Tag Archive | Bliss Bennet

A Lady Without a Lord (Penningtons #3) by Bliss Bennet

a lady without a lord

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A viscount convinced he’s a failure

For years, Theophilius Pennington has tried to forget his myriad shortcomings by indulging in wine, women, and witty bonhomie. But now that he’s inherited the title of Viscount Saybrook, it’s time to stop ignoring his responsibilities. Finding the perfect husband for his headstrong younger sister seems a good first step. Until, that is, his sister’s dowry goes missing . . .

A lady determined she’ll succeed

Harriot Atherton has a secret: it is she, not her steward father, who maintains the Saybrook account books. But Harry’s precarious balancing act begins to totter when the irresponsible new viscount unexpectedly returns to Lincolnshire, the painfully awkward boy of her childhood now a charming yet vulnerable man. Unfortunately, Theo is also claiming financial malfeasance. Can her father’s wandering wits be responsible for the lost funds? Or is she?

As unlikely attraction flairs between dutiful Harry and playful Theo, each learns there is far more to the other than devoted daughter and happy-go-lucky lord. But if Harry succeeds at protecting her father and discovering the missing money, will she be in danger of failing at something equally important—finding love?

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Publisher and Release Date: Bliss Bennet, February 2017

Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Review Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Sara

A Lady Without a Lord is the third in Bliss Bennet’s Penningtons series and the first book I’ve read by this author. The story she’s created has a lot of good character moments that kept me reading from cover to cover; however her distinctive writing style was a bit harder to engage with.

Lord Theophilius Pennington is charming, witty and always makes a good impression on everyone – except the members of his family. Growing up as heir, Theo was pressured from an early age to take an interest in the family’s properties as well as follow his father into the political arena. Unfortunately, difficulties with numeracy gave Theo’s family the impression that he was lazy or not suited to the tasks required of a future viscount. When their father died, Theo’s younger sister Sibilla worked to maintain the family’s political activism by marring a man whose drive for social change mirrored her own ambitions. Meanwhile Theo was content to allow his land steward to manage the books and keep him informed of problems while he lived a carefree life in London. Everything changes when it’s time to pay out Sibilla’s dowry and it’s discovered that the Pennington family accounts are barely solvent. Hoping to hide this new problem from his sister, Theo swears his new brother-in-law to secrecy while he makes an emergency trip to meet with his steward for an explanation.

Miss Harriot Atherton is surprised and just the smallest bit alarmed when the new Lord Saybrook comes back to his estate wanting to meet immediately with her father. Mr. Atherton is the long serving steward for the Pennington family but for the last year it’s really been Harry keeping accounts and reporting everything in her father’s name. She has been hiding the fact that her father’s mind has been slipping and he can no longer manage his responsibilities without help. When Harry learns that Theo’s unannounced visit to the country is motivated by the shocking loss of over four thousand pounds, she is scared that her father’s disability will be discovered as well as her own interference in the running of the estate.

Living at his estate again reminds Theo that the responsibilities of his title are not limited to just having a seat in parliament. There are many people who depend on the Saybrook viscountcy for their livelihood and it’s been his error to ignore how important his involvement in local matters is. Theo finds himself discussing many community concerns with Harry and rekindling their childhood friendship. Their closeness stirs an attraction between the pair that is initially viewed as an inconvenience by them both. As they work to find the missing dowry, Theo’s interest for Harry becomes focused on her other qualities, such as her intelligence and her patience, while Harry is drawn to Theo’s amiable nature. Swaying even his staunchest critics with charm is something she would have difficulty doing but for Theo it is second nature. Unfortunately the secrets she’s keeping from Theo could derail the trust they’ve built and the new emotions he brings out in her.

Both main characters in A Lady Without a Lord are written to allow them their normal human insecurities while still building up their appeal as romantic leads. Theo’s difficulties with mathematics are drawn from a real life condition called dyscalculia, which, in a family of high achievers this disability forced him to hide behind a nonchalant disposition. Harry’s self-doubts are also deeply rooted, as the result of losing her mother at an early age and never quite catching on socially. Each of them has learned to become a people-pleaser in order to mask their fears or disappoint those closest to them. In partnering together to find the missing money or by forcing each other to work outside of their comfort zones, Theo and Harry discover there’s much more to their personalities. Harry helps Theo understand that his charm can be used to get things done while he shows her it’s alright to have aspirations of her own outside of what others may want from her.

I enjoyed A Lady Without a Lord but found it a challenge to get excited for Theo and Harry’s love affair. Passions are kept at a cool or warm level throughout their courtship and I found myself missing some of the sparks – either real or manufactured through events – that ignite a romantic relationship. Since I liked both characters I have to put some of this dispassion at the door of Ms. Bennet’s style of writing. Things are described well and events flow smoothly, but there’s an almost clinical approach to how things unfold. The skewed focus is almost like the author wants to show readers just how much research she did on conditions such as dementia, and I dislike feeling like I’m being schooled while I’m being entertained. But with that said, my curiosity about the next couple to be featured in The Penningtons series and a hope of seeing more of Theo and Harry’s HEA motivates me to give this author another try.

A Rebel without a Rogue (The Penningtons #1) by Bliss Bennet

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A woman striving for justice…

Fianna Cameron has devoted her life to avenging the death of her father, hanged as a traitor during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Now, on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, only one last miscreant remains: Major Christopher Pennington, the English army officer who not only oversaw her father’s execution, but falsely maligned his honor. Fianna risks everything to travel to London and confront the man who has haunted her every nightmare. Only after her pistol misfires does she realize her sickening mistake: the Pennington she wounded is far too young to be the man who killed her father.

A man who will protect his family at all costs…

Rumors of being shot by a spurned mistress might burnish the reputation of a rake, but for Kit Pennington, determined to add to his family’s honor by winning a seat in Parliament, such sala-cious gossip is nothing but a nightmare. To regain his good name, Kit will have to track down his mysterious attacker and force her to reveal the true motivation behind her unprovoked assault. Accepting the mistress of an acquaintance as an ally in his search is risky enough, but when Kit begins to develop feelings for the icy, ethereal Miss Cameron, more than his political career is in danger. For Kit is beginning to suspect that Fianna Cameron knows far more about the shooting—and the reasons behind it—than she’s willing to reveal.

As their search begins to unearth long-held secrets, Kit and Fianna find themselves caught be-tween duty to family and their beliefs in what’s right. How can you balance the competing de-mands of loyalty and justice—especially when you add love to the mix?

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Publisher and Release Date: Bliss Bennet, September 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: London, 1822
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Vikki

A Rebel without a Rogue is Ms Bennet’s début novel, and on the strength of it, I predict a promising future writing historical fiction and romance.

Fianna Cameron is determined to bring down the man who sent her father to the gallows and shredded his character afterwards. When she manages to get into the venue she believes he is attending, she is shocked to learn she has shot the wrong man.

Kit Pennington has no idea why a woman would shoot him, but he’s determined to get to the bottom of it. He seeks out Viscount Ingestrie, who has just returned from Ireland. He hopes the man can translate the etchings on the pistol used to shoot him. When Ingestrie drags in Fianna to see if she can tell Kit what the etching says, she wonders: “Did the English hang attempted murderers as quickly as they executed rebels?”

I was fascinated by the detail of the Irish Rebellion described in the book. The history is what kept me reading in the beginning, because for me, it didn’t really take off until a bit before the half way point. After that, the pacing picked up, the story pulled me in and by the end, I had become invested in the characters.

I didn’t warm to Fianna to start with, because she was so stiff and cold in the first part of the book, but as the story unfolds, she grew on me – and by the end, I liked her. I did, however, wonder why she waited so many years before she decided to seek vengeance on the man she held responsible for her father’s death. By the end, none of that mattered because the growth in her character is amazing, winning my empathy as she softens toward Kit and begins to see there are many shades of gray, both good and bad, even in her enemy.

I liked Kit Pennington’s character from the beginning, although at first he seemed a bit dull. Yet eventually, his passion for his family, his loyalty to the ones he loves, his willingness to accept Fianna and try to discover who she really is under her cold, calculating exterior, won my heart completely.

There is no doubt Ms. Bennet did an amazing amount of research for this book, her detailed accounts of the rebellion woven expertly into her story. Being part Irish myself, I love reading of Ireland’s struggles against British tyranny, and I definitely recommend A Rebel without a Rogue to anyone who enjoys a strong and well-researched historical element in an historical romance.

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: A Man Without a Mistress by Bliss Bennet

a man without a mistress
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A man determined to atone for the past…

For seven long years, Sir Peregrine Sayre has tried to assuage his guilt over the horrifying events of his twenty-first birthday by immersing himself in political work—and by avoiding all entanglements with the ladies of the ton. But when his mentor sends him on a quest to track down purportedly penitent prostitutes, the events of his less-than-innocent past threaten not only his own political career, but the life of a vexatious viscount’s daughter as well.

A woman who will risk anything for the future…

Raised to be a political wife, but denied the opportunity by her father’s untimely death, Sibilla Pennington has little desire to wed as soon as her period of mourning is over. Why should she have to marry just so her elder brothers might be free of her hoydenish ways and her blazingly angry grief? To delay their plans, Sibilla vows only to accept a betrothal with a man as politically astute as was her father—and, in retaliation for her brothers’ amorous peccadillos, only one who has never kept a mistress. Surely there is no such man in all of London.

When Sibilla’s attempt to free a reformed maidservant from the clutches of a former procurer throw her into the midst of Per’s penitent search, she finds herself inextricably drawn to the cool, reserved baronet. But as the search grows ever more dangerous, Sibilla’s penchant for risk taking cannot help but remind Per of the shames he’s spent years trying to outrun. Can Per continue to hide the guilt and ghosts of his past without endangering his chance at a passionate future with Sibilla?

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EXCERPT

Sibilla edged around the bottom of the table, closer to where her aunt had been sitting. Her hand groped under the chair, searching in vain for the missing reticule.

“Mmmm,” her brother replied, the slightest slur marking his speech. “Find some of the stranger positions men have taken regarding the suppression of prostitution highly amusing, though. Ever come across Reverend Madan’s volumes? Says England ought to become a polygamous society! Legalizing multiple marriage, the only viable remedy for men’s incorrigible need for sexual variety, so he writes.”

Her brother’s remark raised another laugh from the young bucks, but drew only a snort from her. Had Reverend Madan considered what would happen if a man developed an “incorrigible need” for his neighbor’s second wife? Or his third?

With a huff of frustration, Sibilla half rose from her crouch. Aunt Allyne’s reticule was nowhere in sight. Glancing over her shoulder to ensure none of the gentlemen were looking in her direction, she scampered back to the dining room door.

When she put a hand down to help her rise, though, instead of soft carpeting, her fingers lit on the smooth, polished surface of a man’s evening slipper. A blush, half embarrassment, half amusement, suffused her face. She hoped the footman would not give her away.

But when her head tilted upward, it wasn’t a footman or other manservant whom she found. Instead, her gaze was captured by eyes of the deepest blue, dark and unsettled as a stormy winter sea. Familiar eyes, she realized with a stifled gasp—the man from the park, the one who had pulled her from her horse and insulted her so abominably. He hadn’t been present at dinner. What could a man of his ilk be doing at Lord Milne’s?

“I wonder if the reverend intended that women also be given the right to marry more than one man?” he asked in a quiet voice as he crouched down beside her. “Surely, the incorrigible need for variety extends to the female sex? Women are far more libidinous than men, or so I have always heard . . .”

Before she could reply, she felt his hand, bare, warm, grasp hers. He stood, pulling her to her feet, as a blush of awareness warmed her fingers. She dropped his hand, unnerved, and stepped into the passageway. Why had she not put her gloves back on after removing from table?

He stood taller than she remembered, and slimmer, though large enough to shield her from the gentlemen in the dining room. Realizing she was staring, Sibilla jerked her own eyes free from his, only to find them flying to his other features—a thin blade of a nose, nostrils slightly flared, as if scenting for danger; high, narrow cheekbones; a shock of midnight hair in danger of tumbling into short, spiked lashes. Only the shape of one eyebrow, curved at both ends like a tilde, hinted that humor might occasionally lighten that sober countenance.

“Are you unfamiliar with Reverend Madan’s work, then?” Sibilla whispered, determined not to be intimidated. “Perhaps that gentleman would lend you a copy of the relevant volume, so that you might satisfy your curiosity on the subject.”

“You have no opinion on the topic yourself, then?” the man asked, as coolly as if they were discussing a performance of the latest opera rather than mankind’s sexual proclivities.

“Certainly I have an opinion. Though my aunt frequently tells me that a lady’s opinions on political matters are unlikely to be of interest to a gentleman.”

“The question of whether a man or a woman is more libidinous is a political one? In what regard?” he asked, his eyes crinkling with curiosity.

“In too many ways to number. But if you would like a specific example, then I would point to the discussion in which the gentlemen are currently engaged, on the subject of suppressing harlotry. If the female of the species is more driven by libidinous desires, then laws regulating streetwalkers would be the most efficacious route to dampening the trade. But if the male’s drives are more at fault, then the laws should be reframed to regulate male, rather than female, behavior.”

“What if both are driven by such desires?” the man asked. “Should both the woman who prostitutes herself and the man who buys her wares be subject to arrest?”

“Should not the focus still be on the man, as he is the one with the means? Women would not prostitute themselves if there were no financial gain to be had from the transaction. Do you not think—”

Sibilla stopped abruptly, realizing that the sounds of conversation from the dining room had grown silent as their voices had risen. Viscount Dulcie stood by her interlocutor’s side, a curious expression playing about his handsome features.

“You are kind to come and retrieve your aunt’s reticule, Miss Pennington,” he said, holding out the article in question. “May I escort you back to the drawing room?” Cutting a quick look at the man beside him, Dulcie offered his arm with a gracious nod.

“Thank you, my lord,” she replied. The flush that had faded during her sparring with the dark-haired man burned again across her cheeks. “Sir.” She nodded to him before turning to take the viscount’s arm.

She struggled to slow her pace to Dulcie’s, quashing the urge to flee. Her awareness of the silence, and of the male gazes focused on her retreating back, made it surprisingly difficult. One gaze in particular seemed to burn right through her, and not the one belonging to her brother. No, the scrutiny sending prickles of awareness trailing up and down her spine belonged to the cool blue eyes of the imperturbable stranger. The first, and perhaps only, man to deem her worthy of intelligent conversation this entire evening.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

bliss bennetDespite being born and bred in New England, Bliss finds herself fascinated by the history of that country across the pond, particularly the politically-volatile period known as the English Regency. Though she’s visited Britain several times, Bliss continues to make her home in New England, along with her husband, daughter, and two monstrously fluffy black cats.

You can connect with Bliss at: www.blissbennet.com * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter.