Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’


Kindle edition – 93 pages

(Sons of Sin, #1.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency 1816 &1826)

Cover Blurb:

Lady Lydia Rothermere has spent the past decade trying to make up for a single, youthful moment of passion. Now the image of propriety, Lydia knows her future rests on never straying outside society’s rigid rules, but hiding away the desire that runs through her is harder than she could have ever dreamed. And as she prepares for a marriage that will suit her family, but not her heart, Lydia must decide what’s more important: propriety or passion?

Simon Metcalf is a rake and adventurer. But for all his experience, nothing can compare to the kiss he stole from the captivating Lydia Rothermere ten years ago. Simon can scarcely believe he’s about to lose the one woman he’s never forgotten. The attraction between them is irresistible, yet Lydia refuses to forsake her engagement. With his heart on the line, will Simon prove that love is a risk worth taking?


Days of Rakes and Roses was originally released in July 2013 but regrettably it was not available to purchase in the UK until earlier this year. In the intervening three years, I read all the other books in the excellent Sons of Sin series. Now reading this lovely second-chance romance is just like enjoying a small but delicious dessert after the main course and I can definitely confirm that it can be read as a standalone.

I adore Simon. He truly loved Lydia but, when her father caught them in a compromising situation, he was forced to leave England or see his family destroyed. Simon knew that he could never have asked Lydia to run away with him because, as a penniless second son, he could never offer her a life worthy of her. So he had struggled to forget Lydia, drinking and whoring his way across Europe, but to no avail because:

…through all that time, nothing had erased the memory of the one woman he’d ever loved. And nothing had eased his yearning for her.

I could sympathise with Lydia’s situation. The Rothermere family has lived in the shadow of scandal for many years and Lydia has always been afraid of disappointing her father or tarnishing the family reputation. She has been in love with Simon forever but he always seemed impossibly out of reach. When she discovers that Simon feels the same way, she is willing to cast caution to the winds, but it costs her dearly. Finding Lydia in a compromising situation with Simon, her father’s retribution is swift and harsh and, from that moment on, she vows that she will be the epitome of propriety. Over the years, the passionate 17-year-old has become:

…a mature, sensible woman of twenty-seven marrying a mature, sensible man of forty-one. She was content with her decision.

So when Simon re-enters her life, Lydia is beset by all sorts of emotions. She still loves him but, for ten years, even after her father died, she had heard nothing from him, only the occasional report of his rakish exploits abroad. She’d finally accepted that he cared nothing for her and decided to move on with her life and marry Sir Grenville. I can understand her stubbornness in revealing her true feelings and trusting Simon with her heart.

I love that Simon is honest about his feelings for Lydia and prepared to fight for her even though he fears she no longer feels the same about him.

In his heart, she was his, she’d always be his. The problem was he had a strong suspicion that, while she may once have felt the same, she felt the same no longer.

Ms Campbell provides just enough conflict before these two can attain their overdue Happy Ever After.

I like how Camden, Lydia’s brother, wants her to be happy and feels she deserves better than a cold marriage with Sir Grenville and is even willing to weather any resulting scandal. I also like how he sees beyond Simon’s reputation:

Aren’t you worried that you invite a libertine into the family?”
Cam leveled an uncompromising stare on him as he lifted the decanter. “Do you mean to play my sister false?”
“Of course not.” He paused. “But how can you trust me?”
“You can’t have changed that much from the boy I grew up with.” Cam refilled both their glasses. “Anyway the best proof of Lydia’s hold on you is that you came the moment I sent for you.”

There is also a brief appearance by Sir Richard Harmsworth (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss).

MY VERDICT: Once again, Anna Campbell enchanted me with this short but captivating love story. If you haven’t read the Sons of Sin series, I can definitely recommend it to all lovers of historical romance.



Read September 2016


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

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) by Anna Campbell Days of Rakes and Roses (Sons of Sin, #1.5) 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 Three Proposals and a Scandal (Sons of Sin, #4.5) by Anna Campbell

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 (Season for Scandal, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1819)

Cover Blurb:

Love takes the stage…

Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.


This is the second novel in Kelly Bowen’s latest Season of Scandal series and, although I have not read the first book, I don’t think this adversely affected my enjoyment of A Duke to Remember. It definitely made me want to read the other books in the series.

The whole idea of Chegarre & Associates, a firm who provide effective solutions to scandals involving members of the ton, struck me as being original and I love the fact that two of the three partners in the business are women who do not conform to the normal roles expected of them.

Strong, confident, perceptive and smart, Elise once served as a tracker for the British Army and is handy with both a knife and a gun, proficiencies she demonstrates later in the book. Her part-time work as an actress enables her to adopt different disguises, useful in her work for Chegarre & Associates, whether she is posing as a moustached, bespectacled doctor or an exotic, masked French countess. Elise has been playing so many roles in her job and in the theatre that she doesn’t really know who she is anymore and I think this insecurity gives her an element of vulnerability making her seem more human.

Between this job and her work as a part-time actress at the Theatre Royal, she barely recognized herself anymore at any given moment. Every day brought a new role and a new deception to play out.

I can understand Noah’s feelings towards his parents He can never forgive the two people who should have loved and cared for him, but chose to abandon him to a hellish existence because he wasn’t perfect (the official blurb is very misleading because he did not leave the glamour of London society). I admire the way he reinvented himself and found a measure of happiness as a simple farmer and never wants to return to the world he was born into.

“I do not have a responsibility to anything,” he growled. “Not to my father, not to my mother. Not to Ashland’s piles of properties and strings of titles and coffers of money.”

Noah is kind, intelligent and sensitive and I could see how much he cares for and is protective of his sister Abigail, who had always championed and defended him. Their reunion scene really tugged at my heartstrings. In contrast, his years on the streets of London have taught him how to take care of himself and that street fighter comes into his own when danger threatens Elise.

I just loved everything about the romance – the heated attraction between them; the witty dialogue (I love how they steal each other’s lines); Noah’s tendency to blush; the way my heart gave a little flip when Noah gives Elise the rose; the raw, passionate love scene; the heartbreak and the joy. Ms Bowen writes with an emotional intensity which pulled me into the story and refused to let go.

 A melding of hearts and souls – I think this quote perfectly describes the connection between Elise and Noah. I love how Elise makes Noah believe that he can be anything he wants to be and gives him the strength and courage to take up his true position in society.

She believed in him. Even knowing everything that she did, she believed in him. More than he had ever believed in himself.

I love how Noah sees the real Elise.

“I see you, Elise DeVries. No matter what clothes you might wear or what mask you might assume, I see your courageous heart and I see your beautiful mind. I see your compassion and your hope, your resilience and your strength. If you do not know who you are, know that I do.”

I found so many of the secondary characters intriguing, among them:

  • Alice’s brother Alex who is a partner in Chegarre & Associates but also owns one of the most exclusive gaming hells in London frequented by some of the most influential and infamous members of the ton. These elite gamblers not only part with their money but also their secrets. (his book, Between the Devil and the Duke, is already on my must-read list).
  • Ivory Moore, founder of Chegarre & Associates, and her husband, the Duke of Alderidge (I bought their book, Duke of My Heart as soon as I had finished reading this one), who cleverly assist in establishing Noah’s credentials as the true Duke of Ashland. I love the scene at the solicitors where Noah and the duke pretend to be old friends – by the time the scene ended, they had me believing every word!
  • The mysterious King, described as a man as dangerous and as unpredictable as a pit viper. We learn some intriguing details about him during the course of the story including his connection to Noah, all of which made me hope the Ms Bowen has a book in the pipeline for him.

Francis Ellery is a self-serving villain through and through…a liar, a cheat and a gambler with heavy debts, who will stop at nothing to steal the Ashland title and wealth.

I like the warm-hearted Mrs Pritchard, Noah’s housekeeper, and I have a soft spot for animals in romances. Noah has a dog called Square and if you are thinking that’s a strange name for a dog, then you will have to read the book to discover why he’s so called.

MY VERDICT: This is a wonderful blend of an engaging story, well-drawn characters and delicious sexual tension. Highly recommended.




Read September 2016


Season of Scandal series (click on the book cover for more details):

Duke of My Heart (Season for Scandal, #1) by Kelly Bowen A Duke to Remember (Season for Scandal, #2) by Kelly Bowen Between the Devil and the Duke (Season for Scandal, #3) by Kelly Bowen


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(House of Trent, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:


Simon Hawkins, Duke of Trent, is no stranger to scandal. Rumors and innuendo have darkened the House of Trent for decades, and it has fallen to Simon to restore his tattered family name. He lives by a strict code of honor, but when he is called home to investigate his mother’s disappearance, the distinguished duke will tangle with temptation. For there waits the only woman he has ever loved-and the last woman he should desire . . .

Sarah Osborne has spent her life dreaming of Simon’s touch. But dukes do not long for lady’s maids–or so Sarah believes, until a stolen kiss sparks a passion that could be her ultimate undoing. As the couple begins a forbidden romance, a cunning enemy plots to destroy the duke and everything he loves. Now, caught in a blackmailer’s web, Simon faces an agonizing choice: Sacrifice his family’s future, or break Sarah’s heart.


This is my first time reading Jennifer Haymore and I really enjoyed THE DUCHESS HUNT, the first book in her House of Trent series. A charming story, it features two of my favourite tropes, friends to lovers and a cross class romance.

When Simon Hawkins, the Duke of Trent, receives news from his sister, Esme, that his mother has mysteriously disappeared, he returns home to Ironwood Park to investigate, aided by his three brothers and his half-brother. Honour, integrity, decency and propriety are the principles by which Simon Hawkins has lived since becoming Duke of Trent. His parents’ scandalous behaviour has brought the House of Trent into disrepute and Simon has spent all his life trying the restore the Hawkins’ family reputation. However, these principles are tested when, after an absence of three years, he sees Sarah Osborne again.

His body came instantly alive at the sight of her, even after all this time. Even under the circumstances. Lust. Desire. Need. All of it barreled through him in a hot rush.
Damn. She was more beautiful than ever.

Sarah Osborne was eight years old when she went to live at Ironwood Park with her father, who is employed as the Duke of Trent’s gardener. After being rescued from a blackberry bush by the thirteen-year-old Simon, he takes Sarah back to the house to have her injuries attended to. Simon’s unconventional mother takes a shine to the girl and arranges for Sarah to be raised and educated with her own children. What starts as a friendship between Simon and Sarah soon develops into a strong attraction which culminates in a passionate kiss.  Shortly after, Simon leaves for London but now, after an absence of three years, he is back. Sarah knows that, as a housemaid, there can never be any future for them but…

…she was as besotted with the Duke of Trent as she’d ever been. More so, probably.

Fearing for Esme’s safety, Simon decides to take her to London with Sarah acting as her companion. As circumstances throw them ever closer together, how long will it be before Simon and Sarah succumb to the passion that burns between them ?

I sympathised with Simon, torn between his strong sense of honour and his overwhelming love for Sarah. He knows that having such feelings for someone who works for him and is under his care is morally wrong but…

His body paid no heed to his strict attempts at discipline, to his notions of honor and responsibility.
   He wanted her.
   God help him.

Even so, he respects Sarah too much to make her his mistress and I also like the fact that, when he finally does marry, he intends to remain faithful to his wife.

I like Sarah very much. She is kind, honest, loyal and compassionate and understands Simon and loves him for himself and not for his title. She is pragmatic enough to appreciate the vast gulf that lies between them and knows that one day Simon must marry. She accepts this but I love her boldness in wanting to experience making love with Simon.

 “No regrets, Your Grace. I offer you this with my eyes wide open. I know” – she took a deep breath – “our time together will be limited. But it can be for now. Just for now, we can offer each other comfort.”

I like how she truly cares about Simon’s socially awkward sister Esme and tries to help her overcome her fears.

The romance provides a satisfying blend of emotional and sexual tension. There is potential heartbreak when a blackmailer threatens to keep the lovers forever apart but, when the blackmail threat is thwarted, Simon realises that nothing matters more than the woman he loves and refuses to live without…honour and responsibility be damned.

Sarah Osborne was the only woman who moved him. Who he admired. Who could engage him, body, mind, and spirit. He loved her. And he wanted it all.

I love the rest of the Hawkins family, particularly Lukas, the apparent black sheep of the family; Sam, the hard-working, illegitimate, half-brother; quiet, studious Esme who is keeping a rather scandalous secret. I’m definitely looking forward to reading their stories. I  love the dynamics between the brothers and their bond is obvious. I also like how they show their support for Simon and Sarah.

The deeper they dug into the mire that was his mother’s disappearance, the murkier it became.

I am definitely intrigued by the mystery surrounding the duchess’s disappearance and, as there is no resolution at the end of this book, it appears that the mystery is set to continue throughout the series…definitely an added incentive to read the other books.

MY VERDICT: This was an enjoyable introduction to this series and I will definitely be reading the next book, THE ROGUE’S PROPOSAL, Lukas’s story.




Read September 2016


House of Trent series (click on the book cover for more details):

The Duchess Hunt (House of Trent, #1) by Jennifer Haymore The Rogue's Proposal (House of Trent, #2) by Jennifer Haymore The Scoundrel's Seduction (House of Trent, #3) by Jennifer Haymore


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A Lady Awakened

 (Blackshear Family #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

In Cecilia Grant’s emotionally rich and deeply passionate Regency romance debut, a deal with a rumored rogue turns a proper young woman into . . . A Lady Awakened.

Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee.

Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?


This was Cecilia’s Grant’s debut novel in 2011 and it has to be one of the most unconventional Historical Romances I have read. While the premise bears similarities to other books I have read, it is Ms Grant’s unique voice and wonderfully flawed and interesting characters that make this book exceptional.

When Martha Russell’s husband is killed in a riding accident, she knows that, as a childless widow, Seton Park will pass to her late husband’s brother, James Russell. With very little means of supporting herself, she has no option but to live as her brother’s dependent. Then her solicitor advises her that it is normal to wait sufficient time to ensure that she is not carrying her late husband’s son and heir. She knows full well she is not pregnant but it offers her a few more weeks or a month at Seton Park. She is not only concerned for the future of her tenants and servants but she has given her support to the building of a new school for the local children. This could be in jeopardy because James Russell will decide whether it is to be built or not and Martha also learns of his reputation for taking advantage of female servants. Desperate to protect both the tenants working on the estate and the females of her household, she formulates a plan…to get pregnant. All she needs is a gentleman who is willing to have sex with her once a day for a month, for which service she is willing to pay five hundred pounds regardless of whether it is a boy or girl, and fifteen hundred pounds more if she gives birth to a son. Learning of his disreputable reputation, newly arrived Theophilus Mirkwood seems like the perfect candidate.

This could end in a dozen different kinds of disaster. There’d be no guarantee of success. And how to get through it without losing all claim to principle, she couldn’t begin to imagine.
So be it. She could wait for Providence to come to these women’s aid, or she could make use of what Providence had already put in her path. “Sheridan.” She twisted to face her maid squarely. “Tell me again about Mr. Mirkwood.

Tired of his son’s spendthrift and dissolute ways, Theophilus (Theo) Mirkwood’s father has stripped him of his allowance and banished him to the country estate in Sussex in the hope that Theo can improve himself by learning some land management skills. Theo is surprised to receive a request that he call on his neighbour, the widowed Mrs Russell, but he is totally unprepared for what follows!

“I can get you funds, Mr. Mirkwood, in exchange for something from you. I need to conceive a child.”
Only by heroic will and quick use of his napkin did he prevent a mouthful of tea from spewing straight into his lap. He choked and sputtered, and groped for the fresh napkin she held out to him as his teacup met its saucer
all clumsy and percussive.

Somehow the prim, stern widow, dressed head to toe in black, intrigues him and he finds himself fantasising about what she would be like in bed. Despite her insistence that this is purely a business arrangement from which she has no wish to derive any pleasure, Theo is sure that, as an experienced lover, he will be able to seduce her. But Martha seems completely immune to all his efforts and, if he is to fulfil their bargain, he may have to rethink his strategy.

What I love about this book is the understated way in which Ms Grant builds the relationship between these two disparate people. Theo is charming, funny and good-natured with the ability to put people at ease, but he is honest enough to admit to being a spoiled, lazy wastrel because that’s all anyone had ever expected of him. Martha is the complete opposite – serious, stubborn, highly principled with a genuine desire to better the lives of her tenants and provide education for the young estate girls.

Their ‘afternoon appointments’ are awkward and totally unsexy. Martha wants Theo for one thing only…his seed and nothing else. I’m so pleased Ms Grant didn’t make Martha frigid. She has experienced pleasure (albeit at her own hand) but she refuses to compromise on her principles. Although she comes to like Theo, she can never have any emotional connection to a man she cannot respect and whose sole purpose in life is the pursuit of pleasure. I admire how Martha stays true to her principles throughout the story. Poor Theo. The one thing he really excels in is knowing how to please a woman but having Martha shrinking from his every touch has him questioning his own self-worth.

Surprisingly, Ms Grant imbues these impersonal sex scenes with considerable humour and these inner thoughts of Martha’s are my particular favourite.

Where she was molded, he was rough-hewn. Where her form curved with logic and precision, not to mention breeding parts tucked neatly away, he looked rangy, haphazard, his male parts an ill-placed afterthought. Like the last leftover bits of clay scraped together, rolled into primitive forms and stuck onto the middle of him, the stones in their rough red sack and that improbable appendage dangling to the fore.

Through their regular after-sex discussions, they get to know each other better and an unlikely friendship develops. They take walks and start to learn from and help each other. Although initially feigned to gain Martha’s approval, Theo’s interest in land management and his tenants becomes genuine and Martha encourages him to believe in his own abilities, something no one has ever done before. Martha’s reserved nature means that she finds it difficult to socialise and when Theo discovers that she has no friends, acquaintances or callers, he arranges for people to call and I loved Martha’s response when Theo asks her…

“And what worthy things did you accomplish today?”

I didn’t accomplish a thing.” Her smile deepened, sweet and bracing as a bite of lemon cake. “I had callers.”

Gradually this friendship grows into affection, admiration and finally love and I like how their sexual encounters undergo subtle changes to reflect their evolving relationship.

It seems improbable that such a morally principled woman like Martha would be willing to cheat a man out of his inheritance but, for her, it is the only way to protect her female servants, her tenants and ensure that the school is built. When she meets James Russell’s wife and children, I could feel that she is troubled over cheating these boys out of their future inheritance and has great sympathy for Mrs Russell.

The secondary characters, Mrs Weaver and her children, Mr Barrow and Mr Atkins, the curate, all add depth to the story and highlight the ways in which Theo and Martha grow and change in the course of the story. Look out for the Weaver’s devious pig who steals the show with his antics every time he makes an appearance.

I like how Ms Grant portrayed the villainous James Russell as an “unimpressive figure”. As was frequently the case with such men, it was his position and power which allowed him to prey on the women in his employ.

I thought the ending was well thought out with everything tied up in a satisfactory and believable way and allowing Martha and Theo to finally marry. As a devotee of the Epilogue, the lack of one was my only gripe, but not enough for me to give the book less than 5 stars.

I can’t end this review without reference to Ms Grant’s wonderful writing and here are a few of my favourite quotes.

“Shouldn’t you have seduced me first? Or drugged my tea, and let me wake up chained to a bed?”
She colored, and looked more disapproving yet. “This is a business arrangement. I should like to conduct it accordingly.”


The pig heaved forward, but Theo blocked it with one boot. “May I present Mr. Mirkwood, the proprietor’s eldest son? I’m showing him round the estate today.” With surprising agility, the pig feinted left and then surged right. He just managed to get his boot in front of it again, prompting an indignant barrage of squeals and grunts to round out the general cacophony.


 His blood hummed and tingled as though tiny benevolent hornets were racing through his body.


Damnation, but she did make him feel like a king. She made him feel as though he’d always been one, muddling along just waiting for her to kiss him out of some enchantment into his birthright.

MY VERDICT: Definitely recommended and I look forward to reading the other books in the series with relish.



Read July 2016


 Blackshear Family series (click on the book covers for more details):

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong (Blackshear Family, #0.5) by Cecilia Grant A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1) by Cecilia Grant A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2) by Cecilia Grant A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family, #3) by Cecilia Grant

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My Lady, My Lord

(Twist, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1822)

Cover Blurb:

Book #1 in a new series of historical romances… with a twist.

The Bluestocking
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.

The Rake
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.

Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?


I loved this first book in Katherine Ashe’s Twist series. What a charming, creative, funny and entertaining story!

Corinna had an unconventional upbringing by Regency standards. Her father actively supported her intellectual pursuits and,instead of attending balls, she attended lectures and supported her father’s political initiatives. She travelled abroad with her aunt and uncle, returning home after her mother died to act as hostess for her father. At the age of 29 and with her bluestocking tendencies, Corinna is firmly on the shelf, but she is content hosting her own salons which attract Europe’s intellectual elite.

Ian’s late father was a gambler and a cheat whose dishonourable actions brought disgrace to the family. Needing to put as much distance between himself and the father he despised, Ian left for London where his reputation for horse racing, gambling and beautiful, unmarried women convinced society that he’d turned out just like his father. Instead he has worked hard to restore the family’s honour and fortunes.

Although childhood neighbours, Ian and Corinna have detested each other for the past twenty years. Every time their paths cross, an argument erupts with barbed insults hurled on both sides. However, one such argument has unexpected consequences which allows them to see each other in a completely new light (in more ways than one!).

While I enjoyed their cutting exchanges, I also appreciated how much pain it caused to each of them. Words and actions of the past had left wounds that have never healed and they have continued to fan the flames of their mutual contempt.

It may not appeal to Historical Romance purists but I loved the unusual “Freaky Friday” twist because the scenes where Ian and Corinna are having to live in each other’s bodies are so well written and often funny.

If Ian was obliged to eat another teacake or drink another cup of tepid swill he would vomit it all up in the middle of the Duchess of Hammershire’s drawing room. The corset bound his ribs and stomach with an iron grip. He had divested any number of women of stays, but he’d never understood before how damn uncomfortable they were to wear. How a woman ate more than a soupçon of food at a time, he hadn’t the foggiest.

Corinna refused to cry. The dratted thing would not go away, but she could not let it best her. As a person of reason and sense, she would conquer the beast. Man’s animal nature must perforce be sublimated to moral right and intellectual strength. Hadn’t the Roman moralist Seneca said something like that?
The trouble was, the more she thought about it, the larger it seemed to grow. She stared at her lap, the fine linen nightshirt tenting at her hips, and groaned in frustration.

Living in each other’s shoes also allows them to truly see each other for the first time without their judgement being coloured by animosity. Corinna has always regarded Ian as a “cretin” and a reprobate but is struck speechless when Ian’s friend, the Marquess of Drake, believing Corinna to be Ian, tells him that he is decent, honourable and a loyal friend. Corinna is also surprised to discover the careful records Ian keeps for his several estates, his successful horse breeding business and the family’s finances. He also cares deeply for his family and is liked and respected by his servants.

Ian has always been secretly impressed by Corinna’s beauty, intelligence, wit and boldness but always thought her blood ran with ice rather than hot, feminine need. He is therefore surprised to discover that she had numerous suitors over the years but has refused them all. He is left to ponder the real reason why.

Once they return to their own bodies, they are consumed with all sorts of emotions they have never felt before. Ms Ashe captured all their confusion, doubts, anguish and passion so well.

She resisted the urge to flee. Perhaps making love to him for an entire night, or at all, had not been such a good idea. She ought to have allowed her unrequited admiration to fade into sensible oblivion over months, perhaps years, without the memories of his touch to tease her. The ache inside her was unbearable.

Now deeper inside him, harder than lust or passion, an ache grew, and the power of it filled his arms, his entire body. For years he had wanted her yet told himself he didn’t, but only because he could not have her.

I was really rooting for them to confess their love for each other.

I loved Ian’s friends and do hope they each get their own stories. I also liked Ian’s younger brother, Gregory, who with Ian’s guidance, had grown into a decent young man.

Other reviewers have already mentioned the Americanisms that crept in and the incorrect forms of the address for the male characters and so I won’t labour the point. It just seems a pity that these are issues that could so easily have been remedied.

I would have liked an Epilogue because I wanted to see Ian and Corinna enjoying their hard-fought Happy Ever After but it certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

MY VERDICT: A thoroughly entertaining and refreshingly different story.




Read July 2016


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

My Lady, My Lord (Twist, #1) by Katharine Ashe Again, My Lord (Twist, #2) by Katharine Ashe

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(Simply Quartet, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh returns to the elegance and sensuality of Regency England as she continues the enthralling story of four remarkable women–friends and teachers at Miss Martin’s School for Girls. At the center of this spellbinding novel is Anne Jewell, a teacher haunted by a scandalous past…until she meets a man who teaches her the most important lesson of all: nothing is simple when it comes to love.…

She spies him in the deepening dusk of a Wales evening–a lone figure of breathtaking strength and masculinity, his handsome face branded by a secret pain. For single mother and teacher Anne Jewell, newly arrived with her son at a sprawling estate in Wales on the invitation of an influential friend, Sydnam Butler is a man whose sorrows–and passions–run deeper than she could have ever imagined.

As steward of a remote seaside manor, Sydnam lives a reclusive existence far from the pity and disdain of others. Yet almost from the moment Anne first appears on the cliffs, he senses in this lovely stranger a kindred soul, and between these two wary hearts, desire stirs. Unable to resist the passion that has rescued them both from loneliness, Anne and Sydnam share an afternoon of exquisite lovemaking. Now the unwed single mother and war-scarred veteran must make a decision that could forever alter their lives. For Sydnam, it is a chance to heal the pain of the past. For Anne, it is the glorious promise of a future with the man who will dare her to reveal her deepest secrets…before she can give him all her heart.


Every time I read a Mary Balogh novel, new or old, I am struck anew by how much I love her work. She has covered every conceivable subject/scenario in her long and highly successful career with empathy and a deeply insightful understanding of human nature. In Simply Love, the second in her highly acclaimed Simply Quartet she highlights the issues and prejudices surrounding a single mother and her illegitimate child in Regency England. With great understanding, Ms.Balogh immerses us in the life of Anne Jewell, her nine year old son, David, and that of Sydnam Butler, a horrifically scarred veteran of the peninsula wars.

Anne and David are invited to spend a month on the south west coast of Wales in company with members of the powerful Bedwyn family. This unconventional family, with a duke at its head, thumbs its collective nose at the restrictions under which most aristocrats are obliged to live. Kind and thoughtful all, they welcome Anne and David to share their family holiday without reservation. Whilst walking the coastal path on the first evening, Anne happens upon the dreadfully scarred Sydnam Butler, and flees from him in fright. Sydnam is employed by the duke as steward of his estate, and is attempting to carve a life out for himself away from his own overprotective and loving family; he is a man completely lacking in self-pity and understands the picture he presents on first sight.

So expertly drawn is Mary Balogh’s description of this tragic but gorgeous man, that I shed more than one tear on his behalf. Anne is appalled at her own crass behaviour and apologises to him at the first available opportunity. Friendship flowers over the course of the month long holiday further developing into affection, and finally into something more sensual. The traumatic events that led to David’s conception, and the ten years following it, have left Anne emotionally scarred. Sydnam too has scars that run far deeper than the obvious surface ones; it is therefore understandable that two people – starved of physical love and affection, and who have cocooned themselves against further hurt – will find comfort in each other.

Anne and Syndam are wonderful characters – to be honest, if I could hug each of them, I would! They feel so real; their sorrow, their hurt, their lack of confidence, even their prickliness; they belong together, and the tentative progress of their love affair is movingly beautiful. Of course, to quote Shakespeare…‘The course of true love never did run smooth’…they have a lot of soul searching to do before either of them can begin to feel really complete once more. Luckily, they have each other to help in their respective rehabilitation. Their traumatic journey is SO worth the reading or in this case the listening.

The supremely talented Rosalyn Landor gives a stupendous performance in this audiobook, bringing this tremendously poignant story with its large and varied cast of complex characters to three dimensional radiance. I loved all four books in this series but Simply Love is, in my opinion, by far the most emotionally charged. The very fact that this is such a heart-rending story makes the performing of it more difficult, but Ms. Landor handles each character with individuality, consummate skill, aplomb and downright brilliance.

I adored the audio version of Simply Love and it is not necessary to have read or listened to the first in the series, as Ms. Balogh gives us plenty of background information. However, we do meet many old favourites from other series; in my case, from books read years ago. I was surprised how vividly I remembered the characters. Such is the power of a great and memorable author.

MY VERDICT: This is highly recommended and a must read for all lovers of Historical Romance.



Read June 2016


Simply series (click on the book cover for further details):

Simply Unforgettable (Simply Quartet #1) by Mary Balogh Simply Love (Simply Quartet #2) by Mary Balogh Simply Magic (Simply Quartet #3) by Mary Balogh Simply Perfect (Simply Quartet #4) by Mary Balogh


This review was originally posted on the Romantic Historical Reviews

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(Love by Numbers, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1813 and 1823)

Cover Blurb:

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen’s club.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried – and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she’s vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she’s been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss – to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St John, the Marquess of Ralston – charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she’s not careful, she’ll break the most important rule of all – the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .


I’m not sure why I have waited so long to read Sarah MacLean’s debut novel because friends have constantly recommended it to me. Well, I’ve finally read it and I absolutely LOVED it! Ms MacLean brings something refreshing to the much used “rake falls for wallflower” trope and I was impressed by her writing and the way she brings her characters to life and makes me really care about them.

I adore Lady Calpurnia “Callie” Hartwell because she is someone I can relate to. Instead of drop dead gorgeous like so many heroines, she is a plain, slightly plump, lace-cap-wearing, 28-year-old spinster with a pristine reputation and the same insecurities I’m sure many of us can share. She is also such a lovable person…intelligent, kind-hearted and funny. My heart went out to Callie when she realises just how boring, staid and uninteresting her life has become and I desperately wanted her to do all those things on her list; to become bold and adventurous and experience life to the full. She deserves it.

Gabriel is charming, devastatingly handsome and one of the most notorious rakes in London but he also has a strong sense of family. It is evident in his love for his twin brother Nicholas and his determination that his illegitimate half-sister Juliana should be accepted by society. I could also understand how the scandalous and painful events of his past have coloured his views on love.

Gabriel and Callie are such a wonderful couple with great chemistry and I loved every moment spent with them – their sparkling dialogue; their first kiss which has an unexpected effect on Gabriel; the amusing whisky drinking episode in the tavern which leaves Callie slightly tiddly; the fencing match resulting in some heated moments; the gambling with the ultimate forfeit; the duel that doesn’t quite go to plan.

They are both on a journey of self-discovery. Gabriel believes himself incapable of love but Callie slowly but surely steals his heart.

“I love you. I love your extravagant name and your beautiful face and your brilliant mind and your ridiculous list and your taste for adventure, which I imagine is very likely going to be the actual cause of my death.”

Callie has always believed she is plain but I love Gabriel for showing her that she is beautiful in all the ways that count.

“Hear me well. I cannot begin to list all the things about you that are beautiful—a man could lose himself in your eyes; in your lovely, full lips; in your silken hair; in your soft, luscious curves; in your creamy, perfect skin and the way you blush and turn it the color of an exquisite, ripe peach. And that’s without considering your warmth, your intelligence, your humor, and the way I am utterly drawn to you when you enter a room.”

Among the secondary characters, I was particularly intrigued by Nicholas, Gabriel’s twin brother, an antiquity expert, and Juliana, their illegitimate half-sister, who is a real firebrand and I’m keen to read their stories.

MY VERDICT: This is an utterly delightful novel and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. Highly recommended!



Read July 2016

Love by Numbers series (click on the book covers for more details):

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1) by Sarah MacLean Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2) by Sarah MacLean Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3) by Sarah MacLean

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