Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Elizabeth Chadwick’s THE OUTLAW KNIGHT – A Sweeping Historical Saga and a Captivating Love Story—the real Robin Hood of Legend

Set in medieval England, beginning in 1184, this is the story of Fulke FitzWarin, the oldest son of the FitzWarin Marcher Lords. At age 15, he becomes a squire of Ranulf de Glanville, the Justicar. Fulke’s family is hoping through influence with King Henry and his court to regain Whittingdon Castle in Shropshire, their inheritance lost in the Welsh wars to Roger de Powys.

While acting the squire, Fulke runs afoul of young Prince John’s cruel temper during a game of chess and the two young men become life long enemies. Fulke is removed from court to become a squire to Theobald Walter, a powerful baron. Years later, Fulke becomes a knight just as a young, 12 year old Maude le Vavasour is betrothed to Theobald, who is three times her age. When Fulke and Maud meet again, she is 16 and being wed to Theobald. Fulke and Maude become enamored with each other, though they avoid each other and remain true to their commitments. In the background lurks Prince John who lusts for the beautiful young woman.

Much happens over the years as we follow the lives of Fulke and Maude. (Fulk III—no “e”—was a real historic figure, who married Maud le Vavasour—again with no “e”—and rebelled against King John from 1201-1203, living in the woods as an outlaw ala Robin Hood. Lest you worry about him (as I did), Fulk III lived into his 90’s, which given his life and the times, was a miracle.)

Chadwick brings the history to life with a richness that makes you feel like you’re living it. It’s a well-told tale with extensive historical detail and vivid pictures of the social and political happenings of the times. Chadwick’s medieval vocabulary, dialog and descriptions reflect considerable research, as do all her novels.

Both Fulke and Maude are compelling characters as well as real historic figures; you want to see them together. He is an honorable man much like the Robin Hood we imagine, and she is an intelligent, spirited young woman just like Maid Marian. It’s a love story that will keep you turning pages. I thought the way Chadwick dealt with the historical figure Clarice de Auberville was brilliant—and believable.

Though Chadwick typically writes historical fiction with romantic elements, there’s enough romance here to satisfy the historical romance lover. I recommend it.

Note: This was first published in the UK as Lords of The White Castle, and follows the FitzWarin family saga begun in Shadows And Strongholds, but it can be read alone.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Laura Kinsale’s SHADOWHEART – Both Fascinating and Disturbing Medieval Pirate Romance

To say this book was difficult to review is an understatement. Let me say at the outset that Kinsale writes brilliantly and has obviously done an amazing job of presenting the historical setting of 14th century Northern Italy. The story held my interest; however, it is also sometimes disturbing and, in places, had me figuratively tearing out my hair. Some historical romance readers will have difficulty with parts of it.

This is the sequel to For My Lady’s Heart and much of our introduction to the hero, Allegreto, can be found there, should you want to read it. Shadowheart won the RITA in 2005 for Best Historical Romance, which is interesting in itself, as you’ll see from my comments below. Unlike the prequel, this one is only sprinkled with Middle English, and much better for the change—we can actually understand what Kinsale is saying.

Set in the late 14th-century, Allegreto, the 16-year-old assassin we met in book one, and bastard son of the Italian Navona family, now in his late 20’s, has one goal—to reclaim his birthright in Monteverde (Northern Italy). He is strong, mysterious and ruthless. To secure his claim, he uses treachery to capture the last heir and princess of Monteverde, 17-year-old Elena. Much happened after her capture that bothered me. I apologize for some spoilers, but I can’t review this book without them.

Allegreto (called “Il Corvo” after his island and “pirate” to Elena), rapes her and then calls her “wife,” though there is no marriage nor vows of any kind. How he intended to claim her lands with no lawful marriage mystified me but that’s how the story begins. That Elena, who seemed a bright, independent young woman, could be so witless as to walk into his trap and believe that he had married her and consummated the marriage while she was drugged was just bizarre. She never challenges it, though with her personality, one would have expected her to.

As to Elena and Allegreto’s sexual relationship, I just have to say it was strange for a 17-year-old innocent. While I don’t typically quote other reviewers, the following assessment so closely paralleled my own views I thought to use it: “Had she written a bigger buildup of Elena’s obsession with her “angel” of the past so there was a foundation for the present relationship, then made Elena a reluctant apprentice in the S&M and bondage in an effort to “save” Allegreto's black heart and soul, the scenes could have been made darkly beautiful and believable. As it was, we had to make some lightning-fast adjustments to keep up with the young girl we were first introduced to who was alarmed by the aggressive kisses of a romantic knight, and within a matter of weeks morphed into a disturbing and disturbed seductress. We were given no reference point from which to understand the flowering of the relationship between Elena and Allegreto, other than the point at which they came together to draw blood. As a result, we have a very hard time envisioning a happily-ever-anything for these two.” I, too, found it unbelievable. One could expect Allegreto to engage in such behavior given his background, but Elena? Raised as an educated young woman in a happy home in England, it was hard to believe.

Almost all the story is in Elena’s point of view so we know little about Allegreto’s thoughts. We do know (early on) that on his island kingdom he pursued the occult and was creating a generation of young assassins in his own image. Elena, finding that disturbing, as well she should, is naïve enough to believe if he promises not to train her own children (when they come) in his murderous ways, those children will somehow be different from their father or the assassin culture all around them. That made her look witless.

The change in the hero and heroine over the course of the book was interesting: she started out weak and became a dominating princess and he started out strong and ended up her love slave.

I wouldn’t recommend this book without the disclaimers in this review. But for those who don’t mind all that, I could say it deserves 4 stars simply for the achievement it represents.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Heather Graham’s LIE DOWN IN ROSES – Great Storytelling in a Wonderful Medieval Romance

This one is hard to put down and very well written, but with some disturbing elements. Set in the 15th century England during the time of the War of the Roses (when Richard III and Henry Tudor compete for the throne), this is the story of Lady Genevieve whose family seat is Edenby Castle, a lovely place on the English coast.

When Lord Tristan, nobleman and knight loyal to Henry Tudor, asks for her father to feed his knights and is denied based on the family's loyalty to Richard III, the anger of Henry Tudor rises. He tells Tristan to take the castle and do whatever he wants with Genevieve. In the process, her father, many of his men and her much loved fiancé are killed and she is left the "lord of the castle" to negotiate with Tristan.

Following a plan conceived by others, she lures Tristan and his men into a trap that backfires. Tristan is bitter with what he perceives as her treachery, but wants the lady for his pleasure so he takes her. Thereafter, he treats her abysmally, locking her away in various rooms of the castle. Throughout this, Tristan undertakes battles for King Henry, all successful, and grows in stature, power and wealth within the English court.

You really feel for Genevieve, however, the beautiful, proud and courageous young woman who is forced to become his prisoner and his whore to her great shame without much of a life except for the nights he chooses to spend with her. And, yes, they do share a passion but it's hard to see how that can make up for being treated so badly. And how can he blame her when she repeatedly tries to escape? What woman wouldn't?

He has no interest in marrying her even when she becomes pregnant with his bastard child. But at least King Henry likes her and has a major role in the happy ending. I did find her folding to him at the end a bit difficult to believe. Not sure that would ever happen. Ah, but this is romance, right?

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tamara Leigh’s BARON OF GODSMERE – Authentic Medieval Full of Intrigue

Set in 14th century England, this is the story of a feud between three noblemen, each elevated to a baron and given a portion of his former lord’s lands. Jealousy and reprisals pit family against family, passing the feud from father to son. In an attempt to end the feud, King Edward decrees they shall intermarry and provides Baron Boursier a deadline, after which he will forfeit his lands.

Bayard Boursier is given a choice between two daughters of his enemies. On the eve of the deadline to honor the king’s decree, the fair Elianor of Emberly takes matters into her own hands. Determined none will suffer marriage to the man who she believes to be a beast, she carries out a plan to imprison him long enough to ensure his barony is forfeited. But when all goes awry and her wrathful enemy compels her to wed him to save his lands, she discovers he is not the terrible man she thought him to be. The real enemy is one who lurks in their mids, one Agatha, is determined to keep the feud burning.

Leigh does a great job of slowly developing the romance between Bayard and Elianor. He is tender with her and she can hardly fail to respond when she was the victim of a brutal man in her first marriage. Leigh has also captured a feel for the era and the historical setting. That said, the story moves along at a slow pace in places and it seems repetitive but one can just follow the dialog, which is very good and full of emotion. The dramatic ending is exciting and made me want to read the next in the series.

The Feud Series:

Baron of Godsmere
Baron of Emberly
Baron of Blackwood

Monday, October 7, 2019

Tina St. John’s LADY OF VALOR – 1st in her Warrior trilogy, a Moving Medieval Story, Rich in Historical Detail

This was my second medieval by St. John (Lord of Vengeance was the first), and I thought it an amazing read. She has a great medieval voice and has meticulously recreated life in 13th century England while drawing the reader in to a compelling story of a tortured hero and a lady trying to maintain her independence in a world that leaves women few choices.

Sir Cabal, known as “Blackheart,” the fiercest of King Richard’s warrior knights, is commanded to return to England from the Crusade to hold Fallonmour castle until the king can name a new lord and find a husband for the young widow, Lady Emmalyn. Cabal cares nothing for the assignment, but he is a dutiful knight so he goes. He is not prepared for the beauty that greets him. Lady Emmalyn is not sorry her cruel husband is dead. In the three years he’s been away the keep has thrived under her care. Now she dreads what this new guardian will mean for her people—and for herself.

The characters are richly drawn, the story convincing, the emotion real. Cabal is a hardened soldier with an ignoble past who lives with regret for his brutal life of killing though it is all he has ever known. He falls in love with the beautiful, tenderhearted Emmalyn, but knows he can never have her. She returns his love and tries desperately to convince him he is a worthy hero—just the kind of heroine we love—but to no avail.

The dowager Queen Eleanor is a character as well as her son, Richard the Lionheart, adding realism to the story.

I wholeheartedly recommend this one.

The Warrior trilogy:

Lady of Valor
White Lions Lady
Black Lion’s Bride

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Kathleen Woodiwiss’ THE WOLF AND THE DOVE – Medieval Romance That Grabs Your Heart!

This is a classic by Kathleen Woodiwiss, one of her best. It’s also a bodice ripper so be prepared.

It begins in 1066 just after William the Conqueror has claimed England. One of his most trusted knights and a bastard like William, Wulfgar ("the Iron Wolf of Normandy") is sent to hold Darkenwald for his sire. But arriving a day before, one of the Wolf's knights, Ragnor, who unlike his superior, is of noble Norman blood, takes the castle and delivers a harsh message to the people, one the Wolf would not have sanctioned. This results in the death of the Darkenwald's lord and many of his serfs. Ragnor also claims the fair Saxon princess, Aislinn, lady of Darkenwald, who hates him for the murder of her father, his brutal attack and all he has taken from her.

When the Wolf arrives, he gives Aislinn a choice between him or Ragnor. Hating Ragnor, she chooses the Wolf though, in truth, she hates them both. The Wolf hates women for his mother's betrayal and treats them all as casual property. And that is the way he begins with Aislinn. Wulfgar rapes her and makes her his whore (Aislinn's word). But the proud, beautiful and selfless Aislinn remains the fair lady caring for her people. He warns Aislinn not to love him as he will leave her. But Aislinn is a new breed of woman he's never encountered before and soon she is under his skin.

This is a grand tale of a tumultuous time in history with deception, treachery and jealousy woven into a tapestry of wonderful characters. There are jousts, sword fights, battles and more. Who could not desire the handsome Wulfgar? Who could not come under the spell of the beautiful saint-like Aislinn? is timeless!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Once Upon a Christmas Past, a collection of historical romances

Get ready for the holiday season with this wonderful collection of Christmas historical romances from Regency Scotland to Medieval England.

NY Times, USA Today & Amazon Bestselling Authors present Once Upon a Christmas Past, four stories of Christmas and Love. On Amazon.

A Secret Scottish Christmas by Regan Walker

Spies, Scots, and Shipmasters celebrate a very secret Christmas in Scotland as identical twins, Robbie and Nash Powell, spies for the Crown, compete for the love of the daughter of an Aberdeen shipbuilder.

“Walker stuns with her gift for storytelling, magically entwining historical fact and fiction to create a thought-provoking, sensual romance, one that will stay with you.”
 ~ Chicks, Rogues & Scandals

A Highlander for Christmas by Paula Quinn

As the bard of the MacGregor clan, Finlay Grant is a natural-born charmer. He can easily win the heart of any lass . . . but somehow, the right words to express his love for stunning Leslie Harrison have eluded him. Yet as Christmastide approaches, Finn knows he must find a way to propose to the raven-haired beauty who has stolen his heart.

“Fitting perfectly into Quinn's Children of the Mist series, this short novella is brimming with colorful historical details, plenty of sensuality, danger and a well-crafted plot in a very short space. Quinn fills in areas of the MacGregor/Grant chronicles and utterly satisfies her fans.” ~ RT Book Reviews

A Knight’s Redemption by Catherine Kean

Six Christmases ago, after refusing his kiss, Lady Mary Westbrook was locked in the dungeon by Lord Holden Kendall, a squire at Branton Keep. When an attempted child abduction days before Christmas brings Holden back to the castle, Mary must confront again what happened between them.

Holden, now a grown warrior, resolves to not only make matters right with Mary but finally win her kiss. Yet, as peril ensues, Mary must risk far more than a chance at true love.

“Ms. Kean continues to snag the reader with her fast-paced tales of heroic knights."
~ Affaire de Coeur Magazine

Christmas in Camelot by Brenda Jernigan

Sir Nicholas the Dragon’s orders are clear. He is to fend off the enemy besieging Noelle’s castle and bring the lady safely back to Camelot for her wedding day to Sir Gavin. But spending time with the proud beauty awakens an irresistible hunger in Nicholas. Now, as desire does battle with duty, Nicholas has only two choices — to surrender the woman he loves to another man or fight to the end to make her his own.

“Brenda Jernigan's warmhearted CHRISTMAS IN CAMELOT, involving an unconventional Christmas gift and an unusual wager, contains equal parts romance, adventure, and holiday magic.” 
 ~ Publishers Weekly

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Elizabeth Kingston’s DESIRE LINES – A Keeper of a Medieval Romance set in 13th-century Wales

October on Historical Romance Review is Medieval month, one of my favorite subgenres. I’m starting with a new favorite author, Elizabeth Kingston and book 3 in her Welsh Blades series.

Gryff was a Welshman raised as a noble hostage in the Norman court. Now he hides his true identity, saying only that he is a falconer, while he flees from one danger to another, longing to return to his homeland. (The word “Hiraeth” comes up repeatedly, meaning the Welsh concept of longing for home.) Meanwhile, a beautiful woman, who is very good with knives, saves him from a pack of villains.

Nan has no doubt the ragged Welshman she has saved was born to better things, far different from the servant’s life she has led. For one thing, his speech is more proper. Nan has suffered much and was always saved by women. That part of the story is intriguing, I must say, and so well done.

Nan’s first priority is to find her younger sister, who was lost to her long ago. Alas, that will prove a disappointing task as Nan discovers they are now very different women.

Rich in history, this story reflects much research on England and Wales in the 13th century and on falconry and Wales’ part in raising the noble birds. It’s also very well told, capturing the medieval era perfectly. I love Kingston’s writing, the emotion in her characters and the complex motives that compel them forward to their fate.

This is definitely a keeper, a true love story of the genre and so much deeper than most. I guess you can say I loved it!  

Monday, September 30, 2019

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” on my blog, Historical Romance Review, that would include those 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, so all these stories are set in that era.

A Counterfeit Heart by K.C. Bateman
A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss
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
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 Divided Heart by Beppie Harrison
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 Sherbrooke Bride by Catherine Coulter
The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake
The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall
The Wicked Marquis by Barbara Cartland
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
Until You by Judith McNaught
Venetia by Georgette Heyer
What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
When the Duke Was Wicked (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Book 1) 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

And I do hope you will try my own Georgian and Regency romances: The Donet Trilogy: To Tame the Wind, Echo in the Wind and A Fierce Wind. And the Agents of the Crown series: Racing with the Wind, Against the Wind, Wind Raven, A Secret Scottish Christmas and, coming later this year, Rogue’s Holiday.

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

My guest today is Kate Bateman who is bringing us Regency submarines!

My guest today is author Kate Bateman, also writing as K.C. Bateman, a RITA nominated, #1 Amazon bestselling author of Regency and Renaissance historical romances. Her books feature feisty, intelligent heroines, wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to both strangle and kiss. 

Kate is also an auctioneer and fine art appraiser, the co-founder and director of Bateman’s Auctioneers, a fine art and antiques auction house in the United Kingdom. She currently lives in Illinois with her husband and three inexhaustible children, but returns to England regularly to appear as an antiques expert on several popular BBC television shows.

Be sure and leave a comment and your email as Kate is giving away the e-book of This Earl Of Mine, sent via NetGalley to the winner. 

Kate is sharing from her research from This Earl of Mine in a post titled, A submarine in Regency England? Surely not!

As an author of historical romance, all my books include elements of real history, whether it be real historical figures or—as in the case of my latest release, This Earl of Mine—something a little more outlandish but nevertheless true: a real-life the submarine plot to rescue Napoleon from exile on St Helena!

Researching a topic often provides surprising inspiration for plots, and nobody was more surprised than me when I uncovered an account of an actual submarine in Regency England. I’d had no idea submersibles were in use that early, but a little digging soon revealed a tale far stranger than fiction.

Let’s start with a little background history: it’s 1815 and following his defeat at the battle of Waterloo, Napoleon has been exiled on Saint Helena; a forty-six square mile island five thousand miles away from Europe, twelve hundred miles off the coast of Africa, and eighteen hundred miles from northeastern Brazil. The Royal Navy has almost guaranteed the impossibility of an escape or a rescue attempt.

But Napoleon’s oldest brother, Joseph Bonaparte, has successfully escaped to the United States and has a vast fortune at his disposal. Several independent sources suggest he financed attempts to rescue Napoleon, one of which is mentioned in Sir Walter Scott’s Life of Napoleon.

The man behind the plan was a certain captain Thomas Johnstone, “a smuggler of an uncommonly resolute character, whose life had been a tissue of desperate risks.” Johnstone seems to have been a mix between a rogue and an adventurer, who also dabbled as an inventor. Scott describes the plot as this:

“A submarine vessel, that is, a ship capable of being sunk under water for a certain time, and of being raised again at pleasure by disengaging certain weights, was to be the means of effecting this enterprise. It was thought that, by sinking the vessel during daytime, she might escape the notice of the British cruisers, and, being raised at night, might approach the guarded rock without discovery.”

The Fulton sub under another ship
Johnstone was not the inventor of the vessel. He was using plans previously developed by an American inventor named Robert Fulton (1765-1815), who’d pioneered a submersible for use by the French against the English some fifteen years earlier.

Fulton’s submarine towed an underwater bomb (which he called a torpedo) to be planted under enemy vessels. He’d built the vessel, ‘the Nautilus’, in 1800 and in 1801 Napoleon had agreed to pay him 10,000 francs to improve and test it at Brest. News of Fulton’s successful experiments quickly reached England where they caused some alarm, but the peace Treaty of Amiens, signed in 1802, put an end to the war between the two nations.

The British authorities, however, had taken note of Fulton’s experiments. When hostilities resumed between France and England in 1803 they sought ways to bring him over to their side. Fulton was disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm for his projects in France and, encouraged by a greater financial reward on the other side of the Channel, moved to London in 1804 and signed a contract with William Pitt the Prime Minister, and Lord Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty, for the use of his plan “of attacking fleets by submarine bombs.” The contract would pay Fulton nearly £100,000 for developing his torpedo system.

The Fulton Design
In October 1805 Fulton succeeded in blowing up a brig with his torpedo, but since Nelson had just destroyed French and Spanish naval power at the battle of Trafalgar, his torpedoes were suddenly rendered unnecessary. The American became embroiled in a bitter negotiation with the British government to get paid what he believed were his fees.

This is where Johnstone enters the picture. He appears to have become well acquainted with the Fulton’s submarine designs—either because he worked directly with Fulton, because he stole the plans, or because somebody else gave them to him.

Either way, in 1812, when England and America entered into war and an irritated Fulton offered his services to the American government, the British commissioned Johnstone to build a torpedo system and submarine, using Fulton’s designs.

Facts are scarce as to how far Johnstone got in building a copy of Fulton’s sub for the government, (it was certainly never completed and used) but when hostilities finally ended in 1815 Johnstone seems to have returned to smuggling and less-than-legal activities. It is then he became embroiled in a plot to use a submarine to rescue Napoleon.

Contemporary sources seem to confirm this. Chateaubriand, who served as French foreign minister during the Bourbon restoration, mentions the story of a smuggler named Johnson who had “meditated an attempt to carry off Bonaparte by means of a submarine vessel,” in his memoirs. And Count Montholon, who accompanied Napoleon to St. Helena, mentioned the submarine rescue plot in his memoirs and added that five or six thousand louis d’or (roughly equivalent to 12,000 francs) were spent on its construction.

For This Earl of Mine, I play the well-known author’s trick of wondering: WHAT IF…?
What if someone loyal to Napoleon stole the plans for the submarine from the Admiralty? What if they got in contact with a rogue like Johnstone—who was not only a smuggler accustomed to clandestine operations—but also had experience building a vessel capable of stealthy underwater maneuvers?

And what if London’s fledgling police force, The Bow Street Runners, were tasked with finding the vessel and foiling the plot to rescue Bonaparte?

These questions, and amazing facts, form the basis of the adventure subplot in This Earl of Mine. The main plot, of course, is the romantic one between shipping heiress Georgie Caversteed and Bow Street Runner Benedict Wylde. They try to piece together the clues, while trying to ignore the inconvenient attraction that sparks between them. Spoiler alert: they succeed at the former, but fail miserably at the latter! 

One of the most memorable (and fun to write) scenes in the book is when Georgie and Ben are squashed tightly together, hiding inside the submarine. The forced proximity provides all manner of temptations, and they share a scorching kiss in the semi-darkness.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the real and surprising history that lies behind my story. If you’d like to know more about my books, or read more historical tidbits, visit my website: to sign up to my newsletter, or follow me on social media.

This Earl of Mine is available for preorder now, and will be officially on sale October 29th. On Amazon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Kate Bateman’s THIS EARL OF MINE – A Modern Heroine Takes Charge of Her Fate

First in the Bow Street Bachelors series, this is a Regency in which a rake, who happens to be a spy, and an heiress find love. It begins like Kathleen Woodiwiss’ story, Shanna, with a Newgate wedding of an heiress, who thinks to wed a condemned criminal so she can be a widow and keep her fortune safe. But, as in Shanna, that plan goes awry. The man lives and he’s not really a criminal.

Georgiana Caversteed didn’t count on Benedict Wylde surviving and he had no intention of taking a wife. When Georgie realizes they must go public with their relationship, Ben agrees to court her before the ton’s eyes. One thing leads to another and soon the marriage is consummated. Meanwhile, Ben is hunting for someone trying to bring Napoleon back from St. Helena.

The heroine is strong and independent—and very modern, running her father ‘s shipping business and ignoring society’s rules. Since she understands everything to do with ships, she is able to help Ben in his search for what turns out to be a secret submarine. Along the way her cousin, Josiah, interferes.

The dialog is lively and there is lots of action to keep you entertained as well as some sexy scenes. Oh, yes, should you be wondering about the title (I did), he doesn’t become an earl till the very end.

Bow Street Bachelors:

This Earl of Mine
To Catch an Earl

Monday, September 23, 2019

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.

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.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Karen Robards’ FORBIDDEN LOVE – Masterful Storytelling Kept me 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 (the original cover which has so much more emotion), it is just as good 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.