AUDIO REVIEW: A Code of Love by Jacki Deleki, narrated by Pearl Hewitt

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Threatened by French spies, assassins, and calculating suitors, can Lady Henrietta Harcourt trust the infamous rake, Lord Cordelier Rathbourne, with her carefully guarded family secrets?

In his new, undisclosed position as Director of English Intelligence, Cord faces more peril keeping the brilliant, Harcourt family of code breakers safe than he did as undercover spy in Napoleonic France.

Cord’s passionate attraction for the indomitable Henrietta hasn’t diminished in his four years abroad, but neither has Henrietta’s memory of his libertine past.

In pursuit of the missing brother, Henrietta and Cord become entangled in a web of international intrigue, danger, and white hot passion.

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Publisher and Release Date: Doe Bay Publishing, July 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1802 London and Paris
Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

The members of Lady Henrietta (Hen) Harcourt’s family are experts at code deciphering and her older brother, Michael, has been in Paris on a secret mission, and has not been heard from in a while. Hen has trained in the code breaking arts alongside her beloved but ailing, Uncle Charles, and has undertaken some code work of her own, a very unusual and dangerous occupation for anyone, much less a young woman of good family in early nineteenth century England. When Michael sends Hen a code book for safe keeping, Hen’s life suddenly becomes threatened.

Enter Lord Cordelier (Cord) Rathbourne – an unusual name – a renowned rake whom Hen has known of for years in social circles, and to whom she is secretly attracted, albeit against her better judgement. Cord knows all about the Harcourt family’s unique talents. After all, he is their superior as the Director of English Intelligence. And years ago, he fell in love with Hen during her very first London season, but circumstances cut her promising season short and they fell out of touch.

Henrietta doesn’t know any of this; she only knows that Cord is a promiscuous rogue and she has never approved of him. She’s also very angry at her own unwanted attraction to him. She doesn’t know the real reasons behind his past actions and reputation – he was once a spy in Napoleonic France. Cord has always been attracted to Hen, not only for her beauty but also her keen intelligence and talent at code breaking and he wants the chance to win her heart as well as keep her and her family safe. But he struggles with keeping the true nature of his occupation from her while trying to court her.

I feel this story is best appreciated over frequent listenings since the strategies and spy games can be somewhat confusing. In fact, I’d say it’s possibly even more prominent than the central love story which, while pleasing to listen to, is a little on the tame side rather than searingly passionate. This is not a complaint, however – although if you enjoy your romances on the spicier side, you may be a bit disappointed. But if you like conspiracy, there’s plenty of that here.

I feel like I didn’t get to know Cord quite as well as I got to know Hen. I could feel Hen’s fears, her indignation, and her joy; all of these emotions are conveyed very well by Ms. Hewitt. The male characters, in comparison, seem a little stiff and formal, especially the Frenchmen. At the same time, however, Hen also comes across as a bit girlish and young, and her younger brother, Edward, is annoying and I feel done a little over the top for emotional manipulation.

What is extremely effective here, however, is the love and protectiveness that Hen feels for her family – her wayward brother, Michael and her beloved and ill Uncle Charles – as well as the love that Cord feels for Hen.

This story is rich in its exciting atmosphere of Napoleonic intrigue in both Paris and London, but this audiobook recording reminds me at times of a Georgette Heyer novel of manners. I think it’s because of the narrator, Pearl Hewitt, whose voice sounds more cozy than serious. Her reading, while crystal clear and pleasing to the ear, feels more comforting than suspenseful so I wasn’t quite sure if I should feel fear during the more tension-filled parts of the story or consolation that everything would turn out fine eventually. Which it always does in historical romance. Ms Hewitt’s voice doesn’t quite match the menacing content of this novel, and she reminds me a little of Ruth Sillers, who recently narrated Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders.

This is the first in Jacki Delecki’s Code Breakers series and its Epilogue promises even more adventures to come.

A well written and entertaining novel of spies, secrets, and seduction.

RETRO REVIEW: Reforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla Kelly

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Emma Costello owed a debt of honor to one of the most dishonorable lords in the realm. The infamous Lord Ragsdale was as rich as sin, as sinful as he was rich, and as heartless as he was handsome. But he had saved Emma from a fate worse than death when he stopped a lecherous brute from buying her as an indentured servant.

It was Emma’s turn now to save Lord Ragsdale from his wicked ways. She had to find a way to stop his drinking, his gaming, his wild revelry. She had to make him break with his mistress, the superbly sensual Fae Moulle. She had to make him a suitable suitor for the ideal wife that the prim and proper Lady Clarissa Partridge would be. And above all, she had to keep his lustful eye from lingering too long on herself–even as she struggled to keep her own growing desire from undoing all her hard work in the unmaking of this irresistible rake.

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Publisher and Release Date: Signet, October 1995

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Regency Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars

Review by Lady Wesley

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of romance novels that have brought me to tears. To that list I must add Reforming Lord Ragsdale.

John Staples, Marquess of Ragsdale, is an unrepentant rake. Not the handsome, charming, amiable kind of rake frequently found in romance novels. He’s a drunkard who neglects his duties (although he is good to his mother). He’s too lazy to hire a valet or to replace the secretary he fired for stealing. He’s even too indolent to rid himself of his stupid mistress, whom he doesn’t even like. His behavior is not like that of other romance heroes either. In one early scene, we find him waking up drunk, fully clothed, and filthy from his own vomit. It’s just another typical morning. Later, he visits his mistress and “attempting exercise far beyond his capacity,” he leaves embarrassed and sulky.

He was disfigured by the loss of an eye while fighting in Ireland, which is also where he witnessed a mob murdering his father. He’s wracked with guilt because he was unable to save him, and he hates the Irish with a passionate vengeance. When his American cousins, Robert and Sally Claridge, arrive for a visit, he immediately dislikes Sally’s indentured Irish servant Emma Costello, although he finds himself intrigued to learn that she has knowledge of Greek mythology and Shakespeare. When cousin Robert tries to put up Emma’s indenture as stakes in a card game, however, even Lord Ragsdale is horrified at the inhumanity of it. He rescues Emma by offering his two excellent horses in her place. Suddenly, he owns Emma’s indenture, and she indignantly pledges to repay him the two thousand pounds that the horses cost.

I said earlier that Lord Ragsdale was unrepentant, but in fact there is a part of him that knows he’s wasting his life. He wants to be better, but his lassitude is too consuming. One night, in a drunken haze, he begs Emma to reform him, and she immediately sees her chance. She will reform this worthless man, and in so doing earn her release.

It turns out that Emma is an educated, talented, and ruthlessly strong woman whose life was ruined in the battle between England and Irish rebels. She dislikes the English no less than Lord Ragsdale abhors the Irish. Between them, however, a reluctant friendship develops, as she sets about organizing his finances, getting rid of the mistress, and stopping his out of control drinking. Emma encourages Lord Ragsdale to find a wife, and indeed he becomes the ideal fiancé for Miss Clarissa Partridge, a perfect little society chit of the sort he always expected to marry.

Eventually, Emma comes to trust Lord Ragsdale enough to share her past with him, and he goes out of his way to help her find out the fate of her lost family. Their friendship slowly turns to love, but they both know, without discussing it, that there is no future for them together. As the story enters its final pages, Lord Ragsdale is set to marry Clarissa, and Emma is leaving England, and the reader despairs of a happy ending. But fear not . . . .

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The plot is engaging, with plenty of humor as well as angst; the language sparkles. There’s no sex – just a couple of kisses – but there’s something better: real, unselfish love between two people who never expected to find it.

Better Than a Present by Cynthia Moore

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While in London on business during the Season, Lord Paul Russell, attracted by a beautiful woman, fails in securing a place on her dance card. The next morning when he returns to Cornwall, he wonders if this mystery woman will still be available.

Bored by all the eligible gentlemen she meets, Lady Samantha Grayson desires more than their meaningless conversations and preoccupation with silly fashion requirements. Only one gentleman catches her eye, but she misses her chance to speak to him, never encountering him again the rest of the Season.

A sudden snowstorm on Christmas Eve morning catches Samantha alone and unprotected. When she seeks shelter in a nearby cottage, she is astonished when the door opens to the very man who caught her interest in London a few months ago. What was doomed to be an uneventful Christmas, to her pleasant surprise could be better than a present.

Publisher and Release Date: Wild Rose Press Inc., June 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: London, 1818
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Kate

Better Than a Present is a well-written quick read but it is also unpredictable and the dialogue constantly kept me guessing what was coming next. The detail Cynthia Moore adds is interesting and I found each character’s characteristics were relateable to myself in some way – especially in the case of Samantha, a 24 year old woman eager to meet the gentleman of her dreams.

Samantha proves to love all things pertaining to nature, adventure, disguises and has a general love of excitement:

“She [Samantha] loved spending as much time as possible outdoors. On days when bad weather kept her inside, she loved to read books describing the native trees and flowers of Great Britain. She had a secret wish to someday visit Cornwall and see the lovely gardens there by the sea.”

Also, I loved the humor that the author throws into the romance just as the challenges faced are becoming evident. It was very amusing for me to read about the fix that Samantha, for example, gets herself into when her charming plan of escape is largely obstructed by a Christmas Eve storm and as she finds shelter in preparation for the worst of it.

I can’t say that I felt a wealth of Christmas spirit, but if you are ready for a good, faced-paced sweet romance, Better Than a Present is the adventure for you to enjoy.

BOOK BLAST – A Rogue’s Deadly Redemption by Jeanne Ruesch

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Scandal forced Lady Lily Melrose into an untenable decision: marry the man she wanted but who wanted someone else or leave her home for America. She gambled and stayed. Now, almost four years later, Lily is ready to gamble again—on a future that means leaving her neglectful, absent husband behind. But when a deadly adversary threatens them both, Lily realizes how little she understood about her husband—and her marriage. She’s faced with another impossible choice: leave the man she loved to face certain death or stay and fight to help him deliver on a promise he no longer remembers.

Robert Melrose was raised as the forgotten third-born son with no future—without even the label of black sheep to keep him respectable. Not content with obscurity, he cultivated his own path to power, aligning himself with London’s underworld, where betrayal is deadly. But when an accident wipes away his past, Robert can’t remember who he is or what he’s done. What he does know is that his wife, Lily, evokes a strong need inside—a need to prove he’s better than his past. But when his past becomes a present danger, Robert must choose: gain the trust and love of the woman intent on leaving or let her walk away from him and the danger that might cost both their lives.

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A Rogue’s Deadly Redemption is also part of a HEATING IT UP, One Hero at a Time: A Limited Box Set Edition Now available for $0.99!

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EXCERPT

Cover
“Is anything familiar?” he asked after they’d turned more streets than he could count and nothing sparked his memory. How long had they been walking? Though the pounding in his head had subsided, exhaustion weighted his limbs and every step depleted reserves of energy he didn’t know he had.

She shook her head. “No. But something must soon, I imagine.”

They continued to walk, noting as they did that the crowds grew thicker, louder. A buzz in the air indicated a large crowd and though Robert’s instincts might have been to go away from the crowd, they needed to find something familiar.

He steered them in the direction that others flocked toward. The noise grew louder and louder, until they could separate the sounds of angry voices.

He paused. “Maybe we shouldn’t…”

“No, I think we’re near Old Bailey.”

It didn’t sound familiar. That sharp pang of disappointment was becoming familiar, however.

She must have seen something in his face, for she stopped. “The courthouse. The gallows. Is any of this familiar?”

“Should it be?” The wry humor came from nowhere, but the admonishment in her expression made it clear Lily did not find the humor.

“How could you?” Her voice was achingly small, and the plaintive tone shamed him. “How could you be involved with those people?”

“I don’t know.” He was starting to hate those words. He hated the disappointment that darkened her face, held her even farther away from him. His throat constricted. At the same time, he couldn’t imagine leaving her side.

Lily had said he was the same, with or without his memories. “Do you believe that?”

“Believe you were involved with them? It would be hard to deny at this point.”

“No. Earlier. You said my memory loss wouldn’t change who I am. Am I the same man as before?

Wariness narrowed her eyes. “This is hardly the time or place.”

“It’s exactly the time and place. I don’t know who I was. I am beginning to have an idea but I need to know, am I the same man? I can’t answer that, but you can.”

“No. I can’t.” Lily angled her body away from him, so he couldn’t see her face. “You brought them into our lives, and you kept all of this from me. You kept me from so much of your life. I am so angry, and I want to scream at you, but I can’t because you don’t recall any of it.” She crossed her arms. “It would be like yelling at a puppy.”

”A puppy?”

“Do you know how aggravating that is?”

“Not yelling at a puppy?”

She glared at him. “Not being able to be angry at you. Because what is the point? You’re as helpless as a babe.”

He bristled at that. “I am not helpless. I—”

She didn’t let him finish, just turned and walked down the street, shifting sideways around people.

“Lily, wait.”

He followed after her, sidestepping around people walking the other direction or stopping on the street.

The size of the crowd was growing, as they headed deeper into it. The streets buzzed with a tension that made him uneasy. For such a tiny thing, Lily moved with amazing ease, slipping through the crowd. He caught up to her and wrapped his hand around her wrist.

“Slow down a moment,” he yelled at her, to be heard over the loud din, like the buzzing of a thousand angry bees.

“We need…through…crowd. We’ll never…a cab here.” She ducked her head, never quite meeting his gaze, so he lost half of the words she said to the shouts around them.

The mood of the crowd was shifting, and Robert’s entire body felt at the ready. He might not know where the hell they were, but he knew how this crowd made him feel. “Fine. But I don’t want to lose you.” He captured her hand and gripped it. “This crowd could prove dangerous.”
Her gaze slid to their intertwined hands, and then moved downward. She crouched to the ground.

“Lily, what—” Before he could ask, she straightened back up, this time with a muddied, half torn sheet of paper in her free hand. Robert refused to let go of her other one.

“There was a hanging today,” she said.

Her words hung in the air with a sadness that pressed against his chest. He wanted her to never be sad. The fierce desire to see her smile, to take her out of all of this, floored him.

Where had these emotions come from? They were so fierce, so deep in his core.

How he must have loved her.

The desire to feel that love, as though it were a tangible piece he could hold, touch, smell…he wanted that desperately.
He wanted her desperately.

Every minute, he felt like a man drowning, until she stood by his side.

GIVEAWAY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JeannieJeannie Ruesch wrote her first story at the age of the six, prompting her to give up an illustrious, hours-long ambition of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and declare that writing was her destiny. The journey toward destiny held a few detours along the way, including a career in marketing and design.

Her first novel, a fairy-tale like historical romance, was published in 2009, but the darker side of life has always captivated her. So after a dinner conversation with friends about the best way to hide a dead body, she knew she had to find a way to incorporate suspense into her writing. (The legal outlet for her fascination.) Today, she continues writing what she loves to read – stories of history, romance and suspense. She lives in Northern California with her amazing husband (who cooks, cleans and edits!), their son and a lab named Cooper. She can be visited at www.jeannieruesch.com or found regularly on Twitter or Facebook.

A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak

grave concern

When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

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Publisher and Release Date: Montlake Romance, October 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: London, England 1830
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer rating: 5 Stars

Review by Vikki

This is an amazing and unique story that kept me glued to my seat from the first page to the last. I immediately fell in love with Abigail, an easy character to love. She’s feisty and determined, yet innocent of the dangers of the world. This is a story of overcoming great adversity, and full of emotion and deep passion.

The story is set in London in 1830. Abigail finds herself in the midst of a group of body snatchers known as the London Supply Company when she tries to purchase a cadaver for Aldersgate School of Medicine. They demand all her money, which is the college’s operating fund, then after leaving the corpse, they break in and steal it back. She immediately follows them to get back the money and a keepsake that belonged to her late mother. She quickly finds herself kidnapped and held by none other than Max Wilder. As the story progresses, the reader finds out in bits and pieces why Max is with the London Supply Company. He becomes Abigail’s protector from the other unsavory characters. Can he keep her safe from Jack, the ring leader? Can this unlikely couple find a way to love each other?

Max is such a complicated hero and he has a huge secret he’s hiding from the others, including Abigail. I love the way the author kept this hidden, without making it annoying in the least. I also love how Ms. Novak builds sexual tension. Her writing style is smooth and flowing, her ability to draw the reader in is incredible and she weaves in the history with a masterful touch. Ms Novak’s description of the scenes in her story come to life and drops the reader right in the middle of the action. Oh, and what a fitting title for this book. So many times I’ll read a story and the title makes no sense to me at all. That is not the case with this one – I never had any idea of how medical schools found cadavers to study.

I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent book and highly recommend it. If you’re looking for a story filled with suspense and intrigue from the first page to the last, yet with a wonderful love story, then this is one you do not want to miss!

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Hand-me-Down Bride by Juliet Waldron

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To help her impoverished family, Sophie agrees to marry a wealthy older in far off America. Less than twenty-four hours after she arrives in German’s Mill, Pennsylvania, events have taken a far stranger turn than anything she could have imagined.

Set in Post-Civil-War Pennsylvania, this tale of an arranged marriage is as much family saga as romance. Sophie is a sensitive young woman struggling to make sense of her past and to understand her new homeland. Karl is not only a veteran of the Great War, but scarred by the secret violence of his childhood. How they both learn to trust—and to love—is their unique story.

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EXCERPT

05_Hand Me Down BrideSophie studied her toes. She sat on the double bed in which she’d spent the night, knees drawn up beneath her white lawn nightgown. Only her toes stuck out. Lifting her dark head, she gazed through a nearby window at a May morning that shone upon a blooming–but sternly regimented–rose garden. In spite of the warm breeze, she shivered.

Then, hoping it wasn’t true, for the hundredth time, she looked at the other narrow bed, the one next to hers. Upon it lay her new husband, the rich grandfatherly man who’d paid her way from Germany, a man she’d married only yesterday.
Theodore Wildbach was quite dead. Proper, in death as in life, he was flat on his back, hands folded on his chest. He looked like the stone knights lying in the cathedral in her home town. That was how Theodore habitually slept, and how he’d died. Pale lips gaped inside a ring of neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard.

She’d discovered him upon awakening. She’d come close, staring, unable to believe her eyes. It was a terrible surprise, nowhere among the thousand twists of fate she’d imagined as she’d journeyed across sea and land to German Mills, Pennsylvania.
That was when the shivering began. Stumbling, teeth chattering, Sophie beat a hasty retreat to her bed.

She’d been sitting there ever since. She kept thinking she ought to feel something, sorrow for Mr. Wildbach, panic at the black abyss of unknowns into which she was plunged, but all she could do was sit, study her toes, and shake.

At last she heard footsteps ascending the stairs. Sophie jumped out of bed, dashed across the room, tore open the door and ran into the long hallway. She didn’t know which member of the family she’d meet, but she didn’t care. She couldn’t sit with a corpse–even such a proper one–for another minute.

There was her dead husband’s youngest son, dressed in one of those outfits of denim that all the young men around here seemed to wear. He was tall, muscular and blonde. He was also shocked by her sudden and indecorous appearance in nothing more than a summer nightgown.

“Herr Karl Joseph!” She how noted his clear gray eyes widened, then began to roll, trying to look anywhere but at her. “Dein Vater ist Tod!”

“What?”

Your father is dead?

“Vas-Vas?”

The shock of seeing that poor girl race into the hallway, shaking, terrified, in an embarrassing state of undress, made him stumble over the German. Karl had been born and raised here in Pennsylvania, but, unlike his father, he strove to be, in every way, an American. When, at the age of fourteen, he’d run away and joined the Union Army, he’d told everyone his name was “Joe Wildbrook.”
Only yesterday Karl had come from the mill to attend the wedding. He’d arrived in a terrible mood, still hardly able to believe his father was enough of an old goat to have gone through with it. The feeling grew after he’d seen the young, pretty Fraulein Papa had ordered from The Old Country. Karl had come home from the great Civil War with a notion to get married himself, but the local German girls his father kept parading under his nose aroused no interest.

“Handsome enough, eh?” His father had taken Karl by the elbow, nodded in the direction of the bride. Sophie sat on the other side of the room, gravely sipping from a flowered teacup, one that had belonged to the first Mrs. Wildbach. Karl’s mother had been a plump, fair lady from an “English” family. Her placid manner had given Theodore no warning of the strength of will she’d possessed.
“We could send for one of her sisters for you.”

“No thanks, Papa. I can find a wife on my own.” Karl pointedly disengaged his father’s hand. His insistence upon his marrying a German girl grated. Brother George had been given no such orders, but George, like Papa before him, had found himself a well-heeled bride.
“Ah, but not a Schone Jungfrau like that.” His father had sent a proud, possessive look at the poor girl.

To Karl, Sophie appeared solemn and edgy. There was not so much as a glint of happiness to animate her beauty. She seemed like the girls who eyed him hopefully at the church socials in nearby Palatine or New Bremen, the ones from whom he ran as if they were agents of the devil.
Sophie nodded whenever his father spoke, those dark, long-lashed eyes apparently engaged in a careful study of her lap. Born and raised to be a Hausfrau, Karl thought, with not a thing in her lovely head but “kuchen, kirche und kinder”–cooking, church and babies . . .

It was a genuine surprise to learn she could play the piano. When her Aunt insisted, Sophie executed a classical piece, showing far more animation than she had in conversation. Karl didn’t know much about music, but it was a treat, the performance poised and polished. It was clearly no beginner’s effort.

Papa had been cross when Karl, after one too many glasses of the spiked punch, had made a joke about it.
“You think I would marry a peasant? If I wanted one of those, I could have had a barefoot Mennonite off any farm from here to New Bremen, with none of the trouble–or expense–I’ve just gone to.”

As the celebration went on, Karl began to have second thoughts about the girl. When she thought no one was looking, she surveyed the goings-on with intelligent, wary eyes. When she caught him watching, however, that numb mask quickly took control again.

Maybe she was the sly opportunist his sister-in-law Sally suspected. Which would, Karl thought, serve Sally right. After all, it took one to know one.

Now, this morning, here the object of all his speculation stood! Dark braids trailed over high unsupported breasts. Ample curves showed to advantage beneath a sheer lawn night gown. She was distraught, disturbingly disheveled.

Sophie, seeing the shock and embarrassment in Karl Joseph’s gray eyes, thought he might run away. To prevent this, she seized his wrist and repeated what she’d said.

“Entschuldigen bitte, Herr Karl. Excuse, please, Herr Karl.” Somehow she managed to translate between chattering teeth. “Dein Vater ist Tod.” Then, hoping that use of both languages would aid the son’s tardy understanding, she added, “Herr Teo-dore–iss–dead.”
“Good God!” Karl tore his wrist from her grasp and ran straight into the spacious paternal suite.

Publisher and Release Date: Books We Love Ltd., October 2013 (reissue – originally published 2009)

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: 19th Century America, Post Civil War
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Vikki

The premise for this story of German immigrants to America is intriguing and captured my attention immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical elements very much, and it is obvious that Ms. Waldron researched this period of history, giving me a fascinating glimpse of what life must have been like in a German immigrant village in the post-Civil War era.

Sophie Neiman comes to Pennsylvania to marry Theodore Wildbach, a man three times her age. He dies on their wedding night without consummating the marriage. When he finds out his father did not provide for her in his will, his youngest son, Karl Joseph, gives her a job as his housekeeper. But Wildbach made a codicil to his will which would have left Sophie provided for, but Karl’s brother, who is married to the judge’s daughter, hid it because he wants the inheritance.

At first Sophie and Karl do not get along at all. He thinks she is a prude; she thinks he is uncouth and they are at odds most of the time. However, Sophie’s questioning mind intrigues Karl. As they get to know each other better, they find redeeming qualities in one another and a growing attraction blossoms. When he finds out she only married his father so that she could bring her family to America, he realizes she willingly sacrificed herself for them.

Under the terms of his father’s will, the only way Karl can inherit the mill is to marry a German woman and run it for two years before he attempts to sell it and move west. Since Sophie is not like the other German women he knows, Karl decides to win her heart, but can he trust her? She has a secret. Finding it out could be the answer he needs to gain her love or tear it asunder. Will she accept him if she finds out about his father’s will, or will she turn from him, thinking he sees her only as a means to gain his inheritance?

After such a promising start, the sagging middle is a bit tedious to read. This occurs because there is too much conflict between the hero and heroine. But once they move past that, the pace picks up dramatically and the second half of the book pulled me in again. The author does an excellent job of setting up a scene. At one point in the story, there is a fierce storm; she describes it so well that I felt as if I were experiencing it with them. The emotions Karl feels when he sees Sophie is in danger are intense and very well-written. I sat on the edge of my seat as he raced against time to safe her.

While I enjoyed the ending and was pleased Sophie and Karl won their HEA, it was somewhat rushed. Ms. Waldron leaves some plot lines dangling to some degree, especially in regards to his conniving brother and his devious wife. Also the book needs some serious editing, because I noticed quite a few missing words. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story and I am glad I read it. If you like a story with a unique storyline and a strong romantic element, then this could be a book for you.

Giveaway

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Giveaways

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 1st and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

About the Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJuliet Waldron earned a B. A. in English, but has worked at jobs ranging from artist’s model to brokerage. Thirty years ago, after the boys left home, she dropped out of 9-5 and began to write, hoping to create a genuine time travel experience for herself–and for her readers. She loves her grand-girls and her kitties, likes to take long hikes, and reads historical/archeological non-fiction as well as reviewing for the Historical Novel Society. For summer adventure, she rides behind her husband of 50 years on his “bucket list” (black, and ridiculously fast) Hyabusa motorcycle.

You can find more information at www.julietwaldron.com or connect with Juliet on Facebook.

A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex

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The rules of courtship are swept out to sea when a shipwreck offers a Reckless Bride a true taste of paradise…

CAN A WHIRLWIND ROMANCE

In Elizabeth Essex’s A Scandal to Remember, for too long, Miss Jane Burke’s father has taken advantage of her painstaking research. Heading to the South Seas to make her own name as a scientist despite the crew’s insistence that a woman aboard is bad luck, she isn’t prepared to be championed by a handsome ship’s officer who rouses longings inside her as wild as any storm…

LEAD TO A PROPER PROPOSAL?

For Lieutenant Charles Dance, a post on His Majesty’s survey ship Tenacious is just one more dutiful rung on the ladder of his career. Even a headstrong bluestocking on board is less troubling than the ship’s drunken captain—and the ferocious gales that drive the ship off course. Stranded on a remote island, passion blazes between them as hot as the sun, but it’s Jane’s love that Charles wants forever…

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Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, August 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1815, England and on board ship
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Jill

At twenty-six years of age, J.E. Burke, conchologist is ready to make her mark on the scientific world, and for once get the credit for her work. Keen to continue and advance her study of mollusc shells, she signs on for an expedition with the Royal Society to the South Seas aboard His Majesty’s Ship, Tenacious.

Lieutenant Charles Dance, veteran of sea battles and the Royal Navy, has his hands full with his new posting aboard HMS Tenacious. With a drunken captain, a slovenly, ill-disciplined crew, a filthy, poorly-maintained ship, he now has a female to contend with, trying all at once to protect her from the eyes of his leering crew and from their potentially dangerous and superstitious views of a female on board ship.

What a completely wonderful story! I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series. Although I did read Ms Essex’s debut years ago, this is the first book of hers I’ve read since then. With so many excellent authors in the historical romance genre, it’s very difficult to find time to read them all. However, from reading A Scandal to Remember, Elizabeth Essex is going on my list of must-read HR authors.

Set in 1815, and mainly on board ship, A Scandal to Remember is a must for readers who enjoy well-written, well-researched historical naval romances. I’ve read a number of stories set on a ship or in the Royal Navy, but none that read as authentically as this. I’m guessing that Ms Essex may be a fan of C. S. Forester (Horatio Hornblower) – and who isn’t? – and Patrick O’Brian (Master & Commander).

There were however, a couple of minor quibbles that I can overlook, and one major one, that I can’t. Firstly, the minor stuff. There was a bit of repetition. For example, it was mentioned a number of times that the heroine was small, little, tiny, petite. Got it the first time. It’s also somewhat implausible that a young, single woman in 1815 would have got herself to the ship and on board in the first place, let alone unaccompanied. The ship was not provisioned for the trip halfway across the world – not in its captain, crew, foodstuffs or its seaworthiness – and I wasn’t convinced that the diligent Dance would have allowed it to sail. After a very detailed story, the ending was wrapped up just a bit too quickly. Minor things.

And the one hiccup, in an otherwise excellent read?

Dance was running short of creative curses. Truer words…

The overuse of a certain swear word here – its use 25+ times in this book – is way more than any historical romance I’ve ever read, especially from one of the big publishers. But I’m not complaining about its use – rather about its overuse. A well-placed exclamation or expletive at the right time, every now and then can be very effective, and really highlight a scene or phrase, a character’s emotional state, stress or fear. But its overuse here is both anachronistic and unnecessary and took me completely taken out of the story. Its use in contemporary romance may be de rigueur nowadays. But in historical romance, it is particularly egregious. That I spent any time wondering why the author overused this word means that its context here distracted and detracted from what is a memorable and quite brilliant story.

But that aside, I’m still giving A Scandal to Remember a hearty recommendation.

VIRTUAL TOUR: Voice’s Echo by Linda Lee Graham

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The third book in the VOICES series, VOICES ECHO stands alone as a riveting depiction of both the beauty of 18th-century Jamaica and the horrors of plantation life in the British West Indies.

When Albert Ross sailed to Jamaica months after their wedding, Rhiannon Ross believed he’d abandoned her for the sanctuary of his West Indies plantation and complacent mulatta mistress. Not one to live life in limbo, Rhiannon has followed in a bid to secure the funds necessary to ensure her financial independence and position as his lawful wife, and to quell her growing attraction to her unsuitable American advisor, Liam Brock.

Determined to put the enticing Mrs. Ross out of his mind, Liam Brock accepts an assignment to escort a young heiress to her father’s Jamaican estate. Convinced his and Rhiannon’s ships have crossed paths, he is stunned to learn Rhiannon is still with her husband, and shocked when he finds her isolated and frightened–a shell of the vibrant woman who still fills his dreams. He begins to suspect that beneath the exotic beauty of an island teeming with vitality, there beats a sinister pulse.

As evidence of smuggling and dark magic are uncovered, Rhiannon realizes that not only is her plantation in danger, but the lives of those she holds dearest are at stake. Though she struggles to hide her feelings for Liam, she cannot bear the thought of him coming to harm because of her. As greed on the island evolves into violence and violence into murder, Liam and Rhiannon find themselves in the midst of a deadly intrigue. Both must decide how far they will go in the name of protecting the other, and how much they will sacrifice to attain a future neither thought possible.

EXCERPT

02_Voices Echo“Missus, Massa Brock only stay behind to watch what Miss Maisie do.”

First the advice on abortifacients and contraceptives, now this. It cheered her on the one hand, this offer of goodwill, yet if Quaminah suspected her interest in Liam, did others? Had the sting of Liam’s refusal to accompany her been so obvious to Quaminah?

“It’s none of my concern how Liam Brock spends his time. How do you know that anyway? Why does Maisie bear watching?”
“Quaminah saw Massa Brock making eyes at Sally. Sally tell him Miss Maisie fill up her sack with victuals.”

So Mr. Brock flirted with the cook. Nothing new there. But to obtain information on Maisie? He suspected Maisie of pilfering food? He should be setting the accounts to rights, not spying on the help.
“Was it this morning she filled the sack?”

Quaminah nodded, her deft black fingers busy plucking. Suddenly, her fingers stilled, and she canted her head, as if listening.

“Rhiannon! Why in the hell aren’t ye where ye’re supposed to be? Get away from that river. Ye as well, Quaminah. Hurry.”

No mistaking who voiced those gritty commands. Speak of the devil. She turned to find him crouched at the edge of the forest, several yards behind them, beckoning with an impatient flick of his wrist.

She responded with a scowl. He wasn’t even properly dressed. Every white man on this island kept to convention in spite of the heat. Every man except this one. He’d abandoned his waistcoat days ago and wore his shirt loose, open at the collar, with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. If he followed any convention at all, it was that of the Negroes on market day. The linen may be several grades above the cloth worn by the slaves, but the cut of the garment was similar. How could he expect respect dressed like that?

Yet, she’d noted on more than one occasion that when Mr. Brock asked something of one of the slaves, he received. Far more quickly than did Mr. Martinson and his whip. It didn’t stand to reason. Look at how Quaminah, the traitor, had scurried back as he’d commanded.

“What are you doing here?” Rhiannon asked, not moving an inch.

Cobalt-blue eyes blazed at her from beneath straight black brows. In deference to the climate, he’d cut his hair short, but the abrupt way he’d taken to raking it back indicated he regretted the decision. She liked it, though. The glossy lock of black hair falling over his forehead added to his appeal. Maybe she’d tell him so one day, when he behaved less imperiously.

“Shh!” he hissed. Scowling, he hurried toward her at a crouch, slapped a hand over her mouth, then picked her up and carried her back to the tree line. “Can ye no’ do anything I ask? I’ve waited days now. Ye give notice we’re here, it’s all for naught,” he said, his mouth to her ear. With his palm, he indicated Quaminah should lie flat, and he fell atop Rhiannon, his hand covering her mouth, as if he didn’t trust she’d do as he’d demanded.

She ought to be spitting angry. He’d flattened her to the ground with only a palm to shield her from a mouthful of dirt and a nose full of the stench of rotting vegetation. Wet ground shared with roaches, centipedes, ants and scorpions. An intricate web spanned the distance of two low-lying shrubs mere inches from her face, and she eyed the tiny black spider at its center.

Yet she wasn’t—anger found no foothold in her emotions. The bulge of his arousal was immediate and unmistakable, and nothing short of Albert walking into the clearing would convince her she shouldn’t take pleasure in it. She stopped struggling and closed her eyes, blocking out all that wasn’t Liam. The sensation left was intoxicating; and though it might last only a moment, she’d enjoy it for the moment it lasted. She could be spitting angry once he released her.

So very quiet. No bleats from the horn, no squeals from the helpless caught within a predator’s beak or paws, and no parrots squawking their infernal cry. No sound except the persistent hum of the cicadas and the trickling music of the river. The drum of his heart against her back kept time with the gentle flow of water over rocks, and a pleasant lassitude spread through her limbs.

It was as if the jungle extended an offer of peace. She accepted it happily.

She caught a faint whiff of yams as his whiskered chin scraped her face. Yams weren’t served at Albert’s table more than once a week, and that occasion had come yesterday. Liam had taken a midday meal in the yard with the Negroes, then. Or perhaps by the river with Angela Airth.

Stop. He was here now. Enjoy now while it was now.

Her back grew damp with the contact while they lay waiting, and the heat from the hand he’d splayed over her belly began to spread, pooling in her loins. Her hands fisted in the forest floor, clutching the soft, moist soil, the decaying foliage, and God knew what else. If she moved her bottom only a little to the—

“Stop tha’.”

His lips grazed her earlobe with the nearly inaudible growl. Why hadn’t he ever kissed her properly? She had known him a year now, and they’d been close friends for half that long. He’d flirted, teased, made indecent suggestions with his eyes, yet he’d never kissed her as she’d suggested more than once that he might. Aside from one small peck good-bye—one she had had to initiate, mind—she’d yet to taste his mouth.

Just his kiss, that was all she craved. She’d stop at a kiss. So many married women indulged in more.

Ignoring his own command, Liam shifted his weight. His fingers dug into her pelvis, urging her closer, and she strained to accommodate. The beat of his heart, raging now, matched hers, outpacing the hum of the insects. All sensation of lassitude vanished, and, suddenly dizzy, she gritted her teeth against a groan.

Maybe she did crave more. Maybe he knew and hadn’t kissed her for good reason.

Abruptly, he stiffened, attune to something other than her. She listened, not daring to move, as the sound of soft footsteps and someone humming came into hearing and then faded.

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Repository Press LLC, June 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting – 1791, Plantation in Jamaica
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Sabrina

I absolutely loved my introduction to Liam Brock and his friends in Voice’s Beckon. In that book we experienced our young protagonists’ voyage to the New World and watched as they grew up and made something of themselves. They relied heavily on one another and it was endearing to watch them become worthy and respectable young adults. Liam’s story continues in Voice’s Echo, but do not be concerned if you haven’t read the first two books. Voice’s Echo takes place mostly in Jamaica and has a different tone overall that allows for it to successfully stand alone.

Rhiannon Ross and Liam Brock actually meet in Voice’s Whisper, but it isn’t until this book that their relationship is taken to another level. I was actually quite hesitant to see how this unfolds given Rhiannon is a married woman, but fortunately the author handles this particularly well. I’m usually the stuffy, prim woman who screams at infidelity and tries to stay away from those types of books. Being a married woman myself it rankles, but the progression of Liam and Rhiannon’s time together flows so well I found I was never anxious over the storyline. It was inevitable that they would become closer. It’s also refreshing to see that Albert Ross is different than Rhiannon had thought. He cares for her and wants only to keep her safe, and is not blind to Liam’s feelings. In one of the most grown up encounters I’ve ever read, Albert actually confronts Liam on this and handles it nicely. Yes, she’s lovely – I understand why you care for her, it is this care I’m counting on to help keep her safe.

I’ve mentioned Rhiannon’s safety twice and there’s good reason – all is not well in paradise. Rhiannon swears there are mysterious things happening to her, and people from the plantation are going missing and unrest abounds. Rhiannon is a mess by the time Liam comes on the scene. It’s comforting when she finally has someone she can trust to help her to solve the mystery. Against her better judgment, she is determined to do all she can to keep those she loves out of harm’s way.

The author does a great job of bringing Jamaica to life. It’s disturbing to see the plight of the slaves, but in keeping the actions and events true to history, she has given an authentic feel to the story. Whether discussing weather, soil or even the bugs, everything was explained with such descriptive detail I felt as though I was part of the surroundings.

Miss Graham takes her time with the story. This is a long book that slowly develops its’ characters, and she has created such vivid scenes that immerse you deeply into the story and leave you feeling vested in the outcome of Rhiannon and Liam’s lives. There is a particularly enlightening Author’s Note that I’m glad was included.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

03_Linda Lee GrahamHistory and real-life narratives had always blended in Graham’s imagination, particularly when she delved into the stories of her family’s ancestors. Eventually the engaging voices of characters who might have lived emerged. Tracing paper trails quickly gave way to creating her own stories, and she hasn’t looked back since.

For more information please visit Linda Lee Graham’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

AUDIO REVIEW: Song for Sophia by Moriah Densley, narrated by Heather Wilds

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To win a man’s heart, a woman must have the mind of a diplomat, a general, and Cleopatra, all in one.

Desperation has led Anne-Sophia Duncombe to a life of exile. Still, she is always just one mistake away from capture and a marriage she would rather die than endure. As a last resort to remain hidden from her former life, Sophia attempts a radical scheme; a life of humility and disguise.

Rumor has it Wilhelm Montegue, the Earl of Devon, is insane. A tormented war hero haunted by scandal, he is only tolerated because of his brilliant mind and swarthy good looks. His unmentionable “condition” which keeps him confined to his country home is also the source of his talent for composing music.

When a new housemaid is hired at Rougemont, Lord Devon is perplexed to find himself fascinated by her. He knows the exquisite beauty is keeping secrets but her siren’s voice draws him ever closer, and he can’t resist the intoxicating scent of danger surrounding her

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Publisher and Release Date: Tantor Audio, April 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1860s England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

Song for Sophia is a dark and absorbing tale of redemption, honor, and true love between a damaged former soldier and an heiress on the run.

Wilhelm Montegue, the Earl of Devon, is a chivalrous and charming young man but rumors swirl around about his madness – which is actually, savant syndrome – and his sexuality, which is why he has retreated to his country estate, Rougemont. When he comes upon the beautiful Rosalee Cooper (not her real name) in the woods of his property, he is captivated by her beauty and her air of mystery, and quickly wants to learn everything about her.

Rosalee is actually Sophia Duncombe, a lady fleeing her abusive and maniacal father, Lord Chauncey, who is determined she wed the man of his choice and isn’t above threatening rape and abuse in order to force her to his will. She disguises herself as a maid, but Wilhelm and his sharp-tongued Aunt Louisa thinks she is much too pretty to be one. She’s also obviously as educated as she is knowledgeable in the finer things: languages for one, music another. I really like that Densley translates all the sexy foreign words that are shared between Wilhelm and Sophia as well as the commands they issue to Wilhelm’s dogs, who become her faithful protectors. All too often, authors omit this and I sometimes feel lost.

Wilhelm respects Sophia’s wish to remain hidden and to not speak of her past, but he does wish to protect her at all costs. So he asks her to become governess to his visiting cousins, some of whom are preparing for their upcoming debuts. He also requests she pose as his mistress as necessary in company, in order to dispel unfounded rumors of his homosexuality.

But as she gets to know him, Sophia falls in love with him: his protectiveness, honor, and his kind heart. And while he protects her, Wilhelm investigates who she is and why she’s in hiding.

Heather Wilds is a narrator I have not heard before. She reads with a warm and smooth style and in a variety of tones and accents that make the many different voices of the characters easily distinguishable. And it’s a quite a large cast, from Wilhelm’s extended family of cousins to his old soldier comrades in arms. I really love how she makes Wilhelm sound both young and inexperienced socially and commanding in his military training; he’s a tough and determined man but he’s also sweet and tender. Sophia is read as intelligent and strong, with a mixed and unusual accent, but you can hear the affecting anguish in her voice when she fears for Wilhelm’s wellbeing.

The love scenes are more implied than graphic here, but they are very sensual. And I love that Wilhelm is also a virgin, as inexperienced in the ways of seduction as Sophia. Their love is heartwarming; each cares so much for the other they would do anything to save each other. Their conversations are flirty and playful and, when listened to read aloud, very sexually charged.

An atmosphere of danger throughout the novel is palpable and vividly portrayed in the isolation of the Rougemont estate and its ever present element of danger amid people living their daily lives. All the while Sophia educates his cousins and gets to know Wilhelm, she is being hunted.

Some of the scenes are quite shocking in their violence and at times, difficult to listen to. At one point, I was stunned at the events but I also admired Wilhelm’s courage and determination. Despite these complex situations and consequences, he is very likeable, attractive, and in love with Sophia.

An exciting, fast paced, and sweepingly romantic love story, this is the first in Moriah Densley’s Rougemont series as well as her début.

VIRTUAL TOUR: The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding by Victoria Alexander

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The bride and groom cordially request your presence for a wedding at Millworth Manor…

Guests will include Jackson Quincy Graham Channing, New York City banker, and Lady Theodosia “Teddy” Winslow, wedding planner to the finest families in England.

Introductions shall be followed by light conversation, dancing, flirtation, arguing, reconciliation, and an impulsive kiss that both parties are quite certain they will never repeat.

Until they do.

A mutually beneficial fake engagement will be accompanied by all manner of very real complications, scandalous revelations, nefarious schemes, and one inescapable conclusion: That true love—unlike the perfect wedding—is impossible to plan…

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EXCERPT

“First, you should know about your family, Jackson,” Father began.

“He does know about his family,” Mother said under her breath.

Father ignored her and continued. “There are Channings all over England, mostly distant relations and you needn’t be overly concerned with them.”

“Although it is nice to know they exist,” Lucy said.

“Exactly.” Father nodded. “And I dare say you’ll meet them all eventually.”

“I really don’t see –“ Mother began.

“Quiet Mother.” Jack nodded at his father. “Go on.”

“For the most part, they’re not especially important although admittedly some of them are most amusing. Eccentric is probably the kindest description.” The colonel lowered his voice in a confidential manner. “There is Cousin Wilfred on my father’s side. He was quite convinced he could fly. He couldn’t of course. Pity, as it turned out.” Father shook his head in a regretful manner. “But as I was saying, you needn’t bother concerning yourself with anyone aside from the immediate family. At least for now.”

“The immediate family?” Jack said.

“You my boy, have an uncle, my twin brother, Nigel, and an aunt, his wife Bernadette. They have three daughters, charming girls all of them. They’ve grown up quite nicely, all things considered. Oddly enough, I am not the only brother whose wife preferred to let his offspring believe he was dead.”

Lucy stared.

“Although in Nigel’s case, he did rather deserve it. But that’s neither here nor there at the moment.” Father’s brow furrowed thoughtfully. “Let me thin. The eldest girls are older than you and are twins. One is married, the other a widow and about to be married again. The youngest, Delilah, is also a widow. So you can see how the revelation that I have a son changes, well, everything. Especially the future. The family’s and yours.”

“Basil.” A warning sounded in Mother’s voice. ‘This is not how I wanted –“

“It no longer matters what you want Elizabeth. You’ve had what you wanted for far too long.” Father cast her a hard look.

“I’m not certain I understand,” Jack said slowly. “I know I am as shocked by your existence as you are by mine. And this does change a lot, for any number of reasons. But while it certainly is significant, in a personal sense, I fail to see what effect my having a living father, and you having a son has on your future or mine. Not that I don’t like the idea mind you,” he added quickly. “It would be different if we were having this, oh, reunion I suppose is the only word for it, when I was ten years old or even twenty. Burt I am an adult. I have a position of responsibility at the bank and a sound, solid career ahead of me there. My future is well planned out.”

“Exactly,” Mother said under her breath.

“It might well have been planned out yesterday or this morning or even a few hours ago but now…” His father’s gaze me his. “Now your future is entirely different.”

Jack drew his brows together. “I still don’t see-“

“My brother is the Earl of Briston.” Father paused to allow the others to grasp the significance of his pronouncement.

“Jackson, your uncle is an earl,” Lucy said with delight. “How very interesting.”

“It’s more than merely interesting my dear girl,” Father said. “I know it’s not the same in your country-“

“We don’t have earls for one thing.” Mother sniffed.

“But in my country”-he met Jack’s gaze-“your country as well titles and property are often tied together in what is called an entailment. Are you familiar with it?”

“Vaguely.” Jack nodded. “We deal on occasion with English financial institutions and I’ve seen reference to it in correspondence. It has to do with inheritance doesn’t it?”

“Exactly.” His father studied him closely. “A title is tied to a family’s property, they are passed on together. In our case, Millworth Manor, the estate that has been in our family for generations, as well as some other properties, are tied to the title. The title can only be inherited by the closest male relative. If my brother died, I would be next in line to be the Earl of Briston. If I died..”

Lucy gasped.

Mother sighed.

Jack stared. “Are you saying that I would be the next earl?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Father nodded. “And thank God, too. We were all afraid Millworth and the title would eventually go to Wilfred’s son.” He shuddered. “And believe me no one wanted that.”

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Zebra October 28, 2014
RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: London and its countryside, 1880s
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level:1.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Natalie

Imagine you walk into a room to find your previously dead father having a conversation with your mother. This is a pretty big shock for anyone, but Jackson Channing finds out that not only has his mother been lying to him for thirty years, she never even told her husband that she was with child when they parted ways after a rash elopement. It turns out that Jackson, straight-laced, logical New York Banker, is the son of an adventurer and he stands to inherit a title, a family home and lands from his uncle in England. Jack takes this opportunity to do something he has never done, be an adventurer.

Teddy has found herself in an interesting place now that her father had died and left her and her mother penniless. She has made due by planning weddings and society functions but has realized that this temporary solution is more than temporary. Teddy enjoys working for herself and running her own business and no longer hopes for a husband to take care of her every need.

When these two meet, the sparks immediately fly. Both Jack and Teddy are trying to find out who they really are and if they want to do what is expected of them or blaze their own paths in life.

This was a sweet story, with funny characters that I really enjoyed reading. Often times misunderstanding between characters could easily be avoided if they just communicated. Victoria Alexander does a great job of writing a plot that doesn’t revolve around characters being stubborn or secretive. Teddy and Jack are both on journeys that they never thought they would find themselves on and are learning to grow as people. They just have to figure out if they want to grow together. The love scenes happen later in the story and are pretty tame. They are well written but nothing that would make you blush.

All in all this was a great addition to the Millworth Manor series of books and was a fun read about people trying to make their own way in the world!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

victoria-Alexander-credit-Dawn-Biggs3New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award-winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was much more fun than real life. She turned to writing full time and has never looked back. Victoria grew up traveling the country as an Air Force brat and is now settled in a very old house in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two allegedly grown children and two bearded collies. She firmly believes housework is a four-letter word, there are no calories in anything eaten standing up, procrastination is an art form, and it’s never too soon to panic.
You can connect with Victoria at: her Website * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter * ~ * ~ * Goodreads.