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

Rags to Riches Wife Catherine Tinley 4*#Review @CatherineTinley @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #MillsandBoonHistorical #HarlequinHistorical #RegencyRomance #RagstoRichesWife #HistoricalRomance

#RagsToRichesWife

Lady’s maid…

To wedded Lady?

Lady’s maid Jane Bailey’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of wealthy gentleman Robert Kendal. He’s come to take Jane to visit her long-lost, aristocratic grandfather. Travelling together, they succumb to a mutual attraction. Yet Jane knows a maid should not hope to love a gentleman, even if she’s suddenly wearing silk dresses and dining with the Family. Society decrees they cannot marry, but how long can Jane deny her heart?

Amazon UK Website

#BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

A charmingly, gentle Regency-style romance.

Ned defied his father to follow his heart and marry a servant, and he died before any chance of reconciliation. Jane, his daughter, although gently born, has to work below stairs when her father dies.

Against a background of the social class divide, the vulnerability of servants to abuse, and Regency society’s strict rules. Jane and Robert meet on a journey back to her roots and fall in love, despite the supposed disparity in their social situations. The truth brings its problems, as both adjust to their new roles.

Despite the internal and external conflict love triumphs. The chemistry between Jane and Robert is sizzling, partly due to its forbidden status. The romance is sweet and gentle.

#CatherineTinley

Catherine Tinley is an award-winning author who writes witty, heartwarming, Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, and dog.

Facebook Twitter Instagram

#RagstoRichesWife
Giveaway – Three winners will each receive a signed copy of Rags to Riches Wife, plus a mystery book by another romance writer (two GB/Ireland, one international).
Click on this Giveaway Link to enter

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway Link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

#BlogTour
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, 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 Book Review, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

A Family for the Widowed Governess Ann Lethbridge 5*#Review @MillsandBoon @annlethbridge #MillsandBoonHistorical #WidowsofWestram #RegencyRomance #BookReview #MillsandBoonInsiders

#AFamilyfortheWidowedGoverness

A governess with a secret…

…meets this ready-made family!

Part of The Widows of Westram: Lady Marguerite Saxby is being blackmailed! Desperate for money, she accepts Jack Vincent, Earl Compton’s offer to become temporary governess to his three motherless daughters. There’s so much she can’t tell her new employer. Only she’s not expecting the all-consuming attraction that makes living under Jack’s roof a constant battle between her head and her heart!

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Part of the WIdows of Westram series, but as I haven’t read the others, it reads well as a standalone. Marguerite is enjoying living as an independent woman, freed by the death of her husband, from an abusive marriage. Her first meeting with Jack is full of confrontation, but that is not her only worry. Blackmailed, she needs money desperately, and it seems working for the Earl of Compton is the only way out.

Passion sizzles between Marguerite and Jack, in this slow-burn historical romance. There are many obstacles to their passion, but Marguerite’s independent spirit makes her brave, whatever the consequences. Issues of trust and fear of being controlled threaten Marguerite’s chance of a new family.

The plot is engaging, the passion and romance lovely, and the romantic ending perfect, very enjoyable.

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

The Wallflower Wager Tessa Dare 5* #Review #GirlMeetsDuke @TessaDare @MillsandBoon #historicalromance #RegencyRomance #BlogTour #Extract #BookReview #MillsandBoonInsiders #MillsandBoonHistorical

#TheWallflowerWager

Amazon UK

Back Cover Blurb

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

I’ve enjoyed all the books in the ‘Girl Meets Duke’ series, stories of independent women, and damaged, romantic men. Penny and Gabriel’s story is my favourite so far, perhaps because Penny takes in waifs and strays, and has an unfailing love of animals, something I can relate to.

There are scenes in this story which are hilarious, particularly, the rescuing of Delilah, the foul-mouthed parrot, which occurs at the beginning and sets the scene for what’s to come. Penny and Gabriel’s meeting at this time also sparks the passion that grows between them and is so enjoyable.

Gabriel, the Duke of Ruin, is not from the aristocracy, but many fear him, he is driven, dangerous and damaged, but he has so many redeeming qualities, and it’s impossible not to fall a little in love with him. Penny is honest, loving and generous, but she too is emotionally damaged, and her guilty secret, means Penny and Gabriel have more in common than he first supposed.

The plot is full of historical detail and moves effortlessly along, the characters are engaging and believable. I enjoyed the witty dialogue and the simmering passion, and most of all the happily-ever-after, even though I was sad to come to the end of Penny and Gabriel’s story.

A delightful, historical romance, amusing, original and shamelessly romantic.

Extract from The Wallflower Wager – Tessa Dare

By society’s standards, Penny was rather lacking in accomplishments. As the daughter of an earl, she’d been given the best possible education. Governesses fluent in three languages, a full two years at finishing school, then private tutors in art, music, dancing.
None of it seemed to take. She’d never found an instrument willing to give up a tune for her, no matter how she strummed, plucked, or begged it. She’d attained only marginal competence in sketching.
And dancing? Impossible.
Penny did, however, emerge from adolescence with unparalleled accomplishment in one pursuit.
Caring.
Nothing pleased her more than looking after those around her. Feeding them, warming them, protecting them, giving them a home. She doled out affection from an endless supply.
The only problem was, she was running out of people to claim it.
She had her family, of course. But first her parents had gone to India as diplomats. Her eldest brother, Bradford, lived in Cumberland with his wife and managed the family estate. Timothy, the middle child of their threesome, had joined the Royal Navy.
Still, she had the most wonderful friends. Never mind that the finishing school girls had scorned her. Penny welcomed the misfits of Bloom Square. Emma, Alexandra, Nicola. Together, they made the rounds of the bookshops, walked in the park, and gathered at her house for tea every Thursday.
Or at least they had done so, until her friends began to start families of their own. First, Emma’s marriage to the Duke of Ashbury had transformed from a convenient arrangement into passionate devotion. Next, Alex had bewitched London’s most infamous rake and became Mrs. Chase Reynaud. As for brilliant, inventive Nicola . . . ?
Penny scanned the note she’d just received, peering hard to make out the breathless scrawl of ink.
Can’t today. Biscuits burned. Breakthrough near.
Next Thursday?
Love, N
Penny laid aside the charred scrap of paper and regarded the tray of sandwiches on the tea table, all trimmed of their crusts and ready for a gathering that wouldn’t take place.
Fortunately, in this house, food seldom went to waste.
Taking a sandwich, she crouched near to the floor and whistled. Bixby scampered down the corridor, his two front paws clicking over the floorboards and his lamed hind legs following right behind, rolling along in an ingenious chariot of Nicola’s design.
After several excited sniffs, the dog gave the crustless triangle a cautious lick.
“Go on,” she urged. “It’s a new recipe. You’ll like it.”
Just as Bixby sank his dart- point teeth into the sandwich, the doorbell rang. Penny rushed to answer it. At the last moment, she hesitated with her hand on the door latch.
Could it be him?
It wouldn’t be him, she told herself.
But what if it was?
Sensing her unease, Bixby whined and nosed at her ankles. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Penny opened the door.
“Oh,” she said, trying not to sound dejected. “Aunt Caroline.”
Her aunt entered the house in her usual manner— like a snobbish traveler disembarking on a foreign shore, visiting a land where the native people spoke a different language, exchanged different currency, worshipped different gods. Her eyes took in the place with a cool, smug sort of interest. As though, while she had no desire to truly understand this alien culture, she’d been reading up.
Most of all, she was careful where she stepped.
When she’d completed her quiet survey of the drawing room, she gave a weary sigh. “Oh, Penelope.”
“It’s lovely to see you, too, Aunt.”
Her aunt’s eyes fell on the quilt- lined basket near the hearth. “Is that still the same hedgehog?”
Penny decided to change the subject. “Do sit down, and I’ll ring for a new pot of tea.”
“Thank you, no.” Her aunt plucked a tuft of cat hair from the armchair, pinching it between her thumb and forefinger and holding it away from her body. Frowning at the bit of fluff, she released it and watched it waft to the floor. “What I have to say won’t take long, anyhow. I’ve had a letter from Bradford. He insists you return to
Cumberland.”
Penny was stunned. “For the summer?” “For the remainder of your life, I believe.” No. No, no, no.
Her aunt lifted a hand, barricading herself against dissent. “Your brother has asked me to tell you he’ll be traveling to London in a month’s time. He asked me to be certain you’re prepared to join him for the return journey.”
Penny’s heart sank. She was a grown woman, and therefore could not be ordered to pick up and move to the farthest reaches of England. However, the snag was this— even if she was a grown woman, she was still a woman. This house belonged to her father, and while her father was out of the country, Bradford had control. Penny lived in Bloom Square at his pleasure. If he demanded she remove to Cumberland, she would have little choice in the matter.
“Aunt Caroline, please. Can’t you write back and convince him to change his mind?”
“I’ll do no such thing. I happen to agree with your brother. In fact, I ought to have suggested it myself. I did promise your parents I would look after you, but now that the war is over I intend to travel the Continent. You shouldn’t be living alone.”
“I’m six- and- twenty years old, and I’m not living alone. I have Mrs. Robbins.”
Wordlessly, her aunt picked up the bell from the tea table and gave it a light ring.
Several moments passed. No Mrs. Robbins.
Aunt Caroline craned her neck toward the main corridor and lifted her voice. “Mrs. Robbins!”
Penny crossed her arms and sighed, fully aware of the point her aunt meant to make. “She’s always looked after me.”
“She isn’t looking after you any longer. You are looking after her.”
“Just because the old dear is a touch hard of hearing— ”
Aunt Caroline stomped on the floor three times— boom, boom, boom— and shouted, “MRS. ROBBINS!”
At last, the sound of aged, shuffling footsteps made its way from the back of the house to the drawing room.
“My word!” Mrs. Robbins said. “If it isn’t Lady Caroline. I didn’t know you’d dropped by. Shall I bring tea?”
“No, thank you, Robbins. You’ve served your purpose already.”
“Have I?” The older woman looked confused. “Yes, of course.”
Once Mrs. Robbins had quit the room, Penny addressed her aunt. “I don’t wish to leave. I’m happy living in Town. My life is here. All my friends are here.”
“Your life and your friends are . . . where?” Aunt Caroline looked meaningfully at each one of the unoccupied chairs, at the trays of cold tea and uneaten sandwiches, and, finally, at the three kittens shredding the draperies with their tiny claws.
“I have human friends, as well,” Penny said defensively.
Her aunt looked doubtful.
“I do. Several of them.”
Her aunt glanced at the silver tray in the entrance hall. The one where calling cards and invitations were heaped— or would be, if Penny ever received them, which she didn’t. The tray was empty.
“Some of my friends are out of Town.” Aware of how absurd she sounded, she added, “And others are mad scientists.”
Another pitying sigh from her aunt. “We must face the truth, Penelope. It’s time.” It’s time.
Penny didn’t need to ask what her aunt meant by that. The implication was clear.
Aunt Caroline meant it was time to give up.
Time for Penny to return to the family home in Cumberland and resign herself to her destiny: spinsterhood. She must take on the role of maiden aunt and stop embarrassing both the family and herself.
After nine years in Town, she hadn’t married. She hadn’t even entertained any serious suitors. She rarely mingled in society. If she were being honest, she would strike “rarely” and replace it with “never.” She didn’t have any intellectual pursuits like art or science or poetry. No bluestocking salons, no social reform protests. She stayed home with her pets and invited her misfit friends to tea, and . . .
And outside her tiny sphere, people laughed at her.
Penny knew they did. She’d been an object of pity and ridicule ever since her disastrous debut. It didn’t bother her, except— well, except for the times that it did.
As a person who wanted to like everyone, it hurt to know that not everyone liked her in return.
Society had long given up on her. Now her family, as well.
But Penny was not giving up on herself. When her aunt moved to leave, she grasped her by the arm.
“Wait. Is there nothing I can do to change your mind? If you advocated on my behalf, I know
Bradford would reconsider.” Her aunt was silent.
“Aunt Caroline, please. I beg you.”
Penny could not return to Cumberland, back to the house where she’d passed the darkest hours of her life. The house where she’d learned to bottle shame and store it in a dark place, out of view.
You know how to keep a secret, don’t you?
Her aunt pursed her lips. “Very well. To begin, you might order a new wardrobe. Fur and feathers are all well and good— but only when they are worn on purpose, and in a fashionable way.”
“I can order a new wardrobe.” It wouldn’t include fur and feather adornments, but Penny could promise it would be new.
“And once you have a new wardrobe, you must use it. The opera. A dinner party. A ball would be preferable, but we both know that’s too much to ask.”
Ouch. Penny would never live down that humiliating scene.
“Make an appearance somewhere,” her aunt said. “Anywhere. I want to see you in the society column for once.”
“I can do that, too.” I think.
Considering how long she’d been out of circulation, invitations to dinner and the theater would be harder to come by than a few up- to- current- fashion gowns. Nevertheless, it could be accomplished.
“Lastly, and most importantly”— Aunt Caroline paused for effect— “you must do something about all these animals.”
“What do you mean, ‘do something’ about them?”
“Be rid of them. All of them.”
“All of them?” Penny reeled. Impossible. She could find homes for the kittens. That had always been her plan. But Delilah? Bixby? Angus, Marigold, Hubert, and the rest? “I can’t. I simply can’t.”
“Then you can’t.” Her aunt tugged on her gloves. “I must be going. I have letters to write.”
“Wait.”
Surely there was a way to convince her aunt that didn’t involve abandoning her pets. Perhaps she could trick her by hiding them in the attic?
“I hope you’re not thinking you can hide them in the attic,” her aunt said dryly. “I’ll know.” Drat.
“Aunt Caroline, I’ll . . . I’ll try my best. I just need a little time.”
“According to your brother, you have a month. Perhaps less. You know as well as I, it takes the mail the better part of a week to arrive from Cumberland.”
“That leaves only three weeks. But that’s nothing.”
“It’s what you have.”
Penny immediately began to pray, very hard, for rain. Come to think of it, considering the amount of rain England typically saw in springtime, she probably ought to pray for something more. Torrential, bridge- flooding, road- rutting downpours. A biblical deluge. A plague of frogs.
“If, by your brother’s arrival, I am convinced there’s something keeping you in London other than an abundance of animal hair . . . ? Then, and only then, I might be persuaded to intervene.”
“Very well,” Penny said. “You have a bargain.”
“A bargain? This isn’t a bargain, my girl. I’ve made you no guarantees, and I’m not convinced you’re up to the challenge at all. If anything, we have a wager— and you’re facing very long odds.”
Long odds, indeed. After her aunt had gone, Penny closed the door and slumped against it.
Three weeks.
Three weeks to save the creatures depending on her.
Three weeks to save herself.
Penny had no idea how she would accomplish it, but this was a wager she had to win

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

The Rake’s Enticing Proposal – Lara Temple @MillsandBoon@laratemple1 #Romance #HistoricalRomance #Egypt #Insiders #RegencyRomance -5* #Review #TheSinfulSinclairs #TheRakesEnticingProposal

The rake has a proposition…

Will she accept?

Part of The Sinful Sinclairs. When globe-trotting Charles Sinclair arrives at Huxley Manor to sort out his late cousin’s affairs, he meets practical Eleanor Walsh. He can’t shake the feeling that behind her responsibility to clear her family’s debt, Eleanor longs to escape her staid life. Chase can offer her an exciting adventure in Egypt… But that all depends on her response to his shocking proposal!

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Chase, one of the notorious ‘Sinful Sinclairs’, returns to his uncle’s estate, to retrieve his legacy, stored in the folly on his late uncle’s estate. His surprising meeting with Eleanor (Ellie), threatens the creed he lives by.

This not your usual Rake Regency romance. Chase has a Rake’s reputation, but it is at odds with the true man and his actions. Ellie is fiercely independent and willing to sacrifice the truest part of herself, which she denies, to ensure her family’s security.

The attraction is instant, but forbidden, as soon as one obstacle to their romance disappears, another appears, and the internal conflicts are the biggest barrier to their happiness.

The Egyptian setting and the quest for the missing box gives the story added historical interest and mystery. The romance is slow burning, but you do empathise with their unrequited feelings. Chase is a charming man, far too nice to be a Rake, but nevertheless a worthy man for Ellie. She is brave, selfless and intelligent, so glad they get the ending they deserve.

A Regency Romance with an original twist.