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

Lilian and the Irresistible Duke Virginia Heath 5*#Review @VirginiaHeath @MillsandBoon #SecretsofaVictorianHousehold @rararesources #BlogBlitz #BookReview #MillsandBoonHistorical #HarlequinHistorical #FridayReads #PublicationDay

A reunion in Rome…Sparks an affair to remember!

Responsible widow Lilian Fairclough is persuaded to travel to Rome for a hard-earned break and to let down her hair! She’s surprised to be reunited with passionate, cynical Italian duke, Pietro Venturi. He reawakens her sensual side and intrigues her with glimpses of pain beneath his rakish surface. Enticed into a secret and temporary affair – what will happen once she returns home?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I love older couples romances, and whilst these are becoming more popular in contemporary romance, they are rarer in historical romance, so one is particularly enjoyable to read.

Set in romantic Rome, Lilian, who still mourns her husband, reacquaints with an Italian Duke Pietro, who has only bad memories, of his late marriage, and will never enter that institution again.

A mutual love of art draws them into friendship, but proximity builds the sensual attraction, to sizzling level. The characters are authentic and easy to empathise. The decisions they make, are in keeping with their maturity and the resultant romance is passionate, poignant and permanent, after much angst and conflict.

The final book in the Secrets of a Victorian Household, series it reads as a standalone, but for those who have read the previous books, or like continuity, the epilogue ties everything together.

An engaging read with delightful characters, a vivid setting and a realistic but romantic love story.

#VirginiaHeath

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace insomnia and start writing them down. Despite that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Murder Mystery, Victorian Romance

The Princess Plan Julia London 5*#Review @JuliaFLondon @MillsandBoon #BlogTour #ARoyalWedding #Victorian #Romance #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #BookReview #Extract #TuesdayBookBlog #MurderMystery #Intrigue

#ThePrincessPLan

London’s high society loves nothing more than a scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip-off about the crime, forcing Sebastian to ask for her help in his quest to find his friend’s killer.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more dangerous than a prince socialising with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And soon, as temptation becomes harder to ignore, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart. 

Amazon UK

#ThePrincessPlan #BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

Such an absorbing, intriguing romantic read. Eliza is a delight, independent, intelligent and indelibly imprinted on your mind, as her unusual romance with a sexy, troubled Prince plays out. The ethos of Victorian society is captured well. Eliza, her sister and friend are a redoubtable trio who enliven every page of this Victorian romance.

Danger and intrigue fuse effortlessly with passion and romance. Whilst, there are elements of ‘Cinderella’ in this story, the reality of what is expected of royal princes and women in society, tempers the fun and glamour. Full of witty dialogue, a murder mystery, political intrigue and romantic passion, this tale has something for everyone. The first in the series, I look forward to the next book.

Extract From The Princess Plan – Julia London

CHAPTER ONE

London 1845

All of London has been on tenterhooks, desperate for a glimpse of Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia during his highly anticipated visit. Windsor Castle was the scene of Her Majesty’s banquet to welcome him. Sixty-and-one-hundred guests were on hand, feted in St. George’s Hall beneath the various crests of the Order of the Garter. Two thousand pieces of silver cutlery were used, one thousand crystal glasses and goblets. The first course and main dish of lamb and potatoes were served on silver-gilded plates, followed by delicate fruits on French porcelain.

Prince Sebastian presented a large urn fashioned of green Alucian malachite to our Queen Victoria as a gift from his father the King of Alucia. The urn was festooned with delicate ropes of gold around the mouth and the neck.

The Alucian women were attired in dresses of heavy silk worn close to the body, the trains quite long and brought up and fastened with buttons to facilitate walking. Their hair was fashioned into elaborate knots worn at the nape. The Alucian gentlemen wore formal frock coats of black superfine wool that came to midcalf, as well as heavily embroidered waistcoats worn to the hip. It was reported that Crown Prince Sebastian is “rather tall and broad, with a square face and neatly trimmed beard, a full head of hair the colour of tea, and eyes the colour of moss,” which the discerning reader might think of as a softer shade of green. It is said he possesses a regal air owing chiefly to the many medallions and ribbons he wore befitting his rank.

Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies

The Right Honorable Justice William Tricklebank, a widower and justice of the Queen’s Bench in Her Majesty’s service, was very nearly blind, his eyesight having steadily eroded into varying and fuzzy shades of grey with age. He could no longer see so much as his hand, which was why his eldest daughter, Miss Eliza Tricklebank, read his papers to him.

Eliza had enlisted the help of Poppy, their housemaid, who was more family than servant, having come to them as an orphaned girl more than twenty years ago. Together, the two of them had anchored strings and ribbons halfway up the walls of his London townhome, and all the judge had to do was follow them with his hand to move from room to room. Among the hazards he faced was a pair of dogs that were far too enthusiastic in their wish to be of some use to him, and a cat who apparently wished him dead, judging by the number of times he put himself in the judge’s path or leapt into his lap as he sat, or walked across the knitting the judge liked to do while his daughter read to him, or unravelled his ball of yarn without the judge’s notice.

The only other potential impediments to his health were his daughters—Eliza, a spinster, and her younger sister, Hollis, otherwise known as the Widow Honeycutt. They were often together in his home, and when they were, it seemed to him there was quite a lot of laughing at this and shrieking at that. His daughters disputed that they shrieked, and accused him of being old and easily startled. But the judge’s hearing, unlike his eyesight, was quite acute, and those two shrieked with laughter. Often.

At eight-and-twenty, Eliza was unmarried, a fact that had long baffled the judge. There had been an unfortunate and rather infamous misunderstanding with one Mr Asher Daughton-Cress, who the judge believed was despicable, but that had been ten years ago. Eliza had once been demure and a politely deferential young lady, but she’d shed any pretence of deference when her heart was broken. In the last few years, she had emerged vibrant and carefree. He would think such demeanour would recommend her to gentlemen far and wide, but apparently, it did not. She’d had only one suitor since her very public scandal, a gentleman some fifteen years older than Eliza. Mr Norris had faithfully called every day until one day he did not. When the judge had inquired, Eliza had said, “It was not love that compelled him, Pappa. I prefer my life here with you—the work is more agreeable, and I suspect not as many hours as marriage to him would require.”

His youngest, Hollis, had been tragically widowed after only two years of a marriage without issue. While she maintained her own home, she and her delightful wit were a faithful caller to his house at least once a day without fail, and sometimes as much as two or three times per day. He should like to see her remarried, but Hollis insisted she was in no rush to do so. The judge thought she rather preferred her sister’s company to that of a man.

His daughters were thick as thieves, as the saying went, and were co-conspirators in something that the judge did not altogether approve of. But he was blind, and they were determined to do what they pleased no matter what he said, so he’d given up trying to talk any practical sense into them.

That questionable activity was the publication of a ladies’ gazette. Tricklebank didn’t think ladies needed a gazette, much less one having to do with frivolous subjects such as fashion, gossip and beauty. But say what he might, his daughters turned a deaf ear to him. They were unfettered in their enthusiasm for this endeavour, and if the two of them could be believed, so was all of London.

The gazette had been established by Hollis’s husband, Sir Percival Honeycutt. Except that Sir Percival had published an entirely different sort of gazette, obviously— one devoted to the latest political and financial news. Now that was a useful publication to the judge’s way of thinking.

Sir Percival’s death was the most tragic of accidents, the result of his carriage sliding off the road into a swollen river during rain, which also saw the loss of a fine pair of greys. It was a great shock to them all, and the judge had worried about Hollis and her ability to cope with such a loss. But Hollis proved herself an indomitable spirit, and she had turned her grief into efforts to preserve her husband’s name. But as she was a young woman without a man’s education, and could not possibly comprehend the intricacies of politics or financial matters, she had turned the gazette on its head and dedicated it solely to topics that interested women, which naturally would be limited to the latest fashions and the most tantalizing on dits swirling about London’s high society. It was the judge’s impression that women had very little interest in the important matters of the world.

And yet, interestingly, the judge could not deny that Hollis’s version of the gazette was more actively sought than her husband’s had ever been. So much so that Eliza had been pressed into the service of helping her sister prepare her gazette each week. It was curious to Tricklebank that so many members of the Quality were rather desperate to be mentioned among the gazette’s pages.

Today, his daughters were in an unusually high state of excitement, for they had secured the highly sought-after invitations to the Duke of Marlborough’s masquerade ball in honour of the crown prince of Alucia. One would think the world had stopped spinning on its axis and that the heavens had parted and the seas had re-ceded and this veritable God of All Royal Princes had shined his countenance upon London and blessed them all with his presence.

Hogwash.

Everyone knew the prince was here to strike an important trade deal with the English government in the name of King Karl. Alucia was a small European nation with impressive wealth for her size. It was perhaps best known for an ongoing dispute with the neighbouring country of Wesloria—the two had a history of war and distrust as fraught as that between England and France. The judge had read that it was the crown prince who was pushing for modernization in Alucia, and who was the impetus behind the proposed trade agreement. Prince Sebastian envisioned increasing the prosperity of Alucia by trading cotton and iron ore for manufactured goods. But according to the judge’s daughters, that was not the most important part of the trade negotiations. The important part was that the prince was also in search of a marriage bargain.

“It’s what everyone says,” Hollis had insisted to her father over supper recently.

“And how is it, my dear, that everyone knows what the prince intends?” the judge asked as he stroked the cat, Pris, on his lap. The cat had been named Princess when the family believed it a female. When the house-man Ben discovered that Princess was, in fact, a male, Eliza said it was too late to change the name. So they’d shortened it to Pris. “Did the prince send a letter? Announce it in the Times?”

Caro says,” Hollis countered as if that were quite obvious to anyone with half a brain where she got her information. “She knows everything about everyone, Pappa.”

“Aha. If Caro says it, then, by all means, it must be true.”

“You must yourself admit she is rarely wrong,” Hollis had said with an indignant sniff.

Caro, or Lady Caroline Hawke, had been a lifelong friend to his daughters and had been so often underfoot in the Tricklebank house that for many years, it seemed to the judge that he had three daughters.

Caroline was the only sibling of Lord Beckett Hawke and was also his ward. Long ago, a cholera outbreak had swept through London, and both Caro’s mother and his children’s mother had succumbed. Amelia, his wife, and Lady Hawke had been dear friends. They’d sent their children to the Hawke summer estate when Amelia had taken ill. Lady Hawke had insisted on caring for her friend and, well, in the end, they were both lost.

Lord Hawke was an up-and-coming young lord and politician, known for his progressive ideas in the House of Lords. He was rather handsome, Hollis said, a popular figure, and socially in high demand. Which meant that, by association, so was his sister. She, too, was quite comely, which made her presence all the easier to her brother’s many friends, the judge suspected.

But Caroline did seem to know everyone in London and was constantly calling on the Tricklebank house-hold to spout the gossip she’d gleaned in homes across Mayfair. Here was an industrious young lady—she called on three salons a day if she called on one. The judge supposed her brother scarcely need worry about putting food in their cupboards, for the two of them were dining with this four-and-twenty or that ten-and-six almost every night. It was a wonder Caroline wasn’t a plump little peach.

Perhaps she was. In truth, she was merely another shadow to the judge these days.

“And she was at Windsor and dined with the queen,” Hollis added with superiority.

“You mean Caro was in the same room but one hundred persons away from the queen,” the judge suggested. He knew how these fancy suppers went.

“Well, she was there, Pappa, and she met the Alucians, and she knows a great deal about them now. I am quite determined to discover who the prince intends to offer for and announce it in the gazette before anyone else. Can you imagine? I shall be the talk of London!” This was precisely what Mr. Tricklebank didn’t like about the gazette. He did not want his daughters to be the talk of London.

But it was not the day for him to make this point, for his daughters were restless, moving about the house with an urgency he was not accustomed to. Today was the day of the Royal Masquerade Ball, and the sound of crisp petticoats and silk rustled around him, and the scent of perfume wafted into his nose when they passed. His daughters were waiting impatiently for Lord Hawke’s brougham to come round and fetch them. Their masks, he was given to understand, had already arrived at the Hawke House, commissioned, Eliza had breathlessly reported, from “Mrs Cubison herself.”

He did not know who Mrs Cubison was.

And frankly, he didn’t know how Caro had managed to finagle the invitations to a ball at Kensington Palace for his two daughters—for the good Lord knew the Tricklebanks did not have the necessary connections to achieve such a feat.

He could feel their eagerness, their anxiety in the nervous pitch of their giggling when they spoke to each other. Even Poppy seemed nervous. He supposed this was to be the ball by which all other balls in the history of mankind would forever be judged, but he was quite thankful he was too blind to attend.

When the knock at the door came, he was startled by such squealing and furious activity rushing by him that he could only surmise that the brougham had arrived and the time had come to go to the ball.


Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Historical Romance, Romance, Saga, Victorian Romance

The Christmas Wedding Dilly Court 4*#Review @DillyCourt @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #Christmas #Wedding #HistoricalFiction #saga #TheVillageSecrets #BookReview #VictorianRomance

Holding the letter in trembling hands, Daisy’s future crumbled before her – the words engraved on her heart forever.

The village of Little Creek, the long winter of 1867

The first flakes of snow are falling when Daisy Marshall, secretly engaged to her master’s son, finds herself jilted at the altar.

Heartbroken, Daisy flees to the small village of Little Creek, nestled on the coast of Essex. There she is warmly welcomed – but the village is poverty-stricken, suffering under a cruel Lord of the manor. And when cholera hits, the villagers are truly in dire straits.

Determined to help, Daisy makes new friends in earnest doctor Nicholas and dashing smuggler Jay – but also dangerous new enemies, who threaten to destroy everything she’s built. Can Daisy save the village and find happiness in time for Christmas?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A well researched historical saga, of family drama, mystery, poverty and romance. The social divide apparent in Victorian England is explored here.

Daisy, a governess lives in no man’s land, somewhere between upstairs and downstairs. In love with the heir to the household, she hopes her position will be confirmed, but he lets her down, and she returns home, heartbroken and unemployed. Moving to a small Essex village with her family, she feels at home, but the cruelty of the ruling classes blights the villagers’ lives who live in fear, poverty and squalor.

Daisy finds friendship and a warm community, but evil lurks and threatens the life she builds. This is a detailed, passionate tale of Victorian life, which draws you in, as the descriptive writing and authentic characters bring this era of change to life.

A festive start, to what promises to be a riveting series for romantic saga devotees.

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Historical Romance, Romance, Victorian Romance

Miss Lottie’s Christmas Protector Sophia James 4* #Review @MillsandBoon @sophiajamesnz #SecretsofaVictorianHousehold #Romance #VictorianRomance #HistoricalFiction #MillsandBoonInsiders #MillsandBoonHistorical

A Christmas mission

…with the scarred and brooding gentleman!

Part of Secrets of a Victorian Household: Working in her family’s charity foundation for destitute women, caring but impulsive Miss Lottie Fairclough is desperately trying to find a missing woman. She’s roped in family acquaintance Mr Jasper King to help her, equally impressed and annoyed when he rescues her from perilous danger! As she gets to know the injured entrepreneur, it seems he needs her just as much…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A Victorian romance set in the poorer side of London,with an intelligent,improverished heroine, and a tortured, socially sensitive hero.

The historical detail brings the Victorian era alive. The characters are authentic and complex,and the romance between Lottie and Jasper is slow burning,rife with conflicts and ultimately passionate.

An emotional Victorian romance,which highlights poverty,vice and the Victorian’s attitude to women.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Romance, Novella, Romance -Dark and Steamy, Victorian Romance

The Wicked Lord’s Mistress Scarlett Jameson 4*#Review #TheLordsSeductionTrilogy #VictorianRomance #Noir #EroticRomance #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources

The Wicked Lord’s Mistress is set in the late Victorian period (1886) for fans of upstairs/downstairs dramas and steamy romances. It explores the continuing love story between Lily, a lady’s maid at Torrington Hall, and a handsome, mysterious aristocratic hero called Lord Edgar Wilson.

Lily is surrounded by challenges from all sides. She is being blackmailed by the evil Malkins, she has a secret past that she is trying to hide, and her forbidden love affair with Lord Wilson grows riskier every day. Can their lusty affair transform into the tender and lasting love that Lily craves? And given the differences in their class, is a happy ending possible for them?

Then a new enemy comes into Lily’s life, someone who is determined to destroy her. Lily finds herself facing the greatest challenge of her life, and hopes that Lord Wilson will be her hero.

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#BlogTour

I received a copy of the first two books in this series from the author in return for honest reviews.

#TheLordsSeduction #Book1

Lily works as a lady’s maid at Torrington Hall. Haunted by a conniving conman who has bribed her, she is forced to attempt to steal valuables from the glamorous guests who visit. One of these is Lord Edgar Wilson, a handsome and mysterious guest. When he and Lily begin to flirt and he catches her stealing from him, he is furious and declares that Lily must pay.

But as Lily finds herself falling for the Lord, she notices that he, in turn, seems attracted to her…

Will Lord Wilson discover the secrets in Lily’s past? And why does he want her to attend his secret London gentleman’s club with him? Can a lady’s maid conquer the heart of a Lord?

A love story filled with heart and fiery passion, The Wicked Lord and the Lady’s Maid is the first in a trilogy called The Lord’s Seduction.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Book 1 – The Wicked Lord and the Lady’s Maid

This book is a short introduction to an erotic Victorian romance trilogy – The Lord’s Seduction. The story is told mainly from Lily, a lady’s maid point of view. The story throws you straight in with little backstory, but read on, and you will soon grasp that Lily is a victim of a particularly dark blackmail plot by a dangerous, perverted man.

Lily is a victim of circumstance, but she is also attracted to a guest at the house where she works. What happens throws her into his sight, and mutual attraction leads to a dangerous, erotic romance.

This is partly a ‘what the butler saw‘ Victorian saucy affair, but some dark issues are explored concerning the position of women and servants in the late Victorian era.

#TheWickedLordsMistress
Book 2 -The Wicked Lord’s Mistress

The second book in the Lord’s Seduction trilogy follows on from the first . Although, the continuation of the romance can be enjoyed if this is read as a standalone. It’s best to read the first book, in the series, which is short, to fully grasp the main themes of this Victorian erotic romance. The book has some astute observations on Victorian society, and its attitudes, to servants, sex and women.

Lily and Edgar continue their illicit affair, but someone else wants the handsome Lord and is prepared to get him at any costs. Lily’s position becomes increasingly dangerous, and her vulnerability makes this a poignant read. She is a strong character, who goes after what she wants, but she loves someone more than herself, and this makes her susceptible. Edgar is likeable and seems to want to be a good man, but his attraction to Lily blinds him to the dangers of their liaison especially for her.

The romance is risque and sensual but is accompanied by a story that tugs at the heartstrings. The characters draw you in, more than you would expect, and you want Lily to find justice. Making reading the final part of the trilogy essential.

Scarlett Jameson works in publishing by day and by night enjoys writing steamy historical romances. A lover of all things Victorian, she lives in London with her cat. 
You can subscribe to Scarlett’s newsletter here https://tinyletter.com/scarlettjameson

Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance, Romance, Travel, Victorian Romance

The Lady Traveller’s Guide to Happily Ever After Victoria Alexander 5* #Review @MillsandBoon @VictAlexander #millsandbooninsiders #victorianromance #historicalromance #travel #ladytravellerssociety #bookbloggers

Can she find her Happily Ever After…

For the past seven years, Violet Branham has enjoyed the luxury of travelling the world as an independent woman, and confining her awkward past to a distant, if painful, memory. But now she has been summoned home to England over a stipulation in the will of her late uncle, the Earl of Ellsworth, one that decrees she lose everything unless she reconciles with the man who broke her heart and ruined her life—her husband.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The fourth book in the ‘Lady Traveller’s Society’ series, this reads perfectly as a standalone. The story of Violet and James, who married after a scandalous moment, to appease society. They lived apart, for the next six years, until the demise of Richard, Earl of Ellsworth, and his will. Forced to live together again, have they changed? Will they learn to be a couple? Or are they destined to lose everything?

Divided into two main parts, the first covers the reunion and the makings of a lasting romance are hinted at, but only if Violet, maintains her independence, and James puts aside his arrogance, and pride, to follow her, and find out who she truly is.

Part two follows the couple across Europe in an amusing, romantic journey to their happily ever after. The main characters are well written and reflect the opportunityof the era they live in. The three elderly matchmakers are also a delight.

The perfect late Summer read. An atmospheric journey across Europe, with gentle romance and witty dialogue.

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.