Tag Archive | historical England

A Study in Scandal (Scandalous #2.5) by Caroline Linden

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After a youthful infatuation went terribly wrong, Lady Samantha Lennox gave up all thought of suitors and happily-ever-after. But when she angers her strict and demanding father, the Earl of Stratford, he retaliates by arranging a marriage for her to a man she could never admire, much less love. In a panic, Samantha flees to London, only to find herself lost, alone, and nearly kidnapped—until an unlikely hero saves her.

Lord George Churchill-Gray is an artist, not a knight in shining armor, but he doesn’t hesitate to rescue Samantha from disaster and offer her temporary sanctuary. He wouldn’t mind if she repaid him by modeling for his latest painting. He’s enchanted by her face… her smile… all of her, really. But with every study he sketches, he falls a little more in love with her, and Samantha begins to suspect her scandalous actions might lead to the sort of love she never thought to find…

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Publisher and Release Date: Caroline Linden, February 2016

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: England, 1822
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Caz

This novella falls between books two and three (It Takes a Scandal and Love in the Time of Scandal) in Caroline Linden’s Scandalous series, and tells the story of Lady Samantha Lennox, the sister of Benedict (hero of book three) and daughter of the cruel and dictatorial Earl of Stratford.

Ms Linden very quickly outlines Samantha’s backstory in the first chapter, but readers of the other books will know that when little more than a girl, she stole a large sum of money from her father in order to help a friend. Unfortunately, her plan backfired and Stratford accused Sebastian Vane of stealing it, and it’s only at the end of It Takes a Scandal that Samantha is eventually persuaded to put things right.

The earl is a harsh and unforgiving man, and intends to punish his daughter by marrying her to the depraved son of a marquess, a man many suspect to be mad. There is nothing her brother or mother can do to help her, and Samantha must resign herself to a life even more miserable to the one she has lived hitherto.

The author very quickly paints a picture of Samantha as a lonely and unhappy young woman, which is not surprising given that her father is unloving, dictatorial and downright nasty, and she has never been allowed to have any friends or, at the advanced (for the time) age of twenty three, any suitors.

When she next goes into Richmond to do some shopping, she impulsively boards the coach for London, intending to find her brother, Benedict, at his regiment’s quarters. When she arrives, she is almost immediately accosted by a couple of men who attempt to abduct her, but are thwarted by the intervention of a gentleman who saves her when she is pushed into the river. He takes her back to his lodgings and gives her into the care of his landlady, insisting on giving up his own rooms so that Samantha can stay the night.

The young man is George, Lord Churchill-Gray, the youngest son of the Duke of Rowland, known familiarly as Gray. He is a gifted artist, and hopes to soon have some of his paintings exhibited by the Royal Academy.

When she recovers from her ordeal, Samantha initially pretends not to know who she is or what she is doing in London, although Gray is sure she is pretending to amnesia simply because she doesn’t want to tell. After a couple of days, she is well enough to go home, and decides that is what she must do; she has no money and no friends to go to and thus no alternative but to return home.

But Gray sees how terrified she is, and eventually she tells him something of her story, although does not reveal her identity as a daughter of the Earl of Stratford, knowing that Gray’s father is one of the earl’s oldest enemies.

He arranges for her to remain at his lodgings and the time Samantha spends there is the happiest she’s ever known. Whether she’s helping with the housework or cataloguing Gray’s paintings, she has a degree of freedom and the friendship of a handsome young man – and even though she knows little of men, begins to wonder what it might be like to be kissed and held; and to dream of something more than friendship.

Samantha and Gray are attractive protagonists who are perfect for each other. There’s a lovely scene in Gray’s studio when he asks her to draw something (all well-bred young ladies learned to draw) and together they produce a cute little scene which tells Gray more than Samantha realises about her situation. He is a true gentleman, considerate, kind and honourable, who wants the best for Samantha and who is prepared to fight for her when the worst happens, and Stratford finds out where she is.

In spite of the relatively small page-count, the two protagonists are strongly characterised and undergo a good amount of character development. Samantha learns what it is to live rather than simply exist and gains the courage to stand up to her father; Gray is devoted to his art, but discovers that there are some things in life that are even more important. The romance is sweet and well-developed and I’d certainly recommend A Study in Scandal to fans of this series.

In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener

In A Treacherous Court

Publisher’s Blurb:

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . . 1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . . .Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

RHLR Classifications:

Time Frame:  Tudor Court

Heat Level:  2

Review Rating:  4 Stars

Review by Susan

A letter written by Henry VIII when he was a teenager touting his worship of the majestic warrior Cesare Borgia ignites a scandal and a plot to replace the reigning Tudor Court with the Yorkist heir Richard de la Pole as the English Sovereign in Michelle Diener’s historical romance In a Treacherous Court from Gallery Books.  A tale which involves a slew of assassins and spymasters, Diener’s book is fast paced seamlessly connecting the rapidly evolving stages and having the entire story transpire within a few days, a quality which her story shares with Dan Brown’s novels.

The sequences move along a linear course but never fall flat or skimp on details.  Diener’s characters show depth as well as a likeness to people who are indicative of sixteenth century England.  The dialogue has a natural flow and the expressive mannerisms of both the main and peripheral characters exhibit a human essence that readers can envision.  Diener shows an appreciation and a visceral pathos for Henry VIII the man, as the leading characters defend the king and work to unveil the conspiracies whirling around London and endangering the political and economic stability of England.

When a cloth merchant escapes France on board a ship sailing for Dover, England, his injuries are life threatening forcing him to confide his findings of a conspiracy against King Henry to a fellow passenger, Susanna Horenbout, a Flemish artist who by request of the king is traveling to England to be his illuminator.  Henry sends his courtier John Parker, the King’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster, to escort the cloth merchant to Bridewell Palace, but when the merchant dies during the Channel crossing, Parker becomes Horenbout’s escort to the king instead.   The pair becomes inseparable as several attempts are made on Susanna’s life causing them to investigate the information provided to her by the cloth merchant.

Block by block, Diener builds a credible tale enmeshing staggering fight scenes with clever schemes orchestrated by shrewd strategists who threaten Henry VIII’s court.  Though In a Treacherous Court is deemed a work of fiction, it reads like a documented account taken from a biopic on Henry VIII, clad in the duality of heedless deception and fierce loyalty which the king had been known for inspiring in his subjects.

Deception by Amanda Quick

Deception

Publisher’s Blurb

On the shelf at 25, Olympia Wingfield has her hands so full raising her three incorrigible nephews that she hardly has time for her first love, studying ancient legends and finding clues to hidden treasure. So naturally, when a nobleman posing as a tutor and “man of affairs” suddenly appears in her library to rescue her from her current chaotic state, she more than welcomes his help, little knowing that they are both seeking the same goal. Murder, bloodline feuds, and deceptions abound in this fast-paced, sensual love story of two originals, who prove they are meant for each other, contrary to society’s expectations.

RHLR Classifications:

Regency Romance

Heat Level:  3

Review Rating:  5 Stars

Review by Susan

A number of historical romance writers have explored the realm of female governesses and tutors in the vane of Charlotte Bronte’s Emma, but contemporary author Amanda Quick, the pseudonym for Jane Ann Krentz, conducts a role reversal in her novel Deception.  It is the romantic hero Jared Ryder, the Viscount of Chillhurst, who plays the role of the tutor to the three young nephews of  Olympia Wingfield.   Being the boys tutor puts Jared in a unique position to reside on Wingfield’s property in rustic Dorset enabling him to keep a close watch on Olympia who has acquired the diary of Claire Lightbourne, the details of which are believed to lead to a buried treasure.

Olympia’s uncle had acquired the book during his travels through Europe.  At the same time, Jared had been searching for the book which had been stolen from a Flamecrest ship, the company which the Chillhurst family owns and operates.  Deceiving Olympia into believing he is a tutor and insinuating himself into her household provides him with more than he bargained for, and makes him and Olympia realize desires that had been dormant until their encounter.

Quick’s story is spun slowly, allowing her characters feelings to evolve and mature building an earnest bond between Jared and Olympia.  Her style of writing is intelligent and keeps true to the culture of Regency England.  She applies several modern traits to Olympia such as possessing an independent streak, an unconventional mindset, and an ambitious nature which had solely been reserved for men in historical England.  Olympia is a member of the Society of Travel and Exploration, which would have been a guild exclusively occupied by men.  There is a feminist spirit in Quick’s heroine and her hero shows a genuine understanding of his woman’s need to be her own person rather than a shadow on his heel.

Deception is a historical romance with contemporary facets that infuse role reversals while maintaining mainstream stereotypes.  Quick’s hero shows the masculinity of a swashbuckler molded from Hollywood’s fantasy-making machine, and her heroine displays the femininity of a Disney-groomed princess.  The story tells of two complete strangers who discover how to take risks on an adventure and to trust each other.  A lighthearted fantasy with elements of mystery and erotica, Deception has a central couple who indulge the reader’s penchant for sensual lovers and happy endings.  It has all the good things found in historical romances wrapped into one.