Tag Archive | Historical Romantic Suspense

Lord Armadale’s Iberian Lady by Sharon Sobel

lail

Buy Now from Amazon.

Even her family’s ball cannot distract Lady Cassandra Eastham from the very serious business of her life. Secretly, she has assumed her father’s work of translating highly confidential documents for agencies of the British and Portuguese governments in order to hide her father’s illness. When an important message arrives on the night of the ball, Cassandra, eager to read it, escapes to the seclusion of a dark corner. There she is interrupted by Weston Barrington, the Earl of Armadale and a hero in the Peninsula War, who has only recently returned to England from Portugal. Although Lord Barrington appears eager to resume the life of a privileged English gentleman, Cassandra instinctively distrusts him and refuses to be seduced by his blue eyes and fair hair, or romanced in her late mother’s language—Portuguese.

Lord Armadale—West to his friends—has managed to become a live-in guest of the Eastham family to determine if there is a spy among them, but West is drawn to Lady Cassandra despite his determination to remain a bachelor. When a brutally injured young woman arrives at Eastham House and dies in the marble foyer, the incident unites him and Cassandra in a dangerous partnership. The dead woman cannot be an accidental target for murder. Despite being dressed in rags, she looks enough like Lady Cassandra to be her twin sister. And Cassandra might be the murderer’s next victim.

As Cassandra and West work together to uncover the woman’s identity and why she came to Eastham House, West comes to realize his responses to his beautiful partner have more to do with desire than detection and deceit, and he is determined to do battle to save the life of the lady with whom he is falling in love.

Publisher and Release date: ImaJinn Books, 21 March 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: England, 1820s
Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Caz

I found this to be a very enjoyable romantic adventure story with a strong, well-structured mystery at its centre and two attractive and engaging protagonists.

Our heroine is Lady Cassandra de Amoreia Eastham, daughter of Lord Eastham and his (late) Portuguese wife. She is both beautiful and intelligent and spends much of her time helping her father with his work, much of which involves translating documents from Portuguese into English and forwarding them to the mysterious Mr Cenoura in London. It’s clear from the start that Eastham has played some part in intelligence gathering during the recent Peninsular War, and that his work is continuing still. The problem is that with advancing years, his ability to focus has begun to wane noticeably and he is often mentally ‘absent’ despite his physical presence. Cassie is naturally protective of the father she loves, and in order to protect his reputation, she has actually taken over his translation work.

She is annoyed and rather unnerved when the family acquires a houseguest for a few weeks. Weston Barrington, fourth Earl of Armadale is having repairs carried out on his home and as his younger brother is a long-standing family friend, West has been invited to stay with the Easthams.

Their first meeting does not go well, as Armadale interrupts Cassie as she has (secretly) received a message related to her father’s work and longs to be on her own so that she can read it. But when he teases her Cassie bristles and decides he’s arrogant and interfering, even as she realises that she is not unaffected by his masculine build and his good looks. Her step-mother is keen to promote a match between them, but Cassandra is immediately suspicious of his motives for being there and keen to keep him well away from her father’s work. Naturally, her reticence and obvious animosity towards him guarantees his deeper interest not only in her, but in what she’s up to.

Cassie wants Armadale gone and gives him the cold shoulder at every opportunity, even though there’s a strong current of attraction between them. But when a dying woman who is the very image of Cassie, suddenly turns up on the doorstep, they start to put aside their animosity and to work together to solve an ever deepening mystery.

As this IS a mystery, it’s difficult to say more without giving away too much of the story, which is quite a intricate one, filled with adventure, secret identities, danger and romance.

The book is very entertaining and the pacing throughout is good. There is a fairly large supporting cast of characters including Cassie’s brothers and step-mother, her childhood nurse Maria Isabel, and her maid and confidante, Debra, all of whom are deftly drawn. The care and protectiveness the family shows towards Eastham makes his unawareness of the situation even more poignant, and I thought that the familial relationships in general were well done. The two principals are well-characterised for the most part, although I have to question some of Cassandra’s actions in the light of the fact that she is a gently-bred young lady who is the daughter of a member of the English aristocracy. She and Armadale consummate their relationship during the story and yet there is never any mention of consequences or an indication that such a possibility has occurred to Cassie – or to Armadale either. She doesn’t give a thought to the enormity of the step she is taking or the potential disgrace, and he doesn’t try to dissuade her or wrestle with his conscience as a man of honour; which meant that both their attitudes felt rather too modern for the period.

And there’s another thing I have to point out, as it’s something that jolted me completely out of the story when I read it – and it happened several times – which was the ease with which the characters seemed able to travel from Eastham House in Windsor to London.

Windsor is approximately 25 miles from Central London, and the journey today, on a clear road (which is rare as that stretch of road is one of the busiest in the UK!) would take about 45 minutes (according to Google Maps.) But in 1820, over unmade roads and in a horse drawn carriage, I would think the journey would take considerably longer – perhaps a couple of hours or more.

So to my mind, that makes it extremely unlikely that anyone would have travelled from and returned to Windsor on the same night, and yet, in this book, Cassie and her maid, and later, Cassie and Armadale make the return journey – on the same night – to attend events in London.

Those reservations aside, I found Lord Armadale’s Iberian Lady to be a thoroughly engaging read. The romance was developed at a good pace, and I liked that we were shown that West and Cassie were suited in more ways than the physical. They worked together very well on an intellectual level as well, and importantly, Armadale recognised Cassie’s intelligence and valued her contributions as they worked to unravel the mystery. The plot was quite complex, with enough twists and turns to hold my interest, and the romance between Armadale and his Iberian Lady was by turns sexy and sweet.

The India Fan by Victoria Holt

fan

Drusilla Delaney, the daughter of an impoverished minister, becomes fascinated with the wealthy Framling family–especially with the son and daughter, the mysterious Fabian, and the beautiful, impetuous Lavinia. Through them, she finds herself the unlikely heir to an extraordinary bejeweled fan made of peacock feathers. But though priceless and dazzling to behold, the fan bears a curse that promises ill fortune–and even death–to whoever possesses it….

RHL Classifications:

Heat Level: 1 (clean)
Victorian Era – Romantic Suspense
Reviewer Rating:4.5 stars

Review by Caz

I read a lot of novels by Victoria Holt when I was in my twenties, so when I saw that Sourcebooks was reissuing The India Fan, I was eager to discover how it would hold up twenty-five years after its original publication.

I am extremely happy to report that the answer is “very well indeed”.

This isn’t one of the titles I’d already read, so all I had to go on was the synopsis, although I am familiar enough with Holt’s other books to know that she wrote what are often termed “Gothic” novels, in which the independent, spirited heroine is somehow endangered; the location is often exotic (which in terms of the genre can include places such as Scotland and Cornwall!); and the atmosphere is full of tension. The India Fan has all those things in spades (and more) and yet it has a different feel to the others of her books I’ve read.

Drusilla Delaney is the daughter of the rector in the parish which includes the grand Framlings, home of the local aristocratic family. It seems from an early age that Drusilla’s fate is to be bound up with its inhabitants – the haughty Lady Harriet and her two very spoiled, bratty children, Fabian and Lavinia. Drusilla is frequently summoned to the house as a playmate for Lavinia, and initially, they don’t like each other much. It’s while they are children that Drusilla comes across the stunning peacock-feather fan that is in the possession of an elderly relative of Lady Harriet’s and comes to know the nature of its curse.

Lavinia, always a pretty child, grows into an incredibly beautiful woman, although unfortunately she does not develop a personality to match. Instead she is shallow and selfish, needing the admiration and adoration of all around her – especially the men – and after being discovered in flagrante delicto with one of the grooms, her mother decides to send her away to school. Knowing Drusilla to be an eminently sensible girl, Lady Harriet sends her with Lavinia with the tacit understanding that she is to keep Lavinia ‘out of trouble’.

In a story that spans over twenty years, it seems as though “keeping Lavinia out of trouble” is to become Drusilla’s mission in life as the girls move on to a French Finishing School and later, to India where they become caught up in the events of the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

Naturally, Lavinia is not a character one is supposed to like; she has no interest in anything that does not concern herself, and her drive to be desired by every man with whom she comes into contact leads eventually to tragedy. Given the overbearing nature of Lavinia’s personality, it would have been easy for the author to make Drusilla a downtrodden doormat of a character, but she isn’t. Her long experience of Lavinia enables her to maintain a relationship with her in which she (Drusilla) is able to assert herself and tell Lavinia exactly what she thinks of her – even if Lavinia doesn’t care and takes no notice whatsoever. And despite her excesses, Drusilla does care for Lavinia; and, in an odd way, the feeling is reciprocated.

The story is a complex one, featuring a number of different locations and a large cast of supporting characters. The pace in the earlier part of the book is fairly sedate, but the novel is a slow-burn; there is a lot to take in, but nothing is rushed, and it was an absolute joy to read something in which the author was able to take the time to set up her story and to develop her characters. I realise that some may find the slow pacing off-putting, but a little perseverance will pay off in the end as the reader is able to gain a greater insight into the relationships between the characters and their motivations.

The descriptions of the sights and sounds of India are very evocative, and the story of the days leading up to the Mutiny bristle with tension. There are certain (fictional) events that feel as though they have been somewhat glossed over, but I didn’t find that spoiled my enjoyment of the story overall.

Also gently simmering throughout the book has been Drusilla’s relationship with Fabian Framling. There were, I have to admit, rather too many mentions of the fact that he had “kidnapped” her as a child because he’d decided he wanted a baby to look after, but other than that, he turned out to be rather an attractive hero. Holt’s stories are told in the first person, and one of the things I found in the other books I’ve read of hers is that the hero is often a less well-defined character because the reader only sees him through the eyes of the heroine. I did feel that to be the case initially, but despite the singular viewpoint, Holt is able to show is that he has – fortunately -grown out of most of his “brattish” tendencies and become a strong and likeable man. Still prone to the occasional high-handedness, he has a good sense of humour and rather a roguish air; and the sense to value Drusilla’s strength and courage.

Fabian’s interest in Drusilla is clear – although she is wary of his motives and sceptical that he could ever be interested in someone as plain as she is. I really liked the fact that that there is no miraculous transformation at the end by judicious application of a new dress and some eyebrow-plucking; the things that make Drusilla attractive are her intelligence, her wit and her common sense, things which eventually win around not only the man she loves, but his domineering mother as well!

All in all, I found this to be an absolutely engrossing read. The story-telling is excellent and I found the historical background fascinating. If you enjoy well-developed and complex stories peopled with interesting characters, this book is highly recommended.

With thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for the review copy.

About me

I’m a musician, teacher and mother of two girls and have always been an avid reader. I was introduced to the novels of Jean Plaidy at the age of eleven and have never looked back! I love good, meaty, well-researched historical fiction – whether it’s about real figures (Sharon Penman) or fictional ones (Dorothy Dunnett), but I’m a sucker for a well-written historical romance, too.

The Reluctant Earl by C.J Chase

chase

Alone in a gentleman’s bedchamber, rummaging through his clothing-governess Leah Vance risks social ruin. Only by selling political information can she pay for her sister’s care. And the letter she found in Julian DeChambrelle’s coat could be valuable-if the ex-sea captain himself had not just walked in.

As a navy officer, Julian knew his purpose. As a new earl, he’s plagued by trivialities and marriage-obsessed females. Miss Vance’s independence is intriguing-and useful. In return for relaying false information, he will pay her handsomely. But trusting her, even caring for her? That would be pure folly. Yet when he sees the danger that surrounds her, it may be too late to stop himself….

RHFL Classifications:

Heat Level 1 (barely!)

Regency Mystery/Romance

REVIEW RATING: 3.5 STARS

Review by Caz

England after the Napoleonic Wars was a country that had been brought almost to its knees. Indeed, life over here, given the restrictions on trade resulting from the wars, was much harder for the ordinary, working man than it was in France. Added to that, a run of bad winters and poor harvests meant that food was scarce and many were starving, so it was perhaps not surprising that some began to look across the Channel and consider emulating the way that the French had dealt with society’s huge inequalities some twenty years earlier.

This is the historical background against which the action of The Reluctant Earl is set. The novel opens with Julian DeChambelle, the new Earl Chambleton receiving anonymous information to the effect that his recently deceased father may have been murdered. The late earl was known to have been sympathetic to the plight of the common people, and to have been trying to further their cause in Parliament.
In order to attempt to solve the mystery of his father’s death, Julian visits his estranged sister, whose husband is a member of the government, and in doing so, meets Leah Vance, who is governess to his niece. It is an inauspicious meeting ; as when they meet, Leah is searching his room for information which she can sell in order provide care for her mentally ill sister.

Naturally, Julian is mistrustful, but instead of exposing Leah’s activities he decides instead to turn them to his advantage, and gets her to supply false information to the group of rebels she is helping.
Chambleton, formerly a Captain in the Navy, is finding it difficult to adjust to his new responsibilities, especially as he had never expected to inherit the title; and Leah knows that she may soon be unable to continue to provide for her sister as her charge is to make her come-out shortly and will no longer have need of a governess. Thus, both of them are somewhat adrift and unsure of their place in society.

The principal story – Julian’s search for the truth about his father’s death – is well put together, with plenty of mystery, action and opportunities to further the burgeoning romance between the earl and the governess. I confess I found the fact that both protagonists had sisters who needed specialist care rather too much of a coincidence, but the story worked overall.

The historical background to the romance is well-researched and very interesting. Used as I am to reading about rakish dukes and beautiful debutantes, I realised when reading this that in the majority of those other novels, there is little or no comment on the political situation, the food shortages and the riots. I was especially intrigued by the mention of the Spa Fields Riots which took place late in 1816, and of the plot to assassinate the Prince Regent in 1817 – and have been motivated to find out more.

This title comes from Harlequin’s Love Inspired line, and so there is some discussion of faith. Both Julian and Leah have lost theirs, and the last part of the book in particular deals with both of them realising (separately) that they need to learn to place more of their trust in the Almighty. I will admit that this aspect of the book wasn’t important to me, and there were a couple of times that I thought – “ah, yes – I’m being reminded this is a ‘Christian’ novel” – but in the grand scheme of things, I can accept a little proselytising now and again! After all, at the time the novel is set, religion played a more important part in people’s lives than it does for many of us today, so the issue is not out of place.

The blend of mystery and romance works reasonably well, although I’d say the mystery is more to the forefront than the romance; but overall, this is an easy, comfortable (and informative) read.

The Reluctant Countess by Wendy Vella

 The Reluctant Countess

Published: January 14, 2013

Publisher’s Blurb:

From rising romance star Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever.

Tags: Romance, Historical, Suspense, England

Time Frame: Georgian England

Heat Level: 3

REVIEW RATING : 5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

I loved this book from the very beginning. Wendy Vella had me hooked from the very first sentence. “If only she had a small imperfection.” It was obvious that someone mesmerized Patrick and Stephen. I soon found out it was the Countess of Monmouth. Patrick was sure she was an imposter, a charlatan. He was determined to find out her secrets and expose her. He couldn’t believe she was married to his long time friend who died several years before.

Sophia does indeed have secrets and she’ll do anything to protect those secrets. Her life depends on it, as does the life of her son and her friend. If her secrets are discovered and exposed, it will all fall apart and they’ll be left with nothing and no one to take care of them.

Society calls her the ice queen. She comes across as being aloof and unapproachable. Little does society know, she’s reserved out of necessity. Society sees her beauty and quiet reserve as a reason for gossip and distrust.

As Patrick sets out to discover Sophia’s secrets, he realizes there is more to her than he originally thought. He slowly comes to care for her and would do anything to protect her. He still wants to know her secrets, but this time so he can protect her. He no longer has any desire to expose her.

When Sophia finds herself in danger and the life of her son in danger, she turns to Patrick and asks for help. He does indeed help her but in doing so, he learns her secrets. Will he still care for her once he knows everything?

This was a wonderful story. It’s full of passion, romance, danger, and intrigue. It has all the elements of a wonderful story and Wendy Vella delivers on that promise! I laughed, I cried, I snickered and I cheered through the entire story! Sophia is a wonderful heroine. She’s strong, determined and imperfect. Patrick is her perfect counter-part. He’s sexy, determined, protective, and imperfect. When he messes up, he knows it and is not too proud to apologize. They get mad at each other, argue, storm off, but they always come back to each other. Neither one of them lets their pride get in the way. I loved it!

Wendy Vella is a new to me author and I am so glad I picked up her book to read. I’m looking forward to more stories from her.

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $2.99**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

BLURB:

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration? The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her. When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor’s daughter figure out which brother to blame… and which brother to trust with her heart?

RFHL Classifications

Romantic mystery/suspense

Georgian (post-Regency)

Heat level – 1

Review rating – 4.5 stars

Review by Caz

The Tutor’s Daughter is an well-written and engaging romantic mystery set in Cornwall in the early years of the 19th Century, at a time when the Cornish coast was a haven for smugglers and “wreckers” (locals who would plunder the goods of foundering and wrecked ships, often ignoring the plight of the crew in favour of saving the cargo).

Emma Smallwood lives with her widowed father at his small boys’ school in Devonshire, but since the death of her mother two years previously, Mr Smallwood has not taken a great deal of interest in his school which has led to a decline in the number of pupils attending. Following the departure of their most recent pupil, Emma decides to try to drum up some business – this is their livelihood, after all – and to that end writes to Sir Giles Weston, father of Henry and Philip Weston, who attended the school some years ago, to ascertain if he has any interest in sending his two younger sons (twins Julian and Rowan) to be educated at the school.
Surprisingly, his response is to invite Mr Smallwood and Emma to his home, to tutor the boys there, a proposal which Mr Smallwood is keen to accept.

Emma has fond memories of Philip Weston, but not so of his older brother who used to tease her unkindly and continually subject her to pranks; so while she is keen to see Philip and even harbours some romantic feelings for him, she is more apprehensive about meeting Henry again.

I really enjoyed the story. There is a Jane Eyre-ish quality to the early part of the book in that there appears to be a mysterious stranger in the house who is prone to wandering around late at night. That part of the mystery is, however, solved about half-way through the book (and the attentive reader will probably have made a reasonable guess as to the solution by then anyway!) , but there are many more sinister goings-on at Ebbington Manor which kept me anxiously turning the pages.

The Weston family is clearly hiding more than just a “madwoman in the attic”, however. The second Lady Weston rules the roost; Sir Giles is often apathetic and usually goes along with his wife’s wishes in order to have a quiet life. Their teenaged sons Rowan and Julian are surly and rude, and her ladyship’s ward, Lizzie Henshaw is at one moment a vapid girl desirous of nothing more than pretty dresses and town gossip, and the next is spiteful and catty, a mass of contradiction. Emma hasn’t had a lot of female companionship in her life and initially hopes that they can be friends, but it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie is rather unstable and only interested in herself.

I don’t like to say too much about the plots of the books I review so as not to spoil them for potential readers, and I think it’s even more imperative that I don’t give too much away when reviewing a mystery story. Suffice to say that I found the mysteries and their resolutions to be satisfying and that although I had my suspicions as to how certain characters were tied together, there were still some surprises along the way.

Running alongside the mystery is the story of the deepening friendship between Emma and Henry. Initially, she distrusts him intensely, believing him to be the same boy who tormented her at the school. This may seem very naïve – and in fact there was the odd time I rolled my eyes and thought that she needed to realise that Henry has grown up in more ways than one; but it’s very clear that Henry’s pranks and teasing cut her quite deeply and so I suppose it’s natural for her to retain her suspicions of him until he begins to prove to her that he can be trusted.

But prove it he does. Henry and Emma strike up a tentative friendship which quickly turns into mutual affection and understanding. Emma is surprised to find herself attracted to him and the romance between them develops at a good pace – although I did think that the reasons that (briefly) separated them towards the end of the book were somewhat flimsy.

If I have one quibble about the book, it is with Henry’s questioning of Emma’s faith – or lack of it. Clearly, this is a book with a Christian message, and I have no problem with that, provided that message is handled subtly – which for the most part it is. I just felt that the passages in which Henry tried to restore Emma’s faith in prayer were somewhat jarring when set alongside the presentation of the rest of the story. I would almost say that those sections felt like conscious “insertions” rather than an organic part of the novel as a whole. That said, however, I thought that the part where Henry tried to talk to his brother about God and his concept of Him worked much better contextually.

Taken as a whole, I found this to be a very enjoyable read. The characterisation is consistent, the various plot threads are skilfully woven together and the romance is charmingly done.

Recommended.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

Simply Scandalous (House of Pleasure #9) by Kate Pearce

 Simply Scandalous

Published: December 24, 2012

Publisher’s Blurb:

After years of fighting on the continent, Richard Ross has finally returned to London to make peace with his father, and the erotic delights of his stepmother’s Pleasure House provide a welcome distraction for his war-weary heart. But he is shocked to encounter someone there whose resemblance to his lost love leaves him both tempted and tormented…

As a former spy, Violet LeNy has mastered the art of deception. But there is no disguising the heated passion that still burns between her and Richard, the man she once betrayed but who now is her only hope of survival. Soon she plans a scandalous game of seduction where sensual surrender is the ultimate pleasure…

Tags: Romance, Historical, Mystery, Erotic

Time Frame: London, 1827 (Georgian England)

Heat Level: 3

REVIEW RATING : 5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

Simply Scandalous is perfectly scandalous! It’s a wonderful, hot , erotic, historical romance that spans continents and years. I loved every minute of decadence contained in this story.

So, what’s there to love about Simply Scandalous? Well, everything! What does this story not have? It has spies, romance, secrets, kidnapping, inter-racial relationships, brothels, intrigue, conspiracy, bastille survivors, and cross-dressing, just to name a few!

Richard Ross spent years in France as a spy. While he was there, he met and fell in love with a French Spy, Violet LeNy. He watched her die, and with it, his ability to love. Years later, he meets her again, but not as he expected! Violet needs his help, but can he see past the deception and lies she put him through? Will he help her? Or, will her life be forfeit?

I was intrigued by this story from the very beginning. We have a member of the peerage married to a survivor of the French Bastille (doing anything to survive), who once ran a brothel. Now her son runs it! Not only does her son run it, but the rest of the family tends to “hang out” at the Pleasure House. Inside the Pleasure House, anything goes. If you can imagine it, you can find it there!

Emily, Richard’s sister, is in love with Ambrose, an African man who works at the Pleasure House. Richard is accused of loving men and Violet is back from the dead! It just keeps going from there!

Each time we visit the Pleasure House, exquisite pleasures are described in detail and it’s HOT and explicit! In between visits to the house, we have a mystery to solve. Who is killing off the former spies of England? Who is the elusive Mr. Brown? What is Violet hiding? On top of that mystery, we have a mystery surrounding Richard’s father and sister. When will this poor family get a break? I guess it’s true, when it rains, it pours!

All of these problems stem from the problems surrounding the life and times in England in the 1820’s. Marriages were arranged, no matter if they loved each other or not. The French Revolution is over, the after math is still being felt by those that were part of it. England is spying on France and France is spying on England. All of the spying and arranging of people’s lives for God and Country has everlasting affects. And quite often, the sins of the father are visited upon the children.

This is the first book in this series that I’ve read. While I realize I’ve missed some of the backstory on many of the characters, I did not feel lost at any point in time. I will definitely go back to read others in the series!

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

Some Like it Wicked by Carole Mortimer

 some like it wicked

Published: November 13, 2012

Publisher’s Blurb:

Rupert Stirling, Duke of Stratton, has long since acquired the nickname Devil. and with outrageous exploits both in and out of ladies’ bedchambers, my, has he earned it!

Risqué behavior is beyond Pandora Maybury, widowed Duchess of Wyndwood—although with her dark secret she’s far too well acquainted with being the subject of ribald gossip for her liking. If only the Ton knew just how innocent she really was…including Rupert who, after rescuing her from a compromising situation, seems intent on wickedly compromising her himself!

Tags: Romance, Historical, Mystery

Time Frame: England, 1817

Heat Level: 2

REVIEW RATING : 3.5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

Some Like it Wicked is the lovely tale of a woman who is so sweet and yet has been shunned by the ton. She bears this all and plans to leave polite society when Rupert Stirling decides he wants her in his life. He just barrels in and takes over, must to Pandora’s displeasure.

Rupert feels the need to protect Pandora. Every time he turns around, he’s rescuing her from some tragedy. Everything from unwanted attentions from  unwanted suitors to a fire in her townhome. Rupert is there to keep her safe, but who will protect her from him?

Rumors are flying through polite society about Pandora. Polite society is not so polite. They are digging her past and making her life miserable. Rupert has the same problem. Rumors are flying about him, however, since he’s a man, it’s not a big deal. His problem is much bigger and there’s only one solution to his problem. He’s hoping Pandora will solve his problem. But as many people know, things are not as they seem.

I loved watching these two in action. The tension between them is thick and she doesn’t know what to think. Rupert is stubborn and used to getting his way. However, Pandora doesn’t just roll over and let him do whatever he thinks is best. She argues and fights with him the entire time. Rupert isn’t used to people saying no to him. He finds Pandora refreshing, an “original”. She intrigues him.

Will Rupert get his way or will Pandora retreat from society and move to the country?

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $4.61**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

An Unlikely Alliance (House of Renwick #2.5) by Rachel Van Dyken

 

Published: February 2012

Publisher’s Blurb:

Spoiled New York rogue Royce Mc Arthur lives a charmed life. He sees no reason to settle down, until his mother issues her decree that he must grow up, find a wife and produce some grandchildren…preferably before she dies of old age. But his choices are quite limited considering the only women of his acquaintance are ones of ill repute.

Meeting the beautiful Evelyn DeJarlias at a ball gives him hope he may have found the one. Her southern blue collar outspokenness and lack of refinement draws him like a moth to a flame. Unfortunately, she does not find him nearly as endearing — consistently refusing his lavish gifts and his attentions, she poses a challenge he simply cannot ignore.

When his mother and her widowed father begin to keep company together secretly, it provides the perfect excuse for him to spend time with Miss DeJarlias

But figures from Royce’s past threaten to destroy the blossoming love between the couple. Evelyn must decide if she is willing to trust the man or hold his past indiscretions against him.

Tags: Romance, Historical, Funny, New York

Time Frame: New York, 1814

Heat Level: 1

REVIEW RATING : 5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

Oh my goodness! I had the extreme privilege of picking this book up for free from Amazon and am I ever glad I did! It’s funny and sweet and romantic. I loved it!

Royce is a rake who has been ordered by his mother to get married in 4 months. None of the women in New York hold any interest for him. Then he meets Evelyn. Evelyn is a breath of fresh air. She grew up in Louisiana on a farm. When her father was able to sell their farm for a lot of money, they move to New York so Evelyn could be launched into society.

Royce decides he wants Evelyn as his wife. None of his usual seduction techniques work on Evelyn. She doesn’t want jewelry, flowers, or any other gifts. She just wants to enjoy life. He sets out to win her over by spying on his mother and her father, who are meeting in secret. Along the way they fall in love.

But the world is not all roses. Evelyn catches Royce coming out of a house of ill repute. Now she’s mad. How will he win her back?

This was a very humorous story that had me giggling throughout. I plan to get the rest of this series and read them all. I find Ms. Van Dyken to have a wicked sense of humor in her writing!

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $1.99**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

His Dark Desires (Trevelyan #2) by Jennifer St. Giles

 

Published: December 29, 2011

Publisher’s Blurb:

You are in danger. Trust no one. The terrifying words from a mysterious letter echo in Juliet Bucheron’s mind. Destitute ever since her husband disappeared in the Civil War, Juliet has turned her New Orleans ancestral home into a boarding house—despite the rumors of ghosts, the whispers of scandal, and the stain of murder. But even more unsettling is Juliet’s new tenant, a handsome stranger named Stephen Trevelyan.

Wealthy, educated, and seductively compelling, Stephen fills Juliet’s heart with uncontrollable longing—and her head with suspicion. Something, she senses, is lurking beneath the surface. And someone is stalking the hallways after midnight. As the danger draws nearer, Juliet wonders if she can really trust Stephen. But as he pulls her closer, she knows she cannot resist him…no matter what the price.

Tags: Romance, Historical, Suspense, New Orleans, Paranormal, Ghost

Time Frame: New Orleans, 1874

Heat Level: 2

REVIEW RATING : 4 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

I happened to be lucky enough to pick this wonderful book up for free. And what a wonderful surprise! I quickly found myself immersed in a post-civil war New Orleans filled with hardship, mystery, romance, passion and a little murder thrown in for good measure.

Juliet is a wonderful heroine who has done so much to keep her home and family together after the civil war has ravaged their home and community. She’s done everything she can to raise her son on her own as she faces the reality that her husband abandoned them and ran off with thousands in gold.  While trying to survive all of these hardships, she’s faced with a mystery as she’s told to trust no one and that she’s in danger.

Stephen comes along to be a boarder in her house and adds to the mystery and confusion she’s facing. Juliet is so attracted to Stephen but since she’s still married to her husband she refuses to give in to that temptation. Stephen pursues her. But as much as he wants her, he insists she come to him. He is an honorable man and will do anything to protect her from harm. While Juliette relies on Stephen to protect her, she is by no means a damsel in distress. She is smart about her safety without being weak.

Jennifer St. Giles did an amazing job of bringing the Post-Civil War trials to surface in this book. She managed to show how families were devastated by the Civil War and the steps they were forced to take to survive. She did this in a way that showed how strong these people were without making them into whiny complainers. They accepted what happened and did the best they could.

I also really liked how Ms. St. Giles brought in women’s suffrage. It was very subtle in it’s introduction but it’ affect was profound in the story. She managed to show how women in the time believed and fought for suffrage but were often unable to make those changes in their every day lives.

I was drawn in by the mystery in the book. I was surprised by who was committing these murders. The mystery was so well written that no one was the obvious murderer, yet they were all suspects! They all had reason to commit these murders.

While I’m not normally a big fan of ghost stories, the ghost in this story really added something. Juliette could not figure out if the presence was friend or foe. It was a mystery to be solved. In the end we find out who the ghost is and what it wants.

This was an amazing story and I feel lucky to have found it!

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $2.99**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

The Mistress of Trevelyan (Trevelyan Series #1) by Jennifer St. Giles

 

Published: December 29, 2011

Publisher’s Blurb:

The manor behind the mists….The man behind the mystery.In 1873 San Francisco, spirited Ann Lovell takes a position no one else dares — as governess to the motherless sons of the enigmatic Benedict Trevelyan. It has long been whispered that Trevelyan Manor hides dark secrets and sinister deeds — including the murder of Benedict’s wife. But Ann refuses to pay heed to spiteful rumor.

As she grows to cherish her young charges, Ann also finds herself powerfully drawn to the handsome Benedict, whose passionate persuasion introduces her to a new world of sensual pleasures. But even while falling in love with the master of Trevelyan, Ann wonders if his attentions are intended to blind her to the secrets of the past — and if Benedict holds he key to her destiny…or her destruction. 

Tags: Romance, Historical, Suspense, American West

Time Frame: San Francisco, 1873

Heat Level: 2

REVIEW RATING : 3.5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

I actually read the second book in this series first and decided to go back to read this one and get the rest of the story. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book I did have a hard time getting in to it. It started out so wonderful and full of suspense and then started lagging. After a few chapters it did pick back up and I flew through the remainder of the book.

Ms. St. Giles has wonderful heroines and Ann Lovell is no exception! Ann has faced some horrible hardships in life, none of which were her doing. These are hardships that society and her absent father have placed on her. In spite of this, she continues to be positive and take charge of her future. She refuses to let anything keep her down.

Benedict is trapped and tortured by what happened to his first wife with the rumors surrounding her death. He’s doing everything he can to raise his sons and keep the family business thriving. He’s attracted to Ann but feels he only has dishonor to offer anyone, so he stays away.

Ann takes the position of governess in the Trevelyan household. She falls in love with the boys, Justin and Robert as well as Benedict, their father. She desperately tries to deny her attraction to Benedict, but as circumstance after circumstance puts them together, she finally takes charge of her destiny, consequences be damned.

During all of this, Ann deals with Benedict’s family treating her as an unwelcome insect, someone going through her personal items, and threats on her life. Ann keeps her practicality around her and continues to face these problems head on. She refuses to be a victim!

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more from Ms. St. Giles. I would have liked for the suspense in this book to be a bit more prominent in the story. There was a lull in the story when Ann was settling into her role as governess and getting to know the boys, Justin and Robert.

San Francisco provides a wonderful backdrop to this story. We get to watch the story unfold as women are fighting for equal rights, steamboats are becoming more prominent and let’s not forget the horseless carriage!

I was completely surprised at who the villain was in the story. I was not expecting that at all! It was well done as I had the same information as the characters in the book but didn’t see it coming. I was extremely pleased by the outcome of both the mystery and the love story!

I did read the second book prior to the first one. It’s not necessary to read them in order, as they are independent stories. However, having read the second book first, I already knew several things about the Trevelyan family. This may have contributed to me having a difficult time getting into the story.

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $2.99**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.