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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’

(Comrades in Arms, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The truth behind the hero.

Officer Jack Trestain may have been one of Wellington’s most valued code-breakers but since Waterloo, he’s hung up his uniform. If only he could just as easily put aside the tortured memories he carries deep within…perhaps enchanting French artist Celeste Marmion might be the distraction he so desperately craves.

Except Celeste harbours secrets of her own and questions that she needs Jack’s help to solve! With Celeste’s every touch an exquisite temptation, how close can Jack get without revealing his darkest secret of all?

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This is the first book in Marguerite Kaye’s new Comrades in Arms mini-series and, from the first page, I was totally immersed in the emotionally charged story and her fascinating, flawed characters.

My Thoughts -

Jack Trestain was one of Wellington’s best code-breakers, lauded in the duke’s dispatches as a hero, but Jack knows that…

Heroes didn’t have stains on their soul.

Ms Kaye imbues her characters with such depth that I experienced everything Jack did…the horror of those recurring nightmares, his overwhelming sense of guilt, his grief, despair and fears.

There were times when he felt as if he were being literally torn in two. Times when he raged at the injustice of what was happening to him, times when he was overwhelmed with guilt. There was no right and wrong anymore, which had been one of clear-cut lines for so long, was now so blurred that he was careering around like a compass struggling to find true north.

At times, Ms Kaye really tugs at the heartstrings, particularly in the deeply emotional scene where Jack finally breaks down and reveals his long-hidden secret to Celeste. I couldn’t help but be moved by the raw, unguarded emotions.

The guilt is slowly eating away at him and he refuses to talk to anyone about it, bottling it up inside. He seems unaware of the effect his erratic temper is having on his brother, sister-in-law and particularly his young nephew.

It isn’t hard to sympathise with Celeste, estranged for so many years from a mother who treated her with heartless indifference, packing her off to boarding school at the age of ten She has grown into an independent, confident and intelligent woman who has carved a life out for herself as a landscape artist. Then to have the letter arrive, casting doubt on everything she believes to be true about her mother, throwing her “perfectly calm and perfectly orderly” life into turmoil She had taught herself over the years not to care but it resurrects all the hurt and anger she’s suppressed. She needs closure.

Maman’s life was an unfinished book. Celeste had to discover the ending, and then she could close the cover for ever.

I like how she refuses to be cowed by Jack’s erratic behaviour and is determined to help him.

Jack and Celeste’s journey is full of emotional, poignant, moving, dramatic and passionate moments and seeing them finally come to terms with their pasts and open their hearts to love was so rewarding. I’m sharing some of those moments.

This was the kind of kiss that would never end. Lips and tongues in a slow dance. Hands smoothing, stroking. Skin clinging, damp, heating.

~~~~
Celeste grabbed his arm. “You see, you are running away from the truth. Why won’t you talk about it?”

“Take your hands off me. Now.”

She had gone too far. She knew it would be insane to push him further, but she knew with certainty that was exactly what she was going to do. Celeste tilted her head and met his stormy eyes. “No.”

~~~~

But the pain, the tearing blackness, the white heat of his uncontrollable fury, the terror that made him run from himself, the sweats and the shakes, and the dull ache in his head, they were all too real.

~~~~

She kissed him to stop the words babbling out. She was in love. “Jack,” she said, because it was all she could trust herself to say. “Jack.” She loved him. She kissed his eyelids. She loved him.

~~~~

I love Ms Kaye’s attention to detail and her skillful weaving of fact with fiction. Her meticulous historical research is evident throughout the story.

VERDICT: Another beautifully crafted and emotionally satisfying love story from Marguerite Kaye.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read February 2015

 

Comrades in Arms -

Seduced by the Soldier
(free on-line read available Here)

The Soldier’s Dark Secret

The Soldier’s Rebel Lover (Autumn 2015)

My sincere thanks to Marguerite Kaye who provided me with a complimentary copy of her book in return for an honest review.

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(Castle Brides, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Regency propriety and Scottish boldness clash in this Regency romantic suspense flavored with a liberal dose of humor and a dash of inspiration.

Here’s a short blurb:

Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own. Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony. On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her newfound love?
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This was Collette Cameron’s debut novel and the first book in her Castle Brides series.  I enjoyed it immensely.

I loved Ewan’s playful nature and wit but also how strong, protective, caring and loyal he is. It was also refreshing to see him in love with a reluctant Yvette rather than the more common scenario of the heroine hopelessly in love with the hero. I understood why his fear of losing Yvette compels him to conceal the truth about their marriage and I felt he genuinely thinks he is doing his best to protect Yvette from the ever-present danger. He also willingly acknowledges how much he regrets betraying Yvette’s trust and I could feel the uncertainty he endures not knowing what her decision might be regarding the future of their marriage.

Yvette had to deal with lot – the mysterious deaths of her parents, her equally mysterious riding accident and her step-brother’s attempted abductions, culminating in her escape to England. She certainly has spirit not to mention “a gun in her valise and a blade in her reticule“! Though well-educated, strong-willed and independent, she has an air of vulnerability. Her wealth is something of a millstone because she always fears that her suitors have more interest in her money than herself. She is determined to live her own life, marrying only for love to a husband of her choice. I understand why she is so wary of Ewan’s motives for entering into the “fake” betrothal, fears which only seem to be ratified when she discovers how Ewan has tricked her. I enjoyed seeing Yvette discover that her wealth need not be a burden but a way she could not only help Ewan’s people but also Ewan.

Ewan and Yvette are an engaging couple and their romance is funny, emotional, romantic and, at times, steamy. There is an undeniable chemistry between them and watching them negotiate the rocky patches in their relationship made for a pleasurable read. Here are a few of my favourite moments:

Peeking at him from beneath her lashes, she reached to straighten her bonnet. It hung askew off the side of her head , like a giant, drooping peony. She shoved it back into place but the moment she removed her hand, it flopped over once again.

~~~

Lowering himself until his head rested on the same pillow she slept upon, he lay watching her sleep. Scant inches separated their faces. She murmured something intelligible and scooted closer to him, then nestled her head in the crook of his arm. Her silky head fit perfectly beneath his chin. Wrapping her in his arms, he snuggled her soft body closer, until she was cocooned within his embrace.
~~~

She sucked in a sharp breath, tensing as the water level rose, announcing her husband’s presence. She waited, anticipating his touch. When it didn’t come, she dared to steal a look over her shoulder, His hair was lathered with soap. Grinning, he winked at her. A nuance of desire smoldered in his eyes.

~~~

Lifting her left hand, he slipped a sapphire ring on her finger. Four sapphires framed a ruby. “The sapphires reminded me of your eyes, cherie, one for each corner of the earth, and the ruby is my heart. There’s nowhere on earth you may go, you’ll not carry my heart with you. ‘Tis wholly, now, forever and always, yours.”

~~~

The secondary characters play an important role in the story and I love Ewan’s family…the way they interact with each other and their loyalty to Ewan. I particularly like Ewan’s eldest sister, the fiercely independent, breeches wearing, Adaira. I’m looking forward to reading “The Earl’s Enticement” to see what happens between Adaira and Yvette’s other step-brother, Roark, the Earl of Clarendon, particularly after their rather tense first meeting. I must mention the bombastic, busy-body Mrs Pettigrove, Yvette’s unwelcome companion for a time, who suffers from unfortunate “digestive disruptions”!

Ms Cameron maintains the suspense well as Ewan seeks to protect Yvette from some nasty villains and uncover the identity of the traitor within the Diplomatic Corps.

While I appreciate that Ms Cameron wanted to create authenticity with the use of the Scottish and French dialects, I just found it distracting. I couldn’t understand either why Ewan, a Scotsman, would continually use French endearments when talking to Yvette. This stopped me from giving the book a 4.5 star rating.

Despite this criticism, I did enjoy this story and certainly want to read more of Collette Cameron’s books.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read February 2015

Castle Brides series (click on the cover for more details):

Highlander's Hope (Castle Brides Series) by Collette Cameron The Viscount's Vow by Collette Cameron The Earl's Enticement by Collette Cameron

 

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(The Spies of Mayfair, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, is on an urgent mission to find the killer of his fellow spy. Has the treasonous Frenchman, Count Forney, returned to England to wreak havoc? Or has someone new landed on English shores to stir up rebellion in the Midlands? After visiting the young widow of one of his agents, Strathairn strengthens his resolve. A spy should never marry. And most certainly not to Lady Sibella Winborne, with her romantic ideas of love and marriage. Unable to give Sibella up entirely, he has kept her close as a friend. And then, weak fool that he is, he kissed her…

Lady Sibella Winborne has refused several offers of marriage since her first Season years ago — when she first set eyes on the handsome Earl of Strathairn. Sibella’s many siblings always rush to her aid to discourage an ardent suitor, but not this time. Her elder brother, Chaloner, Marquess of Brandreth, has approved Lord Coombe’s suit. Sibella yearns to set up her own household. She is known to be the sensible member of the family. But she doesn’t feel at all sensible about Lord Strathairn. If only she could forget that kiss…

♥♥♥♥♥

I thoroughly enjoyed this second book in Maggi Andersen’s The Spies of Mayfair series with its engaging story, appealing characters and delightful romance. There is also mystery, drama and intrigue.

John Haldane, Earl of Straithairn:

Somehow, the surge of adrenaline and sense of living on the edge banished the anguish he carried. And nothing else had thus far come close.

John is a man of action rather than words and, after returning from the Napoleonic Wars, he can’t contemplate hours of debating in the House of Lords. So he inhabits the dark and dangerous world of spying in an attempt to uncover Napoleonic sympathisers threatening to destabilise the British Government. The intelligence work has also given him a purpose in life that he found missing after his return from the war. It also helps keep at bay the terrible wartime memories that continue to haunt his dreams.

John and Sibella have shared a close friendship but his feelings have deepened beyond friendship. But he knows that, in his line of work, death could be lurking just around the corner and he is determined to remain single. His resolve is further strengthened when a close colleague is murdered leaving behind a wife and child. He could never subject a wife to such pain and so he keeps his feelings in check.

Lady Sibella Winborne

No wonder her mother was giving any likely candidate for her hand a push. Unfortunately, Mama didn’t push; she shoved.

Whilst her mother has been occupied with bringing out the last of Sibella’s three sisters and enjoying her grandchildren, Sibella has managed to avoid several suitors over the years since her own come out. However, at the age of twenty six, she is in danger of being left on the shelf and her mother is now pressurising her to marry.

John Haldane, a family friend, is the only man she has ever desired but he has a strong aversion to marriage. Believing John will never be hers and longing for a home of her own and a family, she may be willing to settle for her brother’s choice of suitor, the polite and well-mannered Lord Coombe.

Sibella and John’s story has all the elements I look for in  a romance:

A protective, caring hero:

He fought the strong pull of attraction; he could not bend. His life was too dangerous; he would never risk Sibella. She was far too precious.

A strong-willed, intelligent heroine:

But now, after that kiss! She’d find a way to make him face the truth. They were after all, perfectly suited.

Delicious sexual tension:

With a swift movement, he cradled her face in his hands; his lips, firm but gentle, covered hers, stifling her gasp of surprise. Coherent thought slipped away as his arm encircled her waist and pulled her hard against him. His hold tightened and the kiss deepened, teasing her lips and stealing her breath.

A few stumbling blocks along the way:

“I don’t enjoy having to say this to you John, but it befalls me as head of the family. Sib has a love of home and hearth. She looks for a husband who will sit by the fire with her at night. That isn’t you, is it?”
“She deserves the best, and no, it isn’t me, Chaloner.”

Drama:

And somewhere, a ruthless murderer lurked, well-armed and with some evil design to bring chaos to England

Of course, this is a romance, so assuredly there will be a Happy Ever After…

Moments later, Straithairn slipped the gold band on her finger. He exhaledon a long sigh of contentment.
She was his.

Once again, Ms Andersen has woven true historical events into the story, creating a real sense of the era with its political and social unrest.

A charming romance and a touch of intrigue combine to make Taming a Gentleman Spy a wonderfully entertaining story.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read February 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 sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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(Marlow Intrigues, #1.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

From Kindle bestselling Historical romance author, Jane Lark, comes a brand new FREE novella to accompany her breathtaking Marlow Intrigues series.

This novella tells the story of secondary characters from The Illicit Love of a Courtesan…

Rupert Stanforth, Earl of Morton, is exasperated by his sister’s choice of friend. Meredith Divine clings, using Rowena’s plain appearance as a foil for her auburn curls and fuller figure. He would break the friendship, but the more he complains, the more time the girls spend together. Ceasing his disagreement, he hopes the friendship will die, believing Meredith will take a wrong step soon…

Meredith clings to her only friend, Lady Rowena Stanforth, despite the disgusted looks thrown by Rowena’s proud, judgmental brother. Lord Morton cannot abide Meredith because of her low standing, but Meredith’s heart favours him . . . then in his single act of kindness, Meredith grasps an opportunity she cannot resist…

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Last year I read and loved Jane Lark’s The Illicit Love of a Courtesan but this novella just didn’t work for me. It lacked strong character development and a believable romance.

My Thoughts

I believe the story would have benefited from being a full-length novel. Rupert and Meredith had the potential to be such interesting and complex characters but, within the confines of this novella, they lacked the necessary in-depth  characterisation  and seemed very one-dimensional. So I found it difficult to relate to them and understand their thoughts and actions.

Rupert came across as a stuffy, pompous snob and I disliked how he judged Meredith to be a scheming opportunist simply because her father was in trade.

He wished nothing to do with the little schemer. Her father was in some sort of trade. Rupert had not even wished Rowena to befriend Miss Divine , let alone become so thick with her.

Even his final change of heart seemed to be based more on the fact that Meredith was “a delicious, sultry hoyden” in bed on their wedding night (hard to believe when she is a virgin!) rather than his truly falling in love with her.

Why did it have to be him her heart favoured?

I asked myself that same question. I couldn’t understand what attracted Meredith to a man whose every look conveyed dislike, disgust and suspicion. It made her seem weak. I did have some sympathy for her because of her unhappy childhood and lack of fatherly love. She was only tolerated by the ton because several of them were in business with her father and I understood why her friendship with Rupert’s sister, Rowena, was so important to her.

I never felt any real chemistry  or deep emotional connection between Rupert and Meredith. Their falling in love wasn’t very believable, especially as there was no gradual build up…it seemed to happen too suddenly.

Thank goodness for Rupert’s cousin, Edward (hero of The Illicit Love of a Courtesan), who opened Rupert’s eyes to the fact that not everything can be viewed in simple black or white and there is a vast spectrum in between.

This one disappointment certainly isn’t going to deter  me from reading the other books in this series because I know that Jane Lark can write romances that are passionate, intense and engrossing.

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read February 2015

Marlow Intrigues series (Click on cover for more details):

The Lost Love of a Soldier (Marlow Intrigues #0.5) by Jane Lark The Illicit Love of a Courtesan (Marlow Intrigues, #1) by Jane Lark Capturing the Earl's Love (Marlow Intrigues, #1.5) by Jane Lark The Passionate Love of a Rake (Marlow Intrigues, #2) by Jane Lark The Desperate Love of a Lord (Marlow Intrigues, #2.5) by Jane Lark The Scandalous Love of a Duke (Marlow Intrigues, #3) by Jane Lark The Dangerous Love of a Rogue by Jane Lark The Secret Love of a Gentleman by Jane Lark – 23 July 2015

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(Horsemen of the Apocalyse, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance(Regency)

Cover Blurb:

War hero and Horseman of the Apocalypse William Tyler de Sayre, Lord Clun, happens upon love while intending to avoid the catastrophe altogether by arranging a marriage to someone he’s never met.

Meanwhile, Lady Elizabeth Damogan, whose father betrothed her to the baron without so much as a ‘by your leave,’ will be damned if she marries a man she’s never met, much less a man who refuses to consider the possibility of love.

Until she realizes, sometimes it’s the hero who needs saving.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I had high expectations of this book after reading THE DUKE’S TATTOO and I wasn’t disappointed. It is still witty and funny but with a slightly darker edge to it.

She strode from the shadowy depths of the stable and gave William Tyler de Sayre, Baron Clun, a bold, calculating look.

I liked Elizabeth from the very start. She is no simpering, timid miss but an intelligent, witty, strong-willed woman. She owes this to the influence of her free-thinking governess and chaperone, Mrs Abeel, her father’s cousin. She not only taught Elizabeth all the accomplishments required to be a lady but also to think for herself. She has managed her father’s household for many years and can cook, bake and milk a cow.

She wants what her parents had, a marriage based on love and will settle for nothing less. It’s not surprising then that, faced with an arranged marriage to a stranger who is most likely old and decrepit, she chooses to run away.

…men respected him, virginal women feared him and even experienced women treated him with trepidation . Put simply, he was too big, too dark and too daunting.

Clun is just the sort of hero I adore…big, gruff, stubborn but in desperate need of some tender, loving care from the right woman. How could I not love a hero with ‘a deep, melodic voice sweetened with Welsh (every time he spoke, I couldn’t help but hear the wonderful, rich voice of Richard Burton).

Thus, years of observation and empirical evidence informed Clun’s definition of a happy marriage as a union founded on sensible, unemotional expectations. As a result, arranging his marriage to a stranger suited Clun to a fare-thee-well.

Clun doesn’t believe in love.  He watched his parents’ marriage descend into one of ‘disappointment, bitterness and irreconcilable marital strife’. It was heart-breaking to imagine the young, impressionable Clun subjected to the vitriolic outpourings of his embittered mother against his absentee father. He grew up believing himself to be cold and incapable of love, a belief subtly reinforced by his mother over the years.

…true love rarely progressed from start to finish on a straight without ruts.

Elizabeth and Clun’s journey was definitely full of ups and downs but I enjoyed every eventful moment especially Clun having a bit of fun at Elizabeth’s expense, some rather delicious misbehaving on a bearskin rug and Clun having a rather embarrassing moment in the privy.

Once again, there is a well-drawn cast of secondary characters including the other three Horsemen, Tyler Rodwell, Clun’s steward and half-brother, Lady Clun, his virago of a mother, and Elizabeth’s father. The Epilogue was unusually dramatic in tone but Clun’s actions and words at the end were just lovely.

I can’t finish this review without highlighting Ms Davis’s wonderful writing with a few of my favourite quotes.

He was rational, clear and consistent while she was female, full of fanciful delusions and therefore prone to spouting twaddle about a man divulging signs of phantom emotions and not knowing his own damned mind.

In the absence of soap, she felt herself ripening like a wheel of Stilton cheese.

If he hadn’t beaten his hasty retreat, he would’ve divulged yet another sure sign of a man’s affection: a display of happily-agitated man parts in protruding buckskins.

It happened at the castle when Lord Clun said ‘flutte Rrrby’ and rocked her back and forth in his arms, laughing. That was the precise moment Elizabeth knew she loved William Tyler de Sayre.

This is another winner from Miranda Davis and hopefully book 3, His Lordship’s Last Wager: A Regency Romance Between Bitter Enemies, will be published this year.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read  January 2015

Horsemen of the Apocalypse series to date (click on the book cover for more details):

The Duke's Tattoo (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse , #1) by Miranda Davis The Baron's Betrothal  An On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2) by Miranda Davis His Lordship's Last Wager  A Regency Romance Between Bitter Enemies (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #3) by Miranda Davis – expected 2015

 

 

 

 

 

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Maggie Craig is a new-to-me author but I downloaded this book because it came highly recommended by my friend, Wendy Loveridge., who shares the same taste in books as myself.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

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?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Last year I read and loved FOREVER BETROTHED, NEVER THE BRIDE, the first book in Christi Caldwell’s Scandalous Seasons series. I already have book 2, NEVER COURTED, SUDDENLY WED and so I’ve bought the remaining books in the series.

Source: All purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Scandalous Seasons, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Geoffrey Winters, Viscount Redbrooke was not always the hard, unrelenting lord driven by propriety. After a tragic mistake, he resolved to honor his responsibility to the Redbrooke line and live a life, free of scandal. Knowing his duty is to wed a proper, respectable English miss, he selects Lady Beatrice Dennington, daughter of the Duke of Somerset, the perfect woman for him. Until he meets Miss Abigail Stone…

To distance herself from a personal scandal, Abigail Stone flees America to visit her uncle, the Duke of Somerset. She finds herself helplessly intrigued by the hard, too-proper Geoffrey. With his strict appreciation for decorum and order, he is nothing like the man she’s always dreamed of.

Abigail is everything Geoffrey does not need. She upends his carefully ordered world at every encounter. As they begin to care for one another, Abigail carefully guards the secret that resulted in her journey to England.

Only, if Geoffrey learns the truth about Abigail, he must decide which he holds most dear–his place in Society or Abigail’s place in his heart.

(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.

 

I also bought this prequel novella to her latest series, The Heart of a Duke.

(Heart of a Duke, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Author’s Note: This is a prequel novella to “The Heart of a Duke” series by Christi Caldwell. It was originally available in “The Heart of a Duke” Collection and is now being published as an individual novella. ***It features a new prologue and epilogue.

Years earlier, a gypsy woman passed to Lady Aldora Adamson and her friends a heart pendant that promised them each the heart of a duke.

Now, a young lady, with her family facing ruin and scandal, Lady Aldora doesn’t have time for mythical stories about cheap baubles. She needs to save her sisters and brother by marrying a titled gentleman with wealth and power to his name. She sets her bespectacled sights upon the Marquess of St. James.

Turned out by his father after a tragic scandal, Lord Michael Knightly has grown into a powerful, but self-made man. With the whispers and stares that still follow him, he would rather be anywhere but London…

Until he meets Lady Aldora, a young woman who mistakes him for his brother, the Marquess of St. James. The connection between Aldora and Michael is immediate and as they come to know one another, Aldora’s feelings for Michael war with her sisterly responsibilities. With her family’s dire situation, a man of Michael’s scandalous past wlll never do.

Ultimately, Aldora must choose between her responsibilities as a sister and her love for Michael.

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(Horsemen of the Apocalypse, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

First comes revenge then comes love and marriage in The Duke’s Tattoo, a historical romance set in Regency England.

After being grievously wounded at Waterloo, Jeremy Maubrey returns from war to find his new life as the tenth Duke of Ainsworth painful, dull and full of obligations. That is, until he wakes to find himself indelibly decorated in a mortifying place and mocking manner.

Though he cannot recall much of the hellish night when he was abducted and tattooed, he cannot forget the waif-like villainess responsible or her haunting eyes. Ducal duties must wait till he finds the culprit and takes his revenge.

Miss Prudence Haversham, Bath’s only female apothecary, knows she has a problem. A big, broad shouldered problem. At least she will have, if the tenth Duke of Ainsworth ever discovers she is to blame for tattooing him. Unfortunately, she meant to have tattooed the previous Duke of Ainsworth, who tried to debauch her and disgraced her with his lies. Worse yet, she learns this duke is one of four infamously implacable cavalry officers known as ‘The Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’

No sooner has the vengeful duke traced his abductress to Bath, than Prudence Haversham overturns the duke’s every expectation and intention. In turn, the duke proves himself an honorable and surprisingly forgiving man who earns the wary apothecary’s love.

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WOW! I loved this book! It was refreshingly different and brimming with humour. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, as other reviewers will no doubt attest to, but it was so entertaining that I didn’t really care.

I was totally swept away by Miranda Davis’s unique writing style. To give you a flavour, here are a few of my favourite quotes:

Hers was a full-blown, snot-discharging, eye-swelling and nose-reddening deluge of despair.

Delicate laces effervesced at swanlike ivory throats. Dyed ostrich plumes erupted from fanciful spoke bonnets. Sable and cream muffs cosseted delicate, pale hands sheathed in thin, pastel kid gloves. The women floated along Bond Street like bits of brightly dyed eiderdown.

So salubrious to relax under the Tuscan sun half potted on Chianti and fully stuffed with the local proscuitto ham.

He kissed her back lightly and struggled to stay calm. Unfortunately, the crazed timpanist in his chest took up his mallets and began to flail away.

Ms Davis’s winning blend of witty dialogue and funny scenes made the romance between Jem and Pru a pleasure to follow. I enjoyed seeing Jem’s plans to reap his revenge on the “vicious little harridan” start to unravel. At first, he enjoys toying with Pru “like a cat with a shrew” but gradually finds himself irresistibly drawn to her and can’t keep away. One of the funniest scenes is where he climbs the ivy vine up to her bedroom to propose for a third time and, for his troubles, finds the window slammed in his face and his ducal backside landing in some “damned vicious roses” Ouch!

Another favourite, laughter-inducing scene is when Jem is trying to compose a love letter to Pru.

…so the Man of Action Not Words very reluctantly opted to write Prudence a love letter.

Composing this letter made Ainsworth suffer greatly. Indeed, it couldn’t have pained him more if he’d used his own blood as ink and gouged it from his arm with a rusty fork.

The duke sat at his massive desk in a state of inert agony. Resting his chin on stacked fists, he glared at the blank sheet of crested stationery before him. Words, where were the blasted words? He sat. He thought. He questioned his thoughts. The longer he sat, the more his inarticulate misery compounded itself.

As you can tell, Jem has problems putting his feelings down on paper and, if you want read those romantic words he sweats blood over, then I’m afraid you will have to read the book!

There is such a diversity of secondary characters who enrich this story:

Jem’s stalwart but interfering friends, the Hon. George Chase Percy, William Tyler de Sayre, Baron Clun & Lord Burton Seelye who add to the fun with their jocular banter.

The redoubtable Dowager Countess of Abingdon , “as majestic as a frigate under full sail and in similar proportions”, Pru’s godmother and staunch supporter.

Pru’s “spineless, pudgy chucklehead” of a brother, Sir Oswald Dabney and his “malicious termagant” of a wife who I didn’t feel were as well developed as the other characters but that’s only a minor criticism.

Last but not least, Jem’s one-legged valet, one-armed butler and his motley pack of mongrels. I loved the scene where Jem takes Attila, his placid but brutish looking mastiff, to a meeting with Pru in the hope of terrifying her, but things don’t quite go to plan!

To Ainsworth’s undisguised disgust, Attila leaned into her hands, closed his eyes and drooled ecstatically.

I think the book titles themselves are hilarious and I love the clever chapter headings  which summarise the plot so succinctly: Chapter 11 – In which adversaries skirmish over scones and clotted cream

My love of a charming Epilogue was more than fulfilled and The Duke’s Tattoo is finally revealed in all its glory!

I can heartily recommend this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I just had to start reading the next one, The Baron’ s Betrothal: An-On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance, straightaway.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2015

Horsemen of the Apocalypse series to date (click on the book cover for more details):
The Duke's Tattoo (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse , #1) by Miranda Davis The Baron's Betrothal  An On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2) by Miranda Davis His Lordship's Last Wager  A Regency Romance Between Bitter Enemies (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #3) by Miranda Davis – expected 2015

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