Monday, 30 September 2013

Repost of Historical Review - Republished Edition!



Reviewed by Fran

Set in 1780, Ranulph Lord Charing, is the ideal hero. Tending arrogant, a man of means with a mistress to boot, of hawkish good looks and superb horseman, he suddenly finds himself attracted to the delightfully charming Celeste Armitage. Torn between duty to a long-standing mistress and desire for young Celeste, he commits the unthinkable in wild moment of rash indulgence. News of his interest in Celeste soon stretches beyond the confines of Hazeledene House: thus listened to with vindictive intent by his mistress.


Forced by circumstance of a dead man’s debt and his mistress’ cunning, Ranulph has no choice but to sacrifice his own happiness and that of Celeste’s. And, without spoiling the plot, I can tell you there are twists and turns aplenty as truths come to light and debts are settled, though not without heartache and much soul searching as Ranulph sets out to counter his mistress’ hold upon him.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Latest Historical Review

The Dark Marquis – Regency Romance & Murder Mystery Series
Reviewed by Suzy.
A well-written intelligent Regency Romance. It was a refreshing change to read a romance where the opening scene is missing the ubiquitous angst driven heroine bleating and berating the hero. Ms Howarth instead focuses reader attention with a duel at dawn and a chilling outcome. The hero survives his injury as he must for the story to continue. The death of his opponent however is totally unexpected. The action-packed scene sets the pace for further macabre deaths leading to a deeply disturbing murder mystery, with several of the leading characters as the prime suspects. All have committed vile deeds in the past. Heartfelt defence put forth failed to exonerate their actions. Although the heroine [Estelle] has a feisty nature she’s loveable and vulnerable as all women were to the rules and regulations of Regency society. Mistresses within the haute ton conducted themselves in discreet manner. Mistresses from the lower order of the ton crossed the divide at their peril. Estelle has no title. Lady Caroline does. One is a lady, the other not. They both want the same man. I really did like the Marquis of Rantchester. His love for Estelle touches the heart in so many ways and I forgave him his one misdemeanour while in company with Caroline as does Estelle. He redeems himself with true heroic gallantry and the seductive Lady Caroline meets with a suitable humbling end. Without a shadow of doubt I rate this Regency Murder mystery a five star read all the way from beginning to end. The characters are strong. The plot is tightly woven. The murders are cleverly linked leading to a surprise villain. The romance is enduring. The language of the narrative is unique in portrayal of Regency England 1819.  

Friday, 20 September 2013

Latest Historical Review - A Traditional Regency Romance

Her Grace in Disgrace by Claudia Harbaugh
The Widows of Woburn Place Book 1
Reviewed by Charlotte.
Her Grace in Disgrace is a first-class debut novel bearing elements of literary merit. The dialogue is crisp, the prose Austenesque in style. However there are inevitable downsides with omniscient head-hopping and a larger than average cast of peripheral characters. Throughout the convoluted storyline it becomes abundantly clear characters are destined to star in future books. The opening chapter starts well in lending reader sympathy to the recently widowed heroine. Her downfall during the reading of her late departed’s will is heart-rending, until it is later revealed her status as duchess came to fruition by feminine guile. From that point onward I quite disliked Isobel. She never really redeemed herself in my eyes, not even as a miraculously reformed benefactor to downfallen widows. Her scheming ways and blatant abuse of her would-be suitor and close friend Lord Saybrooke, simply damned her. I kept hoping and praying a nice girl would steal his heart and spirit him out of Isobel’s reach. Alas the sick fool lost all sense of reason in a fit of jealousy and succumbed to the inevitable. Needless to say my heart lay entirely with Lord Saybrooke, and may God save his soul from ruination at Isobel’s hands. Reviewer asides - There are many individual stories within this novel and really impossible to review each in turn. However, if you are inclined to multi-layered novels and a self-indulgent protagonist then Isobel is for you. I despised her. For all that said ‘Her Grace in Disgrace’ is a very good read.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Latest Chick-Lit

Reviewed by Francine
In this Christmas Romance novella seasonal cheer abounds, until Trish Ackerly spies a demon from her childhood standing outside gawping at the festive display fronting her bakery shop. Although murderous thoughts instantly leap to mind, as he steps inside she bottles-out on courage and leaves her partners' in pastry crime to face Ian Rafferty, hunk extraordinaire: the very cause of childhood embarrassment and heartache Trish would give almost anything to avenge.
Lo & Behold it is her artistic ability that has caught Ian’s eye rather than that of chocolate Yule logs and Christmas sweetmeats. Hence, the chance to enact revenge soon wins in the “shall-I, shan’t-I, dare-I stakes” because Trish bears no resemblance to the butt of his past teasing ways, and when he fails to recognise her she’s raring to cause Rafferty grief in a way he won’t forget in a hurry. Needless to say emotions run high for Trish in fulfilling Ian’s commission to render his house with festive cheer, and while he fails to equate the glamorous Trish Acker (nom de plume) with Patricia Ackerly the girl now woman torments him big time. Believe it, this is a delightfully funny and entertaining read with a lovely little twist!
This novella is due for release Nov 1st 2013 - point of sale to follow.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Latest Historical Romance


Reviewed by Francine

This is a fast paced romance and the author avoids the pitfalls of tedious blow-by-blow accounts of domesticity and duly throws the reader into the emotional world of a young love-struck teenage Danielle, and of Marie who with the gift of foresight predicts heartache for Danielle in the near future. And true enough the love of Danielle’s life, Etienne Blouin, an honourable young man whom recognises her willingness to succumb to his inner desires is tempted by her blossoming charms. With much regret and steel resolve he knows he must walk away for he cannot dare ask for her hand nor provide for her in the manner to which she is due.
The story then leaps forward ten years, and Danielle de Cherbourg is living a privileged and extravagant lifestyle of a countess, or is she? Nothing is quite as it seems for her husband’s seedy murder reveals the extent of his gambling debts, and although Danielle is forced to don widow’s weeds her heart has always pined for Etienne. Unbeknown to Danielle, Etienne returns to honour a promise made in secret and willingly steps up to pay her husband’s debts. Vexed by his seeming indifference and heart again broken, to her chagrin her aunt has set in motion an arranged marriage to a man Danielle despises. But, whilst travelling by coshe highwaymen save her from the plight of her impending marriage only to cast her into another more terrifying likelihood and dark void of unconsciousness. Upon her awakening aboard ship she fears the worst, and believes the captain is a trader of white slaves to the Turks: a fate worse than death. So is her doom that of a sex slave to a Turkish merchant or Sultan? Buy the book and find out.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Latest Historical Romance

Charity's Heart by Sophia Diana Gabel 

Reviewed by Nigella.

The author describes with great flourish how dark and dangerous the streets are in her Victorian England of 1888. I like the way Ms Gabel puts forth the chilling reality Jack-the-Ripper is at large on the streets of London. It adds extra thrill when Charity Llewellyn who hails from a good upstanding family is also out and about in rebellious mood and cursing her betrothal to Mathias Baptiste - a man she cannot love and will not love ever in her lifetime. A few unsavoury characters soon add extra thrill and there are times when Charity fears she has stepped too far out of her comfort zone. Her adventurous spirit is doomed when her clandestine soirees are discovered by her father and he then employs a bodyguard to watch over his daughter. Out of boredom Charity turns her attention to Sutton who is as mysterious as the Ripper and she leads him a merry dance until her fiancĂ© decides it is high time Charity is taught a lesson. Mathias Baptiste is a vile and brutal creature with few scruples and lethal morals. Charity loathes Mathias so much she would rather die than be wedded to the hateful man and her wish is all but granted. This story is steeped in mystery and I don’t wish to spoil the plot so it seems sensible to stop here. I did like this novel but will say I found the blow-by-blow metaphors of domestic life in the Llewellyn household a little tedious. IMHO the pace of the novel slowed to a crawl throughout the overly descriptive familial of Charity’s home life.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Latest Historical Time-slip!

The Prodigal Son by Anna Belfrage.
Reviewed by Francine
Set within the 17th century this book stands alone despite being book 3 in The Graham Series.
It’s 1665 and all thanks to his 21st century time-slip wife Alex (Bk1), Mathew Graham has returned home to Ayshire (Scotland) post deportation to the colony of Virginia, only to find life under Charles II is not quite as imagined. Religious strife is rampant, and outlawed by refusal to swear absolute fealty to Charles and the Church of England life has become Hell on earth for Scot Presbyterian ministers. In defiance of crown dictate Mathew shelters and provides succour to the runaway ministers. One in particular of notorious voice and with a price on his head causes much anguish for Alex.

Whilst Mathew engages in risk-laden ventures across the moors, Alex faces a stark reality from his past life that will surely change hers and no doubt that of her children, for when Mathew’s ex wife thrusts Ian into Alex’ care the lad bears a remarkable resemblance to Mathew. Although once thought of his own son until told otherwise, both Mathew and Alex are thrown into emotional plains of uncertainty over Ian’s true lineage. All the while their love for each other is tested, not by the boy, but by events that unfold and threaten to tear them all apart. Ms Belfrage has most definitely placed an emotional minefield before her characters of which Mathew and Alex tread with great fortitude, their love knowing no bounds. This book although full of roller-coaster emotions in a romantic sense, the historical facts blend unobtrusively with the backdrop of the time depicted, so too the brief insights to Alex’ previous 21st century existence.
I will say this, which demonstrates the power of some novels to draw forth tears, there is one incident that left this reader as bereft as that of Mathew and Alex.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Latest Contemporary Review


All About Charming Alice by Arlene Culiner
Reviewed by Charlotte.
I really liked this book. It's a sweet small-town American tale about a young woman who rescues creatures in need.

Whether half-starved dogs or sick snakes, Alice will see right by them. She's feisty, sharp-eyed and very sharp-tongued when people try foisting animals onto her for no good reason. No one is safe from her critical eye. And a stranger rolling up on her doorstep with a flash motor and doe-eyed dog at heel, he’s plain asking for trouble. While Jace is no ordinary stranger, Alice is very much an extraordinary backwoods girl. And while Alice sees only a smart mouthed city slicker standing in front of her, and verbally shreds him about a dog he wants to offload. Jace steps up and takes the brunt of Alice’s wit and sarcasm on the chin like a man. Throughout an altercation her contours and the backwoods architecture of her ramshackle home stir his curiosity. Jace wants to know Alice better. Of course Alice and Jace are doomed to fall in love, and what I loved about the opening chapter is that a hairy dog plays cupid.