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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Rhys Merrick, Duke of Roydan, is determined to be the antitheses of his depraved father, repressing his desires so severely he is dubbed “the Monk” by Society. But when Olivia Weston turns up demanding payment for gowns ordered by his former mistress, Rhys is totally flummoxed and inexplicably smitten. He pays her to remove her from his house, and mind. But logic be damned, he must have this fiercely independent woman.

Olivia’s greatest fear is becoming a kept woman. She has escaped the role of mistress once and vows never to be owned by any man. Rather than make money in the boudoir, she chooses to clothe the women who do. But when a fire nearly kills her friend and business partner, Olivia’s world goes up in smoke and she is forced to barter with the lofty duke.

As their lives weave together, Olivia unravels the man underneath the Monk, while Rhys desires to expose the lady hiding behind the dressmaker. Will his raw passion fan a long-buried ember of hope within her? Can this mismatched pair be the perfect fit?

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It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel because Ms Russell weaves such a compelling and intensely emotional story with complex and flawed characters that I really cared about.

Rhys is such a fascinating hero and I like how Ms Russell gradually develops his character allowing us to see the lonely, insecure man beneath the mask of sobriety and aloofness…a man who has forgotten what happiness is.

Happiness? He was not even sure what it was anymore. The feeling had eroded to almost nothing. A vague shadow lurking at the edges of his heart.

The cruelty and terrible humiliations Rhys endured at the hands of his depraved father, shown in flashbacks, were so heart-breaking but revealed just how much they had forged him into the introverted man he became. I felt so much revulsion for Rhys’s father who should have loved and nurtured his son.

I love how during the story we discover unexpected things about Rhys – his lovely, deep, resonant bass singing voice and his passion for making automatons. They somehow emphasise his vulnerability.

Forced to flee the traumatic events of her past, Olivia knows there are few options for someone who is seen as “ruined” in the eyes of society. I admire her tenacity in using her talents as a dressmaker to clothe men’s mistresses rather than becoming one herself. Although she is strong, determined and independent, there is a moment of vulnerability in which she describes her secret yearnings and her words touched my heart. Her love of painting was an extra facet to her character and it plays quite a significant role later in the story.

There are some delightful touches of humour which helped relieve the dark and intense mood of the story. My favourite is Olivia’s imaginary harassment of Mrs Battersby (Rhys’s former mistress) which conjured up such a comical picture.

Take that! Creating a mental series of feints and parries, Olivia had the woman huffing and puffing in no time.
Slice— one sleeve gaped. Slash— the other soon followed. Now the poor lady’s bodice lay gaping, her bosom a tad less buoyant now.

Ms Russell took me on an engrossing and emotional roller-coaster of a journey before Rhys and Olivia finally attain their hard-earned Happy Ever After. Here are a few of my favourite moments from that journey.

He wanted to be more than a bloody title. He wanted to be more than a rutting beast. This woman made him want more but he didn’t know how… how to make her see… To see him. To see him as… Rhys.

They had danced. They had waltzed to Vivaldi. He had held her within his arms and, heaven help her, it had been magic.

They did not speak. They only loved. Simply touching and learning each other. Words were too harmful and too much a source of misunderstanding. Words were for later. Much later. Now there was only love.

Then she saw a slight miracle. He smiled. It was by no means a full-fledged smile, but as he gazed intently up into the clouds, his lips curved and his eyes crinkled.

I loved the secondary characters, especially Olivia’s dearest friend and her rock, Eglantine (Egg) and Rhys’s Uncle Bertram who has always had his nephew’s best interests at heart.

It’s not difficult to guess the identity of the villain who has Olivia in his sights but he does provide a heart-stopping climax when both Rhys and Olivia’s lives hang in the balance.

Ms Russell more than fulfilled my longing for a heart-melting Epilogue with these beautiful words…

Tiny fingers, soft as new-churned butter, gripped his own with surprising strength. Could there be anything more perfectly beautiful in this amazing world? Could God be so generous? Then his wife— his Olivia— looked up at him, closed her hand over theirs, and smiled. Yes, by heavens, the answer was a resounding yes.

My Verdict: If you enjoy a well-written, compelling story with fascinating characters and plenty of angst, I can definitely recommend this book.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read August 2015

. **I received copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review. **

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(The Burgundy Club, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The Marquis of Chase is not a reputable man.

He is notorious for his wretched morals and is never received in respectable houses. The ladies of the ton would never allow him in their drawing rooms . . . though they were more than willing to welcome him into their bedchambers. Ejected from his father’s house at the age of sixteen, he now lives a life of wanton pleasure. So what could the Marquis of Chase possibly want with Juliana Merton, a lovely, perfectly upstanding shopkeeper with a mysterious past?

A moment’s indiscretion?

A night’s passion?

Or a lifetime of love?

Even the wildest rakes have their weaknesses . . .

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I read this, my first book by Miranda Neville, on the recommendation of a friend and I wasn’t disappointed. It was an extremely enjoyable mix of mystery and romance and the setting – the world of London’s bibliophiles – was both original and fascinating. I’m sure that Ms Neville’s experience of working in the rare books and manuscripts department of Sotheby’s proved invaluable in providing authenticity to the story.

Cain (Chase’s nickname) was thrown out of the house at the age of sixteen, accused by his late father of a terrible crime he did not commit. Left vulnerable and penniless in London, he was rescued and given shelter at Mrs. Rafferty’s bordello by two kindly prostitutes. A social outcast, over the past eight years, he has lived a hedonistic lifestyle estranged from his mother and younger sister.

He is handsome, charming, witty and intelligent but, beneath that rakish mask, he is also a thoughtful and compassionate man. I love how he treats women, including Juliana, with consideration and respect and then there are his acts of generosity towards his former servants and prostitutes seeking help or sanctuary. I think Juliana’s words sum up Cain’s character perfectly.

“You are the kindest person I know,” she said. “You protect women. You love your sister, your friends, even your mother. You possess uncommon intelligence and powers of perception. Without them I would never have found out about my parents. You are clever and witty and the best of companions. You have only to look at me with your beautiful eyes to make me want to make love to you.”

Cain and Juliana share a common bond as Juliana’s illegitimate birth makes her a social outcast too and she also knows the pain and loneliness of being exiled from the only home she has ever known. I admired the way she has made her own way in a world that offered women very little opportunity. Cain sees her hard work, intelligence and determination in contrast to his own idle and frivolous life and it spurs him to take up those responsibilities that come with his title that he has long neglected.

I felt so sad that Cain had not seen his family for so many years, particularly as it was obvious how much he adored his sister, Esther, and their meeting after so many years was such an emotional one.

He took her in his arms and hugged her, as he had the day his father dismissed him from the house. Just as he had then, he murmured comforting words, rubbed her back, and dried her tears.

I admired his determination to reform his character to secure guardianship of Esther. It was easy to feel Cain’s pain at his mother’s continued rejection of him.

“As my mother you have my respect and affection. I hope that one day you will be able to return them.”

I liked how Cain and Juliana talked openly to each other and, when they consummated their relationship, their lovemaking wasn’t perfect as in so many other books I’ve read. The lovemaking scene in the carriage is one of the most sensual and humorous I’ve read.

The story is filled with humour as well and one the funniest scenes is where Cain is trying to identify what a book cover is made from.

“Interesting texture,” he said, stroking the worn cover. “A male beast, I believe, but not entirely virile. A rather shy badger? Am I right? Is it badger skin?”
“No.”
“A bashful beaver? No?”
He rested his head on her chest, which was heaving with laughter, and appeared to be lost in deep thought. “I’m on the wrong track,” he mused. “I know! It’s a smaller animal but a strong one. A stout stoat? A rapacious rat? “

There are some colourful secondary characters, none more so than Cain’s rather “unusual” housekeeper, Mrs Melisande Duchamp, who has no scruples about speaking her mind!

She emitted a crack of laughter. “Purview! That’s a good one. Especially since it was me what taught you how to keep ’em in good order. Lusty little bastard you were. And is it within my purview to know why you’re upsetting the household by calling for your breakfast at nine in the morning?”

There is also Quarto, Juliana’s rather ineffective guard dog, who only seems to growl at Cain and has rather unfortunate sniffing habits when it comes to females!!

We are introduced to Sebastian Iverley and Tarquin Compton, two book collectors, who are future heroes of the series. I am particularly intrigued by the bespectacled, badly dressed Iverley who hates women and look forward to reading his downfall in book 2 of the series, The Dangerous Viscount.

The mystery element involving the truth surrounding Juliana’s birth and the murder of her husband is neatly woven around but never overshadows the romance. There is quite a nail-biting climax but, as with all good romances, the villain is suitably dispatched allowing Cain and Juliana to have their HEA.

My Verdict: An extremely enjoyable story with an original setting, interesting characters and the perfect balance of mystery and romance.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read July 2015

Burgundy Club series (click on book cover for more details):

The Wild Marquis (The Burgundy Club, #1) by Miranda Neville The Dangerous Viscount (The Burgundy Club, #2) by Miranda Neville The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (The Burgundy Club, #3) by Miranda Neville Confessions from an Arranged Marriage (The Burgundy Club, #4) by Miranda Neville

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(The Duke of Strathmore, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The Favourite Heiress…

Once engaged to the future Duke of Strathmore, the beautiful Lady Clarice Langham now finds herself in the humiliating position of celebrating his marriage – to another woman. As a result of the scandal, it seems her reign as London’s most eligible debutante has come to an end. But things begin to look up when handsome and charming rake David Radley makes it clear that, at least as far as he’s concerned, she’s still the catch of the season.

The Illegitimate Son…

The eldest son of the Duke of Strathmore, David Radley has been raised alongside his father’s legitimate children. But while he is generally received as part of the family, not everyone thinks he should be, and especially not Clarice’s father, the Earl of Langham, who forbids her from having anything to do with him.

An Unsuitable Match…

David’s been in love with Clarice for years, and it isn’t long before the attraction between them develops into something deeper. Yet he senses Clarice is hiding something and until she reveals her secret, she won’t be free to follow her heart. Despite everything, David will not give up on Clarice, not even when another seems set to claim her…

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Let me say straightaway that I’m sure I would have liked this book much more had I read LETTER FROM A RAKE (book 1) first. It’s clear that events occurring in that book have a direct impact on the story and characters in AN UNSUITABLE MATCH. At times I felt a little adrift, as though I should already know something about the characters but didn’t. So it took me some time to really immerse myself in the story but when I did, I enjoyed it.

At first, I found it hard to relate to Clarice because there was so much negativity about her – her drab, ill-fitting clothes; the grief and guilt she feels over her mother’s death; her belief that she is totally undeserving of love; her desire to be punished and suffer for her actions. It was only when she starts to come out of her shell and embraces life again that I warmed towards her. I enjoyed seeing her finally having the courage to face her past and lay the ghosts to rest.

I liked David from the start. Although he is the bastard son of the Duke of Strathmore, his father and step-mother make no distinction between him and their other children.  However much they might insult each other,  the Radley brothers are fiercely loyal and I adored this tight-knit, loving family. The scene where David’s father hands him the deeds to Shambrook Grange is very emotional and reveals the deep love between father and son. David’s desire to be a good and fair employer to those working on the Shambrook estate and the way he ensures that needy families in the village are housed in the empty estate cottages shows what a deeply caring person he is.

As with all good romances, the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly. Clarice and David’s happiness is threatened not only by Clarice’s disapproving father but also by his heir, the devious and menacing Thaxter Fox. It’s lucky they have stalwart champions in the form of David’s sister Lucy and Clarice’s grandmother Lady Alice. Lucy is such a live-wire and I love her matchmaking efforts and tendency towards amateur dramatics. The larger-than-life Lady Alice is a delight with her “magical” walking stick.

I was all set to dislike Clarice’s father until I discovered that he was only testing David’s worthiness because he loves his daughter and only wants her happiness and I couldn’t fault him for that.

There are some nice touches of humour interspersed throughout the story and the Epilogue provides a teaser for Lucy’s book and I am definitely looking forward to reading it.

My Verdict: Overall, a delightful story enhanced by some memorable secondary characters.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read July 2015

The Duke of Strathmore series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

Letter from a Rake by Sasha Cottman An Unsuitable Match by Sasha Cottman

**I received a copy of this book from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.**

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(Sons of Sin, #4.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Whose hot kisses will melt the ice princess? All London is agog to know!

As the season reaches its brilliant climax, three very different men pursue beautiful Lady Marianne Seaton. She’s the marriage mart’s greatest prize – even if cruel and unjust gossip paints her as a woman cold and glittering as any diamond.

Lord Desborough is her father’s choice – rich, powerful, safe. Lord Tranter is society’s darling – handsome, dashing, charming.

Then there’s the dangerous, compelling man nobody in their right mind calls eligible. Elias Thorne, son of scandal, reputed deceiver, possessing a rakish fascination no woman can resist. A lady might choose Elias as a lover, but as a husband, he’s too risky a bet. Even if Marianne’s forbidden yearning for him threatens her future and her reputation.

When Marianne’s suitors pursue her to the year’s most glamorous house party, there will be proposals and passion, rivals and revelations, secrets and scandals.

Let the battle commence – but will the best man win?

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Once again, Anna Campbell lives up to all my expectations with this captivating love story. Even though a novella, it still packs plenty of passion, romance and drama.

I really felt sympathetic towards Marianne. She had weathered the storm of being jilted by the Duke of Sedgemoor with dignity, despite the nasty gossip that circulated about her. Now her father has issued an ultimatum that she must marry one of her two suitors.

I disliked her father intensely. He has always demanded unquestionable obedience from his daughter, caring nothing for her own wishes or happiness.

Her martinet of a father had done his best to teach her unquestioning duty, to bring up a compliant doll.

He sees her simply as a means of furthering his own financial and political ambitions through a marriage to the influential Lord Desborough. Marianne hides her insecurities and unhappiness beneath a veneer of impeccable manners and exemplary behaviour.

Elias is such a wonderful hero. When he and Marianne first met, he glimpsed a warm, intelligent woman with a generous heart and not the “cold fish”, society perceives her to be. It’s refreshing to see a hero who is head over heels in love with the heroine and willing to fight for her whatever the obstacles. With a family that’s a byword for scandal and an older brother who was a complete wastrel and died leaving the Thorne estate in dire financial straits, the dice seem firmly stacked against Elias. He has to overcome a belligerent Marianne…

Her lips curled with scorn. “We can all be jolly together, me with my handsome fortune hunter and you with all my lovely golden guineas.”

as well as her angry father and his rival suitors.

I enjoyed watching Marianne discover what she really wants in life and finally acknowledging her feelings for Elias and cheered her determination to defy her father and marry Elias.

Anna Campbell’s love scenes are always steamy but they are far more than just sex. She conveys the deep emotional connection between the characters and I love the tenderness and obvious love that shines through in moments like this.

“Are you all right?” He brushed her tumbled hair back from her face with a tenderness that made her bare toes curl.

She managed a weary, contented smile. “Absolutely wonderful.”

Elias dipped his head and kissed her with a sweetness all the more profound for the passion that preceded it. When he pulled away, she looked into his eyes and wondered how she’d ever questioned that he loved her.

I really like Lord Desborough. He’s a good man and I wholeheartedly agree with Sidonie…

“He needs to find a nice woman past first youth who will appreciate his qualities as a man, rather than his appeal as a marital catch.”

When Lord Tranter finally shows his true colours, what a truly nasty piece of work he is!

Jonas and Sidonie and Richard and Genevieve, characters from the previous books, make a welcome appearance and play an active role in bringing Elias and Marianne together. I also love the banter between Richard and Jonas.

The Epilogue provides a delightful glimpse of Elias and Marianne with their children and ties up some of the story threads most satisfactorily.

My Verdict: Another worthy addition to this excellent series. Definitely recommended!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read July 2015

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 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

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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Anna is generously giving away 3 ebook copies of THREE PROPOSALS AND A SCANDAL. Just leave a comment to enter the Giveaway.

The Giveaway will close at midnight (GMT) on Sunday 19th July.

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Smashwords
B&N

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(Scandalous Seasons, #5 )

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Lady Patrina Tidemore gave up on the ridiculous notion of true love after having her heart shattered and her trust destroyed by a black-hearted cad. Used as a pawn in a game of revenge against her brother, Patrina returns to London from a failed elopement with a tattered reputation and little hope for a respectable match. The only peace she finds is in her solitude on the cold winter days at Hyde Park. And even that is yanked from her by two little hellions who just happen to have a devastatingly handsome, but coldly aloof father, the Marquess of Beaufort. Something about the lord stirs the dreams she’d once carried for an honorable gentleman’s love.

Weston Aldridge, the 4th Marquess of Beaufort was deceived and betrayed by his late wife. In her faithlessness, he’s come to view women as self-serving, indulgent creatures. Except, after a series of chance encounters with Patrina, he comes to appreciate how uniquely different she is than all women he’s ever known.

At the Christmastide season, a time of hope and new beginnings, Patrina and Weston, unexpectedly learn true love in one another. However, as Patrina’s scandalous past threatens their future and the happiness of his children, they are both left to determine if love is enough.

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This is a charming romance by an author who has become a firm favourite of mine. Christi Caldwell always writes stories that are full of emotion and heart with characters that tug at your heartstrings.

Patrina and Weston share a common bond – both gave their love to undeserving people and both are suffering the consequences.

I felt so much sympathy for Patrina. She eloped with a man she thought loved her, only to discover that she had been duped by a heartless schemer hellbent on revenge against her brother, Jonathan. The consequences perfectly highlight the double standards of the ton – the scheming Marshville comes out of it unscathed while poor Patrina becomes a social outcast resigned to spinsterhood. She is full of regret for her foolish action because she realises that she has jeopardised her sisters’ future marital prospects. She had changed from a smiling, carefree woman into a guarded, fractious one.

Living with a wife who had betrayed him in numerous affairs during their 10 years of marriage has left Weston a bitter, angry and heartless man; one with a “steely guard around his heart”. His love for his children, Daniel and Charlotte is never in doubt but, in his desire to protect them from any further hurt, he let them run wild and they had become “reprehensible misbehavers”. The children’s unruly behaviour leads to a rather unconventional and amusing initial meeting with Patrina!

First appearances can often be deceptive. On first meeting Weston, Patrina sees him as insufferable, overbearing and aloof but gradually her opinions start to change – “The somber gentleman she’d come to expect had a lighthearted glint in his eyes”. Weston has vowed to never trust another woman but Patrina with her warmth, courage and kindness to his children threatens to slip past his defenses.

The love that grows between them is sweet and heart-warming. It was lovely to see how Patrina makes Weston happy for the first time in years and restores his jest for life while Weston and the children teach Patrina how to smile again.

Knowing that her scandalous reputation can only hurt them, I admire Patrina’s willingness to put Weston and his children’s happiness before her own. Thank goodness Weston is a hero who is not willing to give up on the woman he loves and his proposal scene is emotional, amusing and romantic.

I came to adore Weston’s children for championing of Patrina and their delightful habit of hiding behind the drapes to eavesdrop.

The curtains rustled yet again, and Amanda angled her head. “What was that?”
Weston schooled his features. “What was what?” After all, if his sister discovered Charlotte and Daniel’s tendency to eavesdrop, he’d not be spared her scathing diatribe on all the ways in which he was failing as a father.

Although Weston’s sister obviously loves her brother and the children, her attitude rankled with me. She so perfectly reflects the high-handedness of Society in her prejudice towards Patrina.

The unwavering love and loyalty of Patrina’s sisters, Penelope, Prudence and Poppy is very touching. I’m rather fond of Poppy, the youngest who seems to have a wise head on such young shoulders. I also like her directness…there’s no beating around the bush with Poppy!

The delightful Epilogue just rounds off everything in a most satisfying way.

My Verdict: Full of warmth, emotion, sadness, laughter and romance, this enchanting novella can be read any time of the year.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

Read July 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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(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.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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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