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Archive for October, 2018

The Governess Game UK
(UK cover)

(Girl Meets Duke, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.

The infamous rake

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

♥♥♥♥♥

When I pick up a Tessa Dare book, I have no expectations of it being historically accurate but I simply love her well-written, romantic, sexy and funny stories. 

This is the second book in her Girl Meets Duke series and, while I really enjoyed it, for me, it was not quite as good as The Duchess Deal.

Alex, the daughter of an American sea-captain and a Filipino Metiza, had an unconventional upbringing. Raised by her father, after her mother died, she spent 10 years on her father’s ship sailing the globe. When tragedy strikes and her father goes down with his ship in a storm, Alex travels to England where distant relatives are willing to pay for her schooling but want nothing to do with her and she finds herself all alone in the world. Even her schoolmates are cruel to her but she soon comes to realise that she has an advantage over them because…

I was indebted to no one, I answered to no one, and I needn’t meet anyone’s expectations of what a young lady should or shouldn’t be. My life was my own. I could follow any dream, if I was prepared to work hard for it

Alex is the sort of unorthodox heroine that Ms. Dare excels in writing. Smart, independent, stubborn, resilient and tenacious, she has been making a living setting clocks to Greenwich Mean Time in the homes of wealthy customers. She is also a budding astronomer with a plan to discover new comets and then sell them to aristocrats.

Being an orphan herself, Alex understands just what Rosamund and Daisy need and gradually gains their trust. I love how she finds unorthodox, imaginative and highly successful ways of teaching them.

Piracy?” Rosamund sounded skeptical but intrigued. “

“These are your new lessons.” Alexandra wrote five topics on the board. “Log keeping. Plunder. Navigation. The Pirate’s Code.” She ended the list. “And needlework.”

“Needlework?” Daisy made a face. “Why would a pirate need serviettes?”

No, I don’t think piracy will find a place on the modern school curriculum!

Following the death of his cousin, Anthony, Chase is now the sole heir to his uncle’s Belvoir dukedom – a role he never wanted and believes himself unworthy of. He blames himself for what happened to Anthony and not only feels the pain of losing someone he cared about but is also burdened with feelings of guilt and self-loathing. Chase is so affected by what happened that he has built an impenetrable wall around himself and now lives by one rule – no emotional attachments. His belief that he will fail anyone he cares for and that he is unworthy of love runs deep. He has earned a reputation as a rake because his self-loathing has driven him into the arms of numerous women where, for a short time, he feels something other than worthless. His lovers are well aware that physical pleasure is all he offers. I did not quite buy into the ‘I’m not deserving of love’ scenario because his reasons were somewhat tenuous, but I was willing to overlook my reservations because Chase is charming, sexy, self-deprecating and wickedly funny, a combination that is hard to resist.

Despite his no emotional attachment rule, it is obvious that he loves his wards, Rosamund and Daisy, and actions often speak louder than any words…

“…you’re also a man who holds a little girl’s hand and eulogizes her doll every morning. A duke’s heir who builds cozy window seats and bookshelves by hand for his orphaned wards.”

Rosamund and Daisy were definitely one of the highlights of the book for me. They are bold, clever and resourceful and their antics are hilarious,  especially the eulogy scenes with poor Millicent, Daisy’s doll, succumbing to a series of horrible diseases, but there is also a serious side because it is Daisy’s way of coming to terms with the death and loss she has suffered in her short life. At heart, they are just young girls who are looking for love, a home and security and I like how Ms. Dare often combines both comedy with more serious issues.

The story is laced with Tessa Dare’s trademark humour and here are a few of my favourite moments.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an engagement this evening. The women of London can’t pleasure themselves, you know. I mean, they can pleasure themselves. But on occasion they generously let me have a go at it.” (Chase)

♥♥

Cold. That was the first decipherable sensation.

And after cold, wet.

A deluge of water had sloshed over them both. He slicked his hair back with both hands and looked up. He spied Rosamund and Daisy hanging over the window sash far above. Each girl held an empty bucket in her hands.

.”Ever so sorry!” Rosamund called down. “We needed to bail out the bilgewater.” “Too many rats,” Daisy added, hand cupped around her mouth. “There’s plague aboard.”  (Rosamund and Daisy repelling an unwelcome boarder!)

♥♥

If you hurt her, in even the slightest way, I will eviscerate you.” “Understood.” “I mean it, Reynaud. In fact, gutting would be too good for you. I will subject you to my cat.”

“Your cat?” Chase laughed. “To mewl at me, I suppose.”

“Trust me. We’re not speaking of the average cat.”

Alexandra spoke up. “I can attest to this.”

“I’ll strip you bare, tie your hands behind your back, smear salmon on your manly bits, and lock the two of you in a wardrobe. Once he’s clawed your ballocks to shreds, I’ll crush whatever remains of you to a bloody, formless pulp.” (Ash threatens Chase with the “hellion cat”)

♥♥

As always, Ms. Dare assembles an interesting cast of secondary characters including…

  • Alex’s friends – Lady Penelope Campion, an incurable romantic with a menagerie of wounded animals; Nicola Teague with her little caddy of hand tools and her baking skills; Emma, Duchess of Ashbury (The Duchess Deal), the most understanding of her friends
  • Duke of Ashbury (Ash) (The Duchess Deal) who proves to be very protective of Alex and a real thorn in Chase’s side. Look out for the hilarious fight between these two!
  • John Barrow, Chase’s half-brother, solicitor and trusted friend

Love them or hate them and I’m in the former camp, there is an added bonus of a charming Epilogue.

Penelope’s story, The Wallflower Wager,  is next in the series and I think Ms. Dare has already hinted at who her hero might be.

MY VERDICT: Endearing characters, a sensual, heart-warming romance, lively banter and laugh-out-loud moments make this a most enjoyable read. 


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Girl Meets Duke series so far (click on the book covers for more details):
The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1) by Tessa Dare The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forever Remain

(Roxton Family Saga#, 5.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

This second volume of previously unpublished letters from the private correspondence of the Roxton family spans a twenty-year period, from the 1760s to the late 1780s, and includes extracts from the diaries of Antonia, Duchess of Kinross, and her younger son Lord Henri-Antoine Hesham. Also included are letters by the 5th Duke of Roxton, written in the final stages of his illness, and addressed to his youngest son Lord Henri-Antoine. The volume concludes with a letter by the latter’s wife, Lady Henri-Antoine Hesham, to her mother-in-law, the Duchess of Kinross, while abroad on her bridal trip. These letters complement the later chronology of the award-winning Roxton Family Saga: Dair DevilProud Mary, and Satyr’s Son. With a foreword by a late-Victorian descendant, Alice-Victoria, 10th Duchess of Roxton.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

FOREVER REMAIN is a companion to Lucinda Brant’s Dair Devil, Proud Mary and Satyr’s Son and therefore it is necessary to have read these books first. However, I cannot recommend this series highly enough and would urge anyone who loves an ongoing family saga with compelling characters, spine tingling romance and superbly researched history to read (or listen to) all the books, preferably in order.

Many historical romance writers try to please a modern market and consequently their books do not ring true. Lucinda Brant, however, transports us back into the time, the hearts and the minds of her characters – this is Georgian England and she refuses to compromise on the detail. We may not agree with the opulent way the privileged lived 300 years ago, but Ms. Brant deals in meticulous research and therefore her writing is based on fact and we are treated to unadulterated accuracy. Her characters are so real that I find myself believing in them to the point that I think about them as if they are people I actually know. Their homes, belongings, clothing, shoes, hair, even the lace and embroidery on their clothes are researched down to the finest detail. To appreciate the author’s attention to detail, visit her Pinterest boards and be prepared to be astounded by the extent of the work and research that goes into each and every story. She is not only a superb writer but also a perfectionist and unable to deliver anything but her best interpretation of how life was for the people in her Georgian world – rich and poor – behaved and lived.

As readers of this series know, Ms. Brant took a chance when she wrote very sensitively about one of our favourite characters dying. This is life – I myself have suffered this devastating loss and can speak with experience on what she has achieved here. In an ideal world we all live happily ever after, but of course this is not an ideal world. Nevertheless, because of Ms. Brant’s sensitive approach, we are not left unhappy with the loss of this character – rather she has dwelt on the positives whilst showing us that the world does keep turning and life does go on. The grieving process is handled with great empathy, and astutely she hasn’t written off this fascinating character; instead he is still very much in the background and talked of (and to) with love. Again, I agree with the way she has achieved this because when we have children our loved ones are never truly gone from this world and of course our memories can never be erased. Ms. Brant is a realist. Yes, she writes Historical Romance, but throughout the series she has constantly mirrored life – people die, they behave badly, they fall in love, often with ‘unsuitable’ people, and they sometimes have illnesses or long-term conditions which cannot be cured.

She has thought of everything and, when this volume of letters is ‘published’ by Alice-Victoria, 10th Duchess of Roxton, the time has obviously moved on and the family inhabits Victorian England where people and their values have changed, becoming more prudish and judgemental. So, when the letters are ‘released’, the translators have doctored and suppressed certain words and phrases in case they offend the reader of the time. For instance, in a letter sent from Mr Martin Ellicott (the fifth duke’s valet and trusted friend) to his godson Julian, he talks of his classic and rare, but risqué art collection. In another, from Theo Fitzstuart to his son Dair, he tries to explain why his marriage to Charlotte, Dair’s mother, went so horribly wrong. I must admit to wishing I could take a peek at the author’s notes to see exactly what had been ‘suppressed’!

Ms. Brant uses this volume of letters and diary entries to fill in some gaps in her stories. One such gap that always puzzled me, which I briefly mentioned above, began in Noble Satyr. Charlotte and Theo, soon to become the Earl and Countess of Strathsay and later the parents of Dair, Charles and Mary, were a young, innocent, courting couple in that book. By the time we reach Dair Devil, book 3 in the series, matters had obviously gone badly wrong. Charlotte is by now a spiteful, unloving mother and embittered woman, while Theo is living on a Caribbean island running a sugar plantation. He has not seen his legitimate family for many years and talks openly of his new love and illegitimate children. This couple were secondary characters and, quite obviously, their story would not have pleased readers, but it was important to know what had gone wrong and the letter from Theo to Dair explains all. Again, the author is reflecting life with its ups and downs – not all marriages are happy ones, not then and not today.

The letters are a wonderful addition to the books and are so exquisitely written that I cannot read (or listen) to some of them without a box of tissues handy. The most memorable for me are those written by Renard to his youngest son; oh, my goodness, these letters are beyond exquisite. The few examples I have used are only a small snapshot of this compelling volume and the letters have the effect of confusing my brain further into thinking…these people actually lived. I’m pretty sure Ms, Brant felt the same when she was writing them, because it is quite obvious she has poured her heart and soul into every word she has written.

I can only imagine how Alex Wyndham felt whilst reading the letters, but then he is a consummate performer and reads each letter from the heart. In each one, he adopts the same voice, tone and nuances for the characters (now the letter/diary writer) that he used when narrating the audio books and each one is easily recognisable. I wonder if he needed his tissues, too? With the depth of feeling imbued I would imagine so. I particularly appreciated his portrayal of the sick and dying Renard, 5th Duke of Roxton. In fact, I sniffed constantly! The reformed rake has, since his marriage, become a loving family man. He feels his children’s pain, especially his younger son who suffers with the debilitating ‘falling sickness’ (or epilepsy as we now know it). The duke is anxious to help his beloved Henri-Antoine manoeuvre his way through the obstacles he knows are inevitable with his affliction and is also all too aware that his own time is running out. He therefore sets out to lovingly guide Harry from beyond the grave with a series of letters to be opened at certain points in his life. Alex Wyndham adopts a slower paced, slightly gravelly voice for the sickly Renard whilst still retaining recognisable remnants of the younger Renard we first heard in Noble Satyr. I found the reading of these letters/diary entries profoundly moving and one of this actor’s finest performances of my experience.

MY VERDICT: The second volume of letters is the perfect companion to Dair Devil, Proud Mary and Satyr’s Son and one I can highly recommend.


REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

 

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

Noble Satyr (Roxton Family Saga, #0) by Lucinda Brant Midnight Marriage (Roxton Family Saga, #1) by Lucinda Brant Autumn Duchess (Roxton Family Saga, #2) by Lucinda Brant Eternally Yours Roxton Letters Volume One A Companion To The Roxton Family Saga by Lucinda Brant Dair Devil (Roxton Family Saga, #3) by Lucinda Brant Proud Mary (Roxton Family Saga, #4) by Lucinda Brant Satyr's Son (Roxton Family Saga, #5) by Lucinda Brant Forever Remain Roxton Letters Volume Two (Roxton Family Saga Book 7) by Lucinda Brant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Annabelle Anders Interview - Author picture 2

I’m delighted to welcome historical romance author ANNABELLE ANDERS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I’m honoured to be asked, Carol!

~~~~~~~

 

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

Annabelle:
My dad owned a photography studio in Englewood, Colorado, so my childhood was probably a little different than most. We spent a lot of time at his studio. I remember my first job was stuffing school picture packages into bags for a penny a package LOL… Believe it or not, I earned enough to buy a bicycle! Englewood is a suburb just south of Denver. Last time I went back I found that most of my schools had been torn down and rebuilt or turned into condos… Don’t get me started about Cinderella City, the local mall where we all hung out… it’s now a major condo development with the light rail running through it. So many changes!

 

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

Annabelle:
At times temperamental, and other times easy going… My husband says I’m mostly easy going, though, so let’s go with that.

 

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

Annabelle:
Sweet, for sure. I fight a sugar addiction, specifically red vines.



R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Annabelle:
My laptop. We lost our house on the front end of the housing crisis and I have to admit that ever since, I’ve been way less materialistic. I like nice things, don’t get me wrong, but I’m much more selective than I used to be. Second, I guess is the book collection I have in kindle… I don’t have room for many paperbacks now. Two years ago, we were able to buy a house again. I love my little house! It was built in 1910 and is around 1000 square feet. We’ve opened up the attic and someday (soon, I hope) will finish the remodel that will give us another 600 feet.
                                                                                                                                                           


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

Annabelle:
Somewhere tropical, on a beach. I just love the idea of escaping the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. I’d also want a pool. Hmm… I was just thinking that I wasn’t very materialistic…

 

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

Annabelle:
I used to embarrass easily, but not so much anymore. Oh, wait! At the Historical Romance Retreat that I attended recently, I was fitted for my gown. BY. A. MAN! He was very professional, but it was more than a little unsettling when he climbed under my skirt to adjust the waist from the inside. I’m standing there thinking, “what underwear did I put on this morning?” Oh, yeah. Definitely was embarrassed then. And then the photo shoot. Snuggling up to a man twenty years younger than me and then pretend we were kissing… By far the most embarrassed I’ve been in a long time LOL!

 


My husband and me at the Historical Romance
Retreat in 2016

 

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

Thanks Carol! You brought up some fun memories!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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The Winter Bride

(Chance Sisters, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency – 1816)

Cover Blurb

Award-winning author Anne Gracie delivers the second in her enticing new series about four young women facing a life of destitution—until a daring act changes their fortune and turns them each into a beautiful bride…

Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.

When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

After being somewhat disappointed by THE AUTUMN BRIDE, I LOVED this book. Beautifully written, emotional, romantic and funny, it was a total delight from beginning to end.

I absolutely adored Freddy. In The Autumn Bride, he is seemed nothing more than a handsome, charming, entertaining, frivolous rake who has no interest in marriage and avoids ‘muffins’ – eligible young ladies who are constantly trying to trick him into marriage – like the plague. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Freddy’s carefree lifestyle is a carefully cultivated façade to hide the guilt he feels over his brother’s death and the hurt caused by his parents’ indifference and insults. He is an honourable man who proves to be a loyal friend to Max, a valued and shrewd business partner to Flynn and a man who inspires the love and loyalty of his servants.

I truly felt for Damaris whose mother died when she was twelve, leaving her to be brought up by her missionary father who only believed in duty and obedience not love. He instilled in Damaris a belief that she had inherited her mother’s wanton nature. Forced to flee China after her father is murdered and his mission burnt, she manages to escape to England. What happened during that journey is her terrible secret; one which has convinced her that she will never marry and one which she has never shared with anyone. I could not help but be moved by her longing for a life she knew she could never have.

Did they think she didn’t want to be loved, didn’t want to have someone whose business—no, whose pleasure it would be to take care of her, protect her? And who would let her take care of him and love him in return?

Ms. Gracie builds the relationship between Freddy and Damaris slowly making the romance both believable and emotionally satisfying. As they come to know and understand each other, during the pretend betrothal, their tentative attraction gradually blossoms into love.

London society sees Freddy as nothing more than the ‘frivolous fellow with not a serious thought in his head’ but Damaris sees beyond that façade to the kind, charming, clever, loyal, thoughtful, funny man who deserves to be loved. Damaris has captured Freddy’s heart with her beauty, serenity, stubbornness, courage, understanding and laughter.

I love the scene where Damaris shows real courage when she defends Freddy and gives his parents a good tongue-lashing, refusing to be intimidated by them.

“The entire time I’ve been here all you’ve done is make cutting remarks about him to me—and I’m his betrothed. I’ve heard nothing but criticism, disparagement and negativity. I cannot credit it. You are his mother and you, his father. He is your son—your only son.” Her eyes prickled with angry, frustrated tears. “What kind of parents are you? You lost one son, but you threw the other away.”

When Damaris reveals her secret to Freddy, I love his reaction…

“You did the only thing you could. No one would blame you. I certainly wouldn’t.”

and his willingness to risk his life to slay dragons for her.

The love scene in the cottage is so beautifully written, full of warmth, humour and passion. I love the lengths Freddy is willing to go to allay Damaris’ fears, especially his own paticular interpretation of certain Biblical stories!

He picked up her hand and kissed it. “Enough of that, insatiable creature. I’m explaining something to you and it’s very important. God’s plan.”
“Oh. Yes?” she said vaguely.
“Yes. The pleasure men and women receive from lying together. Without the pleasure, it would happen far less frequently, and then where would we be? Would we be so happy about going forth and multiplying, as we’re told to do in the Bible?”
She stretched languorously and didn’t answer.
He went on. “Stop distracting me and listen. No, we wouldn’t. So the pleasure is all part of God’s plan and it is your sacred duty to enjoy it to the best of your ability. The future of the human race depends on it.”

There is a colourful cast of secondary characters including:

  • the indomitable Lady Bea of whom Freddy says – God, but the old lady was a tricky piece. He felt like he’d gone three rounds in a verbal boxing ring. 
  • Mrs Jenkins, Damaris’s employer, who is always warning her about ‘headin’ down the Road to Roon’ 
  • Captain Patrick Flynn, a lapsed Irish Catholic, with a penchant for bright colours and earrings and a desire to marry a fine young English lady. 
  • The experimental Chinese swimming pigs (to know more, I’m afraid you will have to read the book)

 Max and Abby (The Autumn Bride) and Jane and Daisy are also there to provide aid and support to Freddy and Damaris, and those who like a delightful Epilogue will not be disappointed.

 MY VERDICT: A charming, heart-warming romance with characters who will steal your heart. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Chance Sisters series (click on the book covers for more details):

The Autumn Bride (Chance Sisters, #1) by Anne Gracie The Winter Bride (Chance Sisters, #2) by Anne Gracie The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters, #3) by Anne Gracie The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters, #4) by Anne Gracie

 

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