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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’

(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.

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Another captivating story from the incomparable Anna Campbell.

How I imagine James Fairbrother, Marquess of Leath

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

How I imagine Eleanor Trim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM


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

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

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

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(Lords of Anarchy, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A DANGEROUS GAME

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

AN UNDENIABLE DESIRE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2015

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

A Good Rake is Hard to Find (Lords of Anarchy, #1) by Manda Collins Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy, #2) by Manda Collins – 6 October 2015

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

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(The Spies of Mayfair, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

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

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

Flynn

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

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

Althea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My verdict: A delightfully entertaining story.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2015

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

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

 

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

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