Monday, August 19, 2019

Alice Borchardt’s DEVOTED – A Worthy Medieval Romance Set in 10th Century France

At the time when Vikings were a threat to all in France, Owen, the young Bishop of Chantalon, rises as a hero of the people. At his side is the brave Elin who he freed from the Vikings’ clutches. This is a fascinating historical that features authentic elements as well as genuine faith, mysticism, mystery and magic. The descriptions are vivid, the characters well developed and the story compelling.

Elin becomes Owen's lady and would defend him and his city though it will cost her much. Their budding love comes to a sudden end when Owen is captured, leaving the defense of the city to Elin and Godwin, a warrior who stands by her side.

Owen represents the growing Christianity even as the brutal Northmen rape and pillage, led by the villain Hakon. The Forest People who worship pagan gods are disappearing but they come to Owen’s aid when Elin summons them, for she was raised among them, a princess of her people.

I enjoyed this story as it has great depth and I wanted to know what happened to all the characters who come to Elin and Owen’s aid. The author has captured the different factions in France at the time and the emerging future while bringing us a winning love story.

The sequel is Beguiled.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Iris Johansen’s THE GOLDEN BARBARIAN – Desert Sands Make for an Exotic Locale in this Keeper!

This is the first in the Sedikhan series and it's a good one. If you like strong, resourceful heroines, handsome desert Sheikhs and love stories set in exotic places, you'll love this one. As with all Johansen's historical romances, she takes pains to weave a complex tale with wonderful characters and believable sexual tension.

Set in the early 19th century, this is the story of Tess Rubinoff, Princess of Tamrovia (somewhere in the Balkans) who first meets Galen Ben Raschid Sheikh of Zalandan (think desert sands) when she is 12 and he pulls her and her dog out of quicksand. Even then, he has designs on her as he wants to link their two countries in order to gain sufficient power to unify the desert tribes of Sedikhan.

Since she is only 12 when they meet, he will wait; he is a patient man. She spends the next 6 years in a convent at her cousin's suggestion (prompted by Galen) to protect her from an abusive father. When her father rejects Galen's suit, Galen arranges to steal Tess away by making her a proposition she cannot refuse—and she doesn't.

Once in Sedikhan, the adventure begins.

In case you want to read more of them, here is the entire Sedikhan Series (not all are historical; some are contemporary; but all have a link to Sedikhan):

The Golden Barbarian
The Golden Valkyrie
The Trustworthy Redhead
Capture the Rainbow
Touch the Horizon
A Summer Smile
And the Desert Blooms
Always
Everlasting
Till the End of Time
The Last Bridge Home
Across the River of Yesterday
Star Light, Star Bright
Man From Half Moon Bay
Blue Blue Skies and Shining Promises
Magnificent Folly
Notorious
A Tough Man to Tame

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

J.J. Flowers (aka Jennifer Horsman) THY BROTHER’S WIFE – 16th Century France Brought to Life!

J.J. Flowers (Jennifer Horsman) is one of my all time favorite historical romance authors because of her complex plots, detailed storytelling and character emotion. She has not failed to disappoint with this one. According to the author's note, it's based on a true story...or a legend surrounding one...from a 16th century French theologian and a collection of letters concerning the last woman condemned to die at the stake on the charge of witchery who was saved by a young French nobleman. It is very well done...intriguing to the end.

Set in France in 1513 (and 1519), this tells the story of 15-year-old Linness of Sauvage, a poor girl raised in a convent when her “second sight” was discovered and she is condemned as a witch. A gallant young knight, Paxton Gaillard Chamberlain, saves her from the stake. In a moment of self-indulgent battle lust, Paxton robs Linness of her virginity and leaves her naked in the forest (with a ring to remember him by) and words that he will return--words she does not hear. In a bizarre coincidence, she comes across the dead bodies of Lady Belinda (the betrothed of Paxton's older twin brother) and her guards who were attacked by bandits. Encouraged by one of the dying guards to assume the identity of the Lady Belinda, who he tells Linness the brother, Morgan, has never seen, Linness dresses in the dead girl’s clothes and takes her identity, unaware that the knight, Paxton, who made love to her is Morgan's estranged younger brother. (Are you still with me?)

Well researched, this story brings to life France in the early 1500s when King Francis brought peace to the country. Horsman describes well the wine industry at the time, the architecture, culture, dress and food. The characters are well developed and the plot complex. Horsman's writing style is a bit unique in that she frequently changes points of view. I got used to it and came to enjoy her seamless head hopping.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Victoria Holt’s ON THE NIGHT OF THE SEVENTH MOON – Love and Mystery in the Black Forest!

Set in Germany and England from 1859 to 1870 (with an end note in 1901), this tells the story of Helena Trant whose parents were so much in love they had little time for her. Still, hers was a happy childhood among books in Oxford where her father had a bookstore. When she was old enough, her parents sent her to Germany near the Black Forest to a convent school where her mother had been educated.

Helena loves the forest and the fairy tales surrounding it. She hears of the legend of the night of the seventh moon “when mischief is abroad and is routed with the coming of dawn.” On one night, she gets lost in the mist of the forest and is rescued by a man who takes her to his hunting lodge. She taken with him that she might have allowed him to have his way with her but for the intervention of a housekeeper who took measures to preserve Helena’s virtue. But Helena never forgot the man even though she did not know his name.

Years later, she returns to Germany and on another night of the seventh moon Helena meets and marries her German at his hunting lodge, but then she wakes from her idyllic honeymoon to discover she has been drugged by a physician who tells her she has escaped a horror that befell her in the forest. Helena lives in a fog of dreams and wonders where truth is.

I have to say that I love Holt’s writing, and this story sucked me in immediately. It is labeled as a romantic suspense, but I didn’t see it containing any more suspense than many historical romances. But it does have a Gothic feel and there is a mystery. Holt had me wondering what had really happened. She did an excellent job of that. The book is a bit slow in the middle, and the hero and heroine are separated for years. In that interim, I found passages that seemed repetitive, but the ending is a great one. As always, Holt is a master storyteller and creates wonderfully vivid characters. I recommend it.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lisa Ann Verge’s HEAVEN IN HIS ARMS – Fur Trapper Love in the French Canadian Wilderness

The story begins in Paris in 1670 where Genevieve Lalande, an orphan and illegitimate daughter of a courtesan, struggles to survive. Desperate for a new life, she trades identities with a woman who is among those chosen to be brides for the settlers in the new French colony of Quebec.

A fur trader in the Canadian wilderness, Andre Lefebvre is not happy to learn he must wed in order to keep his license. Given a choice of women, he selects the pale, sickly Genevieve, believing she can't possibly live. But he is wrong. She gets well. When she realizes he married her hoping she would die, she follows him into the wilderness demanding he treat her as a wife. Despite the temptation of her beauty, Andre doesn’t want to consummate the marriage because he plans to annul it.

The story reflects the author’s considerable research into the era and the locations. The descriptions of the unusual setting are vivid. Rides over the rapids and portaging through the wilderness on the way to Chequamegon Bay, an inlet on Lake Superior, are exciting.

Andre was concerned about a woman’s ability to handle the difficulties but Genny matches them for endurance and cleverness at every turn, winning Andre’s respect (and his lust, of course). The dialog is often witty and the love scenes are graphic (and there are many).


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Victoria Holt’s ROAD TO PARADISE ISLAND – Mystery, Love and the South Seas!

Annalice Mallory, the sheltered daughter of a family of Victorian mapmakers, discovers a hundred-year-old diary of her long-dead ancestor that includes a map of a mysterious far-off island that supposedly is home to an idyllic civilization and where gold is in abundance. Philip, Annalice's brother, is intrigued by the idea and sets sail for the island. But when two years pass and he doesn't return, Annalice sets out to find him in a journey that leads her through exciting outposts including Australia and the tropical islands of the South Seas, where she encounters heart-stopping peril and the promise of love.

The first part of the story tells of Annalice’s ancestor who was believed to have been murdered by a sinister man who wanted her inheritance and was willing to kill for it. But along with the story comes a well-drawn map of a mysterious island. Annalice feels drawn to her ancestor and wrapped up in the mystery of the island. So, she leaves behind her unofficial fiancé to sail to the South Seas in search of her brother and the island. In the process, she encounters Milton, who owns a plantation on an island he controls. Milton cares nothing about Annalice’s fiancé as he wants her for his own.

The characters are interesting and richly drawn, the story intriguing and, as with all of Victoria Holt’s books, there is a mystery. It’s in the first person and we are only in Annalice’s head but that didn’t bother me. I was lost in the adventure of it all.

I do recommend this to all Holt fans, of which I am one.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Loretta Chase’s CAPTIVES OF THE NIGHT – A Captivating Story

I bought all the romances in this loosely woven series before I read one of them. They include The Lion’s Daughter, set primarily in Albania, Captives of the Night, Lord of Scoundrels, and The Last Hellion. The last two are not so related as the first two. I found the writing to be inconsistent in these books and the stories vary considerably, some more interesting than others. But I did like this story very much.

Set in Paris and London, Captives is the story of Leila Beaumont, a brilliant artist, who, through a series of events, is forced by circumstances to marry a degenerate, who actually loves her but is incapable by his own bad choices of being a good husband. She decides to shut him out of her bedroom when she is only 20 but she remains celibate and faithful.

Meanwhile, her husband basically lives his separate debauched lifestyle. Now in her mid 20s, Leila comes to the attention of the handsome and sophisticated comte d’Esmond (who is the attractive villain Ismal from The Lion’s Daughter but with a new identity). They first meet in Paris and later, in London, where Leila and he are thrown together to solve a murder. The sexual tension is well done and runs high throughout. Both are interesting and attractive people and have much to bring to a relationship. There are secrets lingering from The Lion's Daughter so you'll want to read that one before this one. (The secrets are interesting and worth discovering.)

I recommend this book.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Patty Apostolides’ HELENA’S CHOICE – Historical Romance set in 19th century Greece

Set in Greece in 1837, this is the story of Helena Cadfield, who has just returned from boarding school in Paris to her home in Oxfordshire where she learns her father has died in Greece while excavating treasures on her late mother's property. She wants to go to Greece to claim her inheritance, but she needs funds, so she takes a position as a governess with a family that, fortunately, moves to Greece.

Unaware of Helena’s existence, Dr. Aristotle Mastoras accepts the offer from the Archaeological Society to lead the project investigating the house of the late Dr. Cadfield. Helena meets Aristotle at a court ball in Greece, where she is watching over her charge.

Many obstacles interfere with their growing affection for each other: jewel thieves; Helena’s former suitor back in England and a German woman who has claims on Aristotle. Will Helena stay in Greece or return to her beloved Oxfordshire?

This is a romance set in a post war Greece, a country hurting but trying to recover. Told at a leisurely pace, the author conveys many details of Helena’s world: her loss of family, her misfortunes and her dawning future. Helena is a resourceful woman and Aristotle a man who knows what he wants. You get a good sense of what Greece was like at the time as Helena and Aristotle search for treasure.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Dorothy Eden’s SLEEP IN THE WOODS – Absorbing Story from New Zealand in the Late Victorian Era

August is Exotic Locales month… when we sweep you away to places that are outside America, England and Scotland. I’m starting with a classic, one not to be missed.

Two authors I greatly admire, Heather Graham and Cordia Byers, recommended this book to me. I am so glad they did. Though it was first published in 1960, it is now on Kindle. A worthy story readers will enjoy today (with possibly one caveat you’ll see below).

Set in the late Victorian period, the story tells of Briar Johnson, who as a baby was found in a cold ditch by the side of the road clutched in the arms of what was presumably her dead mother. Briar was fortunate to be raised in the home of a schoolmaster who found her intelligent and taught her to speak well and read the classics. When he dies, she takes a position as a maid and sails away to New Zealand with two young ladies sent by their family to find proper husbands.

Beautiful Briar (named after the briar rose) determines she will one day have the finer things in life, the life she believes she was meant for. So, when the opportunity comes, she attends a ball that would be forbidden to her and dons a mask for a masked game that has the men picking prospective brides. Alas, she did not get the man she wanted. Instead, she got the hard Saul Whitmore, cousin to an earl and wealthy in his own right with a sheep ranch and the finest house in the area deep in the wild country.

Saul, at his mother’s urging, intends to take a wife, but most of the women he meets are insipid creatures who can only talk of gowns and parties. In Briar, he sees a woman who has a fire in her green eyes that intrigues him. So he determines to have her. With few options and urged on by all, Briar accepts his proposal of marriage even though she hates the hard man who mocks her at every turn.
The title, “Sleep in the Woods” was used twice in the book, once as a euphemism for death, the death that was all around the pioneers living in Taranaki in the shadow of Mt. Egmont on the North Island of New Zealand. When they were under siege by a renegade band of Maoris, the Reverend prayed: “Grant us to live, and not to sleep in these woods, unless that be Thy will. If we must die, let us do so bravely…” But then later, Briar remembers a passage from Ezekiel 34: “…they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods,” which gives a more favorable aspect to the title and comports with the excellent and very happy ending.
Suspenseful action is infused throughout this well-researched story. Wonderful characters populate every page. Beautiful descriptions of both flora and fauna are tucked in without you really being aware. And the hero and heroine are striking. Saul, a man whose strength enabled him to carve out a destiny in New Zealand’s wild country, was a worthy hero, though often harsh. Briar, grasping at the security Saul’s wealth provided, had a tender heart for all. She was the mistress of his house and the courage of the people as they faced hardship and death. I could not help but love her.

The only thing this story lacked—and might have been better for it—were love scenes. So much emotion was left in the dark. What Saul and Briar shared in their intimate moments might have told us their real feelings for each other when their words did not. An entire wedding night was summed up with one word, “Afterward.” There is even a bodice-ripping scene rather late in the book but, without the follow through, it was a bit obscure. But one must make allowances for its year of publication—1960.

A great classic and a worthy read—and set in an exotic locale!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Jennifer Blake’s SOUTHERN RAPTURE – A Wonderful Post Civil War Story with an Intriguing Hero and a Winning Heroine

Lettie Mason, a Boston schoolteacher, lost her brother to an outlaw’s bullet in a small Louisiana town during the Civil War. As a result, when the war is over, she travels to that same town to learn about her brother’s death. She believes he was killed by an outlaw known as the “Thorn”. She has heard tales of his many good deeds as well as the bad. And when she encounters him in the dark, he kisses her and then, later, makes love to her. She does not resist.

Meanwhile, she has begun to teach two young men at Splendora, the estate where she is staying. One, the very handsome Ransom Tharp, who returned from the war with a head injury that left him “not quite right”. Or is he?

A local hero carries on with two personalities to help his people…a disguise that keeps him from the woman he would have. But Lettie suspects all is not as it seems.

A great story, well told by a master of historical romance. It’s part of the boxed set, “The Best of Jennifer Blake. Highly recommended.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Best American Patriotic Historical Romances!


The month in which we Americans celebrate our Independence is a great time to read a story with a noble hero and a worthy heroine set in times when America’s future was on the line. Here’s the list you’ll want to pick from—all good ones! All on the list are rated 4 or 5 stars.

The French and Indian War (America before Independence):

Follow the Heart by Anita Mills
Ride out the Storm by Aleen Malcolm
Scattered Seeds by Julie Doherty
Windsong by Judith E. French

The War of Independence/Revolutionary War:

Caroline, Touch the Sun and Spring Fires, from the Beauvisage series by Cynthia Wright
Devon and the sequel The Black Angel by Cordia Byers
Fortune’s Bride by Judith E. French
In From the Cold by Nora Roberts
Lanterns in the Mist by Mairi Norris
Love a Rebel, Love a Rogue by Shirl Henke
Love Among the Rabble by Lauren Laviolette
Love Not a Rebel by Heather Graham
Master of My Dreams and Captain of My Heart by Danelle Harmon
Mood Indigo by Parris Afton Bond
Passion’s Ransom by Betina Krahn
Scarlet Ribbons by Judith E. French
Silver Storm, from the Raveneau series by Cynthia Wright
The Calling of the Clan by Parris Afton Bonds
The Paradise Bargain by Betina Krahn (Whiskey Rebellion), first released as Love’s Brazen Fire
The Wayward One by Danelle Harmon
Under Crimson Sails by Lynna Lawton (post Revolutionary War)
Velvet Chains by Constance O’Banyon

The War of 1812:

Fortune’s Flames by Janelle Taylor
Lady Vixen by Shirlee Busbee
Lord of the Sea by Danelle Harmon
Masque of Jade by Emma Merritt
Midnight Masquerade by Shirlee Busbee
My Love, My Enemy by Jan Cox Speas
Tainted Lilies by Becky Lee Weyrich
The Captain’s Captive by Christine Dorsey
The Plains of Chalmette by Jack Caldwell
The Windflower by Laura London (aka Sharon and Tom Curtis)
To Save a Lady by Patricia Preston

The Underground Railroad:

Passion’s Joy by Jennifer Horsman

The Civil War:

A Time for Everything by Mysti Parker (post Civil War)
An Outlaw in Wonderland by Lori Austin
An Honorable Man by Rosemary Rogers
Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin (post Civil War)
Bittersweet by Anita Mills (mostly post Civil War)
Bonds of Love by Lisa Gregory
Clingstone by Marti Ziegler
Dark Stranger and Rides a Hero (first two books in the Slater Brothers trilogy) by Heather Graham
Lavender Blue by Parris Afton Bonds
Master of Paradise by Virginia Henley
Midnight Confessions by Candice Proctor
No Greater Glory by Cindy Nord
One Wore Blue, And One Wore Gray, And One Rode West, Cameron Civil War trilogy by Heather Graham
Rebel, Surrender, Glory and Triumph (from the Old Florida's McKenzies series) by Heather Graham
Rules of Decorum by Leigh Lee
Sing My Name by Ellen O’Connell
Southern Rapture by Jennifer Blake
Straight for the Heart by Marsha Canham
Surrender in Moonlight by Jennifer Blake
The Black Swan and Moss Rose, duology by Day Taylor
The Outlaw Hearts by Rebecca Brandewyne
Tomorrow the Glory by Heather Graham
Vagabond Wind by Amanda Hughes
When the Splendor Falls by Laurie McBain

In addition to those listed above, I hope you will consider To Tame the Wind, my Georgian romance set in the last year of the Revolutionary War with privateers and spies in England and France. And, for a story with a sea captain hero and a heroine looking back at the War of 1812, you might enjoy Wind Raven.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Anita Mills’ BITTERSWEET – Love After the Civil War Heading West

A well-written story of two people who find love in the midst of recovering from the past and the war that tore apart a nation.

The story begins in Tennessee in 1864 as Spencer Hardin, surgeon for the Southern troops, is trying to provide medical care without supplies to do it. Meanwhile, his young wife, Lydia, sends him letters urging him to desert and come home. While he tells her to endure, he sends a friend home with a medical discharge and encourages him to take care of Lydia and help her manage until the war is over. As it turns out, the friend will help himself to Spence’s wife.

A year later, the war is over and Spence returns home only to discover his wife has run off with the other guy, taking Spence’s young son with them. Intent on recovering his son, Spence heads for San Francisco where he learns they may be. Along the way, he discovers his wife has died of cholera, but he goes on. In a railroad camp, he encounters a pregnant Laura Taylor, the widow of a man who once helped him and died working on the railroad.

Spence and Laura are the kind of people you want to know, noble, courageous and despite their own hardships, willing to help others. Life on the frontier in railroad towns is not easy but Laura decides to take in laundry. Spence, who is desperate to find his son, won’t leave her in the lurch. Each must come to terms with the shortfall in their marriages and what they want for the future.

A post Civil War story from a great storyteller!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Laurie McBain’s WHEN THE SPLENDOR FALLS – Sweeping Saga of Southern Life Before the Civil War and New Mexico Territory After

Regrettably for lovers of historical romance, this was McBain’s last novel. I have read, reviewed and loved all of them (see list below). McBain was a part of the seminal group of authors who ushered in the modern historical romance in the 70s and she stayed for the booming 80s to give us more wonderful, well-written and deeply emotional sagas. As if she knew this would be her last, she took her time with it, slowly developing the tapestry of the two Southern families whose lives were intertwined before, during and after the terrible conflict known as the Civil War.

Leigh Alexandra Travers, of Travers Hill in Virginia loved her home, her family and her horses for which the Travers family was famous. Neil Braedon was from the branch of the Virginia Braedons that went west to the Territories. He was captured by Comanches as a child to become the warrior “Sun Dagger,” then later rescued and sent east to school, graduating from Yale. One day, seeing Leigh in the woods, he mistakes her for a lady’s maid and steals a kiss—her first. Both were forever changed by the encounter. Neil wanted Leigh as no woman before and Leigh was no longer content with her handsome, wealthy gentleman fiancé, though she would wed him to save her family from financial ruin. Neither Leigh nor Neil spoke of the deep feelings they had for each other.

Then the war intervened and changed everything.

McBain meticulously presents the devastation the Civil War brought to the two families as Leigh and Neil are separated by years (and more). Her family fights for the South and Neil becomes the Yankee raider known as “Captain Dagger.” The descriptions are vivid and rich, the dialog amazing and the story satisfying. As a sample, thinking about Leigh, Neil reflected,

“She was like the willow on the riverbank. She bent to the winds that swept across Travers Hill. She had adapted gracefully to the changes that had come so tragically into her life. She hadn’t broken trying to resist, to fight against a far greater force that would have destroyed her. Nor had she been weakened by the struggle, she had become stronger, finding a strength within that she might never have known otherwise.”

This is a sweeping saga, and a love story that develops across years. (It’s a long one, too, at 678 pages in my print edition). For fans of McBain, as I am, it will not disappoint. It's a keeper!

McBain’s Novels:

Devil's Desire (1975)
Tears Of Gold (1979)
Wild Bells To The Wild Sky (1983)
When The Splendor Falls (1985)

Dominick Trilogy

Moonstruck Madness (1977) Sabrina and Lucien
Chance The Winds Of Fortune (1980) their daughter Rhea and Dante
Dark Before The Rising Sun (1982) Rhea and Dante (cont’d.)

Friday, July 19, 2019

Cindy Nord’s NO GREATER GLORY – Civil War Romance Rich in Historical Detail

A well-researched debut novel with considerable detail of the various battles around Virginia, this is a romance for those who like to savor the details and want to dive deeply into the Civil War.

Set from 1862 to 1865, it tells the story of Emaline McDaniels, a widow trying to hold onto her Virginia plantation, Shapinsay. Then Colonel Reece Cutteridge, a Union officer, shows up to requisition her home and her livestock to winter and feed his troops. Despite her disdain for the Union, Emaline finds herself assisting the Union doctor and nursing the colonel’s men, all the while fighting an attraction to their commander.

Reece has lost his wife and child and resists Emaline, but quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Separated by war, they will find themselves brought together by fate.

Nord describes what it was like to hold a plantation on the edge of war with intruding soldiers, deserters and miscreants all trying to steal what is not theirs. And in the midst of all that, a love blossoms between two people on opposite sides.

Some parts of the book will seem more like historical fiction than romance, the love story taking a back seat to the war, but romance readers who like real history dished up with the love story will love it!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Patricia Preston’s TO SAVE A LADY – Intriguing Story set in New Orleans During the War of 1812

Set in 1814 in New Orleans, this is the story of Elisa Plaisance, a lady’s maid, who becomes a messenger for the Americans, feeding information to Capt. Jesse Cross, an aid to General Jackson. She does this as a part of a bargain she made with a man named Louis Beauvais, who agrees to search for her mistress’ missing son. Her mistress, having lost her husband and her other children is pining away for her son.

Elise’s one desire is to avoid her mother’s fate, ending up as the neglected mistress of a married man. Yet she falls in love with Jesse and is the one to suggest they make love—without benefit of marriage. Jesse seems to have only honorable intentions but it takes him a while to get around to that. And then there is the war…

Preston brings to life the time at the end of the War of 1812 when, unaware that a peace treaty had been reached, the Americans and British in New Orleans fought on. She obviously did much research to get the events correct. Her fight scenes are exciting and the fictional intrigue believable. Elise is a sympathetic figure though at times she does seem a bit confused about her goals. Still, she is unselfish and wants only the best for her mistress, who saved her from a fate worse than death. Jesse is honorable in all things and his cousin is a worthy character (who will be a hero in an upcoming book).

It’s a great start to her French Quarter Brides series and I recommend it.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Shirlee Busbee’s MIDNIGHT MASQUERADE – Love in Louisiana in 1814 as the Battle of New Orleans Approaches!

I love Shirlee Busbee’s romances because I know I’m going to diving into a deep story, one with rich details in the descriptions of places, people, food and history, woven together like a tapestry, providing a great background for her captivating love stories. This one is no different. Her seventh novel, it tells an intriguing tale of love in the time of the War of 1812 (referred to by its opponents as “Madison’s War”).

Set in Louisiana, beginning in the spring of 1814, this is the story of Melissa Seymour, whose greatest concern is surviving until her trust funds come in, which will only happen when her younger brother, 19-year-old Zachary turns 21—or she marries. Her uncle, who stands to benefit, urges her to marry, and yet Lissa is “unmoved by the most ardent admirer.”

To discourage the men who flock about her, Melissa disguises herself as a dowdy shrew. Her gift is horses and she has one stallion, Folly, who is magnificent and wins all his races. His prize money is keeping her and Zachary’s home of Willowglen afloat. Then enters one arrogant, wealthy bachelor, Dominic Slade of New Orleans, who wants to buy Folly and start a stud farm on his new estate close to Willowglen. Through a bizarre set of circumstances, they are caught together in his hotel room and forced to wed.

Busbee sets forth a shotgun marriage that grew into love against a backdrop of English spies in Louisiana seeking out Loyalists who can be counted on for the Battle of New Orleans that is coming.

Among the secondary characters is Jason Savage, the hero in Busbee’s GYPSY LADY. While the pace is a bit slower than more modern historical romances, fans of Busbee will not be disappointed.