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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.

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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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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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THE BRETHREN GUARDIAN SERIES BOOK 2

Lucy Ashton had long ago given up her quest for true love. In the rarified society of Victorian England, Lucy plays the game; flirting, dancing and dabbling in the newly fashionable spiritualism. Even marrying when and who she’s supposed to. If the stuffy Duke of Sussex cannot spark the passion she craves, he can at least give her a family, a home of her own, and a place to belong. But when her polite marriage reveals a caring and sensual man, Lucy begins to wonder if she can indeed have it all.

But Lord Sussex is not the man the London ton has come to admire. And Lucy has some ghosts of her own, as well. Thus, when a blackmail scheme turns to threats of danger, the newfound peace of the Sussex marriage is cast upon the rocks. Passion has a price, Lucy learns. And not all ghosts stay buried.

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Pride & Passion is the second book in the Brethren Guardian series and, although I found the first book Seduction & Scandal quite disappointing, I really enjoyed this one. Ms Featherstone has penned a richly textured romance full of mysticism, secrets, conflict, passion, mystery and suspense.

”I’m not who you think I am.”

I have a fascination with tormented heroes. That’s why I loved Adrian, with his deep, dark secrets, his unrequited love for Lucy and those red hot passions simmering just under his staid exterior.

Wow! Was he determined and single-minded in his pursuit of Lucy; so crazy about her that she never really stood a chance. I liked that he was open and honest about his feelings. But what woman could resist such a strong, intense, sexy, protective man when he tells you:

”I would die for you.”

His obvious love for his sister, Elizabeth, and his work with those less fortunate than himself made me love him even more.

Lucy was a heroine I found difficult to warm to. Perhaps, if I had learnt earlier in the book just how much Lucy’s lonely childhood, so devoid of parental love and affection, had shaped the person she had become, I think it would have been possible to understand her. I might then have regarded her as a more sympathetic character. Instead, for three quarters of the book, her seemingly unreasonable attitude towards Adrian really drove me crazy. I wanted to shake some sense into her and make her see the real Adrian beyond his stuffy façade. It was only in the last quarter of the book that I started to like her and came to understand her. What she had so desperately wanted from life and finally found with Adrian.

“I wanted that sense of belonging, of warmth and acceptance.

”You thought me passionless,” he growled, “but you’re wrong. I’m full of it. Bursting with it. My gut has ached with it, and it’s all for you.”

The sexual tension Ms Featherstone creates between Adrian and Lucy was palpable and I loved how Adrian seduces her with his deliciously erotic words.

”Damn, you’re hotter than hell itself like this, “he murmured over her breast. “Come for me, little Lucy, show me the fire that burns in you.”

The loves scenes are intense and passionate, positively toe-curling.

And the Brethren Guardians…well, they were wrapping themselves into the delicate silken weaves, just as he he had planned. Soon, they would be cocooned, and their little group and the ancient artifacts they hid from the world would be his.

There are some shocking twists and turns in the plot as Orpheus manipulates everyone in his plans for revenge and ultimate power. We are left on quite a cliff-hanger and I can’t wait to read Temptation & Twilight. Not only do we get Lizzy’s and Alynwick’s angsty story but also Orpheus’s identity will finally be revealed.

VERDICT: WORTH READING FOR THE HERO ALONE

RATING: ★★★★½

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THE DRESSMAKERS SERIES BOOK 1

From the Design Book of Marcelline Noirot:
The allure of the perfect gown should be twofold:
ladies would die to wear it . . .
and gentlemen would kill to remove it

Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot is London’s rising star. And who better to benefit from her talent than the worst-dressed lady in the ton, the Duke of Clevedon’s intended bride? Winning the future duchess’s patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her sisters. To get to the lady, though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whose standards are as high as his morals are . . . not.

The prize seems well worth the risk–but this time Marcelline’s met her match. Clevedon can design a seduction as irresistible as her dresses; and what begins as a flicker of desire between two of the most passionately stubborn charmers in London soon ignites into a delicious inferno . . . and a blazing scandal.

And now both their futures hang by an exquisite thread of silk …

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When I pick up a Loretta Chase book, I am always assured of an outstanding historical romance. This book is a perfect blend of engaging story, fascinating characters, witty dialogue and sizzling passion.

In Marcelline and Clevedon, Ms. Chase has created two vibrant and unforgettable characters.

Marcelline is one of those strong heroines that Ms. Chase excels in creating. She is clever, confident and has worked tirelessly to promote the reputation of the Maison Noirot. Her passion for what she does is unmistakable:

What had begun as drudgery – a trade learned in childhood purely for survival – had become Marcelline’s life and her love. She was not only Maison Noirot’s designer but it’s soul.

However, Marcelline is not above using devious traits inherited from her Dreadful Delucey family in her efforts to become the foremost modiste in London. But, as she reveals to Clevedon, her motives are not totally mercenary because the welfare of her family is just as important to her:

“This is how I feed and clothe and house and educate my daughter. This is how I provide for my sisters.”

I think she also cares about her customers. She may manipulate them and want their money but as Clevedon points out, she gives totally of herself to make them better than they think they can be. In many ways, she lacks scruples but, in her dealings with her customers, she is completely honest.

I loved watching Clevedon slowly grow into the mantle of hero. When Marcelline accuses him of frittering his life away, he feels shame and is forced to take good look at himself for the first time. When he starts to take an interest in Marcelline’s business, he discovers a real purpose to his life. He also realises how talented and honourable Marcelline is in her business dealings. I also love how he cares for Marcelline when she is seasick on the return journey to London; how he risks his life to save her daughter, Lucie; how he comes to the aid of the sisters when disaster strikes the Maison Noirot, regardless of society’s censure.

The chemistry between Marcelline and Clevedon is fantastic! From their first meeting, I could feel the emotionally charged atmosphere between them and it is obvious that, whatever obstacles stand in their way, they are meant to be together. Ms. Chase is brilliant at conveying the sexual tension in the scenes between Marcelline and Clevedon with smart and witty dialogue and wonderfully descriptive writing:

She moved his hands away, hers lightly brushing his. Glove against glove, that was all. Yet she felt the shock of contact as though skin had touched skin, and the sensation traveled the length of her body.

Ms. Chase keeps the tension building and with all this passion bubbling under the surface, it is obvious that, when they finally surrender to it, their love scene will be explosive! The author certainly doesn’t disappoint, capturing all the urgency and emotion in their lovemaking:

He gave in to it, too, in a mad, hungry kiss, while his hands moved greedily over her, wanting and wanting, endlessly wanting.

I like how Ms. Chase doesn’t make all the problems they will have to face in their future together disappear but still manages to end on an optimistic note. The epilogue is just the icing on the cake.

Ms. Chase provides enough detail with regard the secondary characters to make them interesting in their own right. Marcelline’s sisters, Sophia and Leonie, bring their own talents to the running of the Maison Noirot and I can’t wait to read their stories. I loved the warm-hearted Lady Clara and was so glad when she told Clevedon that she deserved to be loved, truly loved – mind, body and soul. I hope she gets her own story with a hero worthy of her. Finally, I have to mention Marcelline’s daughter, Lucie (or Erroll as she prefers to be called). She is a miniature version of her mother with all her manipulative wiles but I couldn’t help but adore her, especially the way in which she wraps Clevedon around her little finger.

VERDICT: SUPERB, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

RATING: ★★★★★

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CARSINGTON BROTHERS BOOK 3

Ideal
The heir to the Earl of Hargate, Benedict Carsington, Viscount Rathbourne, is the perfect aristocrat. Tall, dark, and handsome, he is known for his impeccable manners and good breeding. Benedict knows all the rules and has no trouble following them—until she enters his life…

Infamous
Bathsheba Wingate belongs to the rotten branch of the DeLucey family: a notorious lot of liars, frauds, and swindlers. Small wonder her husband’s high-born family disowned him. Now widowed, she’s determined to give her daughter a stable life and a proper upbringing. Nothing and no one will disrupt Bathsheba’s plans—until he enters her life…

Scandalous
Then Bathsheba’s hoyden daughter lures Benedict’s precocious nephew into a quest for a legendary treasure. To recover the would-be knights errant, Benedict and Bathsheba must embark on a rescue mission that puts them in dangerous, intimate proximity—a situation virtually guaranteed to end in mayhem—even scandal!—if anyone else were involved. But Benedict is in perfect control of events. Perfect control, despite his mad desire to break all the rules. Perfect control. Really?

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Ever since reading Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase has become one of my favourite authors. With a combination of larger than life heroes, strong but feminine heroines and bags of humour, her books are a joy to read and Lord Perfect is no exception.

There are so many things I love about this book. Firstly, there’s Benedict with his impeccable manners and good breeding .

The scandal sheets never mentioned him. When his name appeared in print – as it did regularly – it was on account of some noble or clever or brave thing he’d done or said.

In fact, totally boring and hardly a hero to set one’s pulse racing!

However, all that changes when he meets Bathsheba and, suddenly, he starts thinking and acting totally out of character. Whenever this happens, I found Benedict’s habit of searching for rules to help him regain his self control really funny. For instance, when he finds himself staring at Bathsheba at the exhibition:

Rule: The ill-bred, the vulgar, and the ignorant stare.

I admire him for taking his nephew, Peregrine, under his wing. He clearly cares about the boy and is even willing to visit the Egyptian exhibition three times although he would much rather be somewhere else. He also shows a caring side through his philanthropic work for the war widows and veterans and his assistance to Bathsheba to find more suitable lodgings.

Since her husband died, leaving her with very little money, Bathsheba and her daughter have not had an easy life. With her looks and reputation, it would have been simple for her to take the easy way out by becoming a nobleman’s mistress and I admire her for not doing so. Instead, she manages to keep a roof over their heads by selling her paintings and taking drawing classes.

She is feisty and isn’t afraid to stand up to Benedict even at his most intimidating. Such as when Benedict tells her that she can’t go with him to search for the children:

“This is Olivia’s doing,” she said, “and Olivia is my problem. I understand how her mind works. I know where she is going. I am the one who will search for her.” The colour came and went in her cheeks. “However, you can save me time if you would lend me the money to hire a vehicle”.

I love the way in which Ms Chase gradually builds up the sexual tension between Benedict and Bathsheba. I could literally feel it oozing from the pages. With such a build up to the big love scene, I was afraid that it might prove a disappointment. Well, I should have had more faith in Ms Chase because this scene is HOT, HOT, HOT!

I wondered how Ms Chase would ensure a ‘Happy Ever After’ for Benedict and Bathsheba as marriage seems out of the question. She does, in fact, provide a very ingenious ending with the solution to the couple’s predicament coming from a very unexpected source.

Both Peregrine and Olivia are engaging in their own way. I had to admire Olivia for her cunning and resourcefulness and was touched by the fact that she wants to find the treasure so that she can help her mother. At first, Peregrine only wants to stop Olivia, but gradually as he gets dragged further into her madcap scheme, he really begins to enjoy himself.

This book has everything you could wish for – a yummy hero, a beautiful, feisty heroine, a madcap chase and plenty of laughs. I am now looking forward to reading Last Night’s Scandal, Peregrine and Olivia’s story.

VERDICT: SUPERB, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

RATING: ★★★★★

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MAIDEN LANE SERIES BOOK 3

Can a pirate learn that the only true treasure lies in a woman’s heart?

Widowed Silence Hollingbrook is impoverished, lovely, and kind—and nine months ago she made a horrible mistake. She went to a river pirate for help in saving her husband and in the process made a bargain that cost her her marriage. That night wounded her so terribly that she hides in the foundling home she helps run with her brother. Except now that same river pirate is back . . . and he’s asking for her help.

“Charming” Mickey O’Connor is the most ruthless river pirate in London. Devastatingly handsome and fearsomely intelligent, he clawed his way up through London’s criminal underworld. Mickey has no use for tender emotions like compassion and love, and he sees people as pawns to be manipulated. And yet he’s never been able to forget the naive captain’s wife who came to him for help—and spent one memorable night in his bed . . . talking.

When his bastard baby girl was dumped in his lap—her mother having died—Mickey couldn’t resist the Machiavellian urge to leave the baby on Silence’s doorstep. The baby would be hidden from his enemies and he’d also bind Silence to him by her love for his daughter.

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Only Elizabeth Hoyt could take a ruthless river pirate, who not only steals and murders without guilt or remorse but also ruins a young woman’s life on a whim, and turn him into one of the most memorable romantic heroes ever!! Surviving a harrowing childhood, Mickey is forced to beg and steal in order to survive on the dangerous streets of St Giles until eventually he claws his way up to be the most feared river pirate on the Thames. After such a struggle, I can understand why he makes no apologies for being who he is:

Pirating was all he had to guard against starving and want. Pirating had saved him, fed him and given him a life and a future. His money was his strength.

The gentler emotions of love and compassion have no place in his life because to him they represent signs of weakness. I think it is, therefore, the allure of Silence’s purity, gentleness and deep capacity for love that draws Mickey to her because his life has been so devoid of all these things. As Mickey starts to open up to Silence, it changes everything between them because she begins to see the real man behind the flamboyant pirate.

A man moved by Silence’s tears:

He’d seen men gutted and killed, watched starving women prostitute themselves, seen beggar children lie down in the gutter and die. He’d fought with tooth and nail to reach the place where he was now – where he didn’t worry over food or a roof over his head. He’d killed men and never thought about their faces again.

Yet the sight of Silence in tears nearly unmanned him.

A man who is stirred by beautiful music:

Mick had come to the opera a little more than a year ago on a whim and had been instantly enthralled. That a man could produce such a wonderful sound almost made him believe in God.

A man who treasures a certain special book:

The one that had taught him there was beauty in the world. She’d (Silence) found Michael’s treasure, the heart he’d kept hidden.

A true romantic hero who captures your heart!

Silence definitely comes into her own in this book showing courage and strength of character in her defiance of Mickey’s absurd, autocratic commands. She also does some serious soul searching about her marriage. She has always thought she had the perfect marriage and that William truly loved her. But she comes to realise that it was all a delusion because when she truly needs him the most, he doesn’t believe her and turns away from her. She compares William’s love with the all consuming love that Lord Caire has for her sister, Temperance and knows that her husband never loved her like that. She realises that her feelings for Mickey run far deeper because, although she still feels the pain of William’s loss, it is nothing like the terrible loss she would feel if anything happened to Mickey.

Ms Hoyt does an excellent job of building up the sexual tension between Mickey and Silence and one particularly memorable scene comes to mind where Silence spies on Mickey through the connecting door to their bedrooms:

So she stayed at the crack in the door, watching breathlessly as Mickey O’Connor did something very earthy indeed.

Not difficult to guess what he was doing! As I’ve come to expect from Ms Hoyt, when Mickey and Silence finally come together, the love scenes are filled with eroticism and sensuality.

SCANDALOUS DESIRES has a fast-paced and exciting plot with some very dramatic revelations (including the identity of the Ghost of St Giles) and a really heart-stopping climax. We get to see some familiar faces including Temperance and her husband, Lord Caire, Lady Hero Reading and Silence’s brothers, Winter, Concord and the elusive Asa. I love Mickey’s two henchmen, Harry and Bert who provide some light relief and Mary Darling is simply adorable.

My Charming Mickey

My Silence

VERDICT: FABULOUS – A MUST READ!

RATING: STELLAR ★★★★★

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Gabriel Fairchild’s valor during battle earns him the reputation of hero, but costs him both his sight and his hope for the future. Abandoned by the fiancée he adored, the man who once walked like a prince among London’s elite secludes himself in his family’s mansion, cursing his way through dark days and darker nights.

Prim nurse Samantha Wickersham arrives at Fairchild Park to find her new charge behaving more like a beast than a man. Determined to do her duty, she engages the arrogant earl in a battle of both wit and wills. Although he claims she doesn’t possess an ounce of womanly softness, she can feel his heart racing at her slightest touch. As Samantha begins to let the light back into Gabriel’s life and his heart, they both discover that some secrets — and some pleasures — are best explored in the dark …

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I first read YOURS UNTIL DAWN several years ago and it has remained one of my all time favourite historical romances. Warm, funny, heartrending, tender and sensual, re-reading it’s one of my guilty pleasures.

Gabriel definitely fulfills my penchant for tormented, brooding heroes. He is a man without hope living in a dark and lonely world where the trappings of civilized behaviour no longer matter. He hides his vulnerability behind a show of arrogance and biting retorts such as his reply when Samantha tells him she’s there to help him adjust to his new circumstances:

“What if I don’t want to adjust? What if I just want to be left the bloody hell alone so I can rot in peace.”

Ms Medeiros provides a real insight into the problems of being blind, things which I had never appreciated before. When Gabriel suddenly wakes up, he has no way of knowing whether it is day or night and when Samantha takes him to task for not using a knife and fork, he explains that they are difficult to manage because if he can’t feel the food, he can’t find it. All things a sighted person takes for granted.

The battle of wills between Samantha and Gabriel provides for some sharp and really funny dialogue. Here are a couple of my favorites:

“Good morning, my lord,” Samantha said smoothly, sliding into a chair well out of his reach. “You’ll have to forgive Mr. Beckwith. He obviously had some pressing duties.”
Scowling, Gabriel settled back in his chair, “Let’s hope they include forging some letters of reference and packing his bags. Then the two of you can return to London together.”

“So tell me Miss Wickersham, as my new nurse, which duty would you like to assume first? Would you like to feed me?”
Eyeing the wolfish white flash of teeth as they tore another hunk of meat off the chop, Samantha said, “Given your…um…unbridled enthusiasm for your victuals, I’d be a little worried about getting my fingers that close to your mouth.”

I love Samantha because she is just what Gabriel needs to jolt him out of his apathy. At first, Beckwith, Mrs Philpot and the other servants refuse to disobey their master’s orders but Samantha has no such qualms. She re-arranges the furniture to make it easier for Gabriel to navigate through the house and throws open the windows. She only falters once when Gabriel comes up with another scheme to rid himself of her by constantly ringing a bell day and night and having her do all sorts of mundane things such as fluffing his pillow. I love Gabriel’s reaction when she finally says she’s had enough of his ridiculous demands and is resigning:

“Miss Wickersham, get back here this instant! That’s an order!”
” I quit,” she tossed back over her shoulder, savage glee coursing through her veins. “I’m not obliged to take your orders anymore!” Ignoring his spluttering, Samantha marched out the door slamming it behind her with grim satisfaction.

I like the way Ms Medeiros slowly develops the relationship between Samantha and Gabriel which makes it more realistic. My favourite scene is the one in the ballroom because it is both romantic and sensual. I could really feel the passion between them:

Suddenly she was the beggar at the feast – a feast of the senses her body had been denied for so long. She wanted to gorge herself on him, sate her every craving with the fulsome delight of his kiss.

Ms Medeiros paints such memorable and vivid pictures but it is the little details which seem to linger in my mind: Beckwith and Mrs Philpot trying to push Samantha out of the French windows before the approaching Gabriel enters the room; Gabriel’s indelicate table manners; Samantha running a fingertip along the scar on Gabriel’s face; Gabriel lounging in bed wearing only a rumpled cravat; the game of blind man’s bluff; the ultimate in romantic epilogues.

The secondary characters all add depth to the story and I have to mention Sam, the little terrier, who captured my heart with his antics. This book has a really surprise twist which I certainly didn’t see coming when I first read it. On subsequent readings, I found clues were there but I had simply been too engrossed in the story to interpret them correctly.

A wonderful love story with unforgettable characters, YOURS UNTIL DAWN is pure magic; a treat that no lover of historical romance should miss!

VERDICT: THIS BOOK IS A DEFINITE KEEPER

RATING: STELLAR ★★★★★

 

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