Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance

The Earl’s Countess of Convenience – 5* #Review – Marguerite Kaye @MillsandBoon @MargueriteKaye #HistoricalRomance #PennilessBridesofConvenience

A Countess in name only…

…tempted by a night with her husband!

Part of Penniless Brides of Convenience: Eloise Brannagh has witnessed first-hand the damage unruly passion can cause. Yet she craves freedom, so a convenient marriage to the Earl of Fearnoch seems the perfect solution! Except Alexander Sinclair is more handsome, more intriguing, more everything, than Eloise anticipated. Having set her own rules for their marriage, her irresistible husband might just tempt Eloise to break them!

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I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Marriage of Convenience is always an interesting trope in romance, firstly it was commonplace in Regency Society, but in Regency Romance, it is the beginning of something that is anything but convenient, and usually involves, heartbreak, passion and soul searching, as is the case for Eloise and Alexander.

Both seem excellent candidates for a marriage in name only, but close proximity, friendship and chemistry make their fight to remain platonic, a cocktail of amusing, frustrating and poignant. They have to work hard for the chance of real love, both have emotional damage, secrets and real fear of letting go and the consequences.

Eloise is a vibrant woman, with independent interests that are explored in this story and enrich it with historical detail and vivid imagery. Alexander is not what he seems, and even though he endeavours to offer Eloise some transparency, he retains secrets that offer the ultimate conflict to any real happiness they may achieve.

A lovely cast of characters, some of which will get their own stories?

An enjoyable, impeccably detailed historical romance, with authentic, believable characters, a good plot and a satisfying end.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Romance, Victorian Romance

The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh #BlogTour – Stephanie Laurens – 5* #Review #BookBlogger@MillsandBoon #LordKitCavanaugh #TheCavanaughs

Bold and clever, THE CAVANAUGHS are unlike any other family in early Victorian England!

Lord Kit Cavanaugh is all business and a gentleman of means. He has discovered his true path and it doesn’t include the expected society marriage.

Miss Sylvia Buckleberry is a woman of character whose passion is her school for impoverished children. The only way Sylvia can save her school after it is forced out of its building is by working with Kit, but this proves to be a daunting task…

Kit and Sylvia fight for the futures they hold dear. Together they are an unstoppable duo.

I received a eopy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The decadence of the Regency era lends itself to romance and passion, but the Victorian era is less showy, more introverted, and harder to romanticise. Stephanie Laurens manages to explore the major themes of the Victorian era, invention, innovation, insurrection and poverty, yet still, produce a devastating romantic hero and a passionate romance between Kit and Sylvia.

‘The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh’ is the second in ‘The Cavanaugh’s’ series. but reads well as a standalone. The historical details focus on Victorian philanthropy and enterprise. Both championed by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. If you enjoy the TV series ‘Victoria’, this explores the era and its people with similar vivacity and vivid imagery.

The romance begins gently, the barely acquainted couple meet again and both see a different side to the person they first met. The old adage of ‘not judging a book by its cover’ comes to mind when reading this story. As Kit sees beneath Sylvia’s cold austere mask, and she realises there is more to him than the rakehell, he purports to be.

The plot is varied and complex and has an essential undercurrent of menace, which makes historical romance enthralling. The insight into Victorian society is authentic and engaging and provides a perfect setting for this romantic adventure, so in keeping with the period.

We are introduced briefly to other members of the Cavanaugh family, Rand and Felicia, who feature in book one of the series and Stacia and Godfrey, whose stories are yet to be told. The scandalous and emotionally damaging spectre of Kit’s late mother has made him cautious of women and society. Sylvia’s independent, intelligent outlook on life is refreshing and makes him seek something he never believed he would.

Adventure, romance, and even a Victorian villain this story has a little of everything and is as enthralling and enjoyable for lovers of historical romance and fiction.

Posted in Author Interview, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery

Author Q&A – Merryn Allingham- A Tale of Two Sisters- 5*#Review @canelo_co @MerrynWrites #historicalfiction #historicalromance #Author #Interview

Separated by time and distance, two sisters seek answers for all they’ve lost

When Alice Verinder’s beloved sister Lydia goes missing, Alice boards the Orient Express bound for Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, determined to find her.

Lydia was governess to the Sultan’s young children and though her letters spoke of exotic delights and welcoming hosts, the reception Alice receives is decidedly cold and answers unforthcoming.

Now, as Alice digs deeper into the secrets of a land foreign to her she has only Englishman Harry Frome to help her. But as their search uncovers unforeseen dangers and exposes an unexpected ardour, is Alice ready for the truths they’ll uncover?

Amazon UK

Merryn Allingham Q&A

What inspired you to write this story

It was a journey I made a few years ago. I was lucky enough to travel to Venice on the Orient Express (a special occasion trip) and fell in love with the train. The compartments, dining carriages, even the mosaic bathrooms, are almost unchanged since the train’s heyday. And whereas nowadays the journey to Istanbul is a special once a year event, in 1907 there was a regular service from London to Constantinople. I wondered what it must have felt like for a young woman travelling alone for the first time in her life and on such a train.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

They aren’t drawn from real life in the sense of my actually knowing people just like them. But as a writer, you imbue your characters with what you’ve gained from life and what you’ve seen of relationships and the way they work. I don’t have a sister myself, but it wasn’t too difficult to tune into the feelings of Alice and Lydia, given the period in which they live and their very different personalities.

Lydia Verinder has been working as a governess at Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, while her elder sister, Alice, has been forced to take responsibility for their ailing parents. Alice hasn’t heard from her sister for months and suspects thoughtlessness – Lydia has always been indulged. She loves her and admires Lydia’s courage and passion, but feels resentful that she has been left caring for the household. Though her feelings are decidedly mixed, Alice becomes increasingly worried by her sister’s silence. Bravely, she decides to go to Constantinople herself and search for Lydia, and once there she meets a whole lot of other characters – but not all of them are benevolent!

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

Looking back at the novels I’ve written, it’s setting that seems pre-eminent. Maybe it’s because  I write historical fiction, but when I respond especially to a setting – it could be a house, a city, a garden, or in this case a train – I begin to imagine what it must once have looked like, who might have lived there, who travelled there etc. Once I start to people the setting, the questions come and I uncover the problems the characters are facing – then my plot is on its way!

What made you decide to become a writer, and why does this genre appeal to you?

I’m not sure you actually decide to be a writer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed to put pen to paper. As a small child, I wrote poems, at grammar school, there were short stories that I never dared mention – creative writing was definitely not encouraged. And I kept on writing through the years, but between family, pets and my job as a lecturer, there was little time to do more than dabble. However, when the pressures eased, I grabbed the chance to do something I’d always promised myself – to write a novel. The nineteenth-century novel was a favourite to teach so it’s no wonder I ended up writing historical fiction.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I read fairly widely. Naturally enough, I love historical fiction, particularly when there’s suspense,  a mystery, maybe a death or two. And I like crime a lot, but not when it’s unduly violent and gory – psychological crime is a favourite. I love the unwrapping of a personality. The occasional literary fiction – some of Colm Toibin’s books, for example – hit the mark,  and I’m a huge fan of Kate Atkinson and the way she combines the popular and the literary so well.

What are you currently writing?

This year I’ve embarked on a crime series, and changing genre has proved quite a challenge. But though I’m planning on one or more deaths in each book, there’s a focus, too, on relationships, including some romantic temptation. The series is set in the 1950s, a period when women were pushed back into the kitchen after the Second World War and generally lacked independent careers or their own money, and where marriage and children were seen as a woman’s only goal. My heroine, needless to say, kicks against that. She’s married but not entirely happily. However, her husband’s profession allows her to travel to different countries, where she’s certain to face a crime that needs solving. The first in the series, The Venice Atonement,  will be published in July and I’m currently deep in the Caribbean, writing volume two!

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A beautifully told story of sisterly love, impetus youth,
and evil. The Tale of Two Sisters is set in the vibrant historical background of early twentieth century Turkey. Full of vivid imagery and intricate historical details, you can imagine the opulence and the culture the two sisters experience.

The plot is believable and well thought out, the twists and turns, which keep the reader guessing are plentiful and the mystery keeps its terrible secrets to the end.

Lydia is a woman before her time, driven by political equality, yet naive and ill-equipped for what she becomes embroiled in. She is selfish and flawed, but her exuberance and zest for life’s experiences make this forgivable, Ultimately she becomes a heroine.

Alice is the antithesis of her sister, dependable, selfless and resigned to subjugating her needs for the good of her parents and sibling. She is easy to empathise. Her courage is notable and as the story progresses her adventurous and impulse qualities come to the fore, making her share more with her sister than you would first imagine.

Gentle pacing reflects the many obstacles Alice faces as she tries to discover her sister’s whereabouts. Told from both sisters’ points of view, the story is full of emotion, historical interest and suspense, as the mystery surrounding Lydia’s disapperance is solved. There is also a tender, unexpected romance, which adds extra depth to the story and allows its ending to be hopeful.

If like me, you love historical fiction with a mystery to solve, and just a touch of gentle romance, this lovely tale will draw you in.

Merryn Allingham was born into an army family and spent her childhood moving around the UK and abroad. Unsurprisingly it gave her itchy feet and in her twenties, she escaped from an unloved secretarial career to work as cabin crew and see the world.

Merryn still loves to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage, children and cats meant a more settled life in the south of England, where she has lived ever since. It also gave her the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually teach at university.

She has written seven historical novels, all mysteries with a helping of suspense and a dash of romance – sometimes set in exotic locations and often against a background of stirring world events.

For the latest news of Merryn’s writing, visit her website or join her on Facebook or Twitter

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery, Saga

The Girl In The Pink Raincoat – Alrene Hughes -5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @alrenehughes #BlogTour #Paperback #Wartime #Romance #WW2 #Manchester #Mystery #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance

In wartime, it takes courage to follow your heart.

Manchester, 1939.

Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie, the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.

Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss’s charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.

But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.

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Guest Post – WHY I WRITE WWII NOVELS – Alrene Hughes

I think it was inevitable. If I was going to write a novel, then I would write about the second world war. For a start, my mother, aunts and grandmother had lived through the hardships and dangers of that time. The war had ended only seven years before I was born and, growing up, I somehow absorbed their memories second-hand.

My home city of Belfast in Northern Ireland – an industrial city of shipbuilding, aircraft manufacture and heavy engineering – was crucial to the war effort. Needless to say, it was heavily bombed. Later, when the USA entered the war, it was to Northern Ireland that the GIs came to train before being deployed overseas.

As a child, I knew the gaps between the buildings were bomb sites. Once on a bus going into the city centre with my mother, she pointed out a street where she had seen the dead bodies laid out on the pavement on her way to work after an overnight bombing. But she had happy memories too of her time as a factory girl building Stirling bombers. As a housewife after the war, I remember she wore her factory clothes, trousers and a turban, to clean the house. But the biggest influence in my post-war childhood was the music. 

My mother and aunts had been popular singers, in the style of the Andrews Sisters, and throughout the war, they entertained in the concert and dance halls, as well as the military camps. After my mother died, I found an old scrapbook among her possessions. It contained many concert programmes listing the acts and the Golden Sisters, as they were known, often had the titles of songs they sang next to their billing: Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree; Chattanooga Choo Choo … And then there were all the photos.

I just had to tell their wartime story. The personalities of my mother, aunts and grandmother were etched in my brain, the snippets of wartime memories had been passed on to me and I had the scrapbook. Add to that my research of life in the city and the ideas that flooded my mind and it was enough to turn it into a novel. In the end, their story became a popular WWII family saga, the Martha’s Girls trilogy.

Now I’ve written WWII novels set in Manchester, the city where I’ve lived most of my adult life. It’s a lot like Belfast in some ways: the heavy bombings; the industry; the no-nonsense, resilient people. The women in my new novels The Girl in the Pink Raincoat and The Girl from the Corner Shop, face tragedy and danger, experience love and loss but, throughout, their courage shines through.  

ARC – Paperback- Back Cover

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Gracie is an endearing character, young, naive, but optimistic and full of life, with a smile never far from her face. It is this bubbliness that attracts Jacob, even though he realises that any relationship between them would be fraught with conflict.

The setting and era of this story are vividly portrayed, you can imagine the raincoat factory, the bombsites and the people, as they try to live their lives during wartime. Anyone who has listened to their grandparents and parents stories about ‘the war’, will recognise familiar concepts, and it is this relatability that makes the story so powerful.

The plot is well constructed, with a mystery and romance. The prejudice rife at the time is evident and is an important theme. Wartime romance with a twist. Family drama, strong friendships and a menacing undercurrent of betrayal and obsession, something for everyone in this wartime tale.

ARC- Paperback

Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life. She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time. Facebook

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ARC -Paperbaack
Extract – The Girl In The Pink Raincoat – Alrene Hughes

Gracie awoke to the sound of crying, and it was a moment before she realised it was coming through the paper-thin walls of the house next door. Then she remembered it was Friday morning and still Doris had not come to terms with her children being evacuated. She lay for a while, watching a shaft of sunlight coming through the gap in the curtains, and when the crying was replaced by the squeals and laughter of excited children, she got up.

By the time the children were ready to walk to school, a crowd had gathered in the street to see them off. Gracie and Sarah stood next to Doris as she held back her tears, hugged her two little girls and told them to be good and to write every week. An older boy, John Harris, took charge and it was clear that the evacuees had been drilled for this moment. At his command, they left their mothers and lined up like little soldiers, with their gas masks and belongings, each with a brown luggage label fastened to their coat. Gracie scanned their faces: some were filled with excitement, others apprehensive; and little Gladys Clark, with no mother to see her off, was sobbing her heart out.

John raised his hand and all eyes turned to him. ‘One … two … three!’ he shouted, and what happened next made the hair stand up on the back of Gracie’s neck – the children began to sing.

‘Farewell to Manchester we’re leaving today,

We need a safe place where we can stay,

Away from the bombs that fall on our heads,

Where we’ll sleep soundly and safe in our beds.’

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery

God’s Acre – Dee Yates -5*#Review – #BlogTour #Historical #Fiction #Romance #Saga @Aria_Fiction #WW2 #LandGirls #Scotland

As the drums of war begin to beat louder on the continent, and life becomes more dangerous in cities, seventeen-year-old Jeannie McIver leaves the comfort of her Aunt’s house in Glasgow, to head to the wilds of the Scottish Uplands to start life as a Land Girl.

Jeannie soon falls in love with life on the busy Scottish hill farm, despite all of its hardships and challenges. She feels welcomed by the Cunningham family who values and cherishes her far more than her own rather remote and cold parents, and the work is rewarding.

She even finds her interest piqued by the brooding, attractive Tam, the son of the neighbouring farmer, and a sweet romance between them slowly blossoms. But even in the barren hills, they can’t avoid the hell of war, and as local men start disappearing off to fight at the Front, Jeannie’s idyllic life starts to crumble.

Those left behind try desperately to keep the home fires burning, but then Jeannie makes one devastating decision which changes the course of her and Tam’s lives forever.

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Extract From God’s Acre – Dee Yates

3. For Sale January 2002

Liz can’t believe her luck when she sees the ‘For Sale’ sign attached drunkenly to the front gate. It is unclear from the dilapidated state of the cottage whether its most recent resident is living in a similar state of neglect or has given up the unequal battle and departed to pastures new, either in this world or the next. What is clear is that the cottage, whatever its current decrepit appearance, has the best view in the village. And although Liz has often heard quoted the maxim ‘Never buy a house for the view’, she feels certain that, in this case, there will be a queue of would-be purchasers.

The estate agent seems taken aback by the speed of her response. He agrees to show her round and they arrange a time and a day.

When, two days later, she steps into the cottage she sees that the description of it being ‘in need of some modernisation’ is no exaggeration. But she is not put off by the paucity of rooms – two in fact, with what is little more than a corridor squeezed between, quaintly described in the brochure as a galley kitchen. The meagre space of the cooking area is further depleted by a rusty metal ladder that leads up into the attic. Liz peers up the ladder and is met by darkness and a cold draught of musty air.

A row of blackened pans hang from hooks beneath a shelf running the length of the kitchen. On it are ranged baking trays, rusting metal biscuit tins, jars and containers of various sizes, a glass demijohn, furry with grey dust, and a set of weighing scales, their copper surface tarnished and dull. It seems to Liz as though she has stepped back several decades into the kind of house beloved of museum curators. A stone sink stands in the corner beneath a small window and, next to it, an electric cooker. On the floor, linoleum, cracked and lifting round the edges, reveals glimpses of the stone floor beneath. All that is needed, she thinks, is the model of a cook, in a black dress, frilly apron and starched hat, standing uncomfortably angled at the stove, wooden spoon poised over a never-boiling double pan of hollandaise sauce. Although, she realises, even as she imagines it, that a maid of that generation would not have had the advantage of electricity. This amenity has been listed with others as contributing to part of the cottage’s ‘modernisation’. Looking up at the metal lampshade suspended from a frayed twist of wire, Liz considers the word overstated.

‘I hope the owner doesn’t mind us looking round when she’s out,’ she says, seeing the further signs of habitation in the stained tea towel on a hook beneath the window and a greasy oven glove hanging by its side. She turns to Kenneth Mackie, the young man from the estate agent’s, who has ventured no further than the front door. He sniffs.

‘“She” was a “he”, actually. I believe the old chap died, so I’m sure he won’t mind you looking round.’

‘Oh, I’d no idea.’ She scans the room, seeing it with new eyes. ‘Did he live here long?’

‘I believe so.’

‘It doesn’t look as though he had many visitors. That’s sad.’

Her companion glances at his watch. ‘Perhaps you would like to see the rest of the cottage.’ His voice is bland, disinterested. It is clear that he has no opinion on the previous resident, dead or otherwise, or the property in his charge.

‘Yes… yes please.’ Liz follows him into the bedroom. It’s sparsely furnished, but the heavy, old-fashioned pieces fill the space. The bed is situated within a recess, where it can be closed off with a curtain. The curtain has been pulled back and hooked behind a chair and the bedcovers are crumpled, as though someone has been lying on top of them. This intimacy comes as a shock to Liz. She glances towards the door, eager to leave the room and look elsewhere.

The living room is a little more welcoming. In it, she can picture the old man going about his tasks. He must have been very old, she thinks, given the antiquity of the furniture. His favourite chair is drawn up to the fireplace. Ashes lie cold in the grate and litter the hearth. On a rag rug, down-at-heel slippers wait for their departed owner. A naked light bulb hangs from the centre of the ceiling. Against the wall opposite the fireplace stands a bookcase, stuffed with volumes in identical orange-brown covers and with indecipherable titles. A small sash window adorned with cobwebs rations the light entering the room. She walks over to it, examining the deep recess with its eighteen-inch-thick walls. Hopefully, these will keep out the chill of winter.

On the windowsill is propped a solitary photograph. It is sepia and blotted with age. Liz steps up to it slowly and stares at the smiling girl with a frizz of hair encircling her face. She is standing in a field and holds a bucket in one hand, a rake in the other. Around her and in the distance are sheep. But the girl has eyes only for the view in front of her. She is looking not at the photographer but to one side. The young face is radiant. But it is not this that causes her heart to leap. It is the familiarity of the image in front of her.

It is a photo of Liz’s own mother.

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Told from several points of view, from a historical and current day perspective, ‘God’s Acre’ creates a vivid picture of life in rural Scotland during World War 2 and in the twenty-first century. It ‘s a story of coming of age, working in the Land Army and finding out that love and family are not always bound by blood.

Jeannie is a free spirit, she is clever, but is not allowed to follow the same educational path as her brothers. Her clergyman father feels she should help in his parish, but she wants independence and freedom. Joining the Land Army means living in a rural setting, but the people are friendly and she finds she fits. Meeting Tam is love at first sight, but he is troubled and she is young and naive and it seems their love story is doomed to fail.

Liz knows little of her mother’s background when she visits the Scottish village her mother often talked about. Finding a cottage for sale, she visits and finds a tenuous connection. She buys the cottage and tries to rebuild her life and discover what she can about her mother’s past.

The historical viewpoints of this story are poignant and page turning, there is so much heartache, but a real sense of family. Jeannie is a lovely woman but so naive and this flaw in her character changes her whole life.

Believable, complex characters drive this story forward and make it an excellent read. The setting is full of visual imagery and you can imagine what working on the farm at this time was like for Jeannie. The mystery of Jeannie is revealed in a letter to her daughter, it is full of sadness and transparency and underlines the heartbreaking waste, caused by misunderstanding and the inability to trust. Despite this, the ending is hopeful for Liz in the present day and ends this lovely story in a satisfying way.

Born and brought up in the south of England, the eldest girl of nine children, Dee moved north to Yorkshire to study medicine. She remained there, working in well-woman medicine and general practice and bringing up her three daughters. She retired slightly early at the end of 2003, in order to start writing, and wrote two books in the next three years. In 2007 she moved further north, to the beautiful Southern Uplands of Scotland. Here she fills her time with her three grandsons, helping in the local museum, the church and the school library, walking, gardening and reading. She writes historical fiction, poetry and more recently non-fiction. Occasionally she gets to compare notes with her youngest sister Sarah Flint who writes crime with blood-curdling descriptions which make Dee want to hide behind the settee.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery

A Tale of Two Sisters – Merryn Allingham 5*#Review @canelo_co @MerrynWrites #historicalfiction #historicalromance #fridayreads

Separated by time and distance, two sisters seek answers for all they’ve lost

When Alice Verinder’s beloved sister Lydia goes missing, Alice boards the Orient Express bound for Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, determined to find her.

Lydia was governess to the Sultan’s young children and though her letters spoke of exotic delights and welcoming hosts, the reception Alice receives is decidedly cold and answers unforthcoming.

Now, as Alice digs deeper into the secrets of a land foreign to her she has only Englishman Harry Frome to help her. But as their search uncovers unforeseen dangers and exposes an unexpected ardour, is Alice ready for the truths they’ll uncover?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A beautifully told story of sisterly love, impetus youth,
and evil. The Tale of Two Sisters is set in the vibrant historical background of early twentieth century Turkey. Full of vivid imagery and intricate historical details, you can imagine the opulence and the culture the two sisters experience.

The plot is believable and well thought out, the twists and turns, which keep the reader guessing are plentiful and the mystery keeps its terrible secrets to the end.

Lydia is a woman before her time, driven by political equality, yet naive and ill-equipped for what she becomes embroiled in. She is selfish and flawed, but her exuberance and zest for life’s experiences make this forgivable, Ultimately she becomes a heroine.

Alice is the antithesis of her sister, dependable, selfless and resigned to subjugating her needs for the good of her parents and sibling. She is easy to empathise. Her courage is notable and as the story progresses her adventurous and impulse qualities come to the fore, making her share more with her sister than you would first imagine.

Gentle pacing reflects the many obstacles Alice faces as she tries to discover her sister’s whereabouts. Told from both sisters’ points of view, the story is full of emotion, historical interest and suspense, as the mystery surrounding Lydia’s disapperance is solved. There is also a tender, unexpected romance, which adds extra depth to the story and allows its ending to be hopeful.

If like me, you love historical fiction with a mystery to solve, and just a touch of gentle romance, this lovely tale will draw you in.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery, Romance

His Convenient Highland Wedding – 4* #Review- Janice Preston @MillsandBoon @JaniceGPreston #PublicationDay #HistoricalFiction #LochmoreLegacy #Romance

Bought by her husband…

…Bound by secrets of their past!

The start of The Lochmore Legacy – A Scottish castle through the ages! Earl’s daughter Flora McCrieff brought shame on her family once, now she discovers she must wed impossibly rich but low born Lachlan McNeill. He’s undeniably handsome, but a man of few words. Despite the attraction that burns between them, can she reach beyond his impeccable clothing to find the emotions he’s locked away for so long…?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands and West coast, this story is full of rich imagery that makes it easy to visualise both the setting and the time period this story is set in.

The slums of Glasgow and Edinburgh form part of the story, and the poverty and deprivation found there in Victorian times, set against the riches of the lairds and the aristocracy is one of the elements covered in this interesting story.

This is the first story in the Lochmore Legacy, which written by four different historical romance authors travels back through time, exploring the secrets of the legacy. This story touches on the secrets, with a discovery made by the heroine Flora, and the feud that exists between two clans.

The romance element predominates as expected, and is based on a marriage of convenience trope. Flora’s youth and beauty are her family’s way out of financial ruin. Her father is dictatorial, and she has little choice in the man she marries. Her previous actions embroiled the family in a scandal, and so she is given no choice in marrying the second suitor her father presents her with.

There is a physical attraction between Flora and Lachlan but he is mostly withdrawn and refuses to engage with her emotionally. The reasons for this, Flora gradually discovers, as she loses her heart to her husband. Flora’s strength of character and her emancipation, set against the social strictures of the time lead to inevitable conflict. Lachlan is a philanthropist motivated by his roots and his secrets, he is more enlightened than the majority of men in Victorian society.

This is a romantic story set against a background of social deprivation and social divide. The characters are believable, and the hero and heroine are easy to empathise. This is a complex story, showcasing an interesting time in history.

The added dimension of the secrets of the Lochmore Legacy makes this an enjoyable, historically based romance.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Romance

5* #Review – Sophia James -The Cinderella Countess – @MillsandBoon

From rags to riches

By the earl’s side!

Abandoned as a small child, Annabelle Smith has only vague memories of her past. Now living as a healer in London’s poverty-stricken East End, she receives a life-changing visit from the rich and imposing Lytton Staines, Earl of Thornton. He needs a cure for his ailing sister and helping him thrusts Belle into his dazzling life of luxury. But it’s Lytton who makes her world come alive!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An elegant Earl is not the usual visitor at Miss Anabelle Smith’s rented accommodation It is her reputation as a healer that draws him to her, but when they meet there is instant chemistry. The plot is fast paced and has clever twists, which gradually reveal the puzzle of Anabelle’s former life.

The romance is charming. Lytton is an honourable character and Anabelle, self-reliant and kind, they deserve their happy ending, but are their backgrounds and the conflicts that befall them too diverse and numerous?

This is the third book in the ‘Gentlemen of Honour’series, but the first one I have read, and it is a good standalone read. However, the characters from previous books, who feature briefly here, make me want to read their stories too,

Romantic, full of secrets and simmering passion this Regency romance is the perfect escape for an hour or two.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

4*#Review- Annie Burrows A Duke in Need of a Wife @MillsandBoon @NovelistaAnnie

A search for a duchess 
…despite his scandalous secret!

Oliver, Duke of Theakstone, needs a duchess—but who will accept his secret illegitimate child? He invites several eligible ladies to his estate to assess their suitability, including infuriating beauty, Miss Sofia Underwood. Oliver is a master of cool practicality, so he’s hopeful when he sees the connection between Sofia and his daughter. What scares him is that there’s nothing cool or practical about his attraction to Sofia!

Amazon UK


I received an electronic advanced reader copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A charming Regency romance, based on the marriage of convenience trope. Sofia has lived with her guardians, her paternal aunt and uncle since she was a young girl, they looked after her, but she never felt loved, and so became an independent spirit, something frowned on by Regency society.

Oliver, the Duke of Theakstone, is looking for a wife, to raise his illegitimate daughter, who he cares for, but doesn’t know how to love. His meeting with Sofia is unusual, and it sets the scene for an unconventional romance.

An enjoyable read, with some poignant moments and a deepening romance between Oliver and Sofia. Livvy, Oliver’s daughter and Snowball, Sofia’s dog are great characters, who give the story a humorous dimension.

A lighthearted, Regency romance, which lets you escape to a more romantic era, for a little while.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

#BlogTour: Eva Leigh – Counting on a Countess @MillsandBoon #romance #Insiders #romancebloggers @EvaLeighAuthor

Image credit-Megan-Seek My Scribbles 

For a shameless libertine and a wily smuggler in the London Underground, marriage is more than convenience—it’s the strategy . . .

Christopher “Kit” Ellingsworth, war veteran and newly minted Earl of Blakemere, buries his demons under every sort of pleasure and vice. His scandalous ways have all but emptied his coffers . . . until a wealthy mentor leaves him a sizeable fortune. The only stipulation? He must marry within one month to inherit the money. Kit needs a bride and the bold, mysterious Miss Tamsyn Pearce seems perfect.

Husband hunting isn’t Tamsyn’s top priority—she’s in London to sell her new shipment of illicit goods—but she’s desperate for funds. When a handsome earl offers to wed her and send her back to Cornwall with a hefty allowance, Tamsyn agrees.

But when an unexpected proviso in the will grants Tamsyn control of the inheritance, their arrangement becomes anything but convenient. Now, Kit’s counting on his countess to make his wildest dreams a reality and he plans to convince her, one pleasurable seduction at a time…

Amazon UK

My 4* Review of ‘Counting on a Countess’…

An enticing medley of Regency London Society and Cornish smugglers provides an exciting setting for this ‘Marriage of Convenience’ historical romance with a strong feminist theme.

Kit, the Earl of Blakemere is a veteran of Waterloo, he is a consummate rake, who has to marry. Tamsyn is forced to earn money in an unorthodox way when her parents die, and her uncle refuses to support the estate’s villagers. She needs a rich husband to buy back the estate.

Kit and Tamsyn meet at a society ball and the physical attraction is strong, but will a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ succeed when they are both keeping secrets and their emotions are starting to mirror their passion for each other?

This is an exciting story, with complex characters and contemporary exploration of historical themes. Kit has lasting effects from his war service, recognised in today’s society as Post Traumatic Stress. Tamsyn is a society lady, with feminist views and actions, not accepted in Regency society.

The attraction is passionate, the story well-paced and varied, the characters multi-layered and believable, with an adrenaline-fueled satisfying ending.

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Q&A Eva Leigh #CountingOnACountess #BlogTour #MillsandBoon

What do you find inspirational about Regency England?

I love that there was a mix of different classes, genders, races, and sexualities—particularly in London—and we as readers and authors get to explore the dynamics of shifting borders. The social constructs were more fluid than I believe we realize, and I love playing with that.

Would you have liked to have lived in this era? Why?

Nope! I don’t fancy being considered a man’s property. I’d rather write about hidden pockets of resistance in that world.

How do your stories differ from other Regency romance novels?

Honestly, I don’t like to compare myself or my books to other authors or their works. I like that we each provide different stories, different facets, different characters. My books often consider people who don’t quite conform to societal expectations, and I have a very strong feminist sensibility which plays out in the pages of my work.

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

I take inspiration from history and do a substantial amount of research to learn about people such as confidence artists or smugglers. The characters are born from what I learn and my own imagination.

Can you tell us a little about the ‘Scandalous Ladies of London’ series?

Regency London existed beyond the ballrooms and private clubs of the elite. As the television series “Taboo” explores, there were thousands of liminal figures in this world, and I wanted to explore it. In particular, women were a major part of this in-between world, and I thought, Wouldn’t it be fascinating to make my heroines shady? Also, I love an across-the-tracks romance.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

Naturally, I love romance, so that constitutes a considerable amount of my reading. Historical, contemporary, erotic, and the occasional paranormal. I’m getting into reading more Young Adult fiction because of the breadth of characters, settings, and topics. It’s really amazing to see marginalized voices finally getting heard—though we have a long way to go as far as representation and #ownvoices are concerned.

 What are you currently writing?

It’s very exciting because I’m currently working on the first book in a new series inspired by classic American ‘80s movies. The heroes all meet during “detention” at Eton—which, yes, is loosely based on The Breakfast Club! I’m really loving writing the first book in the series because I get to be a little silly, a little funny, and also discuss important topics like gender roles, biases in the sciences, and the need for ecological conservation. The usual Eva Leigh book! 😉

Image credit – Megan- Seek My Scribbles

Also in ‘The Scandalous Ladies of London’ series is From Duke Till Dawn.

‘It’s not my habit to seduce impoverished widows…’

The Duke of Greyland lost his heart – and a princely sum – to a charming, beautiful and destitute widow who, after one passionate night, vanished without a trace. Cassandra Blair grew up on the city streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a rich mark – to be fleeced and forgotten – only she’d never forgotten him.

Years later, chance brings them together again, in a London gaming hell. Grayland is desperate to have her… never suspecting everything about his lover was a lie. But finding herself in dire financial straits, at risk of losing everything, Cassandra has no choice but to beg the man she betrayed for help.

The proud Duke will assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid! But can the real Cassandra – the smart, streetwise survivor – steal his heart all over again?

Book one in ‘The Scandalous Ladies of London’ series.

Amazon UK

 My 4* Review of ‘From Duke Till Dawn’…

A different trope from the usual Regency romance, this story has some originality, an anti-heroine character rather than an anti-hero. The story creates an interesting relationship between the Duke and the con- artist, but even though she fools him once, Cassandra ultimately needs his help and position to survive, which detracts from her independence.

The Duke of Greyland lacks the arrogance customarily associated with his rank in Regency romance. He has many appealing traits, not least his passionate nature and support of those less fortunate than he. However, he does lack authenticity.

This story scores highly for sensuality, the connection between the Duke and Cassandra is hot, and the love scene leaves little to the imagination. They explain why the Duke acts as he does and their deepening emotional attachment underlines every kiss.

Overall this is a lovely story, which superficially explores the seedier side of Regency England while delivering a passionate love story.

I received a copy of this book from Mills&Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Image credit- Megan- Seek My Scribbles

 

#CountingOnACountess