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Archive for the ‘Historical Romance’ Category

Historical romance

Book Review: Karen Hawkins – To Scotland, With Love

Posted by HelenEdith on November 25, 2009

This book is part of a series, and although it’s not the first one in the series, I read it as a stand-alone title with complete success.

This is a romance between Venetia Oglivie and Lord Gregor MacLean. They have known each other for a lot of years and have been friends all of that time, but when Lord Gregor finds that Venetia has been abducted by young Lord Ravenscroft, he realises that he must rescue her.

Venetia doesn’t think that she needs quite as much rescuing as Lord Gregor thinks she does. She is managing quite well to depress the pretentions of her abductor all by herself, thankyou!

Lord Gregor becomes so angry about the abduction that he activates his family’s weather curse and much of the action takes place in a snowbound inn with few domestic staff. By the time the thaw sets in (with a few additional snow flurries when Lord Gregor’s temper threatens to get the best of him again) Lord Gregor knows that he wants to marry Venetia; and as this is a romance, he gets his girl by the time the last page has been turned.

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Book Review: Loretta Chase – Not Quite a Lady

Posted by HelenEdith on September 6, 2009

(A Carsington Regency romance)

This is another in the series of Regency Romances where the Carsington brothers meet their matches. This time it is the turn of Darius, the studious one, who is interested in all things agricultural. His father, Lord Hargate, packs him off to turn around Beechwood, a property which has been in Chancery for a number of years while the previous owner’s Will was sorted out.

Now Beechwood adjoins another property, which is the residence of Lord Lithby, his second wife, his young sons – and his older daughter, who was the offspring of his deceased first wife. Lady Charlotte Hayward is a beauty and an heiress, but she has a blot on her copybook, and has become very adept at Not Getting Married, as the blot on her copybook is bound to come to light if she does.

Darius figures out that Charlotte has had a fall from grace; and so does another local man; although Charlotte’s father remains blissfully unaware, and is planning a huge house party to try and attract a suitor for Charlotte. Neither Darius nor his rival care about Charlotte’s non-virgin state; and Darius, a confirmed rake, wants to marry Charlotte for love. His rival has more of an eye to her money!

Darius still has to do some pretty serious wooing to convince Charlotte that marriage is indeed possible. This wooing is carried on against a backdrop of the reopening of the house at Beechwood, where Charlotte’s stepmother (and indeed Charlotte herself) are busy putting to rights a house which has been shut up for over a decade. All sorts of interesting things can happen in odd nooks and crannies in such a house!

Naturally things come out right in the end – and Darius even brings his family around to his choice of bride, guilty secret and all.

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Book Review: other works by Gillian Kaye

Posted by HelenEdith on August 5, 2009

Having just reviewed The Scheming Mr Cleeve, I decided to go back through my Book Review file and pull out some older reviews of work by Gillian Kaye and share those, too.

The Handsome Smuggler

This novel is set in 1793 at the time of the French Revolution, but it’s a novel set in England.

Fenella Hadleigh has been involved in a scandal (not of her making) in London and her parents have sent her to Dorset to stay with her aunt and uncle until the scandal blows over.

Fenella had been prepared to do her duty and marry the rich man who proposed to her, but is actually very relieved when he’s killed in a duel. She is a spirited girl, and defies her aunt by taking unaccompanied walks. During these walks, she manages to meet both smugglers and the riding officer who is trying to catch the smugglers. It soon becomes apparent that her sympathy lies on the side of the smugglers, particularly when one very handsome smuggler turns out to be a local landowner.

Fenella treats gunshot wounds and generally keeps the riding officer at bay as the stakes rise with French refugees being smuggled in as well as brandy.

The whole thing is complicated because Fenella is falling in love with her handsome smuggler, but he’s already engaged to Juliet. Then Juliet falls in love with one of the French refugees, but says that she will still go ahead with her marriage to Sir Alexander Knowle, despite loving Louis. Sir Alexander won’t cry off from his engagement, but keeps hoping that Juliet will. How it’s all resolved makes an entertaining tale.

The Enigmatic Mr Farrar

This book is in the style of a Regency Romance, although it’s set in Swaledale and not in London.

It also manages to pack in three different romances: that of Judith Piercy and Devlin Farrar, which is a romance fraught with difficulties; the romance of Judith’s brother Gerard with the young writer Miss Alice Boston, also fraught with difficulties due to the machinations of her elder sister; and the romance which is promoted by Judith and Gerald between Judith’s rejected suitor Harold Mefcalf and Alice’s older sister.

Judith has a second rejected suitor, Harvey, and while this book doesn’t manage to get him all settled down, it looks like Judith’s younger sister Emma will get together with him when she’s a year or two older!

It was an enjoyable read as these Regency Romances usually are.

The Proud Mr Peverill

This is a romance set at the time of the Peninsular War. Miss Anna Starkie, who lives near Bath, has refused her neighbour Mr Christopher Boyd on numerous occasions, but now she has a new neighbour, Mr Phillippe Peverill, with whom she seems to share that elusive spark.

Mr Peverill is somewhat mysterious, though, coming and going at odd times, leaving only his cousin at home. All kinds of rumours circulate locally about what Mr Peverill might be doing during his absences, but Anna finds out the truth.

She leads an exciting life as a result, and gets into some interesting scrapes. It’s the sort of book where it all comes out right at the end, though, even for the rejected Mr Christopher Boyd, who finds someone far more suitable than Anna for himself!

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Book Review: Gillian Kaye – The Scheming Mr Cleeve

Posted by HelenEdith on August 1, 2009

I do enjoy Gillian Kaye’s Regency romances and this one was no exception.

There was an interesting twist to the “boy meets girl” plot in this book. The Hon. Sarah Winterson meets Mr Julian Cleeve, who has inherited the house that the Wintersons have been renting, and has decided to take up residence there, displacing the Wintersons to the Lodge.

Before long Sarah is engaged to Julian, a state she finds preferable to the alternative of becoming engaged to Sir Bertram Hesslewood, who is pompous and old enough to be her father. This does leave Sir Bertram’s younger brother Philip out in the cold. He is a widower who cannot forget his young wife Clara – but suddenly discovers that he can after all when he finds Sarah is engaged to Julian!

Various other young people feature throughout the book, and Julian manages to give more than one couple a nudge in the right direction – the right direction not necessarily being matrimony, as in the case of Sarah’s brother, who comes home from Oxford with an ageing actress in tow!

The reader is kept guessing right up until the end of the book as to whether Sarah and Julian will actually make it to the altar; and one final twist to the plot resolves this.

As I said at the start of this review, a delightful read.

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Book Review: Eloisa James – Much Ado About You

Posted by HelenEdith on June 1, 2009

(Book one of the “Essex sisters” series)

I had already read and enjoyed “Kiss Me Annabel”, which is the second book in the series, and liked that one enough to go back and find the first book. These books are stand-alone enough to be read out of sequence, but it was useful to go back and fill in some gaps – and by reading this one after the second book, I did know what was going to happen in some of the sub-plots.

The Essex sisters have just been placed under the guardianship of the Duke of Holbrook, who has mistakenly assumed that they are still in the nursery. Actually, three of the four are young ladies of marriageable age, and the fourth, while still in the schoolroom, will not remain there for much longer!

Tess, the eldest, needs to marry quickly and well in order to bring out her younger sisters; and she becomes engaged to a friend of the Duke’s, but is jilted at the last moment. Another friend, Lucius Felton, is waiting in the wings, and is prepared to marry Tess instead.

There is also the problem of Tess’s sister Imogen, who is in love with one of the Duke’s neighbours. He, however, is engaged to somebody else! Somebody, it becomes apparent, who would be glad for Imogen to take the gentleman in question off her hands without her having to break the engagement herself, for which there would be grave consequences to her family on account of a mortgage.

This Regency romance did not disappoint, and I will be eagerly scouring the library shelves for the rest of this series.

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Book Review: Deneane Clark – Grace

Posted by HelenEdith on March 14, 2009

This is a Regency romance featuring Grace Ackerly, the second of six sisters, and Trevor Caldwell, the Earl of Huntwick.

Grace has decided that she wishes never to marry, as she can’t see that the institution has much to offer a woman and a great deal which counts against it. She enjoys wearing breeches and riding astride on her father’s land and hopes to continue doing so.

Enter Trevor and his friend Sebastian, Duke of Blackthorne, who have a close encounter with Grace’s youngest sister Mercy, aged thirteen, who also has a tendency to be clad in breeches. Mercy and her horse jump a hedge and land in the path of Sebastian’s coach, causing an accident. Trevor and Sebastian bear Mercy back to her home, where they make the acquaintance of the other sisters: Patience, the eldest, Faith, the third; and the twins Amity and Charity.

Trevor decides then and there that he wants to marry Grace, but Grace has been dodging her other beau, Sir Harry Thomas, and intends to do the same to Trevor, although she does quickly discover that she likes Trevor much better than Harry.

Trevor moves to his nearby country property the better to court Grace, but Grace, anticipating this, decides to take her aunt up on a London Season, and departs with Faith for London. Naturally Trevor follows.

An entertaining and occasionally scandalous courtship follows, but Trevor does eventually win Grace.

This book has something of the feel of a series about it, but appears to be a standalone title. I think that the author could definitely get some mileage out of Mercy – and probably the rest of the sisters, too. It would be intriguing to know how she would handle Patience, who took over the raising of her five younger sisters when aged only twelve. I will keep an eye out in case Deneane Clark decides to further develop any of the characters in this book.

Actually, it turns out that there will be books about more of the sisters. I’ve just been to Deneane Clark’s blog at deneaneclark.wordpress.com and find that she’s working on Faith and that Charity is next in line. Deneane writes in her blog that she hopes that these books will be as good as Grace. I hope so too, as I really enjoyed Grace!

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Book Review: Loretta Chase – Miss Wonderful

Posted by HelenEdith on March 6, 2009

(A Carsington Regency romance)

I have read one of the other books in this series, “Mr Impossible”, and found that one somewhat heavy going, but “Miss Wonderful” was a much easier read. Maybe it was the setting: this book is set in Derbyshire, while “Mr Impossible” is set in Egypt, a place which I don’t find as interesting as some people do!

“Miss Wonderful” is Miss Mirabel Oldridge, a thirty-one-year-old lady who broke an engagement a number of years earlier in order to take up the running of her father’s estate when he lost interest in it after his wife (also Mirabel’s mother) died.

The Carsington in this book is Alistair, third son of the Earl of Hargate, and a very expensive man to keep in clothes. Alistair is also a war hero, and prior to Waterloo, he had been in a number of scrapes (expensive, naturally) involving women from varying stratas of society. Now the Earl has given him an ultimatum: marry an heiress or the Earl will sell the properties earmarked for his fourth and fifth sons in order to provide an annuity for Alistair.

Alistair shares this ultimatum with his friend Lord Gordmore, and between them they hatch a scheme to provide themselves with an income. The scheme requires them to build a canal through the Miss Oldridge’s father’s property – a scheme which is almost universally disapproved of by the locals.

Gordmore sends Alistair to Derbyshire to try and win the landowners over, and as the Oldridges are the major landowner, that’s where he starts. That’s also where he falls into a stream and sprains his ankle and becomes a guest of the Oldridges while he recovers.

He becomes very smitten with Mirabel, but with no idea that she’s an heiress, he sticks to his guns about the canal, believing that he needs income from the coal to be transported on the canal before he will be in a position to offer for her.

There are subthreads in this book about Alistair’s war injury and a disgruntled ex-bailiff who was sacked by Mirabel years ago. It all adds up to an enjoyable book with rather more to it than just the romance.

I won’t leave it quite so long before dipping into some more of Loretta Chase’s work.

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Book Review: Eloisa James – Kiss Me Annabel

Posted by HelenEdith on March 4, 2009

(Book two of the Essex sisters series)

I haven’t actually read book one, “Much Ado About You”, but it doesn’t really matter, as this is a self-contained novel, however, I will probably go back and make it my business to do so as I enjoyed this “Essex sister” book.

Annabel Essex was discovered by her father to be good with numbers, and she spent her growing up years being his unpaid bookkeeper, while her sisters fished and grew vegetables. I’m not quite sure where they managed to acquire their training to be young ladies in the course of all this, but maybe if I read the earlier book, all will become apparent.

Anyway, Annabel has decided to marry money. She never ever wants to lead a life similar to that she was forced to lead during her formative years. Annabel is therefore not particularly impressed when she meets the Earl of Ardmore, whom she believes to be poor.

Events overtake them, though, and Annabel is compromised and finds herself travelling to Scotland in the company of the Earl, whom she needs to marry.

Her sisters, knowing how little Annabel wants to live in Scotland married to an impoverished Scottish Earl, have a plan to rescue Annabel. However, Annabel finds herself falling in love with her Earl – and also discovers that he can afford to keep her in the style in which she wishes to become accustomed.

Annabel, overcome with guilt about wanting to marry for money, nearly allows her sisters to “rescue” her, before her prospective grandmother-in-law, who likes Annabel despite (or more likely because of) their barbed initial encounters, takes a hand.

This was another enjoyable Regency romance, and Eloisa James is another author who will be on my library list in future.

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Book Review: Mary Balogh – Simply Magic

Posted by HelenEdith on February 28, 2009

(Book three of the Simply series of novels set in an academy for young ladies)

As in the second book in the series, Mary Balogh has largely departed from the academy in this book, too. Susanna Osbourne, a teacher with a past she never mentions, goes to stay with ex-teacher Frances from “Simply Unforgettable”, now married to the Duke of Edgecombe.

While staying at Barclay Court, she runs across Viscount Whitleaf, a man she once met during her childhood, and at whose family’s hands she had suffered.

Susanna isn’t happy at all about meeting a Whitleaf, but despite this, she and Peter, the Viscount, fall in love. Susanna is sure that there will be no happy ending, but her path keeps crossing with Peter’s, most notably at the reception for Anne Jewell after her marriage to Sydnam Butler, whose story was told in “Simply Love”.

This book is full of good Regency colour and the manners of the time, but I do wonder whether Mary Balogh overdoes the intimate relations between her hero and heroine. She manages it by writing about unchaperoned teachers, but she has another series, the “Slightly” series, which actually predates the “Simply” series, and I’m curious to read them (if the library still has them) and see how she handles matters in there.

Maybe I’m making unfair comparisons with Georgette Heyer, but it seems to me that a Regency Romance should stay outside the bedroom until the couple are married. Having said that, I am still enjoying the series, even if I’m a bit sceptical about the amorous adventures of the participants.

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Book Review: Mary Balogh – Simply Love

Posted by HelenEdith on January 6, 2009

(Book two of the Simply series of novels set in an academy for young ladies)

This novel has very little to do with the academy. It tells the story of Anne Jewell, who was raped and bore a son, David, who is now nine. David’s father died before David was born, but a member of his family has been keeping an eye on David and invites David, along with Anne, to spend a month during the summer at a house party in Wales.

The people in the Welsh house party are mostly characters from the Slightly series by the same author, but this did not spoil my enjoyment of this book. However, I will probably read the Slightly series at some point if I can obtain them.

Anne meets Sydnam Butler at the house party. He, like Anne, is trying to remain on the periphery of the house party, and they enjoy quite a bit of time together. Sydnam is a war hero, but suffered injuries which lead him to think that he will never marry; while Anne, as the mother of an illegitimate son, also considers herself unmarriageable.

Events prove otherwise and the two do marry sometime before the end of the book. There are many other loose ends to tie up before the book is brought to a conclusion though: will Sydnam ever return to painting, and will David ever accept him as a stepfather? These and other questions have to be resolved before Mary Balogh can bring this volume to a happy conclusion.

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