Monday, 5 June 2017

Under The Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage - further medieval mayhem





Reviewed by M. J. Logue






The third book in a series I have come to love as much as the author's other series.... 

It is still a wonder and a joy to me how the author has managed to create two totally different and totally plausible worlds. I know it's not the done thing to compare two different series-es, but it's so easy for a writer to simply transplant a set of successful characters into another period, appropriately renamed. And Ms Belfrage doesn't - Adam and Kit are fully-rounded (and in Kit's case, almost perpetually fully rounded: might I suggest that Adam ties a knot in it, for the next instalment?) carefully-crafted creatures of the medieval period. 

Yes, there is action and intrigue a-plenty, and adventure to stir the blood. But although they're well done and deftly handled, my favourite parts of this novel are the little domestic touches where the author's research makes for an intimate, tender portrayal of medieval family life. The omniscient Mabel, for instance, I love. (I am also intrigued by Adam's brother William, who may be a man of the cloth but who, I think, has something of a most un-canonical tenderness for Kit. I wonder what will come of it...because I am pretty sure Adam won't like it if he finds out. And I cannot help but wonder if William is quite what he seems to be, or whether a very de Guirande ambition is hidden behind that virtuous exterior...) 

Without giving too much away, I am DELIGHTED to see that my doubts regarding Tom in the first book, were shared by Kit in this one. And that William's handling of that situation is what makes me wonder if he's all he seems to be. 

I love the way themes are developing in this series: the themes of family ties, dysfunctional and otherwise: of deceptions both kindly and unkindly meant; of the contrast between theI "right" and the "wrong" love. Ms Belfrage creates a wonderfully shaded world in which the right choices are not always the defensible choices. There are times when I don't like Adam very much: he doesn't always put his family first, although he always puts his family's future first. (As I said. A very de Guirande ambition.) He can be arrogant, quick-tempered, high-handed. He's also an entirely typical medieval male, and much though I might want him to put Kit's needs to the fore at times, it would be anachronistic for him to do so. 


So book four soon, please - I'm watching that William.... 




Saturday, 3 June 2017

Regency Mystery and Suspense.




Reviewed by Francine: 


Having ventured to the Far East as an East India Company man, Reinhart Maycott is essentially a reluctant aristocrat. His life in India encapsulates the intrepid and adventurous spirit of the young Reinhart, until the sudden and unexpected elevation to a marquisate forces him back to his homeland. And no matter his shady existence in the nether wilds of India and scandalous rumours that abound, every mama in England has taken note of his return to home shores, not least that of Lady Parbury, who immediately sets out to present her eldest and most ravishing daughter for his delectation.

Of course, Reinhart (Ren) is far from conventional, any more than young Mariah Parbury, who indeed recognises Ren’s extreme handsomeness as does her elder sister Rorie (Aurora), but it is his travels and former lifestyle that prove as captivating as his golden eyes to Mariah, whilst her mother sees only wealth and status for her eldest darling. And so the fun begins as Lady Parbury sets forth to create a match made in heaven, but the best laid plans ‘n’ all are thwarted as Ren’s past begins to encroach and threaten those close to him. As happened whilst in India, life becomes fraught with ever increasing dangers, and if love should blossom betwixt him and a Parbury miss the death knell may ring out as it had when he was far away in India.

The great mystery of who is plaguing Ren’s life comes to light at the very end of the story, as would be expected of a good suspense novel. I applaud the author for the story’s unusual theme of a man and his big cat, a man who harbours a secret longing for love but dare not embrace it. As for the delightful heroine with an inquisitive mind and foolish daring, she set the tone nicely for touches of farce, fear, and she was indeed deserving of a happy ever after. Nice one Ms Eastwood.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Darcy Monologues



Reviewed by Nigella (maritime historian)


Against the remit of RRM and expected due regard to anthologies, I am, as it were, obliged to read and review each story in turn and I haven’t. With two stories and a third of the next read I was Darcy fatigued. 

However I did feel obliged to flip through the table of contents and at random selected stories for a quick browse. To my utter dismay different eras alternating from Regency to modern threw me and never again will I pick up another modern day Austen novel or anthology riding on Ms Austen’s pelisse hem. My reasons for abandonment of the Darcy Monologues can be viewed at the bottom of the page.


Death of a Bachelor by Caitlin Williams inducts the reader with Mrs Fitzwiliam Darcy, nee Elizabeth Bennet, and her beloved Darcy travelling to London post-wedding nuptials. There is little more can be said of this well written short story with Austenesque prose befitting the period in third person perspective. To reveal more would entail a plot spoiler.

From the Ashes by J Marie Croft is another Darcy in which the author narrates the story from the perspective of Darcy’s harrowing and humiliating self analysis of Elizabeth’s rejection of his marriage proposal. Effectively it’s a well written cameo utilising Ms Austen’s fully-formed character with literate flair.

If Only a Dream by Joana Starnes is befittingly yet another well written Darcy Monologue, and it is with regret I could read no further. After two Darcy stories, the third began to rankle and my thoughts strayed to how wonderful Jane Austen’s characters were, and how overused they are by modern day authors obsessed with Fitzwilliam Darcy.

When young I didn’t appreciate Jane Austen’s novel Pride & Prejudice foisted on me as obligatory reading at my school until the untitled toff Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet the feisty and somewhat capricious female grabbed my attention. Both were superbly depicted by Austen, not least Darcy’s supercilious nature and contempt for the lower orders. Over the years I have read Pride & Prejudice several times and the chip that sat on Darcy’s shoulder has remained as plain as a pike staff and I believe he hailed as likely as not from Ms Austen’s observant eye of a gentleman of her time. On the scale of social mobility Darcy is a commoner regardless of family connections to a lordly base, for that reason Ms Austen portrayed him with sense of zeal as though she disliked him every bit as much as Elizabeth did. His deportment demands attention, his scornful nature thereby is his undoing in Elizabeth’s eyes until against all that he abhors he succumbs to physical desire for that feisty madam of the lower order. One wonders if in her own way Jane Austen derived great satisfaction from his comedown in marriage to Elizabeth which in the social event would result in lesser requests for his pleasure at notable soirees when news of their marriage began spreading abroad. Greatly amusing is how Ms Austen left Darcy in a social set he had despised and ridiculed. For me Austen is Austen, and modern day Austenesque novels touch me not.
***

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Regency!



Reviewed by Francine:

The title says it all, and as with any first real sense of romance, imagined or otherwise, who from amongst us forgets the name and description of their first romantic entanglement? Thus Cassandra remembers every aspect of the late Lieutenant, Lord Benedict Mallory’s appearance, or does she? Has the passing of time and heartbreak clouded her memory? For when she encounters a stranger in a position that is contrary to Ben’s former life she cannot believe her eyes, and yet, something deep inside wills her to pursue the notion it is he. 

Unsure how to proceed in matters of discretion is not easy for Cassandra, who is far from slow in putting forth in petulant manner and oft sharp tongued when it suits her. Equally frustrated by formal etiquette so prevalent within the elder echelons of society, she faces the added task of proving a young chit can balance emotional pull against sage thinking as a soldier steels himself to do what must be done. Therefore she strives to convince others Ben is indeed alive. But of course, love does strange things to a mind, and there I shall leave you to ponder Cassie’s fate. Has she seen the one she fell in love with, or is the man she encountered a figment of imagination and overt desire for something lost? I can say in all honesty I enjoyed following Cassie on her journey of discovery, and although the plot follows though pretty much as expected, there are steamy and sensual moments, emotional torments and strife aplenty, and of course, a Happy Ever After. Enjoy!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Georgian Romance



Reviewed by Francine.

This is a delightfully charming little country tale, and the fact I’m a bee-keeper’s moll, I naturally loved the storyline.

Set within the Georgian era and of Queen Charlotte’s love for hosting grand balls and social functions, beeswax candles were required in vast numbers from specialist suppliers. In those days beeswax candles were almost akin to gold-plated illumination in comparison to that of tallow candles. And so, when Oliver Hamilton, the Queen’s acquisitions officer, encounters Madelyn Wickham, disaster unsuspectingly lies in wait around the corner. But who wishes to harm her, and seeks to destroy all that she has? Albeit Oliver’s job is merely to acquire candles, a true gallant cannot abandon a young woman to the vagaries of harsh weather and destitution. Thus, as he and Madelyn work together to resolve her plight, a new kind of light sparks between them. Oh yes, it’s a sweet little romance and the delightful aspect, it has an original plot.

I just want to point out I award five stars for original plot themes, and for stories that touched my heart.

Dystopian Gothic with a touch of Romance.



Reviewed by Francine.

How to classify this thoroughly intriguing book in terms of genre is impossible, and so I'm going to refer to it as a futuristic gothic novel. I say that because it has gothic towers, ecclesiastical minsters along with island castles and fortresses and civil war has ravaged across the lands. It's a strange existence within the British Isles, and whilst the hero cavorts around in flying machines (aircraft) and solar vehicles, the political turmoil that seemingly prevails has a mediaeval bent that sets it aside from the usual Mad Max style of futuristic post apocalyptic plots.

In Skryker's world he's Minister of State Security, and when a traumatised Prisoner of State becomes his ward, he sets out to uncover the truth behind a 12 year old child's dark harrowing past. But even men who wield element of power within the greater scheme of everyday life, a bizarre dark mass (dislocation barrier) remains an unknown phenomena (what is it?), and worse, political unrest and royalist rivalry is afoot. Skryker has no idea why others are hell-bent on kidnapping and or killing him and his Prisoner of State, and Xanthe Chance proves to be his greatest challenge to date: in more ways than one. This novel touches on mystical properties and portrays elements of the present in latent terms, and therefore makes for a thoroughly intriguing read.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Who's in the Interview Chair?

Today the Lovely Katherine Kullmann, author of Georgian/Regency novels, has stepped to the chair! 







(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

Ans:There was no one thing. I have always loved writing, and it has been an important part of my work, but it was only when I took early retirement that I had the time and space to consider writing creatively. I’ve been fascinated by the regency period since I first read Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen and it seemed natural to set my books there. As to what triggers a story—it can be something quite small, for example, take thisslight exchange between two women at a masquerade inPerception & Illusion:
“The carriage is outside if you still wish to leave. It has just struck midnight,” Thalia whispered.
“I do. And you?”
“I’ll stay awhile.”
I couldn’t stop wondering what happened when Thalia returned to the ballroom and the result was The Murmur of Mask. In the end, it was published first. I was so immersed in it by the time Perception & Illusion was returned from my editor that I decided to complete it before returning to P&I.

(2)  Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

Ans:I don’t think of my heroes in terms of alpha or beta but I would say they are a mixture of both. Luke Fitzmaurice, in The Murmur of Masks is the younger son of a baronet. Prevented by a previous illness from leaving university to join the Army in 1803, he will not be deterred from joining Wellington in Brussels in May 1815. He is a debonair man about town, an excellent brother, frequents a rough and ready fencing club in preference to Angelo’s and is interested in political reform.
The Honourable Hugo Tamrisk M.P, hero of Perception & Illusion, is the youngest surviving child and only son of the twenty-fifth Baron Tamm. One of the ton’s most eligible bachelors, he is inclined to be cool and reserved but is instantly attracted to Lallie Grey. On first sight, she finds him ‘very dark, with strong cheekbones and deep eye sockets set above a beak of a nose and a determined chin, above which his lips were fixed in a straight line’ but he soon reveals a ‘surprisingly attractive smile’.

(3)  Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– brief description!

Ans:Olivia Frobisher in The Murmur of Masks is the daughter and sister of naval officers. She is a competent and capable woman, used to sizing up a situation and making the best of it, but her aloof façade conceals a longing for love.
Lallie Grey, in Perception & Illusion, is governess to her younger half-sisters. She is warm-hearted, impulsive and full of life. Hugo admires her ‘slanted green eyes and provocative combination of a little turned-up nose perched above a plump upper lip’ but also finds her very easy to talk to.

(4)  Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Ans: Yes. In The Murmur of Masks, Luke’s friend Lord Franklin plays a very important part, as does Olivia’s friend the Duchess of Gracechurch. Perception & Illusion is more of an ensemble piece, with Lallie’s and Hugo’s families to the fore.

(5)  Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

Ans: Both are set in England, but with some of the action in Brussels and surrounding areas. Book One of The Murmur of Masks is set in 1803, Book Two in 1814 and Book Three in 1815. Perception & Illusion runs from mid-1813 to early 1815. There is a slight overlapping of characters between the two books as much of the action occurs within the same social set.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

Ans: I love regency fashion. It reflects the light-heartedness of the period. But I am also fascinated by the darker side of a world on the cusp of modernity.

(7)  Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?
Ans: Robert Grey, Lallie’s father, who only has an eye for the main chance, and his crony Frederick Malvin who leaps at the chance to marry Lallie.A thoroughly nasty pair.

(8)  Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

Ans: I don’t avoid sex scenes but do not include them gratuitously. They must be part of the plot and feel right for the characters in their time. I avoid gross violence.

(9)  How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, other...?

Ans: I describe my novels as ‘historical fiction for the heart and for the head’.

Back cover blurb, and point of sale links. 



Back Cover Blurbs;
The Murmur of Masks
1803/04 England is at war with France. Olivia Frobisher, daughter of a naval officer who is somewhere at sea, loses her home when her mother dies suddenly. Adrift and vulnerable, she accepts the proposal of Jack Rembleton, a natural scientist, hoping that love will grow between them. She is unaware that Jack, fearing exposure of his innermost secret, has yielded to pressure from his elder brother to marry and sire an heir to his title. Luke Fitzmaurice,devastatedat being declared unfit for military service, suffers another disappointment when he learns that Olivia is already married. Olivia too is shaken and realises that in accepting Jack’s offer she has cut herself off from the world of youth and the promise of love.

Ten years, later, Jack spends most of his time at his experimental farm, visiting Olivia and their three children occasionally. With Napoleon defeated, he leaves to travel abroad indefinitely. Luke has become more radical in his outlook and under the pseudonym Otanes casts a critical eye on society. He is still drawn to Olivia but must accept they can have no future. A sudden turn of events changes everything but Napoleon escapes from Elba. Although offered a seat in parliament, Luke purchases a commission in the 1st/52nd and joins Wellington’s army in Brussels. Once Napoleon is defeated, Luke must fight the battle for Olivia’s heart.

“Catherine Kullmann's debut novel offers lovers of historical fiction an authentic portrait of the passion and turbulence of the extended Regency period. It is a story of love and war; an eternal triangle with a difference.”

The Murmur of Masks is available as e-book and paperback worldwide from Amazon 




Perception & Illusion
Cast out by her father for refusing the suitor of his choice, Lallie Grey accepts Hugo Tamrisk’s proposal, confident that he loves her as she loves him. But Hugo’s past throws long shadows as does his recent liaison with Sabina Albright. All too soon, Lallie must question Hugo’s reasons for marriage and wonder what he really wants of his bride.

Perception & Illusion charts Lallie’s and Hugo’s voyage through a sea of confusion and misunderstanding. Can they successfully negotiate the Rocks of Jealousy and the Shoals of Perplexity to arrive at the Bay of Delight or will they drift inexorably towards Cat & Dog Harbour or the Dead Lake of Indifference? Catherine Kullmann's skillful evocation of the Regency period rings true, as do her protagonists’ predicaments. It is a joy to step into this other world with her.

What they say about Catherine Kullmann’s writing
‘Fans of historical fiction will be delighted with a well-wrought story and a wealth of authentic detail.’
‘A page-turning plot of romance and intrigue with well-developed characters set in an extremely well-researched and detailed Regency period.’
‘The characters are particularly well drawn, and the English Regency setting is just perfect.’
‘You really get a feel for the Regency era and the conflicts and difficulties people faced.’

Perception & Illusion is available as e-book and paperback worldwide from Amazon 

Regency!




Reviewed by Francine.

Short Afternoon tea read!

A lovely little short novella to wile away a moment of escapism with afternoon tea and cake. Albeit small, the author packs a lot of detail into this sweet tale of bridging the centuries, and all without the ubiquitous "sudden thunderstorm" which opens a time-warp fault so commonplace within time-slip novels. So what is it like to find oneself the object of attention by an unknown who is convinced you are a part of his life? There I shall leave you to discover how Lottie copes with amorous intentions, and whether she wants to, or indeed makes it back to the 21st Century. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Who's in Interview Chair?

In the Interview chair today is the lovely Erato... 



(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

Ans: So, my entire Regency Romantics series began with choosing plots from actual old books and plays, and using those as scenari; kind of like you do with a commedia dell’arte play, where you use the same stories over and over, but it comes out new and different because you’re filling in the details from scratch – working in fresher or better ideas you got, improving what failed in the past incarnation, stuff like that. The book Sweet Errors is based on an opera from 1790 called Cosi fan Tutte. There are some significant differences even in the general description of the two plots, but that’s what Sweet Errors was modelled from. I tried to correct some of the issues with Cosi, such as how the scheme to test female fidelity had seemingly come out of nowhere, and consequently the characters seemed a bit unsympathetic because there was no motivation for putting everyone through the wringer like that. So, for instance, I made it that the girls were the ones who really started the ball rolling with this whole testing of fidelity, and the boys were motivated in response to that.

(2)  Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank? – brief description!

Ans: Sweet Errors has two male leads. They do have the fits of passion and emotion usually associated with alphas, but the fact that they aren’t really running the show sort of takes away the implication of leadership I would think of when I think alpha. They are both young guys, sons of wealthy country landowners, who don’t really have their own fortunes or properties yet, but also have every reason to expect they will eventually inherit those things from family members. Bertie Wooster types, I suppose, though a tad more rugged as befits their era.

(3)  Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank? – brief description!

Ans: The two females are sisters, and they are daughters of a reasonably wealthy merchant-landowner. They’d be marrying up by marrying squires. Their personalities are rather more ditzy than I’m used to writing, but I’m a believer in making characters to serve the plot, and Sweet Errors has a plot that doesn’t really suit heroines who are too intelligent or steadfast.

(4)  Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Ans: Mr. Hackett was originally going to star in a romantic subplot all his own, but I quickly found there wasn’t enough space for that in a book of the length that I wanted. I had imagined he’d end up with Despa, the maid, who was going to be smart enough to escape from her own crummy situation as a housekeeper who doesn’t even get to choose her own name; but her role was chopped down to almost nothing by the time it was over. I suppose I might recycle that story for some future work. Omitting that romantic plotline actually caused Hackett to come off as possibly gay, between his female pen name, his misogyny, and his unusual attention to the two young men – which maybe worked better for the story, really. One of my favorite romantic heroes in the whole Regency Romantics series is Richard Kensington from In the Fire; and he and Mr. Hackett actually seem to be almost the same character; they are men of science who didn’t find it to hold the answers they wanted, and turned to the comfort of literature instead. The main difference is that Hackett got older and kind of channelled his life’s disappointments into a literary career, whereas Kensington, alas, merely got really into Goethe’s Sorrows of Werther, and consequently didn’t get older. In Sweet Errors, Hackett is the one who is actually pulling the strings – the highwaymen didn’t come up with these stupidly literary backstories and Adam Ant style costumes on their own. That’s all Hackett’s direction.

(5)  Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

Ans: Sweet Errors is set in 1797, which is the year in which it is generally assumed that Jane Austen completed the writing of her book Pride and Prejudice (though that book wasn’t published till much later.) That was my only real reason for choosing that year. It is set mostly in a place called Walton Bay, which is apparently little more than a trailer park nowadays; but I wanted it to be set at the seaside, for reasons related to my memories of the staging of Cosi fan Tutte, I suppose; and it had to be in kind of a rural area where the characters wouldn’t encounter a lot of other people who might spoil their schemes. I had also intended to use the proximity to Bristol for some plot purposes, though in fact I wound up not using those sequences I had planned for the city. But, the female leads live in Walton Bay, and their boyfriends live nearby in Walton-in-Gordano and Weston-in-Gordano. I’ve never been to these places and had to learn about them from Google Maps, town websites and a couple little references in old books.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

Ans: I’ll tell you honestly, the Regency isn’t one of my favorite historical eras; the costumes are a little plain for my taste and it was the beginning of that “Victorian” idea of kind of prudish good behaviour. I remember once reading an old play from 1706 called The Recruiting Officer – I began reading it on Google Books from an early edition, but with the weird typefaces they used in that era, it was hard to read; so I sought out another copy. I ended up finding an edition from either 1800 or 1810, in a better typeface, but it was amazing how much was censored in that version compared to what was in the original. It showed how much the morals changed in just that 100 year span! Thing is, I find stories where everyone is behaving well to be incredibly boring – I kind of prefer the wild antics of the 18th century, to the 19th century’s backlash against it. When I first began to write Regency Romances, most of what I knew about the era was picked up from the Surgeon’s Hall Museum and from episodes of Blackadder. Consequently, I display what I recognize is kind of an unusual interest in the diseases everyone had. I got to use some of that in Sweet Errors. I was trying to follow the literary rules of disease, where too much stress causes a deadly condition called “brain fever” that was evidently thought to be a real thing at the time, and was understood to be potentially fatal. It sounds like the medical treatments they used against brain fever were the only reason it was ever deadly, though – lots of heavy bloodletting was the recommended course. Nowadays brain fever would mean a condition like encephalitis or meningitis, but in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the disease that everyone in novels was dying from after receiving distressing news – I guess because when you’re under stress, you can get headaches or have trouble concentrating, so they believed that it was a fever forming in your brain.

(7)  Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

Ans: I think I like all the characters in Sweet Errors. The book Honoria has characters I dislike – amusingly because I was trying to make them more likeable to the general public by toning down their worser traits. As I said before, I find stories where everyone behaves well to be so boring! Nobody behaves in Sweet Errors.

(8)  Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

Ans: Sex scenes, yes – not that I’m exactly prudish about sex, it’s just I don’t feel sex scenes add much to a work. It certainly doesn’t move the plot forward to know the details of her “mound of Venus” or his “Beefy McManstick” or whether anyone’s moaning with pleasure. Especially now that I’m an adult and can easily get real porn, if that’s what I want – I just don’t enjoy a good story interrupted with a description of imaginary characters having sex. It’s a great way to lose my attention. Gross violence, on the other hand – I love that! There wasn’t much opportunity for it in Sweet Errors, but in books like Pursuit I made good use of it. Violence, gross or not, can totally move a plot; and in a book it’s difficult for it to really be properly gross anyway, because you don’t get the kind of visuals you would from a film. When I was young, there were movies my mother forbade me to watch, like A Clockwork Orange – but she was fine with my reading the book versions, I assume because the inherent nature of its being a book just tones down the violence so much.

(9)  How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, other...?

Ans: Oh, god, this was really tricky to figure out when I needed to come up with titles and labels for the ISBNs! I think Sweet Errors is pretty definitely a romantic comedy, and in fact might be the most straightforward romantic comedy of the whole series, even if everyone does get the dreaded brain fever.  I used the neutral term “novella” for most of the Regency Romantics titles because some of the books aren’t quite as humorous. The ones I labelled as “romances” are usually so called because someone dies – and even then they are often a bit humorous or satirical. Like, In the Fire is almost making fun of the Werther-suicide phenomenon that went on around that time, even though I don’t think it’s quite right to call that story a comedy. I’m not very good at writing anything with a totally straight face, though. There’s very little that I can take 100% seriously, and it often seems kind of arrogant, to me, when people think that everything has to be serious and others are wrong to be amused.  That’s not to say I intended the Regency Romantics stories as satires – in fact I was a bit annoyed that that’s how they kept coming out – but it seems to just naturally fall that when I imitate the old style storylines, I automatically seize upon some really weird element that turns the whole thing into a John Waters kind of satire, every time. I don’t even like John Waters’ stuff all that well, but it’s undeniable that my style resembles his – I think because he’s doing the same kind of thing, taking his favorite old books and films and trying to imitate them and improve upon them, but through a mind a little too twisted to interpret with perfect sincerity.  





The Richmond sisters have met the men of their dreams — or have they?

Charlotte and Elizabeth Richmond have every expectation of marrying their devoted boyfriends, Thomas Marchant and Robert Benjamin; but when they come to question the fidelity of these men, a series of events are set into motion which can change their lives forever. Two highwaymen in hiding take residence near the Richmond home, and the sisters begin to fall for these mysterious strangers. Will the girls betray their long-time lovers, or will their fidelity stand true? It is a matter of the utmost importance — for Thomas and Robert have bet their entire fortunes on it.

A sweet and silly adventure in love, Sweet Errors plunges the reader into an exciting 18th century world of young lovers, secret identities, romance novels and breezy seascapes. Pick it up and you will fall for the charms of its amusing cast and vibrant story.

Amazon (UK)      Amazon Com





Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Late Regency Romance



Reviewed by Francine


In all honesty I can say this novel was a delightful surprise. Not so much a romance novel as that of a “Suspenseful Love Story” and it was pleasant respite from the ubiquitous angst-ridden young heroines and rakish alpha males that are extremely prevalent within the Regency romance genre as a whole. That is not to say this novel is devoid of anguish, for much soul-searching and need to heal past hurts prevail for the protagonists. But what would one expect with a wounded soldier back from the wars and his mind filled with the horror of it all, and a widow at a crisis point in her life where death seems more inviting than the living hell she is subjected to. The very fact Ella has been appallingly abused and imprisoned by means most foul, one is rooting for her from the moment she sets out to escape her vile captors. Her desperate plight in not only having to convince an old friend she is sane, he too has inner demons in need of quelling if he is to be of help to her.

Whilst compromises must be made along the way as pursuit of Ella persists with factions of mean intent, life for Alex is equally as perilous as that of Ella whilst others harbour long-term grudges. What is more Ella’s escape involves finding some means to evade highways and byways; hence the route chosen draws the reader into a very different way of life, but needs must for a man of good breeding and the social whirl of the ton intrudes momentarily. With that momentary intrusion a stroke of royal luck sets Alex ill at ease, for gifts and titles are not always as one might expect. Thus reawakening desires and long-held misconceptions are faced, whilst evil doings set precedence for fear and heighten nightmare scenarios. But love does find a way through the mire and fog of lost years and imagined betrayals, which makes this novel a thoroughly engrossing, pleasurable and highly recommended read for lovers of depth driven love stories. Well written, concise in detail, Ms Knight’s characters are fully-fleshed and I have a notion I will remember them and this novel for quite a good while.  

Amazon UK       Amazon US

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Hilarious Regency.



Reviewed by Francine


Hilarity abounds in this sweet tale of love and romance, in which Charlotte and Elizabeth Richmond are elated by the good fortune of both having acquired a beau. Likewise Thomas and Robert, the best of friends, are utterly smitten by the young sisters, and all seems bright and beautiful and the path ahead strewn with love and romance. But a few sage, or could it be embittered words, from an aged aunt, and the girls are cast into uncertainty and fears of male infidelity. Equally, young Thomas and Richard receive sage, or could it be mischievous advice, thus all the young lovers are cast into a pickle reminiscent of French Farce, and despite the simplicity and predictability of this little tale, it’s a giggle read from start to finish! 

This isn’t a novella that strikes one as period specific, but that really doesn’t matter all that much because it is a parody of historical romance, and the “errors” aspect is classic farce. Besides, if one stops to think seriously about Jane Austen’s novels, what was Elizabeth Bennet but a caricature of fickle female? And Emma too, a blind romancing matchmaker who couldn’t see love staring her in the face!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Romantic Regency Murder Mystery



Reviewed by Francine. 


A murder, a mystery, and a dashing Bow Street Runner; a reunion between estranged once youthful lovers is inevitable. Thus a thrilling series of romantic ideals and bitter recriminations arise from the sudden and unexpected death of Lady Scarlett Sherwood’s husband. She naturally assumes her former female guile and the winning of Owen Steel’s heart cannot possibly have waned, and Owen Steel is equally determined he will not fall foul of Scarlett’s charms for a second time. Hence a war of conflict arises as dire events unfold and the plot thickens.

Well aware of his place in society, that hard lesson learned in prior mad pursuit of Scarlett, Owen now wields power of a kind that can and may cost her dear and result in her ladyship either hanging from a gibbet, or the indignity of transportation to a far distant colony. Indeed Owen as good as revels in the prospect of embittered revenge, and Scarlett, although in more peril than she seems cognisant to, the pair are consumed with thoughts revolving around hedonistic romance and breathless moments of a time past, whilst brief momentary encounters cause racing pulses and throbbing groins. Needless to say, detection of the murderous villain slips to the shadows amidst the carnage of broken hearts, the healing of friendships with other characters, and the re-blossoming of romance. With a Will They, Won’t They plot (?) we are giving an intriguing romantic thread throughout, and the twist in the tale adds for a shock finale! A good read!

Jillian rates this in terms of heat level: Sensuality - Warm/bordering on hot.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Welcome Back!


Welcome back to the old Review Blog, and we are GO!



Hi, I'm Francine, I did in the early days help this blog to get underway by offering one of the first books for review, but that was several years back when Suzy first established RRM. I also contributed as a guest book reviewer, then I became an in-house reviewer for a while, and stepped up as admin during a personal crisis moment for Suzy, I then stepped away again when Suzy returned.  Over the years, the blog has had several different admins in charge but this time the blog has been handed over lock-stock and barrel to my hands. It will either fly or perch on a virtual branch somewhere along the Super Highway and wile away time forever.  

So please support the blog as best you can by providing books for review and by offering to become a reviewer, or just join the blog and post reviews of fellow authors books! Each reviewer will have a direct link to their own blogs inserted in the side column! 

The Blog is now Associated with the 
Regency Authors and Readers FaceBook Group  and other historical groups.  


I will say this, hurtful and disparaging reviews will not be tolerated on this blog - if a book hasn't met with reader expectations it is best to say nowt, else it reflects badly on the reviewer. 

Of course there are always elements within books that can make some readers cringe, i.e. extreme violence, explicit sex etc., and when that happens a mild warning for others is sufficient, such as, "there are violent episodes" --- "There are explicit sex scenes" but that is all that need be said. And let's be honest caveat emptor applies here, because readers are responsible for selecting the books they choose to read, and categorisations such as Steamy, Erotic, Military, Murder Mystery are pretty much self-explanatory in terms of content, are they not?   

Some readers go ape-shit when they encounter typos or a few grammatical blips within a Indie novel, and thence review a mainstream conventionally published novel that is riddled with the aforementioned and not a word of complaint!  This is where double-standards and book snobbery enters play. 

The most important aspect about writing reviews is to remember it's just your opinion and a reflection of you as a person - true insight to your nature!  

Friday, 17 February 2017

A Re-telling of Beauty & The Beast.



Reviewed by Fran.


Stepping into the realm of fantasy fairy tales one never knows what is lying in wait, more especially when beloved fairy tales are re-vamped, literally with a vampire theme, or the fairy tale steps to the dark side of circumstance, disaster, and desire for something that eludes the dreamer: let alone the reality of isolation and loneliness of a reclusive lifestyle. The latter is where Rachel Demeter has picked up and run with the tale, Beauty & The Beast. Thus Prince Adam Delacroix, presents a more human side to his role as the beast, and one can almost hear the haunting threads of the theme song Phantom of the Opera echoing through the part ruined castle. Embittered, and no mirrors to reflect his appearance Delacroix exists in the dark shadows of his scarred memories and the world outside is a place where he will not tread, for to all intents and purposes he’s a dead man. Any visitors to the once palatial castle are afforded sharp shrift, nothing more, until one persistent visitor desperate and in need of shelter for herself and her father fuels Delacroix’s beastly side, which is his shield to protect him from his own and others’ emotions. Where the original tale portrayed the moral of kindness to others and brings with it warmth and understanding, this version edges much darker initially and I’ll say no more, else it will spoil the story.

Modern day readers will undoubtedly equate Delacroix’s problems in terms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and rightly so, but in the past historical wise and within the fantasy realm of his existence he is looked upon as a freak show and mad eccentric, even by his most trusted friend-cum-servant. And therein doth lay another element to this story, for even the most loyal of servants can be tempted to the dark side! This is a beautifully descriptive work in which the reader is drawn into Delacroix’s dark world, and despite his harsh side one cannot but sympathise with his inner despair. Isobel, likewise traumatised by events that have led her to seek sanctuary at Delacroix’s castle, is running from a fate she regards as worse than death. And beware, for there are explicit sexual encounters that may be distressing to people who are averse to notions of cruel intent, but the anti hero is a cruel sexual predator and he is the chilling aspect of this book prior to the dawn of romance, and one man’s longing for sense of normality. This is a heart-rending story that will leave a lasting impression upon its readers.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Sweet Regency,



Reviewed by Fran.


It’s 1818 post-Waterloo, and Ivonne Wimpleton is not in the least enamoured by a would-be suitor, thus the scene is set for conflict, and dreadful anguish for her part. Whilst living in fear of compromise against her will it seems inevitable, Ivonne despairs her fate, despairs the logic of her parents and others for inviting a specific dastardly fellow to social gatherings. Likewise others feel obliged to attend, and amidst their number is one such as she, who cannot bear his heart on his sleeve as he might have if circumstances were different. With the fates seemingly stacked against both, can one moment of honest confession aide each other in finding the happiness they wish could be theirs? And of course, the path to true love is often plagued with inner walls to scale and burning hoops to leap through, and no guarantee of success even when Lady Fate smiles and bestows the wherewithal to set things right for a loved one. This is a delightful sweet tale of romance in the face of all the odds of Sod’s Law stacked against a happy outcome.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

A Sweet Regency.




Reviewed by Charlotte



The book’s premise-

After a disappointing season in London, Sophie Davenport returns home without a marriage proposal. No sooner does she settle back into her country life than she learns her uncle has arranged for her to marry the local vicar’s son, a respectable and utterly forgettable man. He’s returning home immediately after the Christmas holiday and they will wed. She sets about making this last Christmas with just she and her mother memorable.

Jeremy Wyatt hatches a plan to help his friend Thomas and his love, Emma, escape to Gretna Green and marry before her father comes after them. What he’s really doing is avoiding heading to his parents’ home, where he is the son who is always making the wrong choices. But their carriage becomes hopelessly mired in the mud from the incessant rains so Jeremy sets off to find shelter for them at the first house he comes to.

Sophie welcomes the wet and weary travelers, and her mother agrees to house them temporarily until they can free the carriage. Sophie forms a bond not only with Emma, but with Jeremy. However despite the sparks they ignite in each other, they have to maintain their separate paths.

But love and mistletoe have a way of upsetting even the best-laid plans.

*****


My Review-

It was interesting to learn from Ms Lower’s profile at Amazon she has written a series of novels with American settings and themes, and how Regency Yuletide is her first English Regency romance. 

What I liked best about this sweet novella was the way the author threw London’s seasoned soirées out of the carriage window. Instead a bleak Cumbrian landscape is where the heroine’s story opens the door on her life. It was a nice change to meet a heroine who cringed in expectation of a forced second season of attendance at soirees in the City of London. And thank goodness Ms Lower avoided a popular and ludicrous plot of young suitors on wild chargers in Hyde Park in pursuit of rebellious heroines. Wise move Ms Lower to steer away from that old trope, and her version of an elopement plot has a refreshing twist to it as well. Poor Sophie is a country girl at heart, and destined as wife to the local vicar’s son. I say poor Sophie because I was rooting for excitement to explode into her life. And Sophie’s dismal prospects then turn for the better when a young man rocks up on her doorstep asking for help. Enter the hero Jeremy who has two companions stranded in a coach and its bogged down in mud and snow. Better still it’s Christmas and with a runaway couple heading for Gretna Green a cottage in the middle of nowhere is suddenly a godsend. And within a short while and seasonal charity Sophie’s little haven of tranquillity becomes a hotbed of lusty dreams, joyous cheer, and budding romance. Oh what a lovely time is had by all. But all good things must come to an end and it does. Poor Sophie is left pondering what if? And after a little heartache and soul searching that what if comes full circle and Sophie has her happy ending. I did like this story very much. It’s simple. It’s sweet. It’s a charming yuletide tale. Well done Ms Lower. Cumbria is a bleak place.






Sunday, 22 January 2017

A Georgian/Regency Romance




Reviewed by Francine:

This is a well-researched novel spanning the years 1803-1814-1815, thus it begins two years previous to the Battle of Trafalgar, and ending in the year the Napoleonic Wars finally draw to a close with the Battle of Waterloo.

Whilst this novel is a rather poignant tale of tragic loss, of hope, and that of a devastating truth, which in itself reveals the secret life of the heroine’s husband, there is more, so much more. For despite the heroine’s self-esteem is shattered in the face of shocking revelations, the courageous fortitude Olivia (heroine) portrays perfectly falls under the title The Murmur of Masks, as does a moment in time that awakens and arouses a sensual side Olivia has never known.

Whilst the novel remains true to the social mores and overt formal etiquette for widows during this period, Olivia nonetheless discovers essence of love, quite unexpectedly, and sadly cannot truly embrace it. Not only is there element of doubt it is true love, she has obligations besides that of herself to consider, thus one reckless indulgence, though memorable, remains but a treasured secret. The hero, likewise, has had to face disappointments along life’s path, until the day he is deemed fit enough to purchase a commission in the army, but Napoleon’s escape from Elba sets precedence for his putting a brave foot forward, commission or no commission. Here the more gritty elements of war surface, thus touching letters betwixt Olivia and Luke Fitzmaurice keep Olivia and the reader abreast of events as they unfold in the hours prior to the great battle. After the event the trauma of it all has taken its toll, and of course there is a Happy Ever After. 

Throughout this novel the author seamlessly weaves historical facts into the tapestry of Olivia and Luke’s individual stories, by using history as a natural backdrop to the lives of her characters instead of displaying personal research as narrative infill. A lovely, lovely story. 

Amazon

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Latest Regency Review





Reviewed by Nigella.

To Tempt a Viscount by Naomi Broom

The book blurb -

Lady Laura Rosing knows two things: first, she will marry for love, and second, she detests rakes. When she meets Lord Gavin Farris, she understands immediately that he fails both her criteria, and worse yet, he is an absolute cad who refuses to leave her be.

Lord Farris has always appreciated women and cannot understand why Lady Laura is so resistant to his charms. While pretty, she is not his usual type, but something about her intrigues him. Much to his chagrin, he finds himself desperately in love with her, but he may be too late. His adamant refusal to marry just might have planted her firmly in the arms of another.

###

Nigella’s Review –

When debut historical novels come my way I expect to encounter the occasional gaffe and allowances have to be made for new and aspiring authors of historical romances. It is a given periods of history require a tedious amount of research, and onus lies very much in the hands of the author to provide a time setting. Sadly nothing inside this book relates to the Regency era and what is more, a heroine of supposed good breeding daring to spout ‘bloody hell’ not once, but several times simply does the author no favours.

Quote: Just then the carriage hit a bump, and Laura could not help the words that issued forth. “Bloody hell.” Covering her mouth, she grimaced. She was not supposed to know such words, but she liked to read, and certain things were unavoidable in the good books.

Here is where the reader begins to ponder precisely in which era the heroine Laura, is cavorting. A good book [novel] for a young lady during the Regency era would be genteel prose, ie; Jane Austen and Ann Radcliffe were contemporary novelists of Laura’s time. In addition to the heroine’s young years, torches beneath the bed covers for reading crude books were not available in the Regency era. Laura would for a greater part of her reading time be in full view of other members of her family. It is also abundantly clear she has an aunt for a chaperone. Would that aunt condone the reading of unsuitable novels? Another thing that struck me as odd was the lack of richly embellished Regency settings. This novel has no time scale, nothing to reflect this particular period in history. 



Setting to one side qualms as stated above the story itself is a sweet romance, and to a great extent, a farcical comic romp. Conflict between the hero and heroine is the overriding theme from start to finish involving misunderstandings and peevishly annoying incidents. Laura is constantly at odds with Farris and Laura’s irrational behaviour and Farris’s dull-wittedness strays to realms of romantic insanity. However the fact they will fall in love is a certainty. There are touchingly romantic scenes in which Farris shines through as a hero should, and every single time Laura resorts to slightly ridiculous reasons to be rude and unladylike. Laura is plain rude and unlikeable at the start and while it is hoped she will moderate her rudeness, warming to Laura as a historical heroine is not easy. She fails utterly as the epitome of a lady of good birth, a young lady with an additional rebel persona who would endear a reader to her side. I really did not like Laura at all. There are a good many characters who hang out with Laura, Some are more interesting than others. Some I felt needed a little more fleshing. They lacked sparkle and personality, and whether the author intended for her heroine to appear as a modern miss lacking in affability and therefore appeal to a YA readership is impossible to tell. I think readers who prefer uncomplicated plots and extreme conflict will go a bundle on this novel.


Amazon