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Archive for November, 2015

I am an avid reader of Historical Romances set during the Regency era but it was a very different period in British History that first captured my childhood imagination.


Boscobel House, Brewood (pronounced Brood), Shropshire

On a school trip to Boscobel House in Shropshire, I became fascinated by the story of Charles Stuart’s (the future Charles II) escape and dangerous journey to the safety of France, following his defeat by the Roundheads at the Battle of Worcester. Having taken refuge at Boscobel House, the home of Royalist supporters, he narrowly avoided capture by hiding with a companion in the thick, leafy branches of an oak tree, while Roundhead soldiers searched the woods below him. Once the soldiers had gone, Charles returned to the house and spent the night in a priest’s hole in the attic. It must have been a tight squeeze for the 6′ 2″ Charles!


The Priest’s Hole

Then a very brave, young woman called Jane Lane helped Charles reach the south coast and escape to France.

 

**To find out more about Boscobel House and Charles’s escape follow the link below**:

https://rakesandrascals.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/great-english-country-houses/

**You can also follow plucky heroine Jane Lane’s perilous journey by following the link below**:

https://rakesandrascals.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/a-real-life-plucky-heroine-jane-lane/

 

These stories instilled in me a desire to discover history in all its different facets. Over the years, I’ve roamed great Historic Houses, explored windswept Welsh castles and toured sites of bloody battles.


Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England


Conwy Castle, Conwy, North Wales


Re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth Field fought in 1485
which saw the death of Richard III, the last Plantagenet King.


The plaque commemorating his death.

I think this love of the past was reflected in my choice of reading as a teenager. I read lots of Barbara Cartland books but, although my interest in history never waned, my reading changed as I grew older and I developed a taste for the crime novels of Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell and Michael Connelly. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that I wanted something a little lighter to read and decided that perhaps a romance would be ideal. Wandering around a bookshop in Birmingham one day, I found myself drawn to the shelves marked Historical Romance and, after reading the synopsis, I picked up a book called Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught.

This book has a special place in my heart because it was the one that re-introduced me to the wonderful world of Historical Romance…a world I have become totally captivated by.  I love being transported to a world far away from modern everyday life and I’m fascinated by the rules of society then, which were far different from our own, particularly for women. I even love reading about the fashions, the food and the different modes of transport.

Every time I read a great historical romance, I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about the book…to reach out to readers who love Historical Romances as much as I do. Unfortunately, the only “someone” around was my husband, who would just sit there with a glazed look in his eyes! I toyed with the idea of creating my own blog but knew absolutely nothing about how to set one up or even how to run one. However, with my husband’s support and my son’s technical assistance, Rakes and Rascals finally went ‘live’ in September 2012.

I can’t believe how successful it has been , over 68,000 views to date, and I have made so many wonderful friends and discovered some great authors. I’ve also had the opportunity to interview many of my favourite authors and I’m thrilled to be attending the Historical Romance Retreat in Spokane, USA in September 2016. It will certainly be the trip of a lifetime and to meet so many of my favourite authors face-to-face will be a dream come true.

 

**This was originally a Guest Post on Catherine Curzon’s A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life on 1st October 2015. **

 

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(Roxton Series, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

Set in the opulent world of the 18th century aristocracy and inspired by real events, Midnight Marriage is the standalone second book in the acclaimed Roxton family saga.

Two noble teenagers are married against their will. Drugged, Deb has no recollection of events. Disgraced, Julian is banished to the Continent. Nine years later, Deb falls in love with a wounded duelist, only to later discover it is her husband returned incognito! Can Deb forgive his cruel deception? Can their marriage survive beyond seduction? Meanwhile, Julian’s nemesis plots to destroy them both…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

What an amazing introduction to the world of audiobooks this was! The combination of writer Lucinda Brant and narrator Alex Wyndham was definitely a match made in heaven.

This is the second book in the series but can easily be read as a standalone.

Ms Brant certainly captured my attention with the hasty, secretive marriage of the title. It left me intrigued to know the “whys and wherefores” surrounding this mysterious event and so I had to keep reading. As the story unfolds there are various twists and turns, with hidden secrets, deception, heartbreak, passion and old enmities.

Julian is charming, caring and witty but, as son and heir to the powerful Duke of Roxton, he has also inherited the Roxtons’ arrogant streak. His reputation as a libertine is widely known but sometimes things aren’t always what they seem. Sorry to be rather cryptic here but I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone. His relationship with his father has never been an easy one for reasons we discover later in the story and I found this a very interesting facet of the story.

As cousin to the 5th Duke of Devonshire, Deborah is well-connected. However, her reputation was severely tarnished when, at the age of sixteen, she went to Paris to care for her sick brother, Otto. He is the black sheep of the family having married a gypsy. Deborah only compounded things by bringing Otto’s son, Jack home to live with her after both his parents died. Deborah cared more for her brother and her nephew than society’s censure and I admired her for that.

The idyllic time Julian and Deborah spend together before she discovers his true identity make the subsequent events more heart-breaking.  Julian thought he would be able to just smooth things over and Deborah would simply forgive him…foolish man! Deborah has a mind of her own and, although I might question her reaction given how much she loves him, Julian’s subsequent cruel and harsh treatment of her had me sympathising with her. There is a lot of anger and hurt to overcome plus a very dramatic finale before these two can finally share a Happy Ever After together.

The secondary characters all add depth to the story and I will definitely be listening to Noble Satyr, the story of Julian’s parents, the Duke of Roxton and his younger wife, Antonia.

Ms Brant really made me feel as though I was stepping back in time to the Georgian world of powdered wigs, panniers and sedan chairs.

Alex Wyndham is a superb narrator and I was totally swept away by his deep, rich voice. Each character is pitched perfectly – male or female, old or young, noble or servant – and I was amazed at his ability to sustain such a wide range of characters’ voices throughout the book. I found it easy to distinguish between narrative and dialogue and I knew instantly which character was speaking.

MY  VERDICT: Ms Brant weaves an intricate and compelling story which Alex Wyndham brings superbly to life. Highly Recommended!


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

Listened to November 2015

 

Roxton Series (click on the book cover for more information):

Noble Satyr (Roxton Series #1) by Lucinda Brant Midnight Marriage (Roxton Series #2) by Lucinda Brant Autumn Duchess (Roxton Series #3) by Lucinda Brant Dair Devil (Roxton Series #4) by Lucinda Brant

**I recevieved this free from the author in return for an honest review.**

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I’m thrilled to welcome USA TODAY Bestselling author CHRISTI CALDWELL to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

It is an absolute pleasure to be here! Thank you so, so much for having me!

~~~~~~

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

Christi:
I grew up in West Haven, Connecticut. It was, and still is a very diverse shoreline city. Even though it was a large city, there was still a small town feel to West Haven where everyone seems to know everyone. My family was by no means affluent. My father worked two jobs, and my sister and I shared a bedroom in a small, three bedroom ranch style house.

One of the amazing things about where we lived, however, is that it didn’t really matter that we didn’t have money. We might not have had the material things other children had, but because of where we lived, we had such a joyous childhood. We spent so much of our time at the beach; in the winter and the summer. We would play in the sand and walk on the boardwalk, and attend the carnivals at the beach.


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

Christi:
I always break my life up into two parts; my world before my son Rory was born, and life after him.  As many probably know, my son Rory has Down syndrome. Before him, I never truly had an appreciation for what was important. Oh, if you’d asked me then, I would have thought I knew. But I didn’t. Our life, by nature of Rory’s disability moves along at a very slow pace. There is no rushing. It is just a more sedate life. Rory has taught me to not let those important seeming things weigh me down. Instead, it is about stopping, and smelling the tulips. (That is a nod to the “Welcome to Holland” poem. If you haven’t yet read the poem by Emily Perl-Kingsley, I recommend it. In her words, she explains what it is like being the parent of a child with special needs.)


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

Christi:
Oh, I have a wicked sweet tooth. There aren’t really meals I crave but I do crave candy. I love Gummy Bears, and Jolly Ranchers, and ‘fun’ gum, as my sister jokes. You know, not ‘grown-up’ minty gum, but rather Bazooka and Big League Chew.


R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Christi:
My most cherished gift? My children.

My most treasured possession? My computer. My laptop allows me so much joy and a much needed escape from the stress of life.


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

Christi:
My husband and I discovered Bald Head Island when we were living in North Carolina. It is this secluded island tucked away on the North Carolina shore. The only way you can get there is by ferry and when you are there, there are no cars and only a handful of island shops and two small restaurants. You get around on a golf cart. It is just such a remote haven; a place where you can be away, and feel like you are actually much further away because of its remoteness. There is nothing commercial about it. It’s really just about being with your family…and we love it for that reason.


Bald Head Island


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

Christi:
When I was in grad school, I was living away from home. I was an education major looking for a teaching position. I spent all my days as an intern and then all my nights at class and studying. The day I received my first interview, I was so proud, I forwarded the email to my dad. He wrote me and said; “I am so proud of my girl. You are a number one draft pick. They would be crazy to not want you.” My dad has always been one of my biggest fans.

Then came the day of my interview. Did you ever have an interview where everything felt right and you were so confident? Well, this was one of those. Following my interview with the principal, I was scheduled to deliver a demonstration lesson for a 6th grade classes. Just as I finished my interview (you know that interview I thought I nailed?) the principal slid a copy of an email over the table. It was highlighted. It was my proud dad’s email. I did not get that position.

~~~~~~

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

I’m honored that you’ve had me here, and invited me to share! Thank *you*! 🙂

 

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

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

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

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

A Madness in Spring by Kate Noble

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

The Summer of Wine and Scandal by Shana Galen

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

Those Autumn Nights by Theresa Romain

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

The Season for Loving by Vanessa Kelly

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

♥♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEW OF MADNESS IN SPRING BY KATE NOBLE

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

REVIEW OF THE SUMMER OF WINE AND SCANDAL BY SHANA GALEN

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

 

REVIEW OF THOSE AUTUMN NIGHTS BY THERESA ROMAIN

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

 

THE SEASON FOR LOVING BY VANESSA KELLY

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

 

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

Read November 2015

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

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(Maiden Lane, #9)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian – 1741)

Cover Blurb:

SHE’S TAKING CHARGE

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

HE’S RUNNING THE SHOW

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

BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL

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

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALTY RATING: HOT!

 

Read November 2015

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

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

 

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

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

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

~~~~~~


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

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


Wardour Castle

 

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

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


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

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


R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

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


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

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


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

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

~~~~~~

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

Thank you, Carol. Very fun questions.

 

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

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

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

Cover Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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

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

The story begins with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Fiction of a historical nature and anything else that takes my fancy

The Reading Wench

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