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Angel Comes to Devil's Keep

(Twins’ Trilogy, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1819)

Cover Blurb:

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart—and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I have regularly followed her blog with its fascinating and informative posts but ANGEL COMES TO THE DEVIL’S KEEP is the first book I have read by Regina Jeffers and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I like Hunt for wanting to do more than just being the heir apparent to the Duke of Devilfoard. He takes real pride in the secretive work he does for the Home Office which gives him an additional purpose in life and an element of independence too.

It was not much, this bit of public duty he performed, but Hunt took a certain pride in doing more than being the Duke of Devilfoard’s heir apparent–more than being the Devil’s cub.

His father is pushing him to marry Lord Sandahl’s daughter, Lady Mathild, but while fully aware of his responsibilities to the dukedom, Hunt refuses to marry some green girl straight from the schoolroom; he wants a woman who will love him wholeheartedly and share his passion for life, learning and adventure.

I like Angel who is intelligent, independent, outspoken and with a real zest for life – a perfect match for Hunt. She doesn’t suffer fools lightly, as gentlemen of the ton, intent on pursuing her for her beauty and large dowry alone, soon discover.  Despite her distaste for ‘a bland lifestyle wrapped in formality’, her determination to succeed in society for her father’s sake shows her love and concern for him.

The image of her father’s worried brow and the knowledge of his declining health drove her response. She must succeed in London’s Society for her father to know peace. 

I was rather cautious about the amnesia plot line, but Ms. Jeffers uses it effectively. Hunt’s memory loss and Angel’s ignorance of his true identity allows their attraction to flourish, unfettered by any preconceptions or prejudices, as they spend time with the Wendts while Hunt recovers. It also reveals Angel’s caring and compassionate nature. She risks her own life to rescue a stranger and refuses to desert him, and believing him to be either a gentleman farmer or a man of business, she even considers asking her father to offer him a position.

When Hunt’s brother, Harry, and his friend, Lord Remmington, find him and he discovers his real identity, it’s natural that he feels angry, hurt and disappointed, believing that the woman who had stolen his heart connived to take advantage of  him. I was pleased that Ms. Jeffers did not prolong this misunderstanding and Harry and Lord Remmington soon convince Hunt that he is wrong about Angel and she only had his interests at heart.

Despite Hunt’s marriage proposal, Angel is practical enough to know that she could never be the sort of duchess his position requires. My heart ached for them when they are forced to accept that they can never be together.

He wanted to be this woman’s everything–to turn the sun back four and twenty hours and reclaim the anticipation of knowing her intimately. To be her first. Her last. It was a lovely fantasy, one upon which reality would too soon intrude.

“There will be more than enough time to relive each moment of the past few days. A whole lifetime to know your ideal match does exist. He will simply belong to another.”

There are many trials and tribulations before their Happy Ever After seems assured, including poisoning, murder, intrigue, long-hidden family secrets and a rival for Angel’s affections in the form of Hunt’s best friend, Lord Remmington. I like how it is Hunt’s father who gives him a ‘good kick up the backside’, figuratively speaking.

I thought Ms. Jeffers portrayed Hunt’s reactions to his amnesia in a realistic way. I sensed his fears and uncertainties and how vulnerable he feels.

…he had yet to recognize one servant or family portrait or even the house’s furnishings. He remained a first time guest in his childhood home. The tightness in his chest had nothing to do with his injury and everything to do with his vulnerability.

I also liked how she doesn’t have Hunt miraculously regaining his complete memory, but certain things trigger a particular memory.

The plotline called for a large number of secondary characters and, at times, I found it difficult to keep a track of everyone and the various family relationships. I was intrigued by Lord Remmington whose story is told in book 2, The Earl Claims His Comfort. I liked Angel’s father, a congenial man, but not when it comes to protecting his family.

Ms. Jeffers’s tightly woven mystery certainly kept me guessing, with plenty of red herrings, some unexpected twists and turns and the revelation of long-hidden family secrets. The unmasking of the true villain certainly came as a big surprise.

MY VERDICT: An extremely enjoyable story with appealing characters, suspense, intrigue and a heart-warming romance.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Twins’ Trilogy so far (click on the book cover for more details):

Angel Comes to the Devil's Keep by Regina Jeffers The Earl Claims His Comfort by Regina Jeffers

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the author for the purposes of an honest review. **

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Wicked Widows, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

IS IT A REASON FOR ROMANCE?

In Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins, young widowed Georgina Mowbray is settling into her role as Lady Russell’s companion quite well—until the lady’s nephew Dominic, the Earl of Coniston, arrives in Bath for a visit. Georgie’s always found him shallow and too smooth, and trusts him as much as she trusts most men…which is to say, not at all. But Con turns out to be more intriguing than she remembers—and completely irresistible…

OR A PROMISE OF PASSION?

Pretty, practical Georgie is nothing like the women Con usually woos—especially since she seems blind to his charms. But his elderly aunt is so fond of her that Con is determined at least to be sociable…with the occasional flirtation thrown in just for fun. But things take a serious turn when a dangerous figure from Georgie’s unhappy past appears and threatens to bring her harm. Con will do whatever it takes to keep Georgie safe. And if he can show her that all men are not menaces, he might be able to keep her in his arms and never let go…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the second book in the Wicked Widows series from Manda Collins.

The series centres on sisters, Isabella and Perdita, and their friend, Georgina… all widows of abusive husbands. They share a terrible secret concerning the death of Perdita’s husband, the Duke of Ormonde, but find themselves threatened by someone who obviously knows that secret and is out for revenge. The first book, Why Dukes Say I Do, told Isabella’s story and this is Georgina’s (Georgie’s) story.

 “…he has nothing more to concern himself with than the betting book or which opera dancer he’s going to bed.”

This is how Georgie sees Con at the beginning of the story. Not very flattering to a potential hero but, of course, Con gradually reveals those qualities that make a good romance hero. It’s clear that he adores his aunt, Lady Russell, and that he had helped her through a very painful time in her life. I love how protective he is towards Georgie when he learns of the potential danger she may be in; how fiercely he defends her honour when Mr. Gilloway, the investigator makes disparaging remarks about her. After hearing how Georgie suffered during her abusive marriage, he comes to fully appreciate how difficult it is for a woman, forced to obey a father or a husband without redress. He had wanted to put a stop to the abuse that Perdita had suffered but, as a duke, her husband was far too powerful for a mere earl. I liked that Con’s thoughts weren’t solely occupied with lustful thoughts of Georgie but he also ‘found her quick wit and kind heart just as alluring as her pretty face’.

Georgie had long ago mastered the art of keeping her emotions in check. It gave her the inner strength to survive the years of her abusive marriage. She also appreciated the well-ordered army life which helped form a welcome counterbalance to the volatile relationship with her husband. Understandably, she has a deep distrust of men and deters any unwelcome attention with her serious demeanour, drab clothes and severe hair styles. I like how she refuses to be intimidated by Con but eventually comes to trust him and recognises his innate sense of decency and goodness. Her fears about remarrying again are very real. She made a terrible mistake in her choice of her first husband and no longer trusts her own judgement as regards men. I love Con for understanding her fears rather than sweeping them aside.

“No one who has endured what you went through could emerge without some sense of scepticism about people around them. It would be impossible not to.”

The romance between them is witty, tender and passionate and Ms Collins manages to convey all the emotion and passion quite beautifully and without being overly explicit. I’m sharing two of my favourite moments:

And with each beat of her heart she felt the threads of their souls knitting knitting together in a fabric no amount of strife could unravel.

It was a kiss of reverence, as if she were as precious to him as a fragile treasure. And Georgie felt her eyes prick with unshed tears. How did he know that what she always wanted deep down in her innermost soul, was to feel valued like that.

I love their conversation in Lady Russell’s breakfast room the morning after they have made love. It sounds perfectly innocent but is full of naughty innuendo.

There is well-drawn supporting cast including Con’s friendLord Archer Lisle who is in love with Perdita but unwilling to tell her. There is some delightfully witty banter between Archer and Con. I also liked Lady Russell who treats Georgie more as a friend than an employee.

”I am an eccentric old woman who has more money than is good for her, who wishes to see her dear friend , who is also her companion, enjoy herself for a change”.

The scene where she gives Georgie a sapphire necklace to wear and reveals her tragic past is both poignant and heartrending. Later in the story, I did find it hard to believe that, given their close relationship, Lady Russell would readily accept, without any question, that Georgie would steal her jewellery.

In the theatre scene, I love how Ms Collins makes reference to her characters in the Ugly Ducklings series, when Con is pointing out some of the more notorious members of the ton to Georgie. Isabella, Trevor and Perdita also make a welcome appearance to offer their help in tracking down the person threatening Georgie.

One reviewer says that Ms Collins’s dialogue is stilted but I totally disagree and found it natural and not at all stilted. I also like how she emphasises the reality of being a wife trapped in an abusive marriage and the limitations on women in general.

There are enough red herrings so that I didn’t guess the identity of the person threatening Georgie until right before the climax. It’s evident there is a master villain at work, who has been using others in pursuit of his or her revenge. At the moment, I have no idea who this mysterious person might be and can only wait for all to be revealed in the final book.

This is a delightful, entertaining romance and I’m really looking forward to reading Perdita and Archer’s story in Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (29th July)

 

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read July 2014

 

The Wicked Widows series (click on covers for more details):

Why Dukes Say I Do (Wicked Widows, #1) by Manda Collins Why Earls Fall in Love (Wicked Widows, #2) by Manda Collins Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (Wicked Widows, #3) by Manda Collins

 

A special thank you to Manda Collins for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

 

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(Ugly Ducklings #3)

Setting : Regency England

Official Blurb 

Lady Madeline Essex is the last of the unwed “ducklings” in her family—and by far the most outspoken. But when she boldly enters London’s most notorious gaming house in search of fodder for her novel, even her sharp tongue can’t save her from the horrible crime she stumbles upon there. As luck would have it, first on the scene is the last man she wants to see her vulnerable. The one man who could tempt her heart…

Christian Monteith, the new Earl of Gresham, isn’t much for card rooms and gaming hells. But as a favor to his former commanding officer, he’s investigating a gamester for espionage on the night that Maddie ventures in looking more enticing than he’s ever seen her. Suddenly, his feelings for his friend aren’t so friendly anymore. And when her curiosity brings the impetuous novelist to the attention of a madman, Christian will stop at nothing to protect her—from a sinister plot that is far more dangerous than any stolen kiss…

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL is the final book in Manda Collins’ charming Ugly Ducklings trilogy. I enjoyed this engaging friends-to-lovers story with its blend of mystery and romance.

How I imagine Christian…

She had come to appreciate his sense of the absurd as much as his strength and loyalty.

Christian is the perfect hero. Honourable, loyal, charming, witty and sexy, I love how fiercely protective he is towards Maddie and he certainly has lots of  patience when it comes to her hair-brain schemes, although his patience does wear thin at times! The guilt at not being there for his twin sister when she needed him gives him a certain vulnerability which I love in my heroes.

How I imagine Maddie…

“That she is a most determined young lady who refuses to be cowed by the strictures of the ton.”

Maddie is my favourite type of heroine, independent, determined and outspoken. It’s also refreshing to find a heroine who is short with ample womanly curves rather than tall and graceful. If I have one criticism, it’s that Maddie’s impetuous behaviour did have me raising my eyebrows on more than one occasion. But in the moving scene where she comforts Christian, I couldn’t help but love her when she vows ‘to keep his vulnerabilities safe in her heart.’

I liked the fact that Maddie and Christian’s feelings grew gradually. It’s obvious they genuinely like and respect one another but have never thought of each other in romantic terms. As they spend more time in each other’s company trying to solve the murder and clear Maddie’s brother’s name, their feelings start to change:

…ever since he’d held her in his arms last night, he’d had the devil’s own time trying to erase the memory of just how right she’d felt there.

***

Each time they touched, the fire between them burned hotter until Maddie was no longer able to tell which of them was in control.
She wasn’t quite sure how it had happened, but what had begun as rather sweet and gentle turned hot and passionate.

At times, I felt that the romance was somewhat pushed into the background by the mystery plot but the love scenes were deliciously sensual.

There were enough twists and turns in the murder mystery to keep me guessing and I enjoyed the witty repartee between Christian, Winterson and Deveril. I was certainly surprised to see Ms Collins redeem the Ugly Ducklings’ arch nemesis, Amelia Snow, at the end of the book and I’m intrigued to read her story in the forthcoming novella, The Perks of Being a Beauty.

This was an entertaining ending to the trilogy and I’m looking forward to reading more of Manda Collins’ books in the future.

VERDICT: A VERY GOOD READ

RATING : 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING : HOT

Read April 2013

The Ugly Ducklings series (click on the cover for details)

How to Dance with a Duke (Ugly Ducklings, #1) How to Romance a Rake (Ugly Ducklings #2) How to Entice an Earl (Ugly Ducklings, #3)

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The Rumor (#0.5)

Setting: New York City,1800 and London, 1802

Lady Augustine Jane Ascott longs for a man who will do more than offer his hand in marriage. She wants a husband she can trust, someone who will shield her from the darkness of the world. Her heart was broken when her little brother was kidnapped years earlier, and she still carries the pain of his loss.

When the handsome Duke of Wentworth makes his feelings for her known, Augustine’s past demons warn her away. Besides, every woman in London knows he’s devoted to the memory of his late wife. But is it possible he cares for her after all and that their love can bring them the peace they both crave?

Important Note from Ms Marvelle’s Website

Bonus Chapters from Forever Mine that were not included in this Prequel Novella are available for free download. These two bonus chapters are the untold story of what happened to Nathaniel from Augustine’s point of view. The publisher removed these two chapters from Forever Mine, despite my insisting upon their importance to the series and the novella. Which is why I am offering them for free. I feel this story and the entire series is incomplete without them, and in my opinion, are critical in understanding Nathaniel’s story whom the entire series is based on. I have provided the link to her website:

http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/#!fore…

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

I discovered Delilah Marvelle last year when I read Mistress of Pleasure, the first book in her School of Gallantry series. It was so refreshingly different, uproariously funny and wickedly sexy that I became an instant fan. I’ve since bought her Scandal and Rumor series together with Lord of Pleasure, the second book in the School of Gallantry series.

Since her brother was kidnapped two years ago, Lady Augustine Ascott’s life has had little meaning. The only thing keeping her going is her determination to do everything in her power to find her brother. Only then can she truly move on and have everything she yearns for, a husband and children.

Leonard Stewart, Duke of Wentworth has mourned his wife for seven years but now realises it’s time to move on with his life. Augustine is the only woman who has captured his interest and he’s determined to gain both her trust and her heart.

Augustine is such an endearing heroine; strong yet with a core of vulnerability, determined, loyal, and ‘innocence wrapped in odd maturity’. I enjoyed watching her come to realize just how much Leonard means to her and that it’s time to move on with her life.

What can I say about Leonard, other than every woman should be lucky enough to meet such a man! Dashing, honourable, protective, caring, patient and witty, he’s the perfect match for Augustine. He understands her feelings so well because he has experienced the loss of his beloved wife. I admire his willingness to help Augustine in her search for her brother although he fears he may well lose her to this obsession.

This is a sweetly satisfying love story and a must read if, like me, you want to read the series and discover what really happened to Nathaniel!

RATING: ★★★★

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read February 2013

The Rumor series:

Forever Mine (#0.5)
Forever and a Day (#1)
Forever a Lady (#2)
Forever a Lord (#3)

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