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.