A docile wife is what he wants. A husband is the last thing she needs. Can a quest for a killer teach them that they are both wrong?
Emma Smythe and her brother arrive at Easterby Hall to discover that a handsome stranger has laid claim to their ancestral home and the family title. Have her relatives been murdered, and is her brother next? Determined to find the answers, she has no option but to trust the gentleman who insists that he will help. But danger appears in many guises, and for a woman intent on remaining single, her intriguing protector may prove the biggest threat of all.
The attempts on Richard Lacey’s life begin when he inherits a title and a rundown estate. A coincidence? He’s not so sure. Problems multiply with the unexpected arrival of Jamie and Emma Smythe. Long thought dead, they too are potential targets. Richard thinks he wants a docile, obedient wife, but will the task of keeping headstrong Emma safe from danger change his mind?
Embroiled in a sinister mystery, can Richard and Emma work together to catch a killer? And will this dangerous quest teach them that what they both wish to avoid is exactly what they need?
Filled with intrigue, unexpected twists, and faultless period detail, this slow-burn romance is a must-read for lovers of classic Regency fiction.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I have read the last book in the Gentlemen series, A Bachelor’s Pledge, but reading the first book is still enjoyable, as the intrigue, mystery and romance, are complete. Set in Regency times, Richard inherits an unexpected title and estate, Emma is used to living by her wits to keep her brother safe.
When Emma returns to the family estate she finds Richard and a series of mysterious deaths, they form an uneasy alliance to find the truth and proximity leads to friendship and romance.The mystery is well-plotted and the historical characters are cleverly crafted with gentle romance and lots of intrigue this is an engaging Regency romance with a suspenseful twist.
Penny Hampson writes mysteries, and because she has a passion for history, you’ll find her stories also reflect that. A Gentleman’s Promise, a traditional Regency romance, was Penny’s debut novel, which was shortly followed by more in the same genre. Penny also enjoys writing contemporary mysteries with a hint of the paranormal, because where do ghosts come from but the past?
Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).
Three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes.
Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets.
Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband.
Awkward local girl Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles beneath her shy exterior.
As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum.
A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together…
As the nation prepares for the royal wedding they must race against the clock to save one of their own.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a fascinating historical novel showcasing the crucial work carried out by the analysts, code breakers and translators at Bletchley Park during WW2. Detailed and well researched, it tells the story of three women inspired by historical figures. There are cameo appearances from famous wartime figures in the novel too, which adds authenticity.
Dual timeline it moves, between 1940 and 1947 weeks before the Royal Wedding. One of the characters has a connection to the Royals. The three women, once best of friends, had an irretrievable falling out and now are estranged. This is a lengthy novel, but there is a lot to unravel and reveal to the reader. The historical detail makes this an immersive read.
The women are drawn together by a desperate plea for help from one of them to solve one last code. The characters are flawed and relatable you get to know them well and empathise with them. The race to solve the code is suspenseful and draws on the past and the women’s connections.
This is an enjoyable, epic read which shines a light on one of the most secretive and vital areas of the second world war.
Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice.
A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.
She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia
A country torn apart by war. Two love stories divided by decades. One chance to discover the truth…
Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past.
As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain’s civil war – when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart.
But can Isabella trust the man she’s fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed…?
Heartbreaking, gripping historical fiction about the tragedy of war, and the redemption of love.
I received a copy of this book from the Orion via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This dual timeline novel explores two tragic and turbulent times in Spanish history through the eyes of the people who lived through them. Two love stories echo the other in many ways. Family, love, loss and forgiveness are predominant themes in this politically astute story.
The setting and time periods are the ones that affected Spain and drew the attention and interference of the wider world. This is an emotional story, the political struggles, in both of the timelines, were personal to the people living through them, and the writing reflects this.
Believable and vibrant characters give life to familial relationships and friendships. It’s immersive and insightful, evoking all the reader’s senses, so they feel part of it.
The poignant but positive ending is a perfect conclusion.
I have a degree in modern history and I’m fascinated with events from the first half of the 20th century, which is the time period my historical fiction is set.
My work has been longlisted in the Mslexia Novel Competition, and shortlisted in the prestigious Bridport Short Story Competition.
I live in Berkshire, UK with my partner, daughter and dog. Before writing stories, I was a physiotherapist.
Jules Hayes is a pseudonym for JA Corrigan who writes contemporary thrillers. Falling Suns by JA Corrigan (Headline Accent) was published in 2016.
London, 1910. A cruel twist of fate means Daisy must give up the job she loves painting for a theatre company and move to Devon. Only the silver bangle she wears on her wrist brings comfort, reminding her of a young man who once promised her his heart.
In Devon, life is very different. Lodging with her uncle at his busy tavern, Daisy must scrub and serve for her keep. And when her uncle catches her sketching, he is furious and forbids her to draw.
But a chance meeting with two travelling artists offers Daisy a different path, and steeling her courage, Daisy runs away with them to Lamorna, Cornwall, home to a famous group of bohemian artists…
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Daisy is artistic and enjoys working painting theatrical scenery, but when tragedy strikes, she forced to relocate to Devon and work for her uncle, who doesn’t pay her and forbids her sketching. Determined to escape from her life of drudgery, she risks all, running away with some travelling artists to Lamorna Cornwall.
Historically correct, vividly described settings form the backdrop for vibrant characters and a story that reflects the artist lifestyle in the Arts and Crafts era. The storytelling is lovely, and it’s easy to become immersed in the character’s lives and empathise with their problems.
This is an enjoyable and escapist read for those who like historical fiction.
As a girl, Nancy Bloom would go to Bath’s Theatre Royal, sit on the hard wooden benches and stare in awe at the actresses playing men as much as the women dressed in finery. She longed to be a part of it all and when a man promised her parents he could find a role for Nancy in the theatre, they believed him.
His lie and betrayal led to her ruin.
Francis Carlyle is a theatre manager, an ambitious man always looking for the next big thing to take the country by storm. A self-made man, Francis has finally shed the skin of his painful past and is now rich, successful and in need of a new female star. Never in a million years did he think he’d find her standing on a table in one of Bath’s bawdiest pubs.
Nancy vowed never to trust a man again. Francis will do anything to make her his star. As they engage in a battle of wits and wills, can either survive with their hearts intact?
The second in Rachel Brimble’s thrilling new Victorian saga series, Trouble for the Leading Lady will whisk you away to the riotous, thriving underbelly of Victorian Bath.
I received a copy of this book from the author and Aria in return for an honest review.
Nancy’s story is the second book in this challenging and compelling Victorian saga. Nancy dreams of being on the stage end in ruin until Louisa ( A Widow’s Vow) saves her. Nancy’s life is not what she wants, but her close friendship with Louisa and Octavia keeps her positive. Limited by her gender and social class, Nancy’s life choices are few. This poignant theme is explored well in this insightful story.
Francis’life in the workhouse still haunts him. He hopes to let go of the horrors through the play he is writing. There is strong attraction when Francis and Nancy meet, but can they fulfil each other’s dreams?
The conflicted romance is passionate, but both driven characters are wary of being hurt. They are easy to empathise with, and you want them to find lasting happiness. The dynamic between Louisa, Nancy and Octavia is relatable and provides humour and realism, adding authenticity.
The setting and historical detail are well researched and give the story its ethos and immersive quality.
This is an engaging Victorian romantic saga with a strong theme of social injustice that resonates.
Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 20 published novels including the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).
In 2019 she signed a new three book contract with Aria Fiction for a Victorian trilogy set in a Bath brothel. The first book, A Widow’s Vow was released in September 2020 followed by book 2 Trouble For The Leading Lady in March 2021 – it is expected that the final instalment will be released in the Autumn 2021. Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.
To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click on link Newsletter Sign Up
Let bestselling author Lindsey Hutchinson take you back in time to the Victorian Black Country, for a tale of love, hardship and fighting against the odds to succeed.
Life is tough for Ella Bancroft. After her father, Thomas, is wheelchair-bound by an accident at the tube works, the responsibility for keeping a roof over their head falls to Ella. Ella’s mother died when she was ten, and her sister Sally lives with her no-good, work-shy husband Eddy, so is no help at all. If she and her father are to keep the bailiffs from the door, then Ella must earn a living.
But Ella is resourceful as well as creative, and soon discovers she has a gift for millinery. Setting up shop in the front room of their two-up, two-down home in Silver Street, Walsall, Ella and Thomas work hard to establish a thriving business. Before long, the fashionable ladies of the Black Country are lining up to wear one of Ella’s beautiful creations, and finally Ella dares to hope for a life with love, friendship and family.
Meeting the man she longs to marry should be a turning point for Ella, but life’s twists and turns can be cruel. As the winter grows colder, events seem to conspire to test Ella’s spirit. And by the time spring is approaching, will the hat girl of Silver Street triumph, or will Ella have to admit defeat as all her dreams are tested.
The Queen of the Black Country sagas is back with a heart-breaking, unforgettable, page-turning story of love, life and battling against the odds.
Extract from The Hat Girl From Silver Street Lindsey Hutchinson
Ella Bancroft looked down at the tangled mess in her fingers and stifled a sob. She pulled at the ruined hat in an effort to rectify her error, but the steaming process had set the blunder in place.
A tear slipped from her eye and rolled down her cheek. This was her second mistake in a week. Her first was sticking her finger with a pin and leaving a blood spot on a piece of white tulle. Ivy had ranted and raved as she had snipped off the offending piece of material to rescue the hat.
Now Ella had spoilt the crown of a felt winter hat, having steamed it into the wrong shape entirely. Thinking quickly, she wondered whether, if she held it over the steamer again, she could re-form it.
About to try, Ella caught her breath as she heard footsteps on the bare wooden staircase. It was too late, Ivy was on her way up.
Ella had been employed at Ivy Gladwin’s shop for two years and yet suddenly she had begun making errors. Why? Was it because she was unhappy in her work?
‘How are you getting on with that order?’ Ivy called as she entered the bedroom, which had been converted to a work room.
‘Erm… I…’ Ella mumbled as she looked again at the floppy felt monstrosity.
‘What the…?’ Ivy gasped. Snatching the article from Ella, she held it up between thumb and forefinger. ‘How on earth…? Good grief, girl, can’t you do anything right?’
The sob Ella was holding back escaped her lips. ‘I’m sorry, Miss Gladwin, I don’t know what happened.’
‘Neither do I!’ Ivy snapped, throwing the felt onto the table. ‘It’s completely ruined! An expensive piece of material at the outset and now it’s a – oh, do stop snivelling!’
The sharp slap to her cheek caused Ella to catch her breath and she raised a hand to cover the stinging skin.
Ella sniffed and tried hard to halt the sobs racking her body.
‘I… I’m really sorry,’ she managed at last.
‘Well, you will have to pay for it out of your wages. Now, start again and for God’s sake mind what you’re doing!’ With that, Ivy strode from the room, her long bombazine skirt swishing against her side-button boots.
Ella stared at the hat on the table and thought about the last two years of her life. She had seen the advert in the local newspaper for an apprentice hat-maker. Having applied and been interrogated by Miss Gladwin for over an hour, she was given the post on a month’s trial. The pay, she was told, would be one pound and ten shillings a week but she must work a week in hand first. Any damages would be taken out of her money before she received it.
Now she was halfway through this week and already there would be two stoppages from her salary. Ella sighed as she worked out just how much she would have in her hand come Friday.
The gold flecks in her hazel eyes were accentuated as more tears brimmed before falling. Pushing a stray dark curl from her forehead, Ella moved to the workbench. With a sniff and a sigh, she began her work again, this time selecting the correct block to steam the material over.
Ella thought once more about her earnings – would there be enough to feed herself and her father? The food in the larder was running desperately low, and she knew if there was only enough for one of them to eat she would make sure it was her dad.
Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson.
July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.
Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up to be a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.
Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she soon makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.
But Connie is haunted by another secret; and if it comes out, it could destroy her new life.
After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie find that she can return to her previous existence? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new world through the tram windows?
Guest Post – Lynn Johnson – Wartime with the Tram Girls
I cannot believe that, as I write this post, I have two books out in the big, wide world, a scary but happy situation to be in. Before I start, I would like to introduce to you an acquaintance of mine who would like to have a few words.
“My name is Connie. Don’t call me Constance. It is important that everyone knows me as Connie. I have a secret, you see and if it becomes known, I will most probably lose everything. Besides, I like being Connie, the Tram Girl. She is far more interesting than Constance Copeland who has little if anything to do with her life. Connie has more freedom for a start and Father has less control over me. I like it that way. The name change was partly Ginnie’s idea. You might know her as The Girl from the Workhouse. She thought that Constance sounded too posh for my plans. I thought Connie would be just about perfect. Ginnie’s younger than me but she makes an awful lot of sense sometimes.”
This is the voice of Constance Copeland, and Wartime with the Tram Girls tells her story against the backdrop of WW1. As with the first book in my Potteries Girls series, I wanted to write about the Homefront, what happened to the families and friends of those who kept the country going during the Great War, and how they managed when their men came home again, many of them changed forever. Coming from a different social class, writing about Connie gave me the opportunity to look at many events, both good and bad, from a different perspective. I loved getting inside Connie’s head and looking at the world through her eyes – always asking the question – what would Connie do?
When I really want to know my characters, particularly major characters, I interview them – perhaps a result of my past life as a personnel manager. By asking characters what they like, don’t like, favourite pastimes, which books they read – or can’t read, I really have to delve deep inside their psyche. A key part of my process is to get each of these characters to talk about their backstory. What they say and what their feelings are about other characters can often give pointers to where the story is/should be going.
When writing from an individual character’s point of view, it is important to relate only thoughts, feelings and speech that that character would be aware of. This makes it rather difficult to get input from others, so writers need to find creative ways to overcome that through such using more than one point of view character, showing through actions and letters and so on, seeing behaviour and emotions reflected through the demeanour of others. An omniscient narrator might tell the reader a lot about the events leading up to the denouement. How much more exciting it becomes when your characters are happy to communicate with you directly.
I love seeing my characters come to life in this way. It’s as if they are sitting on my shoulder watching the words become sentences, paragraphs, chapters, stories. And woe-betide me if I get it wrong!
Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.
Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.
She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.
She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney, wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.
Sometimes the past won’t stay hidden, it demands to be uncovered…
Arthur Pettinger’s memory isn’t what it used to be. He can’t always remember the names of his grandchildren, where he lives or which way round his slippers go. He does remember Maryse though, a woman he hasn’t seen for decades, but whose face he will never forget.
When Arthur’s granddaughter, Maddy moves in along with her daughter Esther, it’s her first step towards pulling her life back together. But when Esther makes a video with Arthur, the hunt for the mysterious Maryse goes viral.
There’s only one person who can help Maddy track down this woman – the one that got away, Joe. Their quest takes them to France, and into the heart of the French Resistance.
When the only way to move forwards is to look back, will this family finally be able to?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus- Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Arthur is ninety-six, and his memory is failing. His granddaughter Maddy comes to live with him as he is unable to cope alone. Her young daughter bonds with Arthur, but he is troubled by something in his past. Maddy is lonely and is resistant when a past lover is drawn back into her life. She wants to stop Arthur from fretting about his past, and maybe Joe is the man to help her?
This dual timeline story follows Arthur back to WW2, where he worked with the French resistance and met the love of his life. This part of the story is atmospheric and full of courageous acts and danger. The other timeline shows Maddy and Esther’s compassion towards Arthur, and there a realistic mix of despair and humour coupled with frustration and patience. The author captures Arthur’s confusion and fear about his memory loss. Maddy and Joe get a second chance at happiness as they try to find the missing pieces of Arthur’s life.
Heartbreak, hope, loss and love define this engaging story. Although the ending made me cry, it left me feeling uplifted.
Suzanne Fortin is a USA Today and Amazon UK & USA best selling author, with The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister both reaching #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her books have sold over a million copies and translation rights for her novels have been sold worldwide. She was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband and family.
Extract from The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger
Well, that was a turn-up for the books. Moaning Minnie had gone and the smiley one was staying. Maddy, that was her name; he was sure of it. Maddy. Arthur repeated the name several times out loud. He wanted to remember her.
Maddy Pettinger. Of course, dear, sweet Maddy – his granddaughter. He could see her when she was a small child, maybe about five or six. She was wearing a blue pinafore dress and her hair was in bunches with blue ribbon. A warmth filled his heart as he could see the man holding Maddy’s hand. It’s his own son, Charles. Charles in his late twenties, a grown man, and he was so proud of Maddy and rightly so; she was such a delightful child.
There was a memory he couldn’t quite see clearly. It was all fuzzy, like the horizon on a road in the height of summer when the heat made everything blurry. The memory was there but it wasn’t clear. Arthur frowned as he tried to look through the heat waves. Slowly the mental image became sharper and Arthur’s heart hurt.
Charles, his dear son – he was no longer with him. He was with Joan. He shouldn’t be with Joan yet. Charles was too young. He was emerging from the blur, standing beyond Arthur’s reach.
Arthur could see himself, looking down, and Maddy was with him, standing at the end of that long road, looking at the man they both loved so dearly.
A voice from the doorway made Arthur look up. For a moment he thought it was Maddy, but then he realised it was the girl who came with her. Arthur smiled. ‘Hello, young lady.’
She gave an uncertain smile, which turned into a frown as she looked at his feet. ‘Your slippers are on the wrong feet.’
Wrong feet. Wrong feet. Arthur blew out a frustrated breath. Wrong feet? What was wrong with his feet? He looked down at them. Slippers? ‘Hmm,’ he said. ‘Wrong feet.’
The girl stepped into the room and crouched down in front of him. She reached for his foot and cupped the heel with her hand. She paused and looked up. Arthur wasn’t quite sure what she wanted him to do, but he lifted his foot and watched as she removed his slipper. She repeated the process with the other foot and then put the slippers back on his feet.
‘That’s better,’ she said, standing up.
Arthur nodded. ‘Thank you.’ He wasn’t quite sure what he was thanking her for, but it seemed the right thing to say. He remembered his sweets in the drawer and reaching out, he removed the tin and offered it to the child. ‘Would you like a sweet… err… young lady?’ He wished he could remember her name.
The child hesitated before poking around in the tin, examining the sweets, finally settling on a pink one. She unwrapped it and popped it into her mouth. ‘Esther. My name’s Esther.’
‘Esther. Esther, Esther, Esther.’ Arthur tapped his head as he repeated the name. He wanted it to stick. ‘Well then, Esther, what are you doing today?’
‘I’ve made a YouTube video.’
Arthur was baffled. He had no idea what one of them was, but she looked pleased about it. ‘Is that right? Good for you.’
‘I have one hundred and fifty subscribers.’
Again, she looked immensely proud of this but alas Arthur was clueless. He nodded and smiled all the same. ‘One hundred and fifty, eh? That sounds a lot.’
Her smile dropped and she gave a shrug. ‘Not really. Some people have thousands.’
‘Quality not quantity. Happiness should be measured in quality.’
Once accused of witchcraft Martha Spicer is now free from the shadow of the gallows and lives a safe and happy life with her husband, Jacob. But when Jacob heads north to accompany his master, he warns Martha to keep her healing gifts a secret, to keep herself safe, to be a good wife.
Martha loves Jacob but without him there to protect her, she soon comes under the suspicious eye of the wicked Steward Boult, who’s heard of her talent and forces her to attend to him. If she refuses, he promises to destroy the good life she has built for herself with Jacob.
Desperate and alone, Martha faces a terrible decision: stay and be beholden to Boult or journey north to find Jacob who is reported to have been killed.. The road ahead is filled with danger, but also the promise of a brighter future. And where her gifts once threatened to be her downfall, might they now be the very thing that sets Martha free…?
The brilliant follow-up to Eleanor Porter’s first novel of love, betrayal, superstition and fear in Elizabethan England. A story of female courage, ingenuity and determination.
I received copies of these books from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for honest reviews.
The Good Wife is the sequel to The Wheelwright’s Daughter but readable as a standalone. Martha is married to Jacob and happy. He is her world, but it starts to crumble when he follows his master north. Jacob is worried about leaving Martha, who attracts attention for her healing skills. She is intelligent and wise in natural healing but naive when facing the world’s evils. When Jacob doesn’t return, her world implodes. Forced to flee her long journey is one of danger and self-discovery. She matures with each encounter and every problem she faces.
The historical details make the journey atmospheric and immersive. The characters are vibrant, with intriguing relationship dynamics. I love the understanding she has with her horse. The evil she faces is difficult to read but necessary to the story. There are many poignant and tragic moments, but ultimately the journey is a positive experience for Martha.
Eleanor Porter has lectured at Universities in England and Hong Kong and her poetry and short fiction has been published in magazines. The Wheelwright’s Daughter was her first novel.
My Review of The Wheelwright’s Daugther – Eleanor Porter
This story is set in Elizabethan England in the late sixteenth century when religious persecution was rife and witchhunts common. Martha is a young woman raised by her grandmother and father. Educated, intelligent with independent ways that make the villagers’ distrustful of her. After her grandmother’s death, there is no one to protect Martha from her father’s drinking, and she is vulnerable to the dangerous, pious priest and the villagers’ superstitions.
Martha experiences coming of age in a dangerous world with little sympathetic support and much superstition. The story is claustrophobic and immersive, as the reader experiences the danger, superstitions and treachery of this historical period from Martha’s point of view.
Authentic, often unlikeable characters draw the reader into this story. Martha is easy to empathise with, and you want her to survive.
When Beatrix, Duchess of Howden, writes to her estranged husband offering a divorce, she’s stunned when he arrives on her doorstep with a different proposition: a six-week marriage trial! Quinton Roxbury seems cold and inscrutable, but Beatrix gradually realises his rough exterior hides a heavy burden. As their connection deepens, dare she trust him with her own scandalous past and risk the marriage she never knew she wanted?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is the third book in the Regency Belles of Bath series but reads well as a standalone. Marred with scandal, the Duke of Howden’s life is difficult. Contacted by his runaway bride, he strikes a bargain that may lead to happiness or disaster.
Quin the Duke has a satirical sense of humour that endears him. Beatrix, surprised by his offer and her reaction to him, agrees to his proposal. First friends and then romantically involved, as they live together in the family home. Beatrix, damaged by her childhood, wants to help Quin’s family find some positives in their lives.
This is a lovely Regency romance with plenty of conflicts and relatable characters and a heroine and hero that deserve to find love.
Jenni Fletcher was born in Scotland and now lives in Yorkshire where she writes historical romance novels ranging from the Roman to late Victorian eras. She studied English at Cambridge and Hull and has been nominated for 4 RoNA awards, winning for Short Romantic Fiction in 2020. She teaches Creative Writing at a university in the north of England and her favourite hobbies are baking and, of course, reading.