Tag Archives: historical romance

Thief of Hearts, a Christmas novella

December. It’s time to feel the warmth and love of the Christmas Spirit. If she (or he) has not yet visited your home, I suggest you download Thief of Hearts, read it and be inspired to decorate, wrap and spread good cheer.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00016]Elizabeth Ellen Carter is one of my favourite Australian historical novelists. I am constantly amazed at her ability to switch time periods and write with the same level of authenticity, accuracy and passion regardless of whether she is writing about Ancient Rome, medieval England or, as in this case, Victorian England. Her last novella was the delightful Nocturne, a Valentine’s Day release, set in Regency England. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I thoroughly enjoyed Thief of Hearts, a historical suspense caper involving a Duke as a magician and a young lady as a sleuth. Elizabeth does always like to turn convention on it’s head!

I asked Elizabeth why this particular story. She said, ‘Australians suffer a little bit of cognitive dissonance when it comes to celebrating Christmas. First of all, being in the southern hemisphere, we celebrating in the middle of our summer but happily sing about ‘dashing through the snow’, Frosty the Snowman and that the ‘snow lay all about, deep and crisp and even’.

‘Another thing we missed in our local customs was being outside of the TV ratings periods. Conventional wisdom had it that in the depths of bitter winters, people would gather around the electronic hearth and watch television. And since Christmas fell right in the middle of the northern hemisphere’s TV ratings period, all the best TV shows had a Christmas episode.

‘They were fun and whimsical, often suspending current storylines for something a little bit light-hearted and fun.

‘So, in that Christmas spirit, I wrote The Thief of Hearts, a veritable Christmas punch of few Hercule Poirots, Girl’s Own Adventures stories, a dash of While You Were Sleeping and other Christmas-themed rom-coms.’

Book DescriptionAWWC16

December 1890
London, England

Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas.

To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.

While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke.

He’s the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.

As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.

Extract

He turned the card over and with a thumbnail flicked a tab made of the same backing as the playing card. Even up close the addition was difficult to see. Tobias placed the card on his lap and pulled out a deck of cards. He flicked the edge of the deck of cards towards them. Each time the Queen of Hearts stood out.

“I want you to think I can read your mind, but in reality…”

Tobias split the deck and showed them the Queen of Hearts and then the other half of the deck. The card that had been just before the Queen of Hearts was fully a third shorter than the rest of the cards. He put the pack together and flicked through the deck once more.

“I make you see what you want to see. I suspect The Phantom does the same.”

“You mean his crime scenes are illusions?” Margaret asked. Tobias gave her a smile and Caro wished oddly that its brightness shone on her too.

“I think so. From what I read in the newspapers… no sign of entry or departure?” he asked. Caro confirmed it with a nod. “That tells me he’s creating an illusion of invulnerability. But it is an illusion. A trick. He wants to force the attention of the police away from something else – in the same way a magician will use a gesture or an action to distract you.

“Find out what that is then you will find his sleight of hand and that will be his vulnerability.”

Tobias stood.

“Now, if I’ve sated your curiosity, I’ll take my leave of you. My crew and I have our last show this evening.”

Caro rose and Margaret did also. Tobias took Margaret’s hand and bowed over it then released it. Then he took Caro’s and held it. Then his eyes held hers for a moment and he dropped a kiss on the back of her hand.

“I’m so glad it was you who paid me a visit… instead of a representative of Scotland Yard.”

“Not at all, Mr Black,” she replied, her voice a little huskier than usual, “you have been more than gracious with your time.

“Call me Tobias.”

He was flirting with her! Caro kept the smile to herself as he escorted them both to the entrance of the theatre.

“Just one more question, Mr Black,” Caro asked. “You wouldn’t happen to know how someone might dispose of a suite of diamonds would you?”

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Author Bio

eecarter400h-203x300Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats. Elizabeth loves to interact with her readers and you can find her at:

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New Book Review: Nocturne by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

I’m very pleased to feature the novella Nocturne by Elizabeth Ellen Carter as one of my 12 Nocturne AWWCreview for the Australian Women Writers 2016 challenge. Elizabeth enjoys setting her novels during historical periods fraught with war and complexity, for example during the Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England and the French Revolution. She writes compelling heroes and heroines who fight the restraints and evils of their times with equal determination. She also writes really scary villains and I trembled in my boots whilst reading Warrior’s Surrender. So it was a delicious surprise to read Nocturne and discover that it was a domestic drama set during the Regency period, but underscored with all Elizabeth’s usual themes and appreciation for the subtleties of human virtues and vices.

Ella Montgomery is forced to take a position as a governess on the death of her father. She is a sweet woman, shy and used to being described as plain. Blackheath Manor, the home of her employer the Earl of Renthorpe, overflows with the terror of hidden secrets. The secret of all this subterfuge is Thomas, the Earl’s brother, who was dreadfully wounded and blinded in the war against Napoleon and is kept hidden as a secret by the family, which has declared him dead and even erected a memorial to him.

Thomas feels his life is all but over and is resigned to being secreted away. His only pleasure comes from the piano he plays in the evening after the family has gone to bed. He meets Ella when she follows the sound of the music downstairs, and they begin a clandestine romance in the dark. But Ella will lose her position if she is caught and the stakes are even higher for Thomas. His harsh and angry brother has a great deal more than face to lose if the world discovers Thomas is still alive. Can Ella overcome her shyness and use her wits to forge a path to freedom for them?

Music sings from the pages of this story. Elizabeth Ellen explores the nature of creativity, what it means to be alive and the complexities of family loyalty in this lovely sweet novella. Despite all the darkness Nocturne carries, both physical and emotional, hope – and love – ensure a rich read and a happy ending. Highly recommended

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Nocturne by Elizabeth Ellen Carter (indie-published) is available as an ebook.

EE Carter

Elizabeth Ellen Carter believes that love is a great adventure. Find out more about her and her books at http://eecarter.com. You can also join her on Facebook at Elizabeth’s Library Book Club where she dispenses free reads, new release information and exclusive content.

The Ministry of Marriage

How could one not read a series called The Ministry of Marriage? For me it conjures up an image of a Hogwarts-style benevolent rule that immediately demands a certain rebellion. So it proves. The guardians and parents who make up the Ministry of Marriage aim to ensure the dynastic future of Regency England’s best families whilst also securing marriages based on respect for their children. Naturally the children rebel and insist on falling in love.

Ministry of Marriage

Like all the best series, Christina Brooke‘s Ministry of Marriage can be read in order – or flagrantly out of order, as I have done. I started with The Wickedest Lord Alive about Xavier, the Marquis of Steyn and Lizzy Albright. Then, having developed a taste for Christina’s fine command of the best and worst of human nature, especially as contained within family units, I read his sister Rosamund and Griffin, the Earl of Tregarth’s story in Mad About the Earl. Love is at the heart of both of these sexy Regency Romances, threatened by family intrigue, warring factions and internal doubts.

The heroes of both the above books are deeply scarred by their childhoods, Xavier emotionally and Griffin both physically and emotionally. Fortunately for them, neither Lizzie nor Rosamund is as sweet and gentle as she looks. Both are prepared to fight for what they want and neither will be deterred by either fearsome scowls or insane and dangerous relatives.

I was also delighted to find out that three of the books – The Wickedest Lord Alive, London’s Last True Scoundral, and The Greatest Lover Ever (they are nothing if not confident, the Westruther men) are now available as audiobooks in the US. Hopefully worldwide distribution will follow soon.

I am not the only one who adores Christine’s books. As regards Mad About the Earl, Suzanne Enoch said ‘Clever, lush and lovely’ whilst Romance Junkies called it ‘a true historical gem‘. Romance Junkies. RT Book Reviews described The Wickedest Lord Alive as ‘Smart, funny and a joy to read’. I think I will tackle Heiress in Love next. Anna Campbell said of the Constantine Black, ‘One of the most compelling heroes I’ve read in years’. Given how much I like Anna Campbell’s heroes (watch this space), that lure is irresistible.

There are many more members of the Westruther, Black and de Veres families to be married off, so I hope that Christina will not stop at book 6 but continue to write and delight fans like me. In particular, I wait with bated breath for the Grand Daddy of the Westruthers, family protector and arch manipulator the Duke of Montford, to fall in love. He deserves it – and so do his charges!

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The Ministry of Marriage books are sexy Regency romances.

A Dangerous Madness by Michelle Diener

Welcome to my first post on Love Lines, a blog I dedicate to all the wonderful romance writers who bring their readers so much pleasure and entertainment. Like many of you, I have an enormous store of books, overflowing from book shelves and even busting out of my Kindle, if such a thing is possible. I have decided to review and share them as it is such a pity to keep good news to oneself.

My first review is Michelle Diener’s delightful sweet Regency romance, A Dangerous Sweet Regency RomanceMadness. It’s beautifully written and combines romance with adventure in a story in which Michelle skilfully blends fact and fiction when Miss Phoebe Hillier and James, Duke of Whittaker get caught up in the conspiracy surrounding the assassination of British prime minister Spencer Percival in May 1812.

I love learning about history through my fiction, and Michelle has obviously done a great deal of research around the only successful assassination of a British prime minister. Spencer Percival was a man with many political enemies and investigating each group against a tight deadline provided fascinating insight into England’s domestic politics during the Regency.

However, the history never interferes with but rather compliments Phoebe and James’ growing romance. James has a reputation as a dissolute Duke, one he has cultivated at great pains to allow him to penetrate circles no respectable person would be seen in – or trusted in. Phoebe is 25, in the care of her aunt, and engaged to a man she does not like. However, when Lord Sheldrake jilts and makes a run for the continent, he not only threatens to ruin her personal standing in the ton but also puts her life in danger as his connection to the plot to assassinate the prime minister is revealed. Although he is initially not sure if he can trust her, it is up to James to save her life.

Aside from the history, there were a couple of things I particularly liked about A Dangerous Madness. The dialogue between the two protagonists is witty and the romance underlined by growing admiration and desire. The heroine has courage and the hero … well, I do love a grown up, emotionally mature and chivalrous hero. A little part of me will always be in love with the Duke of Whittaker. Further, the book came in the most beautiful paperback edition which I will treasure. It is also available as an ebook.

Michelle has two other Regency romances, Emperor’s Conspiracy and A Banquet of Lies as well as a host of other books. She writes in two genres, historical romance and science fiction/fantasy, and I look forwarded to reading more of her work.

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A Dangerous Madness is a sweet Regency Romance