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(Kellington #1)

Genre : Historical Romance

Official Blurb 

Caught behind enemy lines at the Battle of Waterloo, nurse Jane Wetherby is forced to seek shelter with British operative Lord Edward Kellington. After a night of passion, the two are separated. With nothing but the alias Jane used to protect her family, Lord Edward is unable to find the woman he cannot forget.

Seven years later, Jane courts scandal by serving as the unofficial surgeon in the village of Marston Vale. When Edward arrives to formalize his betrothal to a viscount’s daughter in accordance with his late father’s wishes, Jane has no choice but to watch the match proceed. When a threat from the past emerges, Jane must join forces with Edward to safeguard her loved ones. But at what risk to her heart?

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

I really enjoyed this book! It combined all the right ingredients; a lovely heroine, a worthy hero, lively repartee, delicious sensuality, a little intrigue and an array of interesting secondary characters.

What I love about Ned…

– his charm and wit
– his kindness and generosity to others regardless of their station in life
– his protectiveness towards those he loves and cares about
– his support and admiration for Jane
– his uncertainties about being a father
– a real romantic at heart but would never admit it

What I love about Jane…

– her determination to keep her child despite being disowned by her grandfather and ostracised by society
– her strength and resilience in the face of all her difficulties
– her unwavering love for her daughter Violet (Vi)
– her compassion, kindness and generosity to those who need her help
– her outspokenness and refusal to be brow-beaten, particularly by our hero

I enjoyed the development of the romance between Ned and Jane and their scenes together positively sizzle with sexual tension. Although the book is categorised as erotic, I didn’t find it overly so. The love scenes are definitely HOT on my sensuality rating but without being too graphic. Their road to happiness is a rocky one littered with obstacles but it all serves to push Ned and Jane into declaring their love for each other and treating me to a most satisfying happy ending.

Ms Driscoll has gathered together an interesting cast of secondary characters including Elizabeth, Ned’s independent and out-spoken sister, the rather austere Duke of Lynwood, Ned’s eldest brother, and the enchanting Violet who really captured my heart. The scenes between Ned and Vi are utterly delightful. I absolutely loved the teasing and light-hearted banter between the Kellington brothers.

I did notice a few modern words creeping into the dialogue but they certainly didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the story.

A few favourite quotes…

I hope you’re sewing the wound expeditiously and not creating an embroidery pattern as if amusing yourself on a winter’s day.”

“Do you have brothers and sisters?” Vi asked him.
“Three brothers and one sister.”
Vi’s eyes lit up. “I’d love to have three brothers and a sister. All I have is Titania.”
“Yes, but at least Titania catches mice. I’m afraid none of my brothers can catch mice, although I’m sure my sister is clever enough to do so.”
“What are their names?”
“The mice my sister catches? I’m not sure she ever named them.”
Vi broke out in giggles and Ned felt punched in the gut. He wasn’t sure he’d ever heard a sweeter sound.

“So, Ned, you nodcock,” said Lizzie as she poured herself and Jane a brandy, “what’s this about you getting engaged to a termagant with the fashion sense of a nearsighted opera dancer?”

This was Maureen Driscoll’s debut novel and the first book in her Kellington family series. Having read and enjoyed Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid, I’m certainly keen to read the other siblings’ stories.

VERDICT: A VERY GOOD READ

RATING: 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2013

My sincere thanks to Maureen Driscoll for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Kellington Series (click on the cover for more details):

Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid (Kellington #1) Never Miss a Chance (Kellington #2) Never Wager Against Love (Kellington #3) Never Run From Love (Kellington #4) Never Deny Your Heart (Kellington #5)

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The Rumour #1

Setting : New York City, New York, 1830 and London, 1831

Roderick Gideon Tremayne, the recently appointed Duke of Wentworth, never expected to find himself in New York City, tracking down a mysterious map important to his late mother. And he certainly never expected to be injured, only to wake up with no memory of who he is. But when he sees the fiery-haired beauty who’s taken it upon herself to rescue him, suddenly his memory is the last thing on his mind.

Georgia Milton, the young head of New York’s notorious Forty Thieves, feels responsible for the man who was trying to save her bag from a thief. But she’s not prepared for the fierce passion he ignites within her. When his memory begins to return, her whole world is threatened, and Roderick must choose between the life he forgot and the life he never knew existed.
…
★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

I really love this book! It is original, delightfully funny and wickedly sexy. It has a wonderful array of richly drawn characters and just the right amount of drama and mystery to keep me intrigued.

What I love most loved about the book:-

 Setting

It is refreshingly to read a story set against the backdrop of 19th century New York and Ms Marvelle brings everything to life with her vivid images of the notorious Five Points.

He scanned the stretching width of the dank street. Cramped wooden buildings loomed in the surrounding darkness, murky-yellow lamps lighting broken windows stuffed with rags and heaven knows what else. Silhouettes of men and women lurked on the streets and hovered in doorways.

Story

Spoiler free – just a few teasers!

Silver buttons, Robinson Crusoe, a kiss, a vile little maggot, Forty Thieves, a faded brown leather patch, a coal bin, four and forty dollars, a water pail, a proposal, a newspaper, a waltz, a Duke, status and wealth, memories, duty, a crazy Five Points idea, a promise, a transformation, Miss Tormey, an elephant…

Georgia

How I imagine Georgia ~

In most romances, the hero takes centre stage but, in FOREVER AND A DAY, Georgia is definitely the star of the show in my opinion. I absolutely adore her.

I cheered when she gave one of the men helping to lift the injured Roderick some grief…

“You think it fun watchin’ a man bleed? Keep movin’ him, you lout. Lest I make you bleed.”

I giggled at the extreme measures she took to make the uncooperative Roderick look more disreputable…

“Damn you thrice into the pits of hell, woman.” He gestured rigidly toward himself, his face taut and his eyes ablaze. “Why did you think it necessary to ruin a perfectly fine linen shirt?” He was certainly prim for a man who thought he was a pirate. He couldn’t even swear right. “We’re improvisin’, is all. No one’s linen shirts look that snowy white where I live.”

I was touched by her vulnerability…

Tears rimmed her eyes, remembering those nights spent cradling her father’s clothes unable to breathe or think.

I liked how she was a force to be reckoned with…

I may be younger than you, Matthew, but I’m still legally your mother and I’m not afraid to take a crop to your head. So leave off. You hear?

I admired her sheer determination …

“She was naught more than a scrap he took in after finding her asleep in his coal bin, looking like the dirty angel she still is. At the time, she didn’t even know what the hell a quill was for. Now look at her. She outreads me, outwrites me, outwits me and even finds the men around these parts to be so damn stupid, she’s heading out west.”

I loved her for taking the initiative and fighting for the man she loves…

Nothing was going to come between her and her man. Nothing.

Georgia will definitely find a place amongst my favourite heroines.

Roderick

How I imagine Roderick ~

“Because I have faith you’ll not disappoint me or yourself. I have faith you’ve already learned how to be a better man but have yet to see it yourself.”

I think Georgia’s words are perfect to describe Roderick’s journey in this story. After he loses his memory, he’s able to rediscover his true self without the baggage of his past mistakes and the expectations of others. A man who is:

caring…

“…the man is genuinely compassionate and protective of others. Throughout his entire stay, he’s done nothing but lecture us on our inability to tend to patients and is always getting out of bed to assist others in the hall, despite having orders that he rest.”

generous…

Turning toward her, he held out the grouped banknotes between bare fingers. “Four and forty dollars to oversee your journey and your land. Take it.”

kind…

Refusing to watch the woman suffer, he quickly strode past the long line of women, set his pail down beside the pump with a clang and rounded the old woman. “Allow me. Please.”

compassionate…

Robinson’s hands trailed up her back, curving around her shoulders, and found their way up and into her unbound hair. Cradling her moist cheeks with his palms, his thumbs brushed away the tears still rimming her eyes. He tilted her face upward toward him.

selfless…

he would give her everything… by letting her go.

Roderick really is a hero worthy of Georgia.

Those Sexy Moments

Ms Marvelle delivers some pretty hot sex scenes and enough sexual chemistry to singe the pages of the book…

His eyes darkened. “Let me tell you what I want and what I need, and I can assure you, it doesn’t involve water.” He grabbed her hard by the waist and forcefully spun them around so fast, her heart popped.
He shoved her back against the wall, making her gasp.

Secondary Characters

The secondary characters certainly add depth the story; what with Georgia’s neighbour from hell, the piratical looking Matthew with the penetrating coal-black eyes and the dark, mysterious Coleman. The Duke of Wentworth, Roderick’s father, seems very different from the hero of FOREVER MINE. There’s a hardness to him now, but finding out just how much he had lost, how much he truly loves Roderick and would do anything to see him happy, made me adore him all over again.

The Epilogue

I have to mention how much I love the Epilogue. So delightful and so amusing as well!

My one niggle about the book:-

I did find the ending rather abrupt and the situation between Georgia and Roderick seemed to be left unresolved although their HEA is never in doubt.

However, I happened to read these comments from Ms Marvelle on Goodreads:

“If you felt like the book ended abruptly, I am ever so pleased to hear it! That means you wanted more and believe me, there is lots more.”

“Call it evil on my part, lol, but I promise, whatever questions were unanswered in FOREVER AND A DAY will be answered in FOREVER A LADY and FOREVER A LORD.”

Yes very naughty indeed Ms Marvelle!  But it worked because I’m reading Forever a Lady at the moment!

Filled with fascinating characters, bags of humour, sizzling love scenes, plot twists and romance, FOREVER AND A DAY is another winner from the talented Ms Marvelle!

RATING:  ★★★★½

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!

Read February 2013

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Lessons in Indiscretion (The Merry Widows, #1)

THE MERRY WIDOWS BOOK 1

Widowed Lady Julia Renwick is still young enough to crave a man’s touch; but she’s too old to think that the Earl of Bedingfield could see her as anything more than a family friend. Garrett Walker is handsome, charming and only 26 years old—the perfect catch for any one of this year’s debutantes.

Garrett has no interest in the maidens vying for his attentions. He wants only Julia. With just two weeks left in the season, he makes a bold move by asking her to dance. When she counters with a shocking request of her own, Garrett eagerly agrees.

Soon, they are stealing away for passionate encounters at every society event they attend. Garrett introduces Julia to excitements she never knew existed, and her newfound confidence quickly attracts other eligible men. It’s not long before Garrett realizes he must find a way to keep the lady all to himself…

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I was totally captivated by this story and especially by the older woman/younger man theme. Julia is adorable and when she asks Garrett to be her lover, I love her nervous babbling, revealing all her insecurities:

“I know you have other interests, other things you should be doing, such as searching for a proper wife. And I know I’m older than you, and you probably don’t find me that attractive, and perhaps you just kissed me due to some odd, impulsive behaviour—–“

It’s delightful to see how the time spent with Garrett gradually transforms her from a shy, insecure, inexperienced woman into a radiant, confident and passionate one. What woman wouldn’t blossom under the attentions of someone like Garrett? He’s not only gorgeous, charming and virile but also thoughtful and kind. I love the fact that he wants Julia so badly:

She was a fire in his blood. He didn’t know what he’d do without her.

There is real chemistry between Julia and Garrett and their feelings always seem natural. Ms Erickson makes the development of their relationship from pure lust to something far more profound very believable. Julia’s thoughts suggest something far deeper here than mere physical sex:

It was enough to stare into his eyes and feel his body moving within hers. She’d never been so utterly connected to someone. The moment was fraught with intimacy, and she almost wanted to weep from the intensity.

I enjoyed the time they spent talking, sharing their dreams, laughing, teasing and simply kissing. It all suggested a depth to the relationship making their falling in love so natural.

As you would expect from an erotic short story, the love scenes are steamy but they are never crude and Ms Erickson tailors them perfectly; many scenes being implied rather than actually shown. I felt the detailed love scenes had more of an impact and helped move the story forward. The carriage scene is one of my favourites and I love Julia’s reactions:

She’d never done anything like this before. Her husband had only made love to her in a bed while lying on top of her. This…this was shocking. Exciting. Thrilling.

I applaud Ms Erickson for one of the most romantic final scenes I’ve read in a long time. No spoilers but it’s so sigh-worthy!

Gorgeous cover as well!!

If you are looking for a charming, steamy short story to curl up with on a rainy evening, I can certainly recommend LESSONS IN INDISCRETION.

RATING: ★★★★

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COMANCHE SERIES 3

Torn between the white and Comanche worlds of her parents, Indigo Wolf has grown up estranged from the townspeople of Wolf’s Landing, Orgeon. No one understands her elusive spirit-until Jake Rand comes to town to act as foreman of her family’s ranch. But Jake’s real motives are as secret as his true identity, and as personal as his growing attraction to Indigo.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book although it didn’t quite have the same emotional impact as the previous two books in the series, Comanche Moon and Comanche Heart. Once again, Catherine Anderson transported me back to 1885, to the mining town of Wolf’s Landing and into the world of Hunter and Loretta Wolf and their daughter, Indigo, the heroine of this book.

This book explores the growing relationship between Indigo and Jake with all its emotional turmoil and Catherine Anderson is so adept at drawing you into the lives of her characters and making you really care about them.

A terrible experience when Indigo was younger has left her with a deep distrust and fear of white men in general. Things she’s heard about how a white man treats an Indian wife do nothing to reassure her.

Given the circumstances, I can fully understand Indigo’s initial horror at having to marry Jake. After all, he’s a virtual stranger and a white man, two good reasons for distrusting him! Fearful for her safety, after further incidents at the mine, Jake forbids her to go to the mine or to go anywhere on her own. In Indigo’s eyes, Jake’s actions only serve to reinforce her opinions of him; she has become a virtual prisoner:

All the things she had always counted on had been snatched away, Lobo, the support of her parents, the home where she’d grown up, the mine, and her mountains. Even her name was different. Not Indigo Wolf anymore, but Indigo Rand. She felt like a cup that had been drained and left empty.

I think this shows a stubborn streak in Indigo and also a certain amount of immaturity because she’s not willing to see that her safety is Jake’s only concern.

Jake treats her with nothing but kindness, gentleness and patience and so I was frustrated with Indigo’s continuing antagonistic attitude towards him. It’s only when Indigo finally opens her heart to Jake that I realised just how deeply her past experiences had coloured her outlook on life and why she found it so difficult to trust Jake.

I liked Jake from the start because of his concern for those people affected by his father’s actions and his intention to go to Wolf’s Landing personally to investigate. He’s a man with a conscience.

His relationship with Indigo is complex. He is attracted to her from the beginning but won’t act on it because he feels guilty about lusting after his host’s daughter. Not to mention that he considers himself much too old for her. She is very different from the ladies in Portland and he is fascinated by her and when he offers to marry Indigo to protect her reputation, he’s not just being honourable:

If he were brutally honest, he had to admit that the thought of marrying her wasn’t totally repugnant. She appealed to him in a way he couldn’t define. He could almost taste how sweet her dusky-rose lips would be, how silken her skin. A man could suffer far worse fates.

Jake’s very patient with Indigo, always considering her feelings, even when it comes to consummating the marriage. I wasn’t surprised when he eventually loses patience with her and vents all his frustrations but this proves to be the catalyst for them to admit their love for each other. The consummation scene comes towards the end of the book but it is so beautiful and poignant that the paucity of love scenes didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book.

There are some funny moments in the book which had me giggling to myself particularly when Father O’Grady is talking to Jake about Indigo’s confession and when Indigo asks the local prostitute, Franny, for advice about her wedding night!

Although the action only forms a background to the love story, there is a nail-biting climax which will have you on the edge of your seat.

VERDICT: Catherine Anderson has again crafted a beautiful and tender love story

RATING : ★★★★★

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SCANDALOUS WOMEN OF THE TON SERIES BOOK 3

A wicked duke’s bed is no place for a lady…

Lady Merryn Fenner is on a mission to ruin the Duke of Farne. A beautiful bluestocking with a penchant for justice, Merryn has waited twelve years to satisfy her revenge against Garrick Farne. Her family name had been tarnished at his hands, her life destroyed.

For twelve years Garrick, Duke of Farne has kept the secret of what really happened on the night that he killed his best friend, Stephen Fenner, in a duel. Now Stephen’s sister is intent on discovering the truth and putting at risk all those secrets Garrick has protected.

When a disaster traps Merryn and Garrick together, white-hot desire stirs between the two sworn enemies. Merryn’s reputation is utterly compromised and she is forced to do the one thing she cannot bear; accept the scandalous marriage proposal of the man she has vowed to ruin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Garrick and Merryn, Ms Cornick has created two very memorable and complex characters.

Garrick is everything a hero should be – handsome, enigmatic, powerfully built, witty and sexy. However, he has one major flaw – there are rumours that, ten years ago, he killed his best friend under suspicious circumstances!

It’s clear from the start honour and duty mean everything to Garrick and the tragic events of his past have been significant in shaping the man he’s become. His strong sense of honor prevails even when it’s at odds with his own personal happiness. However much he wants to tell Merryn the truth surrounding her brother’s death, he’s can’t break the oath he took ten years ago. Should Merryn learn the truth, ‘she would be horribly disillusioned, all her memories tarnished and her life in ruins again’. My heart went out to Garrick as there’s no easy solution to his dilemma.

On discovering his father had purchased the Fenner Estates, following the death of the Earl of Fenner, he feels honour bound to return them to Merryn and her sisters. Not to salve his conscience as Merryn believes but because he’s revolted by his father’s profiteering from those past tragic events. Being a duke and looking after the estate is a ‘monstrous duty’ but one which he takes seriously. His late father’s terrible reputation – ‘the eighteenth Duke had beaten his servants and kicked his dogs, and vice versa.’ – doesn’t make the task any easier. He’s desperate to prove he’s not like his father.

No way could I believe a man with such high principles could be a cold-blooded killer. So I was delighted when the truth was finally revealed and my faith in him rewarded.

I’ve always had a soft spot for unconventional heroines and so I adore Merryn. She’s a very principled person who ‘believes in justice and fighting for what is right….‘ despite her very blinkered obsession with bringing Garrick to justice. Idolizing her brother, she shut her eyes to his true character. She also harbours a guilty secret that has coloured her view of past events. Although her failure to see that Tom Bradshaw is using her for his own nefarious ends shows a certain naïveté, this flaw makes her more human. I couldn’t help but sympathise with her feelings of guilt at desiring the man who murdered her brother.

I enjoyed seeing Merryn mature over the course of the book. She regards her sisters, Joanna and Tess, as frivolous and only interested in clothes and balls. Gradually, she sees just how much they care for her and how much she loves them. She also comes to realise that her life may have been exciting but it has been devoid of love.

Ms Cornick does an excellent job of building and sustaining the sizzling passion between Garrick and Merryn and the love scenes are very sensual.

I really warmed to Merryn’s sisters, Joanna and Tess, who revealed hidden sides to their characters in their support of Merryn when she’s facing ruin.

Ms Cornick seems to combine witty banter, exciting action, intensely passionate scenes and wonderfully descriptive narrative so perfectly. I loved Garrick’s description of his butler, Pointer,  ‘fluttering around in the dark hall like a monstrous moth‘ and I could literally smell the beer fumes in the scene where Garrick and Merryn are caught up in the London Beer Flood.

VERDICT: The wonderful combination of star-crossed lovers, hidden secrets, life-threatening danger and delightful touches of humour make it an unforgettable read.

 RATING :  ★★★★★

 

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The Scandalous Women of the Ton Series Book 2

Lottie Palliser was once the toast of the Ton but now is notorious for being divorced—and penniless. Shunned by society and disowned by her family, the destitute beauty is forced to become a courtesan in a Covent Garden bawdy house. Refusing to oblige her customers, Lottie is about to be turned out onto the streets when a dangerous rake saves her with a scandalous offer…

Ethan Ryder is the illegitimate son of an Irish Duke and a circus performer. He rose through the ranks as one of Napoleon’s most dashing cavalry officers—until his capture landed him in England as prisoner of war. Now on parole, Ethan is planning his most audacious coup yet. But he needs to create a spectacular diversion. And having infamous Lottie as his mistress will lull everyone into thinking he’s busily bedding her instead of plotting deadly treason. Both Lottie and Ethan believe that their cool heads and selfish hearts will give them the upper hand in their ruthlessly passionate union. Yet their unexpected bond will scandalize even them.

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At the heart of this book is the story of two unlikely people meeting and falling in love. At first, their relationship is based on one of mutual need–Lottie needs Ethan as a means of escaping a life of degradation in the brothel and Ethan needs the ‘notorious’ Lottie to act as a smokescreen for his activities. Neither expects their relationship to be anything other than sex and money. Lottie provides the sex and Ethan provides the money!

I like the way in which Ms Cornick conveys the subtle changes in Lottie’s and Ethan’s feelings for each other. When they first meet in the brothel, Ethan is expecting someone sophisticated and experienced but finds a vulnerable woman, very unsure of herself, and nothing like her reputation suggests. I think this is why he is initially attracted to Lottie, because she is totally different from what he expected, softer and appealing.

Lottie expects no special treatment from Ethan:

This was a man who had brought her for his pleasure and she knew she should not forget that. He had been bored, wanting a mistress to pass the time. She was the woman chosen.

She is, therefore, surprised when he shows her great tenderness, realizing how her self-confidence has been shattered by her time in the brothel. He is even willing to seduce her rather than the other way around! In doing so, he helps remind Lottie how wonderful physical love can be. I think this is what initially draws Lottie to Ethan.

Ethan is the one who struggles the most with his deepening feelings for Lottie. His reactions when he makes love to her are far different from those he has felt with other women:

And yet making love to Lottie had been as profound as it was sweet. It had felt intimate and seductive in a far more dangerous sense than simply sexual.

I sense a natural affinity between the two of them because they were both badly hurt in the past. Lottie was hurt both when her father abandoned her at the age of six and also when her husband rejected his seventeen-year-old bride. You can fully understand why she embarked on the various affairs. She was lonely and it was a form of escape from the emptiness of her marriage and I think that deep down, she was always looking for love.

Ethan had also suffered when he was a child. He was taken away from his mother by his father, the Duke of Farne, to be brought up in a household that despised him and was later sent to a school where he was bullied because he was illegitimate.

Those who enjoy steamy love scenes will not be disappointed and I particularly have in mind the scene where Lottie decides that enough is enough. She has always submitted to Ethan’s will but this time, she is in charge!

The plot is well paced with quite a few twists and surprises involving a traitor in their midst, the escape of Ethan’s son, Arland, and the appearance of Lottie’s brother, Theo. The theme of betrayal is an important element in the plot on different levels. Lottie is willing to betray Ethan because Theo offers her a chance to recover at least a semblance of her former life, which seems so important to her at the time. However, as she comes to love Ethan, she knows she can never betray him and is willing to risk her life to protect his son and Ethan himself. The traitor is willing to betray his friends for money and there is a further betrayal which I feel is the worst of all but I will not elaborate as this would spoil the impact.

Although serious in tone, there are some lovely touches of humour. I was chuckling at the scene in the marketplace where Lottie turns the tables on the stallholder who refuses to serve her and the letters from the townsfolk asking Lottie for advice on fashions and other more intimate matters!

I admit to being intrigued by the historical aspects in this book and wondered whether there really were parole towns and whether French officers were allowed a certain freedom. I did a little checking and discovered that Ms Cornick had certainly researched her material well because Wantage was actually as parole town. It just goes to prove that reading Historical Romance can enrich your mind!

VERDICT: A COMPELLING STORY OF SCANDAL, HONOUR, BETRAYAL AND PASSION

RATING: ★★★★½

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SCANDALOUS WOMEN OF THE TON SERIES BOOK 1

Official Blurb:

Lady Joanna Ware has no desire to wed again but that doesn’t stop the flurry of suitors knocking on her door. Desperate to thwart another proposal, Joanna brazenly kisses Arctic explorer Alex, Lord Grant. Unable to deny the blazing attraction that flares, Joanna knows she’s just set the gossip mill turning.

After suffering countless infidelities during her marriage, she’s accustomed to scandal. But nothing prepares her for the shocking news that her deceased husband has bequeathed his illegitimate child to her and his friend Alex. As rumors run rampant in the ton, Joanna and Alex travel to the Arctic to claim the orphan. Battling blizzards, dangerous wildlife and a treacherous plot, Alex must protect Joanna, but not before he wickedly seduces her …

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Ms. Cornick has created an intense and emotional story exploring the complex relationship between Joanna and Alex. She brilliantly conveys the initial hostility between them with her scathing repartee. This is Joanna’s response to Alex’s criticism of her way of life:

“You know nothing of my way of life, Lord Grant, other than what is based on David’s lies and your own arrogant assumptions!” Her tone dripped disdain. “If it comes to that, you are the one who rackets about the world like a poorly aimed cannonball. You may provide materially for your family but you have no interest in engaging with them in any emotional sense”.

I understand Alex’s reluctance to accept that David Ware was not the honourable man he thought him to be. They had a close friendship based on their mutual love of exploring. Then there’s the fact that David had saved his life. There would be no reason for Alex to disbelieve the rumours he heard about Joanna. I like the way in which Alex’s preconceptions about Joanna are slowly stripped away as he discovers that she is vulnerable, caring and brave.

He is slow to admit his deep feelings for Joanna because the death of his first wife, Amelia, has left him reluctant to enter into any deep relationship. His guilt over Amelia’s death drives him to constantly accept dangerous assignments. It is almost as though he has a death wish.

I like Joanna and feel great sympathy for her. The lifestyle she leads, although lacking any apparent substance, was originally her way of coping with the trauma of her disastrous marriage. I admire her strength in leaving David and making a life for herself. Her initial dislike of Alex is understandable given her previous experiences with her husband but, gradually, she appreciates that Alex is nothing like David. He doesn’t court fame and popularity as her husband had and, although he is physically strong, she knows that Alex would never use that strength to hurt anyone.

Even during the quarrels between Joanna and Alex, Ms Cornick’s superb writing style allows you to sense the sexual tension simmering just beneath the surface. I love the scene where Joanna intends to seduce Alex into marrying her, but can’t go through with it. Alex turns the tables on her, saying that he won’t marry her unless she seduces him. The love scene which follows is sizzling! Here’s a little teaser:

‘He picked her up and tossed her on the bed. It was so sudden and shocking that she lay there, winded for a moment. He was kneeling above her and he looked huge and powerful and shockingly masculine and she felt her heart race with a mixture of apprehension and fascination and the most wicked, wicked delight.’

Lottie Cummings, Joanna’s closest friend, is an interesting character. On the surface, she is frivolous, immoral and selfish, but I believe that underneath this façade, she is lonely and unfulfilled. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series One Wicked Sin which is Lottie’s story. Quite how Ms Cornick is going to transform Lottie in to a true heroine I’m not quite sure, but I look forward to finding out!

What a nasty piece of work David Ware was. He’s lucky that he is already dead; otherwise I would like to have seen him strung up by a certain part of his anatomy!

Ms Cornick vividly conveys the stark beauty of the Arctic Circle and the dangers lurking there.

There are lovely touches of humour as well:

“It is hoped that you can navigate your way better across the frozen wastes than you can around a woman’s body, or you may end in Spain rather than Spitsbergen.”

“I fear I would need to know you a great deal more intimately before I strip off in your ballroom or indeed any other room.”

“I came here to seduce you”, Joanna said in a rush.
“Excuse me, my lord,” Frazer said into the silence that followed. “I do not believe I should be present at a moment like this.”

VERDICT: A WINNING BLEND OF PASSIONATE LOVE STORY AND INTREPID ADVENTURE

RATING: ★★★★★

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Historical Romance Reviews

Delilah Marvelle Loves Her Readers

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Caz's Reading Room

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

The Reading Wench

Historical Romance Reviews

Sonya's Stuff

Mostly Books

Chicks,Rogues and Scandals

We Love, We Live and We Read. . . .

The Mighty Quill

Historical Romance Reviews

doingsomereading

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La Deetda Reads

Book Reviews, Thoughts and Recipes

And Then She Kissed Him

Regency romance redrawn with Author Cora Lee

Romantic Historical Reviews

Where History Meets Passion

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Historical Romance Reviews

LovesHistorical Book Reviews

Mother. Blogger. Southern Belle. Makeup geek. Avid reader. Books are my addiction. Highlanders are my passion.

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