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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’

(Scandalous Seasons, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Miss Juliet Marshville is spitting mad. With one guardian missing, and the other singularly uninterested in her fate, she is at the mercy of her wastrel brother who loses her beloved childhood home to a man known as Sin. Determined to reclaim control of Rosecliff Cottage and her own fate, Juliet arranges a meeting with the notorious rogue and demands the return of her property.

Jonathan Tidemore, 5th Earl of Sinclair, known to the ton as Sin, is exceptionally lucky in life and at the gaming tables. He has just one problem. Well…four, really. His incorrigible sisters have driven off yet another governess. This time, however, his mother demands he find an appropriate replacement.

When Miss Juliet Marshville boldly demands the return of her precious cottage, he takes advantage of his sudden good fortune and puts an offer to her; turn his sisters into proper English ladies, and he’ll return Rosecliff Cottage to Juliet’s possession.

Jonathan comes to appreciate Juliet’s spirit, courage, and clever wit, and decides to claim the fiery beauty as his mistress. Juliet, however, will be mistress for no man. Nor could she ever love a man who callously stole her home in a game of cards. As Jonathan begins to see Juliet as more than a spirited beauty to warm his bed, he realizes she could be a lady he could love the rest of his life, if only he can convince the proud Juliet that he’s worthy of her hand and heart.

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I am so glad I discovered Christi Caldwell last year and she is fast becoming one of my favourite authors with her charming, tender love stories. Always a Rogue, Forever Her Love is easily read as a standalone but I can definitely recommend the first three books in this series.

Despite his roguish reputation, it is obvious how much Jonathan loves his mother and four sisters regardless of the trials and tribulations they present. His mother bemoans the fact that he will not “do right by the Sinclair line and wed a proper English miss” but he has no intention of curtailing his life of pleasure by taking a wife. His three youngest sisters are “outrageously ill-behaved and highly improper” and their latest governess (the fifth) has resigned. His mother is at her wit’s end and gives Jonathan the task of finding a new governess.

Juliet Marshville has been lame since she was thirteen when her leg was shattered in a fall. It was then that she discovered just how much her brother, Albert, hated her. He is a selfish wastrel who has denied Juliet a Season with the cruellest of words.

“It would be an utter waste of funds to launch a faulty ship like you off into a sea made of diamonds of the first water.”

Juliet is furious when she discovers that Albert has gambled away her beloved Rosecliff Cottage to the Earl of Sinclair. Not only that but he is pushing her to marry the loathsome Lord Williams…only he has something far less respectable in mind. She approaches the Earl of Sinclair determined to demand her cottage back. The earl agrees on condition she take up the position of governess to his sisters and shape them into “models of proper, English gentility.” As the cottage represents freedom from both her brother and the unwelcome advances of Lord Williams and a place to call her own, she accepts.

Despite everything that life has thrown at her, I loved Juliet’s indomitable spirit and loathed her cruel, heartless brother with a vengeance. It’s a shock to discover the true level of his hatred for his sister.

I enjoyed the battle of wills between Juliet and Jonathan’s sisters, Poppy, Penelope and Prudence. The three hoydens think to terrorize Juliet in the same way they did the other governesses, only to find she is made of sterner stuff.

Fortunately, she’d learned how to handle her wicked brother and his childish outbursts through the years. In fact, she’d wager her three charges combined could not even come close to Albert’s nastiness.

I enjoyed watching Juliet win over Poppy and Penelope with her kindness and patience.

From the moment they meet, I could feel the strong attraction between Jonathan and Juliet and, whenever they are together, sexual tension simmers just beneath the surface.

He lowered his brow to hers, his sapphire blue stare pierced her with its intensity. “Jonathan,” he demanded with all the authority of one accustomed to having his every desire met. “Say my name.”
“Jonathan,” she whispered, loving the feel of his name upon her lips, so utterly masculine and yet all the same, smooth as warmed chocolate.
He cupped her cheek. “Now tell me you still do not desire my kiss, Juliet?”

Jonathan’s admiration for Juliet’s courage in the face of adversity humbles him in a way that makes him take a good look at his own life. He sees a “smug, self-serving bastard” who could never be worthy of a woman of honour and integrity like Juliet. He doesn’t see his own worth as Juliet does; a loyal and loving brother, a dedicated son, a fair employer and a man who made her feel protected and cherished.

Of course the path of true love never runs smoothly and they have to overcome some stumbling blocks to attain their HEA, not least Jonathan’s misplaced honour. It takes some sage words from his little sister, Poppy, to make him see sense.

Poppy sighed and flung herself into a nearby leather-winged back chair. “I don’t like Jonathan. I preferred Sin. Why, Sin who would simply go and take back his Miss Marshville because he loved her and couldn’t live without her and didn’t care…”

Everyone who reads my reviews knows how much I love Epilogues and Ms Caldwell’s Epilogue is the delicious topping on an already scrumptious cake. I leave you with one final quote and its significance will become clear when you read the book.


“Under the stars, she whispered.”

MY VERDICT: Another captivating addition to this delightful series. Definitely recommended.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read May 2015

Scandalous Seasons series (click on the covers for more details):

Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride (Scandalous Seasons, #1) by Christi Caldwell Never Courted, Suddenly Wed (Scandalous Seasons, #2) by Christi Caldwell Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous (Scandalous Seasons, #3) by Christi Caldwell Always a Rogue, Forever Her Love (Scandalous Seasons, #4) by Christi Caldwell A Marquess for Christmas (Scandalous Seasons Book 5) by Christi Caldwell Once a Wallflower, At Last His Love (Scandalous Seasons, # 6) by Christi Caldwell

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(Sons of Sin, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Anything can happen in the moonlight . . .

Justice. That’s all Nell Trim wants-for her sister and for the countless other young women the Marquess of Leath has ruined with his wildly seductive ways. Now she has a bold plan to take him down . . . as long as she can resist the scoundrel’s temptations herself.

From the moment Nell meets James Fairbrother, the air positively sizzles. Yet for all his size and power, there’s something amazingly tender in his touch. Could he really be such a depraved rogue? The only way to find out is to beat the devil at his own game . . . one tempting kiss at a time.

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Another captivating story from the incomparable Anna Campbell.

How I imagine James Fairbrother, Marquess of Leath

James has long been a powerful and ambitious figure in the political arena and the ultimate goal of Prime Minister seems within his reach.  Now revelations of his late Uncle Neville’s crimes and his sister Sophie’s ill-timed elopement with a penniless younger son have left the Fairbrother name synonymous with scandal and his political hopes in jeopardy. He is advised to retreat to his country estate, Alloway Chase,  until the gossip has eventually blown over.  What he doesn’t expect is that his mother has employed a companion, a certain Miss Trim, whom he neither likes nor trusts but whose very presence elicits all sorts of inappropriate thoughts.

How I imagine Eleanor Trim

Eleanor made a solemn promise to her dying step-sister, Dorothy,  that she would seek revenge on the Marquess of Leath, the blackguard who seduced Dorothy and then callously abandoned her when she was with child. Eleanor must find the diary he kept, detailing his seductions of other innocent young women, and publicly expose his villainy. Using forged references, she manages to obtain a position at Alloway Chase as companion to the marquess’s mother The position offers plenty of opportunity for her to search for the incriminating diary. What she doesn’t expect is the sudden appearance of the marquess himself or the unwanted attraction she feels towards him.

The real highlight of this book for me was watching the growing relationship between James and Eleanor. I loved the initial back-and-forth verbal sparring between them and the strong undeniable attraction. It’s an attraction that doesn’t sit well with either of them. James doesn’t like or trust her and Eleanor refuses to admit that she finds the man who ruined her half-sister attractive. However, James is not at all as she imagined and everything she learns about him belies his reputation as a despoiler of innocent young women.  When James’s secretary is injured, he reluctantly agrees to his mother’s suggestion that Eleanor should assume the role temporarily making it impossible for them to avoid each other. Eleanor is forced to learn to ride to accompany James on visits to the estate and their repartee is delightful.

He stepped back. “How do you feel?”
She looked unsure. “Like I’m sitting on a volcano that’s about to erupt.”
 He snickered. “Old Snowflake is pushing twenty, Miss Trim. It he erupts, it will be a mind-numbingly speedy stroll.”

The time spent together also reinforces Eleanor’s belief that James is not a villain. He shows he really cares for Eleanor when he obtains her father’s war records for her and respects her decision when she refuses to become his mistress. There is no coercion and, when Eleanor changes her mind, it is her own decision.

Eleanor Trim was about to become a marquess’s mistress. And she couldn’t summon a shred of regret. Instead, that fluttery, new sensation under her ribs felt like happiness.

I was surprised by the lengthy love scene but in a good way . It lacked the slightly erotic feel that I have come to expect from Anna Campbell but, in terms of the characters, I think it worked beautifully. I enjoyed the feeling of playfulness, the tenderness and the deep emotional connection between James and Eleanor.

By the time her hair flowed around her, Leath breathed in gusts. His hands touched her delicately, as if the slightest fumble might shatter her.
   Then nothing.
   Slowly, reluctantly, she opened her eyes. Leath stared at her as though she was a star fallen from heaven to light his way.
  “It’s glorious.” her heart expanded at the awe in his voice.
“You’re glorious.”

I wasn’t happy with Eleanor’s actions when she finds the letters from the young women. It seemed inconceivable to me that, after everything that had happened between them and everything she knew in her heart, she would readily believe the worst of James without even giving him the chance to explain. It felt like a terrible act of betrayal and I don’t think she did enough grovelling for all the anguish she caused the poor man!

However, I did understand her reasons for not accepting James’s marriage proposal. She knew that if she married James he would lose everything he had worked for and she wouldn’t let that happen. However, James realised that he had dedicated his life to fulfilling his father’s dreams, not his own…that managing his estate and sharing his life with the woman he loved were far more fulfilling than any political career.

Jonas and Sidonie (Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed) and Richard and Genevieve (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss) and Camden and Penelope (What a Duke Dares) all make welcome appearances. James has always been a loner and so I loved that Cam, Richard and Jonas offer him genuine friendship and also provide him with valuable allies in his dramatic confrontation with the villainous Greengrass.

I can always rely on Ms Campbell to satisfy my desire for a heart-warming Epilogue. Perhaps I’ll let Penelope Rothermere, Duchess of Sedgemoor, have the final word.

“Of course. We could all see that you were head over heels and that once you’d sorted out your differences, you’d be perfect for each other.”

MY VERDICT: Another wonderful addition to this delightful series. Definitely recommended.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM


The Sons of Sin series so far (click the covers for more details)
:

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) by Anna Campbell A Rake's Midnight Kiss (Sons of Sin, #2) by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin, #3) by Anna Campbell A Scoundrel by Moonlight (Sons of Sin, #4) by Anna Campbell

My sincere thanks to Anna Campbell for sending me a complimentary copy of this book  in return for an honest review

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(Lords of Anarchy, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A DANGEROUS GAME

Heartbroken by the loss of her brother, Miss Leonora Craven vows to uncover the truth about his “accident,” which seems to have been anything but. Jonathan Craven was involved with the Lords of Anarchy, a notorious driving club, and Leonora can’t help but suspect foul play. But the only way she can infiltrate their reckless inner circle is to enlist the help of Jonny’s closest ally, Lord Frederick Lisle. If only he didn’t also happen to be the man who broke Leonora’s heart…

AN UNDENIABLE DESIRE

Frederick isn’t surprised to find gorgeous, headstrong Leonora playing detective, but he knows that the Lords of Anarchy mean business—and he has no choice but to protect her. A sham engagement to Leonora will allow Frederick to bring her into the club and along for the ride. But it isn’t long before pretending to be lovers leads to very real passion. With everything to lose, is their tempestuous affair worth the risk?

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I really enjoyed Ms Collins’s previous Ugly Ducklings and Wicked Widows series. So I was looking forward to reading this first book in her new Lords of Anarchy series but, overall, I was disappointed.

Frederick was honourable, patient and protective…all the qualities I look for in a hero but he didn’t seem to have that dynamic presence on the page. Leonora was my sort of heroine…unconventional (a poet and a staunch proponent of women’s rights), intelligent, bold and outspoken.

I wanted to know about their previous relationship. How did they meet? How long they were together? What were their feelings for each other? Leonora had decided she would never marry because of the shameful secret she carried so why did she agree to the engagement to Frederick, only to call it off? In this instance, a flashback would certainly have been helpful in answering these questions. I’m not sure whether it was this lack of insight into their previous thoughts and feelings but the romance between them felt flat somehow. I also found it hard to believe that a seasoned rake like Frederick would not have realised that Leonora wasn’t a virgin when they made love.

I am not giving away any spoilers because it was fairly obvious that Frederick’s cousin and leader of the Lords of Anarchy, Sir Gerard Fincher, is responsible for Jonathan’s death. So, rather than a mystery, the main gist of the story was Frederick and Leonora working together to find the evidence to prove it. There were some especially tense moments and Gerald was truly diabolical so I was disappointed that he never got the punishment he truly deserved.

On a more positive note, I did like Frederick’s mother, the Duchess of Pemberton, who is very adept at handling three grown-up sons. I also liked Frederick’s witty friend, Lord Mainwaring and Leonora’s friend, Lady Hermione Upperton, whose skills with the reins are equal to any man’s.

My Verdict: This book was disappointing but it won’t deter me from reading Lord Mainwaring and Lady Hermione Upperton’s story in the second book, GOOD EARL GONE BAD

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2015

Lords of Anarchy series so far (please 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 – 6 October 2015

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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(The Spies of Mayfair, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn’s inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued. After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy. When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate.

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This is the third book in The Spies of Mayfair series. Once again, Maggi Andersen pens an entertaining romance set against a background of intrigue.

Flynn

Flynn was born and raised at Greystones Manor, the family home in County Wicklow, Ireland. After his mother ran off with her lover, he was left in the care of his father, a drunkard with a violent temper. He understood why she had left his father but not why his mother had left him behind. He was condemned to a miserable childhood without parental love, only relieved when he was sent away to be educated in Dublin. As soon as he was old enough, Flynn turned his back on his father and Ireland and left for England. He soon gained a reputation as a rake but is also employed as a highly valued spy for the King George IV.

Flynn is surprised when the beautiful, widowed Lady Brookwood refuses his advances. Women usually fall at his feet, so he is intrigued by her. When he discovers that the lady is in danger, it stirs protective instincts he has never felt for any woman before and emotions he has always kept under control.

Althea

Althea was married at seventeen, a marriage arranged by her father. She wanted to make the marriage work, only to be met with nothing but callous treatment from her husband. She takes no pleasure in his lovemaking and, when he accuses her of being cold and unresponsive in bed, she comes to believe that the fault lies with her. After her husband is killed in a duel, she enjoys her freedom and has no wish to remarry or take a lover. She has no intention of being subject to another man’s will ever again.

So Althea is determined to resist Lord Montsimon, however handsome and charming he may be. However, when he is adamant that she is in danger and insists on protecting her, she begins to see that he is much more than his rakish exterior suggests

Every time Flynn spoke, I could hear that soft Irish burr in my head. Add to that his easy charm, his sense of humour and his willingness to take in a stray, “not at all handsome” dog called Spot and how could I not adore him?  When he and Althea are forced to share a bedroom (all very innocent), he has rather a unique way of dampening his ardour…

…he began to recite the lines of Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner under his breath.

I liked Althea as well. I understood her desire to be independent and admired her determination to solve her own problems. However, once she is aware that the danger is real, Althea is sensible enough to appreciate having Flynn around.

A vision of Montsimon replaced her anguished thoughts, his compelling grey eyes, his elegant features, and the confident set of his shoulders. She was suddenly terribly pleased to have him as her friend.

I liked how the romantic relationship between Flynn and Althea grew slowly, from their initial, verbal skirmishes…

“Are you deaf? Put me down!” She struggled to free herself.
“Can’t I’m afraid. At your present snail’s pace, my lady, we would be lucky to reach the carriage by breakfast.

….to the genuine friendship that developed between them and falling in love seemed a natural progression as they come to like and trust each other.

There are some amusing moments when Althea and Flynn have to pose as husband and wife and Flynn’s rakish tendencies come to fore.

“You can’t go about the house like that! Don’t you have a nightshirt?”
He tucked his arms beneath his head. “Don’t use ’em.”
You might have made an exception,” she said crossly while inspecting his wide chest.
“Now it’s your turn,” he invited with a lazy, seductive grin.
She put her hands on her hips. “You are not going to watch me.”
“I rather thought I would. There’s a dearth of entertainment in the country. Even the newspapers are old.”

I cheered for Althea when she decides to consummate their relationship and finally dispels all her fears of intimacy.

The letter from Flynn’s mother was so poignant but it helped him lay the ghosts of his past to rest and it was such a lovely touch that his mother should provide the solution to the remaining obstacle in his path to marrying Althea.

I thought the mystery aspect was rather weak but it was secondary to the charming romance anyway. I did enjoy seeing previous heroes Guy, Baron Fortescue ( A Baron in Her Bed) and John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn ( Taming a Gentleman Spy), Flynn’s former associates and friends, who provide extra muscle when it comes to tackling the villains.

I like how real historical figures and events are woven into the story giving an insight into the personal and political machinations surrounding King George IV’s reign.

My verdict: A delightfully entertaining story.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2015

The Spies of Mayfair series (click on the book cover for more details):

A Baron in Her Bed (The Spies of Mayfair) by Maggi Andersen Taming a Gentleman Spy by Maggi Andersen What a Rake Wants by Maggi Andersen

 

I would like to thank the author, Maggi Andersen, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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(Wicked Wagers, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

To live happily ever after…

Henry St. Giles, the Earl of Cravenswood, longs to find his soul mate. Now that his two best friends, both reformed rakes, are happily married, the need becomes an obsession. When they challenge him to find a wife by the end of the season or marry his neighbor, the innocently alluring Lady Amy Shipton, he can’t believe his luck. He wins, either way. But in a darkened garden, a case of mistaken identity, a drunken kiss, and a dropped emerald earring, leads Henry on a Cinderella hunt. He knows the woman he held in his arms could be the one he’s searched for all his life. He just has to find her.

Lady Amy Shipton is determined to marry for love instead of sharing her husband like her mother did. So why did she let her handsome neighbor and romantic fantasy, known as the Sinful Saint for his bedroom prowess, seduce her in his garden? And what can she do when in the middle of their passionate encounter; he whispers another woman’s name. Now Henry is hunting the owner of the earring Amy left behind, and she’s determined to retrieve it before her identity is revealed. She’s not about to give her father the ammunition he desperately wants in order to force her down the aisle.

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This is the final book in the Wicked Wagers series and I was really looking forward to the pairing of two of my favourite secondary characters from the previous books, Henry and Amy. Sadly, the romance didn’t work for me and I was left disappointed.

What I did like:

Both Henry and Amy were very likeable characters.

Henry is a contradiction because, although a rake, he is honourable and kind, dubbed “the archangel of their group” by his friends. It was also refreshing to have a hero who believes in love and longs to find his soul mate as both his friends have. He feels the grief over his older brother’s death and the weight of his responsibilities as Earl of Cravenswood, a role that should never have been his, fall heavy on his shoulders.

Amy is not only beautiful and intelligent but also kind-hearted. She has been in love with her neighbour, Henry, since she was fifteen but he has failed to notice that she has grown into a beautiful and desirable young woman during the intervening years. Amy grew up knowing that her father loved his “other family”(his mistress and illegitimate children) more than her mother and herself. She does not want a marriage like her parents and will only marry for love. She knows her father wants to marry her off as quickly as possible so he can spend more time with his “other family”.

There are some memorable scenes such as the amusing one where Amy is looking for her missing earring in Henry’s garden and to allay his suspicions she says she is looking for her escaped guinea pig “Tinkles”. It was easy to conjure up a wonderful picture of Henry crawling around the rose bush getting scratched by thorns looking for the imaginary “Tinkles”!

The other scene that particularly comes to mind is where Amy is searching Henry’s room for her missing earring and has to hide under the bed when he unexpectedly enters the room. Suffice to say, she sees more than see bargained for!

I also like how Amy and her father are finally reconciled when he seeks her forgiveness and offers some fatherly words of advice.

What I didn’t like:

I didn’t like the way in which the presence of Henry’s ex long-time mistress, Millicent, pervaded the story and was used to cause the conflict between Henry and Amy. It totally soured their romance for me. One minute Henry is bemoaning the fact that he misses Millicent and the next he’s all randy over Amy. The fact that Amy looks so much like Millicent didn’t sit well with me either. The final straw was when Amy discovers that Henry still has a painting of Millicent on his study wall 18 months after she left him for another protector. His excuse that he’d forgotten it was there was just so unbelievable to me. At that point, I could totally share Amy’s doubts that Henry truly loves her. Another reviewer wrote that she felt Henry and Amy deserved a much better story and I have to agree.

This book has garnered many good reviews but it just didn’t work for me and I think readers will have to make their own minds up.

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book covers for more details):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

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(Wicked Wagers, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

They Say Revenge is Sweet…

Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is renowned for his cynical demeanor. It’s rumored that long ago, a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he lives life for pleasure. He’s the consummate, handsome rake. If anyone tries to get too close—let’s just say his bark is as bad as his bite. That is, until the beautiful, as she is deceitful, Contessa Orsini re-enters his life with a wager he cannot resist. When he wins, he’ll have Sabine exactly where he wants her—in his bed and at his mercy.

Forced to return to England and avenge her father’s death, Sabine knows the one person who can help her is the only man she has ever loved—Marcus. The man who hates her with as much passion as he once loved her. But Marcus doesn’t know that by winning the wager he’ll also be getting his revenge. For there are some secrets best left buried…

♥♥♥♥

This is the second novella in the Wicked Wagers series and, whilst I enjoyed it, I did have some issues with the heroine’s actions which affected my final star rating.

This was much darker than the first book with its theme of revenge. For ten long years, Marcus has never forgiven or forgotten  Sabine’s cruel betrayal of his love. He had been willing to sacrifice everything for her. When Sabine, now Contessa Orsini, a rich Italian widow, asks him for help in exacting revenge on the man who ruined her father and caused her parents’ deaths, he sees a way of gaining his own revenge…she will become his lover until he tires of her.

I could almost taste the anger and bitterness in Marcus’s crude and cruel words when Sabine approaches him at Lady Somerset’s ball and I thought this was such an evocative description.

His fury swarmed around her like a smothering sand storm— abrasive and deadly.

I really felt for Sabine. All her dreams destroyed and then forced to keep terrible secrets in order to protect those she loved. The only light in her lonely life over the past ten years has been her son, Alfredo…he gave her the will to live. I admired how much she loves her son despite the circumstances of his birth and will do anything to protect him. She has never stopped loving Marcus and I could feel the intense pain caused by his harsh words. It was heart-breaking to know that she longed for something she knew could never have…

Tenderness, love and his heart.

When it comes time for Marcus to take his personal revenge on Sabine, he doesn’t feel elated as he imagined he would. It is evident that he still has deep feelings for her.

He’d forced her to her come to him like a whore— bought and paid for.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered.
A sharp pang of regret sliced through him. What he wanted was for her to come to him of her own accord. To tell him she’d made a mistake all those years ago and that he was the only man she’d ever loved. Then he wanted to start to learn how to believe in her and trust her again.

He even gives her the option to leave but, of course, she chooses to stay. I enjoyed how they talked first and how the love scene was a combination of tenderness and raw sensuality.

I did have issues with Sabine’s actions where the villainous Lord Gower was concerned. It was almost a TSTL (too stupid to live) moment when she gloats over her success in causing his financial ruin, only to have him turn the tables on her and gain the upper hand. She took some foolhardy decisions which not only put her own life in danger but also the lives of those she loved, the one thing she had always been determined to avoid. I just wanted her to tell Marcus the whole truth and let him handle it!

I did like Lady Amy Shipton very much. She’s beautiful and intelligent but also compassionate and refuses to marry Marcus when she knows his heart lies elsewhere. She is deserving of her own Happy Ever After to a man worthy of her love.

FAVOURITE ROMANTIC QUOTE:

“I’m truly the luckiest man in the world now. I’m living proof that love conquers all; that love, with time and forbearance, overcomes all wickedness.”

Overall, although I did have some issues as mentioned above, I did enjoy this book but not as much as To Dare of Duke of Dangerfield.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book covers for more details):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

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(Wicked Wagers, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Let the Wicked Wagers Begin…

Lady Caitlin Southall’s temper has finally got the better of her. She’s challenged Harlow Telford, the Duke of Dangerfield, the most notorious rake in all of England, to a wager. She wants her house back. The one her destitute father lost to Dangerfield in a card game. But if she doesn’t win their bet, she not only loses her home, she loses her dignity and pride and damn it all, maybe her heart… For the handsome Duke has decreed, when he wins, she must spend the night in his bed.

Harlow Telford is amused by his hellion neighbor, Caitlin, or Cate to her friends, who seem to encompass everyone on earth except him. When she bursts into one of his private gatherings, he mistakes her for the entertainment. Her slap across his face sets him straight and raises the absurd desire to seduce the unconventional beauty into his bed. When she issues her daft challenge to win back her father’s pile of rubble, the terms are set. And he’ll do anything to win—except fall in love…

♥♥♥♥

This was my first book by Bronwen Evans and I really enjoyed it. It was longer than the average novella and I felt this allowed for effective characterisation and a well-paced story.

Harlow turned out to be quite a surprise. He appears to be a typical rake, only concerned for his own pleasures but, deep down, he is a man who really cares about his mother and half-brother, Jeremy. I could understand his desire for revenge against the man who brought ruination to his mother and his desire to secure Jeremy’s birth right. His honourable actions towards Caitlin were not at all what I expected. It was clear that he would not have gambled with her father had he known that Mansfield Manor was in trust for Caitlin but it created a real dilemma for him. He felt obligated to keep his promise to Jeremy but he also needed to secure Caitlin’s future by marrying her.

I enjoyed seeing the growth in Harlow’s character. Getting to know Caitlin makes him take a good look at his life…a meaningless life in which he has achieved very little. He is afraid that by opening up to Caitlin and sharing his life with her, she will find him sadly lacking and, for the first time, he wants more.

Tonight had been a revelation. Caitlin stirred more than his lust. He wanted her respect. He wanted to be… more. More for her. He suddenly found himself in the unenviable position of wanting a woman to be proud of him. He wanted her to look at him with pride, rather than simply seeing him as a title and a means to a life of wealth and ease.

Looks can be deceptive. Outwardly Caitlin may look delicate but she has a will of iron, shown in her determination not to lose Mansfield Manor. It takes boldness and daring to put the mighty Duke of Dangerfield firmly in his place.

“I’m Lady Caitlin Southall,” she called over her shoulder and, filled with satisfaction at seeing his mouth drop open, she kicked Ace of Spades and tore off at a gallop— spraying His Grace with clods of earth.
The string of curses behind her made her laugh out loud. Bumping into the duke or, rather, leaving Dangerfield in a shower of dirt, made her day.

I like how she refuses to compromise over what she truly wants from life… a partner in marriage, a man who truly loves her and understands the meaning of commitment. Despite the fact that Harlow represents everything that she despises, arrogant and overbearing, she can’t help but be attracted to him. He challenges her and treats her as an equal and, for the first time in her life, she no longer feels lonely. Her life is full of fun and happiness.

The romance…the battle of wills, the witty banter, the wagers (particularly the cake baking one), the heated, passionate encounters…is immensely enjoyable.

I was intrigued by Harlow’s friends and fellow rakehells, the arrogant Lord Marcus Danvers, Marquis of Wolverstone and the rather more honourable Lord Henry St. Giles, Earl of Cravenswood and look forward to reading their stories.

My only criticism is about the ending. While I understand the necessity for Jeremy to feel genuine remorse for his actions, the events do seem overly dramatic and somewhat contrived. However, this was a relatively small point and didn’t really spoil my overall enjoyment of the story.

Favourite Romantic Quote:

“I need a woman who completes me. Who fills my soul with song, and who can bring me to my knees in adoration with one simple smile.”

Overall, romantic, witty and entertaining.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book cover for more details):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

 

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