Monday, 15 October 2018

Regency Novel

Reviewed by Francine.

A delightful story of a wilful young lady addicted to late night forays abroad, and when caught in the act, telling fibs simply will not do. Her disguise is insufficient to convince a lordly spy (extraordinaire) that she’s indeed aware of the danger she so readily embraces with air of confidence. With no thought to the dangers of masquerading in a world where men are men and brutality is part of the nightly entertainment, the Earl of Tisbury determines the dark underworld is no place for Lady Lydia Radcliffe. What is more, unrequited love can cost a man dear if he’s of mind to protect the woman he loves. Despite a past misdemeanour that set them at odds and no seeming way out of that former pickle, Lydia’s resistance to any notion of romance in the air is but an aphrodisiac to the earl. He’s most definitely a man of equal determination to win his heart’s desire no matter the cost to his sanity, but dare he endanger her life with a declaration of true love? Danger is always close at hand for him too, as shadows in the dark merge with life all around him and the enemy is closer than first realised. Here I will stop and say no more, and leave you a potential reader to enjoy a thoroughly well-researched novel. Enjoy! 

Friday, 21 September 2018

English Civil War Novel

Reviewed by Francine:

For too long this book has been sitting in my TBR file, and finally I’ve read it. Thus, fully expecting a damn good read, Ms Riley has most definitely thrust her historical punches on the research front. From page one Justin Ambrose brings to the fore the atmosphere surrounding Banbury Castle, not least the town, and its underlying Puritan leanings. Whilst he and his men suffer the consequences of soldiers as good as under siege and not daring to slacken their guard within the castle walls, there are moments of respite and of course trading for wares to be enacted. But not all the townsfolk are as willing to oblige those looked upon as the enemy, and the streets can be a dangerous place for the unwary. What is more, when cavaliers patronise specific establishments and female eyes stray from the dour countenance of their brethren to dashing young blades, scorn and abhorrence soon gives rise to contention of a differing nature to that of mere allegiance to opposing forces. Personal grievance can lead to vendettas, and when budding romance crosses the boundary of social acceptance retribution brings inevitable heartache and fear of worse to come. Hence Banbury Castle becomes a refuge for more than those who have sworn to hold it against all the odds set against them until relief arrives, if ever that can be. Therefore, A Splendid Defiance is true to its title, enhanced by historical fact and peppered with touches of fiction to stir emotions as only love and romance can alongside swashbuckling military feats of endurance. A thoroughly enjoyable novel.        

Friday, 22 June 2018

Regency Romance

Reviewed by Francine:

When a book has been read and put aside with sense of contentment, which one derives from a good book, and a month later one can remember the characters and the name of a schooner as vividly as when reading the story, then the author has achieved his or her aim. As with straight historical fiction, onus lies with authors of Historical Romance to likewise depict a chosen historical period with sense of historical knowledge, not merely place characters in a historical setting and assume readers will truly feel transported to the past. Thus, I can commend and recommend this novel as a thoroughly entertaining and compulsive read. Not only are the characters fully-fleshed, their quirks, and inner anxieties add to the tensions of traversing dangerous waters in which Barbary pirates abound, For Kit Hardacre, captain of the Calliope, the past could so easily repeat itself, he fears it, he knows the pain and humiliation of becoming a Captive of the Corsairs, and he has the responsibility of two genteel women passengers to protect and deliver safe to foreign shores. To reveal more of this action adventure would be to spoil it for future readers, suffice to say, from the shores of England to the shores of Sicily, the rigours of seamanship, sense of revenge, and romantic notions, test the resolve of both Kit and Sophia Greene as each battle inner emotions en route. Whilst for Kit, the consequences of recognisable sails on the horizon indeed spell imminent disaster and a fate worse than death for all. A thrill-packed read!  

Reviewer asides: This novel is set at a time when the American navy having previously engaged in war with the Barbary Pirates from 1801-1805 and again later in a second war, but it didn’t deter or prevent the pirates continuing with heinous crimes. Hence, by 1815 a concerted effort between the British and Dutch navies with assaults on the North African coast, and raids on other ports around the Mediterranean Sea, by the close of 1816 the Barbary pirates were brought to book, crushed, and suffered a slow and gruesome death in the Port of Bristol. Subsequently, 4,000 + Christian slaves were rescued and repatriated to homelands.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Lorna Doone - a classic love story!

A Highly Recommended Read for lovers of English Historical Romances - Fictional Love Stories)  

Review of much loved childhood owned novel. 

Reviewed by Francine:

Lorna Doone, is for me, a step back in time to my home county, a place I love and a place I often feature within my own novels. Although Richard D. Blackmore has written this novel in first-person narrative, thus depicting the defined sentiments of the gentle giant John Ridd, he manages to convey others' perspectives via dialogue. Great sense of time and place is derived from his descriptions, and the rich local dialect, which is very much on a par with Thomas Hardy novels. Set during the time of the Rye House Plot, Charles II's death, and the Monmouth Rebellion, Blackmore sets the scene for a period in history that was indeed peppered with rogues and vagabonds in the cities and that of highwaymen and livestock rustlers in the rural districts, Hence the Doone's are the baddies, and Doone country is safe for no man. Add a love tryst betwixt John Ridd and Lorna Doone, and the complication of a jealous suitor (Carver Doone), thus love, loss and revenge is the key to suspense and intrigue. Blackmore delivers on all counts through John Ridd's latter day verbal journal of events; as they unfolded in earlier times.

Lorna Doone is a masterful stroke of fictional genius allied with local legend and factual events. Having read this novel at a young age, sadly, somewhere along life's path I lost the book. For years I kept promising myself I would purchase another copy of Lorna Doone, but I couldn't find an early illustrated edition so I downloaded an e-book version at Amazon. I have since acquired an early illustrated copy which I shall now treasure.

Reviewer asides: There are many people who struggle with works of great literary merit, not least, convoluted sentence structure the like of Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy et al. I don't mean the former as slight, but when readers are familiar with modern mass market fiction text, and are suddenly confronted with recommended reads in original text format, such can be quite a shock and often referred to as boring and long-winded passages. But there are revised modern editions available for readers who prefer a more modern approach.  This version is the original. 

   Amazon UK

Due to requests!

Due to requests from readers as well as authors, the review blog will be reinstated, but it may not be as prolific review wise as it was beforehand. In fact I've been trawling my archives of past stashed reviews, which I happened upon by accident whilst in search of another file. Many of the listed reviews were lost from this blog when it was closed for a short while after a major blog hack, the backed up text files were on a pen stick and it has since come to light of day from the back of a desk drawer. The only problem I don't have the names of the reviewers, but reviews are reviews and I'll post them from top to bottom as and when I can find the time. 

Either way, I thought it would afford some older books a new lease of life with a little exposure.    

Friday, 27 April 2018

Highly Recommended Update.

An update post  to include reviews of two books within this series. 
Nigella reviewed the first in the series more than a year ago. 

We did this as a dedication to Francine who kept this blog going when no one else could. She was excellent in setting things right when we got things wrong and messed up links or missed out some things that were important. We're working behind the scenes to see if we can get her to keep it online and connected to the Facebook group. 
Fingers crossed!     

OMG On Nigella's recommendation I'm partway through the paperback which has some fab illustrations.        

For Love of Captain Jack

Reviewed by Nigella (a maritime historian)

For Love of Captain Jack bears all the hallmarks of Thomas Hardy’s fabulously rich dialogue and prose that has for two centuries enthralled readers of English countryside fiction.  And here we have historical dialogue commensurate with counties surrounding Dorset and vital for nuance of the Regency. I remember when ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ was obligatory reading for school children. I remember groaning as did chums of mine but the characters were so lifelike and vibrant they remained unforgettable as have the characters in ‘Tess of the d'urbervilles’.  Astoundingly Ms Howarth has captured that very same Wessex language Jane Austen and Hardy would recognise as theirs. What struck me most is the women folk in this novel enchant the reader with witty quips and outlandish gossip that is so reminiscent of the Pride & Prejudice Bennett clan. Where Mr Darcy was the cause of uproar in Ms Austen's tome,  it is the report of a murder most foul that strikes a blow to the peaceful and idyllic lives of Ms Howarth's gossips who soon turn to speculation and ponder as one might expect from a good old whodunit? Murders farther afield add to the mix for a thoroughly engrossing murder mystery.  More to the point the local naval hero becomes suspect number one as dark elements come to light in the neighbourhood of Port Seaton. The novel's hero is a lifelike naval officer of the Regency era and so long as the villain proves impossible to pinpoint any hope of Jack Trevellian's reprieve dwindles. This a grand whodunit with red herrings  and miniscule clues that may or may not unveil the murderer.  The eventual uncloaking of the villain is totally unexpected and had me on the edge of my seat fearing another death would prevent the coming of a happy ever after. Fear not, there is a happy ending and this is a rollicking good murder mystery with a deeply engrossing romance. 

Ahoy there. This is a most important update to my review of Captain Jack. I agree it is rather odd to review novels out of sequence and one can in all honesty blame the author in this instance for writing three books back to front and publishing book 1 and 2 long after the first which is last. If you're confused by now, so be it. All will become clear. 

In consequence the words which best describe The Admiral's Prize (book 1) is 'heart-touching' romance set in a period of history when France experienced the first tremors of revolt within the pastoral idyll of grand Châteaux of the French Countryside. As per, Ms Howarth tugs at heartstrings with tragedy setting a scene of trauma and loss and mystery. The mystery to this story lies in the recent past and here begins a familiar thread of a heroine's future plotted by paternal guidance and that of an interfering and manipulative aunt. If that opening sounds familiar, as do tropes of French heroine's settling to a new life in England, there is nothing familiar to this unique plot. It is utterly devoid of all the usual French Revolution plots which in general involve spies and counter spies aka copy-cat Scarlet Pimpernel's or the gallant Sydney Carton from a Tale of Two Cities. Ms Howarth goes one better than stealing a well-tried plot, she is stepping back from Captain Jack's adulthood to before he was born. This story is therefore a prequel of events unfolding when the young countess is at her most vulnerable. Genuine affection is lacking within her household with exception of a young French coachman who is remarkably understanding of the heroine's plight, and for good reason and throughout he is her most trusted ally. The young admiral hero risks a great deal too when he falls in love with the French countess. Their unexpected encounter and the love affair as it unfolds with touching moments is a pure joy to read. And here I will move to the second book in the trio to avoid spoilers.

The Admiral's Sin is another telling title which depicts the life of a naval officer whose life is not his own to command. In the meanwhile the countess faces the awful truth that one day he will sail away to foreign shores, and there also remains the continued threat of a father in search of his runaway daughter. The search is led by her former betrothed and reaches a traumatic climax in which the French coachman's true past comes to light. The countess's reunion with her father is a poignant moment too, and with the admiral away the countess bestows great affections upon her son and the Devon house she calls home. Her newly acquired best friend plays a key role in her life, and with a joyous homecoming of the admiral life has moved on almost two years. It is a new beginning for all and while the admiral sets out to bridge divides with an old adversary, he unknowingly sets in motion events that end in tragedy for him and the countess. Forced to bear the blame for what occurs the pain of it results in a duel and his life will never be complete until the day he brings his wife home to Devon.  I can excuse the end of this story Ms Howarth, based on the reality all three stories are part of a whole befitting a family saga steeped in mystery, jealousy, and dreadful betrayal. However, I feel duty bound to warn readers a handkerchief may be required if like me a sentimental ending can cause tears. Add to that the supporting cast of characters from all three books are as one would expect of a Ms Howarth novel or novella. Each and every one has unique personalities and all making a whole.  I did read the ebooks first and decided I would have the paperback as a 'keeper' which has all three stories in one cover.        

Reviewer notes:

Ms Howarth has a 'literary' style and English cadence that may take a little getting used to. Her writing is not unlike Georgette Heyer's crisp narrative and dialogue. And if you haven’t read a Thomas Hardy novel give him a go. You won't regret it.    

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Georgian Era Western.

Reviewed by Josanna

Book Blurb:

She was forced into exile. He chose his. Acadian exile Elizabeth Marie Johns refuses to return to Baltimore Town. Not only are the Acadians not wanted, but her own people have turned against her. All alone, she sets out to find her father on the northern border. But when frontiersman Thomas McQueen finds her, he proposes a different plan. Can Elizabeth trust him? Or in the end will he, too, betray her? Thomas McQueen has plans. Deadly Ones. While it is too late to save his life, he can still save his family from fates worse than death. But an encounter with the Acadian lass on his way home causes him to wish for another fate. Is it too late to become a different man? The French and British fight for control of a wilderness empire. But trust is scarce and hate plentiful, and when Thomas’ past explodes into Elizabeth’s future, she is forced to face her worst fear. Will Elizabeth forgive him for the man he was? Or will the mistakes of his past require the ultimate sacrifice?


Friendship sometimes grows from the most unlikely sources. Such is true for Elizabeth Marie Johns, an Acadian exile and Thomas McQueen, a Scottish warrior and woodsman with a dark past. Set in the 1750’s, Elizabeth and Thomas stumble across each other when Thomas returns to his family farm. His family had fled their home, and a French Acadian exile had sought refuge there in hopes of fleeing religious persecution. Thomas needs her healing talents, and Elizabeth needs Thomas’ protection. The trouble is, neither trusts the other. Yet, their circumstances forces them to do so.

This is a fascinating story about friendship, loyalty, and betrayal. The author provides a masterful insight into this early history of the Maryland backcountry. This is a wonderful story. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good historical romance.  

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Time-Crossed as opposed to Time-Travel

Reviewed by Francine

Book's Blurb:

Struggling with guilt over her sister's death and the stress of her medical residency, Maya Radelis runs away to Scotland. A robin seems to lead her to an antique shop, where she finds a century-old engagement ring. But what is the ring’s history? She follows the slim paper trail, wondering if it is only coincidence that her dreams reveal the story of a Swiss woman physician who wore the ring during World War I.

In Paris she meets fellow New Yorker David Fischer, a lawyer with family in Switzerland as well as America. He helps Maya follow the memories stored in the ring as they lead her around Europe. The attraction between David and Maya grows, and when they discover a connection between the ring and David’s family, they learn, bit by bit, more about the ring’s earlier owner. Will Maya’s own life have the same tragedy of lost love?


There's little to be said in terms of the plot, for the back cover blurb provides a summary of the whole. What I will say, however; this debut novel by Ms Milkasen affords the reader a delightful and unusual take on the crossing of time. Thus an antique shop, a ring, and a robin, yes, that little red-breast darling who appears on Christmas cards in the northern hemisphere, leads Maya to explore elements from the past. Curiosity is one thing, need to know another, and as the past intertwines with the future the two begin to merge in the strangest of serendipitous events. 

Whilst many time-slip novels often defy belief even in the fictional sense, the two things which cross time seem so plausible one can truly believe in predestined fate. Therefore the title of this novel is not only apt, it is a key to the lock that opens the window on true love that never died. And so the reader crosses time through the heroine as she in turn struggles with grief and a future that appears from the outset, somewhat bleak. But the thing with serendipity, it can surprise one when least expected! This is a lovely novel for anyone who loves "chance encounter" stories.    


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Regency JAFF

Reviewed by Nigella

Back Cover Blurb

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling Regency tale, wherein the elegance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange. 

Nigella's Review

Teaching Eliza is simply the re-telling of Pride & Prejudice and the incongruous amalgamation of Pygmalion, probably better known as My Fair Lady? Meticulously following through on Jane Austen’s readymade characters, the author awards Fitzwilliam Darcy with a professorship in sociolinguistics. For that reason, when Darcy morphed into Professor Higgins of My Fair Lady fame, it took some swallowing, but there ‘tis. In like to Professor Higgins who instructed Eliza Doolittle in the art of elegance and voice to assume a socially acceptable persona, from there on the author alleges Lizzie’s Hertfordshire accent is inferior to Darcy’s North Country seeding, and if that be the case, it can be said, plum to mouth training never justly disguises the orator’s original roots. Beyond any shadow of doubt the author impresses the reader with a literate rendition of Jane Austen’s much beloved P&P characters. Additionally excellence of a thesaurus redeems and lifts common realm words to elevated literary standards, while in itself the novel remains an appropriation of characters and plots from others former endeavours. How did I feel on reaching the end? Sadly Indifferent! 

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Georgian Romance

Reviewed by Francine.

Book Blurb:

England, 1799
Major Matthew Southam returns from India, hoping to put the trauma of war behind him and forget his past. Instead, he finds a derelict estate and a family who wish he'd died abroad. Charlotte MacKinnon married without love to avoid her father’s unpleasant choice of husband. Now a widow with a young son, she lives in a small Cotswold village with only the money she earns by her writing. Matthew is haunted by his past, and Charlotte is fearful of her father’s renewed meddling in her future. After a disastrous first meeting, can they help each other find happiness at last?


The gentle romanticism of this love story is as much to do with a house and its landed estate, as it is to do with a friendship that develops between Major Mathew Southam, and Charlotte McKinnon. Each has a story to tell, and their existence within the locality of Edgecombe unfolds in a delightful and charming way. Although the reader expects from the outcome their paths will cross and have a happy ever after; it is the way in which they encounter one another, and the way in which they conduct themselves throughout that ultimately brings alive the charm of the rural way of life. 

Aside from the complexities of men returning from war situations, the major’s past appears by far more complex than that of Charlotte’s, but she too bears an ongoing dilemma that must be addressed. Thus, as they, and others, (wonderfully depicted characters) gradually adjust to changes in personal circumstances, poignant moments of reflection, harrowing nightmares, family betrayal, and envy, make this novel a compelling and at times, a heart-rending read. It’s a lovely, lovely love story in which others find happiness, or sense of contentment and belonging! As the title states, there are two Mrs McKinnons, but although Mary's story runs parallel with Charlotte's it is a love story within a love story, so two for the price of one.  


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Georgian Romance - French Revolution.

Reviewed by Francine.

Book Back-cover Blurb:

From elegant London ballrooms to the dungeons of Paris…

It is 1792 and Viscount Beaumont has buried himself in the country since his wife died. But now his daughter, Henrietta, has come of age and he must squire her in her London Season. Henrietta, a headstrong young woman quickly chooses the man she wishes to marry, reluctant British spy, Christian Hartley.

Verity Garnier is an actress whose father has been thrown into 
a French dungeon. To free him she must deliver Anthony Beaumont to his enemies. She travels to London to seduce Beaumont into following her to France. She doesn’t plan on falling in love.

When Beaumont goes on his own to France to save his brother-in-law from the guillotine, Verity follows him, reluctantly taking along his daughter, Henrietta, who refuses to be left behind.

After soldiers of the Revolution capture Beaumont and his brother-in-law, Verity, and Henrietta must find a way to save them. Christian joins them.

Will everyone find a safe way home, or will they face the guillotine?


Maggi Andersen does it again with a riveting story of spies and counter spies, villainous men of power, and Jacobins. The novel is set during the French Revolution (1792), and Verity Garnier, poor lass, finds herself destitute post-arrest of her father. To obtain news of his whereabouts she attempts to garner knowledge from a man whose interests in her are far from principled, thus danger lurks in his quarters and he is a man best not crossed. But a mission set forth by a far more powerful individual in exchange for her father’s release, she accepts the challenge and willingly takes ship for English shores. There in England her theatrical training is the perfect guise to lure a man back to France, or better still, assassinate him. But when love and romance is balanced against the imminent rescue of her father from the guillotine, which man will win the day, an English lord of whom she has fallen in love with, or a man of evil intentions? A thoroughly thrilling read! 

Friday, 16 February 2018

Regency Time Travel Romance

Reviewed by Geri.

The novel’s premise:
...a reverse Kate and Leopold...a light-hearted time travel romance where a bewildered modern-day duke ends up in Regency England and meets the girl of his dreams...     
Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor--the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.
Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo--only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.
Jared is in a race against time. He must waylay the suspicions of his quirky servants and neighbors, get to Wellington before the French spies do, fix his fountain--before Seven shows up--so Jared has a way home, and definitely not fall in love with the irresistible Lady Ariana.

Geri’s review:
After reading a rip-roaring Regency time travel romance a few years ago I graduated to Outlander and then returned to my favourite historical period because I do love Regency romance novels best of all. This one the Duke du Jour lived up to expectations almost throughout its entire plot.
The start of this novel is in the modern day and the Duke of Reston is livid when news his fiancĂ© is a gold-digging bitch is brought to his attention. She was cheating on him as well, and so furious is he, he throws a major wobbly and so angry is he at her feeble explanation he takes a hike and one slip into a fountain and he ends up wet and finds himself back in 1816. I felt sorry for Jared who is a modern day man with gadgets at his fingertips, and the past life Jared falls into is a nightmare of telling lies to people who are convinced he is another duke returned from the dead. Of course that’s not the half of it because for one thing he’s the wrong Duke of Reston, and then there’s a Lady Ariana who loved the 7th duke who was horrible to her. Instead Jared is shockingly nice to Ariana and she’s confused by it all. There is a sad part to this novel with the dreadful fact Ariana is 200 years in the past and Jared dare not fall in love with her. If that wasn’t bad enough the missing 7th duke lands Jared in trouble when French spies and assassins scare the pants of Jared. A flint-lock pistol is nothing like a Glock, and when Ariana’s life is at risk he turns into a Regency hero and falls in love with the heroine. Crumbs I thought, because if the 7th duke is dead and Jared stays in 1816 he dare not father the 8th duke and alter the line of descendants to his own titled position. From there onward I turned the pages at lightning speed to see how the author would extract Jared’s sticky boots out of his 1816 situation. The actual wind up ending took a bit of swallowing, because although I read it three times I couldn’t see how the 13th duke could become the 7th duke. That part of it defied logic of family genealogy so I gave up trying to solve the outcome. The rest of the novel is a thrilling read and the author was spot on with historical titbits except for Napoleon Bonaparte, who wasn’t sent into exile on the Island of St Helena twice. His first defeat and capture ended with imprisoned on the Island of Elba. His second imprisonment was on St Helena. I expect a lot of readers won’t know or won’t care about that silly mistake. It is though as a result of bad research and a three star rating is my verdict for otherwise an exciting novel.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Historical Napoleonic Adventure Novel


Just occasionally a historical novel with a roguish hero cad can make it into our archives, and Archie Dexter has...  See more HR novels on the HR Page

Reviewed by Francine:

In the rough vein of G. MacDonald Frazer’s “Harry Flashman”, and Bernard Cornwell’s “Sharpe” — likewise N.J. Slater’s “Archie Dexter” has an eye for the ladies and is a bit of a cad in matters of the heart. As one of Admiral Lord Nelson’s staff officers, Archie’s former boyhood days whiled away in Alexandria serve purpose in locating old acquaintances. Therefore his mission seems less daunting, though not without hazards and pitfalls of trusting the wrong people. Thus, amidst thrilling deadly encounters, occasional lighted-hearted and licentious moments, Archie’s mission involves a great deal of spying, watching his back, and fathoming how to get out of a perilous situation. After a fair bit of bartering, an old friend comes to the rescue and Archie momentarily encounters seventh heaven until once again duty calls. In true heroic fashion, Archie becomes a king-pin attached to sheer luck and assists in Nelson’s success during the Battle of the Nile (Egypt).

Job done and dusted (so to speak), well not quite, because Archie and the reader are shipped back and forth across the Mediterranean basin on various missions of great importance, until finally he’s shipped home to England. Once there he becomes attached to the Aliens Office (forerunner to MI5 and MI6), and whilst home security is of prime importance, foreign agents of a military disposition are sought and placed under surveillance. After all, mysterious deaths are occurring within London and Archie is soon assigned to the case. With his personal delectations catered for en route from Egypt via Spanish bordellos, and with all the delights and mysterious characters within the grandeur of Georgian ballrooms, nothing is quite what it seems. Can Archie really survive to live another day with foreign murdering spies on the loose, and will he once again break hearts on his travels? Therein doth lay another story, methinks. Thus, An Agent to the King is an enjoyable and thrill-laden adventure novel.


Reviewed by Charlotte.
Book Blurb:
A Runaway Bride…
Bookish, brainy Lady Olympia Hightower should be elated she's marrying the ‘catch' of several London seasons. Her large, spendthrift family certainly is! And yet, Olympia finds herself sneaking out the chapel window, in a mad, attempt to escape her glorious future as a duchess.
A Duke in Pursuit…
Virtue was NEVER a virtue for Hugh Philemon Ancaster, 7th Duke of Ripley, but even he can see his duty as best man requires him to recapture the fleeing bride, and return her to the bridegroom. But with every one of Olympia’s clever turns, he’s finding it harder to give her up.
A Matchmakers Dream…
Surely something so temptingly wrong can’t be so deliciously right?!

My Review:
Awful, absolutely awful. Bought for my birthday I thought wonderful, at last I have a Loretta Chase novel. This much lauded author stunned me with dreadful prose. It was of a literary standard reminiscent of Enid Blyton's Famous Five novels for children, no less. Can't, wouldn't, shouldn't, the glorious English formal language of the old Georgian and Victorian age was lost in crass modernism.
A hackney carriage may as well have driven up and screeched to a halt in a cloud of burnt rubber. It's that modern in tone it has not an ounce of historical merit. Give me an English author with a decent literary standard of prose and I am in heaven. This novel. The worst read to date! The male lead characters are stereotypical drunken lordly louts of the modern-day-age and the Oxford Bollinger Club. There is no doubting men did fall out of their cups in times past. Charles Dickens portrays drunken louts with great authority to the era he was accustomed to in his day. Though it can be said, Dickens - unlike Ms Chase - points to the obvious that drunkenness and bad behaviour brought about banishment from gentlemen clubs, rapidly followed by lack of invitations to social gatherings. In other words drunken lords and dukes were labelled pariah in polite society.
In the polite course of social graces young ladies were discouraged from association with undesirables. Titled and untitled louts were treated with disdain, and probably the reason why the more undesirable elite males married actresses from the world of the theatre. Then there's the Lady Olympia Hightower, what a hoot name that is, and she's suffering cold feet about marrying a duke. There the contrived conflict arises. She doesn't love him. What a surprise. No more Ms Chase for me.
So thoroughly disappointed with the novel I've no compulsion to add a sales link. What is worse I read a lovely novel with very nearly the same plot a year ago. Something stinks about this novel's story line. Too familiar throughout. 

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A Regency.

Reviewed by Charlotte 

Book's Premise:
Captain Theobald Raynalds lost his leg at the Battle of Trafalgar and with it, his belief any woman could find a cripple like him unobjectionable enough to love.
Louisa Bennet finds Theo incredibly attractive—both as a man in his own right and as an alternative to the odious cousin her heartless father has arranged for her to marry.
First, however, she must convince the Captain her interest in him stems from the man he is, scars and all, and not on his being the lesser of evils...

My Review:

Reviewer at Romantic Times, Romance Reviews, and Romance Reviews Magazine UK.

Foremost and not least, The Captain of Her Fate came to my Kindle for an honest review. While I have no experience of previous books by this author I very much liked the author's credible expertise for her sharp, focused, plot driven narrative. The author drives the hero and the heroine on at a fast parallel course too, their inner desires and dreams hopelessly incompatible - as crossed my mind at first. Alas, inner pain, humiliations, and rejections of one sort or another hound their thoughts. All in all tension and desire builds nicely between them. But in getting ahead of the story, I must back-peddle to Louisa Bennet, who is seeking a way out of marriage to a hateful cousin.

Immediately on *news* of Captain Raynolds arrival in Derbyshire the poor man, is as a good as any man if Louisa can trap him to save her pretty neck. Nothing does she know of his circumstances and Louisa is not at all slow in offering herself up to the handsome captain, as she might have to any other man who leased Greystone Hall. The captain I thought was rather too nice for the likes of Louisa, and I can’t say I liked her all that much to begin with. However, my opinion of her improved as time went on, and to say more will spoil a story laced with unrequited love; imminent forced marriage; a good many shocking family secrets; family abduction; elopement to Gretna Green; and all sprinkled with a little coarse spicy language and hot sex in places.

Throughout this fast paced novel quotes and passages from Jane Austen’s tomes add delightful insights to the minds of fanciful misses who compared themselves and others with characters in romance novels. Though one notable incident seemed unlikely at best and I couldn’t envisage any ex naval officer retelling a case of near sodomy to his lady love. Add to that several research mishaps the author may want to revise. Footmen and gentlemen of the Regency didn’t wear 18th century Periwigs which impressed upon me the author is unfamiliar with Georgian England and the Regency era in particular. Perchance the mistakes were an oversight hence Tailcoats and Peruke wigs escaped her research notes.


Monday, 29 January 2018


Reviewed by Josanna Thompson (Guest Reviewer and Author)

Once upon a time there was a boy named Nathanial who beholden himself to a little girl, named Madeline. They adored each other and were inseparable during their childhood. Then they grew up. Nathanial became a knight; Madeline a noble lady. Bound by duty, they were forced apart, and yet their devotion to each other never waned.

This is a wonderful story about friendship, honor, and duty. I liked Nathanial’s and Madeline’s characters. I was pleasantly surprised that Madeline’s husband was a nice man who cherished his wife. I was also pleasantly surprised that the author made Madeline do her duty, in every sense of the word, even when it broke her heart to do so. In spite of all that happens during the story, it ends in the most satisfying way.

Thank you Josanna, for taking time out to write a review in support of another author. It's really appreciated all round. 

Sunday, 28 January 2018


Reviewed by Francine:

The Governess Next Door opens with a classic tale of a Byronic hero borne of natural charisma and through no fault of his, finds himself faced with the haunting memory of an indelicate moment with his esteemed lady cousin, to which long-lasting “what-ifs” occasionally prick his conscience. Later, having duly fled an unhappy existence in England, Raphael Brontes’ new life in France is not as desired though fulfilling in terms of his artistic talents. That is, until tragedy strikes and releases him from a less than romantic episode in his life. Shocked by a bequeathed inheritance he makes the best of his situation, until a young minx, as tempting as the salacious devouring of the first seasonal strawberry views him as a suitor. But Angelique reminds him of a beautiful rose with vicious barbs, whilst her genteel governess could so easily have stepped from the pages of Jane Eyre, if he were to judge Prudence Middleton on reticence alone. 

Like him, Prudence has a dark past too, and although enamoured by Raphael, she knows her place in the scheme of social standing, and duly battles against burgeoning desire despite his overt willingness to engage her in mind and discourse. Thus, as novels penned by the Bronte sisters’ add flavour to the romantic dialogue, the life of the full cast becomes deeply entwined, threaded through with fictional secrets, wicked deceits, theft, and more, and the author leaves one in no doubt she has delved into the history of the Bronte’ household and respective novels. This is a thoroughly enthralling and enjoyable read.