Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The tiny village of Hemshawe is the sort of place where nothing ever happens…until a handsome ex-soldier and his matchmaking sister let the imposing manor house at the edge of town. The friendly Londoners shake up the staid people of Hemshawe, and villagers see each other in a new and oh-so-appealing light.

Suddenly long-sparring enemies become lovers, a town festival heralds a new start for a fallen woman and a dandy, and a man who has given up on love gets a second chance with the woman he never forgot. And the matchmaker herself? She won’t rest until she finds her own happily-ever-after…

A Madness in Spring by Kate Noble

Adam Sturridge has made Belinda Leonard’s blood boil since childhood, and the feeling is mutual. But when a would-be matchmaker arrives in the village of Hemshawe, she’d determined to erase the thin line between love and hate. Now, Belinda and Adam are faced with falling for someone they’ve always considered an enemy — can they overcome old prejudices and discover how to rub each other the right way?

The Summer of Wine and Scandal by Shana Galen

When viscount’s son and dandy Peregrine Lochley is temporarily exiled from London to the country for his misdeeds, the last thing he expects is to encounter an intriguing woman. But Caroline Martin has a secret to hide, and it just might be too scandalous for even this debauched rogue.

Those Autumn Nights by Theresa Romain

Ten years ago, wealthy Eliza Greenleaf broke lowly soldier Bertram Gage’s heart—but the last decade brought changes in fortune to them both. Now that he’s made his mark on the world, a twist of fate brings the Greenleaf family under his power. Will this war-hardened officer triumph over his former lover…or will Bertie and Eliza give love a second chance?

The Season for Loving by Vanessa Kelly

Miss Georgie Gage, matchmaker extraordinaire, is resigned to life as a spinster—almost. When notoriously aloof bachelor Fergus Haddon arrives from Scotland to spend Christmas with the Gage family, Georgie thinks she’s finally found her own perfect match—if, that is, she can get the handsome Highlander to agree!



This is a delightfully entertaining enemies-to-lovers romance and Belinda and Adam are such an engaging couple. Their journey to a happy ever after is fun to watch and Ms Noble writes with wit and charm.

“Yes, do tell me more about the house I grew up in,” Adam drawled.
“I need no reminder that you grew up here. You are littered across my memory like horse manure on a path.”




This is an emotive story of forgiveness and redemption. The foppish Peregrine turns out to be a wonderful hero and it is heart-warming to see how he champions Caroline in front of everyone at the village fair.

“If there is a woman who is close to perfection, I would have to say it is Miss Martin.”

I also love how Caroline’s father never judges his daughter for her mistake which is in sharp contrast to Peregrine’s father.




This is a poignant second-chance story in which Ms Romain captures Bertie and Eliza’s feelings of regret, forgiveness and renewed love beautifully.

Was this only a kiss? It drew forth his whole body, entrancing and enchanting him. The taste and scent, the sweet little sound she made as she rose onto her tiptoes to kiss him more firmly.

New-to-me author Ms Romain impressed me with her writing and I’m eager to read more of her books.




Sweet, kind, matchmaking Georgie Gage finds her own happy ending with dour Scot, Fergus Haddon. They are a perfect complement for each other and I love how Georgie changes Fergus’s life in so many ways.

She was everything he wanted- generosity, acceptance, and love. Everything he’d convinced would be forever denied to him.

This is a lovely, heart-warming romance enhanced by some colourful secondary characters.



MY VERDICT: Overall, four well-written, entertaining and romantic stories which are perfect reading for the approaching holiday season.

Read November 2015

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.**

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency 1822-1824, Epilogue 1872)

Cover Blurb:

A romantic tale of young love and old Edinburgh from the pen of a consummate storyteller and acclaimed Scottish historian.

It’s 1822 and Scotland’s capital is a city of both splendour and squalor. Kate Dunbar is worked like a slave all day and preyed upon at night in the gloomy vaults that lurk under the Old Town’s South Bridge but never gives up hope of a better life for herself and her beloved young brother Andrew.

When wealthy young medical student Richard Hope walks into her life, Kate knows that his interest in her could lead them both into danger. Yet it’s not long before the two of them have fallen head-over-heels in love.

Others are watching the young lovers. Radical booksellers Peggy and Nathaniel Henderson have Kate and Andrew’s best interests at heart. Their greedy and grasping uncle doesn’t, and he soon soon starts laying his own evil plans.

Kate and Richard’s passionate and poignant romance intertwines with the richly-imagined colour and pageantry of King George IV’s historic visit to Edinburgh in 1822, and culminates in the heart-stopping drama of the Great Fire of Edinburgh of 1824.

Can their love affair have a happy ending or will fate, the evil that threatens them and the rigid rules of class and society allow them only one sweet moment of happiness?


How do I to begin to review one of the loveliest and most compellingly written books it has been my pleasure to experience?

I listened to the audio version, narrated by Lesley Mackie, who has the most melodious voice. A Scott herself, her narration is perfectly pitched and cleverly vocalised so that the listener is never in any doubt which character is talking at any given time. There is a lot of the Scottish vernacular used and this adds depth and great feeling, as well as showing the difference in class of the wonderful mix of characters. Ms Mackie differentiates expertly between male and female, rich and poor alike, and it is a very professional performance indeed.

The story begins with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson:

“To look over the South Bridge and to see the Cowgate below, full of crying hawkers is to view one rank of society from another in the twinkling of an eye”

which pretty much sums up the difference in the class structure of the time.

The title One Sweet Moment and also the brief synopsis suggest just another love story.  I don’t mean this in any derogatory sense but, as a lover of history as well as a finely written romance, I was delighted to find that this wonderful book was so much more than was suggested; in fact, it’s depth and content is greatly underplayed.

This was my first Maggie Craig novel and it was purely by chance that I discovered it on ITunes for audio download. I thought it might be a nice book to listen to whilst out walking, but instead found myself ignoring everyone and grabbing every moment I could to devour this thoughtful and beautifully moving story. It’s written by a lady who obviously knows her stuff – the history of Scotland, Edinburgh and the people of that city.

The book (with a perfect epilogue which winds the story up in the most poignant way) spans approximately 50 years. It is the story of Kate Dunbar, a brave and defiant young woman of the lowest orders, living in abject poverty in the vaults of Edinburgh’s South Bridge with her young physically handicapped brother Andrew. Orphaned and at the mercy of their maternal Aunt and her vile husband, they accept and live in the most degrading manner, with little chance of escape from the daily, tyrannical and abusive behaviour doled out by this uncaring and evil pair.

One evening into the Pearl Fisher, the Oyster Bar kept by Kate’s Aunt and Uncle and where she is obliged to work without payment, come three young privileged medical students, one of whom is immediately attracted to Kate. Richard Hope, handsome and wealthy, is as far outside Kate’s world as it is possible to be. His family is rich and well connected but still he persists in gaining an acquaintance with her. He finds his intentions are entirely honourable and he treats Kate and the other occupants of the vaults with respect and eventually she comes to like and love him, and he her.

This is a time of radical political stirrings. It is only 70 years since the great Jacobean uprising. The people of Edinburgh are split in their views, some wishing for independence and Kate has some such friends. Richard becomes embroiled with Kate’s champions, book shop owners Nathaniel and Peggy Henderson, and finds himself looking at the poorer inhabitants of Edinburgh from a different, and more sympathetic perspective.

This is such a wonderfully meaty book, full of intrigue, romance, abuse of the worse kind and body snatching. The Edinburgh of the time, beautiful but also poverty stricken, is captured in this magical tale. Maggie Craig is a consummate story teller; her extensive research and love of her homeland and its people are obvious. Her prose flows with twists and turns and captures the imagination. I hated the villains and desperately wanted Kate and Richard to find their happy ending. As I have said previously, this tale was so much more than ‘just a love story‘. It is a must read for all HR lovers and for anyone who loves a wonderfully compelling story.

This was one of those ‘let’s buy it, it’s cheap and sounds intriguing‘ purchases but Maggie Craig is now one of my top five authors. This is a definite keeper for me.

I later went on to read Gathering Storm, which is another absolutely superb historical set in Edinburgh during the time of the Jacobean uprising – not to be missed for lovers of history.

MY VERDICT: A beautiful and compelling love story.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!





Footnote: The author has recently commented “Fair chuffed to discover that Edinburgh City Libraries have added One Sweet Moment to their literary map of books set in the City”….I’m personally not surprised, well deserved! And earlier this year I visited Edinburgh and followed her trail…a clever author/historian who can make a place and people so real.





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(The Ravenels, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A twist of fate…

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills…

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?


Like every other Lisa Kleypas fan, I have been waiting eagerly for this book, which heralds her return to writing historical romances after a gap of five years. Well, I have to confess that I had mixed feelings about the book. Some aspects I really enjoyed but others I found disappointing.

At first, Devon’s actions seems to confirm him as totally heartless and selfish. He simply wants to be rid of his inherited responsibilities without any concern for those people his actions will affect, but gradually he comes to the realisation that…

The sword had been suspended above him from the moment he’d been informed of Theo’s death. There was no choice to make. Whether or not he wanted the responsibility that came with the title, it was his.

The scene where he holds a weeping Kathleen shows that he is compassionate while dramatic events later in the story reveal a man willing to sacrifice himself for others.  However, the notorious Ravenel temper erupts on more than one occasion.

I love the funny exchanges with Kathleen when he is discussing his plans to modernise the plumbing at Eversby Priory.

“The plumbing is adequate,” she said defensively.
One of his brows arched. “Sufficiently adequate for me to take a shower bath?”
She hesitated before admitting, “You won’t have a shower bath.”
“A regular bath, then? Lovely. What kind of modern vessel shall I find myself soaking in tonight? A rusted pail?”

Kathleen’s high-handedness and rigid adherence to rules is irritating at times, but I understood how much she was influenced by her upbringing with Lord and Lady Berwick. I admire her genuine concern for the fate of the servants and tenants when she believes Devon intends to sell the estate, and her pluck in standing up to him.

“Welcome, my lord. And Mr. Ravenel. I will provide a list of the household inventory as soon as possible, so that you may loot and pillage in an organized fashion.” Her voice was refined, the cut-glass syllables frosted with dislike.

Her willingness to look after her late husband’s sisters shows a considerate and compassionate nature.

My main problem is that I never fully believed in the romance between Devon and Kathleen. It seems to lack coherence and there is no steady development of the relationship. In fact, they spend a good proportion of the book apart. I never felt there was a defining moment when I truly believed they were in love. Yes, there were some steamy love scenes but, for me, I didn’t sense the deep emotional connection between them and I kept asking myself – Whatever happened to those heart-stopping, sigh-worthy moments that have always been such a memorable part of her books?  Even Devon’s declaration of love failed to stir a little flutter in my heart.

I often found the secondary characters more interesting than the main ones.  I adore Devon’s younger brother, Weston (West).  He has a major drinking problem but, when Devon puts him in charge of managing the tenants’ drainage problems, he finds a purpose in life (after hearing some home truths from Kathleen) and becomes a sober, fit, hard-working man. There is an amusing scene where Devon goes to meet him at the station and fails to recognise him at first. I also liked the amiable relationship that develops between West and Kathleen.

I was definitely interested in the tentative romance between quiet Helen and ruthless, department store owner Rhys Winterborne, and I am seriously wondering how Ms Kleypas will redeem him in the next book, Marrying Winterborne, given his actions towards  the end of this book. Then I recall a certain St. Vincent who badly needed redeeming at the start of The Devil in Winter and look how he turned out!

I love the quirky, irrepressible twins Pandora and Cassandra, who reminded me in many ways of Beatrix Hathaway and, of course, not forgetting Hamlet, the pig!

MY VERDICT:  This may not be her best book but there were still many things I enjoyed about it and I certainly intend to read the rest of the series.



Read November 2015

The Ravenels series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas – expected publication date 31st May 2016

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(Chance Sisters, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Award-winning author Anne Gracie delivers the second in her enticing new series about four young women facing a life of destitution—until a daring act changes their fortune and turns them each into a beautiful bride…

Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.

When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?


Just wonderful, Anne Gracie!  I adored your funny, witty dialogue, and fabulous cast of loveable characters.

Freddy and Damaris, secondary characters from The Autumn Bride, are the star players, well supported by the rest of this delightful mishmash of a ‘family’, especially the outspoken and outrageous Aunt Bea. Lady Beatrice can turn any situation to her own advantage or to the advantage of her beloved adopted nieces. Nothing will stand in the way of their happiness as far as she is concerned; no bending of the truth is unacceptable.

She has decided that Freddy Monkton-Combes, her nephew Max’s oldest friend, will meet her ‘girls’ and she orchestrates this meeting shamelessly. Freddy is a confirmed bachelor and avoids ‘muffins’ (young women intent on trapping a chap into marriage) like the plague! He has skilfully sidestepped this terrible fate for many years but, from the evening he comes face to face with Damaris, he is hooked, whether or not he realises it at the time. Freddy has been coerced into acting as guard dog to the girls and their aunt by Max, whilst he is away on his honeymoon. This duty throws him into contact with Damaris on a regular basis and they begin to enjoy each other’s company.

Freddy’s parents have decided that it is high time he settle down and produce an heir and, to this end, have arranged a house party where hordes of these ‘muffins’ will be waiting to pounce. Freddy and Damaris make a pact; they will announce a fake betrothal to call his parents off, but also to give Damaris the chance to avoid the ‘come out’ Lady Bea is intent on arranging for her. She has personal reasons for avoiding this fate, also wishing to avoid marriage. Her ambitions lie only in a little cottage in the country, and peace to forget past tragedies and horrific memories. Freddy arranges the purchase of a cottage in return for her compliance.

Damaris’s peace is shattered, however, by the elegantly beautiful, persistent and determined Freddy. He has worked very hard to present a rakish outer appearance to the world. The hidden man, however, is kind, thoughtful and honourable, deeply traumatised by an event in his boyhood and apparently unloved by his parents. His outward devil-may-care attitude is a cover;  he is self-deprecating and consistently refuses to explain or to defend his apparent carelessness to his parents. Freddy is that little boy lost we all love to love. Even his seduction and deliberate compromising of Damaris is somehow achieved in a totally honourable manner. He has decided that his bachelor days are at an end and no other woman will do. Therefore he sets out to persuade her, in the only way he knows how, and in the process make this a betrothal in truth. What a scene! Beautifully romantic and so well done by Ms. Gracie with wit, charm and humour.

I loved Anne Gracie’s references to Jane Austen’s works. To begin with, Freddy is horrified at being obliged to attend Aunt Bea’s literary society, which she has deviously organised to introduce the girls to society, but after quoting the opening lines from Pride and Prejudice…

“It is a truth universally acknowledged……..” He shudders, “What about the poor fellow’s wants, eh? Do they matter? No. Every female in the blasted story was plotting to hook some man for herself or her daughter or niece. If you don’t call that horror, I don’t know what is!”

There is a lot of sweet romance and some sexual content , though sensitively and sensuously achieved; a serious underlying issue for each of the protagonists which each eventually helps the other to overcome; lots of funny, sweet, tear jerking moments. Both characters are utterly loveable, particularly Freddy. Even the naming of the cottage, which becomes their romantic hideaway, is humorous.  Freddy has arranged for a sign to be placed over the door saying ‘Roon’. A previous acquaintance of Damaris’s had predicted that Freddy would lead Damaris “down the road to Roon”!….a clever and witty play on words.

I loved your novel, Anne Gracie! Sorry to compare your books but The Perfect Rake still has the edge – for me at least – but this is a fabulous read all the same and Freddie is another of those memorable heroes.




Chance Sisters series to date (click on the book covers for more details):

The Autumn Bride (Chance Sisters, #1) by Anne Gracie The Winter Bride (Chance Sisters, #2) by Anne Gracie The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters, #3) by Anne Gracie

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(The Merridew Sisters, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

She ran from a brute…

Fleeing violent tyranny, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke…But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster.

…into the arms of a rake

Aristocratic Gideon, handsome, rakish and with a strong frivolous streak, casually hijacks Prudence’s game, awarding himself a stolen kiss or three along the way. Used to managing sisters and elderly men, Prudence is completely out of her depth with a charming, devious and utterly irresistible rake. And her plot goes terribly—if deliciously—awry…


Wonderful, witty and romantic, I loved the first book in this series and it certainly won’t be my last Anne Gracie. She writes with a great insight and understanding of human nature and, notwithstanding the darker elements of this story, this is a beautifully written, charming and extremely humorous love story.

The Merridew sisters have escaped their tyrannical grandfather after years of physical and mental abuse. Their goal is to marry off Charity, the second eldest of these delightful siblings. Prudence has always been the surrogate mother of the family after the tragic death of their beloved parents. She was the one who suffered the worst treatment at the hands of their grandfather leaving her self-esteem is at an all-time low. The reason she was the main butt of her grandfather’s cruelty becomes clear later in the story.

Prudence embroils herself in all sorts of scrapes trying to explain the appearance of her family in London. They arrive at the home of their great uncle Oswald, the younger brother of their grandfather, who is the antithesis of his brother, being kindly, loving and eccentric. He immediately agrees to launch the eldest two girls into society, but he is a stickler for propriety and will not allow Charity to appear until her elder sister is ‘fired off’. Prudence has her own reasons for not wanting to be married and devises a scam involving Edward, Duke of Dinstable, a man she has never met. Feeling safe from the duke, who hasn’t been seen in society for many years, she tells her uncle they have been secretly engaged for more than four years. Disaster strikes when the said duke arrives in town and Prudence must somehow stop her Uncle from calling on him to persuade him ‘to do the honourable thing’! Her problems only snowball from this point on.

The comedy of errors continues when Prudence arrives at Edward’s home to explain and beg for his complicity in her lie and to assure him she is not attempting to trap him into marriage. Unwittingly she explains to the wrong man and Edward’s cousin, Gideon, a rake and confirmed bachelor, is highly and comically amused, and utterly captivated by the plucky little Prudence. He sees a beauty, invisible to most, and there follows a brilliantly funny interchange between these two characters talking at cross purposes. Prudence does not realise she is not talking to Edward and Gideon very quickly realises what is happening and ruthlessly exploits the situation, initiating her into the joys of kissing.

The rest of the story follows at a fast pace with some sad, poignant moments but also some hilariously uproarious interactions between Gideon and Prudence, whom he renames ‘Imp’ deciding her name is totally inadequate to her nature; he much prefers ‘Imprudence’. There is also a comical and entertaining scene between Gideon and great uncle Oswald where Gideon unwittingly becomes betrothed to Prudence. However, not unhappy about the situation, Gideon does his best to make it fact. His complete and utter belief in Prudence’s beauty – the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind – and his fear that every other man will try to take her away from him is endearingly sweet and funny and proves that this rake has fallen completely under her, albeit unintentional, spell. He becomes her champion and protector whether she wishes it or not. Gideon has his own demons to slay but in the process of falling heavily for his Prudence his strong loveable and honourable character emerges, in short, Gideon is the perfect hero.

5 plus stars for a wonderfully funny, sad but poignant read. This is pure entertainment and Gideon is one of those heroes I will not forget.



The Merridew Sisters series (click on the book cover for more details):

The Perfect Rake (The Merridew Sisters, #1) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Waltz (The Merridew Sisters, #2) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Stranger (The Merridew Sisters, #3) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Kiss (The Merridew Sisters, #4) by Anne Gracie

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(Lords of Anarchy, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:


Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Yet Lady Hermione Upperton has never backed down from a challenge. When her spendthrift father offers her at the gaming tables, she is given a difficult choice—wed the Earl of Mainwaring, an infamous gamester with no respect for her skills with the reins, or face charges for the murder of a member of the infamous Lords of Anarchy. Either way she’ll have to clear her name. Can she count on her husband’s help the way she has begun to count on his kisses?


All Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, wanted was a night of cards. But by the end of the evening he’s walked away with a fortune—and a bride who’s suspected of murder. Jasper knows Hermione is passionate about her unorthodox membership in the Lords of Anarchy, but he’s certain she would never kill to keep it. Can he protect his headstrong wife from prosecution and a ruthless killer without endangering both their hearts in the process?


I was disappointed with A Good Rake is Hard to Find, the first book in the series, but I really enjoyed this one with its engaging characters, charming romance and intriguing mystery elements.

Jasper has all the traits I look for in a hero… honourable, charming, kind and patient. I love how he champions Hermione and is so protective towards her. He admires her spirit and sharp wit and I like that he has no desire to change her. I think these words reveal the sort of man he is.

“I realize that your life with your father has been somewhat…difficult at times. But you should never worry about angering me or upsetting me. I will always listen to with an open mind.”

Hermione is outspoken, headstrong and determined and, as a keen driving enthusiast, she is considered unfashionable. She is a mixture of strength and vulnerability which made her a very sympathetic character. Her father, Lord Upperton, is a compulsive gambler and Hermione realises that he loves cards more than he loves her. Only a really, corrupt and heartless man would threaten to auction off his own daughter. It’s not surprising she has concerns about Jasper, someone she sees as a gambler just like her father (Jasper’s reasons for gambling are very different from her father’s as revealed later in the story).

I enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom slowly from friendship to affection and finally to love. It was refreshing to see a couple who, although married under less than ideal circumstances, really want their marriage to work and are open and honest with each other.

The conversation they have about what happens in the marriage bed is certainly one of the most unusual ones I’ve read!

“I admit,” she said with a smile, “my knowledge about the process is a bit limited. I have seen horses of course, but as they have hooves there was no question of the lady horse touching the stallion’s …” She made a hand gesture meant to indicate the missing word.
“Quite,” he said with a wince at the absurdity of this conversation.

I liked how Hermione’s boldness extends to the bedroom but also how Jasper shows such consideration and gentleness.

Jasper really proved a true hero when he stands up to his mother on Hermione’s behalf but Hermione proves herself more than capable of holding her own against the over-bearing Lady Mainwaring. At first, I thoroughly disliked Jasper’s scheming mother, but I came to understand and sympathise with her when she confides in Hermione the reasons for the conflict with her son. It was lovely to see a genuine friendship forged between Lady Mainwaring and Hermione and reconciliation between mother and son.

Why did it feel as if this case were becoming more complex not less.

Yes, there are lots of twists and turns before the mystery surrounding the theft of Hermione’s horses  is resolved but I never felt that the mystery element eclipsed the romance.

If I were asked to choose my favourite romantic moment, it would be this…

“Just know that I don’t want you to change. Or rather, I don’t expect you to. It isn’t a requirement for my happiness.”
“You are a wonderful man, “she said, kissing him back. “My father couldn’t have chosen better.”

MY VERDICT: This was a very enjoyable read and Jasper and Hermione were a delightful couple.



Read September/October 2015

Lords of Anarchy series (click on the book cover for more details):

A Good Rake is Hard to Find (Lords of Anarchy, #1) by Manda Collins Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy, #2) by Manda Collins Good Dukes Wear Black (Lords of Anarchy, #3) by Manda Collins – to be published 5th April 2016

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

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I have reviewed both the book and audio versions.

(Scoundrels, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:


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 …


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.


The prologue told me what a fabulous read this book would be, the best opening I have ever read and it just got better. Poignant, witty, funny, romantic but with a deep sadness running through that pulled at my heart strings.

Sebastian Ballister, the Marquess of Dain is a large, dark, angry man to the outside world. On the inside he is a small, ungainly, ugly child with a large ‘Usignolo’ nose; unwanted and unloved he is sent away by his autocratic, unloving Father to Eton at the age of 8. His Italian Mother from whom he has inherited his dark and unusual looks has apparently deserted him and his Father hates him because of her. The small ugly boy learns to fight the hard way, he is bullied and beaten by his fellow pupils and the only way he can win is to best them in all things. Not only does he earn their respect but becomes their leader and this sets the scene for the rest of his life.

As he grows to manhood he thumbs his large nose at his Father and the rest of the world until a chance meeting with Jessica Trent in an antique shop in Paris turns his dissipated world upside down; and the first evidence that he may have a heart instead of a block of ice becomes apparent. At first, he only recognises this as lust as Jessica is not his usual style; she in turn is deeply attracted to him. Until then she has always been independently single and happy to be so.

Jessica Trent has come to Paris with her unconventional grandmother Genevieve, who encourages her towards Dain. The visit to Paris has been arranged so that Jessica can extricate her dozy brother from the big, bad Dain, whose circle of friends Bertie has managed to inveigle his way into. Completely gullible and easily led, he idolises and follows Dain – being too slow witted and thick skinned to realise he is being fleeced, ruined and ridiculed by ‘Beelzebub’….the popular nickname Dain is known by….and his crowd of equally dissipated friends.

The meeting in the antique shop is extremely amusing. The spark between Dain and Jess is immediate; they fence intellectually…he is impressed by her knowledge, beauty and repartee and she with the big handsome darkness and intelligence of him. Dain has only ever consorted with whores and this is a new experience for him. Beautiful, intelligent, desirable AND a lady, Jessica has Dain completely at a loss and what follows is the slow crumbling of his strongly fortified defences.

As well as a beautiful love story, it is also a very moving tale of a deeply tormented small boy who grows into manhood showing the world the worst side of him; the small, frightened boy is still there but deeply hidden. He wants his peers to view him as big bad and dangerous and they do. Jessica Trent perceptively sees beyond that facade and deep into his soul. She is the angel, albeit feisty and managing, who will be his salvation. To her, he is a beautiful, big handsome man, not the clumsy, loathsome brute he believes himself to be… unlovable, unwanted and heart wrenchingly vulnerable.

This book has been around for a number of years and it has been my good fortune to have found it…better late than never. I completely understand why it has topped the ‘All About Romance’ top 100 on and off since its release. I cannot do this wonderful, moving story justice in a review. Ms. Chase has penned a darkly perceptive, beautiful love story. Even the plot, which centres around a Russian Icon, is original and interesting and, in itself, is all tied up with Vain’s vulnerability.

The growing of Vain into the man he becomes, with the understanding and help of Jessica, is cleverly achieved. There are just a few small ‘American’ slips which I am willing to overlook in view of the quality and entertainment value of the writing.

A wonderful page turner and I have now downloaded the audio version on recommendation so that I can enjoy it all over again! This was my first Loretta Chase and will certainly not be my last. 5 well deserved stars. Thanks to Carol and Caz for helping me find this treasure.


I must add further to my complete and utter appreciation of this wonderful book…this time the audio version, narrated expertly and entertainingly by Kate Reading. I stand by everything I have previously said, but can now add what an absolutely wonderful audio version this is. The hurt and vulnerability hiding deep within the outwardly large, arrogant and supposedly beastly Dain has been brought to life by Kate Reading’s sensitive emphasis of it in an empathetic and deeply moving fashion. In fact, it is so tangible that it actually brought tears to my eyes. The instant attraction between a bewildered and immediately infatuated Dain, and the attractive, clever, determined and independent Jessica is sexy and addictive.

Ms. Reading captures every single character in the most flawless manner. Even the wild Dominic’s childish, foul mouthed and impish tones are pitched exactly like a small, confused but naughty child. There is never any doubt who is talking, even when in a group situation. Her male and female tones are perfection…Dain’s deeply arrogant drawl; Jessica’s, pert confidence and faultless tone of voice, no matter what her emotion at the time. Oh and Dain’s delicious Italian murmurings….sighs!

Can you tell I absolutely LOVED it! One of the very best I have ever read and listened to. A must read and if you can listen you are in for a magnificent treat. This is one I shall keep for ever and trot out whenever I need to lift my spirits. I know there are a few who don’t like this novel but I just don’t get it!



Scoundrels series (click on the book cover for more information):

The Lion's Daughter (Scoundrels, #1) by Loretta Chase Captives of the Night (Scoundrels, #2) by Loretta Chase Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels, #3) by Loretta Chase The Mad Earl's Bride (Scoundrels, #3.5) by Loretta Chase The Last Hellion (Scoundrels, #4) by Loretta Chase

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