Tag Archive | Louise Allen

Surrender to the Marquess (Herriard Family #3) by Louise Allen

surrender to the marquess

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A battle of wills!

When Lady Sara Herriard’s husband dies in a duel, she turns her back on the vagaries of the ton. From now on, she will live as she pleases. She won’t change for anyone – certainly not for the infuriating Lucian Avery, Marquess of Cannock! Lucian must help his sister recover from a disastrous elopement and reluctantly enlists Lady Sara’s help. She couldn’t be further from the conventional, obedient wife he’s expected to marry, but soon, all he craves is for her to surrender – and join him in his bed!

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Publisher and Release Date: Harlequin Historical, March 2017

Time and Setting:  England 1818
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Wendy

Surrender to the Marquess ticks all the boxes of a well-written regency romance; the author’s attention to detail is excellent, the setting perfect and so well communicated that one feels the waves on the Dorset beach, hears the seagulls and smells the saltiness of an English seaside. Even the cover is perfect, with the balcony and the sea in the background… add in well developed, three dimensional characters and all is in place for a satisfying read.

Lady Sara Harcourt has escaped to the quiet seaside town of Sandbay in Dorset after her scholastic husband’s tragic death in a duel. By day she is Mrs Harcourt, owner of a shop that sells art and craft supplies, and by night she reverts to being Lady Sara. The locals know who she is,and her connection to the aristocracy has never been a secret, and I admit that while I understood her need to escape after her shocking bereavement, I wasn’t quite sure why she needed to maintain two different identities.

Then we have ‘Mr L.J.  Dunton Esquire’ otherwise known as Lucian John Dunton Avery, Marquess of Cannock. He has taken his unwell young sister to the seaside town not only to attempt to heal her in body and mind but also to try to salvage what’s left of her reputation after a disastrous elopement with his private secretary left her alone and bereft on the continent. She miscarried a child and her erstwhile swain mysteriously disappeared, leaving her sick and without the benefit of a wedding ring. It’s imperative that brother and sister keep a low profile in order to protect Marguerite, but it isn’t long before his identity is uncovered by Sara who, recognising a fellow aristocrat by his manner and demeanour, confirms who he is after looking him up in Burke’s Peerage. Before that, however, Lucian asks Sara if she might have anything in her shop that might interest his sister, and Sara, a forthright, managing kind of female, suggests she come to their hotel to visit the young woman.

Lucian and Sara feel an immediate frisson of attraction from their first meeting and I must say that the author develops their relationship well although it isn’t long before the difficulties they face start to look quite insurmountable. Both are extremely attractive, independent people – Sara’s freedom has been hard won and she does not wish to be bound by convention. Lucian would like nothing more than to have a passionate affair with the intriguingly beautiful widow and eventually they do succumb to the overwhelming attraction between them but it is difficult to carry it on when she has become his sister’s champion. Society would not approve of his lover being his sister’s friend or chaperone.

There is a battle going on throughout the book which is the real gist of the story. Lucian is the epitome of an honourable aristocrat, brought up to protect his womenfolk whatever the consequences. Sara started out her life with a fair amount of freedom; her mother is half-Indian of superior birth, and her father was a major in the British army until he inherited a marquessate – and she spent the earlier part of her life with her happily married parents and brother in India living a fairly relaxed and normal life. On her father’s accession to his title, the family was obviously obliged to return to England. Sara was allowed to choose her own husband – a scholar – and lived a quiet but happy existence with him until he too was smitten by the honour bug and fought a duel to protect a perceived slight to her honour, and died in the process. As a result she is well and truly against anything that compromises her freedom and will not tolerate any man’s protection.  Duels are anathema to her and she won’t countenance them for any reason.

Lucian and Sara, it seems, will always be at odds over his uncompromising over-protectiveness and her independent streak and I wondered how they would ever be able to reconcile their differences. And that’s my dilemma and the reason I haven’t awarded the book a higher grade  – they do get their HEA but I still felt that the issues between them were not, nor ever would be, totally resolved. They simply had to agree to disagree.

The book is very well written, and although I had issues with certain aspects of this story, I plan to read more by this author, starting with Forbidden Jewel of India, which tells the love story of Sara’s parents.

 

Loving the Lost Duke (Dangerous Deceptions #1) by Louise Allen

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A duke confronting his demons. A beauty resisting love.

Almost seven years ago the young Duke of Calderbrook left England for the self-imposed exile that seemed the only way to save his life. Now Cal is back, a grown man bent on taking back his birthright and discovering who so nearly killed him – even if they prove to be someone he loves.

The truth, revenge, then a suitable marriage are Cal’s aims, but his determined quest is stopped in its tracks by Society beauty Sophie Wilmott. He wants Sophie and Sophie, armoured against love by her own secrets, wants Cal. He needs to keep her safe, she needs to guard her heart – but death is waiting at the heart of the Duke’s great house and only courage and love are going to give them the strength to overcome it.

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Publisher and Release Date: Louise Allen, January 2017

Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Lady Blue

It’s time for Gareth Thorne, the “lost” Duke of Calderbrook to return home. Cal, as he is called by his family and friends, inherited his title as a young boy, and was raised by his uncle, whom he loved and considered a second father. Yet accident after accident happens to the young duke, causing broken bones and injuries that narrowly missed being fatal. He also suffered agonizing bouts of illness which left him weak and defenseless. When Cal overhears a conversation in which someone thinks he is being poisoned, he knows he needs to take action to save his life. Since he’s too weak to fight, he makes a plan to leave his home and stay one step ahead of anyone who might want to track him down. He arranges careful management of his estates and interests and writes regular letters to his uncle and cousin to ensure that he is not declared dead. Now, almost seven years later, Cal returns, a strong, determined man. He’s ready to claim his dukedom and find out whether it was his uncle or his beloved cousin, Ralph, who was trying to kill him.

Sophie Wilmott is having a private conversation with her dear friend, Toby, at a ball, and they’re discussing her requirements for marriage. Now twenty-four-years-old, she has been out for seven years and has not accepted any proposals. In addition to her exacting list of requirements, Sophie also has a scandalous incident from her début year, one which she has hidden from everyone. When Toby leaves her, she is shocked to find that another man had been behind them, listening to their whole conversation. While being embarrassed at having her list known to someone else, she is even more surprised to find that this gentleman is none other than the “lost” Duke of Calderbook, returned home at last.

Rather than being put off by Sophie’s requirements, Cal admires her method, and the fact that she doesn’t want or expect love to be part of the equation. Due to Cal’s experiences, he has no desire for love either, he’s not even sure he believes in it. Still, he does want to marry and produce an heir, and the beautiful and interesting Sophie seems to be an ideal candidate. Sophie’s experience with first love at the age of seventeen has left a bitter taste in her mouth, and she wants to select a spouse based on practical factors. She also needs someone who will be understanding and forgiving, as she won’t deceive her future spouse into believing that she is innocent.

Cal begins to court Sophie in earnest, and they genuinely like each other and have a sizzling chemistry. When Cal is finally ready to propose, Sophie confesses her secret, letting Cal know that she understands if he can’t accept her past. While inwardly Cal is gravely disappointed, he still wants to marry Sophie, and they become engaged. He also has yet to confess his own secrets to her, but he plans to do that at the upcoming houseparty.

Author Louise Allen has crafted a pair of outstanding protagonists in Loving the Lost Duke. Cal is intelligent, resourceful, brave, honorable, kind and sexy. When I saw his willingness to accept Sophie’s past, I fell a bit in love with him myself. Sophie is his perfect match. I love the fact that she was too honorable to try to deceive him, and how she was willing to help him find the truth about his family. This book had it all for me – an intriguing mystery, a delicious hero, subtle humor, a surprising resolution, steam, and a very satisfying romance.

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

the unexpected marriage of gabriel stone

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Gabriel Stone, Earl of Edenbridge, might have a rakish reputation, but he’s also a gentleman—of sorts. So when respectable Lady Caroline Holt offers her maidenhood in exchange for an estate her father gambled away, his curiosity is roused.

Gabriel is touched when he learns Caroline is helping her brother—he’s protected his brothers all his life…and has the scars to prove it. He’s willing to help her, but is shocked when his mission takes him somewhere he never thought he’d end up – down the aisle!

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Publisher and Release Date: Mills & Boon Historical, July 2016

Time and Setting: England, 1820
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Caz

This is the fourth and final book in Louise Allen’s Lords of Disgrace series, in which the heroes regard themselves as brothers by blood and have always stood by each other through whatever adversity life threw at them. Gabriel Stone, the Earl of Edenbridge, has appeared in other books in the series as a somewhat enigmatic character, a man whose responses are guarded and who cares for little except gambling and other rakish pursuits.

When Gabriel receives an unanticipated caller on the morning after a profitable night’s gaming, he doesn’t expect to end the encounter in possession of an I.O.U for a young lady’s virginity. Lady Caroline Holt, daughter of Lord Knighton, begs him to exchange the deeds to the estate he has just won from her father for her virtue; after all, she’s going to have to get married to one of the stodgy, much older but wealthy gentlemen being lined up for her, so why shouldn’t she at least get to choose the man to whom she gives herself for the first time? She explains that Springbourne had been put aside for her sixteen year old brother, and that she will do anything to keep it safe for him. Gabriel appreciates Caroline’s sense of family loyalty, but he’s enough of a gentleman to be appalled that she should feel compelled to go to such lengths and to determine that he can’t possibly accept her bargain, no matter how attractive he finds her.

Gabriel lives a bit of a solitary existence, but that’s the way he likes it. His three brothers are settled – one in the army, one in the clergy and the youngest about to graduate from Oxford and become Gabriel’s estate manager – and while he has a certain brotherly affection for them, he doesn’t bother them, they don’t bother him and that suits him perfectly. To say that his is a tarnished reputation is an understatement; he’s a rake of the first order, a womaniser and a hardened gamester, but his title still guarantees him acceptance at all but the very highest levels of society.

Having reached an agreement with Caroline – so she thinks – that he will call in his I.O.U upon the announcement of her betrothal, Gabriel doesn’t expect to have anything more to do with her, until she approaches him again having realised that the returned estate needs to be managed until her brother comes of age. She has no-one to turn to; her father is a self-absorbed despot who sees her only as something he can use to his own advantage, and she daren’t let him know that she is now in possession of the estate he so thoughtlessly gambled away. Gabriel can’t help but feel somewhat outraged on Caroline’s behalf; that she should be so neglected that the only person she can ask for help is a virtual stranger with a severely blackened reputation doesn’t sit well with even his questionable sense of honour. Reluctantly, and against his own better judgement, he finds himself drawn to Caroline and interested in her fate. Her father plans to marry her off to the highest bidder – who is known to have perverted tastes when it comes to the bedroom – and isn’t above physically punishing his daughter when she tells him she won’t agree to the match. Hurting a woman is unconscionable in Gabriel’s book, and he hatches a plan to remain close enough to Caroline to be able to keep an eye on her and, if necessary, get her out of harm’s way.

There’s a lot to enjoy in the story, not least of which is the fact that Caroline is a pragmatic, intelligent woman with a good sense of humour who isn’t ashamed of her attraction to Gabriel. She wants to do the right thing by her brother and is prepared to make a devil’s bargain in order to do so, but quickly realises her naivété in attempting it and sees the holes in her plan. In spite of Gabriel’s poor reputation, she discovers him to have a strong sense of honour and a protective streak a mile wide when it comes to those he cares about, even though he, of course, would deny its existence.

I also liked that the book doesn’t quite fall into the “rake reformed by love” category. There’s no question that Gabriel is falling in love and that he is motivated to act on Caroline’s behalf, but even before he becomes involved in her life, he has realised that his existence as a devil-may-care rakehell is not really one he cares for any longer. The trouble is, he’s spent so long living it that he isn’t sure who he really is any more or how to go about building himself a different life. The guilt he lives with over a tragic past event made him put up a wall between himself and those he loved and made him push them away in his determination to protect them. Yet he clearly does care very deeply; he’s just learned not to show it, and it’s a hard habit to break.

Gabriel and Caroline make a terrific couple and Ms. Allen creates a strong sense of connection between them right from the start. Everything the reader comes to know about them is gleaned from their words, thoughts and actions; this is definitely not a book that suffers from telling rather than showing. I particularly enjoyed the way the layers of Gabriel’s personality are gradually peeled back to show the truth of the honourable, compassionate man he truly is.

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone is the last – and my favourite – of this series, and can easily be read as a standalone, although the other books are definitely worth reading. It’s a great read and one I have no hesitation in recommending.

Forbidden Jewel of India by Louise Allen

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TO OBEY HIS DUTY IS TO DENY HIS HEART
Anusha Laurens is in danger. The daughter of an Indian princess and an English peer, she’s the perfect pawn in the opulent courts of Rajasthan. Even so, she will not return to the father who rejected her. Arrogant angrezi Major Nicholas Herriard is charged with bringing the alluring Princess safely to her new life in Calcutta. Nick’s mission is to protect, to serve – but under the searing Indian sun an initial attraction unfurls into a forbidden temptation. This beautiful, impossible Princess tests the very limits of his honour – especially when Nick is left with only one option to keep Anusha safe: marriage. But the fastflowing waters of the Ganges determine a different fate, and duty may separate them for ever…

Publisher and Release Date: Harlequin/Mills & Boon Historical, Jan 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Rajasthan, India, 1788
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Caz

Louise Allen is, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the Harlequin/Mills & Boon Historical authors, and I’ve always found her romances to be well-written and strongly characterised. Category books tend to be shorter than mainstream ones, but Ms Allen is very good at getting straight to the heart of the story and into the heads of her characters and Forbidden Jewel of India is no exception.

Anusha Laurens is the daughter of Sir George Laurens, a merchant of the East India Company, and his Indian mistress. In an interesting Author’s Note, Ms Allen explains how British men were encouraged to take Indian wives and mistresses as a way of fostering understanding and cooperation between the two cultures in the early days of the Company’s regime. It wasn’t until the early nineteenth century with the advent of Christian missionaries that the “propriety” of British society began to assert itself and the Indian wives and children found themselves relegated to less than second-class citizens.

This story, however, takes place in that earlier time, and we meet Anusha as a young woman of twenty-two who had lived happily with her parents until she was ten, when her father’s angrezi (English) wife finally joined him in Calcutta, and Anusha and her mother were – to Anusha’s way of thinking – cast off and set aside. Since her mother’s death, Anusha has lived with her uncle, the Raja of Kalatwah and has thus been brought up as a well-born Indian lady, an upbringing which has been markedly different to that of a similarly circumstanced Englishwoman.

When a British officer arrives at the Palace, Anusha cannot help but be intrigued. She has never seen a man like him before – tall, broad and golden-haired – but she takes an instant dislike to his manner, which she thinks is disrespectful and overbearing.

Major Nicholas Helliard has been sent by Anusha’s father to bring her to him in Calcutta, but she does not wish to go. She has no regard for Sir George, believing he callously discarded her mother in order to placate his wife, and makes her opinion of him more than clear. But Major Helliard – Nick – will have none of it. Sir George has been a surrogate father to him and Nick is nothing if not loyal to a fault. He will not hear a word against him, and is determined to fulfil his assigned task, by any means necessary.

Anusha knows she has no alternative but to agree to return to Calcutta, but even before their departure she is busily making plans for her escape. When the palace is unexpectedly threatened with a siege by a neighbouring raja, Nick has no alternative but to get Anusha away quickly, without their baggage train and without an escort. In India, as in Britain, it is not done for a young man and woman to travel together unchaperoned, but they have no alternative.

On a journey that is fraught with danger, Nick and Anusha begin to know each other better and to appreciate each other’s strength and ingenuity. She learns that Nick has spent the last twelve years in India and that he is proficient in several languages and conversant with local customs and religions. He is a clever strategist and courageous warrior, putting her safety before his own on several occasions. For his part, Nick comes to appreciate Anusha’s resilience and resourcefulness – although he finds his growing attraction to her increasingly difficult to ignore.

Things are complicated further by the fact that Anusha’s education has included the reading of erotic texts and discussion of how to please her husband in bed. As a result, she is not shy of admitting the desire she feels for her handsome Major, or of wanting to act upon it; which I thought was an interesting contrast to her dismay at discovering that English ladies are allowed to appear before men unveiled, expected to interact and flirt with them and – under certain circumstances – to permit their touch. In fact, I was very intrigued by the author’s explanation and exploration of the differences in sexual attitudes between the two cultures.

Yet regardless of how much he wants Anusha, Nick cannot betray the man he regards as a father by dishonouring his daughter; and once they reach Calcutta, he dutifully hands her over to Sir George and the ladies of the English community who are to make “a proper English lady” out of his unconventional and exotic travelling companion.

One of the things I enjoy about “road trip” stories, is that it affords the author the opportunity to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine at a reasonably fast pace without it seeming rushed. Being thrown together by circumstance encourages the sharing of confidences and the development of friendship and trust; and I always enjoy stories in which the central couple becomes friends before they become lovers. Though both Nick and Anusha are changed by their experiences on the journey and by their association, they retain the essence of who they are; while their deepening attraction and awareness of each other makes for some delicious sexual tension and steamy moments suffused with longing.

I enjoyed Forbidden Jewel of India very much. Ms Allen’s depictions of the terrain and of village life brought the locations to life in my imagination and overall, I thought she made excellent use of the unusual setting. It’s a quick, entertaining and emotionally satisfying read, with well-rounded and engaging central characters and a well-developed and sexy romance.