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(Mad Passions #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Official Blurb

The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor…

Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse.

Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.

★✩★✩★✩★


**4.5 ENGROSSING STARS**

I do admire authors who are willing to go beyond the established boundaries of historical romance and Maire Claremont has done just that in her dark, intense, debut novel, THE DARK LADY.

MY THOUGHTS

Ms Claremont’s writing is both evocative…the chilling reality of conditions in the madhouse was so vivid that I felt that I was right there with Ian, experiencing everything he did as he entered that hellish place:

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. And as his eyes adjusted, the scent assailed him. Lord, the smell of lye was far preferable to the wretched stench of unwashed human and raw fear permeating the stagnant indoor air.

and emotive…I found myself sharing all the doubts and fears that Eva felt…

“I don’t know myself anymore.” Her slender fingers curled as she lingered, looking out to the street below.
“How do I find myself again?”

I loved the complexity of Eva’s character as she struggles to overcome her laudanum addiction and her overwhelming feelings of grief and guilt, believing her irresponsible actions caused the death of her son, Adam. Her journey isn’t easy but she is stronger than she thinks. Ian is haunted by feelings of guilt over his friend’s death and harbors a terrible secret that makes him believe himself unworthy of Eva’s love. Not only do they have to face their own personal demons but also the malignant forces that are determined to destroy them.  I loved how Ian did everything to protect Eva and prove that she was sane.  These two truly deserved to find happiness.

There are memorable secondary characters:

Eva’s friend, Mary – who selflessly aids Eva to escape…I can’t wait to read her story in Lady in Red.

Ian’s Aunt Elizabeth – kind, perceptive and pragmatic

Ian’s friend, the Earl of Wyndham – a former spy who aides them and provides some much needed humour

Mrs Palmer who runs the madhouse -she repulsed me but, at the same time, intrigued me

Thomas , Eva’s brother-in-law – a creepy loner

The plot has plenty of heart-stopping action, as Ian and Eva keep one step ahead of the villains. The ending is both surprising and heart-warming…a truly hard-won Happy Ever After.

 If you are in the mood for something dark and intense with an original plotline, fascinating characters, suspense, romance and a heart-warming ending, I can definitely recommend this book.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Mad Passions series to date (click on cover or link for more details):

The Dark Lady (Mad Passions, #1) Lady in Red (Mad Passions, #2) A Lady Undone – 4 Feb 2014 The Dark Affair (Mad Passions, #3) – 4 March 2014

Read November 2013

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(Maiden Lane #6)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Official Blurb 

WHEN A MASKED MAN . . .

Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won’t back down . . .

MEETS HIS MATCH . . .

Artemis Greaves toils as a lady’s companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She’s even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .

DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION

Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn’t without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**Five Glittering Stars**

I think I am running out of words to describe just how much I LOVE this series! Time and again, Ms Hoyt enthrals me with her unforgettable characters, compelling plots and sensual romances.

MY THOUGHTS

This was not a man to be swayed by gentleness, beauty, or sweet words. He would bend – assuming he was even capable of bending – only for reasons of his own.

I didn’t particularly like Maximus in the previous books but there was just something about him that intrigued me. I wanted to know what shaped him into this cold, exacting man, so resolute when it came to carrying out his ducal duties. It soon became clear that, the traumatic events of the night he witnessed his parents’ brutal murder in the back streets of St Giles, had a far-reaching effect on the fourteen year old boy. Haunted by feelings of guilt, he believes he owes it to his parents to be the best duke possible. Sworn to bring their murderer to justice, he roams the streets of St Giles nightly in the guise of the Ghost of St Giles.

…she was merely the companion. She was there to fade into the background, which she did with admirable skill, even if she did say so herself.

Just as Maximus wears a mask, so does Artemis. On the surface, she is the prim and proper, spinster companion but, beneath that drab exterior, is a strong, intelligent and passionate woman just waiting to break free. I so admired her total devotion to her brother, Apollo, who has been wrongly accused of murder and incarcerated in Bedlam. She will do anything to see him set free, even blackmail the formidable Maximus.

The chemistry between these two is a heady mixture of raw, emotional intensity and all-consuming passion. I loved that Artemis finally sheds her drab existence, willing to take what she wants even knowing that an affair with Maximus could destroy her reputation.

“Have you no care for your reputation?” 

She stepped toward him until she was so close he fancied he breathed the same air as she and when she tilted her face up to look at him he saw that she wasn’t nearly as calm as he’d imagined.

“No,” she murmured, her voice a siren’s song, “none at all.”

I got more than a little frustrated with Maximus’ stubborn insistence on putting his ducal responsibilities first rather than following his heart. I did love him in his guise as the Ghost of St Giles…we get a glimpse of the real man, rather than the austere duke. I couldn’t imagine the duke rifling through Artemis’s chemises as the Ghost did!

There are so many wonderful secondary characters just begging for their own books…Maximus’ visually impaired sister, Phoebe; Artemis’ tormented brother, Apollo; the honourable Captain Trevillion; the enigmatic Asa Makepiece; the rakish Viscount D’Arque; the mysterious Hippolyta Royale.

The mystery surrounding the murder of Maximus’ parents provided an exciting backdrop to the romance and Ms Hoyt evokes the unsavoury atmosphere of St. Giles perfectly… the scenes in Bedlam were particularly chilling in their realism.


There were those who compared Bedlam to hell – a writhing purgatory of torture and insanity.

The Maiden Lane series is a MUST READ for all lovers of powerful, sensual and exciting historical romances. It is a series that should definitely be read in order, not only because of the interweaving plot lines, but every book is a fantastic read!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS 

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read October 2013

The Maiden Lane series so far (click on the book cover for more details):

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2)Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3)Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4)Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5)Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6)

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CABOT #2

Setting: London, England, 1826

Julian Kane is back in town.

Once, as a girl of seventeen, beautiful, headstrong Portia Cabot saved the cursed life of the dashing vampire Julian Kane–who marked her forever, then left to go in search of his soul. He returns five years later to find the enchanting young girl he left behind grown into a bewitching woman with a woman’s heart . . . and a woman’s desires.

Portia quickly discovers that Julian’s seductive and forbidden kiss can still make her crave the night . . . and his touch. But the Julian who has returned to London is not the vampire she remembers. His fruitless pursuit of his stolen mortality has reduced him to drunken debauchery. And a recent spate of murders makes Portia fear that the man she has always adored may truly be a monster.

Julian knows he must drive Portia away–but his passion and hunger for her grow more irresistible every time they touch. For years he has fought the temptation to embrace his dark gifts, never realizing that Portia’s love may give him the most dangerous gift of all . . . a reason to live.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩

Note: This is the sequel to After Midnight and I would strongly recommend reading that book first. Events taking place in After Midnight are important to understanding the relationship between Portia and Julian in this story.

I just love this book!

Having read how much Teresa Medeiros loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I wouldn’t be surprised if that series wasn’t the inspiration for her two Cabot books!

Julian is one gorgeous, brooding, cynical, sexy, vampire and there’s something about a tormented hero that I just love. He has to struggle against his inner demons, always haunted by Duvalier’s taunts to fully embrace his vampire nature. Although he loves Portia, his past actions make him feel totally unworthy of her. It’s wonderful to see how protective he is towards her and the sacrifices he is willing to make to keep her safe. I absolutely love his rapier wit as in this scene after Portia shoots him:

“You know it’s one thing to threaten to drive a stake through a man’s heart, but ruining a perfectly fine waistcoat is bloody rude!”

Portia is a beautiful, spirited and courageous heroine who has matured from the enchanting young girl Julian remembers into a formidable woman who isn’t afraid to stand up to him:

”Your growling and posturing might impress the sort of women you’re accustomed to consorting with, but quite frankly, I find them a bit of a bore.”

I love the fact that, no matter what, Portia never gives up on Julian and her faith in him remains constant even when the rest of the family doubts him.

Their chemistry is totally sizzling with great sexual tension. It’s Portia who initiates the big love scene and we finally learn exactly what transpired in the crypt all those years ago; how Julian can ever forgive himself for what happened.  It’s a truly heart-wrenching scene because, for the first time, we see the depths of Julian’s despair. I loved Portia in this scene because she is the strong one. When Julian doesn’t trust himself to be able to control his unnatural hungers, Portia simply says:

”You don’t have to trust yourself. I trust you enough for both of us.”

What a delicious blend of the sensual, the romantic and the playful this whole scene is!

There is a wonderful core of secondary characters; Cuthbert (Cubby), Julian’s bumbling best friend ; Wilbury, Adrian’s ancient, staunchly loyal, family butler; Valentine Cardew, the villainess (anyone notice a striking similarity to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Druscilla?). I enjoyed seeing Adrian and Caroline and Vivienne and Larkin with their respective families as well.

Ms Medeiros combines the regency historical and paranormal so well. There are moments of tension, suspense and menace but they are always tempered with moments of laugh-out-loud humour. Here is one of my favourite scenes in the book, albeit a rather long one!

In this scene Caroline asks Wilbury to take the children out so the adults can talk.

”Wilbury, my dear,” Caroline said, “would you mind taking the children and keeping them occupied for a bit?”

“Twould be the high point of my golden years, my lady,” he replied with frigid politeness. “The culmination of a lifelong dream I had nearly abandoned in favour of waiting peacefully for the Grim Reaper to come and relieve me of my earthly duties.”
Immune to his sarcasm, Caroline beamed fondly at him. “Thank you, Wilbury. I thought that’s what you would say.”
Shuffling toward the hearth, the butler muttered under his breath, “I just love children, you know.  I simply dote upon the overindulged little darlings with their grasping little hands and their sticky little fingers that foul up every freshly polished surface in the house”. As he leaned toward the hearth, the twins paused in play to gape at him. Baring his pointed yellowing teeth in a grimace of a smile, he rasped, “Come now, lads. I’ll take you to the kitchen for some nice hot chocolate.”
Eyes widening in terror, the two boys leapt to their feet and ran shrieking from the room. Wilbury straightened as much as his hunched back would allow, rolling his eyes.
“Wilbuwy!” Eloisa crowed, scrambling from her mother’s lap and toddling across the room. Wrapping her arms around one of the butler’s scrawny legs, she looked up and batted her long eyelashes at him. “Me want cocoa!”
With a long-suffering sigh, he scooped the plump child into his arms, every one of his ancient bones creaking in protest. She joyfully tugged at his misshapen ears as he carried her toward the door. His curdled expression never varied, but as he passed Portia he gave her a nearly imperceptible wink.

What can I say to sum up this book other than – ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!

RATING : STELLAR ★★★★★

SENSUALITY RATING:HOT

Read February 2012

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Burke Brothers #2

(Sequel to The Pleasure of Your Kiss

Maximillian Burke has always prided himself on being the man every mother would want her daughter to marry. But after his scoundrel of a brother makes off with Max’s bride, Max discovers it’s more satisfying to be a rogue than the perfect gentleman. Forced to flee London after a duel gone wrong, he seeks refuge at Cadgwyck Manor on the lonely coast of Cornwall, a place as wild and savage as his current temper. The tumbledown manor comes complete with its own ghost, but oddly enough, it’s not the White Lady of Cadgwyck who haunts Max’s heated dreams—but his no-nonsense housekeeper.

The last thing housekeeper Anne Spencer needs is a new master, especially one as brooding and gorgeous as the Earl of Dravenwood. Even as she schemes to be rid of her new employer, she finds herself irresistibly drawn into his strong, muscular arms. When Max vows to solve the mystery of Cadgwyck’s ghost, he doesn’t realize it will put both of their hearts at risk and tempt them to surrender to a pleasure as delicious as it is dangerous.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩

The Pleasure of Your Kiss was one of my top reads of 2012 and I couldn’t wait to read Max’s story in The Temptation of Your Touch. The wait was definitely worth it because I loved every moment. It had everything I want from a romance; an intriguing plot, unforgettable characters, lush sensuality and delightful humour.

Teresa Medeiros’s writing is so evocative, emotive and passionate…

A pale splinter of a moon materialised from behind a a wisp of cloud, and there it was, perched at the edge of the towering cliffs like some great hulking dragon.

One of her stray curls ticked the back of his fingers as his thumb strayed into even more dangerous territory, grazing the velvety warmth of lips no longer pressed together, but parted in invitation.

I loved Max and Anne. They are both strong yet vulnerable. Both live with the burden of their past mistakes and I enjoyed watching them gradually emerge from the shadows and fully embrace their new found love.

I love their heated exchanges and the obvious attraction simmering just beneath the surface. Those fond of copious amounts of sex in their romances might be disappointed because there’s only one love scene. But I found there was enough heat generated between Max and Anne and lots of luscious kisses to satisfy me.

What I love about Teresa Medeiros’s books is the humour she brings to them. I adore the motley crew of servants; Hodges, the crazy butler, Dickon, the surly footman, the assorted, giggling housemaids and not forgetting Mr Fluffytoes and Piddles. All the schemes perpetrated to get Max to hightail it back to London provide some of the funniest moments in the book. This is my favourite…

“I do hope you’ll forgive my shocking state of undress, Mrs Spencer,” he said with scathing courtesy. “I had to use my coat to fan the smoke out of my study before it choked me to death.” His eyes narrowed in an accusing gaze. “When you informed me that the study would be a pleasant place to enjoy an after-dinner brandy, you neglected to mention it would turn into a death trap the minute I lit the fire that had been laid upon the hearth.
“Oh, dear.” Ann touched a hand to her throat in what she hoped was a convincing display of dismay. “Are you quite alright.”
“Fortunately, I was able to smother the flames and wrestle the window open before being overcome by smoke. When the last time was that chimney was cleaned? Seventeen ninety-eight?”

There are some taut and poignant moments when Ash and Clarinda arrive with their daughter, Charlotte, but I was so pleased that the brothers are finally reconciled.

I didn’t find it too difficult to figure out the mystery surrounding the White Lady of Cadgwyck but I still wanted to know all the whys and wherefores. There were even a few surprises I hadn’t anticipated.

The Temptation of Your Touch is a wonderful, emotional, often funny book which I can definitely recommend.

How I imagine Max…

How I imagine Anne…

RATING: ★★★★★

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2013

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