Monday, 9 December 2019

Jane Austen JAFF novel

Guest Review

Absolutely livid with Amazon and will not be beaten on promoting a novel I loved and was written by Francine Howarth. I have posted the following review on the Historical Romance Promotional FB group with an Amazon linked post. I hope it was all right to copy/paste the cover. I've just finished this book and so annoyed I cannot post a review at Amazon unless I have spent £50. The chances of my spending 50 on books in the next year is unlikely. Either way this novel captures the innocence of Georgiana so well. She really was a shy person as depicted by Jane Austen. Her naivety was made apparent in that disastrous near elopement with Wickham in Pride & Prejudice. That said, in this novel, and extremely well written it is, Georgiana reveals aspects of Wickham as she knew him throughout childhood. That concept won me to Georgiana's shy reclusive existence at Pemberley and how Wickham was a familiar and trusted part of her childhood. It shed light on not only Georgiana and Wickham as youngsters it opened my eyes to Darcy's aloof nature, not unalike Jane Austen's portrayal of his brusque manners and what may have contributed to that cool arrogant persona. This book is not about Darcy, it's Georgiana's from start to finish and the love story that ensues is lovely and realistic to the Regency era when the chips are down and and Georgiana trusts she has learnt from a past mistake and her chosen one is the right one this time. I loved it.
Jan Brook-Clark. 

I've read it too and couldn't have reviewed it better than Jan's review. Def an excellent read.  Charlotte.   

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Random Pick from the Archives!

I did check the original Amazon link and it was duff, so have updated the new cover and new link.


Reviewed by Francine.

 A gloriously Romantic Novella set in and around a Christmas Theme.

This is a touching tale of first love and the enduring romanticism of what if. What if Lucy’s ideal hero (Andrew Livingston) would only look upon her as he might a woman he desires? Instead he sees Lucy as he always has, as merely his sister’s best friend. Already betrothed, Andrew is beyond her reach except within her dreams. She too has a suitor. Although Lord Bexley is far from her tastes in a romantic sense he has admirable qualities: albeit he’s a widower with children. But, to wed a viscount will not only enhance Lucy’s fortunes, the chance to secure marriages of relative status for her sibling sisters will also raise her family from the realms of impoverished finances.
While Lucy’s life seems on the up, such is not the case for Andrew Livingston. Recently returned from the Peninsular Wars, Andrew’s life has been scarred: physically and emotionally. Jilted by his bride to be, dark days surround him for he’s no longer the Andrew who went off to war a full-bodied man. And while seasonal festivities are schemed and set in motion, Lucy treats Andrew no differently than she had in the past. But, Andrew, aware of a child now blossomed to womanhood - a desirable and caring young woman at that – something within stirs the like he never thought to encounter. Dare he let his heart runaway with him, for if he does, can he outsmart Lord Bexley and declare his heart before it’s too late?
There’s a lot of story neatly packed and wrapped within “A Twelfth Night”. It’s not only beautifully crafted and sparing on wordiness, the author has seamlessly woven nuances of Lucy’s and Andrew’s past into the storyline without slowing the pace of a lively and enchanting plot. This is a sweet romance in the vein of Jane Austen, the latter being a woman of her time writing about her time, and Susana Ellis has captured that self same essence of family life and budding romances within Regency society. A lovely read.

A lovely, lovely read selected from the archives!

Reviewed by Francine.

Alethea is a traditional Austenesque Regency tale, in which chance encounters lead to love and romance for two cousins. Of course, there are trials and tribulations along the way for both, and while Alethea is a somewhat headstrong young lady, Eleanor is older and more reserved. Both being borne to the genteel existence of a countryside abode  Alethea is utterly naive in the ways of aristocrats who take liberties at will with unsuspecting females. But once she’s introduced to the possibilities that infamous Almack’s can afford her, the world is suddenly her oyster.
Warned that one man is best not trifled with, for it would seem he delights in trifling with young ladies hearts, Alethea’s heart is soon suffering from romantic flutters whilst she remains utterly determined to resist any notion of surrender to his charms. But another, by far more dangerous man is soon taking more than he deserves and trouble suddenly abounds with the mere mention of his title. After all, mystery and intrigue is all very well until it comes too close for comfort. And while Alethea stands up to the bounder as a true heroine should, he nonetheless wreaks unknowing revenge that may well destroy any hope of happiness for her future. And there I shall leave you in suspense, for I thoroughly enjoyed Alethea’s initiation from innocent country girl to that of a young socialite caught up in the darker side of London Society. All the while, Eleanor, sweetly misguided into the belief she’s destined for spinsterhood, discovers otherwise! A lovely, lovely story.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

A Superb Multi Racial Romance

Francine is against having reviews of her books posted here on the basis she runs the blog. I think a review is a review when there are more reviewers in the background though not as prolific maybe but we are there. My problem is I work a full time job and help with admin on two more blogs. Happy reading, Char.     

Back cover blurb:
-Regency Georgian Romance & Murder Mystery ~ They know not who their target is, nor the why of another’s desire for a specific trophy. But do their duty they will for Monsieur le Marquis. ~

After the assassination of her father in France, Lady Anne Dempsey seeks intimate comfort from the one man she trusts above all others. Whilst having sworn oath of fealty to her father, Faris Halliche resists her charms as he has for three tortuous years. More determined than ever to fulfil her utmost desire Anne sets out to compromise him, and risks all for love. With the arrival of French guests at Leominster Court, danger is realised, frightening, and Anne fears her brother has invited an unknown enemy into the heart of the family fold. But which guest, if any, is bent on harming her and wants her brother dead?

Charlotte's Review *purchased book*. What else would I do when commuting to work and home: 

To Risk All For Love is labelled book one of two murder mystery books involving the Dempsey family. In this book the heroine is the Lady Anne who has set her heart on a young man from a far distant country. His tribal society is surprisingly more appealing to this twenty-first century reader than male society in Georgian England ever was. Be warned this is a multi-racial romance in which Ms Howarth blends historical fact seamlessly with fiction, and spins a convincing web of deceit with a thrilling assassination and its aftermath.

Scarcely has forbidden romance bloomed than a near death experience for Lady Anne Dempsey requires close guard protection at all times. While protecting her was routine in the past the oath the gallant warrior hero swore to her father he pledges to uphold for her sake. That’s all well and good if he was not in love with her, and she not in love with him. Mixed marriages were rare and risqué within Georgian England at a time when slavery was rife. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the era the story is plausible on grounds of wisdom and historical intellect. Well written this novel leaves the reader feeling extremely well read.

And the heroine undaunted by social conventions plots and plans escape for happiness out of wedlock. Her plans are soon dashed as new characters enter stage left and right. And who is friend and who foe is never a foregone conclusion. It can be said thrilling suspense throughout builds and builds and ends with a happy ever after for Anne and Faris. 

There's a heart touching epilogue. Written from Faris’s viewpoint he allows the reader to see his life from his perspective. It is a lasting image of his past and what he will make of himself. Then a letter arrives addressed to him. The content of the letter he must keep secret from his wife while danger still exists for her brother. Hence a second book (also on my kindle). 

At the end of the book readers are treated to a thrilling opening scene from To Tempt A Duke.   The sample read is thrilling and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem.

Reviewed by Francine:

With her inimitable writer voice and impeccable research, M. J. Logue’s setting for this novel is June 1666. As the author states in her Dear Reader letter: I’m not entirely sure why I fell quite so much in love with one young Parliamentarian lieutenant of horse as I did in my first series of books [end quote]. It is fair to say the once dashing blade has a fan here too, though never did he think that of himself. And now that Thankful Russell has acquired his own series of novels, his mettle long since tested in ways most men would flee from he is a modest hero at best. Truly, if this is your first introduction to Thankful Russell then the best recommendation a fan of Russell can convey, is to go back to the very beginning (The Uncivil Wars Series) and pick up from where it all began.

As for his adventures and pickles in this novel, he leads us forth from the quiet country lanes of the Chiltern Hills to the canals of Bruges, and there to uncover the mysterious disappearance of Aphra Behn’s betrothed. Suffice to say, the notorious Aphra is a bit of a mischief maker on the Russell home front almost as much as she is within her writings, thus doubts as to the underlying reason for dragging Thankful Russell to Bruges looks a little suspect and his wife, Thomazine, is having none of that! Of course, nothing is quite as it seems within Bruges, and soon husband and wife are in peril of dark places and would-be watery graves. Gripping stuff all told with 17th century history blended as tight as weave on a loom and rich with colour and authentic dialogue.

Reviewer asides: BEWARE missing the author’s “Dear Reader” and her extensive well-researched “Historical Notes at end of this book. I almost missed them due to “Publisher Intrusion and a sign-up link” which placed directly at the end of the story implied at first glance that was the extent of the book. Good job I flicked the page by accident. I always opt back to cover unless the book is an Anthology. To be quite honest publisher info with regards to other books and sign-ups ought morally to be on the final page of any book!

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Author and Reader Guide to The Horse in historical novels

Reviewed by Francine:

Heather King’s Volume 1 - THE HORSE An Historical Author’s & Reader’s Guide is an invaluable simple and perfect reference book for the uninitiated, absolute novice, to horses and their requirements. From dreams of every little girl wanting her first pony, to the realms of haute ecole (High School Equestrian Training of the 17th-18th century - better known today as dressage) in which the reader will learn of breed heritage to colour ranges, from feed to housing and healthcare, from saddles to harness and equipage, and much more in between. No historical author can be excused for misrepresenting horses at their finest when transitioning from gait to gait, nor can the finer aspects of equestrianism be ignored when books of this nature are on offer to guide authors through the mire of common horse jargon etc. This is a quick reference guide for readers and authors and well worth keeping to hand!

Bear in mind this is not a book about horses in harness, the schooling of carriage horses, and carriages. Apparently Ms King's Volume 2, will be a reference manual to that secondary aspect so essential in historical novels. I dare say it will include correct equipage, correct terminology, etc. Indeed, the pitfalls of driving four-in-hand aside are numerous, and yet, many gentlemen engaged in that very skill and every bit as well as their coachmen.  And oh the joy of driving a curricle, single, double, or in tandem, to dog carts, to traps, and governess carts, not to mention high-top Regency phaetons (death traps) so oft favoured by ladies! But I digress in a sport in which I trained horses to ride 'n' drive, and indulged in other equestrian pursuits so relevant within historical novels. Love 'em or hate 'em, horses were prized animals, and only fools mistreated them.     

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Out of the Box Reading!

Periodically I will pick up a book that intrigued and this one did. It's out of my norm reading box, but sometimes, just sometimes it's good to step away from favourite genres, and this is not a romance novel.  


I don't normally post a book's premise but, 
in this case it seems sensible.
The world continues to let children die every day from thirst and starvation, poisoned water and disease, and the world continues to let the Earth die.

A man, destroyed by the desertion of his wife, comes out the other side and finds a mission. It’s bold. It’s crazy. He’s not totally sure what’s at the end of it but he has to follow it. It’s a terrifying leap away from his world but it ends up being a mission to rescue the very substance of life.

From the ancient Aztecs to the Moroccan desert, Spanish highways to the remote fields of Russia, clues appear, people die and someone gets ever closer to him.

The children, the generation who must eventually find the answer, silently guide him to the truth.

And it’s a truth that will change everything.


Francine's Review: 

Amy’s Square is for lovers of Conspiracy Novels, Industrial and Military Espionage, or Area 51, (the highly classified US Air Force facility located on the Nevada Test & Training Range). But forget Nevada, and put your mind to the Amazon Rain Forest, Morocco, and London, and consider what in the Devil a rain forest, a desert landscape, and London have in common? Written from the viewpoint of the narrator who is coping with impending divorce, and the possibility of a terminal illness, his dry humour and earthy blue language not only lightens the load of impending tragedy, one cannot help but feel sympathetic to the man and his dog. And yes, a character who loves a dog gets my vote before all else.

But what better than a curious mind a mind that is coming to terms with the enormity of his eventual demise. How could formerly insignificant signs suddenly be realised: seriously otherworldly. How he copes is admirable, but when weird things just don’t add up, taking a few risks to investigate real-time can make no difference, can it? Be warned, to skype on a laptop or cell phone is a risqué pastime when poking your nose into secret and mysterious business. In all honesty this is a gripping story, and albeit I’m a woman, it hit all the right buttons for a thoroughly enjoyable contemporary read. It’s the sort of book one can say to hell with the odd typos and missed apostrophes and just enjoy the book!

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Invaluable Resource for Authors of Regency novels.

I don't always post the premise of a book because too many reveal the plot, in this case the premise is important: 

This is a guide book for the modern reader or writer of Regency Romance, compiled using largely primary sources. It covers how to get to Bath from London, where to stay, and most important, what to do when you get there. From where to shop to be properly arrayed for balls to where to gain knowledge even of the mysteries of Galvanism, what was on at the theatre and which music was being played between 1810 and 1820. Your fancy is for the races? Find out which horses won which races discover, who visited Bath, and where to walk out in agreeable parks. And if the city of pleasure is not enough, there were the beauties of nature and stately homes to be visited nearby.

Reviewed by Francine:

I purchased the paperback version on the simple basis kindle is not the best medium as resource material - images etc.

Straight off this is a truly invaluable source of information for authors of Georgian and Regency novels in terms of history and a solid base for authors to work from. Believe it, almost every aspect of life in 18th and 19th Century Bath is featured in this book. Where to shop, where to while an afternoon, who is who and what is what, and how much it would cost! Sarah Waldock has striven to provide the perfect guide not so much for authors, as a guide to the history of Bath, its finer side, and its bleaker side, all with sense of authority and knowledge of the city's layout. One cannot promote the worth of this book in fewer words, than to say it is excellent. Therefore, it is a must purchase for authors who  are unfamiliar with Bath and all it once entailed, though not as a bible of thou shalt not! 

Author's imaginations should not be quelled by this guide book or others of its ilk. Nor let us hope such will be used by ardent die-hard amateur historians (wannabes and Regency bonnets) who will like as not wack authors with critiquing sticks based on facts listed within the book. Nonetheless it is an excellent template to work from. 

After all, fiction is fiction, and when a heroine wishes to set up a school for young ladies, a millinery shop, a music Academy, or a hero deigns to own a house that never existed or other on one of the main thoroughfares, the fact of the listed named proprietors, doctors, etc, need not deter fictional input, i. e. fictional characters equals fictional novels set against historical backdrops. Whilst historical input is paramount for sense of time and place, one also has to remember the lost houses and inns of England, once there but long since gone and replaced or renamed. Renaming of inns and streets was popular across the centuries.  


Reviewer asides:

Why I say guides are guides not bibles for authors, because during the mid Georgian period 1743 to mid 1800s (Regency era), Sally Lunn's ovens were bricked up when it became a private residence, but it had previously thrived as a bun, pie, and coffee shop from 1600s to 1743. It was later reopened as a bun shop and tea rooms when, supposedly, a recipe was found hidden within a chimney during major renovations after a house fire. Can you imagine a recipe hidden up a chimney? But like everything business wise in a  "tourist hot spot", a little myth and legend adds interest for the tourists! I've witnessed the history pages at Sally Lunn's changing across the years, and each time a little more is added for good measure as in any tested and tried recipe for success!      

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Regency Romance.

Reviewed by Francine

I admire Jude Knight’s rebellious author streak, for her novels are never run–of-the-mill plots. Unkept Promises is no exception, in which Mia and Jules’ encounter one another in the strangest of circumstances.

Whilst events unfold that lead to marriage, Mia is far from ignorant to Jules’ former life and the subsequent responsibilities he has elsewhere. Although their marriage is not unusual for the period, the circumstances of it require gentlemanly retreat in honour of her young years. In some respects Jules is a reluctant hero, though is most definitely a man of his period in history and has borne no guilt in acquisition of a mistress. After all, he is a bachelor when he meets Mia, and as a British naval officer in the years of the Napoleonic Wars he is well travelled. Nonetheless Jules unfailingly bears responsibility for all that his cohabiting with a mistress has entailed. Thus a long gap ensues from Jules sailing out of British waters 1805 to 1812, when Mia now all grown up takes ship to Cape Town (South Africa).

Initially her discovery is disheartening, and sadness prevails within his home, and most of all anger boils over and she takes command of the household. Upon on his return from sea hidden truths gradually emerge and soften her heart toward him. Strong minded she is and ultimately determined to make of the marriage she entered into with sense of due purpose. Even when things go awry back in England Mia’s stoicism and love wins through despite frightening and deadly experiences that threaten both her and Jules very existence, neither knowing if the other is safe and alive. As always a thoroughly enthralling read from Jude. 

Monday, 2 September 2019

Debut Novella - Regency Romance

Reviewed by Francine. 

In this risqué debut novella the Lady Elise Fairmont is a feisty heroine, and with a one-time lover returned to town, the Earl of Thornston is notably her Achilles Heel. He seems little changed, his eye to her person is as familiar and sensual in its delivery as it ever was, and where overt familiarity with a dear male friend can become little else, Lord Kilman, poor fellow, is ever in hope of more. But Elise has filled the lonely years in turning her own experience of rakish behaviour to that of spying on ruthless dowry hunters within the beau monde. She has thus thwarted the ambitions of the gamblers, the rakes, and the ne’er do wells, whom she brands as cads. Unknowingly she has gained a few enemies, and danger lies in wait whilst lady friends are ever in gratitude for her kindly intervention.
But who can save her when things go awry and the ne’er do wells seek to harm her former fragile reputation by means most foul? As much as she has endeavoured to remain immune to the Earl of Thornston for his taking flight from her life ten years previous, his reappearance has served to stir emotions she had thought were long since buried, therein her dilemma unfolds. Although Harold’s absence has mystified and pained her, love has never waned, of that he is sure, and subsequent heroism becomes him when Elise needs him most. In all kindness to the author, this debut novella is a fun read!
Reviewer asides: Given this is a debut novella there is every likelihood Rachel will progress to more in depth study of the Regency era and all that it has to offer. The description of Gentleman Jack’s was excellent, but I do have little quibbles with the story. Regency era descriptions, i.e. the occasional fashionable item Elise and others were wearing would be nice, and colourful surroundings of differing rooms – all those things add extra depth to sense of time and place within historical romance novels. It is too easy to forget Jane Austen wrote novels contemporary to her time, whereas 21st century women want to know colour of gown, hat et al. Writers of historical novels, I assure you, never cease researching for every book written.