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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Era’

(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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(Spindle Cove, #4.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A snowstorm hath no fury like a spinster scorned!

Miss Elinora Browning grew up yearning for the handsome, intelligent lord-next-door…but he left England without a word of farewell. One night, inspired by a bit too much sherry, Nora poured out her heartbreak on paper. Lord Dashwood Missed Outwas a love letter to every young lady who’d been overlooked by gentlemen—and an instant bestseller. Now she’s on her way to speak in Spindle Cove when snowy weather delays her coach. She’s forced to wait out the storm with the worst possible companion: Lord Dashwood himself.

And he finally seems to have noticed her.

George Travers, Lord Dashwood, has traveled the globe as a cartographer. He returned to England with the goal of marrying and creating an heir–only to find his reputation shredded by an audacious, vexingly attractive bluestocking and her poison pen. Lord Dashwood Missed Out, his arse. Since Nora Browning seems to believe he overlooked the passion of a lifetime, Dash challenges her to prove it.

She has one night.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

After reading the darkly compelling The Highwayman, I was in the mood for something light-hearted and fun and what better than Tessa Dare’s latest novella in her brilliant Spindle Cove series.

“Second chance at love” is one of my favourite tropes and when the estranged couple are forced to take shelter from a snow storm in an isolated cabin…even better. I know there will be lively dialogue, some soul-searching, and delicious sexy moments, all leading to a Happy Ever After. Add a rescue mission undertaken by all those heroes from the previous Spindle Cove books and how could I not enjoy this novella?

I like Nora, because instead of bottling up her negative feelings after Dash left, she puts pen to paper and has the courage to publish her pamphlet and become a successful author.

She’d come away with friendships, respect, a career of sorts— as much as gentlewomen were permitted to have careers. Women from all over England and beyond wrote to her, expressing their gratitude.

She has become her own woman…intelligent, strong and confident.

I admit that I didn’t have a very good opinion of Dash at first. His initial remarks seem particularly cruel and hurtful but it soon becomes apparent that this may well be a front, because you see his genuine care and concern for Nora when their coach skids off the road.

His fingers brushed a lock of loosened hair from her brow, and an idiotic frisson of pleasure chased through her. He’d never touched her so tenderly. No man had.

I like how the close proximity forces them, as adults, to confront their pasts and their feelings for each other. Dash is right when he says they were both young and needed time to become “their best and bravest selves”. He was a callow, immature youth and Nora ‘s dreams of marriage, children and a life spent with Dash were just girlish fantasies. It’s clear that, without those years apart, Nora would never have become an author and Dash, a cartographer.

There is plenty of sexual tension and a delicious sense of anticipation. I love this exchange between them.

“I don’t care how many lovers you’ve taken, nor how experienced they were.” She held up her index finger. “I have more passion in one fingertip than they have in their whole bodies.”
   He propped an elbow on the table. A smile played at the corners of his lips. “Why, Elinora Jane Browning. What on earth have you been doing with that fingertip?”
   “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

An added bonus is we get to see Griff, Colin, Bram and Thorne, the heroes from the previous books. Only they could play cards for fossils. and there is fun and laughter as they set off to rescue the stranded Miss Browning. When they mistake a smugglers’ den for a wayside inn, only Colin could come up with such lines as…

Colin cleared his throat and addressed the men. “Say, is this not the Ceylonese Mission Society meeting? I’m afraid we’ve taken a wrong turn, brothers. So sorry to trouble you. We’ll just be on our w—”

Don’t you just adore Colin?

MY VERDICT: This novella is a charming addition to the Spindle Cove series and I’m already anticipating my next visit there for Charlotte Highwood’s story, DO YOU WANT TO START A SCANDAL, to be published on 27th September.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read February 2016

Spindle Cove series (click on cover for more details):

A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1) by Tessa Dare Once Upon a Winter's Eve (Spindle Cove, #1.5) by Tessa Dare A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2) by Tessa Dare A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3) by Tessa Dare Beauty and the Blacksmith (Spindle Cove, #3.5) by Tessa Dare Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, #4) by Tessa Dare Lord Dashwood Missed Out (Spindle Cove, #4.5) by Tessa Dare Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Spindle Cove, #5) by Tessa Dare – to be released on 27th September

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(Blackshear Family, #0.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

It should have been simple…

With one more errand to go—the purchase of a hunting falcon—Andrew Blackshear has Christmas completely under control. As his sister’s impending marriage signals the inevitable drifting-apart of the Blackshear family, it’s his last chance to give his siblings the sort of memorable, well-planned holiday their parents could never seem to provide.

He has no time to dawdle, no time for nonsense, and certainly no time to drive the falconer’s vexing, impulsive, lush-lipped, midnight-haired daughter to a house party before heading home. So why the devil did he agree to do just that?

It couldn’t be more deliciously mixed-up…

Lucy Sharp has been waiting all her too-quiet life for an adventure, and she means to make the most of this one. She’s going to enjoy the house party as no one has ever enjoyed a house party before, and in the meanwhile she’s going to enjoy every minute in the company of amusingly stern, formidably proper, outrageously handsome Mr. Blackshear. Let him disapprove of her all he likes—it’s not as though they’ll see each other again after today.

…or will they? When a carriage mishap and a snowstorm strand the pair miles short of their destination, threatening them with scandal and jeopardizing all their Christmas plans, they’ll have to work together to save the holiday from disaster. And along the way they just might learn that the best adventures are the ones you never would have thought to plan.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is such a delightful story and a wonderful introduction to Cecilia Grant’s books. Not since reading my first Courtney Milan book have I been so excited about a new-to-me author. Even within the constraints of this novella, Ms Grant brings her characters to life and creates a story full of originality and charm.

Following his parents’ death, Andrew Blackshear has shouldered responsibility for the upbringing of his younger siblings. He has always endeavoured to set a good example by being the epitome of a gentleman… propriety and decorum are the principles he lives by. It is on a trip to the wilds of Norfolk to collect a Christmas gift for his sister that he finds himself stranded with a lady who tests his principles to breaking point.

An only child, Lucy Sharp has led a secluded life with her rather unconventional father. She loves him dearly but wants to do the things that all other young ladies do. So when she is invited to her aunt’s Christmas house party, she relishes the opportunity to enjoy herself. Never does she imagine that she will find herself stranded with the most pompous and judgemental gentleman it has been her misfortune to meet.

Despite being a stuffed-shirt, there is something endearing about Andrew. Perhaps it’s the way he clearly loves his siblings and does everything in his power to to give them the happiest Christmas he can, or seeing him thrown off-balance whenever he is around Lucy. His internal thoughts are so funny…

She ought to be told, with utmost obliqueness and discretion, of course, that such a gaze produced inconvenient stirrings in a gentleman, and could leave lingering impressions that might burgeon, in his private hours, to un-virtuous effect.

not forgetting the embarrassing sex dream!

Lucy’s warmth, kindness and common sense provide the perfect foil to Andrew’s decorum and she is clever enough to run circles around him.

I’m sorry, Miss Sharp.” He met her gaze unblinking. “I’m afraid I am unable to render you that service.”
   “Why?” She tilted her head, as blunt and guileless as a five-year-old who’d been denied a sweetmeat, and every bit as untroubled by manners.

Her kindness is shown in her understanding of the Porters’ true situation and her determination not to embarrass them and how she ensures that her maid, Perkins, can see her family for Christmas.

Often novellas don’t provide sufficient page time to develop a believable relationship between the hero and heroine but Ms Grant succeeds brilliantly. All the obstacles that are thrown in their path force Andrew and Lucy to work together to find solutions, allowing them to get to know and understand each other. It feels as if they have known each far longer than a just a few days and I readily accepted their falling in love.

I fell in love with Ms Grant’s witty and elegant writing style…

Somewhere in the last minute his heart seemed to have lurched off its moorings like a hot-air balloon and now it drifted unsteadily about the cavity of his chest.

His fingers had wandered to his own particularly naked region and taken up a light, un-purposeful sort of stroking. Even this much was a sin, to be sure, and a failure of his self-command.

She slipped her thumbs into his jacket where it opened to make way for his cravat, thumbnails dragging against the linen of his shirt and tickling his chest in gloriously impertinent fashion.

MY VERDICT: I have no hesitation in recommending this enchanting novella and I know the rest of the series will be high on my reading list.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS


SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read February 2016

 

Blackshear Family series (click on the book covers for more details):

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong (Blackshear Family, #0.5) by Cecilia Grant A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1) by Cecilia Grant A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2) by Cecilia Grant A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family, #3) by Cecilia Grant

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