Sunday, October 1, 2023

Susanna Kearsley’s THE SPLENDOR FALLS – A Hunt for a Medieval Treasure in a Town in France

October is Medieval month so look for stories that harken back to the distant past. Up first is one set in Chinon in the picturesque Loire Valley in Anjou. It’s the story of Emily Braden who goes on holiday, ostensibly with her brilliant but unreliable cousin, Harry. Harry wants to explore the old town and the castle, where Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, had withstood the siege of Chinon many centuries ago, and where, according to legend, she hid a treasure of great worth.


When Emily arrives in Chinon she finds that Harry never arrived (in fact, not to appear for much of the book). So, Emily decides to spend time with the other guests at her hotel. There, she learns of star-crossed lovers in the German occupation during the Second World War that also hid a great treasure of jewels. The young woman, another Isabelle, who was a chambermaid at the hotel, fell in love with a German soldier, but it did not end well.


Two treasures, two Isabelles, and lots of intrigue.

Generally I love Kearsley’s unusual stories but this one seemed lacking somehow. Not that the writing wasn’t wonderful, even lyrical at times, but I kept waiting for more of the medieval tale, of which there were only glimpses. To be sure, mystery and evil lurked in abundance, and there is tragedy, but it’s more a contemporary story than a medieval one.


The love story between Emily and Neill (a violinist staying at the hotel) is well done and I did enjoy that. And Kearsley’s writing is brilliant as always. But I kept waiting for Harry to show up and I kept waiting for more from the past. A good story but not quite what I expected.



Friday, September 29, 2023

Best Georgian & Regency Romances!


I have read many Georgian and Regency romances over the years, so it was inevitable that I should have a “best list” for the ones I've rated 4 and 5 stars. The Georgian era covers the period from 1714 to 1830, with the sub-period of the Regency, 1811-1820, when George, Prince of Wales (“the Prince Regent”) reigned during the mental illness of his father George III. All these stories are set in that era.

A Counterfeit Heart by K.C. Bateman

A Fallen Lady by Elizabeth Kingston

A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss

A Wild Hope by Celeste De Blasis

Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

An Indecent Proposition by Emma Wildes

Barely a Lady by Eileen Dreyer

Caledonian Privateer by Gail MacMillian

Come the Night by Christina Skye

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Crimson Rapture by Jennifer Horsman

Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase

Entwined, Fallen and Moonlit, Regency spy trilogy by Emma Jensen

For Love Alone by Shirlee Busbee

Forbidden Love by Karen Robards

Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

Hearts Beguiled by Penelope Williamson

Highlander’s Hope by Collette Cameron

Love Only Once by Johanna Lindsey

Lovers Forever by Shirlee Busbee

Man of My Dreams by Johanna Lindsey

Mine Till Midnight, Seduce Me at Sunrise, Tempt Me at Twilight, Married by Morning and Love in the Afternoon (the Hathaways) by Lisa Kleypas

My Heart’s Desire by Andrea Kane

Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Once in a Blue Moon by Penelope Williamson

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare

Someone to Watch Over Me, Lady Sophia’s Lover and Worth Any Price (the Bow Street Runners trilogy) by Lisa Kelypas

Rogue’s Honor by Brenda Hiatt

Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss

Slightly Married by Mary Balogh

Some Like it Wild by Teresa Medeiros

Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

Stealing Heaven by Kimberly Cates

Swept Away by Marsha Canham

The Black Rose by Christina Skye

The Christmas Knot by Barbara Monajem

The Discerning Gentleman’s Guide by Virginia Heath

The Divided Heart by Beppie Harrison

The Foundling by Georgette Heyer

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

The Irish Duke by Virginia Henley

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews

The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

The Rake by Mary Jo Putney

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

The Sherbrooke Bride by Catherine Coulter

The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake

The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall

The Toll Gate by Georgette Heyer

The Wicked Marquis by Barbara Cartland

The Wild One by Danelle Harmon

Then Came You and Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman

Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney

To Taste Temptation, To Seduce a Sinner, To Beguile a Beast and To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt

To Tempt a Saint by Megan Bryce

Trials of Artemis by Sue London

Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale

Until You by Judith McNaught

Venetia by Georgette Heyer

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris

When the Duke Was Wicked by Lorraine Heath

Whisper to Me of Love by Shirlee Busbee

Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught

With His Lady’s Assistance by Cheryl Bolen


I hope you will read my own Georgian and Regency romances:


The award-winning Donet Trilogy: To Tame the Wind, Echo in the Wind and A Fierce Wind.


The Agents of the Crown Regency series: Racing with the Wind, Against the Wind, Wind Raven, A Secret Scottish Christmas and Rogue’s Holiday. They are all related but can be read as stand alones.


You might also like my holiday Regency novellas: The Shamrock & The Rose, The Twelfth Night Wager and The Holly & The Thistle.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Danelle Harmon’s THE WILD ONE – Exciting Georgian Romance, the 1st in a Series

It’s 1776 and Lord Gareth de Montforte is up to his usual antics as a irresponsible rake. But when he takes a bullet to thwart a stagecoach robbery, he discovers that the beautiful young woman he has rescued, Juliet Paige, his his deceased brother’s American fiancée, accompanied by her infant daughter.


 While Gareth’s older brother, the duke, treats Julia with indifference, Gareth is determined to do right by her and her baby. But Juliet is wary of marrying Gareth yet she has few options. Her fiancé is dead and she is alone.


Harmon does a splendid job of weaving an exciting tale packed with emotion and angst. Gareth is a loveable character who will win your heart (along with Julia’s). He is determined to make it on his own without his brother’s help even if it kills him to do it.


A great story, well-told. Highly recommended.


The de Montforte Series:


The Wild One

The Beloved One

The Defiant One

The Wicked One

The Wayward One


Monday, September 25, 2023

Virginia Henley’s THE IRISH DUKE – Delightful Late Regency Romance

Ever since James Hamilton, the Irish Marquis of Abercorn was 9 and Lady Louisa, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, was 7, James has wanted to marry her. She turned him down then (1819), and now that she is 19 and on the marriage block (1830), nothing has changed. Lady Louisa dreams of a life as a dancer, a life she can never have as a duke’s daughter, but in no event does she want to wed. Still, her beauty and her virtue attract all the ton’s would be suitors. But James is not worried. What he wants, he gets.


Meanwhile the beautiful virtuous Louisa has a sister, Georgy, who is quite the opposite: a selfish, whiny tart, she is plain and promiscuous. Georgy manages, unsurprisingly, to get pregnant, and the ever-protective Louisa allows their mother to think the miscarriage is Louisa’s. (I wanted to slap Georgy for saying nothing, and slap Louisa for taking a fall she did not need to take—it was only their mother involved after all!) Their mother the duchess assumes, of course, that James is the father of the miscarried child and forces a marriage to Louisa—all the while Georgy and Louisa say nothing (which was out of character for Louisa not to think of a way out of it). James now believes Louisa is not the virtuous woman he thought she was and their relationship quickly deteriorates. (I must say, that whole scenario was very hard to believe.)


Henley used both real life and fictional characters in this period story. The cast was so large I sometimes found it difficult to hold them all in my head (especially since some have the same name which Henley could hardly avoid since they are real persons). The facts roll out furiously and one has to have a good memory to remember them all. Still, the story held my interest and, though I hated the contrived misunderstanding, I wanted to hang in there to see how it ended. I loved that this was a fictional account of the love between two historical people who were married for over 50 years.


It’s quite different from Henley’s more serious historical romances (each of which I’ve rated 5 stars), but if you like lighter Regency era fare, you will enjoy it.


Friday, September 22, 2023

Karen Robards’ FORBIDDEN LOVE – Masterful Storytelling Will Keep You Reading Late Into the Night!

Seduced by her guardian, Justin, Earl of Weston, at his estate in Ireland when she was 17, Megan Kindead is made to pay the price. And oh, how she pays. Though Justin was very aware his behavior was despicable, he “couldn’t help himself” and ruined her just the same. In return, the young innocent fell in love. Of course, he forgot to tell her one thing: he could not marry her as he was already married. Finding she is pregnant, Megan knows to give her child a name, she must wed and soon.

Megan is a high-spirited young woman with courage and convictions. I loved her. Justin was an otherwise honorable nobleman who was obsessed with his ward. He would have her no matter the consequences, even making her his whore when he could not make her his wife.

It’s a bodice ripper, oh yes, it is, and a very good one. Originally published in 1983, it is just as good a read today. The emotions are at times subtle, at times violent, but in all, believable. And the tension is non-stop. Robards is simply a master of this sort of romance and I count myself among her many fans. She always tells a great story.


This book grabbed my attention and would not let me go. Though no date is given it seemed to be roughly set in the Regency era, and while there were some errors in forms of address and clothing color choices (a mauve “coming out” gown when it would have been white, and reference to a white wedding gown when it would have been a color), the story still gets full marks from me because these errors did not distract from what was a well-written, captivating story.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Virginia Heath’s THE DISCERNING GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE – Clever Regency Well Told

Bennett Montague, Duke of Aveley, is seeking the perfect bride. He’s even written a guide with his father’s advice as to how to select one. He's narrowed his search to five women called “the Potentials”, all demure and blonde. But then he meets Amelia Mansfield, his aunt's companion, who is the daughter of a viscount who annulled his marriage to Amelia’s mother because she could not bear him a son. Bennett does not know Amelia is of the nobility but thinks her a mere commoner. Hence, when he finds himself attracted to her, he dismisses the possibility of her being one of “the Potentials”.

Amelia survived her father’s rejection and her mother’s death to become an outspoken bluestocking concerned with the plight of the poor. She is amused and angered by Aveley’s method of selecting a wife. She sees the duke as arrogant and harsh but the man beneath the veneer as very attractive.


The story of Bennett’s search for a bride was cleverly told through the clips from his book, which was his father’s advice that he comes to see as rigid and not at all like the man the duke wants to be. Both he and Amelia are committed to reform and once they realize how alike they are, well, it’s got to be love! A clever Regency.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Georgette Heyer’s THE FOUNDLING – Delightful Story of the Duke Who Would be Ordinary

 This Regency is a great one by Heyer. It’s the story of Adolphus Gillespie Vernon Ware ("Gilly"), the seventh Duke of Sale, who is young and kept from life’s hardships by his domineering uncle and his devoted servants. Ever accommodating, he is finally fed up and decides to escape. Donning the garb of a commoner, he leaves behind his fiancé to discover whether he is “a man, or only a duke”.

His first adventure arises from his errand to deal with the man who is blackmailing his cousin. That works out better than he expected. This leads him to take under his protection a lad who has run away from his controlling father and tutor and a young woman who is beautiful but an airhead. She is the foundling.


This is so well told with many details of the characters personalities. Heyer is gifted at bringing all the threads together. The obstacles the young duke confronts, had me turning pages. His fiancé, Harriet, joins him toward the end and shows herself to be his perfect match.


Highly recommended.


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Collette Cameron’s HIGHLANDER’S HOPE – A Regency With a Highland Twist!

This was Cameron’s first novel and it set the stage for a new series. It begins in London in 1817, as Yvette Stapleton wakes in a ship’s cabin from another nightmare about Edgar, a man who had previously abducted—and tried to rape her. It is Edgar she was fleeing as she sailed from Boston to London. Once the ship docks, she tries to reach her solicitor’s office where she can obtain funds from her inheritance, but she runs into rogues she suspects are working for Edgar. Coming to her rescue is Ewan McTavish, Viscount Sethwick, a Scots laird.

Unbeknownst to Yvette, Ewan (who we learn later met Yvette two years earlier) is on a mission as a spy for the Prince Regent to find Edgar, a traitor. To protect her, Ewan decides to take her to Scotland where safety lies with his clan. To allow them to travel together, he talks her into pretending to be his wife, never telling her their simple declaration that they are man and wife will suffice in Scotland to see them wed in truth.


The story is full of interesting twists and turns with clever dialog and wonderful characters. The first part takes place in London with all characters save Ewan being British; the second part takes place in Scotland with all characters being Scots save the heroine. In the beginning some of the Englishmen were described rather vaguely so I was having trouble picturing them (and keeping them straight) but once in Scotland, the word pictures made vivid all that was happening.


Clearly Cameron is a good storyteller and the Scots are endearing and charming. You will have to wait until the epilogue to learn the details of the treachery Ewan was investigating, but the truth is finally revealed.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Michelle Mignone’s THE DUKE OF DEVASTATION – Charming, Well-told Regency and a Great Beginning to a new series by a new author

This is the first by Michelle Mignone, and she is off to a great start. It’s a winning tale of an unlikely hero and a modest, virtuous heroine. The Regency-set story moves along at a good clip with entertaining dialog and a complex plot. I really enjoyed it.


Elsie Hulbourne, a 25-year-old spinster, keeps house for her father, the vicar, and sees to the needs of his parishioners. Her sister, Maria, is beautiful and married to a wonderful man. But for Elsie, the only place she has ever found romance is between the covers of a romance novel. The chapters cleverly begin with a scene from her latest indulgence, A Secret Romance with a Rake.

Meantime, Edmund Thatchley, Duke of Castlemore, dubbed The Duke of Devastation, relentlessly pursues his campaign of revenge against those who wronged him and his family. And now he had Elsie’s family in his sights for a sin committed long ago.

Despite their initial attraction, his revenge and betrayal threaten to destroy both their happiness. Castlemore discovers late he wants Elsie for his own and now must find a way.


The author will keep you turning pages with quips and barbs and endearing characters. Frequent changes in point of view presented a challenge initially but I got used to it. I would definitely want to read more by this author.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Shirlee Busbee’s FOR LOVE ALONE – Murder, Mystery and a Marriage of Convenience… oh, my!

September is Georgian and Regency Romances month and I’m starting with one by a superb author. Set in 1805 (Prologue) and 1809, this is the story of Sophy, Lady Marlowe, who had the misfortune of being married off by her uncle to a brute, Simon, Marquis of Marlowe. She stood his abuse for a year, then learned to use a pistol and denied him her bed. But one night, Simon takes a plunge down their stairs. Was it an accident or murder?

It turns out that Simon was feeding information to Napoleon through a man known as Le Renard, “the Fox”, and was fool enough to threaten the spy with exposure. It cost Simon his life but the manner of death cast suspicion on Sophy.


Viscount Harrington is an interesting guy. A former officer, he has been dispatched to hunt for the Fox. That hunt brings him to Sophy’s rescue. First, he defends her against her despicable uncle and then he saves her from the gallows. He means to have her and it seems he will, for it is marriage to him that will be her salvation.


Harrington was a force and even strong-willed Sophy was not able to resist him. Busbee does a great job of bringing us into the Regency era with its house parties, balls and aristocracy with too much time on its hands. It’s a long tale at 448 pages but your patience will be rewarded with an exciting finish. Busbee’s fans will be sure to enjoy it.


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Best Historical Romances Set in Exotic Locales

It’s the dog days of August and you’re home and you’re bored. You want an adventure, an around the world trip, or perhaps an ocean voyage—without leaving your living room. And you want a good love story. But you’re tired of those set mostly in England, Scotland, Ireland and America. Well, I have just the list for you!


My mother taught me to read when I was four and told me I could travel the world through books. She was right. And were she still alive, she would love this list I’ve created just for you daydreamers who long to travel… stories by some great authors set in exotic locales. Though some might begin (or end) in England or America, they will quickly take you to another time and another place! All have been rated 4 or 5 stars by me. In each case, I’ve given you the location.


A Moment in Time by Bertrice Small

Across a Moonlit Sea, The Iron Rose and The Following Sea, trilogy by Marsha Canham (the Caribbean and the Spanish Main)

Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer (France and Spain)

Beyond Innocence by Joanna Lloyd (Australia)

Beyond Sunrise by Candice Proctor (the South Pacific, Polynesian islands)

Bianca by Bertrice Small, 1st in the Silk Merchant’s Daughters series (Florence, Italy and the Black Sea)

Blue Moon by Parris Afton Bonds (Mexico)

Broken Wing by Judith James (France, North Africa and the Mediterranean)

Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase (Paris)

Dark Torment by Karen Robards (Australia)

Devil’s Embrace and Devil’s Daughter by Catherine Coulter (Italy and the Mediterranean)

Devoted by Alice Borchardt (France)

Falling Stars by Anita Mills (Russia)

Falsely Accused by Margaret Tanner (Australia)

Fields of the Sun by Nadine Crenshaw (Morocco, the Atlantic Ocean and Brazil)

Forever and a Lifetime by Jennifer Horsman (Switzerland)

Fortune’s Mistress, Fortune’s Flame and Fortune’s Bride by Judith E. French (Caribbean and Panama)

Green Eyes by Karen Robards (Ceylon)

Gypsy Jewel by Patricia McAllister (Black Sea, Russia)

Gypsy Lord by Kat Martin (France)

Harcourt’s Mountain by Elaine Dodge (British Columbia, Canada)

Hearts Beguiled by Penelope Williamson (France)

Heaven in His Arms by Lisa Ann Verge (Canadian wilderness)

Helena’s Choice by Patty Apostolides (Greece)

In the Eye of the Beholder by Maggie Mooha (Crimean War, Turkey)

Island Flame by Karen Robards (various exotic ports between Lisbon and America)

Lady of Fire and Fire and Steel by Anita Mills (Normandy)

Lady of Fire by Valerie Vayle (the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Turkey and France)

Napoleon’s Rosebud by Humphry Knipe (Island of Saint Helena, England and Italy)

Night in Eden by Candice Proctor (Australia)

Night Shadow by Laura Renken (the Caribbean and the Spanish Main)

No Gentle Love by Rebecca Brandewyne (Ireland, France, Africa, India and China)

Notorious Angel by Jennifer Blake (Nicaragua)

On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt (Germany)

Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney (Spain and Portugal)

Oriana by Valerie Vayle (France, Caribbean)

Rangoon by Christine Monson (Burma)

Sense Of Touch by Rozsa Gaston (France)

September Moon by Candice Proctor (Australian outback)

Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss (Caribbean)

Silk and Secrets and Veils of Silk by Mary Jo Putney (Uzbekistan, Persia, India)

Sleep in the Woods by Dorothy Eden (New Zealand)

So Wild a Heart by Veronica Jason (France)

Splendor by Brenda Joyce (Russia)

Surrender the Night by Christine Monson (Italy, Switzerland and Hungary)

Templar Silks by Elizabeth Chadwick (Constantinople, Jerusalem)

The Book of Seven Delights by Betina Krahn (Morocco)

The Book of True Desires by Betina Krahn (Cuba and Mexico)

The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole (the High Seas from England to Australia) and the sequel, The Price of Pleasure (Oceania and Cape Town, South Africa)

The Captive by Victoria Holt (the Middle East)

The Demon Lover by Victoria Holt (France)

The Devil on Horseback by Victoria Holt (France)

The Devil to Pay by K.C. Bateman (Italy)

The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Malta and North Africa)

The Duchess of Sydney by Dawn Knox (Australia)

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran (India)

The Flesh and The Devil by Teresa Denys (Spain)

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne (France)

The Golden Barbarian by Iris Johansen (the Balkans and Sedikhan, a mythical country)

The Hidden Heart by Laura Kinsale (South America, Tahiti and the Pacific)

The India Fan by Victoria Holt (India)

The Jacaranda Tree by Rebecca Brandewyne (Australia)

The Judas Kiss by Victoria Holt (Germany/Bavaria)

The Kadin by Bertrice Small (Turkey)

The King’s Man, Fair, Bright and Terrible and Desire Lines, The Welsh Blades series by Elizabeth Kingston (Wales)

The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk by Sally Malcolm (fictional island off Africa)

The Lily and the Falcon by Jannine Corte-Petska (Italy)

The Lion’s Daughter by Loretta Chase (Albania)

The Lion’s Embrace by Marie Laval (Algeria)

The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien (Turkey)

The Price of Glory by Caroline Warfield (Egypt)

The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt (Australia)

The Road to Paradise Island by Victoria Holt (Australia and the South Seas)

The Secret Rose by Laura Parker (Australia)

The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt (South Seas)

The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys (Italy)

The Spanish Rose by Shirlee Busbee (Jamaica, the Caribbean)

The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake (Algiers)

The True Purpose of Vines by Giovanna Siniscalchi

The Warrior by Judith E. French (Egypt)

The Wind and the Sea by Marsha Canham (North Africa, the High Seas)

The Wind Dancer by Iris Johansen (Italy) and the sequel, Storm Winds (France)

This Fiery Splendor by Christine Monson (India)

Thy Brother’s Wife by J.J. Flowers (aka Jennifer Horsman) (France)

Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney (the High Seas and the Caribbean)

To Heal a Heart by Anthea Lawson (Crete)

Under Gypsy Skies by Kathryn Kramer (Spain)

Velvet is the Night by Elizabeth Thornton (France)

Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor (Tasmania)


As you choose your destination, consider my own books set in exotic locales:


Racing With The Wind (Paris)

Wind Raven (the High Seas, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean)

To Tame the Wind, Echo in the Wind and A Fierce Wind, the award-winning Donet Trilogy (France and the High Seas)