Tag Archives: London

It Started With A Kiss (The Worthingtons, Book 3) by Ella Quinn

Lady Louisa Vivers is excited to participate in her first season, if only she could get rid of the attentions of love sick puppy Boswell, who fancies her for a wife. Everyone knows she is too strong headed and his tendency to dither makes them ill suited. On top of that dilemma, she thinks she is falling in love with Gideon Rothwell, a newly titled duke. Even while wearing gloves there is an undeniable spark of electricity when he touches her hand. He feels it too, but there is no way he can marry. His recently departed father who suffered from dementia has left their finances in ruins, first with gambling debts and then with an expensive mistress who continues to line her coffers with a forged writ of purchase. Yet, Gideon can’t help himself and after exchanging some passionate kisses on a terrace at a ball, Louisa announces their betrothal. Not what Gideon had in mind, but what else would such an innocent infer from his improper advances. Anyway, marriage doesn’t seem like such a bad option. He’s in love and wants his sweetheart in his bed. If he had his way they’d be married right away, but waiting two weeks for Louisa’s mother to arrive from out of town seems doable. Yet the scheming man has several ideas of some lustful activities before the nuptials, if they can ever be left unchaperoned, a difficult feat with such a large family keeping watch. Then there’s his close friend Matt, the Earl of Worthington, whose eagle eye is on the outlook to protect the reputation of his younger sister. Luckily Gideon’s mom heartily approves and even provides them with the opportunity for some “alone time”.

However, not all is smooth sailing in It Started With a Kiss, Book Three of the Worthington Regency Romance Series by Ella Quinn. There are some people out there who don’t like the way Gideon is handing his father’s debt and vow revenge. Gideon, mistakenly tries to keep the sordid details a secret from his bride to be, but the forceful Louisa expects honestly and wants an equal marriage sharing the good with the bad. How she will react to these omissions is an issue that just might put a crimp in their relationship. Despite everyone’s advice, Gideon stubbornly sticks to his plan unwittingly putting everyone he loves in danger.

On the plus side is a continuation of the lives of the characters from both the Worthingtons and the Marriage Game series. Matt Worthington and Gideon are school chums along with Marcus Finley and Sebastian Rutherford who both were married about a year (to Phoebe and Anna) prior to the start of this tale. Even Kit Featherton, nicknamed Mr Perfect, makes an brief appearance, dancing with a neglected debutante at his mother’s ball. Via all the previous novels, the reader is familiar with numerous members of The Ton, including their past and future endeavors.

Unfortunately, this one just made me work too hard. It would have made a great novella, but there was so much repetition that it dragged as a full length book. While the ending picked up, there was a vast middle which seemed endless. After awhile Gideon’s stubbornness and Louisa’s obsessions were annoyingly over the top. Despite a couple of witty back and forth repartees, most of the conversation was mundane, and the sex scenes were kind of placid, not the passionate encounters found in most of the other narratives. There just was not enough plot to carry the day. Three stars is generous.

A thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This review also appears on Goodreads.

A Love to Remember (The Disgraced Lords, #7) by Bronwen Evans

I’ve just gotten back from a little trip to England to visit my old friends from The Ton, you know, the Libertine Scholars, and do I have some juicy gossip to share. It seems Philip Flagstaff, the Earl of Cumberland, has been having an affair with Her Grace, Lady Rose Deverill, the Wicked Widow. It’s a perfect arrangement because neither one is interested in matrimony. Rose had a terrible first marriage, forced to marry an older man who was, shall I say, not very considerate of her “needs”. The only good thing that came from the relationship was her son, Drake. Of course, she did inherit the estate (her father wasn’t a total fool when handing her over to a distasteful elderly husband) and her son will be the Duke of Roxborough when he reaches his majority. In the meantime The Marquis of Kirkwood is his guardian, watching out for his interests. Luckily, the kind man has pretty much stayed out of her business, but she expects he soon will be making some demands. After all, it’s no secret that Philip was seen dancing with the current popular debutant and ignoring her at the latest fete. If their affair is truly over, Kirkwood might think it time for her to settle down, especially since she’s only twenty six and still lovely.

It’s not that she and Philip don’t get along, they do very well in the boudoir together, more than okay. It’s just that Philip is still grieving for his brother, Robert, who sacrificed his life at the Battle of Waterloo in order to protect his “little brother”. It’s Philip’s fault that Robert is dead so he doesn’t feel he’s entitled to the title he inherited. Philip has been a screwup all his life and he doesn’t believe he’s deserves any happiness, especially not with the beautiful and charming Rose. No, marriage is out, not to Rose, not to anyone. Let the succession line fall to his younger brother, a clone of Robert and more worthy of the honor.

Unfortunately, Philips sister, Lady Portia (remember how she was kidnapped and sold to a sultan’s harem in Alexandria, rescued in the nick of time by Philip and her future husband, Lord Greyson Devlin) is none too happy about her brother’s behavior. The others think he’s a fool as well. Then when he showed up at Serena’s dinner party with another woman, they practically attacked him. Poor Rose had to deal with this public display of humiliation.

It will take a miracle to shake some sense into that man. Or perhaps a disaster that needs the help of those six friends (and their wives) to resolve. I’m curious to see how it all works out. There are so many rumors, but that would be telling.

A Love to Remember by Bronwen Evans is a continuation of the Libertine Scholars saga. Now that Arend has his happy ending and the mystery woman that was trying to destroy their lives has been captured, the six men and their wives are living in wedded bliss raising the numerous children who seem to come in waves. However, Philip’s life has not been resolved. When his brother, the seventh Libertine Scholar was killed in battle, the others vowed to look out for his wellbeing. After all, his sister is married to Greyson and family is family. Rose, Lady Portia’s best friend, is also an honorary member of the group. Plus Rose’s son is best friends with Henry, a young boy under Sebastian and Beatrice’s care, so Evans is obligated to “tie up the loose ends”.

I was excited to touch base with all the characters from the first six book in the The Disgraced Lords series. Since each of the storylines overlapped in some way, there’s only been about two years between the beginning tale and this book. While A Love to Remember can serve as a stand alone, reading the other novels will give a better perspective on the wide cast of characters.

As enjoyable as I found this novel, which had a twist or two in the plot, I was disappointed that the author felt the need to be so repetitive. Yes, Rose was in love and wanted to marry Philip. Yes, Philip felt honor bound to never marry as a penance for his brothers death, but how many times did we need to hear this? Too many times if you ask me or enough to detract from the whole. Once again, Evans needs to tighten up the plot and leave out the miscellaneous – more libertine scholars, less introspection. She did, however, include some juicy dialogue, as the two lovers exchanged some sexy reparte.

As a reminder, lovers of Regency Romances who like accuracy in the details from this era should avoid this series. However, those who like a good romp with a happily ever after ending should dig right in. Three and a half stars.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.

A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot in the Houses of Parliament by John Preston

While A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot in the Houses of Parliament by John Preston wasn’t exactly what I expected, despite my reluctance, I found myself sucked into the true story regarding the leadership of the Liberal Party in the British Parliament beginning in 1965. Jeremy Thorpe with his friends Peter Bessell and David Holmes wheel and deal their way throughout the book. If their strategies were limited to politics there wouldn’t have been much of a story, but Thorpe was an active, often indiscreet, homosexual whose affair with the handsome, unstable Norman Josiffe (also known as Norman Scott), led to many grief stricken moments of despair over the possibility of discovery. Out of desperation, Thorpe even plotted an unsuccessful attempt on Scott’s life which ended in his resignation and a major trial featuring barrister George Carman on the defense team. How this natural born, but flawed, leader was ruined makes a fascinating tale. Told through the viewpoints of the various players, the author has done an incredible amount of research to put their authentic voices in the forefront providing more than enough details to substantiate the events. There is even a final chapter describing what happened to the major players in this drama after the trial was over.

While this book is very readable, it is a tad too long and I wish some of the details could have been condensed or omitted although I realize the author wanted to be thorough.

What astonished me is that there were still laws on the books prior to 1967 which proclaimed homosexual acts between consenting adults a criminal offense and that even after that date such a tendency could result in the loss of a job. Due to this policy, blackmail became a very real threat for the numerous individuals mentioned who were secretly in the closet. In an era where Gay Marriage is legal (at least in the United States), it is hard to fathom the hardship faced for those who were not born heterosexual. Yet, even with laws protecting their rights as citizens, society still too often gangs up and harasses members of the LGBT community.

Preston includes a comprehensive index and a list of acknowledgements which reference the numerous titles he used in his research of the events surrounding this scandal.

Four stars and a thank you to Other Press and Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Red Queen (The Cousins War, Book 2) by Philippa Gregory

Even at the age of twelve, Lady Margaret Beaufort knew that God had destined her for greatness. Looking for visions similar to what her idol Joan of Arc experienced, Margaret spent so much time praying she had nuns knees. Wanting to enter a convent and become a Mother Superior, she was disappointed when her mother married her off to Edmund Tudor, an advantageous match. Since her mother, Margaret Beauchamp, only bore one daughter with no heirs for the Duke of Somerset, it was up to Margaret Beaufort, cousin to King Henry VI of England, to beget the next Lancaster as a potential heir to the throne. By marrying Edmund, her son would be a Tudor, doubly blessed.

Not in the plans was the rebellious York family who were determined to take the throne for their own. The reigning King of England suffered numerous maladies, often sitting silently staring out into space for extended periods of time. The subjects became weary of an invalid ruler, paving the way for Edward of York to become the reigning monarch. Some felt Edward’s good luck came from his beautiful wife, Elizabeth Woodville who many believed was born a witch from a mother who was also a witch. Margaret knew for sure that she had bewitched Edward with her beauty. The fertile Queen bore many children, including two sons, who were imprisoned in the Tower of London for their safety when Richard claimed the throne from his brother after Edmund succumbed to illness. Both boys, who were the true heirs, mysteriously disappeared with only speculation to determine who actually was responsible for their supposed deaths.

Margaret, widowed when her first husband was killed in battle, was given to another man, Henry Stanford, and remarried at the age of fourteen. While they never conceived any children, he was gentle with her. Yet it was her brother-in-law Jasper who she secretly loved, and it was also Jasper who raised her son, Henry Tudor. At first the two lived in Wales, but they had to escape and go into hiding in Brittany to escape threats from those loyal to Edward. As Tudors they believed that the Lancaster family were the true royals, not the imposter Yorks. Margaret has a hard time convincing her husband to fight beside her son, and in the end Stanford pledged his loyalty to King Edward who had promised peace. When he, too, was killed in battle, Margaret, now that her mother was also deceased, finally got to choose her own husband.

Thomas Stanley was a man who hedged his bets, always choosing the winning side. This was not a love match, but a marriage between two conniving individuals seeking their own agenda. They bidded their time, patiently serving the York King and Queen, first Edward and Elizabeth Woodville, then Richard and Anne Neville, until their chance to seize the throne could be realized. Yet when Margaret’s plan to bring her son Henry to power failed, she was imprisoned in her own home, her land and belongings all given to Stanley. Still she waited and plotted, arranging the promise of a betrothal between Elizabeth’s daughter to her son, a brilliant match done with the foresight to align both the Lancaster and York names together to appease the fickle public. Yet complications ensued when King Richard became besotted with the comely miss, wishing to marry her despite her pledge to marry Henry. Since she was also his niece, this idea did not go over well with his subjects, so when Queen Anne died he sent Elizabeth of York to Margaret, her future mother-in-law, to safe guard her reputation.

After Margaret witnessed an eclipse of the sun, she was convinced this was a sign from God that Henry would soon be King. With a group of mercenaries, Henry and Jasper set out once more to take the throne by force. King Richard’s troops outnumbered theirs but they had a new military trick up their sleeve which slowed down the battle and in the end, when Lord Stanley finally decided to intervene on behalf of his wife’s son, Richard was killed and King Henry VII attained the position he was destined to hold. At last Margaret received her rightful title, “My Lady the King’s Mother” and Lord Stanley assumed the role as father to the King of England, with the expectation of a generous reward for his loyal service as well as an opportunity to wield power from behind the throne.

Tales of the War of the Roses are not for the faint of heart. This book is filled with violence, self righteousness, pettiness, gluttony, and villanous acts fueled by ambitions which lead to ones friends quickly becoming ones enemies as even family members switched loyalties (depending upon who seemed to hold the most promising position of power). This is an intense, incredibly detailed text, which captures the flavor of the times, told from Margaret’s point of view, except for a few narrations of the vicious battles which determined the outcome of history. The reader gets a good taste of the egotistical nature of Lady Margaret, as well as the violent dishevelment of the times.

The CD is expertly read by Bianca Amato, who brings the reader into the fold, giving us a more complete understanding of Lady Margaret’s motivations beyond Philippa Gregory’s words. Despite a few historical discrepancies (yet who really knows exactly what happened in 1485) The Red Queen (The Cousins War, Book 2)is well researched, well told, and well received. Five stars.

A Marquis for Mary by Jess Michaels (The Notorious Flynns #5)

Mary Quinn is surrounded by happily married couples – sister Gemma and Crispin Flynn (The Widow Wager), Crispin’s sister Annabelle and Marcus Rivers (The Scoundrel’s Lover), and his brother Raphael with wife Seraphina (The Other Duke), even fellow debutante Georgina and her fiancĂ© Paul Abbott (No Gentleman for Georgina). Yet after four seasons, Mary is still alone. To make matters worse, her prestige seeking father, Sir Oswald Quinn, has threatened to take control of her future with his own aspirations foremost in his mind. Crispin and Gemma have assured Mary that she can stay with them indefinitely, but she is still worried that her life is in jeopardy. That is, until a handsome stranger reveals himself while she is hiding on the terrace to escape her father’s attention during a ball. Edward, the Marquis of Woodley, is drawn to her beauty and innocence, especially since his first marriage was to a devious women out to destroy anyone who crossed her path. Even so, he never would have spoken to Mary if he knew she was related to Gemma and Crispin Flynn who both played a major role in his gruesome past. Too late, though he tries to run from her, the chemistry already exists and with a few kisses, their fates are sealed (along with the help of the scheming Oswald). Mary is excited to have finally found the perfect man to share her future with, but both their families are a little reticent about this betrothal. After all, Edward has been withdrawn from the world for the past three years and suddenly banns are being read and a wedding is on the horizon. Since the Marquis doesn’t want their marriage to be encumbered by his past, he shares his secrets, so Mary can understand some of the trauma which continues to plague his thoughts. Yet, there are still enemies who do not want to see him happy. Can true love conquer the perils which threaten their happiness?

A Marquis for Mary (The Notorious Flynns #5) by Jess Michaels is the perfect novella with just enough angst amidst the loving to titillate and entertain the lover of Regency Romances. Wrapping up some of the loose ends of The Widow Wager, those who have enjoyed the Notorious Flynns series are reintroduced to old friends as well as some manipulative adversaries. There is just enough (perhaps a tad too much) of the back story to keep new readers in the loop. While the Flynn Saga is now complete, our favorite characters are bound to be present in the spin off series, The Wicked Woodleys, as some of the enigmas surrounding Edward’s family are explored.

Four stars. This review also appears on Goodreads.

A Most Inconvenient Wish by Eileen Richards (A Lady’s Wish, #3)

It’s been five years and two kids since elder sister Anne married Nathaniel Matthews (An Unexpected Wish, A Lady’s Wish Book One) and three years since younger sister Juliet married Nathaniel’s little brother Tony, (An Honorable Wish, A Lady’s Wish Book Two), now the beauty of the family, Sophia Townsend, decides to climb to the top of the Fairy Steps and make her marriage wish. Unfortunately, the pesky Scott, Ian McDonald, who a partnered with her brothers-in-law, follows her up to the top, and in exasperation at his interference she makes the wrong wish in A Most Inconvenient Wish (A Lady’s Wish Book Three) by Eileen Richards.

While her siblings married for love, Sophia just wants the comfort of a title and the excitement of the whirlwind of London society, but Nathaniel vows there will be no more seasons. He’s ready to permanently settle down at The Lodge with his wife and children. Sophia has turned down all her suitors, none which have fit her ideal. Yet she has one last chance, inviting Lord Geoffrey Bateman and his sister Lady Catherine for a house visit. The Earl was especially attentive this last season, with The Ton abuzz about the expected proposal. Unfortunately, Geoffrey arrives with his new bride to be (along with her generous dowry) in toe. While he enjoyed his time with Sophia, Bateman needs to marry for money. Love was never a part of the picture. He’s so desperate that he even tries to broker a marriage between the wealthy sheep farmer Ian and his sister to get the cash he needs to maintain his dignified lifestyle. McDonald, whose father was the steward for the Bateman estate, wants nothing to do with the deal, but is willing to purchase the land neighboring their two properties at a fair price.

Complications ensue as the house guests don’t always display the best manners, and Sophie rues the day she impulsively invited them into their midst. The antagonistic relationship between Sophia and Ian fluctuates between harmony and discord as the two try to decide if their vastly different goals matter in the grand scheme of things.

While Richards always comes up with an interesting plot with a compelling beginning and ending, she has trouble somewhere in the middle, meandering about with too much repetition amongst the action. She definitely needs a reminder to show and not tell and tell and tell again. Better a tight 250 page Regency Romance than a rambling one of 300 pages. I was often confused, especially regarding the inconsistent actions of the characters, and the vague generalizations alluded to in the text. Was Geoffrey a decent, but proud man caught in a difficult situation, or was he a raving lunatic? The mantra about desperate men doing desperate things didn’t quite cover some of his (or his sister’s) evil behaviors.

This story, however, has a little more meat to it than book one. Three stars.

This ARC was provided by Netgalley and Lyrical Press in exchange for an honest review. The same review appears on Goodreads.

An Unexpected Wish by Eileen Richards (A Lady’s Wish,#1)

An Unexpected Wish by Eileen Richards starts out as a sweet little Regency Romance where a poverty stricken girl, Miss Anne Townsend, makes a magical wish for a handsome man to fall in love with her, then turns around and literally bumps into the good looking gentleman from the neighboring property. Nathaniel Matthews has been in London for the past five years making his fortune in investments, but has returned after a summons from his beloved grandmother, Lady Danford.

Anne and her sisters, abandoned by their ne’er do well brother, are a baronet’s orphaned daughters who are leasing the old gamekeepers cottage on the Matthew’s estate. Sisters Sophia and Juliet are undeniably the beauties in the family, but Anne’s inwardly perceived plainness is misplaced causing her to blame the attentions of both Cecil Worth, the local vicar, and Nathaniel on her secret wish on the Fairy Steps. While the vicar is abhorrent, she can’t ignore the passion which Nathaniel evokes and finds herself in one too many compromising situations which threaten to ruin her reputation. It doesn’t help that she is constantly meandering about, often unescorted.

While Anne hoped to marry Sophia off to Tony in order to stave off starvation, Nathaniel feels his little brother is not mature enough for marriage and threatens to cut off his allowance if he weds. Anne wonders how she can survive another winter without taking charity from the kindly Lady Danforth who pays her to be a companion. The situation becomes even more convoluted as her relationship with Nate escalates beyond her control and Anne finds it impossible to keep her distance despite her continued assumption that his romantic inclinations are based on fey instead of real feelings. Complications crop up when her wayward brother, Sir John, turns up desperate to find her mother’s jewels in order to stave off the creditors who threaten his well being. These said jewels are nowhere to be found, yet that fact fails to keep the debt collectors from their door.

This tale showed so much promise, but there just wasn’t enough plot to sustain a full length novel, necessitating repetitious dialogue, thought, and actions about why Anne can’t marry the man she loves which could have been overcome by expanding the character development of the siblings and townspeople. Even the climax was anticlimactic, despite the numerous plot twists, although the couple did finally consummate their relationship, instead of continuing to tease the reader with everything but the actual act.

There were so many holes in a story which showed so much potential, that I was disappointed instead of entertained. What started as a four dissolved into a three and then morphed into a two and a half.

This ARC was provided by and Lyrical Press in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.