yet for all his size and power, there’s something amazingly tender in his touch. Could he really be such a depraved rogue? The only way to find out is to beat the devil at his own game . . . one tempting kiss at a time.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Another captivating story from the incomparable Anna Campbell.

How I imagine James Fairbrother, Marquess of Leath

James has long been a powerful and ambitious figure in the political arena and the ultimate goal of Prime Minister seems within his reach.  Now revelations of his late Uncle Neville’s crimes and his sister Sophie’s ill-timed elopement with a penniless younger son have left the Fairbrother name synonymous with scandal and his political hopes in jeopardy. He is advised to retreat to his country estate, Alloway Chase,  until the gossip has eventually blown over.  What he doesn’t expect is that his mother has employed a companion, a certain Miss Trim, whom he neither likes nor trusts but whose very presence elicits all sorts of inappropriate thoughts.

How I imagine Eleanor Trim

Eleanor made a solemn promise to her dying step-sister, Dorothy,  that she would seek revenge on the Marquess of Leath, the blackguard who seduced Dorothy and then callously abandoned her when she was with child. Eleanor must find the diary he kept, detailing his seductions of other innocent young women, and publicly expose his villainy. Using forged references, she manages to obtain a position at Alloway Chase as companion to the marquess’s mother The position offers plenty of opportunity for her to search for the incriminating diary. What she doesn’t expect is the sudden appearance of the marquess himself or the unwanted attraction she feels towards him.

The real highlight of this book for me was watching the growing relationship between James and Eleanor. I loved the initial back-and-forth verbal sparring between them and the strong undeniable attraction. It’s an attraction that doesn’t sit well with either of them. James doesn’t like or trust her and Eleanor refuses to admit that she finds the man who ruined her half-sister attractive. However, James is not at all as she imagined and everything she learns about him belies his reputation as a despoiler of innocent young women.  When James’s secretary is injured, he reluctantly agrees to his mother’s suggestion that Eleanor should assume the role temporarily making it impossible for them to avoid each other. Eleanor is forced to learn to ride to accompany James on visits to the estate and their repartee is delightful.

He stepped back. “How do you feel?”
She looked unsure. “Like I’m sitting on a volcano that’s about to erupt.”
 He snickered. “Old Snowflake is pushing twenty, Miss Trim. It he erupts, it will be a mind-numbingly speedy stroll.”

The time spent together also reinforces Eleanor’s belief that James is not a villain. He shows he really cares for Eleanor when he obtains her father’s war records for her and respects her decision when she refuses to become his mistress. There is no coercion and, when Eleanor changes her mind, it is her own decision.

Eleanor Trim was about to become a marquess’s mistress. And she couldn’t summon a shred of regret. Instead, that fluttery, new sensation under her ribs felt like happiness.

I was surprised by the lengthy love scene but in a good way . It lacked the slightly erotic feel that I have come to expect from Anna Campbell but, in terms of the characters, I think it worked beautifully. I enjoyed the feeling of playfulness, the tenderness and the deep emotional connection between James and Eleanor.

By the time her hair flowed around her, Leath breathed in gusts. His hands touched her delicately, as if the slightest fumble might shatter her.
   Then nothing.
   Slowly, reluctantly, she opened her eyes. Leath stared at her as though she was a star fallen from heaven to light his way.
  “It’s glorious.” her heart expanded at the awe in his voice.
“You’re glorious.”

I wasn’t happy with Eleanor’s actions when she finds the letters from the young women. It seemed inconceivable to me that, after everything that had happened between them and everything she knew in her heart, she would readily believe the worst of James without even giving him the chance to explain. It felt like a terrible act of betrayal and I don’t think she did enough grovelling for all the anguish she caused the poor man!

However, I did understand her reasons for not accepting James’s marriage proposal. She knew that if she married James he would lose everything he had worked for and she wouldn’t let that happen. However, James realised that he had dedicated his life to fulfilling his father’s dreams, not his own…that managing his estate and sharing his life with the woman he loved were far more fulfilling than any political career.

Jonas and Sidonie (Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed) and Richard and Genevieve (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss) and Camden and Penelope (What a Duke Dares) all make welcome appearances. James has always been a loner and so I loved that Cam, Richard and Jonas offer him genuine friendship and also provide him with valuable allies in his dramatic confrontation with the villainous Greengrass.

I can always rely on Ms Campbell to satisfy my desire for a heart-warming Epilogue. Perhaps I’ll let Penelope Rothermere, Duchess of Sedgemoor, have the final word.

“Of course. We could all see that you were head over heels and that once you’d sorted out your differences, you’d be perfect for each other.”

MY VERDICT: Another wonderful addition to this delightful series. Definitely recommended.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM


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

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) by Anna Campbell A Rake's Midnight Kiss (Sons of Sin, #2) by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin, #3) by Anna Campbell A Scoundrel by Moonlight (Sons of Sin, #4) by Anna Campbell

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

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Source: Received a complimentary copy from the author in return for an honest review

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

As the Black Raven, she’s cold, distant and alone…untouched by the gossip and scorn of her aristocratic peers. Until he enters her house—and her life—then suddenly her icy shell is no match for the heat of attraction…

Notorious Widow Lisbeth Carslake, Countess of Blackhurst was acquitted of her husband’s murder, but no one believes in her innocence. Known as the Black Raven, bringer of bad luck and death, she is eviscerated by the gossips and mocked in the clubs.

She’s also the subject of London’s most scandalous wager.

Oliver Whitely, Earl of Bellamy, needs money, but it takes more than a few drinks to take on The Black Raven Wager. He finds himself drunk, at her house, and—more surprisingly—agreeing to a business proposal at the end of a fire poker.

She will let him win the wager, and he will help find her husband’s killer before the killer finds her. But business agreements don’t mean trust, and Lisbeth certainly doesn’t trust Oliver, her body’s reaction to him, or her heart.

Love may be the biggest gamble of their lives, but is it a wager their hearts can afford to lose?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

What if Fitzwilliam Darcy refused to approach Elizabeth Bennet when he observes her upon the grounds of Pemberley? What if Elizabeth permits Mr. Darcy to think her the one ruined by Mr. Wickham? What if love is not enough to bring two souls together?

FITZWILLIAM DARCY’s pride makes the natural leap to ELIZABETH BENNET’s ruination when the lady appears, without notice, upon Pemberley’s threshold to plead for Darcy’s assistance in locating his long-time enemy, George Wickham. Initially, Darcy cannot look beyond the pain of lost hopes, but when Charles Bingley demands that Darcy act with honor, Darcy assumes the task. Even so, the idea of delivering Miss Elizabeth into the hand of Mr. Wickham leaves Darcy raw with anguish. Yet, Darcy loves Elizabeth Bennet too much to see her brought low. He sets his heartbreak aside to save the woman he loves, but it is not long before Darcy realizes Elizabeth practices a deception, one Darcy permits so he might remain at her side long enough to convince the lady only in each other can they find happiness.

Their adventure takes more twists and turns than does the original “Pride and Prejudice,” but the reader will enjoy the devotion displayed by Darcy and Elizabeth as they bring Wickham to the line in Lydia Bennnet’s defense, as well as their working their way through multiple misconstructions and vulnerabilities. Darcy’s final wooing of Elizabeth brings to very private individuals to a very public declaration of their love.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Forget the horrors. Remember…me…

A shivering young woman leans against a lamppost in the most notorious street of ill repute in all London. For Asher Colborne, Baron of Wenlock, this is a haunting vision of beauty and wretchedness. Uncharacteristically halting his carriage, he is shocked to discover the thin, dressed-in-rags creature is none other than Chastity Armitage, a beautiful angel who captured his heart at a grand ball more than two years past. For Colborne, her circumstance is a mystery he feels honor bound to unravel.

Chastity and her siblings have been on the run for more than two years. Desperate for food and lodging money, she is forced to sell herself. She never expected a tall, handsome man to appear as if from mist and change her life forever. She is given a choice, continue down the path of never ending poverty or become the baron’s mistress.

Though they are both determined the arrangement remain an emotionless business transaction, the attraction between them is scorching. Many barriers and obstacles lay in Chastity and Ash’s path. Can the baron and the mistress embrace true love?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Anna, a widow battling alcohol addiction is convinced she is worthless unless she bears a child. She hires a lover to prove she is not frigid and may marry again and have children.

Devlyn, sterile from an accident, has returned from an assignment for the Foreign Office and inadvertently becomes Anna’s lover.

Anna and Devlyn join forces to protect an innocent child from a blackmailer. Can they come to terms not only with their feelings for each other but whether they will allow society to dictate the true significance of life?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Scandalous, #2.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Nothing wagered…

Douglas Bennet can’t resist a good wager, especially not one that involves a beautiful woman. When a friend proposes an audacious plan to expose the most notorious woman in England, Douglas agrees at once. After all, it would be quite a coup to discover the true identity of Lady Constance, author of the infamous erotic serial scandalizing the ton, 50 Ways to Sin.

Nothing won

Madeline Wilde is used to being pursued. For years she’s cultivated a reputation for being unattainable and mysterious, and for good reason: her livelihood depends on discretion. When Douglas turns his legendary charm on her, she dismisses him as just another rake. But he surprises her—instead of merely trying to seduce her, he becomes her friend…her confidant…and her lover. But can it really lead to happily-ever-after…or are they about to become the biggest scandal London has ever seen?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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(Lords of Anarchy, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A DANGEROUS GAME

Heartbroken by the loss of her brother, Miss Leonora Craven vows to uncover the truth about his “accident,” which seems to have been anything but. Jonathan Craven was involved with the Lords of Anarchy, a notorious driving club, and Leonora can’t help but suspect foul play. But the only way she can infiltrate their reckless inner circle is to enlist the help of Jonny’s closest ally, Lord Frederick Lisle. If only he didn’t also happen to be the man who broke Leonora’s heart…

AN UNDENIABLE DESIRE

Frederick isn’t surprised to find gorgeous, headstrong Leonora playing detective, but he knows that the Lords of Anarchy mean business—and he has no choice but to protect her. A sham engagement to Leonora will allow Frederick to bring her into the club and along for the ride. But it isn’t long before pretending to be lovers leads to very real passion. With everything to lose, is their tempestuous affair worth the risk?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I really enjoyed Ms Collins’s previous Ugly Ducklings and Wicked Widows series. So I was looking forward to reading this first book in her new Lords of Anarchy series but, overall, I was disappointed.

Frederick was honourable, patient and protective…all the qualities I look for in a hero but he didn’t seem to have that dynamic presence on the page. Leonora was my sort of heroine…unconventional (a poet and a staunch proponent of women’s rights), intelligent, bold and outspoken.

I wanted to know about their previous relationship. How did they meet? How long they were together? What were their feelings for each other? Leonora had decided she would never marry because of the shameful secret she carried so why did she agree to the engagement to Frederick, only to call it off? In this instance, a flashback would certainly have been helpful in answering these questions. I’m not sure whether it was this lack of insight into their previous thoughts and feelings but the romance between them felt flat somehow. I also found it hard to believe that a seasoned rake like Frederick would not have realised that Leonora wasn’t a virgin when they made love.

I am not giving away any spoilers because it was fairly obvious that Frederick’s cousin and leader of the Lords of Anarchy, Sir Gerard Fincher, is responsible for Jonathan’s death. So, rather than a mystery, the main gist of the story was Frederick and Leonora working together to find the evidence to prove it. There were some especially tense moments and Gerald was truly diabolical so I was disappointed that he never got the punishment he truly deserved.

On a more positive note, I did like Frederick’s mother, the Duchess of Pemberton, who is very adept at handling three grown-up sons. I also liked Frederick’s witty friend, Lord Mainwaring and Leonora’s friend, Lady Hermione Upperton, whose skills with the reins are equal to any man’s.

My Verdict: This book was disappointing but it won’t deter me from reading Lord Mainwaring and Lady Hermione Upperton’s story in the second book, GOOD EARL GONE BAD

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2015

Lords of Anarchy series so far (please click on the book cover for more details):

A Good Rake is Hard to Find (Lords of Anarchy, #1) by Manda Collins Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy, #2) by Manda Collins – 6 October 2015

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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BERRINGTON HALL, NEAR LEOMINSTER, HEREFORDSHIRE, UK

R&R - Berrington Hall

The History

Thomas Harley, a banker and government contractor in London, made a fortune from the lucrative contracts enabling him to retire in his mid-forties. He was keen to retire to the country and, as his family had always had links with Herefordshire, he bought the Berrington Estate in 1775. Harley commissioned the renowned ‘Capability’ Brown to lay out the park and gardens with sweeping views west towards Wales and the Black Mountains. Later in 1778, Harley commissioned Henry Holland, ‘Capability’ Brown’s son-in-law, to design a new house for him in the popular neo-classical style using the finest London craftsmen. The house was completed in 1783. In 1781, Harley’s daughter, Anne, married the son of the great naval commander, Admiral Lord Rodney. When Harley died in 1804, with no male heir, the Berrington Estate passed to the Rodney family.The family lived there for the next 95 years until George, the 7th Lord Rodney, gambled away the assets and was forced to sell the estate in 1901.

The estate was purchased by Frederick Cawley, a wealthy Lancashire businessman, who redecorated the house sympathetically, leaving Holland’s original design intact. However, it was handed over to The National Trust in 1957 in part payment for death duties for the second Lord Cawley. The last member of the Cawley family to live at Berrington Hall was Lady Cawley, who died in 1978 at the grand age of 100.

The House

The red sandstone exterior presents a plain exterior with little adornment but the interior is richly decorated with wonderful painted ceilings and ornate plasterwork. Over the years, much of the original contents had been sold off. However, the National Trust was able to furnish the house with the Elmar Digby collection of 18th century French furniture, clocks and works of art, which had been bequeathed to the Trust in 1981.


The Drawing Room


The Dining Room


The Library


The Staircase Hall


The Marble Hall


Lady Cawley’s Room at Berrington Hall was used by her as a
sitting room until her death in 1978

The ‘below stairs’ areas and servants’ quarters include a Victorian laundry, Butler’s Pantry and Georgian Dairy.

The Parkland and Gardens

There are some 456 acres of parkland and gardens and this was the last major garden designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. There are three way-marked paths through the parkland with views over the beautiful surrounding Herefordshire countryside.

There is a walled garden, originally the kitchen garden, which contains rare species of old fruit trees including apple, plum and cherry, and a woodland garden including a large collection of azaleas and rhododendrons.


The Walled Garden

Berrington Pool, a lake created entirely by hand,  covers 14 acres in area, and lies at the foot of a sloping hill that extends to the very steps of the house.


Berrington Pool

 

For more information about visiting Berrington Hall click on the link below:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall/

 

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(School of Gallantry, #7)

Genre: Historical Romance (Revolutionary France – 1792 and London, England – 1830)

Cover Blurb:

For some, unraveling love takes a lifetime…

Long before becoming the flamboyant courtesan known to men as Madame de Maitenon, Thérèse Angelique Bouchard, dreamed of becoming an actress capable of commanding not only the stage but all of Paris. Until she meets an extraordinary aristocratic gentleman who sweeps her into his arms and the danger of his life, while offering her the sort of wealth she never imagined. What starts off as a seductive alliance, ends in her giving him the one thing she, as a mere bourgeoisie, cannot afford to give: her love.

After the murder of his older brothers, Gérard Antoine Tolbert, becomes the last heir to the powerful dukedom of Andelot, leaving him to fight for not only his life, but the allegiance he holds for the crown. During the final rise of the French Revolution that whispers of the violent change about to shake the entire country, Gérard meets an aspiring actress who entices him into wanting more out of not only himself but life. In trying to protect her from their overly passionate alliance and those that want him dead, he must decide what matters most: his life or his heart.

WARNING: This book contains strong language and sexual content that may cause respectable people to swoon.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

WOW! This final book in the School of Gallantry series was such a gripping, powerful and passionate love story.

Thérèse and Gérard’s story was heart-rending, poignant and dramatic. It was an emotional roller-coaster of a journey and I lived every moment… the intense emotions and powerful passions; the stark dangers and the terrible betrayals; the heart-breaking choices; the forgiveness and the enduring love.

Some of my favourite moments:

She wanted a dashing man capable of seeing more than her breasts and face. She wanted a dashing man capable of seducing her soul.

♥♥♥♥

“I will find my own way to Paris, merci. Whore myself, indeed. I have yet to find a man worthy of it. All you apes ever think about is food, wine and poom-poom.”
He paused from adjusting his felt hat. “What the devil are you talking about?”
Why did no one ever get it? “Sex. It sounds exactly what it looks like. Poom-poom.”

♥♥♥♥

Something hauntingly whispered that she had found her dance partner for life.

♥♥♥♥

She was full of so much mettle and warmth and wit, it was spilling onto the very pavement she walked on.

♥♥♥♥

“I want to go with you,” she choked out. “I want to go with you, but –“
“No. You will stay here. You have a name and a stronghold. Use it. We will find each other again, I promise.”

♥♥♥♥

He slowly approached a painting he thought he would never see again.
Tears burned in his eyes as he knelt and set the lantern before it.

♥♥♥♥

The dream of her that kept his soul and heart alive all these years was nothing compared to the reality of her.

♥♥♥♥

I appreciated the depth of the research Ms Marvelle must have undertaken and she paints a graphic and often harrowing picture of the French Revolution. There is one particular scene when Gérard sees the body of an old neighbour which, for me, conveyed all the horror and brutality of that period.

Vicomte de Laroche had lain mangled, the blood from his still slit-open throat caked and sprayed across cobbled streets. Those open eyes stared up to the heavens as flies crawled across his expressionless face.

I loved the inclusion of the Marquis de Sade in the story. He was totally unpredictable. I never knew what outrageous things he was going to say or do next! Friend or foe? He kept me guessing.

You know how much I love Epilogues and this one featured all the characters from the other books plus assorted children. It was a joyous ending to a wonderful series.

How I imagine the young Gérard

How I imagine the young Thérèse

My Verdict: A fabulous end to a brilliant series. The whole series is a must read!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!!

Read April 2015

School of Gallantry series (click on book covers for more details):

Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #1) by Delilah Marvelle Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #2) by Delilah Marvelle Lady of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #3) by Delilah Marvelle Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4) by Delilah Marvelle Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5) by Delilah Marvelle The Duke of Andelot (School of Gallantry #7) by Delilah Marvelle

**I received a copy of this book from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.**

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