Archive for March, 2016

(Roxton Series, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian – 1777)

Cover Blurb:

A beautiful duchess mourns for her beloved.
A sun-bronzed merchant returns to claim a birthright.
Disparate souls in need of love and renewal.
Paths cross and the journey begins…

Hampshire, England, 1777: Antonia, Dowager Duchess of Roxton, has been mourning the loss of her soul mate for three long years. Her despair is all-consuming until into her life steps a devilishly handsome younger man. Unconventional and self-assured, wealthy merchant Jonathon Strang will stop at nothing to convince Antonia she can love again, and deeply.


A beautiful and deeply emotional second chance love story by Lucinda Brant superbly narrated by Alex Wyndham – it doesn’t get any better than this!

This is the third book in the Roxton family saga and I would definitely recommend reading the first two books because I feel it gives the reader a fuller understanding of Antonia’s emotional state at the beginning of this book. They are also well worth reading.

It has been three years since her husband, Renard, passed away and Antonia, Dowager Duchess of Roxton, is still in deep mourning over the loss of the love of her life. She was 20 years younger than her husband and, at the age of 48, is still a beautiful woman. Her son Julian, the current Duke of Roxton, and his wife, Deborah, are very worried about Antonia’s state of mind and, over the past three years, Julian has tried everything to convince his mother that life is still worth living but to no avail. She refuses to put off her widow’s weeds and her lonely days in Crecy Hall, are only brightened by the twice-weekly visits of her beloved grandchildren.

Jonathon Strang Leven, a wealthy merchant, has returned from India having made his fortune there. He has inherited a title and estates in Scotland on the death of a distant relative, but is also seeking the return of an inheritance stolen from his ancestor Edmund Strang Leven over a century ago by the Roxton family. This inheritance being Crecy Hall. He also wants to secure his daughter Sarah Jane’s chances of marrying into nobility. Jonathon is completely self-assured, used to getting what he wants and cares nothing for society’s expectations.

…he did not do as Society expected. He did not apologize. He was not penitent. He did not bow and scrape and back away to be swallowed up by the crowd.

I was totally captivated by Antonia and Jonathan’s love story and enjoyed the older woman/younger man aspect. Having read Noble Satyr (Antonia and Renard’s story), it was easy to see the marked contrast between the vital, exuberant person she once was and the withdrawn, grief-stricken person she has become. I really felt for her son, Julian, who wanted so desperately to help his mother but didn’t know how. I knew he was only doing what he thought best for her although his actions often seemed cruel, unfeeling and misguided.

He was at a loss to know what else he could possibly do or say that he had not already done or said, to drag her out of the vat of grief and self-pity in which she was slowly drowning.

I absolutely loved Jonathon. Having lost his beloved wife in childbirth many years before, he understands Antonia’s grief better than anyone and he is the perfect person to reawaken her to the joys of living. I love his dogged pursuit of her regardless of the consequences whether it be asking her to dance or turning up for breakfast at Crecy Hall uninvited. I also adore him for accepting that “Monseigneur” will always have a place in her heart.

I loved watching Antonia’s initial reactions to Jonathan’s outrageous behaviour and comments. It creates some very funny moments and this is one of my favourites.

“In my experience, Mme la Duchesse, full breasts droop if—”

Pourquoi? Droop? Droop? What is this-this droop?”

Antonia was aghast. Angry pride spurred her to give an outrageously candid and thus indiscreet response. But she had always spoken her mind; it was second nature to her.

“Monseigneur he says I have the most perfect breasts imaginable because they are firm and full, and suspend like ripened fruit still on the tree. That is not droop.”

I also loved the inner conversations between Jonathon’s Business Brain, Heart, Stomach and Vital Organ. So funny!

Ms Brant weaves elements of factual history into the sub-plot involving Antonia’s cousin who is accused of aiding American Revolutionaries. This also provides some suspenseful moments.

If I have one small criticism, it would be that the story ends rather abruptly but, as this is a continuing family saga, I hope to see more of Antonia and Jonathon in later books.

Once again, Alex Wynham’s narration was superb. He continues to amaze me with the wide range of character voices he can produce, each distinctive and sustained throughout the book. I have listened to Noble Satyr and Antonia’s French accent is exactly the same pitch and tone that I remember from that book. His rich, smooth voice is perfect for the deliciously gorgeous Jonathon and his narration of the passionate, romantic scenes made my toes curl.

MY VERDICT: A beautifully crafted, superbly narrated and emotionally satisfying love story that truly touches the heart. Highly recommended.




Listened to March 2016


Roxton Series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

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 Eternally Yours Roxton Letters Volume One A Companion To The Roxton Family Saga Books 1–3 by Lucinda Brant


**I received a free download of this audiobook from the author in return for a honest review**


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

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



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

I live in Canada now, but I was actually born in eastern Pennsylvania. I don’t think I had an abnormal childhood. We lived on the edge of the suburbs, I suppose you could call it. When we first moved there, the back yard ended on a cornfield, but they soon put up a sub-division. But we lived close enough to a stable where I could take riding lessons when I was a teenager. My parents thought that was an indulgence. Little could they know a familiarity with horses would stand me in good stead when I started writing historical romance.


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

I like to think I’m fairly easy-going. I’m pretty happy to let someone else pick the restaurant or activity and follow along with what everyone else wants to do.


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

I pretty much have to say both. I enjoy food of all kinds. I enjoy a lovely dinner, but a little sweet at the end of the meal is always welcome. Especially if chocolate is involved.


What is your most treasured possession?

My most treasured possession is intangible, I’m afraid. It’s my imagination. In my imagination, I can travel anywhere, I can entertain myself for hours—everything becomes possible.


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

I’ve had a conversation like this with my sister-in-law. We both agree we’d love to live somewhere not too hot, not too cold, with a fair amount of sun year-round, but we’re both convinced such an ideal location does not exist. If we’re talking real places, I think an old, historic house in the English countryside would be wonderful for writing inspiration.


Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

I’m going to tell you about an embarrassing moment without it being the most embarrassing moment—because I can be a real dork when I want to be.

In 2011, I attended the Romance Writers of America® national conference. This was my first really big writers’ conference, and I didn’t know very many people yet. On top of that, I was a finalist in a big unpublished writers’ contest, I had just signed with my agent, and sold my first book all in a matter of months. I was intimidated to say the least.

Now when you attend these conferences, you get various ribbons, depending on a number of factors. I had three on my badge, and they went down in a column: First Timer, Golden Heart® Finalist, First sale. Another thing that happens when you go to these conferences is when you get on the elevator, people will look at your beribboned badges.

This is my badge from last year’s conference to show you the ribbons. As you can see, we also like to add all sorts of bling to our conference badges:

So I get on the elevator, and Kieran Kramer is in there with me. She smiled and commented on my ribbons, congratulating me on the contest final and sale. And I’m thinking  OMG Kieran Kramer, this published author is talking to me. Not only that, she initiated the conversation.

Did I mention I get tongue-tied in these situations? Because I do. I hope I thanked her.

So then she asked me what I wrote, and I said, “Regency.” “Oh,” she replied, “I write Regency, too.” (This was before she started writing contemporaries.)

And in all my eloquence, I said, “I know.”

And then I faced front and clammed up, because I had no idea what else to say.

As soon as I got off the elevator, I started mentally berating myself for being such an idiot and Kieran Kramer must think I’m an awful snob and a horrible person, etc. etc.

I have since gotten to know her a little better, and she’s got to be one of the world’s kindest, friendliest people. I have since apologized to her for being such a dork on the elevator.



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

Thank you for inviting me! Cheers!


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


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“Over the years I’ve collected a thousand memories of you, every glimpse, every word you’ve ever said to me. All those visits to your family’s home, those dinners and holidays—I could hardly wait to walk through the front door and see you.” The corners of his mouth quirked with reminiscent amusement. “You, in the middle of that brash, bull-headed lot…I love watching you deal with your family. You’ve always been everything I thought a woman should be. And I have wanted you every second of my life since we first met.” 

(Matthew Swift to Daisy Bowman)

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(Business of Marriage, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1817)

Cover Blurb:

“What am I to him? A contract? A convenient solution?”

Laura Townsend’s plan to reclaim her family’s merchandise backfires when she creeps into moneylender Philip Rathbone’s house and threatens him with a pistol, only to find him reclining naked in his bath!

The last thing she expects is to see this guarded widower on her doorstep a couple of days later armed with a very surprising proposal. A marriage of convenience may be Laura’s chance to reclaim her future, but she won’t settle for anything less than true passion. Can she hope to find it in Philip’s arms?


I enjoyed this first book in Georgie Lee’s “Business of Marriage” series. It features a marriage of convenience but refreshingly both the hero and heroine are ordinary working people – not a title in sight.

Following the death of her father, Laura Townsend and her mother find themselves in the care of her Uncle Robert who has inherited her father’s flourishing draper business. However, he has borrowed money from moneylender Philip Rathbone to pay off his large gambling debts, using the business’s assets as collateral. When he defaults on the loan, having gambled the money away, Philip seizes the goods leaving Laura and her mother penniless and fearful for their future. Laura boldly confronts Mr Townsend, hoping to persuade him to consider her business proposal, but he flatly refuses. So it is with surprise that she finds him on her doorstep the next morning with a startling proposal of his own!

Widower Philip is in need of a wife, not only to look after his baby son and provide guidance to his thirteen-year-old sister but also learn and help him run his business. In Laura, he recognises all the qualities he is looking for, strength of character, courage and intelligence and proposes a marriage of convenience. Despite her misgivings about his cold, business-like proposal, Laura is realistic enough to appreciate that it offers security for her mother and herself, which is far preferable to the alternative…a life on the streets of Seven Dials.

Their situation was already growing desperate and she knew what happened to desperate women in Seven Dials.

I enjoyed how the relationship develops between Philip and Laura. Philip loved his first wife but, because she was frail, he blames himself for her death in childbirth. The only way he can cope with the terrible pain is to shut himself off from his emotions. He is attracted to Laura and I love how he wants to protect her and make her happy, but he is unwilling to surrender his heart, fearing he could never face that sort of loss again.

Laura demanded his respect and affection and he would give it, but he would not surrender his heart, He couldn’t.

Laura soon discovers that Philip is not the cold, unfeeling man she thought but a man who loves his son and his sister, Jane. The scene where she watches Philip soothing his little son is so touching.

The boy sniffed, his eyes growing heavy as his father continued to rock him and stroke his little back. Soon the child’s stuffy-nosed breaths gave way to steady quiet snores.

Laura’s insecurities sometimes lead her to mistrust Philip but I like how she is willing to admit to her mistakes. I also admire her determination to fight for a loving marriage and I enjoyed watching Philip’s defenses slowly crumbling. However, his sudden about turn following dramatic events towards the end of book does seem like an obstacle too far.

The secondary characters all extra interest to the story, especially Philip’s sister, Jane, Laura’s mother and Philip’s friend, Justin, whose story is told in A Too Convenient Marriage. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Mr Charton, one of Philip’s associates, is trying to talk about some of the rather “unusual” collateral they have inspected, only to have his wife drag him away.

For lovers of Epilogues like me, I am pleased to say that Ms Lee provides one that will be leave you with a nice warm glow.

MY VERDICT: An extremely enjoyable” marriage of convenience” story.




Read March 2016

Business of Marriage series (click on the book covers for more information):

A Debt Paid in Marriage (Business of Marriage #1) by Georgie Lee A Too Convenient Marriage (Business of Marriage #2) by Georgie Lee Miss Marianne's Disgrace by Georgie Lee – 19th July 2016


**My sincere thanks to Georgie Lee for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review**

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I’m delighted to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author SABRINA JEFFRIES to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I’m delighted to be here!



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

I was born in New Orleans while my dad was in seminary there, so I didn’t grow up there. My father took two more churches in Louisiana as he and my mom prepared to become missionaries. When I was seven, they took us all to Thailand. That’s where I mostly grew up. I lived in Thailand from age 7 to age 17, with one year of furlough in Louisiana in there.

Thailand was fascinating. It was harder for me than my siblings because I was old enough to remember my grandparents and to miss them. But we had a lot of fun adventures there. And a few not so fun ones—my mom got very good at killing cobras and we had to have the whole series of rabies shots when we were exposed to a rabid dog. But I’ve always been grateful for the chance to live in another culture and see the world. I still like to travel.

Sabrina Jeffries Interview -HikingAsGirl
A photo of me as a little girl on vacation in Malaysia. I think I was probably 10 or 11. That’s me at the top.


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

I think I’m easy-going, but you’d have to ask my husband. 🙂 I can be temperamental about certain things.


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

Definitely savoury. I love cheese and nuts! If I am going to eat something sweet, it will either be very dark chocolate with nuts or a pastry of some sort. But these days I rarely eat sweets.


What is your most treasured possession?

My videos of my son. He’s a nonverbal autistic adult, so we don’t get to talk with him ever (more like, we talk at him and he grins). In videos, however, we can see him being his usual self, so when I get lonesome for him between visits (he lives in a residential home now with two other autistic adults), I can just play the videos.


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

That would be a hard choice. Probably somewhere in the Lake District of England. I love mountains and lakes and England, and it would enable me to go visit sites I’ve never been to, and occasionally party in London. But my second choice would be the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, believe it or not. I grew up vacationing there, and the weather is perfect, the rain forests are gorgeous, and I like the food.


Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

I’ve put my foot in my mouth so many times I can’t even remember them all (it comes from being a very chatty person). It’s taught me to be cautious. And I once fell flat on my face in a parking lot in L.A. when I stumbled over a curb. Fortunately, only my husband and son were there to see me. I hope.



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

Thank you so much for having me! I always enjoy getting to know readers.


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


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(The Survivors’ Club, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

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


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

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

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


I LOVED THIS BOOK! Mary Balogh weaves an intelligent and touching story of two people from different social classes who find love. It’s an emotionally satisfying, character-driven romance written with her insightful glimpses into the human heart.

This is the first book in the series about a group of survivors of the Napoleonic Wars, all left scarred (emotionally, physically or both) by their experiences, who form a close bond while convalescing. THE PROPOSAL tells Hugo Emes, Lord Trentham’s story.

Hugo inherited his father’s vast business and trading empire and is vastly wealthy but proud of his middle class roots. He is brusque and plain spoken, and frowning seems to be his perpetual expression. He likes to spend time at his country home where he can enjoy peace and privacy and share the company of his adored half-sister, Constance. Hugo also carries a heavy burden of guilt, blaming himself for the deaths of his three hundred men lost in battle. There is something endearing about Hugo because despite his fierce and dour appearance, I knew he was kind and caring as it is so evident in his love for Constance and his desire to see her happy.

Gwen is the perfect lady…beautiful, elegant, poised and charming. Since the tragic death of her husband, she has been happy to remain a widow, content in providing help and support to her family and friends. I loved her cheerfulness and sense of humour and the fact that she never lets her physical handicap define who she is. I admired her strength during the difficult times in her marriage and the way she cared for and supported her “sick” husband. She also carries a heavy sense of guilt over his death, believing that had she acted differently, he may not have died.

The romance between Hugo and Gwen developed slowly which I really liked. It allowed time for mutual trust to grow until they were able to confide their deepest secrets to each other. It allowed them both to realise they shouldn’t feel guilt over their past actions. Both of them both grow and change as they fall in love but it is Hugo who undergoes the most significant but subtle changes; doing things he’d never done before…

He winked at her. Winked. He could not remember ever winking before in his life.

things he found himself enjoying…

He had never had a teasing relationship with any woman— or any sort of relationship, for that matter. It was all new and strange to him. And wonderful.

I love how Gwen is accepted wholeheartedly by Hugo’s family and the scenes played out against the background of the anniversary celebrations are some of my favourites – full of fun, laughter and lovely family moments.

We are introduced to the others members of The Survivors’ Club and I know I will be reading their books too.

MY VERDICT: A wonderful classic Regency romance. Highly recommended!





Read March 2016

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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(Dashing Widows, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1820)

Cover Blurb:

Beauty – and the Beast?

When rough diamond Anthony Townsend, who also happens to be one of the richest men in England, bursts into Lady Fenella’s house and demands she hand over his runaway nephew, this dashing widow embarks on a breathtaking adventure that might just end in exciting new love.


Fenella, Lady Deerham, has rejoined society after five years of mourning her beloved husband’s death at Waterloo. Now she’s fêted as a diamond of the first water and London’s perfect lady. But beneath her exquisite exterior, this delicate blond beauty conceals depths of courage and passion nobody has ever suspected. When her son and his school friend go missing, she vows to find them whatever it takes. Including setting off alone in the middle of the night with high-handed bear of a man, Anthony Townsend. Will this tumultuous journey end in more tragedy? Or will the impetuous quest astonish this dashing widow with a breathtaking new love, and life with the last man she ever imagined?

And the Beast?

When Anthony Townsend bursts into Lady Deerham’s fashionable Mayfair mansion demanding the return of his orphaned nephew, the lovely widow’s beauty and spirit turn his world upside down. But surely such a refined and aristocratic creature will scorn a rough, self-made man’s courtship, even if that man is now one of the richest magnates in England. Especially after he’s made such a woeful first impression by barging into her house and accusing her of conniving with the runaways. But when Fenella insists on sharing the desperate search for the boys, fate offers Anthony a chance to play the hero and change her mind about him. Will reluctant proximity convince Fenella that perhaps Mr. Townsend isn’t so beastly after all? Or now that their charges are safe, will Anthony and Fenella remain forever opposites fighting their attraction?


“…why don’t we all leave our old, sad days behind? Why don’t we all become dashing widows?”

Anna Campbell’s charming Dashing Widows series features three, young, widowed friends – Caroline, Lady Beaumont, Fenella, Lady Deerham and Helena, Countess of Crewe – who decide they need a little adventure in their lives and this second novella is Fenella’s story.

She’d loved once. She never wanted to love again.

Fenella lost her husband, Henry, when he was killed at the battle of Waterloo. She loved him deeply and cannot contemplate ever falling in love again. For the past five years she has led a quiet, safe life, devoting herself to her son Brandon. Now her friends, Caroline and Helena, have decided that it is time for her to move on and enjoy herself. Anthony’s dramatic entry into her life awakens long dormant emotions that she never wanted to feel again.

Anthony comes from a respectable family and is well-educated, although still a little rough around the edges. He is proud of his origins and has worked his way up to be owner of Townsend and Co, a worldwide trading company. He has travelled all over the world accumulating a vast fortune that arouses envy even in aristocratic circles. When his brother and sister-in-law are tragically killed in a yachting accident, he assumes the guardianship of his nephew, Carey. Anthony has never had much time for the ladies, especially aristocratic ones, whom he generally regards with disdain. However, Fenella has him rethinking his opinions …

Either he needed to revisit his opinion of upper-class women as basically useless. Or Fenella Deerham was a glorious exception to the rule.

I like how, during the journey in pursuit of the runaway boys and the stay at Beeches, Fenella comes to appreciate qualities in Anthony that she admires…his intelligence, strength and self-assurance. She sees how much he loves his nephew and the kindness he shows towards his old nurse and recognises him as a man of principles.

Time spent with Fenella only reinforces Anthony’s opinions of her…beautiful, warm, unselfish and not afraid to stand up to him. I love how honest he is about his feelings for her but never pushes Fenella beyond what she is comfortable with.

I felt that Fenella’s emotional turmoil is realistically portrayed. She feels guilty about her growing feelings for Anthony because they seem like a betrayal of her late husband and I once worked with a widow who had similar guilt feelings.  I did sometimes feel frustrated by the way Fenella keeps poor Anthony dangling –

“I feel like a prince in a fairytale, set a series of impossible challenges to win the princess.

– but he does, of course, win his princess and I enjoyed the love scene in the stables…a combination of urgent need, passion and tenderness.

I think these words from Fenella capture the essence of the story perfectly.

“Of course I love you. It took me completely by surprise because it’s not at all like what I felt for Henry. Our love was like a beautiful clear lake, unruffled and calm. When I’m with you, I feel like I’m aboard a great ship on a storm-tossed ocean. It’s exciting and daring and reassuring, all at the same time. And I feel like I’m heading for somewhere wonderful and exotic.”

MY VERDICT: A delightful and enjoyable addition to this entertaining series. Now I’m keen to see how Helena, Countess of Crewe, goes about WINNING LORD WEST.




Read March 2016


The Dashing Widows series (click on book covers for more details):

The Seduction of Lord Stone (Dashing Widows, #1) by Anna Campbell Tempting Mr. Townsend (Dashing Widows, #2) by Anna Campbell Winning Lord West coming in early 2016.


**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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