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 fiancé 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.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Charming Regency!

Reviewed by Francine

This sensual and touching novella begins with a soldier's gallant deed during the battle between British and French forces at the Château Hougoumont Farmhouse (1815). But memories remain a year and six months later (1816) and are as stark and real within nightmares as dreadful news received by Noel Redgrave hours before the French assault. Given to believe a normal life as others of his ilk are enjoying will never be realised, young maidens are displayed and trumpeted by others in hope of tempting him to enter the marriage mart. True, he has an inheritance in dire need of a boost in funds, so ideally a large dowry and at least a moderately attractive bride would solve his problems. Though no one expected, not least his best friend, the lady who would catch his eye is the least thought of as a suitable bride in temperament or otherwise.

Lettice is independent, a rebel at heart with an artistic bent and a wicked mischievous almost cruel streak which she has wielded in the past with consummate skill for no other purpose but to deter potential suitors. Suddenly besieged by a new irritable rash of suitors she puts into practise a new deceit to test Noel in determining whether he is genuinely drawn to her, or whether a substantive dowry is the greater attraction. For Noel it is a double dilemma, for on the one hand he will be looked upon as a cad if he dares to ask for her hand in marriage, on the other he may destroy the very thing he wants if he compromises her in the heat of the moment and casts caution to the wind. Hence, the dire situation that arises betwixt Noel and Lettice, cannot be resolved without absolute honesty and confession of hidden truths, so who will own to deceit first? A dilemma indeed and a thoroughly charming Regency romance!


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Christmas Regency Romance

Reviewed by Francine:

This is a charming sweet romance with a Seasonal Christmas feel to it in every sense of the word, seasonal, in which the heroine Holly Gray, and hero Will Berry, share in the delights and preparations for the decorating of a castle and near by church. The snow-laden landscape adds to the thrill and chill as guests engage with gathering all manner of greenery and thereby establish friendships. Thus, amidst glittering candelabras and sumptuous fare laid to dining tables, surreptitious glances are exchanged. As with most house parties; tales of old are spun and ghost stories imparted, but does a ghost really exist within the castle or did Holly imagine a close encounter? If she did, she ponders whether any one of the guests even those who display interest in her innocent charms can ever match the man of an ethereal moment in time. If it was one of the guests who dared in a moonlit conservatory: which one? Perhaps a mistletoe ball will satisfy her curiosity or leave her with a wondrous mystery. And of course, her mama is a dreadful social climber, so only the best suitor will do!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

General Historical Romance

Reviewed by Francine:

Life in a Harem and the practices defined as part of life within a Sultan’s palace is unacceptable and sexist for 21st century thinking. Thus the era in which Josanna Thomson’s novel is set, it is nonetheless a safer place than most for those sold into slavery, and a strict hierarchy exists and woe betide anyone who breaks the rules. Strange as it may seem, women within Harems of the Ottoman Empire stretching to the Barbary Coast, had more rights and power than most European women had within marriages, so sayeth the renowned English aristocrat Lady Mary Wortley-Montague, who stated in one of her 18th century letters: “The Turks govern their country and their wives govern them. In no other country do women enjoy themselves as much.

Be assured the author has researched her subject matter in depth, right down to names for individual items of clothing worn by women of the Harem, and of a south sea island maiden, though the true heritage of Sarah and the colour of her hair sets her apart from other women, just it had for another who arrived at the Harem and is thus presented to Naa’il Dhar. Throughout the beginning of the novel two stories of two women run parallel and finally merge as one, and yet neither woman meets the other. Whilst Naa’il is the central pin in their respective stories aside from the swashbuckling hero Hassan, Naa’il is a man of his time and his religion, wealthy and powerful, and yet his faith is tested, just as the hero’s faith and belief he can rescue the woman he loves is tested. 

Hassan Aziz’s existence as a Barbary pirate is key to knowledge in how to achieve his aims, but the fact he is not what he seems is also reliant on betrayal of those closest to Naa’il. This is a fascinating novel of south sea island innocence, treachery, lust, and love, the kind of love that comes once in a lifetime if a man is lucky, and both Naa’il and Hassan are driven to acts that astound both in their own way because of two women. So alike is Sarah to Cora, an American captive; Naa’il’s conscience plagues him for his unjust treatment of both women who refuse to submit and embrace his religious dictate. Although I mention love and lust, this is a historical novel combined with romance, and the novel is not a steamy read in the vein of eroticism. The characters are well-rounded, their faults exposed, and the punishment of slaves and concubines, or favoured wives who deceive, can be realistically harsh. All told this is an enlightening read with hints at how one person’s religion can give cause for another to doubt their own. 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Review - Proof of Virtue.

Sometimes reviews give balance to a book  - after all, one reader's delicacy, another's poison. 

So here is my Review of Proof of Virtue.

Reviewed by Francine:

The last part of the Georgian period drifting to the Victorian era was a very harsh period in history, and all despite the great Industrial Revolution in which steam trains gradually brought about the end of long journeys by mail coach (other) as a means of travel, and factory mill industrialists began crushing incomes of small country weavers. It was also a period of change as the poorer people deserted the countryside to find work in townships. Sadly, the heroine of this novel has lived a comfortable life but is suddenly cast into a hell pit due to unforeseen circumstance of death and loss of her home. Thus, with her younger siblings to care for she is duty bound to provide for them as best she can. But tide of bad fortune affords no hope of a kindly person to care what happens to them and she has no alternative but to look to the Workhouse for a roof over their heads and food to belly.

To understand Emma’s plight fully, there is the reality that Workhouses were the most dreaded of prospects next to prison. Subsequently, she braces herself for the humiliation of it all, but never in her worst nightmare could she envisage the dark side of workhouses, of those who sponsor them and exploit and abuse the inhabitants, nor of those who manage or own workhouses. Hence her story is harrowing, one in which she battles numerous emotions, suffers the wrath of others, and yet finds friends and allies, and love blossoms in extraordinary circumstances when least expected. I admire this author’s daring to venture to the darker side of life, because in reality for those less fortunate in these times it was a hellish existence. This novel reflects the harshness and the value of human flesh by those who sought only to further their own finances, personal aims, and covert desires. So for that reason this is a true depiction of the dark side of life as young Princess Victoria is schooled to reign by William IV, the last of the Georgian kings.

Review - A Marchioness Below Stairs

Reviewers oft assess books in quite different ways, and that's why reviews can be awfully confusing for readers to determine whether a book is to their tastes! When I review books I rate them on entertainment value, quality of prose, natural flow in dialogue, whether characters are fully fledged, no plot-holes, and above all else, good sense of time and place of the era depicted. 

Reviewed by Francine:

What an enchanting and unusual love story this is, and made all the more enjoyable because it is atypical! Here we have a marchioness who is willing to contravene the expected social mores of the haut monde, and indeed she takes control at a crisis moment in which fellow females would never soil their hands to see others replenished in a time of need. But Isabel is not altogether as one would imagine, and whilst good fortune has come her way in one instance, in another it has caused her great pain. All too well aware memories of former affairs of the heart can be as painful as when first experienced, hers are far from fully vanquished. And despite another man teases her mercilessly, his interest in her evident, life soon becomes somewhat heated below stairs as Isabel and the hero rally to provide sustenance for her uncle’s guests.

Aside from the romance, which in itself develops in the strangest of circumstances, there are elements of the period many Regency fans are familiar with in general, but few authors will venture to. Thus Ms Baxter touches on the subject of slavery, and Isabel’s discovery of a unique business premises in London brings to light a delicacy that is today a familiar sight in almost every town in the Western world, hence she has created as far as I am aware an original Regency plot-line. Well done Ms Baxter with this debut novel. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Reviewed by Fran.

Set in London 1821, the Unmasking of Lady Helen is a sweet tale of the young lady Helen who fears an incident in her past has lessened her chances of gaining a suitor, and at twenty-four years of age it seems wise to put one’s energies into other more interesting subjects than seeking a husband. Besides, her father is an Egyptologist, his work infinitely pleasing and intriguing, and Lady Helen is quite happy to become a rather studious blue-stocking and forego marriage for a safe spinster existence. Albeit social gatherings and coming -out balls must be attended for the sake of her sister, an unexpected incident closer to home intrigues both her and her sister Diana, and the object of their scrutiny is equally unaware he will be stepping across their threshold on official and private business shortly. Hence, Jason Lord Peyton, a man of covert play within the underworld of military spies soon finds himself caught up within a case of Industrial espionage and new inventions. 

A man with his own inner disquiet in respect of a failed love match, similarly to Lady Helen, he is in no great shakes to beget a wife for the ubiquitous heir to his title and estate. One could say two kindred spirits have entered centre stage and both equally intrigued and a little shocked by turn events, both equally bent on solving the crime, and neither aware danger is closer at hand than envisaged, until it is almost too late. Thus Lord Peyton’s greatest worry Lady Helen will come to harm if she pokes her nose too deep into dark corners, both discover dark corners can prove very intimate and steal attention from matters at hand. And of course, for two people averse to marriage, though most definitely attracted one to the other, decorum precludes any notions of love and romance: or does it? 

This is a lovely sweet romance with likeable characters, an intriguing plot, lots of little asides, and enough background details to make for pleasant escapism to the past.

Thursday, 3 August 2017


Reviewed by Charlotte alias Charmian (Goodreads).

Book’s Blurb:
Hell will freeze over before Miss Philomena Aubrey willingly marries the insufferable Honorable Luther Whyte. Her mother had angled Mina’s quite hefty dowry in front of the vicar and secured him, but Mina still resisted. When Mrs. Aubrey threatens to force her into the marriage, Mina’s father hides his daughter with a friend of his as he leaves for an extended business trip.

A wounded war hero, burdened by guilt after inadvertently sending his French fiancée to death, Lord James Darling keeps his family as far away from his tormented heart as possible. But as he keeps bumping into his mother’s new lady’s maid, he grows suspicious—is she a spy?—and sets out to expose her, only to find himself mesmerized by her feistiness and her warm heart.

My Review:

Mina, short for Philonena, steps to the stage as the archetypical young heiress of the Nuevo riche in the Regency era. Presumably her father became extremely wealthy from timely investments and good business dealings. It must be said as history tells us, a great many of the Nuevo riche were so wealthy their daughters were sought by aristocrats as a timely means to bolster ailing funds for sons who were wastrels. Many a rich heiress gained a title from brokered deals cut and dealt across tables at Gentlemen’s clubs in real life as they do with regularity in Regency romance novels. 

Funnily Mina’s mother has set her marital scheming eye at humble bait, the local vicar no less, and oh lord, shades of Jane Austen’s Mr Collins leapt to mind straight off. And thank serendipity Mina is an only child and has a father who dotes on her. Mina can do little wrong in his eyes, and her mother sees only a wilful minded daughter who refuses to marry the man of her mother’s choice, ha ha.

While this is a common mother daughter conflict for Regency novels, the story for me becomes a little contrived with a father who looks to the help of a childhood playmate, a duchess (ha) who conveniently has bachelor sons in need of wives. It was all a little twee perfect and unrealistic but it’s a bunny out of the hat magical fairy tale and what’s wrong with that.

And then there’s the tortured James Darling. He’s a secretive man and with Miss Curiosity Mina kitten on his patch in the guise of a lady’s maid he doesn’t stand an earthly in resisting the vivacious young madam who seeks to inveigle her way under his skin. Throughout a theme of will he or won’t he fall in love with Mina makes this romance a fun read with little touches of haunting sadness from James’s past. For all her silly childish antics I liked Mina a lot. James was more a muddle of conflicting caricatures and didn’t materialise as a solid character, not for me at any rate. An Heiress in Disguise is what it is, a well written fun romance with a few raunchy pulse driven scenes.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Regency / Victorian

Reviewed by Charlotte alias Charmian (Goodreads).

The Book’s Blurb:
A missing heirloom. A stolen inheritance. Can love conquer mistrust?

Athena Hawthorne never imagined that she would lose everything she'd ever had. But after the death of her father, his prosperous jewelry store is sold off to pay his supposed debts. Athena, now destitute, embarks on a mission to discover the truth, but circumstances force her to accept an offer from a handsome stranger to work as a governess. She's determined to clear her father's name, but a certain earl is making matters far more difficult than necessary. And she can't be in danger of losing her heart to a member of the aristocracy...

Orion Ashcroft, the Earl of Rockford, is convinced that Athena is a grasping thief who stole a priceless family heirloom, the rare sapphire known as the Couleur Magnifique. When he offers her the position of governess to his sister's children, he only intends to catch her in some nefarious scheme and get back the sapphire—his grandmother's dying wish. But he soon discovers that keeping his distance—and his sanity—around the beautiful Athena isn't as easy as he'd planned. It certainly doesn't help that his sister and his best friend plead her innocence at every frustrating turn. Soon he's struggling between honoring his promise and his growing attraction to Athena.

But there's danger closer than either expect. Even a masquerade can't hide Athena from the curiosity of the ton forever...and there's a threat hiding among the highest members of society...

My Review:

Well I must say for a debut novel Ms Waite painted the heroine to the canvas with in depth emotional pull and I liked and felt for Athena. Sympathy poured forth (from me that is) while Athena Hawthorne hears of her fate within a solicitor’s office. Could life be more traumatic than the death of a father and to learn there is no legacy of worth from a once thriving business, poor Athena is utterly stunned by it all.

In the event of kindness from a stranger, which gives hope for a workable life one day, a few days later the strange circumstances surrounding the job places Athena into an emotional pit of heaven and hell wrapped up in one man, the Earl of Rockford. Of course Athena falls hopelessly loves struck with burning desire little knowing the earl’s thoughts of tumbling the newly appointed governess (to his niece and nephew) has caused him a good deal of discomfort until the more his eyes glitter with devilry soon Rion and Athena lose themselves in lustful thoughts and eventual actions, while every crime known to the darker side of London streets start striking with menacing force. Here the repetitive abduction theme took some believing, while the rest of the story had me turning the pages to see when Rion would hump Athena again and would he stop being a mindless prat, and would she fall pregnant. So obsessed did I become with the likelihood of pregnancy the criminal proceedings paled alongside my thinking Rion would be forced into marriage with Athena, and I prayed his sister would stand behind him with a pistol held to his head. It doesn’t end that way and I did like the sub characters a great deal. All in all I enjoyed Athena's and Rion's story a a romantic tale with danger and mystery.

I do have a few quibbles. The story setting is Regency England 1819 and there’s reference to a novel by Charles Dickens which set alarm bells ringing. Dickens was born in 1812 and in 1819 Charles Dickens was 7yrs old and had yet to write his first published paper let alone a novel. While this may appear a small criticism it does point to lack of research by the author, it also shames an incompetent editor. Worse it implies the novel started out as a Victorian novel set after 1836 when Dickens published his first novel The Pickwick Papers. A few Americanisms didn’t help matters in recommending this as a Regency set read, while readers who care not a bean about historical accuracy will enjoy this book for what it is - a fun read.