Tag Archive | review by Lady Blue

Duo Review: Beckman and Gabriel (Lonely Lords 4&5) by Grace Burrowes

rhfl covers
Beckman: Lord of Sins at Amazon
Gabriel: Lord of Regrets at Amazon

We’re doing something a little different today here at RHFL in that we’re running reviews of two related books together in the same post. Given the proliferation of “series” in the genre, it isn’t possible to review every single book in any given one. Caz reviewed Darius which was the first in this series back in April and rated it highly (4.5 stars) Since then, another four or five books have appeared and there just hasn’t been space to review them all. Hence your humble reviewers’ idea to review two of them together.

Anyone who is keeping up with Grace Burrowes’ latest series featuring a number of rather scrumptious heroes known collectively as the Lonely Lords will know that although each of the books can be read without reading any of the others, there are some which benefit from a little previous knowledge AND which are closely linked to some of the other books in the series. Two such books were the second and third in the series (Nicholas and Ethan) and the same is true of the two books being featured today. The character of Gabriel North features strongly in Beckman Haddonfield’s story, past events are referenced and some other characters cross from one book to the other (most notably Gabriel’s love-interest), so it made sense to run a collaborative review.

Beckman

Beckman finally emerges from the shadow of his wife’s death by agreeing to restore a family estate…and embarking on a dalliance with the quiet, mysterious housekeeper who resides there. But she is not who she seems…

Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Caz

I’m gradually catching up with the Lonely Lords and have now reached the fourth book, which is the story of Beckman Haddonfield, one of the younger brothers of Nicholas, Viscount Reston and Ethan Grey.
The events in this book run parallel to events that take place in Nicholas, and there are several references throughout as to what Nick is up to, rattling around in London, as well as to the cautious rapprochement that is taking place between Ethan and his half-brothers.

This book opens with the dying earl seeing Beckman off as the latter departs for Three Springs, one of the family properties which is in desperate need of attention. Lady Warne, Beckman’s grandmother, owns the place, although she does not live there, and she is not altogether happy with the responses she is receiving to her letters and enquiries.

We learn as the novel progresses, that Beckman is the “fixer” in the family, and that he has travelled extensively in this role, surveying the family’s holdings at home and abroad, and doing what needs to be done in order to maintain them and keep them profitable.

The thing that struck me immediately was the depth of feeling in the relationship between Beckman and his father – a thing rarely seen in historical romances. Normally, fathers and sons are at loggerheads or estranged, but here, Beckman is loath to leave; knowing his father is dying, he wants to stay, but also knows the earl is despatching him because he doesn’t want his family to see him in his decline. It’s also clear that Beck is something of a favourite –

Nicholas is a good time. You are a good man.

and that the earl is concerned about Nick’s suitability to inherit the earldom.

Arriving at Three Springs, Beckman makes the acquaintance of the women who run the house, the taciturn land steward and slovenly servants. The house and lands are in a bad way, but there has not been enough money forthcoming to do much other than to keep the house running in a very basic manner. The ladies – Sara Hunt, the housekeeper and her sister Polly, the cook – are helped by the mysterious Gabriel North, a man Beck immediately suspects is much more than a simple land steward, and hindered by a couple of lazy farmhands who Beck very quickly gets rid of.

I found this to be a very gently moving story about people finding their place and their purpose. Beckman has been a wanderer for years, a situation that came about when his father realised that Beck needed something to divert him from the course towards self-destruction on which he’d set himself after the death of his young wife and unborn child. But he’s become weary and a little bit resentful of being continually sent away for “his own good” and wants to put down some roots.

Sara is surprised to discover that this son of an earl isn’t above getting his hands dirty. He and Gabriel work all the hours God sends in order to set the estate to rights, something which takes its toll particularly on Gabriel because of a recent injury.

Like Beckman, Sara (whose full name is Sarabande) has her own secrets and inner demons. A hugely talented violinist, she married a man who subsequently exploited her and her talent, hawking her all over Europe, from concert halls to drawing rooms, and spending all the money she made on drink, gambling and other women. The Hunts were clearly a talented family as Polly (or Polonaise) is an incredible artist, a talent that appears to have been passed to Sara’s daughter Allie.

Although Sara’s cruel, wastrel husband is long dead, she and Polly live in fear of his relatives discovering Allie’s whereabouts and taking her away to exploit her talent as an artist. This means that they are reluctant to let the girl paint as they don’t want her to immerse herself completely in her gift to the extent that they had done in the past and in a way that left them open to the machinations of an unscrupulous man.

The thing that stopped me rating the book more highly, because the romance is by turns beautiful and scorching, was the fact that Sara’s secrets turned out to be so… well, insignificant. She has hidden herself away since returning to England because she is so ashamed of the fact that she gave “private performances” barefoot and wearing scanty costumes to rooms full of gawking men, feeling it makes her unfit to mix in society and causing her to worry in case one of those men should recognise her.

I admit I’d expected Sara’s deep secret to be something a little more scandalous, but in the grand scheme of things, that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. As I’ve said, the central romance is utterly beautiful, and Beckman is an absolute joy of a hero; kind, caring and insightful, and I never cease to be amazed by the amount of romantic and sexual tension that this author can bring to the merest touch of a hand or a kiss.

In Beckman, like the books that precede it, Ms Burrowes has also written a superb male friendship. I’m finding these to be among the highlights of the books in this series that I’ve read so far – in Nicholas and Ethan, the eponymous characters resurrect and repair a relationship destroyed years earlier and in this book, Beckman and Gabriel North strike up a friendship that I’m convinced will last for years. There were a couple of laugh-out-loud moments in their banter, there were times they may not have liked each other much, but it’s clear there was a lot of mutual respect and understanding between them; and in fact, their parting was almost as painful as the one that took place when Beck had to leave Three Springs after his father’s death.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book despite the misgivings I’ve mentioned about certain aspects of the plot. But Ms Burrowes is one of those writers whose characters are so compelling and whose handling of the emotional content of her stories keeps me coming back for more, despite some minor inconsistencies.

Gabriel

After years in hiding, when Gabriel Wendover leaves behind the woman he loves to resume his place as Marquis of Hesketh, he finds the lady herself already ensconced his household, and the mysterious danger still stalking him. Gabriel loves Polonaise Hunt (Polly) and is both upset and thrilled to find that she’s been hired by his brother to paint the family portraits. He must keep himself, his brother and Polly safe, but there’s nothing he can do to safeguard his own heart…

Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 2013

RHL Classifications
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Lady Blue

“It’s time I rose from the dead.” With those words, Gabriel, Marquis of Hesketh begins the process of reclaiming his life. He was injured in Spain over two years previously, and since that time, several attempts have been made on his life. In order to protect himself until he is stronger and can figure out who the would-be-assassin is, he lets everyone believe he is dead. Meanwhile, he is acting as a land steward at Three Springs, Beckman Haddonfield’s estate very close to his own home. (Beckman is the previous book in the series. This book can be read without having read Beckman, but reading it provides some background information as the characters in both stories are closely connected.)

Gabriel’s younger brother, Aaron, has now claimed his title, and his fiancée, Marjorie. (It should be noted that this was an arranged marriage of convenience, and not a love match.) He would appear to be high on the list of suspects, along with another cousin, George, who is in line to inherit after Aaron. George acts as steward to the Hesketh estate, but neither he, nor Aaron are doing a good job of managing it, as one disaster after another happens.

While Gabriel had been living incognito at Beckman’s estate, he became enamored of the cook, Polly. He fights his attraction to her, knowing that he is living a lie and can’t have a serious relationship until his life is straightened out. He backs away, and lets her know that he will be leaving, but Polly has secrets of her own. She is an accomplished painter, and ironically is hired to paint a portrait of Marjorie, Gabriel’s former betrothed, and now his brother’s wife.

Gabriel decides to take the direct approach, and confronts his brother face to face. Aaron’s joy at seeing him alive leads Gabriel to believe that it isn’t his brother who wants him dead. So, who is responsible? And now, to muddy the waters even further, Polly is here to paint the portrait, and discovers that Gabriel is the presumed-dead heir. Gabriel tries to send Polly away, to protect her from any danger, but she refuses to give up her commission.

Their proximity leads to intimacy, and to love. Gabriel is now determined to marry Polly once the mystery is solved, but Polly feels unworthy due to his title, and her past. She has a secret that she feels will turn Gabriel away from her, not realizing that he already knows. His acceptance is a beautiful thing to see, as is her acceptance of his past.

There is a lot happening in this story. There is the secondary story of Aaron, Gabriel’s brother, and his unhappy marriage. There is the mystery surrounding cousin George. And there is the mother-in-law from hell, who has to be one of the most despicable characters I’ve read about. I just wanted her to die on the spot. I did have to raise an eyebrow at the identity of the would-be-killer(s), and his/her reasoning because the circumstances didn’t quite ring true with me. All that aside, the focus of the book is Gabriel and Polly’s love story, and it is a beautiful one indeed. As with all of Grace Burrowes’ books, the story is very character driven, and I highly recommend it, and the others in the Lonely Lords series.

Virtual Tour: The Temporary Bride by Julie Tetel Andresen

JTA-VBT

TheTemporaryBride

Publisher and release date: Original copyright 1993, Harlequin Books: Reissued June 2011, Self Published

BLURB:

While traveling to her first post as a governess, Helen Denville is drawn into an adventure with the infamous gamester Mr. Darcy. While helping him recover an item that is of great value, she loses her heart to him. Once he recovers that item, will he offer his heart to her?

RHL Classifications

Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Lady Blue

Helen Denville’s reduced circumstances have forced her to earn her own living or accept the charity of relatives. She chooses to accept a position as governess. Before arriving at her new post, she plans to stop for a visit with her old governess. Weary and bleary eyed from traveling on the public stagecoach, she mistakenly takes a similar looking bag as her own as she transfers coaches. As she is walking, she is accosted and forced to accompany a man, who plans to take her to his master. He assumes her identity to be someone else because of the bag she is carrying.

The man who ordered her kidnapping (although that is perhaps too drastic a word) is none other than Richard Darcy, a notorious gamester. He has been pursuing the person who had possession of the bag, and believes it contains vital evidence that will rectify a great wrong that has been done to him. During this encounter, Helen has maintained her calm, gently assuring Mr. Darcy that he has made a mistake. He comes to realize that she is correct, and he has the wrong person. Despite having his servant force her to see him, he has treated her with courtesy, and has acted a gentleman.

As they begin to converse, Helen realizes he is truly a gentleman by birth, and he realizes she is a lady who has encountered hard times. She agrees to let him examine the bag, but he can’t find what he is looking for, as it’s somehow concealed. He devises a plan to flush out the bag’s owner. He offers Helen a large sum if she will accompany him and help with the plot. At first, she refuses, but she is intrigued, and not by the money. She finally agrees, and they set off on their adventure. Fate dictates that they reside temporarily at an inn, and they agree that they should pose as a married couple to avoid gossip. Obviously, this throws them into close proximity, and we get to witness their growing regard for each other.

I found myself delighted by this book. It is a short book, as most regencies were from that time, but it manages to fully flesh out the two lead characters. You know that Mr. Darcy is honorable, and still manages to be kind, despite the great wrong that was done to him. Helen never feels sorry for herself, or bemoans her lot in life. She is intelligent and upfront, without being testy, the kind of heroine I love. This was my first book by this author, and it was totally enjoyable. The story flows nicely and reads very quickly. Be warned, though, that if you like extra spice, you won’t find it here. I’m betting that you won’t even miss it. Highly recommended for a light, feel-good read.

Buy now from Amazon

About the author

jta

Julie Tetel Andresen has penned more than 20 books during her career, covering everything from historical romance and contemporary fiction to paranormal tales and her academic publications as a specialist in linguistics.
Her seemingly disparate writing activities – fiction, non-fiction and essays in foreign languages – all arise from a unified sense of her writing self. As a professional linguist, she loves language, while as a romance writer she loves the language of love; and when learning a foreign language, she loves nothing more than exploring the limits of her ability to express herself in that language on paper.

Her writing activities have always been entwined temporally. She wrote her first historical My Lord Roland while writing her PhD dissertation Linguistic Crossroads of the Eighteenth Century, and all her early academic articles were written mostly in French.  She firmly believes that one type of writing strengthens the others. Her historical novels have honed her craft of plotting and sub-plotting, while her professional study of language makes her sensitive to the vocabulary and rhythms of speech in other places and time periods.  Andresen grew up in Glenview, Illinois. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Duke University and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has taught at Duke University for the past 20 years where she specializes in linguistics.

Julietetelandresen.com
Julie Tetel Andresen on Facebook
Twitter @jtabooks

The Seduction of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn

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Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak of heart…

Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses. And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within his blue-eyed gaze…

For Lord Marcus, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he’s returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage—to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies—but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control…

Publisher and Release Date: EKensington, 19 September 2013
Genre: Historical Romance
Time and Setting: England 1806 – 1814
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Lady Blue

Marcus Finley is living the life of a privileged second son of a Marquis. At the age of twenty, he is already well versed in gaming, drinking, and women. As his partying ways escalate, his father decides he must put a stop to it before Marcus is beyond redemption. The Marquis arranges to exile him to the West Indies, in the hope that it will be the making of him. Days before he is scheduled to depart, Marcus is attending a party where he meets Lady Phoebe Stanhope. He is immediately smitten, and believes himself in love. He also believes that he will convince Phoebe to take a quick trip to Gretna Green so that she can travel with him to the West Indies as his wife.

The beautiful Phoebe is, in fact, not yet sixteen years old and has not made her début. She is also attracted to Marcus. As she is walking alone, Marcus sees his opportunity to make his move. He approaches her, and she immediately realizes he has been drinking, and intends to leave him. Marcus takes hold of her arm, tells her he loves her, and tries to kiss her. Phoebe struggles, causing him to accidentally brush her breast. The petite Phoebe then proceeds to punch him squarely in the nose and he drops to the floor. Then she begins to berate him, chastize him, and tell him she never wants to see him again. She then retreats to her room, shaken from the encounter. Marcus begins his exile alone, and Phoebe gets on with her life, while holdiing this incident in the back of her mind.

Eight years have now passed. In the intervening years, Phoebe’s brother has married Marcus’ sister, but Phoebe has never married. Marcus has grown into the man his father hoped he would be. Arthur, the older brother of Marcus, and the heir, is terminally ill, and has no son, so Marcus is summoned home.

Marcus, in fact, truly fell in love with Phoebe eight years ago. Now that he is no longer in exile, he has hopes of winning her, since she has never married. He regrets his behavior, and wants to show her that he is a changed and much better man. Phoebe, on the other hand, has never forgotten that incident, and has let it affect her whole existence. When she learns that Marcus is returning and is going to be visiting, she flees to town so she won’t have to encounter him. She plans to avoid him as much as she can, and when she does meet him, she plans on icy politeness.

Fate has a different plan. Two incidents happen where Phoebe is in trouble and Marcus happens to be the one to come to her rescue. Amazingly enough, she does not recognize him, and he decides not to introduce himself, thinking to win her approval before she realizes who he is. Now Phoebe is the one who is smitten by this heroic stranger.

When the truth finally comes out, Phoebe has very mixed feelings. She finally agrees to let Marcus court her, but on her terms. It turns out her terms aren’t leading anywhere as quickly as Marcus would like. So he decides to add seduction to the mix. As the courtship begins to make progress, a new wrinkle is added. There is a villain who wants Phoebe for himself, and Marcus dead.

I found myself liking Marcus very much, but I had mixed feelings about Phoebe. Marcus was willing to go to any length to atone for an act that wasn’t really so heinous. Phoebe was a strong, intelligent woman, yet she permitted an incident that was really only an attempted kiss and an accidental touch to cloud her judgement and affect whole future. I can understand her turmoil when it happened – she was only fifteen years old after all. But she seemed to want to hold on to it, not easily letting go, even when she saw how much Marcus had changed. That is the only drawback to this story. For a début book in particular, it is extremely well written and enjoyable to read. Ella Quinn has captured the time period beautifully, and she writes wonderful dialogue. I found myself reading it in only two sittings. I recommend reading it, and look forward to the upcoming stories of some of the characters we have met in this book.

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

LAOS-largeBuy now from Amazon

Blurb:

Joan Bennett is a breath away from being a spinster. She’s had four seasons without a suitor. After reading a shockingly sensuous book, Fifty Ways to Sin, Joan decides perhaps it’s time to stop being proper and start being sinful, while she’s still young enough to enjoy it. And what better partner than her brother’s drinking mate, Viscount Burke? He seems the type to know how to give a lady a lascivious adventure.

It seems that the viscount has qualms about trifling with a friend’s sister. That’s the way to end up betrothed. And he doesn’t want that—or does he?

Publisher and Release Date: Avon, 30 July 2013
RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating:4.5 stars

Review by Lady Blue

Joan’s first encounter with Tristan happened when she was a child, and he burst into her bedroom. He was her brother’s friend, visiting from school, and they were wreaking havoc (as boys do) and causing Mama to disapprove of him from that day forward. Tristan has been orphaned, and raised by his uncle, along with uncle’s wife, who despises him because he will inherit the title which would go to her son, IF, she had produced one. So, Tristan has never known love, and has chosen to act outrageously in order to get attention and obtain invitations to friends’ homes.

As the years pass by, Joan has become a wallflower, with no suitors. She isn’t really unattractive, but she is tall, and her petite mother dresses her in ruffles and lace and feathers, which are totally wrong for her. She is fully under her mother’s thumb.

Joan and Tristan don’t know each other that well, but when they meet, they needle each other. On one occasion, they dance, and poor Mama is scandalized, and urges Joan to never do that again. She has never forgiven Tristan for his behavior at her home when he was a child, and she harps on his current reputation.

Mama takes ill, and is urged to leave the city to recover. Joan’s brother now has to handle some family business out of town, so he imposes on Tristan to keep an eye on Joan while she is being chaperoned by their scandalous Aunt Evangeline. Aunt is very different from Mama. She takes a look at Joan, and sees that everything she wears is wrong. Soon there are new clothes, a new hairstyle, and Joan is looking very attractive. Tristan comes to call, and do his duty. He really had been attracted to Joan before, even in the ugly clothes, but now he is stunned.

Before we know what has happened, Joan and Tristan are off on one adventure after another. He brings excitement and fun to her life, and she brings love to his, the love he has never known before. This unlikely couple has fallen in love, and now have to face the disapproval of her family.

The beauty of this story was watching the love develop between Joan and Tristan. Both have had to deal with unhappiness in some form, and their differences seemed to fit together perfectly. Their adventures were entertaining, as well. This is recommended as a feel-good read.

The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase

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Publisher and Release Date: Avon Impulse, 4 June 2013
RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1820s England
Genre: Historical romance (novella)
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Lady Blue

This story was originally included in the anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss

Dorian, at age twenty, is living a dissipated, jaded life, following in the footsteps of his mother. They both pursue sensual pleasures without any regard for the consequences. Dorian is also fighting his grandfather, the earl, who wants to control him as he does the rest of the family. Then mother becomes very ill, both physically and mentally. Grandfather has her committed to an asylum, and nothing Dorian says will change his mind. Eventually, she dies there.

Rather than submit to his grandfather, Dorian chooses to move to town and work for a living. Grandfather calls a family summit meeting (which Dorian refuses to attend) and the roof collapses, killing all of the family and making Dorian the new earl. But Dorian has started to have symptoms of the same illness which plagued his mother. A doctor confirms that he doesn’t have long to live. He chooses to move to the country with one trusted man to care for him for the remainder of his life, so he won’t have to be put in an asylum, as his mother was. When he is not plagued by the violent headaches (during which he douses himself with laudanum) he actually feels almost normal.

A distant relative, one who is not in line to inherit the title, tries to convince Dorian to marry quickly and try to have a child to carry on the name and the title. Dorian is just as happy to let both die with him. The girl picked to be his bride, Gwendolyn, turns out to be a cousin of one of his few genuine friends. She agrees to the marriage because it will let her fulfill her dream of building a hospital. Now everyone just has to convince Dorian to go along with it. Dorian responds by running away, and becoming trapped in a quicksand-like bog. Gwendolyn, ever practical, rescues him. He is attracted to her and when he finds out her reason for wanting the marriage, he agrees.

Thus begins the bittersweet story of their marriage. Of course they fall in love. Dorian has become a better person. Gwendolyn uses all of her medical knowledge to try to help Dorian battle the illness. He is expected to only have about six months to live. She is able to bring him comfort when he suffers his attacks, and manages to wean him off the laudanum. She discovers she is pregnant, and tries her best to encourage Dorian to want to live long enough to see his child.

This novella packs a lot of punch and emotion into a short story. That usually doesn’t happen. What we have here is an excellent example of love and redemption and happy-ever-after? You bet! Highly recommended.

An Heir of Deception by Beverley Kendall

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Blurb:

A man devastated by love

After three years of carousing and debauchery, Alex Cartwright, heir to the Duke of Hastings, has put his life back in order. Having embraced sobriety for two years, he has no intention of revisiting the past or risking his heart again. But the return of the very woman who introduced him to the darkest side of hell brings not only the painful, haunting memories of bittersweet love and abandonment, but the son he never knew he had…

A woman silenced by secrets

Threatened by the revelation of a secret that could destroy her family’s place in society and forever tarnish a dukedom, Charlotte fled England on her wedding day five years ago. Now, although it appears that secret is safe, when Alex discovers her other secret–their son–Charlotte has an altogether different battle ahead. She must now fight one love to hold onto the other–the man whose touch still makes her burn, for the child who is her very world.

Publisher and Release Date: Season Publishing LLC, 23 April 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: England, 1859-64
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Lady Blue

This story starts out with Alex being abandoned at the altar by his beloved fiancée, Charlotte, and immediately fast forwards almost five years to pick up the story.  We learn that in those intervening years Alex lived a dissolute life for the first three of those years, drinking and womanizing, but then pulled himself together, gave up alcohol, and decided to put his life in order.  He even considered marrying.  During the time of his absence, Charlotte left England to go to America without telling anyone where she was going, and never explaining why.

Charlotte receives word that her twin sister is very ill, and returns home to England.  Upon arrival, she finds her sister perfectly healthy, and realises she has been lured back under false pretenses.  Very soon, she runs into Alex, who gives her the cold shoulder, though he is shaken.  Later, he accidentally encounters her son, who is an exact replica of his brother as a child.  He realizes that the child is his and becomes enraged, rightfully so.

Alex wants his child to be his heir.  He concocts a scheme to create marriage records, so his son may be considered legitimate, even knowing he will now have to live with the woman who betrayed him and broke his heart.  The story now deals with how they manage to reconcile, the reasons Charlotte fled England, and discovering who was the mystery villain who caused her to leave.

This was my first book by this author, and it is the third in a series. I felt a bit out to sea at times, feeling that I had missed something that occurred in Book One or Book Two. While I’m not a fan of the “secret child” trope, or the “I left you for your own good” trope, this story was nicely resolved. The identity of the villain was a total surprise, and Alex was quick to reconcile and forgive, making for a very good read.

This is now available as a kindle book for $4.99.

It Happened One Midnight by Julie Anne Long

Publisher’s Blurb:

More than one beautiful woman’s hopes have been dashed on the rocky shoals of Jonathan Redmond’s heart. With his riveting good looks and Redmond wealth and power,  the world is his oyster—until an ultimatum from his father and a chilling gypsy prophecy  send him hurtling headlong toward a fate he’ll do anything to avoid: matrimony.

Intoxicating, elusive Thomasina de Ballesteros has the bloods of London at her feet. But none of them knows the real Tommy—the one with a shocking pedigree, a few too many secrets, and a healthy scorn for rakes like Jonathan.

She’s everything Jonathan never wanted.  But on one fateful midnight, he’s drawn into  Tommy’s world of risk, danger . . . and a desire he’d never dreamed possible. And suddenly he’s re-thinking everything . . . including the possibility that succumbing to prophecy might just mean surrendering to love.

RHL Classifications

Regency England 

Historical Romance

Heat Level 2

5 star / Top Pick

Reviewed by Lady Blue

Jonathan Redmond appears to have it all.  He’s handsome, charming, and belongs to a wealthy and influential family.  Yet, even his beloved mother and sister don’t see the real man he is under the surface, and his father is openly scornful of his abilities.  In an effort to force Jonathan to marry, his father cuts off his income.  Jonathan has all his funds tied up in an investment, so this puts him in a bad spot.

Thomasina (“Tommy”) is the illegitimate daughter of a duke.  Her mother has died, and she is barely on the fringes of society.  Tommy and Jonathan are casually acquainted, but one night he catches her spying on the duke (her father.)  He confronts her, and the ensuing conversation piques their interest in each other.

Soon, Tommy has drawn Jonathan into helping her with her mission, which is to rescue children.  As a child, she was put in the workhouse when her mother died.  From there, she was sent to a mill, where she was shackled and forced into performing dangerous work.  Now it’s the purpose of her life to rescue as many children as she can, one by one.

Both Tommy and Jonathan are wonderful people.  As they work together, they see the worth in each other, and it soon develops into passion and love.  They have many things to overcome if they plan to have a future together aside from the difference in their stations in life.  Jonathan’s father tries to separate them.  Tommy’s father (the duke) has rejected her.  They have no money.

I loved this book.  I think it’s the best in the series, and possibly Julie Anne Long’s best book yet.  Watching these two people and their love grow makes for an excellent and romantic read.  Highly recommended.