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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’


(The Merridew Sisters, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1816)

Cover Blurb:

She ran from a brute…

Fleeing violent tyranny, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke…But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster.

…into the arms of a rake

Aristocratic Gideon, handsome, rakish and with a strong frivolous streak, casually hijacks Prudence’s game, awarding himself a stolen kiss or three along the way. Used to managing sisters and elderly men, Prudence is completely out of her depth with a charming, devious and utterly irresistible rake. And her plot goes terribly—if deliciously—awry…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

**5 CAPTIVATING …”when a rake finally falls, he falls forever” STARS**

This was my first book by Anne Gracie and I will certainly be dipping into more of her books, based on how much I loved this one. It’s romantic, funny and full of characters who totally captured my heart. There are some darker moments, but they never overshadowed the lovely heart-warming feeling I had after I finished reading it.

How could anyone love such a wicked, funny, foolish man? How could they not?

Oh, Gideon is such a wonderful hero. Wickedly charming, amiable and flirtatious, he hides a vulnerable heart beneath his frivolous rakishness. A lonely, sad, loveless childhood has made him determined to embrace a carefree lifestyle, determined to show the world that he cares for nothing and no-one. He sees love as a weakness but that changes the moment he meets a certain Prudence Merridew!

I love how, when everyone else regards Prudence as plain, Gideon sees her as unique and beautiful.

“Plain! Is there something wrong with your eyes? She’s not the slightest bit plain! Those eyes, that smile, that hair— from top to toe, Prudence Merridew is a rare little gem!”

It is refreshing to see Gideon as the one falling hopelessly in love first and being open and honest about his feelings for Prudence. His kindness and thoughtfulness is so clearly revealed in the way he treats Grace, the youngest of the Merridew sisters, and how he brings joy back into all the sisters’ lives.

Prudence could have hugged him. Not since their parents had died had her sisters laughed and sung and giggled with such riotous glee.

It is chilling to read the abuse that Prudence and her four sisters suffered at the hands of their grandfather, a bitter, hate-filled old man, and discovering the true extent of his cruelty towards Prudence is truly heart-rending. Their plight seems more poignant knowing how different their lives had been before their parents died… filled with sunshine and laughter and love and happiness.

Prudence’s overwhelming love for her sisters shines through and she finds the strength, determination and courage to plan their escape from their grandfather’s clutches and find a safe haven with their caring Great-uncle Oswald. It tugged at my heartstrings when Prudence promises them that one day their lives will once more be filled with sunshine, laughter, love and happiness.

Gideon’s determination to win Prudence had me rooting for him all the way but Prudence’s misplaced loyalty to the pompous, mercenary Phillip Otterbury had me so frustrated. Luckily, as with any good romances, Phillip’s true colours are revealed. I love the scene where Gideon outmanoeuvres him with just wit alone.

I loved the kind-hearted Great-uncle Oswald, such a contrast to his brother, and the forceful Aunt Gussie who makes short shrift of Otterbury.

“I am morally responsible for this young lady, and I can see it will do her no good at all to be alone in your company. In fact, Mr. Ottertosh”— she rose from the sofa—“I think it is high time you departed. Shoebridge shall show you the way out.” She reached for the bellpull and yanked hard.

(Ottertosh is just one of various amusing names Otterbury gets called)

There is a sweet secondary romance between the Duke of Dinstable and Charity Merridew which is mostly played out off page and doesn’t detract from the main romance at all.

I love the humour which runs throughout the story and acts as a counterpoint to the darker moments. Here are a couple of my favourite humorous quotes…

“I would appreciate it if you would stop… stop… ogling me like that,” she hissed, tugging her very modest neckline higher. “It is very embarrassing.” She folded her arms across her breasts defensively.

“It wasn’t me”. He tried to look contrite. “It wasn’t me,” he confessed. “It was my eyes. They are bold and easily led and have no sense of propriety.’
~~~~

“You mustn’t disdain the protection of a frippery shag bag and a medium-sized duke with a tendency to stoutness. We can be formidable fellows when we try, you know.”
~~~~

MY VERDICT: A LOVELY GEM OF A BOOK AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read January 2016

 

The Merridew Sisters series (click on the book covers for more details):

The Perfect Rake (The Merridew Sisters, #1) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Waltz (The Merridew Sisters, #2) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Stranger (The Merridew Sisters, #3) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Kiss (The Merridew Sisters, #4) by Anne Gracie

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(The Dressmakers, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Regency , 1835)

Cover Blurb:

Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.

Though he’s unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford’s never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn’t part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her.

It’s an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the ton’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This, the final book in Loretta Chase’s The Dressmakers series, is Lady Clara Fairfax’s story. Lady Clara has been a popular secondary character throughout the series and I am delighted that she finally gets her well-deserved Happy Ever After. Although this book can easily be read as a standalone, I would urge you not to miss out on the other delightful books in the series.

Being considered the most beautiful and sought after girl in London might seem every girl’s ultimate wish, but for Lady Clara it is nothing but a burden. She is weary of the constant marriage proposals from men who never take the trouble to get to know the real person behind the beautiful face.

Her beauty surrounded her like a great stone wall. Men couldn’t see above, beyond, or through it. They certainly couldn’t think past it.

Intelligent, witty and strong-willed, Clara is stifled by the constraints imposed on her by society. She wants more from life than just being a beautiful adornment on a duke’s arm. She longs for a husband who appreciates her intelligence, challenges her and stimulates her mind.

As patroness of The Milliners Society for the Education of Indigent Females, she is very aware of the poverty that exists and the injustices inflicted on those less fortunate than herself. It is her charitable work that leads her to Oliver Radford’s door, when she enlists his help to rescue an orphan boy from the clutches of an unsavoury London street gang.

Oliver “Raven” Radford is the grandson of a duke but, when his father married a divorcée, his became the less desirable arm of the family. At Eton, he was continually bullied by his odious cousin Bernard, but survived by becoming detached and locking his emotions away.

He pretended that what was happening to him happened to somebody quite separate, that what he felt was felt by another self, who he observed with detachment.

Following in his father’s footsteps, he became a barrister and has earned a reputation for being super-intelligent, sharp-witted, provoking and tactless. His willingness to prosecute the villains of London’s underworld, who prey on helpless victims, has earned him dangerous enemies.

When the beautiful Lady Clara enters in world, he finds all logical and sensible thoughts flying out of the window.

The chemistry between these two is absolutely delicious and they are so well-matched. Both are intelligent which makes Clara more than a match for the caustic Radford. I love their sarcastic repartee and Radford’s funny internal monologues between his logical self and his emotional, irrational self.

Remarkably fine figure, he was aware of his irrational self thinking. It proceeded to imagine said figure in its natural state. Such meditations were not conducive to clear thinking.
He wrestled the other self into a dark corner in the back of his mind …

The scene where Radford nurses Clara after she falls sick reveals how much he truly cares for her and I love the unique concept of the “trial” scene, showing his determination to fight for Clara.

As in the previous books, Ms Chase’s descriptions of the outrageous hats and the wondrous confections of gowns are a visual treat and I like how her social commentary on women’s role in society and the poverty and injustice existing at the time is woven into the fabric of the story.

…a lady must not find herself in any situation involving lawyers. If she was so misguided as to need one, she must put the matter in the hands of her husband, father, guardian, brother or son.

The danger lurking in the form of a London underworld gang leader intent on killing Radford, his complicated relationship with his cousin Bernard and the need to adapt to his unwelcome change in circumstances, all add extra layers to the story.

MY VERDICT: A fabulous finale to this series and one I can definitely recommend.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Read January 2016


The Dressmakers series (click on the book covers for more details):

Silk Is for Seduction (The Dressmakers, #1) by Loretta Chase Scandal Wears Satin (The Dressmakers, #2) by Loretta Chase Vixen in Velvet (The Dressmakers, #3) by Loretta Chase Dukes Prefer Blondes (The Dressmakers, #4) by Loretta Chase

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(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?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

The Soldier’s Dark Secret (Comrade in Arms #1) is an inspirational read from the talented pen of one of my favourite authors. Marguerite Kaye never disappoints and I am constantly amazed by her creative, captivating and original story lines. We could never accuse her of being boring, as no two books are the same and each one is better than the last.

Jack Trestain is an ex intelligence officer, one of Wellington’s most valued code breakers, a brave one too, mentioned in dispatches and a truly honourable man with a conscience. He has a secret – a dark, dangerous secret, one that conjures up terrifying, tortuous nightmares, night after night, leaving him sleep deprived. Jack is a desperate to find peace but unable to, believing himself unworthy of love or forgiveness.

His salvation arrives in the form of an enchanting and beautiful French woman. Celeste Marmion has been commissioned by Jack’s elder brother Charlie to paint some landscapes of their ancestral grounds and gardens. She has used this opportunity to travel to England in search of some answers to a devastating secret of her own. Their first meeting is unorthodox to say the least. Unable to sleep, Jack is in the habit of swimming in the lake in the early morning – without clothing. Celeste, on an early morning reconnaissance of the grounds, spots the intriguing Jack, and to begin with simply enjoys, with an artist’s eye, the beauty of the man. Soon, however, she is aware that what she is doing could be interpreted as spying; indeed, she is also aware that she is actually enjoying the spectacle, that is until Jack turns an anguished face to the sky and Celeste sees the torment and suffering written on his face and makes an attempt to escape this deeply private moment…and fails.

The two get off to a bad start, but it doesn’t take long before they become reluctant friends, with a burning attraction developing between them. Celeste is unafraid of Jack’s black moods and, unlike his family, she stands her ground, challenging him and beginning to pick away at his defences. He is rattled by her ability to get beneath his skin, afraid to let her see his suffering, but still physically and mentally attracted to this beguiling young woman. Eventually Celeste confides, at least part of her story to Jack and it is with relief he is able to turn his mind to what he does best, unravelling secrets and breaking codes. Helping Celeste to search for the answers she has travelled to England for is something his analytical, if troubled mind, CAN do. He has a purpose again, not only will he be able to help Celeste – and he desperately wants to – but he can also discourage her from delving into his own deeply disturbing thoughts.

I love the way Ms. Kaye slowly builds the attraction between her characters – sensuously, sizzling and oh so sexy! Nothing too physical happens until well into Jack and Celeste’s story but the air is electric and when it does happen it jumps off the page.

The sheer amount of historical research that has gone into this novel is breath-taking; a fascinating but never boring history lesson (which I love) wrapped up in a beautifully sensitive love story. I have no doubt that the facts about Waterloo and the enigmatic, if egotistical Wellington, are as accurate as Marguerite Kaye’s thorough research can make them. Jack is obviously suffering from PTSD. Again I can only guess at the amount of reading Ms. Kaye did in order to make his condition as authentic as possible, without being able to tell us what it is he is suffering from, a condition undiagnosed at that time in history. The plot is intricate, clever, and interesting; the soldier really DOES have a dark secret and Celeste’s tale is fascinating and the unravelling of it all intelligently and ingeniously achieved.

Altogether we have accurate history, scintillating romance and mystery and the artwork on the cover is perfect; a dark, brooding soldier in a red military uniform, I’m not sure if the jacket is absolutely correct but quite honestly I don’t care, he looks the part and he looks like Jack.

MY VERDICT: A perfectly wonderful novel and I loved it…5 stars and highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2015


Comrades in Arms series (click on the book cover for further details):

The Soldier's Dark Secret by Marguerite Kaye The Soldier's Rebel Lover (Comrades in Arms, #2) by Marguerite Kaye

 

I received a complimentary copy of  the book from the author in return for an honest review.

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(League of Rogues, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

He doesn’t need his eyes to uncover her true beauty.

The League of Rogues, Book 3

Cedric, Viscount Sheridan, is cursed. Once the ton’s golden boy, the loss of his sight has left him a reclusive shell of man. His days of womanizing, horse racing and pistol shooting lost forever.

Offered the chance to recapture a small part of his old life, he can’t refuse—even if it means accepting the shocking proposal of the infamous ice maiden, Anne Chessley.

Still reeling from her father’s death, Anne’s deepest wish is to avoid the hordes of fortune hunters who will soon be beating down her door. Proposing marriage to Cedric is an act of desperation, his unexpected acceptance a strange and wonderful dream.

His only stipulation: she must respond passionately and wantonly in his bed. Her agreement barely crosses her lips before he begins a sensual assault on the icy walls bitter secrets have built around her heart.

Yet even as they catch a glimpse of true happiness, betrayal is poised to sweep them away on opposing tides of danger.

Warning: Contains an outwardly aloof heroine with a secretly tender heart, a once-notorious rake who isn’t quite as rusty at seduction as he feared, and a band of rogues who join together to make sure happily-ever-afters do come true.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the third book in Lauren Smith’s League of Rogues series and I was delighted to find myself once more in the company of those handsome, wicked rogues… Godric, Lucien, Cedric, Charles, Ashton and newest member, Jonathan St. Laurent, Godric’s half-brother.

Cedric is finding it hard to come to terms with his blindness, not only physically but also emotionally. He can no longer do the things he once enjoyed – riding, shooting and hunting.  A virtual recluse, Cedric has to rely on Ashton, the most patient of his friends, to provide the necessary help he needs to cope with the everyday practicalities of being blind. None of his friends know how close he has come to ending it all.

The victim of a vile assault two years ago, Anne has built a protective shell around herself; her cold exterior earning her the name “ice maiden”.  When her beloved father dies, leaving her a wealthy heiress, she finds herself both lonely and desperate to escape the fortune hunters who are constantly pursuing her.

I really liked Cedric and Anne as a couple; they each bring something that the other desperately needs. Anne brings light into Cedric’s dark world and makes him believe that life is still worth living…

“Being with you…it’s like seeing the world again when I thought I’d be trapped in darkness forever. 

while Cedric gradually breaks down Anne’s protective shell releasing the sensual woman beneath…

She was succumbing to his patient and gentle seductions for better or worse.

The romance is both sweet and sexy, especially when Cedric sets out to seduce his wife. I really liked the emphasis on touch in the love scenes which I feel made them more sensual.

His fingertips ran a slow line up her throat and along the line of her jaw to reach her chin. Anne felt as though she was an uncharted foreign land. Cedric’s fingertips were memorizing the contours of her country for his own private map.

As always, I enjoyed the camaraderie and banter between the members of the League of Rogues. I was also intrigued by the rather heated scene between Ashton and Lady Rosalind Melbourne and I think there is more to Charles’s servant Tom Linley than meets the eye.

There is action and danger as the League’s nemesis Hugo Waverley continues to plot his revenge but danger also comes in the form of a vengeful slave trader who has a score to settle with Cedric.

MY VERDICT: If you are looking for a story with great characters and just the right mix of romance and action, then you will definitely enjoy HER WICKED PROPOSAL.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2016
 

The League of Rogues series so far (click on the book covers for more details)

Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues, #1) by Lauren Smith His Wicked Seduction (The League of Rogues, #2) by Lauren Smith Her Wicked Proposal (The League of Rogues, #3) by Lauren Smith

My sincere thanks to Lauren Smith for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.

 

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

There’s a pirate in the manor house!

What is vicar’s daughter Bess Farrar to do when the dashing new earl, the man gossip paints as a ruthless pirate, kisses her the day they meet? Why, kiss him right back, of course! Now Lord Channing vows to claim the lovely firebrand, despite interfering villagers, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises mayhem – and a lifetime of breathtaking passion

Pursued by the pirate…

Bess Farrar might be an innocent village miss, but she knows enough about the world to doubt Lord Channing’s motives when he kisses her the very day they meet. After all, local gossip insists that before this dashing rake became an earl, he sailed the Seven Seas as a ruthless pirate.

Bewitched by the vicar’s daughter…

Until he unexpectedly inherits a title, staunchly honorable Scotsman Rory Beaton has devoted his adventurous life to the Royal Navy. But he sets his course for tempestuous new waters when he meets lovely, sparkling Bess Farrar. Now this daring mariner will do whatever it takes to convince the spirited lassie to launch herself into his arms and set sail into the sunset.

A Christmas marked by mayhem.

Wooing his vivacious lady, the new Earl of Channing finds himself embroiled with matchmaking villagers, an eccentric vicar, mistaken identities, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. Life at sea was never this exciting. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises hijinks, danger, and passion – and a breathtaking chance to win the love of a lifetime.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

What a lovely Christmas treat this novella was! Anna Campbell has penned a delightful, entertaining and fun romance with the perfect snow-covered village setting.

Rory is such a likeable hero… a handsome, witty, charming and flirtatious Scotsman, with just a hint of devilment in his green eyes. Bess is managing, independent and capable, qualities that should annoy a man like Rory, but instead he finds himself both charmed and intrigued by her and deeply attracted. It was refreshing to find a hero who, despite having an unhappy childhood, hadn’t given up on love, although he has never believed in love at first sight until he meets Bess.

This woman was meant for him. He wasn’t sure yet what he felt about it, but the conclusion was inescapable.

At first, Bess readily believes the rumours about Rory. After all, he precisely fits her image of a pirate, wicked seducer, and reckless adventurer. However, there is something compelling about him that threatens to shatter her hitherto tranquil but lonely life.

There was something breathtakingly compelling about the new earl. A crackle of energy that Bess only now realized had been missing from her life.

Gradually, she comes to respect and admire him. when she sees how he treats the villagers with respect and wins them over with his charm and intelligence. It’s heart-warming to see how Rory puts down roots for the first time as he comes to accept the village as his home and positively embraces the responsibilities that come with his title.

Rory paused in the doorway to savor a sensation he’d never before experienced. That this was home and these were his people and he belonged here.

I enjoyed the developing romance between Rory and Bess with its delightful mixture of witty banter, delicious sexual tension and heated kisses. I love Rory’s noble action in not wanting Bess’s first time to be “some hole-in-corner seduction”. He treats her with such respect (much to Bess’s disappointment) and wants to cherish her.

The secondary characters all add depth to the story; Edward White, Rory’s secretary, butler, cook , bailiff and shipmate for twenty years; the matchmaking residents of Penton Wyck, and a certain stubborn, music-loving donkey called Daisy.

MY VERDICT: Full of warmth, fun and romance, this was the perfect start to my holiday reading. I recommend you find a comfy chair, grab your favourite tipple and enjoy!


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALTY RATING:  WARM

Read November 2015


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

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The tiny village of Hemshawe is the sort of place where nothing ever happens…until a handsome ex-soldier and his matchmaking sister let the imposing manor house at the edge of town. The friendly Londoners shake up the staid people of Hemshawe, and villagers see each other in a new and oh-so-appealing light.

Suddenly long-sparring enemies become lovers, a town festival heralds a new start for a fallen woman and a dandy, and a man who has given up on love gets a second chance with the woman he never forgot. And the matchmaker herself? She won’t rest until she finds her own happily-ever-after…

A Madness in Spring by Kate Noble

Adam Sturridge has made Belinda Leonard’s blood boil since childhood, and the feeling is mutual. But when a would-be matchmaker arrives in the village of Hemshawe, she’d determined to erase the thin line between love and hate. Now, Belinda and Adam are faced with falling for someone they’ve always considered an enemy — can they overcome old prejudices and discover how to rub each other the right way?

The Summer of Wine and Scandal by Shana Galen

When viscount’s son and dandy Peregrine Lochley is temporarily exiled from London to the country for his misdeeds, the last thing he expects is to encounter an intriguing woman. But Caroline Martin has a secret to hide, and it just might be too scandalous for even this debauched rogue.

Those Autumn Nights by Theresa Romain

Ten years ago, wealthy Eliza Greenleaf broke lowly soldier Bertram Gage’s heart—but the last decade brought changes in fortune to them both. Now that he’s made his mark on the world, a twist of fate brings the Greenleaf family under his power. Will this war-hardened officer triumph over his former lover…or will Bertie and Eliza give love a second chance?

The Season for Loving by Vanessa Kelly

Miss Georgie Gage, matchmaker extraordinaire, is resigned to life as a spinster—almost. When notoriously aloof bachelor Fergus Haddon arrives from Scotland to spend Christmas with the Gage family, Georgie thinks she’s finally found her own perfect match—if, that is, she can get the handsome Highlander to agree!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEW OF MADNESS IN SPRING BY KATE NOBLE

This is a delightfully entertaining enemies-to-lovers romance and Belinda and Adam are such an engaging couple. Their journey to a happy ever after is fun to watch and Ms Noble writes with wit and charm.

“Yes, do tell me more about the house I grew up in,” Adam drawled.
“I need no reminder that you grew up here. You are littered across my memory like horse manure on a path.”

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

REVIEW OF THE SUMMER OF WINE AND SCANDAL BY SHANA GALEN

This is an emotive story of forgiveness and redemption. The foppish Peregrine turns out to be a wonderful hero and it is heart-warming to see how he champions Caroline in front of everyone at the village fair.

“If there is a woman who is close to perfection, I would have to say it is Miss Martin.”

I also love how Caroline’s father never judges his daughter for her mistake which is in sharp contrast to Peregrine’s father.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

 

REVIEW OF THOSE AUTUMN NIGHTS BY THERESA ROMAIN

This is a poignant second-chance story in which Ms Romain captures Bertie and Eliza’s feelings of regret, forgiveness and renewed love beautifully.

Was this only a kiss? It drew forth his whole body, entrancing and enchanting him. The taste and scent, the sweet little sound she made as she rose onto her tiptoes to kiss him more firmly.

New-to-me author Ms Romain impressed me with her writing and I’m eager to read more of her books.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

 

THE SEASON FOR LOVING BY VANESSA KELLY

Sweet, kind, matchmaking Georgie Gage finds her own happy ending with dour Scot, Fergus Haddon. They are a perfect complement for each other and I love how Georgie changes Fergus’s life in so many ways.

She was everything he wanted- generosity, acceptance, and love. Everything he’d convinced would be forever denied to him.

This is a lovely, heart-warming romance enhanced by some colourful secondary characters.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

 

MY VERDICT: Overall, four well-written, entertaining and romantic stories which are perfect reading for the approaching holiday season.

Read November 2015

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.**

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency 1822-1824, Epilogue 1872)

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?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

How do I to begin to review one of the loveliest and most compellingly written books it has been my pleasure to experience?

I listened to the audio version, narrated by Lesley Mackie, who has the most melodious voice. A Scott herself, her narration is perfectly pitched and cleverly vocalised so that the listener is never in any doubt which character is talking at any given time. There is a lot of the Scottish vernacular used and this adds depth and great feeling, as well as showing the difference in class of the wonderful mix of characters. Ms Mackie differentiates expertly between male and female, rich and poor alike, and it is a very professional performance indeed.

The story begins with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson:

“To look over the South Bridge and to see the Cowgate below, full of crying hawkers is to view one rank of society from another in the twinkling of an eye”

which pretty much sums up the difference in the class structure of the time.

The title One Sweet Moment and also the brief synopsis suggest just another love story.  I don’t mean this in any derogatory sense but, as a lover of history as well as a finely written romance, I was delighted to find that this wonderful book was so much more than was suggested; in fact, it’s depth and content is greatly underplayed.

This was my first Maggie Craig novel and it was purely by chance that I discovered it on ITunes for audio download. I thought it might be a nice book to listen to whilst out walking, but instead found myself ignoring everyone and grabbing every moment I could to devour this thoughtful and beautifully moving story. It’s written by a lady who obviously knows her stuff – the history of Scotland, Edinburgh and the people of that city.

The book (with a perfect epilogue which winds the story up in the most poignant way) spans approximately 50 years. It is the story of Kate Dunbar, a brave and defiant young woman of the lowest orders, living in abject poverty in the vaults of Edinburgh’s South Bridge with her young physically handicapped brother Andrew. Orphaned and at the mercy of their maternal Aunt and her vile husband, they accept and live in the most degrading manner, with little chance of escape from the daily, tyrannical and abusive behaviour doled out by this uncaring and evil pair.

One evening into the Pearl Fisher, the Oyster Bar kept by Kate’s Aunt and Uncle and where she is obliged to work without payment, come three young privileged medical students, one of whom is immediately attracted to Kate. Richard Hope, handsome and wealthy, is as far outside Kate’s world as it is possible to be. His family is rich and well connected but still he persists in gaining an acquaintance with her. He finds his intentions are entirely honourable and he treats Kate and the other occupants of the vaults with respect and eventually she comes to like and love him, and he her.

This is a time of radical political stirrings. It is only 70 years since the great Jacobean uprising. The people of Edinburgh are split in their views, some wishing for independence and Kate has some such friends. Richard becomes embroiled with Kate’s champions, book shop owners Nathaniel and Peggy Henderson, and finds himself looking at the poorer inhabitants of Edinburgh from a different, and more sympathetic perspective.

This is such a wonderfully meaty book, full of intrigue, romance, abuse of the worse kind and body snatching. The Edinburgh of the time, beautiful but also poverty stricken, is captured in this magical tale. Maggie Craig is a consummate story teller; her extensive research and love of her homeland and its people are obvious. Her prose flows with twists and turns and captures the imagination. I hated the villains and desperately wanted Kate and Richard to find their happy ending. As I have said previously, this tale was so much more than ‘just a love story‘. It is a must read for all HR lovers and for anyone who loves a wonderfully compelling story.

This was one of those ‘let’s buy it, it’s cheap and sounds intriguing‘ purchases but Maggie Craig is now one of my top five authors. This is a definite keeper for me.

I later went on to read Gathering Storm, which is another absolutely superb historical set in Edinburgh during the time of the Jacobean uprising – not to be missed for lovers of history.

MY VERDICT: A beautiful and compelling love story.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Footnote: The author has recently commented “Fair chuffed to discover that Edinburgh City Libraries have added One Sweet Moment to their literary map of books set in the City”….I’m personally not surprised, well deserved! And earlier this year I visited Edinburgh and followed her trail…a clever author/historian who can make a place and people so real.

 

 

 

 

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