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Posts Tagged ‘Victorian Era’

the-viscount-and-the-vixen

(The Helllions of Havisham, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian, 1882)

Cover Blurb:

Love begets madness. Viscount Locksley watched it happen to his father after his cherished wife’s death. But when his sire arranges to marry flame-haired fortune hunter Portia Gadstone, Locke is compelled to take drastic measures to stop the stunning beauty from taking advantage of the marquess. A marriage of mutual pleasure could be convenient, indeed . . . as long as inconvenient feelings don’t interfere.

Desperation forced Portia to agree to marry a madman. The arrangement will offer the protection she needs. Or so she believes until the marquess’s distractingly handsome son peruses the fine print . . .and takes his father’s place!

Now the sedate—and, more importantly, secure—union Portia planned has been tossed in favor of one simmering with wicked temptation and potential heartbreak. Because as she begins to fall for her devilishly seductive husband, her dark secrets surface and threaten to ruin them both—unless Locke is willing to risk all and open his heart to love.

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It is wonderful books like this that have made Lorraine Heath one of my top favourite authors. Her beautifully written and deeply emotional love stories keep me coming back for more.

After his mother died giving birth to him, Viscount Locksley (Locke)  watched his father, the Marquess of Marsden, slowly driven mad with grief over the loss of his beloved wife. Locke intends to marry eventually, but it will never be for love having seen first-hand the devastation such an emotion can cause. He chooses to bury himself in working alongside his men in the mines and managing the estates.

Concerned that Locke shows no signs of marrying soon and determined that his title and estates will not pass into the hands of his greedy cousin or his cousin’s son, the marquess plans to marry and acquire a “spare”. When he meets the prospective bride, Portia Gadstone, Locke is immediately suspicious of her motives and convinced she is nothing more than a social climbing, fortune hunter.  He will do anything possible to protect his father from her clutches, even marrying her himself.  In fact, she could prove the perfect wife for him.

Locke slid his gaze over to Portia Gadstone and, for the first time, clearly saw her for what she truly was. A mercenary, a title chaser, someone wanting to rise so badly above her station she would use any means necessary to accomplish her goal, including taking advantage of an aging gentleman. The sort of woman he could never grow to care for, could never love, could never give his heart to.
She was bloody perfect.

Locke is right about Portia in one respect – she will do anything to achieve her goal but not for the reasons he thinks.  Penniless, homeless and with a secret she must hide at all costs, marriage to the marquess will provide the safety and security she so desperately needs.  What she hasn’t bargained for is the Marquess of Marsden’s son thwarting her plans!  She could have charmed the elderly marquess but the handsome, virile, arrogant Locke is a very different proposition.

Ms Heath builds the romance between Locke and Portia beautifully, showing the gradual changes in their relationship. The scene where they first meet is full of barbed, witty exchanges and I enjoyed watching Portia getting a rise out of Locke in every sense of the word! Neither is looking for love but they are not averse to enjoying a physical relationship, leading to some steamy sex scenes.

I enjoyed watching Locke reluctantly accepting that his initial opinions of Portia are wrong. He sees how soft hearted she is when his father is talking about his beloved wife; she has no desire for “constant compliments, numerous baubles, and his undivided attention” like every other woman he has known; she makes him laugh and he finds that he wants to spend time with her as much out of the bedroom as in it.

I like Portia’s boldness in standing up to Locke and expressing her own views. She sees how deeply he cares for his father, his estates and his men and it is heart-warming to see how she brings light, joy and music back to the once dreary Havisham Hall.  She draws the marquess out of his reclusiveness and is the catalyst for Locke discovering so much about his mother he never knew.

It is obvious that Locke and Portia are falling in love –

Coming to know her husband filled her with a sense of satisfaction as well as a measure of dread, because she feared he had the power to shatter what remained of her fragile heart.

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It didn’t help matters that it always caused this odd sense of swelling in his chest that made it difficult to breathe for a few seconds whenever she flashed a smile.

but I knew any future happiness would soon be tested when Portia’s secret is finally revealed. The scene where she tells him of her deception is so heart-breaking and, although I understood Locke’s initial reaction, I very much sympathised with Portia and the choices she was forced to make. I like how Ms Heath always brings an element of social commentary to her books; in this case, the lack of women’s rights in the late Victorian era which forces Portia to take such drastic action to protect all she loves. Despite Locke’s cruel words, once he learns Portia’s full story and accepts his true feelings for her, I love how he confronts her sanctimonious father and moves heaven and earth to find her.

I especially adored the marquess who is kind, gentle and perceptive, such as when he tells Locke –

“Your mother’s beauty was all inside. Portia has a good bit in there as well. Don’t forget to look there”.

I like how he cleverly tricks Locke into marrying Portia. Perhaps he’s not as mad as everyone believes.

Although tinged with a little sadness, the Epilogue left me with a warm glow and a desire to read the forthcoming WHEN THE MARQUESS FALLS, the love story of the Marquess of Marsden and his beloved wife, Linnie.

MY VERDICT:   Another captivating and beautiful love story with characters that will touch your heart. Highly recommended!


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

The Hellions of Havisham series (click on the book covers for more details):

Falling Into Bed with a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham, #1) by Lorraine Heath The Earl Takes All (The Hellions of Havisham, #2) by Lorraine Heath The Viscount and the Vixen (Hellions of Havisham, #3) by Lorraine Heath When the Marquess Falls – March 14th 2017

**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**

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how-to-lose-a-duke-in-ten-days

(An American Heiress in London, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

From USA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke comes the story of a bargain, a marriage of convenience…and the chance for love to last a lifetime.

They had a deal…

From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.

But deals are made to be broken…

By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever, seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?

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HOW TO LOSE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS is the second book in Laura Lee Guhrke’s American Heiress in London series but it can be read as a standalone.

Please don’t let the rather light-hearted title of this book deter you because this is a tender, poignant and romantic second chance story.

Going home to New York spells disaster for Edie because she will not only have to face the scandal she left behind but also the man responsible for her ruination. So, she approaches the impoverished Duke of Margrave and proposes a marriage of convenience with certain conditions; she will pay off all his ancestors’ debts, pay him a generous allowance, support his sponging relatives and look after his estates on condition that he goes back to Africa, the country he loves, and never returns.

“I don’t want a husband in any sense but the legal one.”

Following his father’s death, Stuart had returned from Africa to find huge debts awaiting him and the creditors knocking at his door. Although he is rather surprised by Edie’s strange bargain, he is desperate to return to Africa and so agrees. But the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry. Five years later, after suffering a severe leg injury when a lioness mauls him, Stuart is forced to re-evaluate his life and decides it is time to return home and make his marriage a real one but he knows it won’t be easy.                                             

This was a new beginning, and a second chance. Not that the task ahead of him would be an easy one. He’d known then, and he knew now, that Edie had a wall around her it would not be easy to breach.

At first, Edie appears hard and inflexible towards Stuart.  With his return, she is afraid of losing the freedom and independence she has enjoyed over the past 5 years but her fears run far deeper. She has never told anyone, even her parents, about the traumatic event which left her emotionally scarred and with a deep-seated fear of intimacy.

She was like a wounded animal, he thought, looking at her. Fear and pain were in every line of her— in the taut stillness of her form and in her watchful, wary stare.

Stuart is such a wonderful hero. His injury causes him a great deal of pain but he never wallows in self-pity. He treats Edie with such patience and sensitivity and his slow but determined campaign to win her trust and her heart is just delicious. I love the scenes where Edie is massaging Stuart’s leg; they are sensual and positively sizzle with sexual tension.

Everywhere his body touched hers, he felt scorching hot. Slowly, as the seconds ticked by, she became aware of other things: the slow, deep labor of his breathing, the hard muscle of his calf beneath her fingertips, the scent of sandalwood— his soap, perhaps? Inexplicably, her body began to tingle.

Stuart is not above using additional weapons in his campaign, especially Joanna, Edie’s younger sister, who is determined to see these two reunited. It helps to have a spy in the camp!

Watching Edie gradually responding to Stuart’s gentle, considerate lovemaking and slowly emerging as a warm and passionate woman is so emotionally satisfying.

“I need you to be just the man you are, Stuart. I need to be reminded every day that I am a pretty, passionate woman, with golden freckles and lovely legs. I need you to touch me and caress me and make it like bliss. I need you to make love to me, and give me that sweet, sweet pleasure.”

MY VERDICT: A beautiful and deeply emotional second chance love story. Highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Read September 2016

 

An American Heiress in London series (click on the book covers for more details):

When the Marquess Met His Match (An American Heiress in London, #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (An American Heiress in London, #2) by Laura Lee Guhrke Catch a Falling Heiress (An American Heiress in London, #3) by Laura Lee Guhrke No Mistress Of Mine (An American Heiress in London, #4) by Laura Lee Guhrke

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The Hunter

(Victorian Rebels, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the proper Victorian-era ladies who love them, a hint of danger only makes their hearts beat faster…

A scandalous proposal.

As one of London’s most elite hunters, Christopher Argent never misses his mark and always gets his man. But when his latest target turns out to be a woman—the popular, and stunningly beautiful, actress Millie LeCour—it turns his whole world upside-down. Overwhelmed by the heat that simmers between them, Christopher can’t complete his mission. On the contrary, he’ll do anything to save Millie’s life—even if it means risking his own…

A dangerous passion…

When she learns what Christopher was hired to do, Millie is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this dangerous man’s arms may be her only path to safety—but giving in to her desire may be the deadliest mistake she’s ever made. With both of their lives in jeopardy, Millie and Christopher must learn to trust the real feelings they’re hiding—to find the true love they’re looking for…

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After reading The Highwayman, the first book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series last year, I knew I had found an author who was willing to push the established boundaries of historical romance with her dark, gritty, compelling stories and dangerous, tormented anti-heroes. The Hunter certainly didn’t disappoint.

 We were introduced to the mysterious Christopher Argent, in The Highwayman as Dorian Blackwell’s business associate and a cold, ruthless assassin who kills for money without either emotion or remorse. He has accumulated so much wealth that he has no need to accept any more contracts, but killing is all he knows and he’s an expert at what he does. His latest target is Millicent (Millie) LeCour, a popular actress, but when he sees her on stage he is affected in a way he has never experienced before.

It happened again. That curious little jolt in the cavern of his ribs. It was the same when she’d smiled at him from the stage. A startle of sensation. A current of awareness that singed along the nerves beneath his skin with warmth and maybe a touch of pleasure.

Christopher is still determined to fulfil the contract, but ultimately he cannot bring himself to take Millie’s life. Instead, he offers her a bargain – he will protect Millie and her son, Jakub, for one night in her bed. It is a bargain that is to change his life irrevocably.

Millie is a beautiful, talented and popular actress who thrives on the adoration of her audience but she has secrets which force her to keep everyone, other than her son, at arm’s length. Thoughts of marriage or even taking a lover are out the question because her secrets could endanger both her own and her son’s life. Jakub is the most important person in her life and she will do anything to protect him, even make a pact with the devil himself…no matter that the devil comes in the form of a man who has made a number of attempts on her life. She has no reason to trust Christopher Argent and every reason to fear him but…

Millie acknowledged that, in the instance, she didn’t need a white knight, but a shadow that could traverse the darkness with cunning and speed of that lethal viper.

 I went into this book with doubts that Ms Byrne could make me sympathetic towards a stone-hearted killer like Christopher Argent but, from the moment I’d finished reading the powerful and gut-wrenching Prologue, my heart ached for the young Christopher. No-one could endure everything he did and retain any shred of humanity.

It (killing) was all he knew. All he was good at.  And never in his life had he questioned his place, never looked back into the abyss of the past. Never thought of that pathetic, powerless boy he’d once been.
Or of that night he’d lost his soul.

Meeting Millie has him confused and unable to understand what’s happening to him because, until now, he has cut himself off from all human emotions. Watching him struggle with his newly discovered feelings is so compelling and one of my favourite scenes is where Dorian describes to him what love feels like. I love how we see small glimpses that show Christopher still has a shred of humanity in him; his overwhelming need to protect Millie and her son and how gentle he is with Jakub. The scene where Christopher sings the same lullaby to Jakub that his mother used to sing to him was so poignant.

I love Millie’s warmth, strength, intelligence, courage and her overwhelming love for her son. Her life hasn’t been easy but she had the determination and passion to achieve her ambition of becoming an actress.  This makes her a worthy match for Christopher. She may fear him but that doesn’t stop her threatening him, as she does when he tries to wake her at what she considers to be an ungodly hour.

“And if you wake me before nine in the morning again, I’ll pâté your liver and have it with my breakfast. Now get out.”

 Millie feels compassion for Christopher when she discovers everything he suffered as a young boy; it helps her understand him more and what horrors made him into the heartless killer he became. She also realises that he must break the chains of the past before he can tread a different path in life. I like how Ms Byrne doesn’t try to redeem Christopher because nothing can ever erase his past deeds. Intrinsically, she doesn’t change who he is but offers him in the words of Inspector Morley…

“A different life. A better path. The chance to be a force for good. To be a better man.”

The love scenes are steamy, intense and often explicit but I think they perfectly reflect Christopher’s changing emotional state. I especially love the scene where Christopher believes he is making love to Millie in a dream…a dream that always turns into a nightmare but this time it doesn’t. It is such an emotional scene revealing Christopher’s fears and vulnerability when it comes to Millie.

I loved Jakub, Millie’s son, who is such an intelligent and inquisitive child. There are some delightful scenes between Jakub and Christopher including this one when Jakub announces…

“I like you, Mr. Argent,” he announced. “I like that you don’t lie to me because I’m not yet a man. You can go on kissing my mother if you want, so long as you don’t ruin her.”

Dorian and Farah (The Highwayman) play an important role in the story and I enjoyed seeing them still very much in love. I also enjoyed the scenes between Dorian and Christopher which provide some light-hearted moments.  It is wonderful to see a genuine friendship forming between these two.

I found the mystery plot engrossing but there are some realistically brutal and violent parts which may not be to everyone’s taste. One of the villains commits crimes that are particularly heinous and there are some twists and turns before the identity of the person who wants Millie killed and the fate of the missing boys are revealed.

 Although there is no Epilogue (but perhaps we will see more of Christopher and Millie in the next book), I did love the ending with some heart-felt, romantic words from Christopher and a little drollery from Millie and Welton, the butler.

 MY VERDICT: If you are in the mood for something compelling and intense with a suspenseful plot, fascinating characters and a darkly emotional romance, I can definitely recommend The Hunter.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

 

Read August 2016

 

Victorian Rebels series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

The Highwayman (Victorian Rebels, #1) by Kerrigan Byrne The Hunter (Victorian Rebels, #2) by Kerrigan Byrne The Highlander (Victorian Rebels, #3) by Kerrigan Byrne The Duke (Victorian Rebels, #4) by Kerrigan Byrne

 

**I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a honest review.”

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(Rules for the Reckless, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Romance sizzles between a famous heiress and an infamous crime lord in this fourth sexy novel in the Rules for the Reckless series from the USA Today bestselling author of Fool Me Twice.

They call her the “Ice Queen.” Catherine Everleigh is London’s loveliest heiress, but a bitter lesson in heartbreak has taught her to keep to herself. All she wants is her birthright—the auction house that was stolen from her. To win this war, she’ll need a powerful ally. Who better than infamous and merciless crime lord Nicholas O’Shea? A marriage of convenience will no doubt serve them both.

Having conquered the city’s underworld, Nick seeks a new challenge. Marrying Catherine will give him the appearance of legitimacy—and access to her world of the law-abiding elite. No one needs to know he’s coveted Catherine for a year now—their arrangement is strictly business, free from the troubling weaknesses of love. Seduction, however, is a different matter—an enticing game he means to ensure she enjoys, whether she wishes to or not…

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After reading Lady Be Good, I was certainly interested in two of the secondary characters, the beautiful but icy Catherine Everleigh and the ruthless ruler of Whitechapel, Nicholas (Nick) O’Shea. Neither came off as particularly likeable in that book and I was intrigued to see how Ms Duran could not only change my mind about them, but also create a believable romance between two such dissimilar characters both in temperament and social standing.

I like Ms Duran’s effective use of the Prologue to provide insight into Catherine and Nick’s childhoods. This gave me a better understanding of the influences at play in shaping the people they became.

From a very young age, Catherine’s life has revolved around Everleigh Auction House, the family business. She is smart for her age and her father has encouraged and developed her interest in art and antiques to the exclusion of all else. It is a lonely childhood with normal childhood experiences discouraged and no friends. My heart went out to her when she looks out of the window to watch two girls laughing and skipping and convinces herself that she doesn’t need friends when…

She got to come to her father’s auction rooms. No other children were allowed at Everleigh’s. Being here made her special.

Now an expert in the field of art and antiques, Catherine is proud of her business achievements and the auction house has become her life, albeit a lonely one. She has no time for socialising and no interest in fashions, the latest gossip or the latest novels. She and her brother, Peter, have each inherited a half-share in Everleigh’s but Catherine will not acquire control over her share until she marries. In the meantime, her brother controls everything and she is aware that he has been embezzling money from the business to fund his political ambitions and now he is threatening to sell the business. She is desperate to gain control of her share to thwart his plans but the only solution is to marry and…

She knew just the man to bring Peter to heel. All it would require of her was a great deal of…and a reckless disregard for decency and the law.

– the notorious Nick O’Shea.

The letters that pass between Catherine and Nick, when she tries to arrange a meeting with him to discuss her proposition, are not only funny but also cleverly supply details of the circumstances under which they first met.

Forced to fend for himself on the streets of the east end of London at the age of eleven, Nick has clawed his way up to become the wealthy, notorious and powerful crime lord who controls Whitechapel, one of roughest parts of the east end. Despite his reputation, most of the things he has achieved have been through hard work, determination and a keen business mind. The income from his gambling palace and legitimate businesses have meant he is no longer involved in petty crime.

Nick is the sort of hero I adore…rough around the edges but a good man at heart. He truly cares about the weak and vulnerable of Whitechapel and rules through respect rather than fear.

Once this quarter of Whitechapel had looked different— violent, ugly, choked with rubbish. But now it boasted orderly streets, solid tenements, quiet nights, and schools with no seats to spare.

When Catherine puts her “marriage of convenience” proposal to Nick, she never dreams that he has been watching her for years and also sees it as an opportunity to further his own goals.

“I take it that you’re a cynic in matters of love.”
“In every matter, sweetheart.”
“Good. So am I.” “Why, we’re a perfect match, then.”

Cynical they may be but I knew that eventually they would succumb to cupid’s arrow, but it is their journey that kept me captivated. To ensure that the marriage cannot be challenged by Catherine’s brother, it has to be consummated and this scene is both amusing and highly sensual and we discover exactly what is in the package Catherine is carrying!

I enjoyed seeing each of them grow and change during the course of the story. Despite his reputation, Catherine comes to realise that Nick is an honourable, kind and decent man who genuinely cares about the people of Whitechapel. I love how Nick listens to Catherine, respects her opinions, treats her as an equal and never questions her right to work. Nick stirs Catherine’s latent passions and Catherine makes Nick see that he has the ability to fulfil his ambitions.

… she had a way of leading him into dreaming. She made him imagine, hope for, ideas and realities he’d never himself known.

Peter, Catherine’s brother, is a truly nasty piece of work but I love the lengths Nick will go to protect Catherine and enjoyed seeing him scare the hell out her odious brother!

MY VERDICT: A beautifully written story with layered, complex characters and real emotional pull. One I can definitely recommend.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read July 2016


Rules for the Reckless series (click on the book cover for more details):

Your Wicked Heart (Rules for the Reckless, #0.5) by Meredith Duran That Scandalous Summer (Rules for the Reckless, #1) by Meredith Duran Fool Me Twice (Rules for the Reckless, #2) by Meredith Duran Lady Be Good (Rules for the Reckless, #3) by Meredith Duran Luck Be a Lady (Rules for the Reckless, #4) by Meredith Duran A Lady's Code of Misconduct (Rules for the Reckless, #5) by Meredith Duran

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(The Ravenels, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A ruthless tycoon

Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better . . .

A sheltered beauty

Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable . . . the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Marrying Mr. Winterborne

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After being somewhat disappointed by Cold-Hearted Rake, I LOVED this book! It reminded me in so many ways of the wonderful Wallflowers and Hathaways series.

My Rhys Winterborne

Ms Kleypas writes some of the dreamiest self-made heroes in Historical Romance and I’m adding Rhys Winterborne to that illustrious list. I love how, from the moment he meets Helen, this big, arrogant, ruthless Welshman is totally crazy about her and complete putty in her hands.

He had always enjoyed women casually, sampling their favors with relaxed ease. Not one of them had ever caused this aching craving that Helen seemed to have unlocked from the center of his soul.

My Lady Helen Ravenel

Helen reminds me so much of Evie in The Devil in Winter. At first, she appears sweet and shy but soon reveals an inner strength and I love how she is more than a match for Rhys in her own quiet, determined way. She knows who and what she wants and is bold enough to go after it.

He was no Byron, no poetry-spouting connoisseur of seduction. He was a Welshman with stamina. As for techniques and romance— well, obviously that was best left to the French.

In fact, Rhys is surprisingly romantic and I love how he treats Helen with total adoration; woos her and shows such tenderness and caring. The scene where he shows her his special gift is just beautiful and utterly romantic. It had me sighing dreamily. I love his reaction when Helen shares her darkest secret with him, believing he wouldn’t want her anymore. It made me love him even more.

Ms Kleypas’s love scenes are sensual but also full of emotion and tenderness.

No matter how long he stared at Helen, he couldn’t have his fill. Every detail of her struck fresh notes of pleasure in him: the supple lines of her body, the pretty curves of her breasts. The white-blonde hair that spilled and streamed over his forearm, catching light as if it were liquid. And most of all her face, innocent in sleep, bereft of its usual composed mask. The wistful softness of her mouth went straight to his heart. How was it that he could hold her so close and still want more of her?

Helen’s combination of naivety and burgeoning boldness is so endearing and I love Rhys’s down-to-earth answers and explanations.

I enjoyed all the smaller details we discover like Helen’s love of orchids and Rhys’s love of peppermint creams (a favourite of mine too). Living in Wales, I adore the Welsh endearments Rhys uses like “Cariad” and “Bychan” and, being English, I appreciated the glossary provided in the Author’s Note.

There is a wonderful cast of secondary characters who enrich the story and are all deserving of their own stories. There is West who has renounced his former rakish ways in favour of muddy boots and breeches; the quirky, irrepressible twins Pandora and Cassandra; Rhys’s enigmatic friend Severin and Dr. Garrett Gibson, determined to succeed in a male dominated profession and provides one of the best quotes in the book:

“This is Mr. Winterborne. The one with the department store. He needs to be treated by a real physician with experience and proper training, not to mention—”
“A penis?” she suggested acidly. “I’m afraid I don’t have one of those. Nor is it a requirement for a medical degree. I am a real physician, and the sooner I treat Mr. Winterborne’s shoulder, the better it will go for him.”

Ms Kleypas captures the Victorian world perfectly, painting vivid images, whether it be clothing, food, Rhys’s department store or the grimy London tenements.

Like everyone else, I’m so excited about the next book, Devil in Spring, which features Pandora as the heroine and I think it’s common knowledge among Lisa Kleypas fans that the hero of this book is Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, Sebastian and Evie’s (The Devil in Winter) son. I love the idea of revisiting favourite characters from The Wallflowers series and I’m hoping that Gabriel will be “a chip off the old block”. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until 21st February 2017 to find out.

MY VERDICT: A captivating, romantic and passionate love story, wonderful characters and lyrical, evocative writing make this a must read for anyone who loves Historical Romance. Highly recommended!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read June 2016

 

The Ravenels series so far (click on the book covers for more details):
Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels, #1) by Lisa Kleypas Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels, #2) by Lisa Kleypas

3. Devil in Spring – 21st February 2017

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Genre: Historical Romance Erotic (Victorian – Morocco 1893)

Cover Blurb:

In the heat of the desert night, passion rises like a flame…

Raised in a brothel, Allegra Synnford quickly learned that survival meant taking charge of her destiny. Now, as a renowned courtesan skilled in the pleasures of the flesh, she vows she will never be vulnerable to any one man…

Sheikh Shaheen of the Amazigh has been hiding from his past for a long time, but not enough to forget how another courtesan made him abandon his life as the Viscount Newcastle. When Allegra ignites his desire, his need threatens to undermine his cover.

With old enemies circling, experience tells him he must resist her charms at all costs. But Allegra has her own game to play…with a man who can’t afford to lose.

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This is the second book I have read by Monica Burns and, although I don’t think it is quite as good as MIRAGE, the suspense, steamy romance, interesting characters and evocative setting make this a very enjoyable read.

Allegra Synnford

The young Allegra suffers the same fate as her older sister when her mother sells her to a brothel owner. She is finally able to escape this existence when she becomes the mistress of Arthur, Earl of Bledsoe. The scandal surrounding his death serves to create the illusion of a courtesan unparalleled. Men are drawn to her but Arthur’s death has given her the independence to choose the men she takes to her bed. She always needs to be in control and never becomes emotionally involved.

She was always the one who seduced. The one in control. Men succumbed to her not the other way around.

Allegra is strong, resilient, courageous and, above all, a survivor and I like how she never apologises for making the best of a life that was not of her choosing. She is a good person at heart which is clearly shown in her love for her niece, Cordelia. She wants Cordelia to have someone who really cares about her and wants her to be happy, something that Allegra never had in her own life.

Sheikh Shaheen/Robert Camden, Viscount Newcastle

15 years ago Robert left England after his involvement with and betrayal by a courtesan led to the tragic death of his older brother, James. Disowned by his father and racked by guilt over his brother’s death, Robert seeks death in the Moroccan desert only to be saved by Sheikh Khalid Mahmood. As Sheikh Shaheen, Robert builds a new life for himself and the Amazigh people become like family to him. He has successfully negotiated treaties between the various warring Bedouin tribes and earned the respect of not only the Bedouins but also the Spanish and French governments that control the Moroccan Sultanate. These treaties and the life he had made for himself could easily be destroyed if his true identity became known.

Shaheen is definitely an alpha hero…strong, arrogant, stubborn and a man who likes to be in control. He has never talked about his past to anyone, even Khalid, but these tragic events will colour his initial assumptions about Allegra. He is immediately intrigued by her but believes Allegra to be shallow just like Frances, the courtesan who betrayed him, but he finds that Allegra is constantly shattering his preconceptions about her.

Once again, she’d shattered another preconceived notion of his – her simple scent surprised him. he’d expected a musky perfume, something exotic, not something so simple and natural, delicate gestures that were completely natural and without artifice?

He sees a woman with principles…a woman with spirit, who isn’t afraid to defy him or bravely stand up to the cruel Sheikh Nassar. He wants to discover the real woman beneath the façade of a seductive courtesan.

Allegra is attracted to Shaheen but will never relinquish control of her life. He both captivates and infuriates her and throws her off balance. One minute he can be caring but the next arrogant and commanding.

I love the battle of wills between these two strong-willed and stubborn people. Allegra refuses to allow any man to control her but Shaheen is a man who demands total submission. This conflict creates a volatile relationship which only serves to heighten the sexual tension simmering between them. The erotic banana scene, where Allegra wins her bet, is definitely not to be missed!

Shaheen makes a lot of mistakes when it comes to his relationship with Allegra but I could understand his reasoning for acting the way he does even though he is sometimes harsh and hurtful. I was pleased to see that Allegra doesn’t make it easy for him at the end and he has to do some serious grovelling.

There are some interesting secondary characters including Millie, Allegra’s friend and companion; Laila, Khalid’s feisty daughter; Hakim, Khalid’s son and heir, who develops a crush on Allegra creating tension between him and Shaheen; Shaheen’s distant cousin Charles, who presents some problems for our hero and the sadistic villain Nassar, Khalid’s brother.

I enjoyed the fast pace of the story with its mix of regional politics, intrigue and danger and Ms Burns doesn’t shy away from showing Nassar’s cruel and degrading treatment of Allegra. A truly nasty piece of work and I was glad to see him meet a sticky end.

Ms Burns has an innate ability to draw me into her stories with writing that is evocative, emotive and sensual. Her vivid imagery brings to life the sights, sounds and smells of the exotic Moroccan setting.

MY VERDICT: If you enjoy an action-packed tale of passion, desire and love with an exotic setting, then this is for you


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read May 2016

**I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. **

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(The Hellions of Havisham, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

One summer night, Edward Alcott gives in to temptation and kisses Lady Julia Kenney in a dark garden. However, the passion she stirs within him is best left in the shadows as she weds his twin, the Earl of Greyling. But when tragedy strikes, to honor the vow he makes to his dying brother, Edward must pretend to be Greyling until the countess delivers her babe.

After her husband returns from a two-month sojourn, Julia finds him changed. Bolder, more daring, and more wicked—even if he does limit their encounters to kisses. With each passing day, she falls more deeply in love.

For Edward the embers of desire sparked on that long-ago night are quickly rekindled. He yearns to be her husband in truth. But if she discovers his ruse, she will despise him—and English law prevents him from marrying his brother’s widow. Yet he must dare to risk everything and reveal his secrets if he is to truly take all.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Once again, Lorraine Heath enchanted me with this beautifully written and deeply emotional love story. It takes an exceptional writer to make such a challenging and potentially unpopular plot line work and, although I know some readers will disagree, I think she does this brilliantly.

“Do you know what I think, Allie? I think the weasel— who is supposed to be the villain of our tale— may just turn out to be the hero.”

For me, the success of this book hinged on Ms Heath’s ability to make me see Edward as a worthy hero and Julia’s words to her daughter echo my thoughts precisely (the weasel reference makes sense when you read the book).

Edward has always accepted his place as the second son without ever being envious or jealous of Albert. He is happy receiving an allowance and living a life free of responsibility. Early on, we learn that Edward has had feelings for Julia ever since they first met, but he loved his brother too much to do anything to hurt him. So he was willing to cultivate a disreputable reputation in order to protect Albert and Julia from any potential gossip.

I felt so much sympathy for Edward. He is caught between a rock and a hard place. He must fulfil the promise he made to his brother knowing just how devastating it will be when he has to admit the truth to Julia.

In manner, thought, and deed, he had to become the Earl of Greyling. At least until Julia delivered the heir.
Then he would be obliged to do what he did best: give her another reason to hate him by revealing the truth, breaking her heart, and shattering her world.

Constantly thrown into intimate situations with Julia, Edward struggles to keep his passion for her in check. I could feel his torment…to know that everything Julia did, said or felt wasn’t for him but for the man she thought he was.

Edward shows his true colours in so many ways. He has never wanted responsibility, but he steps up to oversee the running of his late brother’s estate, even before he officially becomes the Earl of Greyling. He shows his care and compassion when he personally looks after Mrs Lark and her family even at risk to himself. Who could not fail to love a man who is so gentle and tender with his little niece.

Nanny was sitting in a chair with a lamp burning low and a book in her hands. Not Alberta. She wasn’t holding Alberta.
   Edward was. Lying on Nanny’s bed, his eyes closed, Alberta on his chest, her knees tucked beneath her so her tiny bum was sticking up in the air. Pillows formed a barrier on either side of his body so if she rolled she wouldn’t roll far. Not that Julia thought she was likely to move at all. One of his large hands was splayed over her back, holding her in place.

Julia see changes in her husband and puts these down to the effects of travelling with his friends. He has become more forceful, more determined and more attentive, all of which makes him more appealing and she finds herself falling more madly in love with him.

His touches came more frequently, his interest in her more intense. He seemed to care about every aspect of her. She thought she’d loved him as much as it was possible to love any man. Strange to realize that she loved him a little bit more each day.

Although she missed Albert, in his absence Julia has changed becoming more independent, more confident and making her own decisions. I love that she is not as prim and proper as she appears. She has always wanted to be sexually imaginative but feared her rather upright husband would be appalled.

I was just waiting for the moment that Julia would discovers Edward’s deception, and when she does I could feel all her pain and the subsequent scene in the mausoleum is so heart-breaking. At this point, it was impossible to imagine how their relationship could ever be salvaged but Ms Heath gradually brings them back together again. There is still one apparently insurmountable obstacle to overcome, but I found that Ms Heath’s note at the end of the book, in which she highlights her research into this particular aspect, not only provides some interesting historical background but also a believable path to Edward and Julia’s Happy Ever After.

I love the idea of Julia’s whimsical creatures and I also enjoyed seeing Ashe, Minerva and Locke. For those of you who love Epilogues, there is a lovely heart-warming one

MY VERDICT: Lorraine Heath weaves a complex, captivating and beautiful love story. Highly recommended!

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2016

 

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

Falling Into Bed with a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham, #1) by Lorraine Heath The Earl Takes All (The Hellions of Havisham, #2) by Lorraine Heath

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