Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Eleanor (“Ellie”) Transome loved her father, a coal merchant who worked hard all his life to leave a legacy of comfortable wealth for his only daughter. She would not deny his dying wish for her to marry Randolph, the Earl of Falloden, who she’s never met but who has agreed to marry her and give her his title because he needs her father’s money to save his estate.
Ellie is barely holding it together as she sees the father she loves dying before her eyes; Falloden assumes her demeanor hides a cold woman. He consummates the marriage because he promised his wife’s father he would, but then he returns to his mistress. Ellie knows the earl and his friends see her as a “cit,” a commoner of low birth, and she has no respect for their snobbery. Christmas comes and the earl wants to go to his country estate where he has invited four of his friends. Ellie is told to invite some of hers. In a spirit of rebellion, she invites 20 of her working class relatives.
I loved spending Christmas with Ellie’s relatives as they launch into the snow to carry back greens and a Yule log and sled down the snow covered slopes. It is reminiscent of a Currier & Ives painting and will warm your heart. It’s a well-written story with lots of angst and some humor and good fun for balance. But it’s unusual in that the arranged marriage makes for lots of bitter words between them and lots of angst.
There were only two things that bothered me: There were so many characters I had no idea what they looked like nor could I recall who they were. The dialog was good and did indicate different voices, but without better descriptions, I had to imagine what most of them looked like. And the earl, who is supposed to be young and handsome, had the voice of an old man, rigid and staid, which I suppose he was for most of the story—and his lovemaking prowess was about as subtle as a toad.
Monday, December 2, 2013
New Review: Shirlee Busbee’s DECEIVE NOT MY HEART – A Case of Mistaken Identity and an Intriguing Love Story from old Louisiana—a Bodice Ripper!
Set in New Orleans and environs beginning in 1799, this is the story of 16-year-old Leonie Saint-Andre, whose only living parent is a gambling grandfather who has impoverished their family’s plantation. Knowing he does not have long to live, her grandfather decides to take care of Leonie’s future by finding her a wealthy husband. Unfortunately, the man he picks, Morgan Slade, is a bitter man whose first wife married him for his money and then left him for another. And what Leonie’s grandfather does not know is that Morgan has a look alike cousin who, unbeknownst to Morgan, has assumed his identity in order to wed Leonie to steal her dowry.
|Original Cover (I like it!)|
Busbee has done her research and the history of Louisiana in the late 18th century is vividly portrayed. It was a time of plantations and the French creole families; and it was a time of dramatic change. Originally claimed by Spain, Louisiana was also claimed by France, and in 1803 most of it was acquired by America. The plot has many twists and turns and while the reader knows what is going on, the characters don’t. Lots of sexual tension and angst as Leonie is deceived yet rises as a courageous heroine to triumph in the end. I recommend it.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
New Review: Meagan McKinney’s WHEN ANGELS FALL – A great Victorian Bodice Ripper with a Tortured Hero and a Magnificent Heroine
Five years ago, Elizabeth (“Lissa”) Alcester, daughter of wealthy landed gentry, gave her heart to her father’s stable boy, Ivan Tramore, the bastard son of a marquis. But in those five years, their lives were to change dramatically. Lissa would become impoverished and responsible for her blind sister and her young brother, and Ivan would become his father’s only heir, now the rich, powerful and ruthless Marquis of Powerscourt.
Ivan remembers Lissa and the kiss he stole from her. He will have her as his mistress but first he will have his revenge. It appears from all his actions that he is out to destroy her, to send her suitors away and to make her life a disaster, but he cannot resist the only woman he has ever truly wanted.
McKinney keeps you on the edge of your seat as you follow the ups and downs in Lissa’s life. She is a brave and worthy heroine, one you will come to love. Always trying to do what is right by her family, she is often thwarted by Ivan’s manipulation in the background. It all comes together in the end for a satisfying culmination to a difficult beginning between two people scarred by life. McKinney has done her research for the period and the descriptions are well done. I recommend it!
Friday, November 29, 2013
The winner of Alison Stuart's splendid historical romance from the time of Cromwell is Rhonda Kirby. Congratulations, Rhonda!
Thanks to all those who commented on Alison's wonderful post on reimagining!
For those who did not win, you can order it on Amazon HERE!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
She lives with her own personal hero and two needy cats and likes nothing more than a stiff gin and tonic and a walk along the sea front of her home town.
One lucky commenter will receive the eBook, By the Sword, so leave a thought, or ask a question!
Reimagining the Past by Alison Stuart
Thank you for inviting me to be your guest this week, Regan, and for your recent review of my novel, By the Sword. It was my very first book and it is a great thrill to know that it can still touch readers because, like all first books, it was the “book of my heart”.
Regan asked me about the research involved in an intricate historical (with romance!) such as this, particularly as the English Civil War is not a popular setting for historical romance books. I live in hope that it will become the “new Regency”!
For those not familiar with the period, the war commenced in 1642 and in the first few years the King’s forces prevailed, but a re-organisation of the Parliamentary forces by Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell into the first professional standing army the world had probably known, quickly saw the defeat of King Charles I and his eventual beheading in January 1649. What followed was an eleven-year flirtation with republicanism, called the “Interregnum” (literally “between Kings”), with Oliver Cromwell as the Lord Protector of England. On his death, his son reigned briefly before Charles II was invited to return from exile in 1660 and we have the “Restoration” of the monarchy.
So with my imagination fuelled by the Richard Harris film “Cromwell” and my father reading Daphne Du Maurier’s The King’s General to me at an early age, I fell hopelessly under the spell of this interesting period of English history. At the age of eleven we took one of our infrequent holidays to England to visit grandparents. My grandfather took me to an old house in the neighbourhood where he lived (the northern part of Worcestshire).
Harvington Hall can still be visited today, and if you ever go there you can see how it affected a young girl with an already over-active imagination. It was riddled with priest holes for starters, and of course, it was (and still is) Seven Ways—the home of my fictional Thornton family. I still have the original guidebook from that trip back in 1970; it was my “bible’ for the writing of the book. The house my characters move around is almost identical to Harvington Hall, right down the priest holes, which are used to hide the survivors of the Battle of Worcester (in my book…not in real life!).
The characters that inhabited my fictional house travelled around with me for years and it was only when I dislocated my shoulder in a skiing accident that I started to write the book that became By the Sword. But having a set of characters and a setting is not enough. I needed the history to hang my story on and over the years I have accumulated quite an impressive array of research material on the English Civil War. My characters Jonathan and Kate move in a world inhabited by very real life characters and the events leading up to the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651. The Duke of Buckingham, Lady Fairfax, John Thurloe and, of course, the young king are all caught up in this story. The little details, such as the king throwing his hat in the air when he hears about the Scottish defeat at Dunbar or the hiding of his Order of St.George in a rubbish dump are all recorded history and it is the great privilege and fun you have as a writer to be able to capture those small snatches of humanity.
And finally there was the “field trip.” I spent a wonderful day in Worcester (which has huge family connections for me) where I was able to immerse myself in the whole period. The Commandery is now a very well set up museum and so is the Charles II house. The tower of the Cathedral from which the young king watched the battle still dominates the Worcester sky line and the remains of the earthworks thrown up in the battle can still be seen. I walked the path my characters take in the battle and I think, I hope, I can say with my hand on my heart that the Worcester of my imagination is as close as I could get to actually being there.
So the book of my heart eventually found a publisher and won an award (the 2008 Eppie for Best Historical Romance). As Regan pointed out in her review, if it felt like it needed an epilogue it was because it was originally intended as part of a series (The King’s Man is the second book, and you do meet the hero in By the Sword.) The vagaries of publishing at the time both these books were first published meant that I was unable to sell it as a series but the world has changed and I am inspired to revisit my “King’s Men” so watch my website for details.
Alison loves to hear from her readers and can be found at the following Internet gatherings:
Monday, November 25, 2013
Caroline tells no one she is the sister of the missing woman. Soon, she finds there are other mysteries at the Stacy home, including Napier’s past in which he killed his older brother, in what may or may not have been an accident, and the “shivering” sands off shore that swallow ships. Caring little for his young wife, who is afraid of him, Napier makes a project out of Caroline, telling her, “You and I are like those ships. We are caught in the shivering sands of the past. We shall never escape because we are held fast, held by our memories and other people’s opinions of us.”
When a new curate shows up at the village, he joins Caroline in solving the mystery of what happened to her sister, and what is now Napier’s missing wife. And danger draws close as Caroline’s life is threatened.
Holt did an excellent job of creating a mystery with no clear villain but many who had motives. And despite that it takes place in virtually one location, there is much happening with some great secondary characters, including Sybil, the batty old sister of Sir William, Napier’s father, and of course, the three young women. At one point I thought the mystery itself dragged a bit, but as with all novels by Holt, the finish is excellent.
It’s a mystery, a love story and a story of new beginnings, choices and redemption. Told from the first person, you are only in Caroline’s head but the hearts of others are revealed through dialog. A worthy read, I recommend it.
Friday, November 22, 2013
It takes talent to write a great romance novel, but it takes even more to write three in a row and make them all worthy reads. Of course, I recognize this omits some wonderful single novels and some great multibook series, and almost all of those on my list are historicals, but if you like to read trilogies, as I do, here’s my list of the top trilogies I recommend:
1. Laurie McBain’s Dominick trilogy: MOONSTRUCK MADNESS, CHANCE THE WINDS OF FORTUNE and DARK BEFORE THE RISING SUN
2. Virginia Henley’s Medieval Plantagenet trilogy: THE FALCON AND THE FLOWER, THE DRAGON AND THE JEWEL and THE MARRIAGE PRIZE
3. Judith McNaught’s Westmoreland trilogy: A KINGDOM OF DREAMS, WHITNEY MY LOVE and UNTIL YOU
4. Johanna Lindsey’s Wyoming trilogy: BRAVE THE WILD WIND, SAVAGE THUNDER, and ANGEL
5. Pamela Clare’s Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy: SWEET RELEASE, CARNAL GIFT and RIDE THE FIRE
6. Kaki Warner’s Runaway Brides trilogy: HEARTBREAK CREEK, COLORADO DAWN and BRIDE of the HIGH COUNTRY
7. Kaki Warner’s Blood Rose trilogy: PIECES OF SKY, OPEN COUNTRY and CHASING THE SUN
8. Heather Graham’s North American Woman trilogy: SWEET SAVAGE EDEN, A PIRATE'S PLEASURE and LOVE NOT A REBEL
9. Heather Graham’s Civil War trilogy: ONE WORE BLUE, AND ONE WORE GRAY and AND ONE RODE WEST.
10. Heather Graham’s Viking trilogy: GOLDEN SURRENDER, THE VIKING’S WOMAN and THE LORD OF THE WOLVES
11. Marsha Canham’s Pirate Wolf trilogy: ACROSS A MOONLIT SEA, IRON ROSE and THE FOLLOWING SEA
12. Marsha Canham’s Scottish trilogy: THE PRIDE OF LIONS, BLOOD OF ROSES AND MIDNIGHT HONOR
13. Marsha Canham’s Robin Hood trilogy: THROUGH A DARK MIST, IN THE SHADOW OF MIDNIGHT and THE LAST ARROW
14. Kresley Cole’s MacCarrick Brothers trilogy: IF YOU DARE, IF YOU DESIRE and IF YOU DECEIVE
15. Iris Johansen’s Wind Dancer trilogy: THE WIND DANCER, STORM WINDS and REAP THE WIND
16. Shirl Henke’s Cheyenne trilogy: CAPTURE THE SUN, THE ENDLESS SKY, and SUNDANCER
17. Shirl Henke’s trilogy: NIGHT WIND’S WOMAN, WHITE APACHE’S WOMAN and DEEP AS THE RIVERS
18. Elizabeth Lowell’s Medieval trilogy: UNTAMED, FORBIDDEN and ENCHANTED
19. Jennifer Blake’s Medieval trilogy: BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE, BY GRACE POSSESSED and SEDUCED BY GRACE
20. Lisa Jackson’s Medieval Welsh trilogy: ENCHANTRESS, KISS OF THE MOON and OUTLAW
21. Lisa Jackson’s Medieval Welsh trilogy: IMPOSTRESS, TEMPTRESS and SORCERESS
22. Susan King’s Medieval Maiden trilogy: THE SWAN MAIDEN, THE STONE MAIDEN and the SWORD MAIDEN
23. Mary Wine’s Highlander trilogy: TO CONQUER A HIGHLANDER, HIGHLAND HELLCAT and HIGHLAND HEAT
24. Connie Brockway’s Scottish trilogy: THE PASSIONATE ONE, THE RECKLESS ONE and THE RAVISHING ONE
25. Emma Jensen’s Regency Spy trilogy: ENTWINED, FALLEN and MOONLIT
26. Renee Vincent’s Emerald Isle trilogy: RALIKSEN, MAC LIAM and THE FALL OF RAIN (last one is contemporary looking back)
27. Tina St. John’s Warrior trilogy: WHITE LIONS LADY, BLACK LION’S BRIDE and LADY OF VALOR.
28. Amy J. Fetzer’s Irish trilogy: THE IRISH PRINCESS, THE IRISH ENCHANTRESS and THE IRISH KNIGHT
29. Laurel McKee’s Daughters of Erin trilogy: COUNTESS OF SCANDAL, DUCHESS OF SIN and LADY OF SEDUCTION
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Set in Yorkshire beginning in 1650 (the prologue is set in Devon in 1646), during the time when Cromwell ruled England and Charles II was in exile in France, this is the story of Col. Jonathan Thornton, a royalist, and Kate Ashley, whose family followed Cromwell. Kate is mother to 9-year-old Tom (a central character and wonderfully done), and the widow of Jonathan’s cousin, a parliamentary soldier killed in battle. Because Jonathan is a hunted man, and the Ashley family supports Cromwell, the Thornton estate of Seven Ways will go to young Tom, not Jonathan. Kate is none too sure she wants the responsibility of running the rundown estate since she has her own home, but she takes it on nonetheless.
|Original Smashwords cover |
It’s a story of second chances and living with the consequences of one’s past. The only thing I would have liked to see was some resolution to Charles II’s plight, but perhaps that is coming in future books. The ending seemed like a pause in the action. There is already a second book by the author, THE KING’S MAN. It, too, is based in Cromwell’s time, and tells the story of Kit Lovell, who we meet in BY THE SWORD.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
New Review: Kresley Cole’s IF YOU DARE – 1st in an Enthralling Scottish trilogy—Could not put it down!
The tales begin with a five hundred-year-old "curse," the writing of which was obscured so that no one really knows how it end. Cole does her homework on the historical setting--it feels authentic--and she makes you fall in love with Scotland and it's men. She gives them a Scottish personality that is hard not to love. These three brothers are sexy and strong and pursue their women with a passion.
This first one begins in 1856 in the Pyrenees, the mountains between France and Spain, as a group of mercenaries led by Courtland MacCarrick wages war for a General Pascal. When Court turns on the evil general, Pascal orders him killed and Court narrowly escapes but ends up half dead on the doorstep of Lady Annalia Llorente, Pascal’s fiancé. Court decides to abduct Annalia, a beautiful Castilian. Lady Annalía Llorente despises her towering, barbaric captor almost as much as she does her fiancé. But then she begins to be attracted to him. Still, she must wed Pascal to save her brother and Court knows there’s this curse that keeps him from the woman he wants.
There are many twists and turns in these stories that will have you reading way past your bedtime. And while I love all three of them, the last is my favorite, the story of the oldest brother, and Cole brought the three stories to a very satisfying end. Here’s the list:
IF YOU DARE (Court)
IF YOU DESIRE (Hugh)
IF YOU DECEIVE (Ethan)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
New Review: Lisa Jackson’s Enchantress: 1st in a Wonderful Trilogy and a Captivating Welsh Medieval Romance!
ENCHANTRESS captured me from the beginning. It's the first in a medieval trilogy that takes place in Wales. Jackson weaves in myth and legends while still retaining the fundamental belief the characters have in the God of heaven, so as to capture the feel of another time and place where people were influenced by superstition and beliefs in forces of nature. Each in the trilogy is well written and quite wonderful. I recommend you read them in order as they are related and characters in the first show up in the last (see list below).
Set in late 13th century Wales, ENCHANTRESS is the story of independent, headstrong Morgana of Wenlock, who has the gift of sight and visions she inherited from her grandmother. With her gift she has helped others, finding lost souls and even saving some from death. Now she will be called upon to help the handsome widower Baron Garrick Maginnis of Castle Abergwynn find his missing son.
Morgana dreads this "lord of the north" because she's seen a vision of such a lord bringing death. When the Baron comes to collect her and she is caught disobeying her father, her sire banishes her from Wenlock and gives her to the Baron (her father's liege lord), with the freedom to choose whom she will wed. Miserable, Morgana leaves her home but vowing to return. The adventure is only beginning for this wonderful girl.
There's treachery at Abergwynn and the man to whom Garrick would give Morgana—his cousin and a senior knight—is a man Morgana dreads.
You won't regret reading this one. It's a well told, captivating romance, a tale of love between the headstrong, noble girl and the bitter lord desperate to save his son even as greed and treachery swirl around them. I highly recommend it.
The Welsh trilogy:
Kiss Of The Moon
Monday, November 11, 2013
New Review: Mary Wine’s TO CONQUER A HIGHLANDER – Great 1st in the Highlander Trilogy with a Feisty Heroine!
The story opens in 1437. James I has been murdered and the lowland McBoyd clan has brutally attacked the lands of Highland laird Torin McLeren. The McBoyd laird, a crude and heartless man, is seeking power in aligning himself with the Earl of Atholl, a contender for the Scottish throne, and hence the attack on the McLeren clan, loyal to the Stuarts. The McBoyd laird has betrothed his only daughter, who he values not at all, to the Earl of Atholl's nephew in an attempt to gain fighting men and to further cement the treacherous alliance.
Rather than attack the McBoyd clan, Torin seeks to foil their plan to support the Atholl by kidnapping the McBoyd daughter on her way to be wed. Shannon McBoyd is disgusted by the actions of her father and brothers but has been compliant to avoid her father's physical abuse. Inside she is a spitfire and Torin will have his hands full as he attempts to hold her and still be honorable.
I liked the fact Torin is constant throughout the story. And, his friend, Connor Lindsey, laird of the Lindsey clan, is a charming and loyal man who is well set up to be the hero in the next in the series. You will like them both.
One of the many things I like about Wine's romances is that she takes care with the history. It's not just set in Scotland but there is an historical framework of some interest for the novel. She also includes details that provide a clear picture of the living conditions of the time. While Wine's stories are not sweeping sagas, they are well written and engaging. I admire her ability to give us a feeling for the language of the time while still keeping it modern enough to be understandable. As with all of Wine's romance, the love scenes are steamy.
I recommend this one--and suggest you read the trilogy in order.
The Highlander trilogy:
To Conquer a Highlander
Saturday, November 9, 2013
New Review: Heather Graham’s SWEET SAVAGE EDEN – Wonderful First in the North American Woman trilogy—a Love Story That Begins in England and ends in the New World
It begins in 17th century England and tells of Jasmine ("Jassy") and Jamie. And it will follow them as they travel to New World (Virginia).
Jassy has had a hard life as the bastard daughter of a dead nobleman and her mother dies for lack of medical attention. Jassy learns of her connections to a noble family after her mother dies, and through a series of events, they take her in but treat her as little better than a servant. There she meets the dark Lord Cameron who wants to marry her because she reminds him of his "wild Virginia" where he is building a new life. Jassy thinks she is in love with his friend the charming and fair Robert, but Robert has other plans. Jassy doesn't want to die in starvation and poverty like her mother, so she consents to wed Jamie. She does not love Jamie; she is not even sure she likes him. But she is honest and tells him she is marrying him so she will not starve.
Jamie Cameron wants the beautiful Jassy...she makes his blood boil. He thinks she will be strong enough to endure the life in the wilderness where there are still Indians and pressures just to survive. But Jamie does not tell Jassy that he intends to take her to the New World; and Jassy longs only for the security of Jamie's beautiful manor in England. Can she love a man she hates? Can she forget the fair Robert? Can Jamie love the tavern wench who wants only his wealth? So begins an adventure that is so well told and so well done, I will read it again and again. And the others in the series are equally good.
Heather Graham's writing is superb. Her portrait of early America is wonderful. The story pulls you in and does not let you go. There are no slow spots as the action and characters become so real. The sexual tension permeates the book and is very believable. You will love Jassy and Jamie and you will find yourself drawn back to those historical times at the beginning of America. This is a keeper!
Here's the Cameron Saga:
The North American Women trilogy:
Sweet Savage Eden
A Pirate's Pleasure
Love Not a Rebel
The Civil War trilogy:
One Wore Blue
And One Wore Gray
And One Rode West
Both trilogies are on my Best Historical Romance Trilogies list.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
New Review: Laurie McBain’s MOONSTRUCK MADNESS – Scottish Heroine, Masquerading as a Highwayman and a Scarred English Duke make for an Absorbing Love Story!
One man she robs, Lucien, Duke of Camareigh, a gambler and a rogue, is no English fop as are most of Sabrina’s victims. A self-made man, he decides to trap the wily bandit and have his revenge. Once he captures “Charlie,” the duke realizes the highwayman who has been plaguing him and his friends is a beautiful young woman. When she won’t reveal who she is, he decides to try seduction.
Superbly written, you’ll find this one hard to put down. I love the logic of McBain’s intricate plot…no improbable moments here. No contrived black moments. Only great storytelling and suspenseful action. The dialog is clever and the characters wonderfully developed. Sabrina is courageous, good hearted and rebellious to the end and Camareigh is a tough alpha male, just the kind we like to see fall to love’s power.
McBain paints vivid pictures of Culloden (to start with) and then the English countryside thereafter, putting you right in the scene. It is so well done. Reading this just reminded me that a 5-star classic never goes out of style. Written in 1977, it sold a million copies. I see why.
This is the first in McBain’s Dominick trilogy: MOONSTRUCK MADNESS, CHANCE THE WINDS OF FORTUNE and DARK BEFORE THE RISING SUN—I recommend all of them!
Monday, November 4, 2013
|CLICK HERE TO BUY ON AMAZON|
THE REDHEADED RAKE
It was a dull day at White’s, the day he agreed to the wager: seduce bed and walk away from the lovely Lady Leisterfield, all by Twelfth Night. This holiday season, Christopher St. Ives, Viscount Eustace, planned to give himself a gift.
THE INNOCENT WIDOW
She was too proper by half—or so was the accusation of her friends, which was why her father had to find her a husband. But Lord Leisterfield was now gone a year, and Grace was at last shedding the drab colors of mourning. The house felt empty, more so during the coming Christmastide, and so tonight her coming out would begin with a scandalous piece of theater. The play would attract rogues, or so promised her friend the dowager countess. It would indeed. The night would bring about the greatest danger—and the greatest happiness—that Grace had ever known.
“Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better.”
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
London, January 5, 1819
It never would have happened if he hadn’t been so terribly bored that night at White’s. Staring into the crackling fire in the parlour on this frosty night and reflecting back on the last several months, Christopher St. Ives, Viscount Eustace, recalled the evening well; the deep leather chair he sat in, the lit cheroot dangling from one hand and a brandy in the other. He had only been half listening as Hugh Redgrave, the very married Marquess of Ormond, droned on about the virtues of the leg-shackled state. Happily married men could be so tiresome. Looking back on it now, it seemed years not months since they’d traded quips in the conversation that led to the wager:
“I say, Ormond, just where are you going with this praise for the wedded state? You know me too well to believe I’m convinced.”
“You might at least consider taking a wife, Eustace. There’s much to be said for the change it would bring about in your otherwise tawdry existence of late. After all, thirty-five is past the age where dissipation wears well, don’t you think?”
Tawdry existence? Dissipation? “Surely you cannot mean those words, Ormond. I’m just after a bit of fun.”
“You go after women like you go after the fox. It’s all in the chase for you.”
“And that is wrong? Just because you have your heir and a spare at thirty-two does not mean I wish to accumulate the same baggage.” At the frown that appeared on Ormond’s face, Christopher, Lord Eustace, hastened to add, “No offense meant toward the beautiful Lady Ormond, whom I admire above all women, but I am not ready for such a change, as my recent indulgences confirm. Besides, I like women and have my own way of handling them, which suits me quite well. I see no reason for change.”
“As far as I can see, your way of ‘handling’ them is not to have one at all.”
“Ho, now that ain’t so, and well you know it! Though, being a gentleman, I’ll not disclose the number ‘had’ even if I could recall. My method, I assure you, works perfectly for me.”
“You have a method?” Ormond asked, incredulous.
“Well, perhaps not a method as you would count it. I seduce ’em, bed ’em and—”
“Leave them. Yes, I know. But not always smiling, I’ve heard.”
Christopher looked up at the chandelier above and back to his friend as he let out a sigh. “Perhaps not, but none complain till the end is in sight. Then, well…I admit things have on occasion become a bit sticky. But they are all willing players in the game.”
“Your way of handling women cannot work with all. You must have failed with some.”
“Quite the contrary, my good man. I’ve succeeded with every lady I’ve gone after.” Christopher held back a grin. He did not lack confidence when it came to his success with women. And a worthy adversary made every game more exciting.
“I would wager there is one you cannot seduce.”
“Ho! Wager? Do I hear a challenge being laid down?” Snuffing out his cheroot, Christopher leaned forward. “Who might this unassailable paragon be?”
Ormond glanced about the sparsely populated club room filled with tables and chairs. Christopher’s eyes followed, noting the small group of men at a round table engaged in muted conversation some distance away. None appeared to be eavesdropping.
Leaning forward, Ormond whispered, “Grace, the Lady Leisterfield.”
Christopher leaned back in his chair and took a sip of brandy. In his mind’s eye he saw a slim blonde in a rather modest gray gown standing next to the elderly Lady Claremont. “Yes, I recall her from the last ball of the Season. The young widow lives like a nun, or so I’ve heard.”
Ormond grinned. “That, old man, is the challenge.”
“She’s in mourning, is she not?”
“Just coming out. And a worthy contender to test your…method.”
“I see.” But did he? Was there more to this than a wager? It was clear Ormond had something in mind, and the marquess could be exceedingly cryptic at times. Still, whatever was behind the challenge, and whatever the stakes, Christopher was drawn by the opportunity, even more by the encouragement, to entice the lovely Lady Leisterfield to his bed.
“I’ve been very impressed with the lady,” his friend continued, “and I would love to see you fail miserably trying to scale her castle walls. I would consider it sweet justice for the fairer sex.” Ormond winked.
Christopher was tempted to decline, still miffed at Ormond’s comment about his tawdry existence. Yet the memory of the beautiful Lady Leisterfield permeated his thoughts. “Perhaps I shall accept your delightful challenge.”
Ormond grinned, then his expression turned serious. “One thing. If you do this, Eustace, you must promise to preserve the lady’s reputation no matter the outcome. That must be part of the challenge, as I would not see a good woman ruined at the end of it.”
“Well, I know of no woman who has suffered overmuch from being associated with me, but I assure you I will be discreet.”
“All right—and so we are clear,” said Ormond. “You must seduce, bed and walk away from the baroness, else I will have won.”
Christopher nodded, wondering all the while if he’d missed something. Ormond always seemed to have an agenda not fully disclosed. With him, much was hidden beneath the surface.
The marquess suggested with a pointed look, “Ninety days should be sufficient; do you agree?”
“We are indeed agreed. And let me add, it will be my pleasure.”
It wasn’t just the thought of bedding the lovely widow that put a grin on Christopher’s face; he was thrilled with the prospect of a real challenge with a virtuous woman. It was a wholly different sport than he normally engaged in, but Lady Leisterfield was a worthy quarry. A challenge indeed. One for which he felt himself uniquely qualified.
“Shall we reduce the wager to the book?” Ormond inquired with a wry smile. “Say, one thousand pounds to make it interesting?”
“Done.” Casting his reservations aside, Christopher set down his empty glass, reached for Ormond’s extended hand and gave it a hearty shake.
And so, that night, Christopher entered the following into White’s book:
Ld Eustace has wagered Ld Ormond 1000 pounds
that by Twelfth Night he can seduce, bed and walk away from a certain lady understood between them.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
One afternoon, Saura ends up in Sir William’s bath and he kisses her thinking she is a servant, never knowing she is actually Saura, the one he thinks is an aging nun come to bring order to their keep. But soon he will recover his sight and discover that Saura is a beautiful young woman…
What can I say? Dodd has done her research and always tells a good tale. She has a good medieval voice and describes well the medieval setting (castle, knights, dress and food). Most of the story takes place in William’s keep as he and Saura pursue their relationship (the battles take place off scene). The characters are well developed and the dialog rich. There is enough treachery, envy and intrigue to hold your interest as the new love between William and Saura is challenged. There was William’s desire for a deeper love and Saura’s more traditional view of a wife’s obedience to her husband as gratitude for his kindness, though I’m not sure how persuasive this bit was. The middle seemed a bit slow as we lingered in the castle with Saura. But then one of William’s friends abducts her and the suspense builds.
A worthy, if long, tale. I can recommend it.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Who among us ladies hasn’t dreamed of a knight in shinning armour? Or, of living in a time when valor prevailed and honorable men did great deeds and women of character loved them? (I did say we were dreaming, right?) Well, these historical romances will take you back to those medieval times.
Since the medieval period in European history spanned the 5th century to the 15th century, all the stories on my list take place during that period; however, some Scottish/Highlander, Irish, Viking and Pirate/Privateer historicals from that time period not listed here can be found on those specific “Best Lists” (found on the right side of my blog).
All of these listed below have garnered 4, 4 and ½ or 5 stars from me and many have been reviewed on my blog:
A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
Betrothal by Jenna Jaxon (just the first part of a 3-part story)
Blackheart by Tamara Leigh
Blue Heaven, Black Night by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Bond of Blood by Roberta Gellis
Bride of the Lion by Elizabeth Stuart
By His Majesty’s Grace, By Grace Possessed and Seduced by Grace by Jennifer Blake
By Possession, By Design, Stealing Heaven, By Arrangement, The Protector and Lord of a Thousand Nights, 14th century London series by Madeline Hunter
Candle in the Window by Christina Dodd
Come the Morning, Conquer the Night, Seize the Dawn, Knight Triumphant, The Lion in Glory, and When We Touch from the Graham series by Shannon Drake
Damsel in Distress by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Desire of the Heart by Katherine Vickery (aka Kathryn Kramer)
Enchantress, Kiss of the Moon and Outlaw, Welsh trilogy by Lisa Jackson
Everlasting by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Impostress, Temptress and Sorceress, Welsh trilogy with fantasy elements by Lisa Jackson
Keeper of the Dream by Penelope Williamson
Lady of Fire and Fire and Steel, from the Fire Series by Anita Mills
Lady of Valor, White Lion’s Lady, and Black Lion’s Bride, Warrior trilogy by Tina St. John
Laird of the Wind by Susan King
Lespada by Kathryn Le Veque
Lie Down in Roses by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Lord of Desire, Lord of Temptation and Lord of Seduction, Risande Family trilogy by Paula Quinn
Lord of Vengeance by Tina St. John
On a Highland Shore and Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens
Princess of Fire and the sequel Knight of Fire by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey
Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewyne
Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale
Silk and Steel and the sequel Desire and Deceive by Cordia Byers
Sword of the Heart by Maureen Kurr
The Angel Knight by Susan King
The Bedeviled Heart by Carmen Caine
The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux
The Christmas Knight by Michele Sinclair
The Conqueror, Promise of the Rose and The Prize, trilogy by Brenda Joyce
The Dragon Tree by Marsha Canham
The Falcon and the Flower, The Dragon and the Jewel and The Marriage Prize, the Plantagenet trilogy by Virginia Henley
The Game by Brenda Joyce
The King’s Pleasure by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
The King’s Rebel by Michelle Morrison
The Last Knight by Candice Proctor
The Lily and the Falcon by Jannine Corti-Petska
The Lion’s Bride by Connie Mason
The Raven and the Rose by Virginia Henley
The Rose of York: Love and War, The Crown of Destiny and Fall From Grace, trilogy by Sandra Worth
The Swan Maiden and The Stone Maiden from the Maiden trilogy by Susan King
The Warrior’s Game by Denise Domning
The Wild Hunt by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Through a Dark Mist, In the Shadow of Midnight and The Last Arrow, Robin Hood trilogy by Marsha Canham
Untamed, Forbidden and Enchanted, trilogy by Elizabeth Lowell
Warrior’s Song, Fire Song, Earth Song and Secret Song, medieval series by Catherine Coulter
Where Love Dwells by Elizabeth Stuart
Winter’s Heat, Summer’s Storm, Spring’s Fury, Autumn’s Flame and A Love for All Seasons by Denise Domning
Wonderful, Wild and Wicked, trilogy by Jill Barnett