Tag Archives: Regency romance

Romantic conclusion to Chance Sisters Quartet

New book review: The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie

From the moment Anne Gracie introduce the Chance Sisters* in The Autumn Bride, I felt protective of Abby, Damaris, Jane and Daisy and worried about their futures. I particularly worried about heroic, spirited Daisy. In a society where birth, breeding and education still counted for almost everything, she was the most vulnerable. Even although I knew neither her sisters nor her ‘aunt’, the outrageous Lady Bea, would abandon her, I worried that her stubborn independence might rob her of her chance at love.

cover-summer-brideAt the beginning of The Summer Bride, Daisy is certainly resistent to the notion of husband hunting. She believes love is not for her and is determined to instead follow her dream of becoming dressmaker to the ton. In the process, she is working herself to death day and night.

‘I can make anyfing out of anyfing, but even I can’t make a silk purse out of a bloomin’ sow’s ear!’ Daisy Chance declared. ‘I was born in the gutter, raised in an ‘orehouse and I got a gimpy leg. I don’t look like a lady or speak like a lady and I ain’t never gunna be a lady, so what’s the point of––‘

Lady Beatrice cut her off. ‘Nonsense! You can do anything you set your mind to!’

Daisy rolled her eyes. ‘Maybe, but I don’t want to be a lady! I want to be a dressmaker – not just any dressmaker. I aim to become the most fashionable modiste in London – fashion to the tob nobs.’

The older lady shurgged. ‘No reason why you can’t be a modiste and a lady.’

Daisy stared at the old lady incredulously. ‘You don’t have no idea, do you? What it’s gunna take––‘

‘Any idea. It’s any idea.’

Daisy rolled her eyes. ‘Work, that’s what it takes – hard work, never-endin’ work. I’m workin’ every hour God sends as it is, and even so I’m barely managin’. There ain’t no time for me to prance around pretendin’g to be a lady.’

‘You are a lady!’

Daisy snorted and Lady Beatrice went on, ‘Your entire nature declares it. Inside you are a lady, Daisy – loyal, loving, honest, sensitive to others’ needs – all we have to do is teach you to be ladylike on the outside as well!’

‘Bugge that,’ said the budding lady …

Enter a most unconventional hero, Irishman Patrick Flynn. Flynn has made a fortune as a trader and is determined to find himself an aristocratic bride (one whose family will appreciate his money if not his orgins) and elevate his position in society.

Daisy makes Flynn’s flamboyant waistcoats, and he has promised her first pick off the materials on his newly docked ship. As a self-made man, he appreciates Daisy’s determination to create a business. As her friend, he doesn’t care at all for the fact that she is clearly in danger of working herself into the ground. And as he pokes his nose in where it is not wanted, at least not by Daisy, he comes to realise that, as a red-blooded male, he wants to be more than her friend. He wants passion, love – and marriage. Daisy will agree only to be his mistress, fearing she will lose her business, her independence, and her way out of poverty, if she marries. But Flynn didn’t create his business empire by taking the first ‘no’ as an answer. What Flynn wants, he will get, no matter how long he has to wait for it.

I liked how the story line for The Summer Bride overlaps with that of Jane’s romance in The Spring Bride without destroying the integrity of either book. It was interesting to see how the two romances overlapped, as those of our friends so often do in real life. It takes a skilled writer to drop a hint in one book and bring it to life in another.

I adore Anne Gracie’s sweetly sexy books. She is never afraid to explore the physical and emotional injuries of our pasts which plague our presents and threaten our futures. Yet she always offers hope; that the sum of a couple in love is greater than their individual natures; and that with the steadfast support of the one who loves us, we can rise above our pasts to be our best selves.

In The Summer Bride, she once again combines humour – sometimes wry, sometimes outrageous – with excellent historical detail and a deep understanding of our human fears, needs and desires to create a stand-out, memorable Regency romance.

This novel is one to keep. Actually, all the books in this series are keepers, and since all four books are now available, I plan to take advantage of the upcoming bad weather to read straight through the whole series. If you haven’t read them yet … lucky you! A treat awaits.

*If you are unfamiliar with this series, only two of the Chance sisters are related by blood, Abby and Jane. They met Damaris and Daisy during a perilous rescue of two of the girls from a brothel after which, having no family to turn to they swore allegiance to each other and attempted to support themselves in a shabby corner of London.  A chance encounter with old Lady Bea led to the girls rescuing her from abusive and neglectful servants, an act of goodwill which led to their re-entry into society.

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The four titles in the quartet are:

  • The Autumn Bride
  • The Winter Bride
  • The Spring Bride
  • The Summer Bride

Anne Gracie has a beautiful website well worth visiting to find out more about her and her books:http://www.annegracie.com.

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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.

Festive reading: The Last Chance Christmas Ball

I’ve always loved the December holidays. Having lived in the southern hemisphere all my life, I love the rain that heralds the end of winter and the beginning of new life. Bursts of greenery and flashes of colour abound as nature blossoms from spring into summer. December is a beautiful month, and it reflects the feelings and emotions we hold dear as Christmas approaches: hope, cheer, love and generosity; the wish for peace and the desire to give to friends and family; reflections on a year past and plans for the future; joy and happiness. And, of course, from our northern neighbours come ancient stories snow, fairy tales and gifts, mulled wine and mistletoe with its promise of romance.

Reality, however, has a nasty way of dealing sideways blows to the best laid plans, ably abetted by office politics and family dramas. So, when the Grinch is threatening to lay low the Spirit of Christmas, I take refuge in a good book (as you do).

Some of the very best new books are released in time for Christmas, and The Last Chance Christmas Ball honours this publishing tradition. It’s a delightful collection of novellas by the Word Wenches, Anne Gracie, Mary Jo Putney, Joanna Bourne, Nicola Cornick, Jo Beverley, Susan King, Patricia Rice and Cara Elliot. The stories in most book collections are bound by theme, genre or period. Very few are put together around a single central event – and for good reason. It’s a challenge to the skills of the writers to co-ordinate well enough as a group to overlay stories without spoilers or boring repetition.

The Wenches have risen to the challenge in this collection of sweet Regency romances set in 1815 at Lady Holly’s Last Chance Christmas Ball, which she has hosted for the last fifty year to illuminate the charms of those ladies who might have been overlooked for whatever reason. The lives of the Stretton family, who host the ball on behalf of the Dowager, their grandmother, are weaved through every story. Naturally, most of the guests are friends and well-known to them and all have their reasons for looking for – or avoiding – love, from past scandals to broken hearts, unsupportive families and financial troubles. While the men scoff at its powers, the ladies hold out hope. After all if there is one season designed to empower love, it has to be Christmas. Every year, the glitter of Lady Holly’s ball weaves its magic for someone; this time, ten romances are born,rekindled or saved, ensuring that 1816 was a busy year for local vicars!

The ball is held on the 28th of December each year. The stories range from just beforehand as guests plan their travels and the family plan the festivities through Christmas Day to the ball itself and the beginning of the next school year.

Each story is delightful, charming, heartwarming and so utterly romantic that they renewed my faith in love, hope and romance all over again. The heroes are dashing, brave men with good hearts outwardly cloaked in a range of guises from permanent bachelor to embittered soldier, steadfast citizen and light-hearted rake. The heroines are pretty, spirited, generous and smart. After I had finally finished reading the book, I went back and read each story again, just to enjoy the moment when love conquered all with a kiss. If you are looking for just one book to lift your spirits in this last frantic week before Christmas 2015, I recommend you grab a copy of The Last Chance Christmas Ball.

 

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The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney, Anne Gracie, Joanna Bourne, Nicola Cornick, Jo Beverley, Susan King, Patricia Rice and Cara Elliot (Kensington) is available in paperback and ebook. I purchased my own copy, inspired by my love for the individual works of the authors. If you are unfamiliar with the Word Wenches blog, and you love historical romance, you can sign up for updates here.

Tessa Dare delights readers again

Author Tessa DareWhen a Scot Ties the Knot is the third in Tessa Dare‘s delightful Castles Ever After series. Each romance features characters so real that they feel like childhood friends by the time I finish the book. I wish I could invite them over for dinner – or, even better, step into the pages of her books and join them for dinner!

Each of Tessa Dare’s characters have their own individual quirks and passions, fears and challenges that they have to overcome. In When a Scot Ties the Knot, the heroine Maddie (Miss Madeline Gracechurch) is a talented artist with a love of nature who is shy to the point of social phobia. To escape her terror of a season in London, she invents a fiance, a war hero who conveniently dies in battle, allowing her to retire to the country and mourn his ‘death’ in peace.

The hero Captain Logan MacKenzie is a mentally bruised and battered survivor of the wars in France who is determined to create a safe place for what remains of his army unit to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, for Maddie, his name is the same as the one she chose for her fictional fiance – and the ever-efficient British Postal Service made sure each and everyone of her letters reached him. Being killed off triggers one of his emotional hot buttons, and when the war ends, a furious Logan he sets off to Maddie’s rural haven in Scotland, determined to make this careless society Miss pay for her perceived disregard for his name and person – and honour the engagement she created.

As always, Ms Dare has written a romance this is rich, witty, sexy and unforgettable. This story is truly a delight. Read and enjoy.

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When a Scot Ties the Knot is a sexy Regency romance.

 

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