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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’


(Dashing Widows, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

All rakes are the same! Except when they’re not…

Spirited Helena, Countess of Crewe, knows all about profligate rakes; she was married to one for nine years and still bears the scars. Now this Dashing Widow plans a life of glorious freedom where she does just what she wishes – and nobody will ever hurt her again. So what is she to do when that handsome scoundrel Lord West sets out to make her his wife? Say no, of course. Which is fine, until West focuses all his sensual skills on changing her mind. And West’s sensual skills are renowned far and wide as utterly irresistible…

Passionate persuasion!

Vernon Grange, Lord West, has long been estranged from his headstrong first love, Helena Nash, but he’s always regretted that he didn’t step in to prevent her disastrous marriage. Now Helena is free, and this time, come hell or high water, West won’t let her escape him again. His weapon of choice is seduction, and in this particular game, he’s an acknowledged master. Now that he and Helena are under one roof at the year’s most glamorous house party, he intends to counter her every argument with breathtaking pleasure. Could it be that Lady Crewe’s dashing days are numbered?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

“…why don’t we all leave our old, sad days behind? Why don’t we all become dashing widows?”

Anna Campbell’s charming Dashing Widows series features three, young, widowed friends – Caroline, Lady Beaumont, Fenella, Lady Deerham and Helena, Countess of Crewe – who decide they need a little adventure in their lives and this is Helena’s story.

I like how the novella is divided into three parts – The Challenge, Letters and The Wooing – each representing a stage in the developing romance between Helena and West.


The Challenge

To persuade Helena that he truly loves her and that he is nothing like her late degenerate rake of a husband – this is the challenge facing West. Not an easy task since he is the last person Helena would ever consider marrying!

Long ago she’d placed Vernon Grange in a box marked “hazardous.” And that was where she wanted him to stay.

As young sweethearts, Helena had imagined herself in love with West, until he went off to Oxford and promptly forgot her.

On a trip to visit his friend Silas, Helena’s brother, West brings an old school chum, Lord Crewe, whom Helena falls for and marries. But she soon discovers that her husband is a self-centred, deceitful rake and her nine miserable years of marriage leave her emotionally scarred. Helena blames her years of unhappiness on West for introducing her to Lord Crewe.

Helen sees West as another philandering rake just like her late husband.

I have lot of sympathy for Helena. West was her first love and it hurt when he went away without any explanation. I think she unfairly blamed him for all the years of unhappiness because she was unwilling to admit that she had been foolish and naive enough to be taken in by a blackguard’s wiles.

To be fair to West, at eighteen, he knew he was too young to commit to Helena and needed time to see the world and when he finally realised that Helena was the woman for him, it was too late. He has regretted it ever since, especially knowing just what Helena’s life with Crewe was like.

Before he can put his plans to win Helena over into action, he is sent on a diplomatic mission to Russia.


Letters

I LOVE the letters that West and Helena exchange while he is in Russia. They are hilariously funny! Here  are a couple of snippets:

…I also wish you were here because I find myself missing you and all your prickles. I’ll think of you as my dear little hedgehog. There, does that not melt your heart?
Tomorrow the ambassador presents me to his Imperial Majesty, the Tsar. I’m sure you’ll want to hear about that, so I hope you won’t tear up the letter the moment arrives.

With my dearest wishes.
West

My lord,
Kindly desist from writing to me. As I consign any correspondence from you to the drawing room fire, all you’re doing is supplying me with exotic kindling. Your activities are of no interest and I’d prefer that we returned to being polite strangers. That relationship has served us well since we both grew up. At least I grew up. Nothing I’ve seen indicates that you have.

Not yours.
Helena, Lady Crewe


The Wooing

Having returned from Russia, West and Helena are thrown together when they both attend Silas’s wedding to Caroline. It’s the perfect opportunity for West to woo Helena in earnest and I love the to and fro between them.

By God, she was a delight. Despite his maneuvering, she wasn’t near defeated. The dance would go on, and if he didn’t concentrate on every step, he’d stumble in a heap.

I adore West. He cares so much for Helena and wants to cherish and protect her and would give his right arm to see her experience real happiness, something she hasn’t known for such a long time. There is a very emotional scene where Helena reveals much about the physical side of her marriage and West’s reactions and words make her realise how much she has misjudged him; he is not at all like her husband. She decides that, although she has no intention of marrying, she wants to experience the sexual pleasure denied to her during her marriage and West is more than willing to oblige. At first, she’s afraid but comes to the realisation that she’s safe with hum. I loved seeing a bolder, more confident Helena testing her wiles on West and I enjoyed their delightful repartee. Ms Campbell always writes love scenes that are both emotional and sensual.

Helena’s continued refusal to consider marriage puts their happy ever after in jeopardy and it takes a life threatening situation to make her see how much West means to her.

But only now, when she battled alone against this enemy, did she understand that she might lose him.
Suddenly that seemed the worst blow fate could deal her. Crueler by far than an unhappy marriage. How precious he was. How precious he’d always been.

Just when I thought everything in the garden was rosy, Ms Campbell puts another stumbling block in their path but, as with all good romances, everything is resolved in a most satisfactory way with the added pleasure of reading a very enjoyable Epilogue.

I was pleased to see that there are to be further books in this series.

MY VERDICT: An absolutely delightful novella and definitely my favourite in the series so far.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read May 2016


Dashing Widows series so far (click on book covers for more details):

The Seduction of Lord Stone (Dashing Widows, #1) by Anna Campbell Tempting Mr. Townsend (Dashing Widows, #2) by Anna Campbell
Winning Lord West (Dashing Widows #3) 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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(Jewels of the Ton, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Her Mysterious Past is the Best Revenge…
Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery, is a celebrated courtesan with her finger on the pulse of high society. She’s adored by men, hated by their wives. No one knows anything about her past, and she plans to keep it that way.

Only He Can Offer Her a Dazzling Future…
Warrick Fitzhugh will do anything to protect his compatriots in the Foreign Office, including seduce Fallon, who he thinks can lead him to the deadliest crime lord in London.

He knows he’s putting his life on the line…
To Warrick’s shock, Fallon is not who he thinks she is, and the secrets she’s keeping are exactly what makes her his heart’s desire.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

The second book in Shana Galen’s Jewels of the Ton series is a fast-paced and entertaining blend of intrigue, action and a sensual romance.

This is Fallon, a beautiful, much sought after courtesan. Rumours abound about her true identity, so much so that she is dubbed the Marchioness of Mystery.

This is Warrick Fitzhugh, ex-spy for the Home Office, determined to track down the traitor who is threatening the lives of his fellow Diamonds in the Rough, spies who had provided the information Wellington had needed to win at Waterloo.

and when their worlds collide…danger, intrigue and a passion neither expects are bound to follow!

I love Fallon because, despite her diminutive stature, she is a formidable lady, more than able to take care of herself in a sticky situation. She’s a strong minded and independent woman but also vulnerable because of fears that her true identity may one day be discovered. Born in the slums of London, the daughter of a pickpocket and a whore, she knows should this become known the life she has built for herself will be destroyed.

She did not take any of this for granted. It could all be taken away from her with the snap of a finger if anyone ever found out who she really was.

Warrick is the third son of the Earl of Winthorpe but his father had disowned him when he chose to become a spy. His father also blames him for the death of his younger son, Edward, who followed Warrick into the military. I admire Warrick for being a man of principle and seeing that the job he was doing was far more important than his father’s opinion of him.

Warrick couldn’t regret his decision to become a spy, even if it meant his father was ashamed of him. Some things were more important than the Earl of Winthorpe’s approval, though his father doubtlessly disagreed.

I also understand his desire to reconcile with his father and be part of a family again.

Warrick didn’t emerge unscathed from the war. He experiences terrifyingly realistic flashbacks to the battlefield and Ms Galen’s descriptions are so vivid that I felt as if I was there with Warrick experiencing all his feelings of guilt and revulsion.

As they are both strong-minded and stubborn, you know sparks will fly when they first meet and I love the scene where Fallon unexpectedly discovers Warrick in her bed. Of course, he knows all her secrets and is confident that he can use the threat of disclosure to force her to help him. What he doesn’t expect is to be completely outmanoeuvred!

She put a hand on her hip. “And I suppose if I do not give you what you want then you will reveal my secret.”
“It’s called blackmail, and yes, that is generally how it works. Now that we both know the rules…” “Oh, I make the rules, Mr. Fitzhugh.” She sidled closer to the bed. “After all, we are in my bedchamber.”
“I…” He trailed off when she dropped her shawl on the floor beside the bed and, lifting her skirts, crawled onto her satin coverlet.”
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Courtesan rule number one,” she whispered, crawling toward him. “Don’t talk.”
His arms dropped from behind his head and he sat forward, looking rather alarmed.

I love a story where the hero is the besotted one and the heroine is the reluctant one. Warrick is determined to marry Fallon but she feels unworthy of him. At heart, she knows she is living a lie and will always be a street rat.…too soiled, too undeserving…but Warrick sees who she truly is and helps her recognise her self-worth.

“When I look at you, I see a woman who is beautiful, brave, and resourceful. I see a woman who’s not afraid to fight. I see a woman who has more strength and resilience than ten of her so-called betters.

In turn, Fallon is the anchor Warrick needs to help him forget the horrors of war.

There is plenty of exciting action as Warrick and Fallon follow the trail which they hope will lead to the identity of the traitor. This forces them to work together thus creating delicious sexual tension culminating in some steamy love scenes.

My one criticism is that I found the ending very abrupt. It was obviously a case of setting up Lily’s story but I wanted to see more of Warrick and Fallon together. That said, I am looking forward to reading Lily’s book, Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend.

MY VERDICT: If you are looking for an entertaining romance with intrigue and action, then you will definitely enjoy this.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2016


Jewels of the Ton series (click on the book covers for more details):

When You Give a Duke a Diamond (Jewels of the Ton, #1) by Shana Galen If You Give a Rake a Ruby (Jewels of the Ton, #2) by Shana Galen Sapphires Are an Earl's Best Friend (Jewels of the Ton, #3) by Shana Galen

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(The Dukes’ Club, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A Lady Who Vows Never to Wed:

Lady Allegra Portmund knows the cost of marriage. After the death of her dearest and only sister, Allegra swears she will never suffer the same fate. She will not become a possession shaped and destroyed by a husband. So, when her parents insist she marry the man of their choosing, there is only one thing for Allegra to do. Run. But when she runs, determined to be free, she meets the Duke of Roth, a singular man who sees her unique and vital spirit. Now that her heart is awakened to the most dangerous longings for love, how will she resist the temptation to break her vow?

A Duke Ruled by Honor:

Nicholas Andrew Edward Forth, Duke of Roth, values family above everything else. Despite his wild reputation, having lost both of his parents when he was a child, his most secret wish is to have a family again. When he meets a young lady in disguise, Nicholas quickly realizes that she is unlike any woman he’s ever met and is also the only woman for him. But when he discovers how quickly she has abandoned her own family, he doubts whether she is the exceptional woman he believed her to be. Now, that he knows the truth about Allegra’s past, will his own sense of honor destroy his only chance at happiness?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the third book in Eva Devon’s entertaining The Dukes’ Club series and, once again, I enjoyed her engaging writing, lively characterisation and great dialogue.

Growing up, Lady Allegra Penthurst and her older sister, Juliana, are fully aware of Society’s expectations that they should marry well. They become accomplished in singing, dancing and playing the piano. However, they are somewhat unconventional because…

they also raced horses, read too many books, and had decided views on slavery and the rights of man.

Allegra is initially jealous when Juliana marries but, as she watches her once spirited sister slowly crushed beneath the conventionality of marriage to a man who considers a woman’s role to be bearing children and running a household, Allegra resolves that marriage is not for her. It’s a decision only strengthened when her sister dies in childbirth while her husband is at his club. She vows then that she will never succumb to her sister’s fate. Three years later, when her parents insist she marry or be forced to spend the rest of her days at the secluded family estate in the far north of England, she takes the only course of action open to her and runs away. Disguising herself as a young lad, she finds employment as a stable boy on the Duke of Roth’s estate in the Devonshire countryside. But under the ever watchful eyes of the duke, how long will it be before her secret in uncovered?

I could understand how seeing what happened to her sister would colour Allegra’s views on marriage and instill in her a desire to be herself and live unfettered by Society’s expectations. She is intelligent, bold and stubborn with a love of horses and talking politics but her parents are self-serving, not caring at all for their daughter’s wishes, only what advantages a good marriage could confer on them.

Nicholas Forth, The Duke of Roth, only wishes his loving parents were still alive. He had lost them both in a terrible carriage accident when he was just a boy. They were his anchor in a world of uncertainty and, since their death, he has always felt adrift and alone. He has built an impenetrable wall around himself, never letting anyone touch him emotionally. He longs for the security he felt as a boy and has even contemplated marriage but has no desire for a typical ton marriage; he wants the sort of love his parents had shared. However, his life is about to take an unexpected turn when he meets the rather perplexing new stable boy.

Of course, Nicholas sees right through Allegra’s disguise but chooses to have a little fun first before admitting he knows the truth. This leads to some amusing situations which had me smiling.

“Alfred?” he said.
“Your Grace?” came her muffled reply, nearly bent halfway into the chest.
“What the Devil are you doing?” he drawled.
An impatient and audible sigh came from the trunk. “Looking for your smalls.”
“I don’t wear them.”

I enjoyed the steady development of the romance. At first, Allegra finds Nicholas arrogant, but fascinating and compelling but gradually she discovers he is kind, honourable and protective of those he cares for. Nicholas is totally disarmed by Allegra and finds he likes her and I enjoyed seeing the walls Nicholas has erected gradually crumbling as he falls under her spell. When they finally make love, it just seems right and I love Allegra’s boldness.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to transpire. He had no idea why, but he’d assumed she would be nervous and need him to ease her fears. Instead, she was beckoning him to bed.
He loved it. God, how he loved it.

Of course, Allegra’s actions have consequences. When Nicholas discovers that she ran away without telling her parents, he is furious and says some pretty hurtful things. In his eyes, what she did to her parents is unforgivable but, of course, his view is coloured by the loss of his own loving parents.

“I would give anything, anything for one more moment with my parents. Anything for a touch, a glimpse, a word. And you have thrown your parents away.”

It takes his friend, the Duke of Aston, to make Nicholas realise just how wrong his judgement of Allegra is and I love his confrontation with her self-serving father and his determination to protect her. I have to admit that I  became frustrated by Allegra’s constant fears of losing her independence after marrying Nicholas, but he understands her so well and I love everything he does to allay those fears. It was satisfying to see Allegra come to realise what truly matters.

She had thought it so important that she have the trappings of freedom. But here, in this room, watched by hundreds of Londoners, her hands in Nicholas’, she knew that the world and its laws matter not a wit. The only things that mattered were their love for each other and their mutual respect.

As with the other books, there is a colourful cast of secondary characters to aide Allegra and Nicholas on their journey to a happy ever after. I absolutely adore the notorious and vain Duke of Aston and the repartee between him and Nicholas is so funny. The heroines from the previous books, Kathryn, Cordelia and Imogen make a welcome appearance when Nicholas thinks Allegra needs intelligent, independent, female friends to help her navigate the strange waters of the ton.

I like how Ms Devon introduces real historical figures into the story. Nicholas likens Allegra to Aphra Behn, a 17th century British playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer, and Allegra converses with Mrs Wollstonecraft in Hatchards bookshop and again later in the story.

Those readers who, like me, have a fondness for a charming Epilogue won’t be disappointed.

MY VERDICT: Another enjoyable addition to this delightful series!

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2016

 

The Dukes’ Clubs series (click on the book covers for more details):

Once Upon a Duke (Duke's Club, #1) by Eva Devon Dreaming of the Duke (Duke's Club, #2) by Eva Devon Wish Upon A Duke (The Dukes' Club, #3) by Eva Devon Wish Upon A Duke (The Dukes' Club, #3) by Eva Devon Duke Ever After (Dukes' Club Book 5) by Eva Devon

 

** My thanks to Eva Devon for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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(Hot Arabian Nights, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency – Arabia, 1815)

Cover Blurb:

Rescued by the sheikh!

Abandoned in the desert, Julia Trevelyan finds herself at the mercy of Azhar, an imposing yet impossibly handsome Arabian merchant. Determined not to be intimidated by her rescuer—or their sizzling attraction! —she asks for his help…

But Prince Azhar is in fact the rightful heir to the Qaryma throne, returned from exile to take back his inheritance! He knows a dalliance with the enticing English adventuress is out of the question, yet he can’t deny the temptation to claim both his throne…and Julia!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

In this, her first book of her new Hot Arabian Nights series, Marguerite Kaye combines an emotive, romantic and passionate love story with the appeal of an exotic setting.

 

Sheikh al-Farid, Crown Prince Azhar of Qaryma

The last ten years had changed him for ever, shaped him into the man he was now, living the life he wanted to live.

Azhar has always accepted his position as heir to the Kingdom of Qaryma but, before having to eventually take on that role, he wants a taste of freedom…to live his own life for a while. This brought him into direct conflict with his father who wanted to control every aspect of Azhar’s life. At the age of twenty-one, realising that his father will never change his mind, he leaves Qaryma for good. In the intervening 10 years of exile, Azhar has built a successful business empire as an international trader, a job he really loves. However, he is compelled to return to Qaryma when his father dies, declaring Azhar to be his heir. He only intends to stay for a month before abdicating in favour of his brother, Kamal, and returning to running his business. A month should allow him time to ascertain the current state of the kingdom and ensure that Kamal will be a capable ruler. However, Azhar finds he must make some soul-searching decisions.

Azhar is everything a hero should be… honourable with a strong sense of duty. It is these very qualities that cause him such a dilemma when he makes some disturbing discoveries and must choose between freedom or duty. Despite his desire never to return to Qaryma, it is easy to see that he cares deeply for the kingdom and its people and wants them to have:

…only the king they deserved, a king who wanted to reign, and who was fit to reign.


Julia Trevelyan


Papa and Daniel both assumed my time theirs, their wishes mine. It never occurred to either of them that I might have wishes of my own.

Julia’s life has always been controlled either by her father or her late husband, Daniel. She describes her father as a “benevolent autocrat”, a man who was kind and caring but totally selfish. Her husband, an ambitious scientist, believed himself superior to her in every way and never valued her opinions. Even on his deathbed, he made her promise to finish his book, a comprehensive guide to rare and exotic species, and have it published and even persuade the president of the Horticultural Society of London to grant Daniel membership. Once she has fulfilled this promise, she intends to enjoy her new found freedom.

Julia is an intelligent woman, a botanist and an artist, whose abilities were never acknowledged by her father or her husband. I don’t blame her wanting to grab her freedom with both hands and live the life she wants. I also admire her courage (venturing into the desert might seem improbable but, in a recent interview, Ms Kaye made mention of four such pioneering women) and the fortitude she shows after discovering she has been drugged and robbed.

‘No point in imagining the worst,’ she told herself firmly. ‘Time to take stock, not give way to a fit of the vapours.’

The spark of attraction between Azhar and Julia is there from the beginning but I like how their relationship is able to develop before anything physical happens. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. Azhar is able to discuss issues with Julia because he finds her judgement sound and she is honest with him regardless of the consequences. The fact that Azhar finds Julia attractive gives her a confidence she has never had before and a desire to explore her own sexuality, something denied to her by her husband.

In the hot desert nights Azhar and Julia are bound to succumb to their feelings and Ms Kaye writes  vivid, sensual and passionate love scenes but also full of tenderness too.

Her eyes fixed on his, she lifted the tunic over her head and dropped it to the floor. Her arms fluttered up to cover her breasts, but she stilled them, standing proudly naked under his gaze. ‘Julia,’ was all he could manage. His whole body ached with desire. He could not resist touching her. Taking her long braid of hair in his hands, he undid the ribbon and began to untangle it, running his fingers through the fiery river of red, letting it ripple out over her shoulders, down her back, over the creamy mounds of her breasts.

Oh and I will certainly never look at ice cubes in the same way again!!

Julia knows that whatever choice Azhar makes, she can never be part of his life and their parting is inevitable. The scenes where I was privy to their thoughts were so emotional that I felt my heart would break for them even though I knew that somehow they would be together. The ending is romantic but I like that Azhar is realistic enough to admit that it won’t be easy for them.

Ms Kaye’s vivid imagery creates a real sense of mood and atmosphere. I could see the changing colours of the desert sky:

Julia watched, fascinated, as the vivid orange and gold-streaked sky gave way to a pale, soft night-blue, as if the sun, on its rapid descent to the horizon, dragged a stage backdrop behind it. The sparse puffy clouds segued from dark grey to pewter then white as the sky darkened to indigo and the stars made their appearance, a blanket of silvery jewels hung so low in the sky that she felt she could almost touch them.

…taste the dark, bittersweet coffee; smell the heady scents of the desert; feel the sway of the camel.

Whether it is her reference to the Horticultural Society of London, the flora of Arabia or the dress, customs and politics, Ms Kaye’s meticulous historical research is evident throughout the story.

MY VERDICT: If you enjoy a well-written, passionate love story, compelling characters, wonderful imagery and fascinating history, then I can definitely recommend this book.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read March 2016

 

Hot Arabian Nights series to date (click on the book covers for details)
The Widow and the Sheikh (Hot Arabian Nights #1) by Marguerite Kaye

2. The Sheik’s Mail Order Bride – August 2016
3. and 4. Titles and dates to be announced

 

**My sincere thanks to Marguerite Kaye for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review**

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(Business of Marriage, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1817)

Cover Blurb:

“What am I to him? A contract? A convenient solution?”

Laura Townsend’s plan to reclaim her family’s merchandise backfires when she creeps into moneylender Philip Rathbone’s house and threatens him with a pistol, only to find him reclining naked in his bath!

The last thing she expects is to see this guarded widower on her doorstep a couple of days later armed with a very surprising proposal. A marriage of convenience may be Laura’s chance to reclaim her future, but she won’t settle for anything less than true passion. Can she hope to find it in Philip’s arms?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I enjoyed this first book in Georgie Lee’s “Business of Marriage” series. It features a marriage of convenience but refreshingly both the hero and heroine are ordinary working people – not a title in sight.

Following the death of her father, Laura Townsend and her mother find themselves in the care of her Uncle Robert who has inherited her father’s flourishing draper business. However, he has borrowed money from moneylender Philip Rathbone to pay off his large gambling debts, using the business’s assets as collateral. When he defaults on the loan, having gambled the money away, Philip seizes the goods leaving Laura and her mother penniless and fearful for their future. Laura boldly confronts Mr Townsend, hoping to persuade him to consider her business proposal, but he flatly refuses. So it is with surprise that she finds him on her doorstep the next morning with a startling proposal of his own!

Widower Philip is in need of a wife, not only to look after his baby son and provide guidance to his thirteen-year-old sister but also learn and help him run his business. In Laura, he recognises all the qualities he is looking for, strength of character, courage and intelligence and proposes a marriage of convenience. Despite her misgivings about his cold, business-like proposal, Laura is realistic enough to appreciate that it offers security for her mother and herself, which is far preferable to the alternative…a life on the streets of Seven Dials.

Their situation was already growing desperate and she knew what happened to desperate women in Seven Dials.

I enjoyed how the relationship develops between Philip and Laura. Philip loved his first wife but, because she was frail, he blames himself for her death in childbirth. The only way he can cope with the terrible pain is to shut himself off from his emotions. He is attracted to Laura and I love how he wants to protect her and make her happy, but he is unwilling to surrender his heart, fearing he could never face that sort of loss again.

Laura demanded his respect and affection and he would give it, but he would not surrender his heart, He couldn’t.

Laura soon discovers that Philip is not the cold, unfeeling man she thought but a man who loves his son and his sister, Jane. The scene where she watches Philip soothing his little son is so touching.

The boy sniffed, his eyes growing heavy as his father continued to rock him and stroke his little back. Soon the child’s stuffy-nosed breaths gave way to steady quiet snores.

Laura’s insecurities sometimes lead her to mistrust Philip but I like how she is willing to admit to her mistakes. I also admire her determination to fight for a loving marriage and I enjoyed watching Philip’s defenses slowly crumbling. However, his sudden about turn following dramatic events towards the end of book does seem like an obstacle too far.

The secondary characters all extra interest to the story, especially Philip’s sister, Jane, Laura’s mother and Philip’s friend, Justin, whose story is told in A Too Convenient Marriage. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Mr Charton, one of Philip’s associates, is trying to talk about some of the rather “unusual” collateral they have inspected, only to have his wife drag him away.

For lovers of Epilogues like me, I am pleased to say that Ms Lee provides one that will be leave you with a nice warm glow.

MY VERDICT: An extremely enjoyable” marriage of convenience” story.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read March 2016


Business of Marriage series (click on the book covers for more information):

A Debt Paid in Marriage (Business of Marriage #1) by Georgie Lee A Too Convenient Marriage (Business of Marriage #2) by Georgie Lee Miss Marianne's Disgrace by Georgie Lee – 19th July 2016

 

**My sincere thanks to Georgie Lee for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review**

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(The Survivors’ Club, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

In Mary Balogh’s engaging and seductive new novel of drama and romance, a woman comfortable in her solitude allows temptation to free her heart, when a daring war hero shows her how truly extraordinary she is.

THE PROPOSAL

Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous–if beautiful–aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?

The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I LOVED THIS BOOK! Mary Balogh weaves an intelligent and touching story of two people from different social classes who find love. It’s an emotionally satisfying, character-driven romance written with her insightful glimpses into the human heart.

This is the first book in the series about a group of survivors of the Napoleonic Wars, all left scarred (emotionally, physically or both) by their experiences, who form a close bond while convalescing. THE PROPOSAL tells Hugo Emes, Lord Trentham’s story.

Hugo inherited his father’s vast business and trading empire and is vastly wealthy but proud of his middle class roots. He is brusque and plain spoken, and frowning seems to be his perpetual expression. He likes to spend time at his country home where he can enjoy peace and privacy and share the company of his adored half-sister, Constance. Hugo also carries a heavy burden of guilt, blaming himself for the deaths of his three hundred men lost in battle. There is something endearing about Hugo because despite his fierce and dour appearance, I knew he was kind and caring as it is so evident in his love for Constance and his desire to see her happy.

Gwen is the perfect lady…beautiful, elegant, poised and charming. Since the tragic death of her husband, she has been happy to remain a widow, content in providing help and support to her family and friends. I loved her cheerfulness and sense of humour and the fact that she never lets her physical handicap define who she is. I admired her strength during the difficult times in her marriage and the way she cared for and supported her “sick” husband. She also carries a heavy sense of guilt over his death, believing that had she acted differently, he may not have died.

The romance between Hugo and Gwen developed slowly which I really liked. It allowed time for mutual trust to grow until they were able to confide their deepest secrets to each other. It allowed them both to realise they shouldn’t feel guilt over their past actions. Both of them both grow and change as they fall in love but it is Hugo who undergoes the most significant but subtle changes; doing things he’d never done before…

He winked at her. Winked. He could not remember ever winking before in his life.

things he found himself enjoying…

He had never had a teasing relationship with any woman— or any sort of relationship, for that matter. It was all new and strange to him. And wonderful.

I love how Gwen is accepted wholeheartedly by Hugo’s family and the scenes played out against the background of the anniversary celebrations are some of my favourites – full of fun, laughter and lovely family moments.

We are introduced to the others members of The Survivors’ Club and I know I will be reading their books too.

MY VERDICT: A wonderful classic Regency romance. Highly recommended!

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Read March 2016


The Survivors’ Club series (click on the book covers for more details):

The Proposal (The Survivors' Club #1) by Mary Balogh The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2) by Mary Balogh The Escape (The Survivors' Club #3) by Mary Balogh Only Enchanting (The Survivors' Club, #4) by Mary Balogh Only a Promise (The Survivors' Club, #5) by Mary Balogh Only a Kiss (The Survivors' Club, #6) by Mary Balogh Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club #7) by Mary Balogh

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(Dashing Widows, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1820)

Cover Blurb:

Beauty – and the Beast?

When rough diamond Anthony Townsend, who also happens to be one of the richest men in England, bursts into Lady Fenella’s house and demands she hand over his runaway nephew, this dashing widow embarks on a breathtaking adventure that might just end in exciting new love.

Beauty…

Fenella, Lady Deerham, has rejoined society after five years of mourning her beloved husband’s death at Waterloo. Now she’s fêted as a diamond of the first water and London’s perfect lady. But beneath her exquisite exterior, this delicate blond beauty conceals depths of courage and passion nobody has ever suspected. When her son and his school friend go missing, she vows to find them whatever it takes. Including setting off alone in the middle of the night with high-handed bear of a man, Anthony Townsend. Will this tumultuous journey end in more tragedy? Or will the impetuous quest astonish this dashing widow with a breathtaking new love, and life with the last man she ever imagined?

And the Beast?

When Anthony Townsend bursts into Lady Deerham’s fashionable Mayfair mansion demanding the return of his orphaned nephew, the lovely widow’s beauty and spirit turn his world upside down. But surely such a refined and aristocratic creature will scorn a rough, self-made man’s courtship, even if that man is now one of the richest magnates in England. Especially after he’s made such a woeful first impression by barging into her house and accusing her of conniving with the runaways. But when Fenella insists on sharing the desperate search for the boys, fate offers Anthony a chance to play the hero and change her mind about him. Will reluctant proximity convince Fenella that perhaps Mr. Townsend isn’t so beastly after all? Or now that their charges are safe, will Anthony and Fenella remain forever opposites fighting their attraction?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

“…why don’t we all leave our old, sad days behind? Why don’t we all become dashing widows?”

Anna Campbell’s charming Dashing Widows series features three, young, widowed friends – Caroline, Lady Beaumont, Fenella, Lady Deerham and Helena, Countess of Crewe – who decide they need a little adventure in their lives and this second novella is Fenella’s story.

She’d loved once. She never wanted to love again.

Fenella lost her husband, Henry, when he was killed at the battle of Waterloo. She loved him deeply and cannot contemplate ever falling in love again. For the past five years she has led a quiet, safe life, devoting herself to her son Brandon. Now her friends, Caroline and Helena, have decided that it is time for her to move on and enjoy herself. Anthony’s dramatic entry into her life awakens long dormant emotions that she never wanted to feel again.

Anthony comes from a respectable family and is well-educated, although still a little rough around the edges. He is proud of his origins and has worked his way up to be owner of Townsend and Co, a worldwide trading company. He has travelled all over the world accumulating a vast fortune that arouses envy even in aristocratic circles. When his brother and sister-in-law are tragically killed in a yachting accident, he assumes the guardianship of his nephew, Carey. Anthony has never had much time for the ladies, especially aristocratic ones, whom he generally regards with disdain. However, Fenella has him rethinking his opinions …

Either he needed to revisit his opinion of upper-class women as basically useless. Or Fenella Deerham was a glorious exception to the rule.

I like how, during the journey in pursuit of the runaway boys and the stay at Beeches, Fenella comes to appreciate qualities in Anthony that she admires…his intelligence, strength and self-assurance. She sees how much he loves his nephew and the kindness he shows towards his old nurse and recognises him as a man of principles.

Time spent with Fenella only reinforces Anthony’s opinions of her…beautiful, warm, unselfish and not afraid to stand up to him. I love how honest he is about his feelings for her but never pushes Fenella beyond what she is comfortable with.

I felt that Fenella’s emotional turmoil is realistically portrayed. She feels guilty about her growing feelings for Anthony because they seem like a betrayal of her late husband and I once worked with a widow who had similar guilt feelings.  I did sometimes feel frustrated by the way Fenella keeps poor Anthony dangling –

“I feel like a prince in a fairytale, set a series of impossible challenges to win the princess.

– but he does, of course, win his princess and I enjoyed the love scene in the stables…a combination of urgent need, passion and tenderness.

I think these words from Fenella capture the essence of the story perfectly.

“Of course I love you. It took me completely by surprise because it’s not at all like what I felt for Henry. Our love was like a beautiful clear lake, unruffled and calm. When I’m with you, I feel like I’m aboard a great ship on a storm-tossed ocean. It’s exciting and daring and reassuring, all at the same time. And I feel like I’m heading for somewhere wonderful and exotic.”


MY VERDICT: A delightful and enjoyable addition to this entertaining series. Now I’m keen to see how Helena, Countess of Crewe, goes about WINNING LORD WEST.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read March 2016

 

The Dashing Widows series (click on book covers for more details):

The Seduction of Lord Stone (Dashing Widows, #1) by Anna Campbell Tempting Mr. Townsend (Dashing Widows, #2) by Anna Campbell Winning Lord West coming in early 2016.

 

**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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