Tag Archive | london

The Duke (Victorian Rebels #4) by Kerrigan Byrne

the duke

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

He is noble, notorious, and takes no prisoners…

They say that now His Grace, Collin Talmage, Duke of Trenwyth has only one hand, he might finally be a mere mortal, but no one seems willing to test the theory. Rich as Midas, big as a Viking, beautiful as Adonis, and lethal as a feral wolf, he is the English Empire’s golden son. But now he’s lost everything. Most of his family died in a terrible accident, his protégé and closest friend betrayed him on the battlefield, and his left hand was cut off while he was a prisoner of war. The only thing that’s kept him going until now is the memory of a night spent in the arms of a mysterious raven-haired woman almost a year ago…

Imogen Pritchard is a nurse by day, but a fallen woman—and a spy—by night. Seduced on the job years ago by a Duke who mourned for the loss of his family, Imogen has never shaken the memory of the man’s despair—or the fathomless depths of pleasure he brought to her. But as the threat of betrayals, blackmail, and secrets abound, Imogen and Collin are thrown back together in a dizzying swirl of dangerous games and earthshattering desire. But can their love overcome the everything that threatens to tear them apart?

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Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s Press, February 2017

Time and Setting: London, 1879
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Review Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Sara

Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series brings to life dangerous men who are always one heartbeat away from succumbing to their darkest impulses. The love they find in the arms of their perfect women saves their souls. In The Duke, the formula is changed just slightly to introduce a man whose heart is so hardened he almost misses his chance at salvation.

Collin Talmage was never supposed to be the Duke of Trewyth. Knowing he was the spare to his father’s legacy gave Cole the freedom to join the military where he has used his strength and intelligence to good effect. His career as a soldier and spy comes to a tragic halt when his family is killed in an accident, immediately elevating him to one of the highest peerages in the realm. On the eve of his final assignment, Cole hopes to escape from the reality of his life for just a few moments in the company of his fellow soldiers. Their group arrives at the Bare Kitten Dance Hall where Cole quickly notices the beautiful barmaid serving the men. Pulling her away from the attentions of his closest companion, Cole arranges for Ginny to remain at his side for the rest of the evening and later to join him in his bed.

Imogen Pritchard, hiding her true identity under a black wig and a false name, wasn’t a whore and should never have been in a place as seedy as the Bare Kitten. Inheriting her father’s debt to the club’s proprietor forced her to work off the amount owed but she was promised she would never have to pay by working on her back. Unfortunately Cole’s money is more important to the owner than any agreement made with Imogen. With no option but to comply, Imogen is surprised by Cole’s care and lover-like treatment. His caresses and kisses ignite passions Imogen wasn’t aware she could feel, and in a single night her heart is lost to the man with eyes filled with a sorrow that Imogen wishes she could take from him.

A year passes before Imogen and Cole’s paths cross again. Cole disappears soon after leaving England and it’s feared he was killed or captured in the line of duty. Imogen can only hope he’s alive as she works at the Bare Kitten each night while maintaining her day job as a nurse at St. Margaret’s hospital. Starting a shift, she finds the hospital abuzz with the news of the arrival of an important patient – none other than the Duke of Trewyth – whom the doctors fear is dying from typhus. Imogen’s experience with the disease makes her question the diagnosis and she risks her position to have another doctor treat Cole. Her decision saves his life but the attending physician fires Imogen for insubordination. Things only get worse when a patron at the Bare Kitten tries to rape her, and she kills him in self defence. Imogen’s desperation leads her back to the hospital where the elderly Earl of Anstruther catches her stealing. The kind earl’s act of altruism saves Imogen and changes her life forever.

Once the real cause of his distress is discovered Cole’s body heals but his mind and spirit take another two years to recover. The torture he endured was only bearable by clinging to the memory of Ginny and the perfect night they shared before his life became a living hell. It’s the hope of finding his angel that becomes an obsession for Cole; so much so that he has little patience for any other women who cross his path. His main frustration comes in the form of his new neighbor Imogen, Lady Anstruther. Her ideas about social reform as well as her informality and common background all pick at Cole’s high principles. His attraction to the beautiful woman is something to be endured rather than embraced. However, when the young widow finds herself in mortal danger Cole is, surprisingly, the first one to offer his protection.

I am a die-hard fan of Ms. Byrne’s writing but I had some problems as I read The Duke. Imogen is a wonderfully fhree-dimensional character, full of compassion and grace while having to hold her family together against dire circumstances. Cole on the other hand remains aloof, bitter and angry from almost the first moments of his introduction right up the final pages of the story. Everything seems to happen around him while he remains rooted in place, stuck there by outdated ideals and a stubborn refusal to open his eyes to the gift he’s been given in Imogen. She has always been a balm to his wounded heart and yet when that healing happens without him realizing she is the same woman he’s been searching for, Cole pushes her away in the most crushing manner.

While not as compelling a story as the other books in the Victorian Rebels series, I would still recommend The Duke to readers who appreciate their heroes a bit on the dangerous side but dedicated to the happiness of their heroine.

Stealing the Rogue’s Heart (Rookery Rogues #4) by Erica Monroe

stealing the rogue's heart

WHEN AN UNDERWORLD PRINCESS…

Beautiful, innocent Mina Mason has led a sheltered life as the sister to the most notorious crime lord in England. Her family’s wealth and expectations keep her in a gilded cage, never able to act on her true desires. Like kissing — and engaging in far more scandalous behavior with–Charlie Thatcher, her childhood best friend. As a member of a rival gang, Charlie is distinctly off-limits.

FALLS FOR THE WRONG MAN…

Charlie Thatcher has known since he was a boy where his loyalties should lie: with the Chapman Street Thieves, who saved him from a brutal death in the dark alleys of the Ratcliffe rookery. As a bartender for the Three Boars public house, he protects his fellow brothers with his mind and his fists. But when one of those members threatens Mina’s safety, Charlie’s primal, protective instincts are triggered–and his defense of her puts them both in danger.

PASSION MAY BE THEIR DOWNFALL.

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Publisher and Release Date: Quillfire Publishing, January 2017
Time and Setting: London, 1833
Genre: Historical Romance novella
Heat Level: 2
Review Rating: 4 stars

Review by Sara

Two street gangs, both alike in villainy,
In filthy London where we lay our scene.
From old rivalries to a fragile peace,
Torn asunder fighting for a girl’s esteem.

There is nothing like a romance between star-crossed lovers. The conflicts seem insurmountable but the emotions are almost as large to keep characters fighting for their relationship. In Stealing the Rogue’s Heart, Erica Monroe borrows a little from Romeo and Juliet to set the stage for her tale of love ripped apart by the brutality of the London slums.

In the Rookeries, loyalty to your gang is more important than blood or family. Control of the East End between three equally powerful street gangs: the Kings, the Chapman Street Gang and the Tanners, has kept the area in a state of relative peace for many years. Unfortunately the death of the Tanners’ leader has created a power vacuum that the other two gangs are ready to fill. Tensions are high but Mina Mason has always found a safe refuge from the danger in the company of her good friend Charlie Thatcher. Mina’s position as the younger sister of the Kings’ leader has kept her insulated from threats and Charlie’s ties to the Chapman Street Gang have also shielded her from unwanted attention. Little does Mina realize that her feelings of safety and protection are an illusion easily shattered.

Charlie has loved Mina for almost as long as he’s known her but his allegiance to the Chapman Street Gang doesn’t exactly put him in a position to court her. The Mason family is viewed as near royalty within the Rookeries and Mina has grown up with every convenience the Kings’ money can buy her. Charlie has had to content himself with being Mina’s friend and companion when she leaves her virtual palace to sit in his bar while he works. What Charlie doesn’t realize is that Mina’s reasons for being at his workplace have everything to do with her own deep feelings for him. She has long known that her love for Charlie goes well beyond the friendship he offers. One word from him and Mina would give up all of the luxuries her name affords her to live a simple life with a man who appreciates her for herself and not what her connections would bring.

Mina’s fear that her brother is planning to marry her off to someone loyal to the Kings has her hiding where she is the most comfortable – in Charlie’s pub. Unaware that hostilities between the gangs has reached its boiling point Mina makes the mistake of lingering too long within Chapman Street Gang territory and catches the eye of the wrong man. When he tries to assault her, Mina finds protection in Charlie’s arms; however the fight that ensues in the bar lights a fuse within both groups and Mina’s brother feels the time is right to make his power play andMina becomes a bargaining chip in his plans for more money and influence. Charlie’s actions to defend Mina put a target on his back by his own people and the murder of his opponent in the bar fight forces them to make an example of his perceived disloyalty. With an all-out war on the horizon Mina and Charlie must decide if their devotion to each other is stronger than any influence the gangs have on their lives.

The Rookery Rogues series is like a unicorn within the genre of Historical Romance. The setting and all of the characters are far, far away from the nobility or lavish country estates normally found in such stories . Mina, for as much as she is a rich girl within the sphere that she and Charlie come from, is still living off money gained through criminal activities. Charlie comes from almost nothing and his position in the Chapman Street Gang has forced him to fight or steal just to keep his place as a trusted lieutenant in the organization. The odds are against their ever escaping the rookeries but they both cling to the small bit of happiness they find in each other. Both characters are exceedingly likeable even if the circumstances they live in are dreary or perhaps more on the morally grey spectrum.

I haven’t read the other stories within this series; however Stealing the Rogue’s Heart seems to be a tipping point for serious changes within the Rookeries and both gangs. Watching Charlie and Mina come together while the worlds of the Kings and Chapman Street Gang are poised to fall apart makes this simple love story even more complex. Erica Monroe has just gained herself a new fan and I’ll be interested to see if the events here will be mentioned in future stories.

Between the Devil and the Duke (Season for Scandal #3) by Kelly Bowen

between the devil and the duke

Purchase Now from Amazon

Their love was always in the cards.

He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he’s more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty-in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he’ll have to devise a proposition she can’t turn down.

Gossip said he was an assassin. Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie’s club offered a surefire way to make quick money-until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible . . .

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Publisher and Release Date: Forever, January 2017

Time and Setting: London, 1820
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Review Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Sara

Kelly Bowen’s Season for Scandal series has introduced several intelligent and resourceful female characters but the third book Between the Devil and the Duke takes things one step further. Lady Angelique Archer is a true genius whose gift with mathematics may be the only salvation for her family. Her strength and composure in the face of overwhelming odds are bound to get noticed by a man who makes probability his living.

The mysterious woman had caught Alexander Lavoie’s eye from the first night she entered his gaming hell and made her way to his vingt-et-un tables to challenge the high rollers. Her skill at dominating against seasoned players marked her as someone to pay attention to; however her demeanor in the club and her quick exits at the end of play communicated to Alex this woman did not want anyone’s eyes on her. Alex is intrigued enough to personally come to her aid when another player tries to get too close to the masked beauty. His regard for her rises even more as she manages to outflank his every attempt to learn her identity. Impressed with her abilities at the table as well as her unflappable demeanor at his questioning Alex does the only thing he can to keep her within his sights just a little longer. He offers her a job.

Lady Angelique knows she shouldn’t even consider Alex Lavoie’s proposition but the need to keep her family’s dire straits hidden from the rest of London society makes the decision for her. Angelique’s father quietly sold off everything of value before he died and her brother, the new Marquess of Hutton, isn’t smart enough to realize that their family’s good name is hanging by a thread. The chance to earn money to keep her younger brothers in school and perhaps rebuild the finances of the marquessate is enticement enough; however Angelique’s attraction to Lavoie could become too much of a distraction. Alex assures her that their arrangement will be business only and Angelique accepts his conditions to run the vingt-et-un tables for the club. Their partnership immediately shows returns as the players all flock to her parlor to play against the enigmatic dealer, all while her identity is safely disguised with a stunning gown and a simple mask.

Angelique’s hope that her employment will save her family’s name is destroyed when her brother is accused of a heinous crime and the evidence points to his guilt. With no friends or family to turn to, Angelique finds herself in the offices of Chegarre and Associates, an organization known throughout the ton for its skill in fixing impossible problems with the utmost discretion. The discovery that Alex is a partner in the firm doesn’t surprise Angelique, considering his reputation as a former assassin and spy. What does surprise her is his unwavering support for her while trying to discover who has framed her brother. As secrets from her family’s past are uncovered, Angelique and Alex’s partnership is reclassified from just a business arrangement into something that goes much deeper for the both of them.

Between the Devil and the Duke may not have a lofty peer as a main character, but Alex Lavoie proves that nobility isn’t just a matter of bloodlines. His awareness of Angelique starts with her physical appearance but he is quick to change gears when he learns of her brilliance and treats her as an intellectual equal. Not once does he try to manage Angelique or disrespect her opinions as they search for clues to her brother’s supposed crime. It’s quite easy to fall a little in love with Alex just for the care he takes to protect Angelique at every turn while refusing to hide truths that could impact her life dramatically. From almost the start Alex is smitten with Angelique but he allows her to come to him and pace their budding relationship at a speed she is comfortable with.

I love that Angelique is the whole package – brains and beauty – yet she still has insecurities that keep her humble. She’s a little unnerved by her strong attraction to Alex but is equally dazed by his regard for her. Angelique knows that she is smart but was always told that she had to hide that part of herself from a man for fear they couldn’t accept a female who knows more than they do. Alex not only encourages Angelique to use her brain but her talent with numbers comes in handy to impress some very tough characters to help them. Their relationship is seductive for how honest Angelique can be around Alex. With him she feels safe enough to reveal who she is underneath all of the social polish required by her station.

Each story in the Season for Scandal series has given readers a hero/heroine pairing that feels like so much more than just a simple romantic relationship. These men and women truly complement each other and the stories, like Between the Devil and the Duke are immersive and enjoyable reads.

Tutored by a Duke by Emma Lane

Tutored Duke

The handsome but incognito Richard Hawlester, Duke of Roderick, weary of toad-eating house guests, engages in a serious flirtation with young Elisabeth Barrows, who is primed for an exciting adventure. Mistaking the fat squire for the duke, she holds her secret relationship with a man known only as Richard, Nobel Rescuer, close to a tender heart while discovering love for the first time.

Elisabeth’s trust seems irrevocably lost when the duke’s actual identity is revealed. Realizing his mistake, Roderick begins an earnest, dangerous, and often hilarious campaign to convince her of his love. Elisabeth ponders whether true love can overcome the loss of trust between two people, even as danger presents in the guise of a vile, undesirable suitor, while a wicked assassin makes an attempt on the life of the duke. Trust broken can never be regained, or can it?

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Publisher and Release Date: The Wild Rose Press, Inc. March, 2016)

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency London
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3 Stars

Review by Sara

Readers looking for a story full of charm along with a sweet May-December romance may enjoy Tutored by a Duke. What begins as a case of mistaken identity unfolds into a gentle love story of two people who need one another to find themselves.

Richard, the Duke of Roderick feels that the time has finally come to move onto the next stage of his life and marry to secure the family line. To do this end, Richard opens his house to several eligible young ladies and their mothers in the hopes of finding a suitable duchess. Keeping a low profile at his own house party, Richard accidentally overhears Elizabeth Barrows, the younger sister of one of his potential candidates, asking for a kiss from a family friend. Intrigued by the girl’s spirit Richard finds ways to meet up with Elizabeth, coming to her rescue a when her own enthusiasm gets her in trouble, and never revealing that he’s the duke everyone has come to meet.

Richard finds his emotions for Elizabeth are stronger than for any other woman he’s been introduced to; however their age difference is a concern to him. With Elizabeth only eighteen, Richard feels that his flirting and their passionate kisses might be nothing more to her than a diversion. He waivers over whether to tell her the truth or to allow their secret meetings to remain in the realm of fantasy for them both. The decision to pursue or not pursue Elizabeth is taken out of Richard’s hands when he is called back into service by the King and abruptly leaves the party, never telling her the truth about himself.

Two years pass and Elizabeth takes the lessons learned at the duke’s house-party to heart and transforms herself into a model young débutante. Having felt the first stirrings of love towards the man she knew simply as Richard, her Noble Rescuer, she was devastated to learn he was in truth His Grace of Roderick and had left her without even a good-bye. Committed to finding a husband completely different from the roguish duke, Elizabeth is shocked when her first love returns to town and seems intent on rekindling the relationship that started years ago. Unfortunately Elizabeth is not ready to trust Richard again and unknowingly encourages the suit of a gentleman whose intentions are far from honorable.

There is sweetness in the early courtship between Richard and Elizabeth. Being a gentleman in possibly his mid-to-late-thirties, Richard appreciates the liveliness that Elizabeth brings whenever they are together and it speaks to a long buried part of him. They are instantly smitten with one another and it’s cute to see how far he goes to encourage her romantic side and create perfect moments for them to be together. It is difficult to watch Elizabeth retreat into the mold of a simpering young maiden when she lost that innocence and wonder because of Richard’s betrayal. Her heart is so hardened against him that it takes her a long time to realize just how special their connection is.

I was happy that the road to reunion wasn’t easy for Richard and he had to understand first how much he had affected Elizabeth in her youth and the path he put her on. When they agree to a sham engagement to protect Elizabeth from her errant suitor, it allows Richard to show her how true his love and admiration is. He becomes her Noble Rescuer again but in a more mature way that allows Elizabeth to pull down the walls she had erected to protect herself. Her underlying spirit, her ability to love and trust unconditionally finds its way back so a real relationship without false pretenses can begin.

The pacing of Tutored by a Duke is perhaps its one flaw. The opening chapters of the story are quite engaging and drew me into Richard and Elizabeth’s thoughts and emotions quickly. Unfortunately when we jump forward and the plot focuses on the couple’s reunion and the dangers posed by Elizabeth’s suitor the pace slowed down to almost a crawl. Emotional breakthroughs for either character are long in coming, with many chapters simply recalling events of a previous one with little or no forward motion toward the climax of the story. Fortunately, I had enough good will saved from the earlier chapters to push me to finish the story and get satisfaction from the ending.

A Passion for Him (Georgian #3) by Syliva Day

 A Passion for Him

Re-Published: January 29, 2013

Originally Published November 1, 2007

Publisher’s Blurb:

Stranger

He wears a mask…and he is following her. Staring at her like no other man since Colin. But Colin is dead and Amelia believes she will never again shiver with pleasure, never again sigh his name.

Lover

Until her masked pursuer lures her into a moonlit garden and a single, reckless kiss. Now she is obsessed with discovering his identity. Perfectly attuned to his every desire, his every thought, she will not stop until she knows his every secret.

 

Tags: Romance, Historical, Scotland

Time Frame: London 1780

Heat Level: 2.5

REVIEW RATING : 4.5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

Lovers Lost

Lovers Found

Betrayal

Murder

Deception

A Passion for Him has it all. Many years Amelia Brenbridge lost the only man she’s ever loved. He died protecting her. Many years later her childhood friend is wooing her. Trying to get her to marry him. He waits patiently.

A masked stranger appears and awakens something in Amelia that’s been dead for a long time. Passion. Desire. But who is he? Why does she feel so much when he’s around?

This was a really good book. It had all of the elements I love in a book. We had passion, deceit, romance, murder, a little mahem, and a duel. What more could you ask for?

Sylvia Day did an amazing job of weaving a world where I could lose myself and dream of things that may be and things that will come. It was sweet and passionate.

One of the things I really liked about Amelia was her unconventionality. She acted with decorum and poise when in public, but when it was just her and Ware or her masked paramour, she threw convention to the wind and said what was on her mind. It was refreshing.

The intrigue and murder crossed country lines. The murders that began in France followed our masked paramour into London. There he was trying to find the real killer and clear his name. While trying to keep Amelia far from the danger, only put her in more danger than anyone realized.

The characters in this story were amazing. There are some great secondary characters. They’re stories are apparently in the first two of this series. This story only made me want to go back to read those stories. They are amazing and I can’t wait to read their stories!

**At the time of the review, this book was available from Amazon for $9.39**

ABOUT LEE ANNE:

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.

Lady of Secrets by Susan Carroll

Heat Level 1.5 ** There is one sex scene, but it’s fairy tame by modern standards!

Historical Fiction/Romance

Stuart Era

REVIEW RATING: 5 STARS

Blurb

Queen Catherine de Medici is dead, and for Meg Wolfe—successor in a line of legendary healers and mystics known as “daughters of the earth”—it is a time of new beginnings. She strives to be ordinary, invisible in the mists of Faire Isle, and is determined to put the terrifying days of a wicked mother and turbulent childhood behind her. But soon a summons from King James will rekindle a menacing power from the past, bringing haunting visions of a nightmare already unfolding—and a shattering mystery steeped in magic that will determine a destiny from which she cannot hide.

Meg’s task: Save the king from the most insidious form of treachery, invisible to those who do not possess Meg’s extraordinary gifts. But as Meg discovers, there are more sinister motivations at play in the king’s world. Torn between two very different men whose motives and secrets are tied inexorably to her own fate, Meg learns that she can no longer trust anyone or anything—not even her own heart.

Review by Caz

I didn’t realise when I requested this title for review that it was the sixth book in Carroll’s Dark Queen series. Fortunately however, the story is self-contained so it didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the earlier books.

In this story, set in late 1605, Susan Carroll has very skilfully blended together her fiction with real historical events. I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, other than to say that although it becomes apparent quite early on in the novel exactly which conspiracy the principal characters become involved with, there are still many twists and turns to come as the reader begins to put all the pieces together, including one shock near the end that I really didn’t see coming.

Margaret Wolfe is a wise or “cunning” woman, known as The Lady of Faire Isle, who lives more or less as a recluse. She is a skilled healer and reputed to have other, more supernatural gifts, gifts that could easily result in her being accused of witchcraft. She is haunted by her past, specifically by the thoughts of her mother who was skilled in the dark arts and who thought to use her daughter to lead a great and terrible coven of witches who would destroy order and rule by fear. Fortunately for Meg, she was rescued from her mother’s clutches by her father and did not return to the Faire Isle until years later after her mother’s death. But she still fears an inner darkness, even as she fights against it. She has a quiet strength but will fight tooth and nail for those she loves and the things she believes in.

Armagil Blackwood is, by contrast, a mess, a n’er-do-well who drinks too much, loathes himself and cares for nothing; and Meg dislikes him intensely. But there is much more to the man beneath the rough exterior, and Meg finds herself intrigued and attracted to him as she begins to learn more about him. They make an unusual couple – the ‘white witch’ and the Oxford-educated doctor – but after a bumpy start, they fall hard for each other and the romance between them is charmingly done.

There is a well-drawn supporting cast, too – religious fanatics, mad would-be witches, and Meg’s breeches-wearing, sword-bearing friend and protector, Seraphine, who is not as tough as she seems.

The historical detail in the book is very informative without overwhelming the story, and the author has done a very good job on the picture she has painted of early seventeenth century London, with its dim and dank alleyways and less-than-salubrious lodging houses; and on the glimpse she gives us of life at the court of James I.

Overall, I found this to be an extremely engaging, hard-to—put-down book. Its mix of historical accuracy, fiction, romance and mystery was very well blended, and the ending was sweet and satisfying. I enjoyed it so much that I am now planning to read the other books in the series when I can.

With thanks to the publisher 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.