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Archive for October, 2015


Genre: Historical Romance (17th century – 1666)

Cover Blurb:

It is 1666 – the year when people who take prophecy seriously believe that the world is going to end.

For Chloe Herveaux – twenty years old, half-French and practical – marriage to wild, unpredictable Alex Deveril offers escape from a home she hates. For Alex, it is a refuge of a different kind. But while the marriage remains in name only and both, for reasons of their own, agree to seek an annulment, other forces are gathering.

England is once again at war with the Dutch and Prince Rupert, now commanding the Royal Navy, suspects that sabotage is at work within the fleet. Instructed to find the arch-traitor, Alex enters a dark labyrinth of intrigue – where no life is safe and nothing is what it seems.

Chloe, meanwhile, navigates the malice and scandal of Charles 11’s licentious Court and plots a course of her own aimed at financial independence. But as the surprising facets of Mr Deveril’s personality are gradually revealed to her, the long-awaited annulment becomes a double-edged sword.

Absorbed in his search for a traitor, Alex spares little thought for his bride – until a hot June night on the Falcon Stairs when he and Chloe stand united by tragedy.

As the flames of the Great Fire sweep over London, Alex and Chloe face their ultimate test. Their world is at risk … their choices may save it.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I’m delighted to have been pointed in the direction of Stella Riley by one of her biggest fans, and now I’m going to be on a SR binge as she has a lovely long, re-published list available on kindle. Any writer who can keep me awake into the early hours is worthy of great respect. How on earth did I miss her the first time around?

Alex Deveril – who by the way is utterly gorgeous – is out on a drinking spree one night, having been rejected by the woman he believes he loves. He and Chloe Herveaux end up married in less than auspicious circumstances. In the cold light of day, Chloe is convinced that she has taken unfair advantage of Alex in her haste to escape the household of her step brother.  She reluctantly comes to the conclusion that she should have refused his drunken proposal, no matter how enticing the prospect. They discuss the matter and decide that eventually they will pursue an annulment; however, neither is in a hurry, so for the time being their marriage-in-name-only, suits both of them.

It is 1666, England is still recovering from the austere life imposed by Cromwell. Charles II is on the throne and again the Country is at war, this time with the Dutch. I know little of this period in our history but Stella Riley has now piqued my interest. She writes eloquently and with great knowledge, and her extensive research and love of her subject is obvious in the captivating and confident way in which she tells her story.

Alex Deveril is a complex character. He has been a soldier for the past 15 years yet still only 30 – imagine that? He was a boy yet he fought like a man, alongside men, and earned their respect. It is a hardly believable phenomenon that a youth, little more than a child, could achieve such distinction…yet such were the times. He can be charming when he chooses but is also reckless, unpredictable and wild, and is always up for the most outrageous escapades. A series of events outside of Alex’s control have left him bitter, cold and acerbic, at least on the outside. He has a close group of friends who, on the whole, forgive him his digressions and ignore his biting sarcasm. Alex appears unable to stop pushing those closest to him away and this includes Chloe. Despite this, she is very attracted to him and has been since their first meeting. She knows she mustn’t let this show if she is to avoid derision, but more importantly not to make him feel trapped.

Stella Riley has a tremendous talent for developing her cast of characters into loving, breathing beings. I was thoroughly entertained by the way the young and innocent Chloe had the men in Alex’s circle completely enamoured and protective of her in no time. Chloe achieves this without use of guile or affectation – just by being herself. The only man unaffected, it seems, is Alex. Ms. Riley grows the relationship between the two in very slow degrees; they become friends, and in time, confidantes.  Alex soon comes to realise that Chloe is intelligent and undemanding and so he begins to trust her and seek her council. She, very astutely, gets his measure and goes to some lengths to bring about a reconciliation between Alex and his close friend Giles, after one of the former’s particularly cutting remarks causes a rift between them. She achieves this in a risky and humorous way, reluctantly earning Alex’s respect. On another occasion, she takes steps to stop Alex doing something she is convinced he will later regret. Again, he is less annoyed than she expects him to be with her unconventional methods.

Despite the fact that Alex has many flaws of which he is well aware but unrepentant, he is highly intelligent, loyal, ingenious and discerning and also respected for his previously proven military prowess by Prince Rupert, cousin to King Charles and Commander of the Naval Fleet. Together with his friend Giles Beckworth, he is contracted to covertly search for a traitor in their midst, who is costing the British Navy ships and lives. This wonderfully meaty tale just gets better as the two, along with Matt, Alex’s trusted retainer, start their search and by a series of clever eliminations, a fair amount of deviousness, smart code breaking on Alex’s part, and some unwitting help from Chloe, finally get their man.

Stella Riley covers so much in this feast of a tale – a snapshot of the tactics and horror of death and injury on board his Majesty’s ships during wartime; the Great Fire of London, where we see through her eyes, the cramped wooden buildings in their narrow lanes, the fire eating it’s way relentlessly through London and the despair of her inhabitants as they fight fruitlessly to save their homes; then the final devastating toppling of St. Paul’s. There is also the licentious, gluttonous and fashion-obsessed court of the womanising but shrewd and enigmatic Charles II, and the despair of his wife as he flaunts his mistresses – all brought so vibrantly to life by this talented author.

For me though, the intensely beautiful love story between the delectable Alex and the endearing Chloe tops all. It’s almost non-existent to begin with but then develops so slowly, it creeps up on the reader in the most deliciously romantic way. Alex’s constant quoting that had me googling and thinking ‘oh that’s so lovely’; their camaraderie, which at times borders on the hilarious, so well did they interact and understand each other; Alex’s eventual realisation of his love and then his attempts to convince Chloe of it were sooooo!!! … words just fail me!

This was a wonderful first for me by novelist/historian, Stella Riley. I absolutely adored it and, for anyone out there who knows little about this period in our history, I cannot recommend a more entertaining or better way to learn! An unmissable Stellar 5 stars!

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STELLAR STARS

 SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

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delilah-marvelle-2

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

Thank you SO much for having me, Carol! I absolutely love reading your blog and so it’s fun to actually be on it!

~~~~~~~

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

Delilah:
I was born in Chicago in the US. Growing up in Chicago, and in the city proper, was fodder for writing, I’d say. Aside from the fact that I lived in an apartment just two streets down from a railroad track where gangs gathered, and there was more cement than grass, the people I grew up with and the characters I met made it all worthwhile. What many of my readers don’t know is that English is actually my second language. Even though I was born and raised in the US, my parents were from Poland and so I was raised and immersed in the Polish culture until I reached grade school, where I learned how to speak English.

If you’ve ever seen MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, it pretty much sums up how I grew up. A Polish neighbourhood, a Polish dad (though he didn’t use Windex for everything, he was a total clean freak), and I even went to Polish school every Saturday. Although it set me apart from most of the kids in my grade school where kids would throw slurs at me like “Dumb Polak”, I got to experience a side of life most Americans don’t.

I grew up feeling very much like an immigrant and an outsider in a country that was supposedly mine. It was a fascinating experience and the sole reason why I connect with writing historical romances about men and women on the “outside” of respectable society. Because I was never really an insider when it came to anything. Everything I experienced while growing up was almost opposite to my American friends. While they were going to the movies, I was attending political rallies before the Polish consulate to demonstrate against the Communist Party that oppressed the country of Poland. Being connected to a culture and a country outside of the one you’re living in sets you apart and in many ways, I’m glad for it. I experienced the sort of people, books, music and movies most Americans have never heard of. It created a large part of who I am: Delilah Marvelle and her world of the unconventional, lol.


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

Delilah:
I’m incredibly easy-going and get along with everyone on almost everything, BUT I am temperamental when it comes to things I am most passionate about. When it comes to defending others, myself and my family, I don’t mess around by being easy-going. I’ve learned to balance my life by being both, because you can’t survive in life by being one thing.


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

Delilah:
What many don’t know is that I went to culinary school, so I learned to love it all. Sweet and savoury and everything in between. My personal speciality in culinary school was actually experimenting with historical foods which had a tendency to be more savoury. For the most part, there are very few foods I won’t eat. I love trying new foods and often surprise myself by liking it almost every time. The only things I won’t eat are certain organs on an animal that includes testicles. That just seems wrong to me. And yes, I’ve tried them.


R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Delilah:
Aside from my family? A necklace from 1880. I started collecting historical jewellery pieces and it’s by far what I consider my most treasured possession. I attached a picture of it because when it comes to all things historical, I’m all about sharing. What is fascinating about this necklace is that although it looks incredibly heavy, it’s very light. It’s made out of gold book chains. In the Victorian era, book chains were draped in the pages of a book, much like a book mark was used to hold a place. It became the fashion for ladies to show off their “intellectual” side by wearing book plate necklaces. Mine is on the higher end of that scale and I cherish this piece of history, often dreaming about who wore it and why. For those of you who want to see it in person, along with my entire historical collection of jewellery, I’ll be wearing it all at the Historical Romance Retreat (www.HistoricalRomanceRetreat.com )

Delilah Marvelle Interview -1880 Necklace.jpg
My 1880 necklace


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

Delilah:
Not to brag, but I already own two homes, lol. One is in the high desert of Oregon and the other is in lush forest of Oregon, so I get the best of both worlds. BUT…if I were to go for a third home, I’d say it would be in Paris. After visiting Paris for the first time two years ago, even my husband agreed it was a place we could both see ourselves living. The history, the people, the food, and the city itself were breath-taking. Maybe in about ten years, it’ll happen!


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

Delilah:
I’ve had SO, SO, SO many embarrassing moments, I honestly don’t know where to begin, lol. There is a reason I twist in humour into my writing. I live it all the time and have no one to blame but myself. If I had to dwindle it down to one of those moments, I would say the time I went to a Halloween party dressed as a ghost (all white, right?…not a good idea). I walked out into the backyard to join in on the party when I walked right off the ledge into a swimming pool (hey, it was dark!). I wasn’t wearing any underwear or a bra given the outfit was tight and knowing this, I stayed in the water with my head sticking out waiting for people to stop laughing while I waited for a friend to get me a towel. I was totally laughing with them, but let me tell you, I never left the house without a bra and underwear again….especially on Halloween.

~~~~~~

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

You are very welcome! I loved being able to share. I look forward to seeing you at the Historical Romance Retreat next year!

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

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

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(Moonlight Square, #0.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Presenting the wildly romantic new Regency series from New York Times bestselling author, Gaelen Foley…

WELCOME TO MOONLIGHT SQUARE ~ REGENCY LONDON’S MOST EXCLUSIVE ADDRESS!

At the ripe old age of two-and-twenty, Lady Katrina Glendon just can’t seem to snare a husband. Whether her frank tongue or slightly eccentric ways bear the blame, she faces a houseful of younger sisters clamoring for her, the eldest, to marry and move aside before they all end up as spinsters. When her latest suitor defects and proposes to another girl, Trinny throws up her hands in despair of ever finding a fiancé. But sometimes destiny waits just around the corner…and love lives right across the square!

Gable Winston-McCray, the charming, understated Viscount Roland saunters through life as a wealthy, sophisticated rakehell and man-about-town. Heir to an earldom, the handsome hedonist would rather dally with bored Society wives than acquire a bride of his own, much to his father’s dismay. Until, one moonlit night, fate strikes! Unsuspecting neighbors meet and become flirtatious allies. So when Gable receives his father’s ultimatum to wed or go penniless, he offers Trinny a marriage of convenience. Alas, the pretty redhead cannot possibly accept such an unfeeling proposal—even if her dear “Lord Sweet Cheeks” might be the man of her dreams…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I absolutely loved this novella! There are no dangers threatening the hero and heroine and no great hidden secrets, just a heart-warming story of two people falling in love. 

This prequel novella forms a charming introduction to Gaelen Foley’s new series, which centres around the wealthy, aristocratic residents of Moonlight Square, an elegant London garden square.

The scene where Katrina (Trinny) and Gable first meet in the garden square is one of my favourites. I enjoyed their light-hearted banter in the course of which they strike up an unlikely friendship…true friends who are refreshingly open and honest with each other.

Gable is a dedicated rake but he won me over with the kindness and understanding he shows towards Trinny. He proves to her that she is a beautiful and desirable woman and encourages her to embrace spinsterhood and become an independent woman.

I adore heroines who don’t conform to Society’s definition of how a proper lady should act. Trinny‘s frankness and odd topics of conversation have sent her suitors fleeing in the opposite direction. So when she decides to take Gable’s advice and grab her “freedom” with both hands, I cheered her all the way as she tells her parents….

“The important thing is, my dear esteemed parents, I wish to be an independent lady, free of husbands. I do not fear this fate. I do not scorn it. I embrace it happily.”

The romance is sweet, heart-warming and funny. One of my favourite scenes takes place in the pantry, when a delightfully tipsy Trinny succumbs to some feverish kisses from Gable.

“Hey!” she protested as he lifted her wineglass out of her hand, setting it aside. “I was enjoying that!”
“You’ll enjoy this, too. Trust me,” he said in a husky voice, leaning down before her chair. With a gentle pressure of his fingertips under her chin, he raised her head and kissed her— a soft, satin caress of his mouth on hers.

Another is where Gable, having been threatened with penury by his father unless he marries, arrogantly believes that Trinny will accept his marriage proposal, only to have the wind knocked out of his sails!

I enjoyed seeing how each of them grows and changes in the course of the story, particularly Gable. His realisation that he will lose Trinny forces him take a long hard look at himself and instils in him a desire to turn his life around. It was also satisfying to see him realise that he has misjudged his father. Their reconciliation scene is so heart-warming.

Talking about fathers, I loved Trinny’s… always so understanding and kind.

Papa was sitting with his feet up, having a smoke in his study at the front of the house. She paused at the threshold and turned to her lifelong champion. “Did he say something to you, Papa?”
“I’ll be here if you need me,” was all he said, and sent her a wink.

I love the names the Grendon sisters have thought up for the eligible bachelors of Moonlight Square. Gable is “Lord Sweet Cheeks” which has nothing to do with his strikingly handsome face!!

I was so intrigued by the obvious tension between Gable’s friend, the scandalous Duke of Netherford and the very prim and proper Miss Felicity Carvel that I immediately bought DUKE OF SCANDAL.

MY VERDICT: This is an excellent introduction to what promises be a delightful and entertaining series.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALTY RATING: WARM

Read October 2015

Moonlight Square series to date (please click on book cover for further details):

One Moonlit Night (Moonlight Square, #0.5) by Gaelen Foley Duke of Scandal (Moonlight Square #1) by Gaelen Foley

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(The Survivors’ Club, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Six years after being severely wounded in the Peninsular Wars as a cavalry officer, and three years after leaving Penderris Hall in Cornwall, where he had stayed with his fellow Survivors during his long road to recovery, Ben finally admits to himself that he will never be able to walk properly again or resume his old way of life. But he feels adrift. Although he is a wealthy man and owns a profitable estate, his brother has been running it for him with great efficiency and Ben cannot summon the will to oust his brother and family. The trouble is, though, he does not know what else he is going to do with his life. He decides to spend some time with his married sister in the north of England while he makes some plans and decisions.Samantha McKay is a recent widow. Her husband died after suffering for several years from battle wounds, and she is feeling drained and empty, for he would allow no one to nurse him but her and he was a demanding patient. It does not help that her sister-in-law has recently come to live with her and has very strict ideas on what is proper—and improper—for a widow to do. And the sister-in-law is fully backed by her autocratic father, who lives far away in the south of England but who nevertheless owns the house in which Samantha lives.

Ben and Samantha meet for the first time when he is out riding and jumps a hedge, narrowly missing coming down on top of her after she and her dog have left the confines of her own park, unknown to her sister-in-law. It is not an auspicious beginning to their relationship, though later they forge something of a friendship, cut short when Ben fears to embroil her in gossip and possible scandal. But her father-in-law judges her unfit to live without male supervision anyway and summons her south to live with him. Samantha chooses rather to escape to Wales, where she owns a dilapidated hovel of a cottage left her by her mother, though she has never seen it. Ben, the only one in whom she confides plans, insists upon escorting her there. And so they escape together into a new world and a new life with new discoveries and challenges and possibilities—and new temptations.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

What a fabulous, classy storyteller Mary Balogh is. She never disappoints and her story lines are original, interesting and captivating. This particular series is so addictive;  six men and one woman, all affected in some devastating way by participation or connection with the Napoleonic war.

This is the third in the series and Ms. Balogh has cleverly reminded us of the involvement of the others without boring, long winded explanations. There are quite long periods between publication of each of The Survivor’s stories and she tells us just enough to remind us of the surrounding circumstances.

This is Major Sir Benedict Harper’s story. Having suffered debilitating injuries, mainly to his legs, he is determined to walk and make a life for himself outside of the Army which was his love. What to do to utilise his military skills is the question. Benedict (Ben) has mastered horse riding again and, whilst out riding on his sister’s estate, he jumps a high hedge unaware of the heavily veiled, black clothed widow sitting on the ground on the other side. Antagonistic towards each other to begin with, Ben’s innate good manners drive him to make his apologies and he discovers the lovely young woman beneath the widow’s weeds.

Ben becomes embroiled in Samantha McKay’s troubles and , after their second meeting, the rapport between them is instantaneous and develops into an attraction that escalates over the coming months. Married at 17 to a dashing Military man, Samantha ends up nursing her complaining, demanding husband after he suffers life threatening injuries in the same war. Finally widowed after 6 years of nursing, she craves freedom and ‘escape’, especially from her autocratic and aristocratic in laws. Samantha decides to make her escape to Wales where she has been willed a cottage by a maiden aunt, which, as far as she knows, could be in ruins. Anything is better than the life she is now living. Honourable Ben offers his services as her escort to the wilds of South Wales.

These two characters are utterly wonderful. Honourable, charismatic and brave, Ben’s injuries only add rather than detract from his attraction. Warm, vital, and vivacious, Samantha, a breath of fresh air to Ben, sees the man beyond the crippled legs.

Mary Balogh is a native of Wales and it shows…I know Tenby and her wonderful description of the place and people transports me to a place I love. There are no bored, aristocratic rakes or mention of Regency ballrooms. The only ball is a Christmas gathering of all the local people – mistletoe, a waltz – totally heart-warming.

Written in Ms. Balogh’s usual fluent, original writing style, I enjoyed this wonderful, witty tale so much.  A well-earned  5 stars.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

♥♥♥♥♥♥

(The Survivors’ Club #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, in the fourth novel of the Survivors’ Club series, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, has left this refuge to find his own salvation—in the love of a most unsuspecting woman…

Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancée’s desertion after his return home. Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.

Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.

When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This series just gets better and ONLY ENCHANTING is another winner. Mary Balogh’s years of experience show, but instead of running out of ideas, her novels just get richer, more empathetic and entrancing. How has she managed to come up with the diversity shown in this series alone? Each story is different; each character endearing, charismatic and loveable and definitely worthy of his (the men so far) happy ever after.

This is Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby’s story. Rich, bored, cynical and handsome, he is nevertheless a very unhappy and unfulfilled man. Enter plain…at least on first sight…Agnes Keeping, widowed and virtuous. She believes passion and love have no place in marriage. In spite of this, at the ball given by her friend Sophia, wife of Vincent, Lord Darleigh, a fellow survivor, she is completely captivated by Flavian after dancing with him on two occasions. Flavian, on the other hand, prepares himself to be charming but bored. Instead he finds himself enchanted by this no frills, sweet, young widow with a sense of humour and no guile.

Flavian has suffered devastating injuries in the Napoleonic wars and is rescued in the nick of time and carried off to the home of George, Duke of Stanbrook, in Cornwall. Here his terrible head injuries can heal in the company of others with horrific injuries of their own. Supporting each other through the healing process, The Survivors Club becomes the salvation for all seven members. However, they cannot save each other once they finally face the world again, forever changed to their families and loved ones. Flavian’s life threatening head wounds have healed, at least on the outside. He still suffers from memory loss, severe headaches and temper outbursts brought on by frustration at his inability to remember huge chunks hovering just out of range, tantalisingly close. He knows something devastating happened, but can’t catch it from his subconscious. It is all somehow wrapped up with his ex-fiancé Velma, who ended their betrothal on his return from the wars, to all intents and purposes a madman. Now that he is, at least on the surface, recovered, Velma would like to resume their relationship as she is recently widowed. Both her parents and his family support the match but Flavian has other ideas.

Mrs Agnes Keeping is the object of Flavian’s attention. He can’t explain to himself why he must marry her, he just knows she makes him feel safe. Eventually he wears down her misgivings and they marry by special license. Agnes is, against her better judgement, madly and deeply in love with Flavian and they enjoy a close and loving relationship until she discovers his previous relationship and feels he has married her simply to wreak revenge on his ex-fiancé Velma. Her gut reaction is to leave him but Flavian has discovered that Agnes is much more to him than ‘safe’ and does all in his power to keep her by his side.

Agnes decides to stay and her love and care slowly help Flavian to unlock the secrets of his mind. He in turn helps her to face her own demons; those same demons that insist that passion has no place in marriage.

Mary Balough has crafted another fabulous page turner from her talented pen. The other characters of the Survivors Club are in attendance, though slowly finding peace and love. I’d love to see George settle down. He is the saviour of this group of damaged human beings, offering them help and refuge, and should definitely find his own HEA. I do hope it will be Agnes’s elder sister Dora who captures George’s heart.

Again for pure entertainment value and originality, a resounding 5 stars.

REVIEW RATING: 5 /5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM


The Survivors’ Club series (click on the book covers for more details):

The Proposal (The Survivors' Club #1) by Mary Balogh The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2) by Mary Balogh The Escape (The Survivors' Club #3) by Mary Balogh Only Enchanting (The Survivors' Club, #4) by Mary Balogh Only a Promise (The Survivors' Club, #5) by Mary Balogh Only a Kiss (The Survivors' Club, #6) by Mary Balogh Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club #7) by Mary Balogh

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I really loved ONE MOONLIT NIGHT (review coming soon), the prequel novella to this series, and I can’t wait to read Jason and Felicity’s story.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Moonlight Square, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Romance is in the air at Moonlight Square ~ Regency London’s most exclusive address! 

Jason Hawthorne, the Duke of Netherford, made it clear to the young, lovesick Felicity Carvel long ago that nothing could ever happen between them. He has earned his reputation as the Duke of Scandal–and she’s his best friend’s little sister. For honor’s sake, he vows to stay away from the lovely innocent. But six years of the wealthy libertine’s life have left Jason empty and jaded, while Felicity has blossomed into a strong, beautiful woman, ripe for love and marriage.

When a sudden windfall makes her one of the most sought-after heiresses in London, chased all over Town by fortune-hunters, Jason knows he must keep the rogues at bay until her brother returns from his dangerous mission abroad. Unfortunately, the scandalous attraction between them has only grown to a searing intensity. Deep down, Felicity still wants Jason for her own. But after getting her heart broken once before by Naughty Netherford, does she dare attempt to play with fire again–and this time, can Jason resist?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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(Lords of Anarchy, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

TEMPTING FATE

Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Yet Lady Hermione Upperton has never backed down from a challenge. When her spendthrift father offers her at the gaming tables, she is given a difficult choice—wed the Earl of Mainwaring, an infamous gamester with no respect for her skills with the reins, or face charges for the murder of a member of the infamous Lords of Anarchy. Either way she’ll have to clear her name. Can she count on her husband’s help the way she has begun to count on his kisses?

RISKING ROMANCE

All Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, wanted was a night of cards. But by the end of the evening he’s walked away with a fortune—and a bride who’s suspected of murder. Jasper knows Hermione is passionate about her unorthodox membership in the Lords of Anarchy, but he’s certain she would never kill to keep it. Can he protect his headstrong wife from prosecution and a ruthless killer without endangering both their hearts in the process?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I was disappointed with A Good Rake is Hard to Find, the first book in the series, but I really enjoyed this one with its engaging characters, charming romance and intriguing mystery elements.

Jasper has all the traits I look for in a hero… honourable, charming, kind and patient. I love how he champions Hermione and is so protective towards her. He admires her spirit and sharp wit and I like that he has no desire to change her. I think these words reveal the sort of man he is.

“I realize that your life with your father has been somewhat…difficult at times. But you should never worry about angering me or upsetting me. I will always listen to with an open mind.”

Hermione is outspoken, headstrong and determined and, as a keen driving enthusiast, she is considered unfashionable. She is a mixture of strength and vulnerability which made her a very sympathetic character. Her father, Lord Upperton, is a compulsive gambler and Hermione realises that he loves cards more than he loves her. Only a really, corrupt and heartless man would threaten to auction off his own daughter. It’s not surprising she has concerns about Jasper, someone she sees as a gambler just like her father (Jasper’s reasons for gambling are very different from her father’s as revealed later in the story).

I enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom slowly from friendship to affection and finally to love. It was refreshing to see a couple who, although married under less than ideal circumstances, really want their marriage to work and are open and honest with each other.

The conversation they have about what happens in the marriage bed is certainly one of the most unusual ones I’ve read!

“I admit,” she said with a smile, “my knowledge about the process is a bit limited. I have seen horses of course, but as they have hooves there was no question of the lady horse touching the stallion’s …” She made a hand gesture meant to indicate the missing word.
“Quite,” he said with a wince at the absurdity of this conversation.

I liked how Hermione’s boldness extends to the bedroom but also how Jasper shows such consideration and gentleness.

Jasper really proved a true hero when he stands up to his mother on Hermione’s behalf but Hermione proves herself more than capable of holding her own against the over-bearing Lady Mainwaring. At first, I thoroughly disliked Jasper’s scheming mother, but I came to understand and sympathise with her when she confides in Hermione the reasons for the conflict with her son. It was lovely to see a genuine friendship forged between Lady Mainwaring and Hermione and reconciliation between mother and son.

Why did it feel as if this case were becoming more complex not less.

Yes, there are lots of twists and turns before the mystery surrounding the theft of Hermione’s horses  is resolved but I never felt that the mystery element eclipsed the romance.

If I were asked to choose my favourite romantic moment, it would be this…

“Just know that I don’t want you to change. Or rather, I don’t expect you to. It isn’t a requirement for my happiness.”
“You are a wonderful man, “she said, kissing him back. “My father couldn’t have chosen better.”

MY VERDICT: This was a very enjoyable read and Jasper and Hermione were a delightful couple.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read September/October 2015

Lords of Anarchy series (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 Good Dukes Wear Black (Lords of Anarchy, #3) by Manda Collins – to be published 5th April 2016


**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. **

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When I read this book was inspired by one of my all-time favourite movies, the 1940 romantic comedy “The Philadephia Story”, with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart, I knew I had to read it!

Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a honest review.

(Playful Brides, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Lady Daphne Swift comes from a family with two brothers who have proudly served the Crown. She may be a female, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes to prove that she’s as useful to the war effort as her brothers. She even went so far as to secretly marry a spy. The fact that she just happened to have been pining for Captain Rafe Cavendish for years didn’t hurt matters. But after their first mission, when she realized their marriage had been strictly business, Daphne immediately wanted an annulment. The fiery Daphne has always been a multi-tasker and now she’s hell bent on two things: finding the men who killed her brother and securing her engagement to another man to forget about Rafe forever.

As a spy for the War Office, Captain Rafferty Cavendish has been on dozens of missions. But one mission haunts him, the mission that resulted in the death of Daphne Swift’s eldest brother, Donald. Rafe agreed to work with Daphne once and put her life in danger. Now he must find the men who killed Donald, avenge the family, and convince Daphne to give him one more chance. But Daphne’s enlisted her other older brother, Julian, to help her get a quick and quiet annulment so that she can marry a fop who only wants her for her title and money. Can Rafe convince Daphne to give him one more chance, on the mission and with her heart?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

So many of my friends have recommended this book and I’ve finally succumbed to buying it.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle


(The Merridew Sisters, #1))

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

She ran from a brute...

Fleeing violent tyranny, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke…But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster.

...into the arms of a rake

Aristocratic Gideon, handsome, rakish and with a strong frivolous streak, casually hijacks Prudence’s game, awarding himself a stolen kiss or three along the way. Used to managing sisters and elderly men, Prudence is completely out of her depth with a charming, devious and utterly irresistible rake. And her plot goes terribly—if deliciously—awry…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I’m way behind reading this series but, as this one was free on Amazon, I downloaded it.

Source: Free from Amazon Kindle


(Lonely Lords, #9)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

David, Viscount Fairly, has imperiled his honor…

Letty Banks is a reluctant courtesan, keeping a terrible secret that brought her, a vicar’s daughter, to a life of vice. While becoming madam of Viscount Fairly’s high-class brothel is an absolute financial necessity, Letty refuses to become David’s mistress-though their attraction becomes harder to resist the more she learns about the man…

Perhaps a fallen woman can redeem it.

David is smitten not only with Letty’s beauty, but also with her calm, her kindness, her quiet. David is determined to put respectability back in her grasp, even if that means uncovering the secrets Letty works so hard to keep hidden-secrets that could take her away from him forever…

Award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’s extraordinary writing will immerse you in a Regency world unlike any you’ve experienced.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I was lucky enough to meet up with Miranda Neville last week in London and I received a signed copy of this book complete with a personalised message.

Source: A gift from the author

(The Wild Quartet, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

The rules of society don’t apply to Caro and her coterie of bold men and daring women. But when passions flare, even the strongest will surrender to the law of love…

Thomas, Duke of Castleton, has every intention of wedding a prim and proper heiress. That is, until he sets eyes on the heiress’s cousin, easily the least proper woman he’s ever met. His devotion to family duty is no defense against the red-headed vixen whose greatest asset seems to be a talent for trouble…

Caroline Townsend has no patience for the oh-so-suitable (and boring) men of the ton. So when the handsome but stuffy duke arrives at her doorstep, she decides to put him to the test. But her scandalous exploits awaken a desire in Thomas he never knew he had. Suddenly Caro finds herself falling for this most proper duke…while Thomas discovers there’s a great deal of fun in a little bit of wickedness.

This is the first of a four book series centered around a group of badly behaved late-Georgian art collectors

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I love Christi Caldwell’s books and, even though I’m way behind in reading her prolific output, I still feel compelled to download each new book. How could I not buy this book when it has the following Acknowledgement?

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle


(The Heart of a Duke, #6)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Ruthless, wicked, and dark, the Marquess of Rutland rouses terror in the breast of ladies and nobleman alike. All Edmund wants in life is power. After he was publically humiliated by his one love Lady Margaret, he vowed vengeance, using Margaret’s niece, as his pawn. Except, he’s thwarted by another, more enticing target–Miss Phoebe Barrett.

Miss Phoebe Barrett knows precisely the shame she’s been born to. Because her father is a shocking letch she’s learned to form her own opinions on a person’s worth. After a chance meeting with the Marquess of Rutland, she is captivated by the mysterious man. He, too, is a victim of society’s scorn, but the more encounters she has with Edmund, the more she knows there is powerful depth and emotion to the jaded marquess.

The lady wreaks havoc on Edmund’s plans for revenge and he finds he wants Phoebe, at all costs. As she’s drawn into the darkness of his world, she risks being destroyed by his ruthlessness. And Phoebe, who desires love at all costs, has to determine if she can ever truly trust the heart of a scoundrel.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This book comes highly recommended by my friend and Guest Reviewer, Wendy Loveridge, and it’s also a period in British history that fascinated me when I was younger.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle


Genre: Historical Romance (17th century – 1666)

Cover Blurb:

It is 1666 – the year when people who take prophecy seriously believe that the world is going to end.

For Chloe Herveaux – twenty years old, half-French and practical – marriage to wild, unpredictable Alex Deveril offers escape from a home she hates. For Alex, it is a refuge of a different kind. But while the marriage remains in name only and both, for reasons of their own, agree to seek an annulment, other forces are gathering.

England is once again at war with the Dutch and Prince Rupert, now commanding the Royal Navy, suspects that sabotage is at work within the fleet. Instructed to find the arch-traitor, Alex enters a dark labyrinth of intrigue – where no life is safe and nothing is what it seems.

Chloe, meanwhile, navigates the malice and scandal of Charles 11’s licentious Court and plots a course of her own aimed at financial independence. But as the surprising facets of Mr Deveril’s personality are gradually revealed to her, the long-awaited annulment becomes a double-edged sword.

Absorbed in his search for a traitor, Alex spares little thought for his bride – until a hot June night on the Falcon Stairs when he and Chloe stand united by tragedy.

As the flames of the Great Fire sweep over London, Alex and Chloe face their ultimate test. Their world is at risk … their choices may save it.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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