By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking—in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered . . . until now.
Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems, and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear . . . including her heart.
Ten years after her ruination, Lady Georgiana has re-entered society in hopes of finding a suitable husband. Not that she really wants to be married. Instead, Georgiana wishes to marry a titled gentleman to secure her daughter’s future and the life she might someday want. Continue reading →
After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.
Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother–even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.
So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?
• He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.
• He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride–and tries not to picture her as his.
• He doesn’t kiss her.
• If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.
• When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.
• And no matter what–he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.
Clio Whitmore was a patient woman. Engaged at the tender age of 17 to Lord Piers Brandon, the future Marquess of Granville, she agreed a long engagement would be for the best since she had no knowledge of how to run a diplomat’s household. She was content to be the dutiful bride-to-be. But as the years passed, she went from belle of the ball to a running joke, having bets placed on potential wedding dates and being referred to as Ms. “Waitmore”. When she inherits a castle of her very own from her Uncle Humphrey, Clio decides she’s done waiting. Only one thing stands in the way of her moving on with her life– her engagement. With Piers out of the country, she has to convince his younger brother, Rafe, to sign the dissolution papers. Continue reading →
Lucinda Cardington doesn’t care that she is close to being “on the shelf.” She has more serious pursuits in mind and is perfectly content to leave dreams of romance to silly young ladies like her sister. Yet when her sister places herself in a compromising situation with London’s most scandalous bachelor, the entire family’s reputation comes perilously close to ruin. Suddenly Lucinda is in the limelight . . . and in need of a husband.
James Simpson’s rakish ways have finally caught up with him. Snared in a scandal that for once is not his doing, he is forced to do the honorable thing and offer marriage to the lady. But her father won’t agree to a dowry unless James can also find a suitable husband for the lady’s elder sister-quiet, reserved Lucinda Cardington. As James gets to know the vibrant, charming, and passionate woman behind Lucinda’s shy exterior, he comes to the distressing realization that he doesn’t want her in anyone’s arms but his own . . .
The third book in The Love’s Grace Series, A Bride for the Season is a sweet romance with strong Christian themes. Delamere captured the Victorian setting beautifully. The story was well paced from the start and never lost momentum.
Lucinda considers herself a godly woman, one who hopes to live a solitary life in the future, enabling her to focus on her faith and her charitable work. However, she often participates in what would be considered scandalous behavior for the time period. She goes on unchaperoned outings with her sister’s husband to be, unconcerned about proprieties especially if he is indulging her love of photography. Lucinda even shares a kiss with her brother-in-law to be. In other stories, I would not find this bothersome, but with a heroine that is often described as godly and upstanding, I find it difficult to reconcile her behavior.
James will one day inherit a property from his great aunt which will require a substantial amount of money to maintain. It is for this reason his marriage to Emily, Lucinda’s younger sister, must be profitable. Wanting his eldest daughter married, Lucinda’s father makes Emily’s dowry contingent upon James finding a suitable husband for Lucinda. It is for this reason he searches out Lucinda and often tempts her with an opportunity to put her photography knowledge to use.
As these two characters become friends, their attraction for each other grows. There are several touching moments where James encourages Lucinda to stand up for herself. But in the end, there were just too many things that didn’t work for me, the ending especially.
What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?
Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season–or any season–but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.
Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training”… and fail miserably.
But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure–a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess–can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?
Let me preface this review by saying I’m an unabashed Tessa Dare fan. It began with the first Spindle Cove novella, Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, and steamrolled from there. While impatiently waiting for the next book in the Spindle Cove series, I plowed through her entire backlist. And while I loved some books more than others, not once was I disappointed.
Pauline Simms is a barmaid at The Bull and Blossom, Spindle Cove’s unique tea room by day, tavern by night establishment. She’s strong, loyal and cusses like a sailor. What I adored most about Pauline was despite her being a serving girl, she aspires to something greater. A Duchess? Absolutely not. What she wants is to open a recirculating bookstore in Spindle Cove, to fill the shelves with poetry and romance and a little naughtiness as well.
Griffin York first appeared in Colin and Minerva’s story, A Week to be Wicked and he was a bad, bad man. Okay, not really. He was the stereotypical wealthy nobleman of many a historical novel who spent an exorbitant amount of money and time drinking, gambling, and bedding numerous women. He was a bad boy Duke with the reputation to prove it. But it became very clear early on that Griffin had changed. Drastically. Something so traumatic happened that not only made him change his ways, but retreat from society as well.
The progression of their relationship is very organic, both acknowledging this undeniable attraction between them. Also their class difference is a very prominent plot point. While Pauline finds a future with Griffin impossible, he doesn’t. Neither does his mother. It’s not that they are ignoring society’s established rules, but their vast wealth enables them to do what they want. If you are the fourth richest man in all of England, making people like you probably isn’t necessary or a priority. Also, I love that Griffin repeatedly points out his past is far from exemplary.
I would be remiss to not mention Griffin’s mother, the Duchess of Halford, as I regard her as the very best of secondary characters in the Spindle Cove series. First impressions led me to believe she was going to be an overbearing woman, forcing her son to produce an heir for family and country. Happily, I was proven wrong in my assumptions. It was lovely to see a mother with genuine concern for her son’s future happiness, even if she couldn’t bring herself to tell him this directly. And despite being the well-bred English rose, she too has her own quirks and imperfections.
Any Duchess Will Do certainly has a “My Fair Lady” quality, as well as “Pretty Woman.” When Griffin confronts a London bookseller regarding his mistreatment of Pauline days earlier, you know how it is going to end. You know what’s coming and love it despite its predictability. Writing characters that readers come to know and love is Tessa Dare’s specialty. Many of the tropes used have been seen time and time again in historical romance, but it’s the characters, who make us laugh and cry, that make this series truly special.
For those who’ve read the entire Spindle Cove series, the epilogue ties everything in a lovely bow, giving readers’ one last glimpse into the lives of characters we came to know and love. If you haven’t read any of the series, might I suggest you start at the beginning with A Night to Surrender and move on from there? You won’t be disappointed.
You can read an excerpt here, and buy a copy here.
Royden Napier, Baron Saint-Bryce, is tall, dark, and ruthless—and on the hunt for a dangerous beauty . . .
On the eve of her escape to the Continent, bold, beautiful Lisette Colburne accepts a proposal she dare not refuse: masquerade as the future bride of the steely-eyed Royden Napier and help him solve his most dangerous case. Soon Lisette is in even greater danger—of losing her heart to the one man with the power to destroy her . . .
Estranged from his aristocratic family, the enigmatic Napier has forged a reputation as Scotland Yard’s most relentless police commissioner. He’s vowed to bring Lisette to justice—but with every forbidden kiss and every tantalizing touch, he finds himself becoming less convinced of her guilt . . . and more certain he must have her. But when danger touches Lisette, can he save her?
It isn’t often I come across a romance where the hero is an assistant police commissioner for Scotland Yard, so I was immediately intrigued. What made this book even more tempting was a lawman who blackmails the heroine into posing as his betrothed. I snapped this one up, super excited for the adventure.
Lisette Colburne is my favorite kind of heroine. She’s a feisty redhead who is highly intelligent and extremely cunning when she needs to be. But most of all, she is a survivor. At a young age, she lost everyone dear to her. Shipped off to relatives in Boston, she learned the newspaper business from her uncle. Upon his passing, she returned to her native England, seeking revenge on the one man she held accountable for her great losses. She goes to drastic lengths, posing as a man and working for a London paper, all the while tracking her foe. Sadly, her backstory is far more exciting than her current situation of a 27 year old spinster who volunteers as a teaching assistant.
Royden Napier is the kind of man who sees most everything in black and white. But when he learns his father (the assistant police commissioner before him) may not have been the most honorable of men, his outlook begins to change and Royden is forced to admit he’s had a bit of a blindspot where his father is concerned. As you would expect any detective to be, he is smart, intuitive and has an ability to read others extremely well. A man who was raised to dislike the aristocracy comes to realize they might not be as bad as he one thought.
Admittedly, this is my first Liz Carlyle book, so perhaps if I’d read those that preceded it, I wouldn’t have been as lost in the first several chapters. A large cast of characters along with unexpected point of views created additional confusion. These opening chapters, albeit integral to the story, were work to read. Not until chapter four do Lisette and Royden have their first real interaction without the distraction of other characters. But I was immediately taken with them as I felt chemistry between the two leapt off the page.
However, it wasn’t long for my excitement to wane once again. After Royden and Lisette arrive at his family’s estate, they are soon separated, each focused on the mystery at hand. Again, another large cast of characters are introduced, understandably because the estate houses many of Royden’s relatives. As a result I found myself irritated when Royden would converse with one of his many cousin’s for pages and pages and Lisette would be busy with another relative. In my opinion, there was very little romance between the two. As a matter of fact, they spend a great deal of time purposely avoiding one another.
So somewhere in the middle of this all, I lowered my hopes as the romance became more of a subplot. Also, not having read the previously released title, I felt a certain couple were given far too much attention in the opening and ending of this book. Afterwards I looked up the book released prior to this one and found these people were indeed the hero and heroine of that title. If I’d read their story, perhaps I wouldn’t have minded their appearance as much. But as I haven’t read it, I found them to be a distraction.
In the end, it was a well written story with great cast of characters and a nice little mystery. It simply comes down to not enough romance for me. A real shame since I did so enjoy Lisette and Royden.
The brilliant, bespectacled daughter of a double marquess cares more for books than balls, for science than the season, and for laboratories than love. She’s looking forward to marrying her simple fiancé and living out her days quietly with her dogs and her scientific experiments. But before that, Pippa has two weeks to experience all the rest—fourteen days to research the exciting parts of life. It’s not much time, and to do it right she needs a guide familiar with London’s darker corners.
She needs . . . a Scoundrel
She needs Cross, the clever, controlled partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, with a carefully crafted reputation for wickedness. But reputations often hide the darkest secrets, and when the unconventional Pippa boldly propositions him, seeking science without emotion, she threatens all he works to protect. He is tempted to give Pippa precisely what she wants . . . but the scoundrel is more than he seems, and it will take every ounce of his willpower to resist giving the lady more than she ever imagined.
Almost three years ago, a friend called me after reading Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake telling me I must absolutely read this book. “You’ll love it!” she said. I’m happy to say she wasn’t wrong. Since that time, Sarah MacLean has been on my automatic buy list.
Pippa Marbury is almost too smart for her own good. The kind of woman who is certainly book smart, but isn’t the most intelligent of people when it comes to common sense. As a result she often speaks to people she shouldn’t, goes places she shouldn’t, and puts herself in situations she should avoid at all costs. She speaks plainly to others and wants nothing more than the same in return when she asks a question. She often asks those beneath her social standing to use her first name instead of her title and she’s also unwilling to pass judgment on others based simply upon society’s beliefs. It’s not that she doesn’t comprehend the societal proprieties, it’s that she doesn’t really give a damn. While some readers might find her to be naïve, I prefer to think she’s a woman ahead of her time.
Cross, a ginger-haired accountant and no-good second son of an Earl, is a man haunted by irreparable mistakes in his past. While his backstory as the disappointing spare isn’t all that original in historical romance, I do like how he has worked hard to reform himself well before the heroine arrives on scene. As co-owner of The Falling Angel, Cross has appointed himself protector of the women who work there, even helping those who wish to get out of the profession find work elsewhere. He is a good man doing his best to remain on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately for him, Pippa tempts him, not only physically but intellectually at each and every turn.
While the attraction between Pippa and Cross is present from the beginning, the romance develops at a snail’s pace. But when one considers the fact Cross’s business partner is Pippa’s brother-in-law, and that Pippa is to be married in a matter of days, their reluctance to act on their feelings makes sense. MacLean makes the most of the pacing, maxing out the sexual tension by repeatedly throwing both characters into the face of temptation.
“Tell me, Lady Philippa.” He raised a hand, one finger lingering at the indentation of her upper lip, a hairsbreadth from touching her. “In your study of anatomy, did you ever learn the name of the place between the nose and the lip?”
Her lips parted, and she resisted the urge to lean toward him, to force him to touch her. She answered on a whisper. “The philtrum.”
He smiled. “Clever girl. It is Latin. Do you know its meaning?”
“It means love potion. The Romans believed it was the most erotic place on the body. They called it Cupid’s bow, because of the way it shapes the upper lip.” As he spoke, he ran his finger along the curve of her lip, a temptation more than a touch, barely there. His voice grew softer, deeper. “They believed it was the mark of the god of love.”
She inhaled, low and shallow. “I did not know that.”
He leaned down, closer, his hand falling away. “I’d be willing to wager that there are any number of things about the human body that you do not know, my little expert. All things that I would happily teach you.”
“One Good Earl Deserves a Lover definitely meets all my requirements for a great romance. More than once I caught myself laughing out of pity for poor Cross and his having to deal with a very inquisitive, very intelligent, very frustrating woman. Then there were heart wrenching moments when Pippa believed no man would ever be attracted to her due to her oddness. And as if that weren’t enough, MacLean throws in a good dose of angst, more than once leaving me to wonder if these two were going to have their happily ever after.
While this is the second book in the series, I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to read the first one. But why would you want to skip Penelope and Bourne’s story? Enjoy both I say! I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the next in the series.
HI YOU GUYS!!! I’m totally totally excited to share this post with you. You’ll see why. 😀 WHEE! And I put “Guest” in parenthesesquotes(Obviously my brain is still broken), because…
My First Historical “Romance”
On more than one occasion, Limecello has asked if I’d like to write a review or two here at ALBTALBS. Perhaps it was a moment of weakness or lack of sleep or unrealistic optimism regarding my schedule, but I finally agreed. So this post serves as my introduction or, perhaps more accurately, a forewarning of sorts.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved history. All sorts. As a child I spent hours reading of foreign countries and battles and historical figures from my parents’ set of Encyclopedia Britannica. In high school, when electives outnumbered required courses, history classes filled my schedule. The same held true in college although anthropology and archeology classes were thrown into the mix as well as an abundance of literature classes. So it’s not surprising in the least that I adore historical romances.
But that got me thinking. What was the first historical romance I read?
At first I thought it was Jane Austen’s Emma, but soon realized others came before. Was it my mother’s copy of Danielle Steel’s Crossings? Now I realize Crossings is considered a contemporary romance, but if I studied World War II in history and Steel’s story takes place during World War II, shouldn’t it be considered a historical romance? Only makes sense to me.
And it is this argumentative nature of mine that leads me to the decision the first historical romance I read was… Johnny Tremain.
Yes, it’s a Newbery Medal winner. And yes, I know it’s considered historical fiction. But it has all the makings of a great historical romance. Or at the very least, historical fiction with romantic elements.
If you haven’t read it, Johnny Tremain is the coming of age story of a bitter, self-centered orphan who works as a silversmith apprentice and is considered to be quite a talent. Cilla, his master’s granddaughter, has been promised to marry Johnny so the silver shop will remain in the family. But tragedy occurs when Johnny severely burns his hand and results in him no longer being able to do trade work. The marriage arrangement is cancelled and Johnny is forced out with an uncertain future. And this is just the beginning. The story paints a vivid image of the days leading up to the American Revolution and integrates many historical figures as secondary characters. But in true historical romance fashion, it also includes the claiming of birth rights, accusations of theft, a love triangle and treasonous acts.
Who cares it was required reading when I was in 6th grade and not shelved on the romance aisle. Thirty years later, I still remember how exciting it was when Johnny and Cilla finally shared a kiss.
So it is with this same enthusiasm I will be reviewing historical romances here at ALBTALBS. I am very much looking forward to this new little gig as long as Limecello and all of you who want to chat historical romances will have me!
Cheryl is now going to be reviewing here! A guest no more, but “one of us!” Yesssss!