Friday, September 24, 2021

Georgette Heyer’s THE TOLL-GATE – Clever, Cant-filled Regency!

This Regency is the story of Captain John Staple, back from the battlefront and bored with his aristocratic relations and craving adventure. Striking out across the country, he stumbles upon a toll-gate where a young boy, Ben, is left alone and his father suddenly disappeared. When he sees Lady Nell Stornaway, the young woman who lives nearby, the captain decides to stay, take over the toll-gate and solve the mystery of the missing man.


Heyer does not disappoint as she delivers some rollicking good fun along with some interesting characters (including a highwayman!) and a budding romance. But readers should be aware that this story is filled with much cant (both Regency, thieves and common folk cant). You can get the sense of what is being said by the context but I confess I was not always able to decipher the words. Still, I consider this a well-told story and a fun one.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Christina Skye’s COME THE NIGHT – Compelling Tale of a Tortured Highwayman and the Innocent who Stole his Heart

Set sometime in the Regency (since mad King George is referred to), this is the story of Silver St. Clair, the daughter of a famous perfumer who died without giving Silver the formula. Now she struggles to keep the lavender farm in Norfolk running even as she discovers her father’s diary that tells her both her parents were murdered. Evil men want both her and the farm. But she finds an ally in the mysterious highwayman, Lord Blackwood, who is actually Lucien Delemere, the eldest son of the Duke of Devonham.


Luc is a tortured soul with horrible memories of being abducted from London and swept away to an English prison hulk only to be rescued into a life as a warrior slave in Algiers. His good memories are of wide lawns and his family’s estate in Norfolk, but he has long since given them up and now lives as a rogue highwayman. That is until he meets the young innocent Silver.


The author does a wonderful job of bringing us into the business of lavender growing and the mysterious art of perfume making, at which Silver’s father excelled. Silver’s young brother, a delightful character, has the same skills. We experience Luc’s tortured thoughts as well as his burning desire for the girl he must deny himself.


The hero and heroine are compelling, as are the secondary characters, Luc’s faithful caretaker Jonas Ferguson and Silver’s protective friend Tinker. There’s even a faithful sheepdog.


So well done and definitely recommended.


Come the Dawn is book 2 in the Dangerous Delemeres

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Sue London’s TRIALS OF ARTEMIS – Her Name is Jack And She Knows How to Fight, a Regency

This is book 1 in the Haberdashers series though I might have thought it was book 2 or 3 by the references to other characters not in this story. The premise is clever enough: 3 debutantes who band together to form an unusual group, all committed, it seems, to self-defense. All take male first names: Jack, Sabre and George. That bit was disconcerting each time a sentence started with “Jack…”. But I digress. The dialog is clever, the banter witty, and the clash between the hero and heroine interesting.


Supposedly he comes into a library one evening thinking to have a tryst with a widow he has previously dabbled with. Instead, he finds Jack, a 19-year-old innocent who he takes for the widow. I’m not sure that works, even in the dark, but you get the picture. If he doesn’t marry her she is ruined. So, it’s a forced marriage.


There’s a fair amount of sex in this story, enough so that I skipped a few passages. There are references to historical events but we are not shown any happening. Still, it’s enough to tell you where you are in England’s history (the Regency just before Waterloo). Gideon is a stern bachelor who didn’t seem to have much use for women outside of the bedroom before he married Jack. And Jack is a practically perfect “wallflower” who suddenly blossoms (once she is married) into an irresistible young woman.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lorraine Heath WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED – A Steamy Regency Well Told

Lady Grace Mabry’s large inheritance has made it impossible for her to tell whether a suitor is in love with her—or whether he is just in need of funds. So she decides to ask her childhood friend, the Duke of Lovingdon, to assist. After all, since the wife he loved died, he has had many women.


I loved this story, the chemistry between the leads, the secondary characters (some of whom will no doubt be featured in the rest of the series). Even though I knew how it would end, I enjoyed Lady Grace’s subtle manipulation…or was she really lying to herself?

Lovingdon was a wonderful character, imparting all sorts of advice to Grace. But his lessons become more intimate and soon lead to passion between them. Against her better judgment, Grace falls in love. Lurking about is another man, also a member of the ton, who decides to force her to marry him.


It’s a great first book in the series as it introduces you to the men who will populate the books and conveys their relationships with each other. The emotion is rich and will draw you in. Grace is a sympathetic figure and, really, only Lovingdon will do.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Victoria Cornwall’s THE THIEF’S DAUGHTER – Smuggling on the Cornwall Coast in the Georgian Era

Set in Cornwall in Georgian England, beginning in 1779 (with a prologue set in 1765),  this is the story of Jenna Cartwright Kestle, the virtuous daughter of thieving parents and a sister to brothers who were always in trouble with the authorities.


When Jenna is only four, the thief-takers carry off her older brothers and her parents, leaving only Silas, her last brother. She lives in fear of thief-takers ever after.


As the story begins, Silas is in debtor’s prison and asks for Jenna’s help to pay his creditors. He lies to her about his wife and children being in prison with him to gain her sympathy. Silas is an altogether bad actor but Jenna doesn’t yet realize it so she decides to get a job to pay her brother’s debts.


Jack Penhale, a thief-taker, hunts down the smuggling gangs thriving on Cornwall’s coast. The author vividly portrays the mood of the time as to the smugglers and men in prison for debt. Jack is particularly interested in the smuggling gang led by Ames and Job Blake because they took his father’s life.


When Jenna comes to the job market, he hires her for his housekeeper to tend the Captain’s Cabin he’s rented for its proximity to the coast. Jack is a noble character who only means good to Jenna. She is a bit clueless when it comes to her brother, allowing Silas to lure her into a smuggling scheme.


The author developed the characters and their conflicting emotions well. Though life for them was hard and bad things happened, the ending is sweetly romantic.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Judith McNaught’s ALMOST HEAVEN – A Bodice Ripper Set in Regency London (and Scotland) with a Hunk from Scotland...oh yes!

This is 3rd in McNaught's "Sequels Series" (Once and Always, Something Wonderful and Almost Heaven). This one is a Regency era romance and some of it takes place in Scotland—and the hero is a Scot!


It begins as 17-year-old Elizabeth Cameron, Countess of Havenhurst, is in her first season and makes some errors of judgment which, while demonstrating her independence and courage, set her back in the ton's eyes. Caught alone with the handsome rake, Ian Thornton, who isn't even a peer, she is ruined. To his credit, Ian, a known gambler, is willing to marry her, but Elizabeth is too afraid of the perils of gambling that have made her a pauper, and so she rejects his noble offer.


Alone, Elizabeth valiantly holds onto the family estate, Havenhurst, using her ingenuity to provide for the few servants—for two long years. But in an effort to reduce his costs, her uncle decides to marry her off, to any of her former suitors who will take her.


Through the selection process, Elizabeth encounters Ian Thornton once again. This time, however, Ian emerges as a very wealthy man and heir to the Duke of Stanhope, and he is very skeptical of Elizabeth.


McNaught does a superb job of demonstrating the conflict between Elizabeth and Ian. (He is a hunk and who among us wouldn’t love to be with him in a remote hunting lodge in Scotland?) The dialog is witty and very funny at times; the characters are rich and interesting; and the action and sexual tension simmer.


There are a few twists and turns that while improbable did not detract from the wonderful ending. A good read and I recommend it.

Monday, September 6, 2021

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.


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Lisa Kleypas’ WORTH ANY PRICE – Last of the Runners Gives into Love

Book 3 of the Bow Street Runners trilogy begins in 1839 and tells the story of Nick Gentry, the handsome rogue from book 2 who turned out to be John, Lord Stanley, Lady Sophia’s brother who did not die on the prison ship as she had thought. To save him from the hangman’s noose, Sophia persuaded Sir Ross, head of the runners, to let her brother have another chance. Now, three years later, he is a runner and doing quite well, still as Nick Gentry.


In book 2, Nick was portrayed as a handsome, dangerous hero of the streets. In this story he seemed different, less dangerous (unfortunately) and very vulnerable to one young woman. One might have titled this book the taming of Nick Gentry for that is pretty much what it is.


Nick wants nothing to do with his title that Sir Ross seems intent on having him claim. The runners will soon be disbanded and Sir Ross tells Nick he must take his place in the House of Lords and assume his real identity. Early in the story, Nick takes a wife, one Miss Charlotte Howard, who he was hired to find and return to her betrothed, an old and controlling peer. Having no scruples and knowing Charlotte is on the run from her betrothed, Nick offers her his protection in the form of marriage. She accepts.


Mostly this is about the relationship (both emotional and physical) between Nick and Lottie but there is this villain lurking somewhere in the background. Like the others in the trilogy, it reflects Kleypas’ research into the Bow Street runners and that is interesting. In this book, they are fading out as the “New Police” are coming in.


Lottie is an innocent and Nick is a madam-trained (as in bordello madam) man of sexual sophistication so you know where the love scenes are going. And like the other two books, there are many (some might say too many). Still an entertaining read.



The Bow Street Runners trilogy:

Someone to Watch Over Me
Lady Sophia’s Lover
Worth Any Price


Friday, September 3, 2021

For the followers of Historical Romance Review…a new way to follow!


If you’ve been getting emails from me via “Follow it”, here’s why:


As some of you may know, Blogger is dropping the “follow by email” option for blogs so I had to find another way for the followers of Historical Romance Review to get my posts.


If you signed up to get my posts via email, you should automatically get my book reviews via Follow it. Same posts, just a different vehicle. You can also catch Historical Romance Review on Facebook here:


This month is Georgian and Regency romances so stay tuned for some great reads!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Penelope Williamson’s HEARTS BEGUILED – Superb Pre French Revolution Romance!


September is Georgian and Regency month so that’s late 18th century and early 19th century. This story takes place in the 1780s so it’s a Georgian but the setting is Paris, France and its environs, at the dawn of the French Revolution. It’s the story of Gabrielle, who is poor, but endowed with noble blood and beauty all men admire. At the tender age of 16, she loses her young husband and her mother on the same day.


Pregnant and alone, she runs from her husband's father the duc de Nevers who would take her child and banish her to a cloister—or should she refuse, he will send her to prison. She escapes from him and his lackey, a creepy lawyer named Louvois, and manages to barely scrape out a living until she is rescued from life in the slums of Paris by a kind pawnshop owner who becomes a father of sorts to her.


Through her work for the pawnbroker, she meets the dashing and mysterious Maximilian de Saint-Just, a brilliant scientist and bastard son of the comte de Saint-Just. Max has turned his apartment into a science lab and is blowing things up as he seeks to discover a fuel for his hot air balloon. In addition to all that, Max has devoted his life to casting dirt on his father's name and is involved in spying for the cabal, an underground network of smugglers out for their own profit.


Max’s growing love for Gabrielle makes him want to be a different man.


They will face many challenges and both hide secrets that will tear at their love—all the while the country is plunging into revolution and Max is uncovering new scientific discoveries.


It's a compelling story, and an early Steampunk if you will, that will sweep you away to 18th century France—an important time in history. Oh, yeah…it’s also a classic keeper!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Best Historical Romances set in Exotic Locales!

                                                              Lausanne Castle, Switzerland

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.


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)

Desire Lines by Elizabeth Kingston (Wales)

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)

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 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 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 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)

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)

Friday, August 27, 2021

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
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
A Tough Man to Tame


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Bertrice Small’s BIANCA – Intriguing Love Story from Florence and the Black Sea in the 15th century!

Set in Florence and the area around the Black Sea, beginning in 1474, this is the story of Bianca, oldest daughter of Giovanni Pietro d’Angelo, a Florentine silk merchant. When his son’s indiscretion threatens to ruin the family, Giovanni is blackmailed into giving Bianca in marriage to the debauched blackguard Sebastiano Rovere. Rovere treats his delicate new bride abysmally and she loathes and fears him.

Her mother, appalled at what has befallen her daughter, helps Bianca flee to a seaside villa where she meets Prince Amir, grandson of Memhet the Conqueror. Two years later, Bianca’s husband is murdered (I couldn’t have been happier), leaving her free to find love with Amir. She wants no husband and would have him for her lover, but neither Amir (who wants her for his 3rd wife) nor her mother (who considers him an infidel) accepts that decision.

Ms. Small never holds back on the evil of others, so the beginning of the book shows in vivid terms the perversions of Rovere. But once we are at the sea cliff villa, beauty is restored. Amir is a gallant, romantic man who loves Bianca. And Bianca has changed from the docile, obedient daughter to a strong woman bent on her own destiny.


It’s a fascinating look at the culture of the day in both Florence and in the world of the merchants of the Black Sea. A good start to a new series for Ms. Small.


The Silk Merchant’s Daughters series:






Monday, August 23, 2021

Karen Robards’ GREEN EYES – A Mystery Surrounding Emeralds and Love on a Ceylon Tea Plantation!

Green Eyes is set in 1832, the story of Anna Traverne, who is left penniless after her husband dies in Ceylon where they had a tea plantation. Now she and her 5-year-old daughter are at the mercy of her husband’s brother, Graham, who, though married, wants Anna in his bed. She resists and is hiding away in the study one night when a man breaks in and tries to steal the Queen’s emeralds, a set of family jewels that was hidden away in a secret compartment.


It turns out the housebreaker is none other than Graham’s half brother, Julian Chase, spurned by the family but who may, in fact, be the true heir. In a tussle, Julian flees and ends up in Newgate prison. Anna realizes Julian has left the emeralds and they are her ticket to a new life. She takes her daughter to Ceylon where Julian pursues her. Not only does he now need the emeralds that were once his mother’s but he has been told the emeralds hold the key to his heritage.


Robards is a great storyteller and I was immediately drawn into Anna’s life. Bold, brash Julian has been wronged. Understandably he is an angry man and he means to take out his frustration on Anna. Loved them both.


It’s a bit of a mystery and an exciting read with a nasty villain in Graham and some delightful secondary characters, including the former prostitute who is Anna’s friend, and Julian’s sidekick, a man whose life he once saved. There’s also a bit of Ceylon’s darker atmosphere thrown in, too.



Friday, August 13, 2021

Elizabeth Chadwick’s TEMPLAR SILKS – Forbidden Love in Jerusalem in the time of the Templars!


This story shifts from William Marshall (“The Greatest Knight”) who is dying in England to his memories as a knight in the Holy Land and his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There he was to lay the young King Henry’s cloak on the sepulcher. On the way, in Constantinople, William and his brother, Ancel, encounter evil men who believe them to be spies for Rome. In Jerusalem, they become embroiled in the politics of the ancient city while helping King Baldwin who is suffering from leprosy.


It is there William encounters the dangerous Pascia de Riveri, the concubine of the highest churchman in the land. William pursues an affair with Pascia, hoping to keep it secret. Once discovered, their lives are in danger. Their only chance to see home again will depend upon the Templars who protect them and the two silk shrouds William has purchased for his eventual death.


As with all Chadwick’s books, she takes you into the time and place with vivid descriptions, her meticulous research and gift for painting a scene. Having read all her William Marshall stories save this one, I was surprised that he was so weak in the face of rejection by a woman who was already compromised. But Chadwick did a good job bringing their emotions to the fore. Still, I didn’t picture him that way.


The story will draw you in. The flashbacks to the Holy Land are what make it enjoyable. To realize he is seeing it again in his mind as he lay on his deathbed made it a bit sad. Still, a good one to add to the collection.