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Posts Tagged ‘Delilah Marvelle’


(A Happy Christmas, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A mysterious key to an attic that cannot be found…
A ghost with good but overly ambitious intentions…
And a forgotten wager that is about to turn Miss Barrington’s life into a holiday mess.

Are you ready for the outrageously funny and Happy Christmas Series?
WARNING: THERE IS A LOT OF MAGIC AND ROMANCE IN THIS BOX.

London, England – Winter of 1860
When all the ladies of London realize that handsome and refined gentleman, the Duke of Ainsley, is formally looking for a wife, only weeks before Christmas, a mad dash to claim him begins. Miss Barrington knows her chances with the duke are incredibly good given what her close gypsy friend had once foretold, but a forgotten wager with her greatest nemesis, American millionaire, Mr. Redstone, is about to bring on complications and…chaos.

Will she claim the dashing and respectable duke once foretold by the stars? Or will she fall for Mr. Redstone and go against destiny? Only the days leading up to Christmas will tell!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

THE CHRISTMAS WAGER has everything I love about Delilah Marvelle’s books…emotive and evocative writing, an innovative story, richly drawn characters, sparkling dialogue, a sensual love story and delightful humour plus that extra touch of Christmas magic.

I adored Maxwell and his sheer zest for life. After a near fatal accident at the age of twelve (he still carries the bullet), his parents expect him to become overly cautious, but Maxwell is even more determined to live life to the full. He indulges in all sorts of mad-cap adventures and pranks which find him constantly in trouble with the law but he doesn’t care because…

He was alive and worth three and a half million! Life was good.

The only thing missing is a woman to share his life with…one who isn’t after his money and doesn’t think he’s a lunatic.

I loved Felicity too. After being abandoned by her mother, she spent the first 16 years of her life in a foundling home…years that have made her tough.

She had made such a reputation for herself the boys always scattered the moment they saw her coming.

Her life changes drastically when she is given a home by the wealthy uncle she never knew existed and the events her gypsy friend, Marigold, foretold begin to unfold.

It is obvious from the moment they meet that Maxwell and Felicity are destined for each other. How they reach that destination when Marigold, Felicity’s gypsy friend, foretells that she will marry a duke or there will be dire consequences, is what makes this book so enjoyable.

In fact, there is never a dull moment and I loved:

– the memorable first meeting between Maxwell and Felicity with its great dialogue:

“I may be a foundling , but I’m repectable. So don’t expect us to do things in said attic.”

His mouth twisted wryly. “At your age, dearest, you wouldn’t know how. So pull your claws in, will you? If you don’t touch my buttons, I won’t touch your hooks.

– Felicity’s drunken verbal attack on that jezebel, Mrs Mastin

– All the crazy things Maxwell does to win Felicity’s approval (I love a hero in hot pursuit of the heroine and Maxwell is nothing if not determined)

– the hair-raising sleigh ride

to mention just a few.

I don’t usually like paranormal elements in historical romances but, in this story, they work perfectly with the Christmas theme. There are plenty of twists and turns, some surprises and poignant moments, like the scene between Felicity and her mother’s ghost which reminded me of the movie “Ghost”.

There is a teaser for Marigold’s book which appears to be next, and I’m hoping that the Duke of Ainsley and Felicity’s Uncle Cedric will get there Happy Ever Afters as well. Perhaps there could even be a Christmas miracle for the self-serving Baroness Arlington.

This is the first book in Ms Marvelle’s A Happy Christmas series and, according to the Foreword, there are a further nine to come. So I’m sure of one delightful present to open each year!

MY VERDICT: An enchanting and entertaining story full of romance and the magic of Christmas. A veritable holiday treat.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read December 2015


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

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A family gathering with all those delicious Mackenzies…how could I resist!

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Mackenzies and McBrides, #8.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Ian Mackenzie is awakened at Kilmorgan Castle one night to find robbers stealing the priceless art collection of his oldest brother, Hart. Since Ian and Beth are the only ones in resident at Kilmorgan at the moment, Ian decides he must find the art and the culprits before the family shows up for Hart’s birthday gathering. With Inspector Fellows and Beth, he investigates, though Ian is somewhat worried by Beth’s late husband’s brother, a retired missionary, who decides to visit. Does John Ackerley hold the “cure” to Ian’s madness? And can Ian discover what has happened to Hart’s treasures, and who is targeting the Mackenzies before the enemy strikes again?

Return to Kilmorgan Castle to visit the Victorian branch of the Mackenzie family, and catch up on the brothers and friends, their children, and their lives.

♥♥♥♥♥♥


These two audiobooks were early surprise birthday presents from my dear friend, Wendy Loveridge.

Narrated by Nicholas Bolton

Genre: Historical Romance (England, early 19th century)

Cover Blurb:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the “D of J” in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.

 

Narrated by Kate Reading

(Scoundrels, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

DETERMINED LADY

Tough-minded Jessica Trent’s sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when Dain’s reciprocal passion places them in a scandalously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction …

LORD OF SCOUNDRELS

Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him … and then forcing him to salvage her reputation! Lord Dain can’t wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place — and in some amorous position, And if that means marriage, so be it! — though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof … and steel his heart to the sensuous, headstrong lady’s considerable charms.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

This was highly recommended by my friend, Wendy

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Wicked Trilogy, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A wickedly wonderful new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of His Wicked Reputation...

Most women will give him anything he wants. She is not most women…

As a well-known barrister and the son of a duke, Ives confines his passionate impulses to discreet affairs with worldly mistresses. A twist of fate, however, has him looking for a new lover right when a fascinating woman shows up in his chambers, asking him to help save her father from the gallows. Unfortunately, he has already been asked to serve as the prosecutor in the case, but that only ensures close encounters with the rarity named Padua Belvoir. And every encounter increases his desire to tutor her in pleasure’s wicked ways…

Having always been too tall, too willful, and too smart to appeal to men, Padua Belvoir is shocked when Ives shows interest in her. Knowing his penchant for helping the wrongly accused, she had initially thought he might be her father’s best hope for salvation. Instead, he is her worst adversary—not least because every time he looks at her, she is tempted to give him anything he wants…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

Delilah Marvelle is one of my top favourite authors and I jumped at the chance of reviewing this Christmas novella.

Source: Received from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

(A Happy Christmas, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A mysterious key to an attic that cannot be found…
A ghost with good but overly ambitious intentions…
And a forgotten wager that is about to turn Miss Barrington’s life into a holiday mess.

Are you ready for the outrageously funny and Happy Christmas Series?
WARNING: THERE IS A LOT OF MAGIC AND ROMANCE IN THIS BOX.

London, England – Winter of 1860
When all the ladies of London realize that handsome and refined gentleman, the Duke of Ainsley, is formally looking for a wife, only weeks before Christmas, a mad dash to claim him begins. Miss Barrington knows her chances with the duke are incredibly good given what her close gypsy friend had once foretold, but a forgotten wager with her greatest nemesis, American millionaire, Mr. Redstone, is about to bring on complications and…chaos.

Will she claim the dashing and respectable duke once foretold by the stars? Or will she fall for Mr. Redstone and go against destiny? Only the days leading up to Christmas will tell!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

I don’t read many contemporary romances but I absolutely love Victoria Vane’s books – whether it’s her fabulous historicals or her sexy contemporaries!

Source: An ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

(Hotel Rodeo, #1)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Blurb:

Some Odds are Meant to be Played… 

PLACE YOUR BET

The Hotel Rodeo in Las Vegas has seen better days, but managing partner Ty Morgan has come up with a way to return it to its former glory. His plan looks promising until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly Ty is working for the boss’s daughter. And Miss Monica Brandt, hot as she may be, doesn’t share his vision…

ROLL THE DICE

She left a fabulous career and a frustrated fiancé in New York to move to Vegas and save her father’s investment. But now Monica is locking horns with a sexy cowboy-turned-businessman. What does Ty think he can do that she can’t? All Monica knows is that she doesn’t dare trust him—or is it herself she doesn’t trust…

AND WIN 

The battle lines are drawn. The stakes are high. And the attraction can’t be denied—especially the more closely Ty and Monica have to work together. Some odds are just meant to be played, and with chemistry this electric, it may be time to grab life by the horns…

Expected publication date: January 19th 2016

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

This is another recommendation from my friend, Wendy Loveridge.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Rockliffe, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1764)

Cover Blurb:

Rosalind Vernon, robbed of her sight by childhood accident, had no idea that the cherished voice at her door belonged to a notorious rake. Marquis of Amberley had distinguished himself in gaming room and boudoir alike. Now, stranded by snowfall, he became enamored of his innocent hostess. And she, who had lived in seclusion, welcomed his lively wit and distinctive charm.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

After listening to MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE recently, narrated by the amazing Alex Wyndham, I wanted to listen to NOBLE SATYR, the story of the Duke of Roxton and his wife, Antonia. So I was delighted to receive the offer of a free download of the audiobook from author Lucinda Brant.

Source: I received a free download from the author in return for an honest review

Narrated by Alex Wyndham

(Roxton Series, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

1740s France and England. Abandoned to fend for herself at the court of Versailles, Antonia turns to her distant cousin, the all-powerful Duke of Roxton, to help her escape the attentions of a lecherous nobleman. Roxton is an unlikely savior – arrogant, promiscuous, and sinister. Antonia’s unquestioning belief in him may just be his salvation, and her undoing.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

I’m way behind reading this series, having only read book 1, but I hope to catch up during 2016

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(A Lady Forsaken, #3.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A lady seeking forgiveness for her past…

Lady Viola Haversham is determined to put her past where it belongs—behind her. To do so, she sets out to host the grandest holiday celebration Foldger’s Hall has ever seen; proving to everyone—including herself—that she has more to offer than the hardship and loss she has brought to her family.

A woman forging a new path in life…

Mrs. Ruby Jakeston is tired of others taking care of her. She is ready to show everyone that she can look after more than just herself and her new husband; she also wants to set her overprotective friend at ease, and bring her hellion sister to heel.

A girl lost and in search of a place to belong…

Lady Ellington is on the brink of losing the only home she’s ever known. The last thing she wants is to attend a grand soirée. However, when her older sister demands her presence at a country Christmas party, she is compelled to attend. With only a stablehand as her companion, she arrives at a house teeming with unfamiliar faces—and nowhere to hide.

A trio of women holding out hope for three different holiday miracles…

Christmas ever more.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

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delilah-marvelle-2

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

Thank you SO much for having me, Carol! I absolutely love reading your blog and so it’s fun to actually be on it!

~~~~~~~

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

Delilah:
I was born in Chicago in the US. Growing up in Chicago, and in the city proper, was fodder for writing, I’d say. Aside from the fact that I lived in an apartment just two streets down from a railroad track where gangs gathered, and there was more cement than grass, the people I grew up with and the characters I met made it all worthwhile. What many of my readers don’t know is that English is actually my second language. Even though I was born and raised in the US, my parents were from Poland and so I was raised and immersed in the Polish culture until I reached grade school, where I learned how to speak English.

If you’ve ever seen MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, it pretty much sums up how I grew up. A Polish neighbourhood, a Polish dad (though he didn’t use Windex for everything, he was a total clean freak), and I even went to Polish school every Saturday. Although it set me apart from most of the kids in my grade school where kids would throw slurs at me like “Dumb Polak”, I got to experience a side of life most Americans don’t.

I grew up feeling very much like an immigrant and an outsider in a country that was supposedly mine. It was a fascinating experience and the sole reason why I connect with writing historical romances about men and women on the “outside” of respectable society. Because I was never really an insider when it came to anything. Everything I experienced while growing up was almost opposite to my American friends. While they were going to the movies, I was attending political rallies before the Polish consulate to demonstrate against the Communist Party that oppressed the country of Poland. Being connected to a culture and a country outside of the one you’re living in sets you apart and in many ways, I’m glad for it. I experienced the sort of people, books, music and movies most Americans have never heard of. It created a large part of who I am: Delilah Marvelle and her world of the unconventional, lol.


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

Delilah:
I’m incredibly easy-going and get along with everyone on almost everything, BUT I am temperamental when it comes to things I am most passionate about. When it comes to defending others, myself and my family, I don’t mess around by being easy-going. I’ve learned to balance my life by being both, because you can’t survive in life by being one thing.


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

Delilah:
What many don’t know is that I went to culinary school, so I learned to love it all. Sweet and savoury and everything in between. My personal speciality in culinary school was actually experimenting with historical foods which had a tendency to be more savoury. For the most part, there are very few foods I won’t eat. I love trying new foods and often surprise myself by liking it almost every time. The only things I won’t eat are certain organs on an animal that includes testicles. That just seems wrong to me. And yes, I’ve tried them.


R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Delilah:
Aside from my family? A necklace from 1880. I started collecting historical jewellery pieces and it’s by far what I consider my most treasured possession. I attached a picture of it because when it comes to all things historical, I’m all about sharing. What is fascinating about this necklace is that although it looks incredibly heavy, it’s very light. It’s made out of gold book chains. In the Victorian era, book chains were draped in the pages of a book, much like a book mark was used to hold a place. It became the fashion for ladies to show off their “intellectual” side by wearing book plate necklaces. Mine is on the higher end of that scale and I cherish this piece of history, often dreaming about who wore it and why. For those of you who want to see it in person, along with my entire historical collection of jewellery, I’ll be wearing it all at the Historical Romance Retreat (www.HistoricalRomanceRetreat.com )

 
My 1880 necklace


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

Delilah:
Not to brag, but I already own two homes, lol. One is in the high desert of Oregon and the other is in lush forest of Oregon, so I get the best of both worlds. BUT…if I were to go for a third home, I’d say it would be in Paris. After visiting Paris for the first time two years ago, even my husband agreed it was a place we could both see ourselves living. The history, the people, the food, and the city itself were breath-taking. Maybe in about ten years, it’ll happen!


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

Delilah:
I’ve had SO, SO, SO many embarrassing moments, I honestly don’t know where to begin, lol. There is a reason I twist in humour into my writing. I live it all the time and have no one to blame but myself. If I had to dwindle it down to one of those moments, I would say the time I went to a Halloween party dressed as a ghost (all white, right?…not a good idea). I walked out into the backyard to join in on the party when I walked right off the ledge into a swimming pool (hey, it was dark!). I wasn’t wearing any underwear or a bra given the outfit was tight and knowing this, I stayed in the water with my head sticking out waiting for people to stop laughing while I waited for a friend to get me a towel. I was totally laughing with them, but let me tell you, I never left the house without a bra and underwear again….especially on Halloween.

~~~~~~

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

You are very welcome! I loved being able to share. I look forward to seeing you at the Historical Romance Retreat next year!

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

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

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A Message from Delilah…

DEAR READER:

Having recently acquired the rights back to these playful, naughty books, I decided to do far more than slap a new cover on them. Even if you’ve read Mistress of Pleasure and Lord of Pleasure, you’ll find since their original publications back in 2008 and 2009, these books have undergone a metamorphosis. These revamped second editions have countless new scenes, both romantic and hilarious in nature, which were added throughout each book in an effort to make you feel like you’re reading them for the first time. I dare you to revisit the books that started it all.

 

(School of Gallantry, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle Maitenon has no interest in her grandmother’s school in London where gentlemen receive instruction–in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent and free from men and their overbearing expectations. But when Maybelle lays eyes on the Duke of Rutherford, who is well-known for his gentlemanly ways, she can’t resist. Neither she or the duke are prepared for what their attraction is about to do not only to their sanity but their hearts.

(Release date: Friday, July 3rd)

(School of Gallantry, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

It’s been months since Lady Charlotte Chartwell’s philandering husband met his untimely end at the hands of an angry mistress. But as miserable as he made Charlotte in life, his death proves to be an even harsher blow. For not a farthing of his estate has passed on to her, and as a penniless widow, she is utterly without hope. As Charlotte is considering the worst, a mysterious man steps into her carriage determined to change her life. Known to all of London as The Lord of Pleasure, Charlotte does her best to resist him and his charms only to discover he wants far, far more than mere pleasure.

(Release date: Friday, July 10th)

WARNING: These books contain strong language and sexual content that may cause respectable people to swoon.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

 

 

 

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(School of Gallantry, #7)

Genre: Historical Romance (Revolutionary France – 1792 and London, England – 1830)

Cover Blurb:

For some, unraveling love takes a lifetime…

Long before becoming the flamboyant courtesan known to men as Madame de Maitenon, Thérèse Angelique Bouchard, dreamed of becoming an actress capable of commanding not only the stage but all of Paris. Until she meets an extraordinary aristocratic gentleman who sweeps her into his arms and the danger of his life, while offering her the sort of wealth she never imagined. What starts off as a seductive alliance, ends in her giving him the one thing she, as a mere bourgeoisie, cannot afford to give: her love.

After the murder of his older brothers, Gérard Antoine Tolbert, becomes the last heir to the powerful dukedom of Andelot, leaving him to fight for not only his life, but the allegiance he holds for the crown. During the final rise of the French Revolution that whispers of the violent change about to shake the entire country, Gérard meets an aspiring actress who entices him into wanting more out of not only himself but life. In trying to protect her from their overly passionate alliance and those that want him dead, he must decide what matters most: his life or his heart.

WARNING: This book contains strong language and sexual content that may cause respectable people to swoon.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

WOW! This final book in the School of Gallantry series was such a gripping, powerful and passionate love story.

Thérèse and Gérard’s story was heart-rending, poignant and dramatic. It was an emotional roller-coaster of a journey and I lived every moment… the intense emotions and powerful passions; the stark dangers and the terrible betrayals; the heart-breaking choices; the forgiveness and the enduring love.

Some of my favourite moments:

She wanted a dashing man capable of seeing more than her breasts and face. She wanted a dashing man capable of seducing her soul.

♥♥♥♥

“I will find my own way to Paris, merci. Whore myself, indeed. I have yet to find a man worthy of it. All you apes ever think about is food, wine and poom-poom.”
He paused from adjusting his felt hat. “What the devil are you talking about?”
Why did no one ever get it? “Sex. It sounds exactly what it looks like. Poom-poom.”

♥♥♥♥

Something hauntingly whispered that she had found her dance partner for life.

♥♥♥♥

She was full of so much mettle and warmth and wit, it was spilling onto the very pavement she walked on.

♥♥♥♥

“I want to go with you,” she choked out. “I want to go with you, but –“
“No. You will stay here. You have a name and a stronghold. Use it. We will find each other again, I promise.”

♥♥♥♥

He slowly approached a painting he thought he would never see again.
Tears burned in his eyes as he knelt and set the lantern before it.

♥♥♥♥

The dream of her that kept his soul and heart alive all these years was nothing compared to the reality of her.

♥♥♥♥

I appreciated the depth of the research Ms Marvelle must have undertaken and she paints a graphic and often harrowing picture of the French Revolution. There is one particular scene when Gérard sees the body of an old neighbour which, for me, conveyed all the horror and brutality of that period.

Vicomte de Laroche had lain mangled, the blood from his still slit-open throat caked and sprayed across cobbled streets. Those open eyes stared up to the heavens as flies crawled across his expressionless face.

I loved the inclusion of the Marquis de Sade in the story. He was totally unpredictable. I never knew what outrageous things he was going to say or do next! Friend or foe? He kept me guessing.

You know how much I love Epilogues and this one featured all the characters from the other books plus assorted children. It was a joyous ending to a wonderful series.

How I imagine the young Gérard

How I imagine the young Thérèse

My Verdict: A fabulous end to a brilliant series. The whole series is a must read!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!!

Read April 2015

School of Gallantry series (click on book covers for more details):

Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #1) by Delilah Marvelle Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #2) by Delilah Marvelle Lady of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #3) by Delilah Marvelle Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4) by Delilah Marvelle Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5) by Delilah Marvelle The Duke of Andelot (School of Gallantry #7) by Delilah Marvelle

**I received a copy of this book from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.**

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(School of Gallantry, #7)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

History just got sexy as hell…

Long before becoming the flamboyant courtesan known to men as Madame de Maitenon, Thérèse Angelique Bouchard, dreamed of becoming an actress capable of commanding not only the stage but all of Paris. Until she meets an extraordinary aristocratic gentleman who sweeps her into his arms and the danger of his life, while offering her the sort of wealth she never imagined. What starts off as a seductive alliance, ends in her giving him the one thing she, as a mere bourgeoisie, cannot afford to give: her love.

After the murder of his older brothers, Gérard Antoine Tolbert, becomes the last heir to the powerful dukedom of Andelot, leaving him to fight for not only his life, but the allegiance he holds for the crown. During the final rise of the French Revolution that whispers of the violent change about to shake the entire country, Gérard meets an aspiring actress who entices him into wanting more out of not only himself but life. In trying to protect her from their overly passionate alliance and those that want him dead, he must decide what matters most: his life or his heart.

WARNING: This book contains strong language and sexual content that respectable people may deem offensive to their good character.

 

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(School of Gallantry, #5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

The greatest divide between a man and a woman is not the one society sets before them but the one they set before themselves…

After Miss Leona Olivia Webster had allowed herself to fall in love with a dashing childhood friend who had left her scorned and pregnant, she is done chasing her happily-ever-after. Shunned by society, she dedicates herself to raising her young son and putting money in their pockets. She doesn’t expect to be drawn to her latest master, a brooding man of hulking presence who carves random messages into walls with his Persian blade as a means of starting a flirtation.

Malcolm Gregory Thayer, the earl of Brayton, may have dedicated himself to a life of religious virtue after leaving the monastery due to dark tendencies, but after meeting Leona, he begins to yearn for the life that had never been his. When he meets a retired French courtesan who invites him to embrace what he has long feared, he seizes the opportunity to become the man he always wanted to be. His new mission is clear. He intends to finally serve the one thing he never had: his heart.

Warning: This historical romance is cotton candy with a razor on top. Themes include male virginity, BDSM, religion and language you really shouldn’t use at home. If you are easily offended by graphic sex and dirty humor, this book is not for you.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I love Delilah Marvelle’s books because she is not afraid to embrace darker themes that are rarely found in traditional historical romance and this book is no exception.

The Prologue is very explicit and often brutal but it is essential reading to understand why Malcolm has become the man he is.

Malcolm Gregory Thayer, Earl of Brayton

There is something so fascinating and compelling about Malcolm. He is big and gruff but also kind, generous and compassionate…a complete contradiction. There is also a side to him that he has always suppressed – his liking for pain. Only through iron control has he been able to master his darker desires and he has remained celibate fearing what might happen if he ever lets himself fully embrace who he really is. He longs to be “normal”.

He’d always yearned to be able to gently kiss a woman’s hand without thinking of nipping or biting it. He’d always yearned to be able to bend a woman backward without breaking her back.

Miss Leona Olivia Webster

Despite her reduced circumstances and society’s condemnation, Leona has remained strong and refuses to wallow in self-pity. I admire her for bringing up her son single-handed and her determination to provide a better life for both Jacob and herself. She is a fiercely protective mother with plenty of backbone. I love the scene where she takes on the unscrupulous creditor to retrieve her son’s favourite bear.

“Let go or I swear I’ll swing at more than your pea-sized bollocks, you-you…rumpot!”

There is nothing sweet and tender about their romance and Malcolm is no charming, tender hero but there is just something about him that is so appealing. He struggles with the need to make Leone understand his darker desires but fears revealing the truth could drive her away. I enjoyed seeing this vulnerable side to him.

I thought Ms Marvelle handled Leona’s reactions to Malcolm’s revelations in a realistic way. I could relate to her initial feelings of confusion and disbelief but also her subsequent willingness to understand and accept the man she loves.

She already loved him for being so good, so honorable, so gruff, so stupid, so determined and so everything that wasn’t perfect. He didn’t need to be perfect. He was perfect being imperfect.

The secondary characters not only add richness but are also an integral part of the story, none more so than Madame de Maitenon who has been a favourite of mine throughout the series. Her life experiences have given her a special gift when it comes to understanding and counselling each of her “students”,  just as she does Malcolm…

… it is rather obvious this is merely about teaching yourself to be comfortable with your tendencies. You need to accept them and safely apply them. Nothing more. Once I assist you to fully embrace what you have long denied, I foresee nothing but rainbows in the sky.”

We learn more about Prince Nasser, Malcolm’s friend (I think he is certainly worthy of his own story) and Andrew Holbrook, whose house Malcolm shares, adds some light relief to the proceedings. Leona’s six year old son,Jacob, is simply adorable and his scenes with Malcolm are not only delightful but also serve to reveal a surprisingly different side to our hero. The School of Gallantry itself makes only a brief appearance in this book but the scene there is still quite a memorable one!

Throughout the series Madame de Maitenon has been instrumental in bringing others happiness so I’m thrilled that, at long last, she will finally be getting her own Happy Ever After in The Duke of Andelot due to be published next year.

I have loved all the books in this series whether uproariously funny, deeply touching, intensely emotional, unashamedly romantic, enthralling and emotionally charged or dark and complex. This is a series I can definitely recommend.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read November 2014

School of Gallantry series (click on the cover for more details):

Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #1) by Delilah Marvelle Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #2) by Delilah Marvelle Lady of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #3) by Delilah Marvelle Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4) by Delilah Marvelle Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5) by Delilah MarvelleThe Duke of Andelot by Delilah Marvelle – due 2015

I received a copy of this book from the author via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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