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A Fallen Lady.jpg

(Ladies of Scandal, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1820)

Cover Blurb (Amazon):

Six years ago, to the outrage of her family and the delight of London gossips, Lady Helen Dehaven refused to marry the man to whom she was betrothed. Even more shockingly, her refusal came on the heels of her scandalous behavior: she and her betrothed were caught in a most compromising position. Leaving her reputation in tatters and her motivations a mystery, Helen withdrew to a simple life in a little village among friends, where her secrets remained hers alone.

For reasons of his own, Stephen Hampton, Lord Summerdale, is determined to learn the truth behind the tangled tale of Helen’s ruin. There is nothing he abhors so much as scandal – nothing he prizes so well as discretion – and so he is shocked to find, when he tracks Helen down, that he cannot help but admire her. Against all expectations, he finds himself forgiving her scandalous history in favor of only being near her.

But the bitter past will not relinquish Helen’s heart so easily. How can she trust a man so steeped in the culture of high society, who conceals so much? And how can he, so devoted to the appearance of propriety, ever love a fallen lady?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This was such a beautifully written and deeply emotional love story and it has definitely made me want to read more of Elizabeth Kingston’s books.

The traumatic events of six years ago left Lady Helen Dehaven ruined in the eyes of society. It also led to an estrangement between herself and her brother, Alex, Earl of Whitemarsh, when he rejected her explanation of what happened as ‘wild, incomprehensible tales.’

Forced to flee her brother’s home, she has built a new life for herself in the rural Herefordshire village of Bartle-on-the-Glen and the rent from the Dower House, inherited from her grandmother, provides enough income to live on. Helen has a small circle of devoted friends and has earned the loyalty and respect of all those around her. But her quiet, unobtrusive life is about to be shattered by the arrival of a stranger.

I admire Helen for her courage and determination in the face of such adversity but she remains haunted by the ghosts of the past. She still feels deeply hurt by her brother’s treatment of her and I couldn’t help but be moved by her yearning for something she believes she can never have…an ordinary life.

Stephen Hampton, the younger son of the Earl of Summerdale, has a gift for discovering other people’s secrets, and his reputation for the upmost discretion has garnered him some influential friends and a position of relative power. Following the death of his elder brother from influenza two years ago and his father’s recently, Stephen is now the earl. In his position, he could easily use his skills for his own benefit, but he has ‘grown to hate tawdry secrets and intrigue’ and wants to get as far away from London as possible. An opportunity arises when the Earl of Whitemarsh, encouraged by his new wife, asks Stephen to approach his sister with a view to seeking a reconciliation, and discovering the truth of what happened six years ago. As Stephen’s Manor House is not far from Bartle-in-the Glen, he accepts.

Stephen is a man who has never really belonged anywhere and it was heart-breaking to see how his own family subjected him to ridicule and scorn. I had a real sense of the depth of loneliness he feels.

The initial meeting between Helen and Stephen does not seem very auspicious but, as they get to know each other, Helen is won over by Stephen’s friendly and easy going manner, and Stephen realises that, with Helen and her friends, he has found somewhere he truly feels he belongs.

For the first time he could remember, he belonged. He was not shut out here.

I like how Ms. Kingston develops their relationship gradually, which not only heightens the sexual tension, but also reveals what a wonderful hero Stephen is – tender, patient, amusing and protective. At the same time, it was heart-rending to see Helen struggle with her deep-seated fears.

It was a monster from the deep, dedicated to pulling her down into the depths and smothering her.

Stephen’s reputation has always been spotless and it is testament to the strength of his love for Helen that he is willing to sacrifice everything by marrying her. So, I was really frustrated by her lack of trust in him.

There are some very emotional twists and turns before they reach their Happy Ever After, which made me enjoy the delightful Epilogue even more.

I loved seeing the close bond of friendship between Helen, Marie-Anne, a woman entirely at ease with her own scandalous reputation, and Maggie, Helen’s small but fierce Irish servant.

Having lived in Herefordshire for several years, I had to grit my teeth every time Bartle-on-the-Glen was mentioned. There are glens in Scotland but not in this particular English county!

MY VERDICT: Elizabeth Kingston weaves such a compelling and intensely emotional love story with complex characters that I truly cared about. Highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Ladies of Scandal series (click on cover for more details):

A Fallen Lady (Ladies of Scandal, #1) by Elizabeth Kingston House of Cads (Ladies of Scandal, #2) by Elizabeth Kingston

 

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Elizabeth Kingston Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Historical Romance author ELIZABETH KINGSTON to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I’m very delighted to be here and thrilled at the opportunity to blather on about myself, it’s one of my favorite hobbies. Thanks so much for asking me!

~~~~~~~


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

Elizabeth:
I was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, about 45 minutes outside of Chicago. Nearly everyone who lived there worked for the nearby steel mills – this was back in the 1970s when the industry was thriving. My town was far enough away from the mills that we neither saw nor smelled them: 20 minutes in one direction and you were at the mills, 10 minutes in the opposite direction and you were in corn fields. It didn’t feel very special, but I realize now how lucky I was to be raised in a town of immigrants. People from all over had moved to the area for the jobs the mills offered.

Nearly everyone I knew growing up was either a child (or grandchild) of immigrants, which I think made me endlessly curious about other places in the world. My family had “emigrated” from Kentucky, where they’d lived since the 18th century, and our little Indiana town was desperately boring and insufficiently exotic for me. All I did was dream of getting out and living somewhere more exciting! Eventually I did – I went to Italy on a one-way plane ticket when I was 19, and many other thrilling places as life went on. But until I could do that, I escaped into books for my whole childhood, like so many of us do, and found the rest of the world in their pages. It’s charming now, to think of my pre-internet self, sitting in Indiana and obsessively reading encyclopedia entries about Scotland and Turkey and Tahiti, jealous of all the other kids who had family in other countries they could visit one day.

 

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

Elizabeth:
Hm, well I suppose since my immediate reaction to the question was to shout “False dichotomy!” in my head, the answer has to be Temperamental, right?

Elizabeth Kingston Interview - temperamental child
Even as a child, I was temperamental

 

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

Elizabeth:
False dichotomy!

But really, I have what we can safely call a sugar addiction which I strive, with limited success, to keep under control. However – possibly due to all the fantastic immigrant-influenced food I grew up eating – I crave highly spiced food daily. When I discovered Indian cuisine, I was in heaven!

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Elizabeth:
Honestly, I’m looking around my apartment trying to imagine what might break my heart to lose, but there’s nothing, really. Not to bring the party down, but a few years ago my apartment was broken into while I was at work. The only thing they took was an old (rather useless) laptop before the thieves realized my 20-year-old niece was asleep in her room, and they left without taking anything else. (Thank heavens they were just petty thieves and obviously desperate to not get caught!) After the relief of knowing my niece was safe and unharmed, it just completely changed my feelings on my possessions. I realized that, so long as I still have the people I love, literally every object I own could burn and I wouldn’t be anything more than a little bummed out. If you told me I had 30 seconds to grab what I could before my home was wiped out, I’d be at a total loss. I mean, probably I’d grab my laptop and my purse – and the library books, if I had the time, I couldn’t let library property be destroyed!

All that said, I do really, really love my bike – a Pashley Princess in racing green. Also I treasure this extra tube of a particularly beloved but discontinued pink lip gloss, and all my Laura Kinsale paperbacks. If I lost any of those things, I’d cry a lot.

 Elizabeth Kingston Interview - favorite things.jpg
My Favourite things

                                                                                                                                           

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

Elizabeth:

Well I live in Chicago so I’m picking a second home on a tropical beach in a place that’s serviced by non-stop flights. Mexico, maybe, near where I went on vacation once in Tulum, it’s just gorgeous there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take anywhere in the Caribbean. I’d happily become a snowbird, ditching this town for a few months every winter. Oh man, what a dream that would be.


Elizabeth Kingston Interview - Tulum
 Tulum

 

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

Elizabeth:
I have such a cornucopia of humiliations, of course, that it’s hard to choose. I’ve wet my pants, asked a non-pregnant woman when the baby was due, gone through a job interview with lipstick on my teeth – the whole gamut. But here’s one that typifies my particular brand of cluelessness, where I only learn of my embarrassing behavior retroactively: Once in college a friend invited me to a get-together at a bar, with a group of people that often got together to discuss philosophy and literature. I SWEAR she said philosophy and literature, okay? This totally cute guy I’d seen on campus was going to be there, so I jumped at the chance to go and impress him with my smarty-pants intellectual conversation. After an evening of several beers and my combatively challenging everyone’s clearly biased positions on capitalism and sneering at their “childish moralizing,” my friend apologized for my behaviour and escorted me home, where she wondered why on earth I’d been so insulting to a bible study group.

Um yeah, I never heard from the cute guy. Who turned out to be a pastor in training and probably didn’t appreciate all the F-bombs I’d thrown in while rolling my eyes at everything he believed in. I’m a real class act sometimes.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Thanks so much for having me, it’s been great fun!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

 

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