Posts Tagged ‘Bronwyn Scott’

Scandal at the Midsummer Ball

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

One Christmas house party leads to two Regency love affairs! 

A Governess for Christmas by Marguerite Kaye 

At the glittering Brockmore house party, former army major Drummond MacIntosh meets governess in disgrace Joanna Forsythe, who’s desperate to clear her name. Both are eager to put their pasts behind them, but their scandalous affair will make for a very different future…

Dancing with the Duke’s Heir by Bronwyn Scott 

As heir to a dukedom, Vale Penrith does not want a wife, and certainly not one like Lady Viola Hawthorne. So why does London’s Shocking Beauty tempt him beyond reason? Dare seduction the best way to bring her to surrender?


Last year, I read and very much enjoyed Scandal at the Midsummer Ball, the previous collaboration between Marguerite Kaye and Bronwyn Scott. Once again, the country estate of the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore, forms the backdrop for both stories. The couple is holding their prestigious Christmas house party culminating in the Christmas Ball on Twelfth Night. Unlike their Midsummer House Party, this is not a matchmaking event, but it seems that cupid’s arrow can strike the most improbable couples at any time.


Three and a half years ago, army major, Drummond MacIntosh, was cashiered from the army for refusing to follow a direct order. Shunned by society, he has been forced to lead a purposeless existence until the Duke of Wellington approaches Drummond to say that he wants him to serve as his aide. This would give Drummond the opportunity to forge a new life, but first he must attend the Brockmore Christmas festivities and impress his hosts enough to earn their patronage. It is well-known that the Duke and Duchess have great influence over society… where the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore lead, all of society follows. Their support would be instrumental in repairing his damaged reputation and smoothing his way back into society.

Joanna Forsythe was employed as governess to the eldest daughter of Lady Christina Robertson until wrongly accused of theft and dismissed on the spot.  Lady Robertson did not inform the authorities in view of Joanna’s previously unsullied reputation. However, with her reputation now in tatters, no respectable school will employ her, and she is forced to take a post which provides only bed and board and where she is treated as little more than a drudge when she isn’t teaching. Knowing that the Duchess of Brockmore is a close friend of Lady Christina’s, when Joanna receives an invitation to the house party, she believes that the real thief will confess, thereby establishing Joanna’s innocence and restoring her reputation. Instead, Lady Christina tries to buy her off with financial recompense for the loss of her reputation and the offer of a new position.

Often it is difficult for an author to create characters with any real depth and a believable romance within the constraints of a novella, but I feel that Ms. Kaye does this admirably.

When Drummond and Joanna first meet, they talk and share confidences, discovering   that they are each looking for a fresh start, and I felt a genuine affinity between them which made the budding romance believable. Drummond is a man of principle and I admire him for choosing to follow his conscience, knowing full the consequences of his actions. I love Joanna’s selflessness in her determination that Drummond should not jeopardise his opportunities for her sake.

They share some passionate interludes but there seems no future for them because neither can afford to have any further scandal attached to their name. Ms. Kaye conveys their longing for something they cannot have so well, and I really wanted them to find a way to be together. It takes some soul-searching before a Happy Ever After is within their grasp, although they are fully aware that their life won’t be all plain sailing, but I felt as Drummond does…

“I can’t help but feeling absolutely sure that together we can do anything we want.”





Following the death of his father and older brother four years ago, Vale Penrith, the Duke of Brockmore’s nephew, had become the duke’s sole heir. It is a position he didn’t want and one he feels ill-fitted for.

He was a politician by conscience when the occasion demanded it, an anthropologist by choice. He was not a duke.

He has shut himself off from the world since losing his father and brother, preferring to spend his days in his library – reading, researching or writing. However, Vale has no choice but to accompany his mother to his uncle and aunt’s annual Christmas house party and knowing his uncle’s notorious reputation for matchmaking at such events, he is sure that the duke has already selected a suitable lady for him. Vale certainly has no immediate plans to marry but, when he does, it will be to a lady of his own choice.

Independently minded Lady Viola Hawthorne has no desire to marry, a state she considers nothing more than enslavement to the whims of a man. She dreams of travelling the Continent and studying music in Vienna, where she believes a woman can enjoy greater freedoms. To achieve her dreams, she has indulged in the most scandalous behaviour, earning her the title ‘London’s Shocking Beauty’, thereby discouraging ny would-be suitors. However, Viola’s parents refuse to give up hope of their daughter finding a husband, and their hopes are raised when an invitation to attend the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore’s Christmas house party arrives. Having already had three seasons with no husband in sight, Viola knows that, if she can sustain her outrageous behaviour for one more season, she will be officially ‘on the shelf’ and able to pursue her dreams.

This was the last year she had to maintain her reputation. After this Season, she’d be a candidate for the shelf—out three Seasons and no husband in sight. She could get on with her dreams.

I like Vale and could sympathise with his feelings of loss, sorrow and guilt following the tragic death of his father and brother. He had been thrown into a role that he neither expected nor wanted and felt inadequate to fulfil, and he has dealt with it by closing himself off from everyone. There is a particularly poignant scene where his uncle hugs him which conveys Vale’s emotional vulnerability.

“My boy, it is good to see you,” he said simply before wrapping him in his arms. For just a minute, he wasn’t the heir, but simply a beloved nephew and this man was not the mighty Brockmore, a powerful duke, but his uncle, his father’s older brother, a living link to the man he’d lost. And Vale savoured it.

Generally, I love unconventional, outspoken heroines, but I just didn’t like Viola.  While I understood her desire to be independent and pursue her dreams, her outrageous behaviour – the casual sex, drinking, smoking and playing billiards alone in the company of several men – seemed totally unrealistic. She behaved more like a member of the demimonde than a duke’s daughter!

I know opposites attract but the idea of Vale falling for someone like Viola stretched credulity a little too far for me. It is only towards the end of the story that Viola shows some redeeming qualities, but this felt too contrived and didn’t really convince me that these two were meant for each other.



General Thoughts

Once again, there is a lovely Epilogue, courtesy of the Marcus and Alicia, the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore and I hope, at some point, they will have their own story. I would love to know how they met and fell in love, especially as Marcus tells Vale he had proposed to Alicia twice and she had refused him each time. I also like how Marcus really cares for his nephew and only wants to help him rediscover a zest for living again.

MY VERDICT: Marguerite Kaye always delivers a well-written and emotionally satisfying love story. Although I found Bronwyn Scott’s story disappointing, I very much enjoyed the one in SCANDAL AT THE MIDSUMMER and will certainly be reading more of her books.


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









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I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Historical Romance Author BRONWYN SCOTT to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

It’s great to be here and not talking about writing!


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

I was born in Puyallup, WA which is a little town outside of Seattle. We are known for our Daffodils and the Western Washington State Fair, which is one of the 10 largest fairs in the US. The Fair is a BIG deal. When we were in high school, we all worked the fair in the fall to make money. I worked in the scone booth under the grandstand. It was a blast jamming and buttering the scones, and the fastest of us were allowed to work the front line after 9:00 PM when the grandstand concert got out and we were swamped. There’s nothing like a Fisher Scone piping hot from the oven on a brisk autumn night.

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

Easy going. Nothing much gets to me. My favorite word is YES. I like to create possibilities. Yes opens up doors and relationships—yes I can do that, yes YOU can do that, yes WE can do that. I think there’s very little that’s actually impossible. You just have to want it.

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

Sweet. I love chocolate. I have it almost every day and I complain when there’s no dessert after dinner. My husband does ALL the cooking so he knows I expect dessert to follow dinner. One of my favorite desserts is Disney’s chocolate lava cake.

Bronwyn Scott Interview - picture
What is your most treasured possession?

Of course my kids and my dogs, especially my Apollo but they’re not really ‘possessions.’ I don’t own them. So hmm. I’m going to be boring and pick an actual ‘thing’ for this. There’s actually three things I’d give this title to; A little lacquer hand painted box I got in Russia because it holds special memories from a special time; my baby grand piano which I’ve had since I was 15, and the big one is my wedding ring because I’ve been married 25 years to my college sweetheart and I’ve known him for 29 years, making him the longest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never done anything else for a quarter of century…yet. I’m very proud of that because marriage is hard and it’s easy to want to quit.

Bronwyn Scott Interview - picture 2

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

I’d love to live in the South of France or in Tuscany. We lived in Florence for a while when I taught there and it was fabulous. I like the pace of life and how it’s possible to really focus on the things that matter. But I like France too. I wouldn’t rule out the Shetland Islands either, because they’re just stunning and full of gorgeous nature.

Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

So many to choose from! Once, I walked into a classroom on the first day of the term and began to teach Greek rhetoric (which involves Greek terms like Inventio, Dispositio etc.) to a first year Spanish class that didn’t know the difference. Their teacher had gotten lost and was late so they had no idea I wasn’t the real instructor. They just stared at me for a good ten minutes until we figured it out.


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

Great! Thanks for asking me. I love to chat with readers and you can visit me on my Facebook page or my website. Keep reading everyone!

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


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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Two forbidden relationships…one house party to remember!


Colonel Fergus Kennedy must make a suitable match at the Midsummer Ball. But when this officer encounters sultry acrobat Katerina Vengarov, he finds himself torn between duty…and heart-stopping, irresistible passion!


Kael Gage is the last person at the Midsummer Ball Miss Zara Titus should speak to—and anything more is definitely off-limits! But the notorious rake seems determined to awaken this innocent debutante’s every desire…


Marguerite Kaye is one of my favourite authors whose books never disappoint while Bronwyn Scott is a new-to-me author, but I enjoyed her engaging writing style and definitely intend reading more of her books.

Both stories are set against the backdrop of the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore’s Midsummer Party. It is well known that this is a matchmaking event where the hosts orchestrate the most illustrious marriages. Guests attending understand the rules and are expected to marry according to the duke’s dictates. The marriages come with powerful sweeteners…

The Duke could make a man’s career. He could establish a woman in a life of wealth and comfort, position her to become one of London’s leading hostesses.

However, two guests are about to flout the rules.



After recovering from an injury sustained at the Battle of Waterloo, Colonel Fergus Kennedy is anxious to resume active service. Instead, he finds himself stuck behind a desk at the War Office engaged in boring and tedious administrative duties, with all his requests for a transfer to active service turned down. Wellington’s vague promises that as soon as the right appointment came along it would be Fergus’s have come to nothing. So he is overjoyed when Wellington offers him a prime diplomatic position in Egypt but it comes with a condition. Fergus must be married and Wellington has the perfect bride in mind…the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore’s niece, Lady Verity Fairholme. Although Fergus hates being so manipulated, he hates the boredom of his current job even more. However, discouraged by Lady Verity’s icy demeanour, he finds himself drawn to the fascinating acrobat, Katerina Vengarov, and is less and less inclined to bend to Wellington’s will.

The Duke of Brockmore has hired famous Russian brother and sister acrobatic act, The Flying Vengarovs, to entertain his guests. Katerina and her brother, Alexandr, are proud of their heritage and are considered the aristocrats of the acrobatic world, but to polite society they are regarded as little more than gypsies. They lead a lonely, itinerant life and, while her brother is happy to find comfort in the arms of different women along the way, Katerina longs for something more meaningful and lasting. She has avoided men for the past two years after being badly hurt and humiliated by a man she believed loved her. However, when she meets Fergus Kennedy, he seems different to all the other men she has met.

Even within the limitations of a novella, I feel that Ms Kaye develops a believable romance between Fergus and Katerina. From the moment they first meet (quite an unusual meeting and I could certainly understand why Fergus was intrigued by her), the way they talk and share confidences seems so natural and I could feel a real affinity between them.

There are some lovely moments which create a real sense of intimacy. My favourite is the scene where Fergus discovers Katerina asleep in the centre of the maze which leads to their first kiss.

Both have a taste for danger, Fergus as a fighting soldier and Katerina as an acrobat, and I like how Ms Kaye draws a comparison that in each of their worlds…

…every decision mattered, that every move could mean the difference between life and death. The difference between balancing on the rope and falling.

Katerina comes to trust Fergus enough to tell him about her past affaire and I love how he thinks no less of her for what happened. He sees her as a survivor and a brave woman. In turn, Katerina opens Fergus’s eyes to the fact that Wellington needs him more than he needs Wellington, encouraging Fergus to “fly free” and take control of his own destiny. I love how Fergus refuses to back down in his confrontation with Wellington.

Getting to his feet, Wellington shook his hand reluctantly. ‘This is madness, Kennedy. What the devil are you going to do without my patronage?’
‘Stand on my own two feet,’ Fergus said. ‘You never know, I might even learn to fly.’

There are a few moments when a Happy Ending seems in the balance but love will always find a way and I thought the story had a delightful ending.





After Viscount Haymore breaks off their long-standing betrothal, Zara Titus finds that her ideas of who she is and what she wants from life change. She has survived all the speculation and relishes her new found freedom. Now she is determined to take control of her future and experience some of life’s pleasures. Her mother, Vicountess Aberforth, sees attending the Duke and Duchesse’s Midsummer Ball as essential to prove to society that her daughter was not jilted; that in fact it had been a mutual decision. Perhaps the perfect opportunity to find another husband too, but Zara has very different ideas. So when she notices a man boldly watching her from across the room and the Duke of Brockmore informs her that he is someone no lady should associate with, her interest is immediately piqued.

Kael Gage is the impoverished grandson of an earl with no prospects and only his good looks and a small horse breeding farm in Sussex to commend him. Since the age of eighteen, he’s learnt that the fine debutantes of the ton might flirt with a man like him, but they’d never marry him. Living on the fringes of society, he has a reputation for fraternising with, seducing and bedding opera singers, actresses and ladies of the demi-monde. An indiscretion with the wrong lady has forced him to flee London to escape her angry brother, and he has gratefully accepted a friend’s invitation to be his guest at the Midsummer Ball. The ball suddenly becomes more interesting than he anticipated when a striking lady, he has been eyeing across the room, initiates a subtle flirtation with a flick of her fan.Kael is drawn to Zara’s beauty and spirit and can’t resist the lure of awakening her sexually while Zara finds Kael outrageous and exciting but is still held back by the dictates of convention.

His touch roused her, the audacity of his words excited her, and yet she could not simply embrace that excitement with abandon. There would be consequences. Was she ready for them?

However, she finds it hard to resist Kael’s seductive ways…

‘I think such plain speaking excites you. I think I excite you.’ His eyes lingered on the mouth he’d traced, his words a whispered murmured before his mouth covered hers. ‘And you, Zara, excite me.’

At first, it a purely physical relationship with some steamy interludes as Kael introduces Zara to the pleasures of the flesh, but gradually it becomes more. I enjoyed watching the relationship grow and change. I love the scene where they go skinny dipping and have a mudslinging match because I feel it is the point at which there are subtle changes in their relationship. They open up to each other and discover that they have much in common. Both have suffered the pain of rejection and both hide their vulnerability behind a façade of confidence.

The course of true love never runs smoothly and Kael and Zara have to face various obstacles before they finally find true happiness. I love how Kael is willing risk baring his soul to convince Zara that he loves her and wants to marry her.

You make me want to be different, not just a man who loves and leaves, but a man who can invest in a relationship in all ways.’ He hadn’t been that man for a long time, if ever. ‘When I’m with you, I feel like I’m worth something. I want to feel that always, so I’m asking you to marry me, Zara Titus. To be my lady for ever, publicly, not just in the night.’





I enjoyed how the two stories are cleverly intertwined with the same characters appearing in both and the same events being seen from different perspectives. Some of the secondary characters are intriguing enough to deserve their own stories; the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore, obviously still very much in love after so many years despite the heart-break of being childless (I love their Epilogue); the mysterious and flamboyant Sir Timothy Farthingale and Lady Verity Fairholme who hides a kind heart beneath her icy exterior.


MY VERDICT: Two well-written, entertaining and romantic stories which are perfect reading for a summer’s evening.


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

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