The Pride of the King – Bold Women of the 18th Century #2 by Amanda Hughes

Lauren De Beauville always knew she was destined for adventure.  Growing up in New Orleans and living the early years of her life in a convent, Lauren’s life turned upside down when, at the age of 15, she was married off to an old English man.  A freak storm on her wedding day started a spiral of events that would lead Lauren on her restless adventures across the continent but always in the background one man would be directing her fate.

James St Clare, a trader of illegal merchandise, is not a man Lauren wants to be associated with but he appears at every turn. With his bunch of misfits onboard ‘The Pride of the King’, James and his crew must out-smart both the French and English when the threat of war breaks out. But when an unknown enemy sets its sights on destroying James and all he holds dear it is left to Lauren to find out who and put a stop to them before she loses everything she has come to love.

REVIEW

Intriguing story of love, adventure, betrayal and heartache.

Lauren finds herself in some of the most difficult and challenging situations for any young women no matter what the time period.  Life in the 18th Century is hard enough but when you find yourself on the outskirts it can be unbearable.  Moving from place to place, one minute living in high society and the next living off the streets fighting dogs for scraps, Lauren has nowhere to call home and no-one to call family.

James St Clare is an arrogant, unpleasant, yet oddly handsome man who tends to treat Lauren with contempt most of the time.  He keeps her at arm’s length but is always around when she finds herself in a bind.  He has his reasons and despite the secrets that exist between them they find that a connection is there none the less.

I was thoroughly captivated by the characters in this story.  Lauren is a head-strong young woman who will take life by the horns and swing it around until she finds herself dizzy with excitement. James is a fascinating character who despite his upbringing cares deeply for those on his crew and within his association. Heloise and Cornelius are absolutely fantastic, a mother and son duo, they take Lauren under their wing and treat her like a daughter/sister. The rest of the crew are brilliant with their different abilities and disabilities.

This is the first book I have read by this author and the story telling had me lost in a world of high society and street scum, wigs and patches, pirates and soldiers. A bond is formed with the characters and the emotions that unfold throughout the book had me on the verge of tears.

Highly recommended and will be reading more from this author in the future.

To Save a Sinner by Adele Clee

When Lucas Dempsey was banished to America by his father, following the murder of Lord Banbury, he never expected to come back.  Now, four years later, he enters the ballroom amidst gossip and speculation about his return.  Closing off his heart and emotions has been easy. He knows not to trust anyone but one women test his limits and threatens to pull down his well-built walls that have protected him.

Helena Ecclestone sees more in that handsome face and cold eyes than the man would want her too, she looks beyond the physical and seeks out the real man inside.  After a brief meeting and an over-heard conversation, she is convinced of his innocence and takes it upon herself to be his protector. Working together to uncover the truth brings the pair closer and walls begin to crumble on both sides.

REVIEW

Helena is a great character.  Although she is not deemed by society as beautiful she has never let this demean her in any way, in fact, she finds it almost comical when she is looked over for dancing in favour of her sister.  She spends most of her time reading and has gained a great deal of knowledge from this pursuit, which has also helped her to look beyond physical features and gain a persons true worth from their character.

Lucas Dempsey has a typical ‘man-done-wrong’ arrogance but he too sees beyond the physical and knows the true worth of Helena.  The attraction they have for each other isn’t instant but grows over the time they spend together. Lucas never believed he would find love mainly because he didn’t believe he would ever trust anyone enough but Helena shows him what trust and loyalty really looks like.

There are some interesting twists in this story that keeps you wondering.  I loved Lucas’ loyalty to Helena and even more the way Helena believed in his loyalty when the evidence before her eyes should tell her differently.  The connection between these two characters defies the social norms of the time and shows what true love can really be.

This story also introduces other characters within it who also have their own stories.  I will definitely be reading more by this author in the future.

The MacKinnon’s Bride – The Highland Brides #1 by Tanya Anne Crosby

When his son is kidnapped and given to the English, Iain MacKinnon will stop at nothing to retrieve him, even if it means kidnapping the Englishman’s daughter in return.

Page FitzSimon has always been the unloved outcast of her family, the daughter her father never wanted. When Page spends an elicit evening by the river she gets more than she bargained for in the form of brutish Scotsmen.

FitzSimon has no use for his daughter and when the King of England’s life is at stake he relinquishes the boy but refuses to take back the girl leaving MacKinnon to decide…does he take her or leave her to her own fate?

REVIEW

Big, burly Scotsmen with even bigger hearts.  Who doesn’t fantasise about a strong highlander whisking them off to their castle?!

Iain MacKinnon may not always be gentle but he knows he can’t let Page go back to her father and, with the time spent together on their journey back to his homeland, the pair start to rub off on each other.

Page has never been loved by her father or brother’s.  Finding herself mixed up with the unconventional highlander shows her trust and love that she never knew existed. Iain’s weariness at letting another woman close to him does not help with Page’s insecurities but together they find the path they need.

I had not previously read anything by this author before but the story is well constructed, a good plot-line with a hint of mystery and lots of romance (once the main characters get together).  I do not know if all the details are historically correct but I really liked the use of the old Scottish language throughout.  Will endeavour to read more of this series in the future.

 

The Bound Heart – The Velvet Basement #2 by Elsa Holland

For two years Olive Thompson tormented him by coming to his Bookbinding shop.  Every Friday, like clockwork, she would be there with the delivery of twine, thread and ribbon. If she only knew what he would like to do to her with it.  But his world was not for her. How could it be.  The Art of the Rope is not something for an innocent.

Just a taste. That’s all he wanted then he could leave the torment behind.

Olive Thompson knew there was something dark about Mr James Edwards but not until she saw the photos did she ever dream what he could do.  Instead of being disgusted she found them intriguing.  Making Mr Edwards see her as the woman she was would take determination and courage. Becoming the woman she knew she could be would take Mr Edwards.

REVIEW

I have read books on bondage relating to BDSM before but this is the first one dedicated to the Japanese art of the Rope – Shibari. It has an elegant twist in the format of being set in the late 19th century when sexual exploites was much more a taboo subject.

Olive is a very strong character who, despite the constant pressure from her mother and sisters to find work on the streets, sticks to her principles of being an embroider.  For two years she has been infatuated with Mr Edwards and has tried to express her interest but he has always kept his distance.

Jamie Edwards knows what he enjoys and that enjoyment comes in the form of rope and what he can do with it.  Learning from a Japanese master from an early age, the art of rope tying and suspension has always intriugued him.  Finding like-minded women who will indulge his fantasies has not been a problem but the one woman he wants to do it to he knows he can’t, or can he?  Olive has been in his heart but he has his rules and they are set for a reason.  No one, not even Olive, will make him break them…

Olive and Jamie are the perfect blend of light and darkness.  He believes he lives in the dark world not suitable for her, she wants to bring light to his and show him that there is a little darkness in her too.

I was fascinated by the intricate styles that can be created with the rope and how the strength of the woman is highly important for the art.  This book showed the highly erotic nature of Shibari but also the connection between two people who enjoy each other and what they can give each other.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Miss Elizabeth Bennet, second of five daughters, prides herself on her judge of character and sensible decisions with regard to courtship and male attentiveness.  When first encountering Mr Darcy, she finds a very proud and aloof man who views those in country society as beneath him.  This is further enhanced by his unwillingness to dance and converse.

During the course of their encounters a love/hate relationship evolves which will bring both parties to question their current thoughts and opinions on not just themselves but those around them.

Can the prejudice of one see beyond the pride of the other?

REVIEW

This is most definitely a classic for a reason.  Jane Austen was a highly accomplished writer for her time and I often wonder what she would write if she were here today.

The story itself is built on the opinions and characteristics given by people, which influences the lives and loves of others.  Jane and Mr Bingley’s relationship is influenced by Mr Darcy and Miss Bingley, whilst Mr Darcy and Elizabeth have the opinions of her entire family, especially her mother, his aunt, and Mr Wickham to contend with.

The writing is as you could imagine for the era  and can take some getting used to, but the story line itself is interesting and engaging.  The characters are a mixed bunch and it does not shy away from the vices of the day, the behaviours of Mr Wickham and Lydia are good examples. How Elizabeth kept her calm around her mother is anyone’s guess, Mrs Bennet would test the patience of even Jane!  Some of the things that she says about Mr Darcy makes you wonder why he ever came back.

I will be honest, it can be slow in parts but there is a steady progression and build up to the final part.  The love that is discussed between the characters is very subtle and referred to with glances and smiles more than words.

I love a lot of the romances that are written nowadays but it is nice to go back to basics and read how love was over 200 years ago.

 

The Christmas Mail Order Bride – Holiday Mail Order Brides #1 by Kit Morgan

Summer James had spent her entire life in a orphanage now it was time to leave.  With her options being as they are she enlisted the help of a mail order bride service. Arriving at the small town of Nowhere, the last thing she expects is to be shot by her own fiancé.

Sheriff Clayton Riley finds out on the day she arrives in town that his brother has brought him a wife for Christmas. Clayton has been married before and does not want or need another wife, but when he sees his new bride he just might change his mind, that’s if she doesn’t change hers after he shoots her.

Can Summer earn the Sheriff’s trust and friendship enough to make their relationship last and in turn can Clayton prove to Summer that he is not the loveless man he seems to be? Or will outside influence end the marriage before it has even happened?

 

REVIEW

With the orphanage as the only home she has known and being rejected her entire life, Summer James finds it hard to trust in anyone but she has also lead a secluded and sheltered life.  Venturing out into the big wide world is a scary prospect but moving to an entirely different state to marry a man she has never met goes far beyond scary.  The relationship between Summer and Clayton is strained from the start.  Clayton is still living in the past and trying to atone for the death of his first wife.  Everyone, well almost everyone, in town is encouraging Clayton to give Summer a chance and when he finally does realise his feelings it could be too late.

There is a build up to a threat against Summer at the beginning of the book which I really think could have been used more in the story. I appreciate that it is the reason that Summer doesn’t return to New Orleans but I kept expecting something to happen and it wasn’t what I expected.  I suppose this could be viewed in two ways: disappointing that there was a build up with nothing happening, but interesting that what you thought might happen doesn’t but something else does instead.  Kept the story a little less predictable.

On the whole a nice story of growing love and Christmas miracles.

A Christmas Code – Code Breakers #2 by Jacki Delecki

Growing up, Lady Gwyneth Beaumont used to follow her older brother and his best friend, Viscount James Ashworth, around, much to their annoyance.  Now she is the one being followed. As one of the most beautiful debutantes of the season, Lady Gwyneth is in high demand but her eyes and heart are still set on Ash.

Arriving back from a three year assignment in France, Viscount Ashworth, known as Ash, hasn’t seen Gwyneth in all that time. Now coming home and finding her a woman he is grave danger of losing his heart.

With a mission at hand to prevent the assassination of the Prince Regent, Ash is reluctant to accept Gwyneth’s help but she proves to be more than just a beautiful distraction.  Can Ash keep Gwyneth safe and save the Prince or will it be Gwyneth who does the saving?

 

REVIEW

Great twist on a historical romance.  I will admit that I have not read the first book in this series but that was not essential to enjoy the second.  Gwyneth’s brother is the head of His Majesty’s spy service and Ash is his number 2.  The story is enjoyable and based around the  Christmas ball where deadly plots are being planned.  There are a few red-herrings to keep you guessing and some unexpected turns along the way.

Gwyneth and Ash are a great couple and even Gywneth’s brother is accepting of their union.  Gwyneth has loved Ash since she was a little girl, perfecting her spying techniques by following him around the grounds, but this year she has decided that he needs to notice her for the woman she is not the child she was…and boy,  does he notice!

Heat, passion and intrigue all mix together to make this an exciting Christmas romance.