Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Erotic Regency

Free Download from Amazon Reviewed by Nigella (maritime historian)

The Book's Blurb.

Lusting after one’s employer is certainly not the done thing when you are a governess. But Miss Abigail Adams cannot seem to help herself...

Abigail Adams, the resident governess of Hartfield Hall, might appear to be a very proper young woman, yet she secretly yearns for excitement to brighten her mundane life. And what she does want, she really shouldn’t long for—Sir Nicholas Barsby, the indecently handsome, charismatic master of Hartfield.

Sir Nicholas Barsby returns home from a tour of the Continent to discover his widowed sister-in-law has employed a decidedly delectable governess for his nieces. When it becomes blatantly apparent that the attraction is mutual, Nicholas ruthlessly decides to present Miss Adams with a thoroughly wicked proposal.

Abigail is initially shocked by Sir Nicholas’s outrageous and highly improper offer to become his mistress. Having wanton thoughts about a man is undoubtedly sinful but leading the life of a fallen woman is something else entirely. Nevertheless, falling into Sir Nicholas’s arms might just prove to be an invitation too tempting for Abigail to ignore. One thing is clear, whether she’s a governess or mistress, she must not lose her heart...

Nigella's Review.

The first word of the synopsis describes the theme of this novella from page one to last page where base sexual interplay is the sum total of the book and the damning thing with downloading free offers from Amazon and trusting a governess title in great hopes of a little salacious romancing, the disappointment was the greater when the governess’s favourite tipple was male semen. Asking self if a governess of her particular tastes ever existed during the Regency era, improbability won the toss, if you’ll pardon the pun. The lead male character was unworthy as a hero and the worst part there was no room for a decent story. Again the sum total of the plot lies in the synopsis. Hey ho and more fool me for downloading the book, apart from the fact there is no glaring caveat as I could see declaring Gross EROTIC Content on the sales page. However, credit to the author for well written and literate text.


Reviewer asides:

Did the novel turn me on? No.

Would it turn on a male reader? Most.


Friday, 17 February 2017

A Re-telling of Beauty & The Beast.

Reviewed by Fran.

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

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

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Sweet Regency,

Reviewed by Fran.

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

Thursday, 26 January 2017

A Sweet Regency.

Reviewed by Charlotte

The book’s premise-

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

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

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

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


My Review-

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

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

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A Georgian/Regency Romance

Reviewed by Francine:

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Latest Regency Review

Reviewed by Nigella.

To Tempt a Viscount by Naomi Broom

The book blurb -

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

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


Nigella’s Review –

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

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

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

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


Friday, 30 December 2016


Reviewed by Fran

Set within Regency England 1816 (post-Waterloo) this is a poignant tale of two people shrouding personal secrets from the world at large. And of course etiquette of the period oft, no doubt, led to people attending functions and social gatherings when they would have preferred paying visit anywhere but where they were, even though personal pleasure might be possible with old and new acquaintances in discreet manner. And whilst the fifth Earl of Arlington’s foolhardy indulgences gain him momentary gratification - on two counts - the ramifications of one encounter is set to cost his victim dear in shame, compromise, and then despair. But can a rake ever be reformed, and is love merely a figment of momentary imagination? A delightful, nicely-paced short novella. Bear in mind this is fiction, so a little poetic licence passes muster to do with Regency Rakes in general.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Georgian Romp!

Reviewed by Fran.

A rip-roaring Georgian romp set in Scotland, and if as a reader, you cringe at archaic narrative and dialogue then this book is for you. There’s nothing pretentious here and no inherited Georgette Heyer slang to trip over. This is a full-on adventure with a daring young heroine of bold countenance, that is, until the derring-do of others sets precedence for fear, confusion, and the shocking revelation that some men of the road are decidedly intriguing. Thus element of mystery prevails, as two masked heroes, yes two, lurk in the shadows. When dark facts come to light they are as amusing as they are disturbing to one heroine. The other heroine has her own dark past, and is not as easily given to daydreams of masked heroic men, but when the fates are conspiring to cause mayhem and heartache, a happy ending seems nigh impossible, until love springs to the rescue.  Yep, this is a rollicking more modern style historical romp devoid of overt social mores and light-weight on historical time specific detailing, thus great for afternoon escapism beside a cosy hearth.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Latest Regency

Reviewed by Francine.

This is a decidedly sweet Regency romance novella set post-Waterloo, in which the hero, Joscelin Lord Areley, is every bit a gallant man of honour, though falls somewhat confused when he unexpectedly encounters the widow of a fellow officer trudging a byway late one winter’s eve. The attractive waif like Eloise is a victim of the sad circumstance of war, her condition not the best of situations for a widow of no means. Whilst hope lingers in belief she has entitlement to part if not all her late husband’s estate and effects, her ultimate destination is the home of her husband’s brother, a duke, thus the scene is set for rejection, heartache, and dreadful humiliation. Of a kindly bent, Lord Areley provides assistance for Eloise as would her husband had roles been reversed, and had Areley acquired a wife and she likewise fallen to bad times.

But the charming nuance to this tale is the aged retired nursemaid to Lord Arely and Eloise’s late husband. Whilst the good lady shelters and nurtures Eloise, and muses over the regular comings and goings of his lordship, there abides the ever present consideration as to whether his lordship has compromised the widow and himself. But nothing is ever quite what it seems within romance stories, and a “Carpet of Snowdrops” is no different when the heroine recalls aspects from her past, in which compromise and companionship played a part in her present plight. Indeed, this is a rather charming sweet Regency read!                    

Monday, 19 December 2016

Guest Reviews / Regency

Reviewed by Mary Kingswood.
This is a real treat for Janeites, or anyone who read Pride and Prejudice and wondered what happened to Maria Lucas after big sisterCharlotte married Mr Collins, and three of the Bennet sisters all found husbands. Clara Benson wondered, too, and this is her imagined answer. It’s a charming and light-hearted tale of muddles and misunderstandings, written in a style that any Janeite will love.

There are no Bennets in sight, just Maria Lucas, her parents, Miss King (the heiress saved from Wickham’s clutches in P&P) and some new characters renting Netherfield Park. I found all the characters (except one!) to be rather too nice, and perhaps not as quirky as genuine Austen characters, but this just made them all the more realistic. I particularly liked the way Miss King, a tiny bit-part in P&P, is given a great deal of depth here. Nicely done.

The setting is quite confined, just Lucas Lodge, Meryton, Netherfield Park and a rather puddly lane nearby, which has a starring role in a number of scenes. I was a little surprised that Maria is at home so much, when she has so many rich friends and relations now who could invite her to stay, but the author does explain this.

This is a wonderful, readable book with a delightful romance, lots of humour and all the charm of a Jane Austen novel. I couldn’t put it down! One word of warning: the book is an excellent pastiche of Regency wordiness, with no concessions to modern language, so anyone who finds Jane Austen’s phraseology tricky will have the same problem here. A very good four stars.





This book took me completely by surprise. Having loaded up my Kindle ready for a long-haul flight, I started with the big-name books and discarded them one-by-one — too many typos, too implausible, too historically inaccurate. By the time I got to this one, I had no expectations. And then it completely blew me away. Within five minutes of meeting Miss Rosa Lane — shy, stammering, socially inept Rosa — I desperately wanted her to have her happy ever after.

The plot is a time-honoured one: two sisters go to London for the season to find husbands for themselves. The older sister, Arielle, is excited at the prospect and declares she’s going to fall in love with the handsomest man she can find. Poor Rosa is terrified, of course. How will she ever manage at balls and large social gatherings, amongst so many strangers? She’s bound to be inept and say and do the wrong things. And both sisters are correct. Arielle instantly falls for the dashing and handsome Captain Steele, while Rosa can barely speak a word, even to the gentlemanly and unthreatening Mr d’Arcy, a widower in his thirties who is, as Jane Austen and the title of the book have it, ‘in want of a wife’, and who is unexpectedly friendly towards Rosa. But there’s another man whose attention she attracts, Steele’s
friend, the strangely sardonic Captain Spencer.

And so the story unfolds with the choice Rosa has to make — the odd Captain, for whom she begins to have feelings, although he shows no sign of affection towards her, or the safe option, the wealthy widower with a comfortable situation, a marriage of convenience and perhaps a lifetime with respectability but no love. It’s a dilemma that so many
Regency ladies must have faced — take the dull but safe offer now, or hold out for something better. Tricky. But when d’Arcy makes the offer, Rosa is too grateful and, frankly, too timid to turn him down
and so, rather nervously, she marries him.

The rest of the book is an excellent description of how so many marriages of convenience must have gone — the polite formalities, the stilted conversations over dinner (Mr d’Arcy talks of very little beyond the weather!), the sheer loneliness of a life lived with someone who is virtually a stranger, played out in front of the servants. There are some very funny moments though, when the two are trying to conduct a conversation from opposite ends of a very long
dining table, and misunderstanding each other, and having to repeat everything and shout. I wondered if they were going to resort to passing notes by way of the butler! The ending is pretty near perfect, and I actually cried when these two lovely people finally got all the obstacles out of the way and were set fair for happiness.

Is the book perfect? No, of course not. There were a few clunky moments, there were one or two places where I questioned the historical accuracy, the villains were a little too extreme and there were some parts of the story that could have been fleshed out a little more to give it some needed depth — I would have liked to see more of
d’Arcy’s daughter, for instance, and one or two scenes showing Rosa with her after the marriage would have been welcome. One other (trivial) comment. It takes a certain amount of confidence to write a Regency romance with a hero called d’Arcy. There’s just too much baggage associated with the name. Captain Steele, too, reminded me of
Lucy Steele in Sense and Sensibility.

I only have one serious grumble and that is the lack of chaperonage. I’ll forgive the two sisters travelling on the stagecoach because I assume there was an (unmentioned) matron accompanying them. But in London the aunt is simply never around, apart from formal functions like balls. During the day, she seems to be conveniently out visiting
all the time, leaving the two sisters alone as prey for anyone who happens to turn up, or to walk about the streets and parks on their own. She must be the world’s worst chaperon! I’d expect her to take the girls with her when she goes visiting or shopping, to ensure they are introduced to all of her acquaintance, and once any gentlemen start to pay them attention she should be checking their backgrounds and ensuring that they’re respectable, and steering her nieces away from any bad apples. Instead she seems to take no interest at all until things reach crisis point.

But none of this detracted from the book for me in the slightest. From the very first page, its charm swept me along, and I was rooting for the hero and heroine all the way. A delightful read. Five stars.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Edwardian Romance & Murder Mystery

Reviewed by Fran - short & sweet because it's a murder mystery, and I don't want to give away the clues.

.A murder mystery set against the backdrop of a trans-Atlantic cruise ship was too intriguing to miss, and I’m glad I didn’t let this one slip to the bottom of my TBR Kindle list for a “come-to-read” at a later date. The lead characters victims as well as suspects set the tone of the era and its social mores, whilst the cleverly constructed mystery aspect holds throughout and comes to light at the very end. Albeit I had my suspicions in respect of one murder, and felt vindicated at the outcome, the second murderous villain escaped my notice, and that’s how a murder mystery should be: undetectable and intriguing. While this is a delightful cosy murder mystery in the vein of Miss Marple aboard ship, likewise it has an overall genteel ambience veiling sinister undertones! A lovely read.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Sweet Regency

Reviewed by Francine

As this is the first book in series to do with the Allamont Sisters, Amy’s story nicely sets the tone for upcoming books, which are destined to feature each of her sister’s individual stories and romantic leanings. That said; Amy’s story stands-alone as a rather sweet tale of an elder sister who has always looked to her father for guidance, until his death, which leaves her bereft and shocked by the contents of his will. Ever faithful to his memory Amy finds it increasingly difficult, and at times, impossible to understand the sudden rebellious nature of her sisters. What is more, her mother’s indifference to the plight of her daughters confuses the poor lass. After all, her father’s strict upbringing of the sisters (in all 6) and his biblical bent seem lost in the mayhem that suddenly surrounds her. As for love and romance, where can that fit in with her life given the strict criteria laid down within her father’s will for the sisters’ individual inheritances?

What could her father have been thinking to set forth such a cruel schedule of events, when one sister already has her heart set on her life partner, and another with fanciful notions to do with a man who is more than a little enamoured with Amy, herself. Life for Amy is one of adhering as best she can to her father’s gambit for the future stability of their individual lives, but she soon discovers demure meekness and self-sacrifice can be unbearably painful. So too, another finds himself facing a sacrifice he cannot bear, and with a little cunning he attempts to resolve his and Amy’s dilemma, but not without heart-in-mouth realisation that it could all go terribly wrong. Be assured there is an HEA to this story, a touch of mystery, a shocking revelation, and all in all, it’s a delightful read.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Deadly Affair

Reviewed by Charlotte

The Book's Premise.

Autumn 1763. Career diplomat Alec Halsey has been elevated to a marquessate he doesn't want and Polite Society believes he doesn't deserve. And with the suspicion he murdered his brother still lingering in London drawing rooms, returning to London after seven months in seclusion might well be a mistake. So when a nobody vicar drops dead beside him at a party-political dinner, and his rabble-rousing uncle Plantagenet is bashed and left for dead in a laneway, Alec’s foreboding deepens. Uncovering the vicar's true identity, Alec suspects the man was poisoned. But who would want a seemingly harmless man of God murdered, and why?
Lucinda Brant’s Alec Halsey mysteries explore the darker side of her deliciously romantic 18th century world. Along with trademark wit and high drama there are deeper subplots and even quirkier characters that will have you shuddering and laughing in equal measure!

 My Review of Lucinda Brant's novel.

It has a long list of 5 star ratings at Amazon and sort of lived up to expectations.
My grumps with this book were few all told.
Number one the character dialogue at vital moments was too long winded.
And secondly there was a lot of irritating author intrusion.

Ms Brant kept prompting with reminders of previous chapters. That was unnecessary and insulting as though the author thought a reader wouldn't remember what had happened earlier in the novel. The plot is really not at all that complicated and was easy to follow and I don't think the author has quite got a handle on writing suspense novels. The plot was a little too predictable and short on convincing red-herrings. My rating is 4 stars and that's generous because the author does do a good job at describing clothes and characters.

Recommendation. It's a non taxing brain read for a lazy weekend and although I think a little overrated on star quality plot wise, the historical value was there twofold.
Purchase here

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Anthology - General History.

As I hadn't read any of my fellow authors' contributions to this Charity Anthology prior to publication, I've taken the liberty of reviewing their delightful offerings for "Tales from the Sergeant's Pack".

A delightful collection of Short Stories & Novellas in aid of St Luke's Hospice, Plymouth.


A Tale of Two Engagements by A.C.A Hunter: Historical.

Take a moderately sized British package ship mid-Atlantic with limited protective gun-power, and looming on the near horizon is an unidentified ship on full sail thus the scene is set for a passing encounter. But is the ship French? If it is then Captain Finlay, his crew, and passengers are in dire straits. What is worse, Captain Finlay feels doubly responsible for his passenger sister, and when out-going fire from his cannon causes the ship to shudder from stem to stern, and in-coming fire shatters ship and humans to splintered fragments, Louisa refuses to abide to her brother’s command to act the lady, and thus keep her head below decks?

Here we are given an action packed short novella, a good sense of life aboard ship in wartime, and sufficient insight as to why Louisa is aboard her brother’s ship.


Bobbing in the Dark by Cliff Beaumont: 
Contemporary Ghost Story.

Here we have the greatest ever scheduled re-enactment Waterloo 200 in celebration of the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. With tents pitched in the Orchard at Hougoumont a British contingent are taking a well-earned rest post-travel to the event. Amidst their number is Mark Skinner, his mind awash with thoughts on how it must have been for men of his rank and file in June 1815, and he’s not all that surprised when he's approached by a fellow uniformed re-enactor, anymore than when another appears and orders the first to fall in for duty. His own voluntary enlistment thus leads him into a scary and thrilling mock battle, albeit he’s somewhat mystified by turn of events, for at times it all seems a tad too real. But that’s what re-enactment is all about ain’t it, with mock dead and wounded soldiers, else it would be a mere walk in the park in fancy dress.

To say I thoroughly enjoyed this story; is to say it ticked all the boxes for a suspenseful read.


The Bravest of the Brave by David Cook: Historical.

In this story we are presented with the inner perspective of Martial Ney, at the point where it is a case of do or die for the French. Whilst the Emperor Napoleon, rides before his troops with head held high as though Victory is theirs, Ney knows he must do his damn best to achieve that outcome. But doubts linger in his mind questioning the sanity of taking the initiative to advance against Wellington and the Allied Forces – there has to be a better way but he has not the time to think it through. Praying to heaven God is with the Emperor, Ney spurs his horse forward, and the rest is History so to speak. 

This is another story by David Cook that sets the scene with excellent sense of time and place and no quarter given to the squeamish reader. After all, war is war – Enjoy!


The Chancer by Francine Howarth: Historical.

This is my naval orientated contribution to the anthology, thus I cannot pass comment!

A Person of No Consequence by Alison Stuart:
Historical Romance.

Picture a glittering ballroom and fine array of coming-out damsels in search of wealthy husbands, chaperones in abundance like faded wallflowers, and young bucks in search of suitable brides. Thus the scene is set for an elegant marriage mart, though not all the guests are seeking marriageable prey. Hence a heart-stopping moment occurs, and memories from the past leap to the fore and cause distress to one person, whilst curiosity is heightened for another. But can one dare to dream the past could ever be revisited in the present and secure a differing outcome?

A lovely sweet romance in Alison Stuart’s inimitable and award winning style.

August 27th by Jacqueline Reiter: Historical Fact.

Here we have a brief glimpse of the Walcheren Island Campaign of 1809, where the initial object of the British Navy is to blockade the mouth of the Scheldt (Antwerp Netherlands) and the primary objective to destroy the French fleet purportedly lying at anchor in Flushing. But as you will see from the interaction between leading field commanders of their day, not all are of like mind in how best to proceed or indeed cope with an unforeseen pestilence that more or less has rendered their task nigh impossible.

For the most part the reader affords insight to proceedings as they unfold through the eyes and thoughts of Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Keats, and it’s easy to see how politics, personal ambitions, and military strategy oft clash when things go awry.

A Clash of Empires by Paul Bennett: Historical fact inclusive fictional characters.

In this novella the reader is transported to the American Colonies the year of 1763, when the Pontiac Rebellion in opposition to British rule on former French territory begins in earnest with a confederacy of Native American warriors who attack British forts. But the fort in Detroit defies all the efforts of a combined tribal force to destroy its very existence, and Pontiac thence lays siege to the fort. A siege is the last thing any commander would willingly face, and whilst some might raise a white flag, Major Gladwin is made of sterner stuff. 

Again no quarter is given to the squeamish reader, for this is a war situation, in which brutal retaliation is markedly atmospheric.

Over the Moon and Faraway by Daniel Methwell: Fiction.

This story is set, I believe, in the region of Aragon, Spain during the Peninsular War (1808-1814). If not, my apology to the author, who spins an amusing yarn not unalike a “Carry-On” movie style plot as far as the humour goes. Thus with bungling French troopers and equally bungling British troopers, this story equates to laughs-a-minute, and combined with earthy trooper language drifting across the ether, a somewhat blue hue prevails. And yet, the awfulness of war is lingering beyond the veiled fringe of humour, and one can almost hear the old soldiers recounting this tale with touches of laughter and a tear to eye.

Suffice to say, it’s an all round fun chuckle read.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Victorian Gothic

A remote manor house, Cornish cliff-top locale, and ghostly apparitions are the perfect backdrop for a Gothic story, and duly set in place the author delivers on that theme with a tale of inheritance, and a rather independent minded heroine. Minerva Goodridge is no shrinking violet. Thus, undaunted by tales of ghosts, and rather enchanted by a stranger’s helping hand, Minerva is soon in love with a house, whilst inner awareness to Gideon Drake’s masculinity leads to lustful imaginings. The Hero, Gideon, is a man on a mission to solve a mystery, and the heroine just so happens to have the keys to a house that may, or may not afford clues, or indeed resolve a family secret. As a man of the world, Gideon is far from immune to Minerva’s bodily charms, and albeit he’s a stranger to the district he’s already somewhat familiar with her inheritance, and as keen to win her trust, as invade her privacy. But can Minerva trust him, and will her lustful imaginings be her downfall?

This is a lively tale of one woman’s singular independence at a time when most young women were either chaperoned at the behest of their parents, or a companion was thus engaged by a single heiress to ensure compliance with social expectations. But Minerva is essentially a rebel who flaunts her wild independent spirit and gives not a hoot to the social mores and graces of her lifetime. She is as earthy and as sensual as the ivy clinging to the structure of Trekellis Manor.