It Started With a Whisper by Various Authors

It Started with a WhisperIt Started with a Whisper by Dawn Brower
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Release Date: January 23, 2018

Overall this was a very good anthology and each novella was well done and none of them felt rushed.

One Moonlit Tryst, Amanda Mariel, 4 stars – Colin Brooks, Earl of Harcourt and Reginald St. John, Viscount Lovell are the best of friends, one night while out carousing, Reg is shot down by a woman and Colin says he could get any woman. They make a wager – Reg bets him a thousand pounds that he cannot win the woman of his choosing. He chooses Lady Tabitha Pemberton, he has to charm a kiss from her before the end of the season.

Lady Tabitha and her twin Lady Priscilla have decided to enjoy their first season and vow not to marry until their next. They keep all their suitors at an arms length. Colin begins to court her, but not overly – he has a plan. Reg and Pricilla form a friendship and watch the game being played between Colin and Tabitha with delight.

They grow closer and just when Tabitha believes she can give this man her heart, a shocking revelation from his past comes to light and she is heartbroken. But this is no longer a wager for Colin and he will do whatever he can to win back the woman he loves.

Good story, no steam, interesting twist, HEA

Love Me, Lord Tender, Deb Marlowe, 4.5 stars – William Grey, Lord Tensford has become infamous in Lady X’s column and known as Lord Terror for the horrible way he treats his female relations. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but gossip persists. He needs to marry a heiress to save his failing estate, but no woman is interested in Lord Terror – except Lady Hope Brightly. She finds him charming and when he saves her from an unwanted suitor, she calls him Lord Tender. The name sticks and now he is having an even harder time with the gossip. Hope feels awful and sets out to make things right. Will really likes Hope and wishes her dowry was larger and he could afford to marry her, but it is not nearly enough, so he accepts her help in finding a wife.

Hope wants him for herself, but she has to know that he wants her more than he wants money. Will will have to make difficult decisions and prove himself to win the woman he has come to love.

Great story, loved Will & Hope, great ending, no steam, great secondary characters (whose stories I would definitely read), HEA

The Lady Loves Scandal, Christina McKnight, 4.5 stars – Lady Sybil Anson and Gideon Lyndon, Viscount Galway are in love and soon to be betrothed. The night before the contracts are to be signed, Sybil visits Gideon and they share a passionate kiss and whispers of their hopes an dreams. They are interrupted by a late night visitor for Gideon. He kisses her goodbye and tells her he will see her tomorrow. But he never shows.

A year later, Sybil is on the verge of becoming betrothed again. She loved Gideon, but hasn’t heard from him since that night, save a cryptic note saying he would see her as soon as he could. She assumed he was dead, because nothing short of death would have kept them apart. But on the very night she is to accept the Duke of Garwood, Gideon returns to her. She wants answers before she will give him her heart again, but answers are the one thing Gideon cannot give her.

Will Gideon be able to win back the only woman he has ever loved, or will his secrets destroy any hope of a HEA?

Great story, loved Sybil and Gideon, no steam, secrets, angry brothers and bounty hunters and finally a very sweet HEA.

The Scandalous Widow, Erica Monroe, 4.5 stars – This is a second chance at love / murder mystery and it is very well done. Gabriel Sinclair, Principal Officer for Bow Street has responded to a murder outside a bawdy house in the rookeries, it seems like a simple case of robbery gone wrong and he is ready to call it done when he realizes who the victim is – Philip Forster, Earl of Wolverstone – Gabriel’s one time best friend and husband of the woman Gabriel loves.

Jemma Foster, Countess of Wolverstone is sure that here brother in law David killed his brother and she needs help proving it. The only man she trusts is the last man she wants to see – Gabriel Sinclair. The man she walked away from to make her family happy and the man she loves. It has been three years since they have seen each other, but the passion is still there, stronger than ever.

Jemma and Gabriel work together to solve the mystery of who really killed Philip and why. They also slowly begin to reconnect. But when Jemma starts to get too close to the truth, will Gabriel be able to save her and have a second chance to win the woman he has always loved?

Wonderful story, lots of interesting historical facts and a really nasty villain, no steam, some violence and a HEA.

How to Land an Earl in Ten Days, Ave Stone, 5 stars – this was my favorite story in the book! Reese Delacy, Earl of Darling is consoling his heartbroken friend Capt Lucien Gates. Lucien has been thrown over by his betrothed and is drowning his sorrows. Reese doesn’t believe in love and tells Lucien that he could make any woman fall in love with him, just by being charming. Lord Daniel Westham overhears him and they make a wager – Reese has ten days to make a woman fall in love with him – winner gets 200 pounds. Trouble is Lady X gets wind of the wager and no woman will give Reese the time of day. Enter the Duchess of Hythe (Lucien’s grandmother) she is sponsoring Cara Beckett for the season, Cara is from Bermuda and is only in England for one reason – to garner votes for the Turks Salt Trade bill, her family’s livelihood depends on Bermuda’s right to free salt trade on the Turk islands. Her father was dear friends with the duchess and she has been kind to Cara, helping her meet the peers she needs to speak with, but the duchess wants more for her. Cara is single minded in her quest, she has lost so much, her father and her betrothed and the business is all she has left besides her sisters. She cannot fail them! When the duchess and her friends learn about the wager, they come up with their own wager – they will have a woman let Reese think he is winning and then bring him down a few pegs and Cara is the perfect woman for the job. The duchess convinces Cara to go along with her and Cara reluctantly agrees.

When Reese meets Cara, he pours on the charm and Cara is hard pressed not to fall for him. She needs votes and Reese offers to help her. He introduces her to voting members and at the same time courts her. When the opportunity to visit the Hadleigh fair, she agrees to go. Archibald Atherton and his sister Emma insist that she stay with them for the three days and of course Reese is going. While at the fair, Cara sees her sister’s betrothed, but he avoids her, she wonders why and tells Reese, he warns her not to mention that Ballantyne is betrothed to her sister and that he can’t explain in the crowd why. Cara wants answers but will wait. Reese tracks down Ballantyne and asks about Cara’s sister – Charles Ballantyne is the man who stole Lucien’s betrothed – Charles says that he had no formal betrothal with Cait and Reese punches him. Reese returns to the group, but is withdrawn and during dinner Cara is sure he is angry with her. When her dinner partner seems interested in her political dealings, she tries to focus on him. Chopwell suggests they meet to discuss the vote and Emma shows them to parlor and leaves them to talk. Chopwell attacks Cara and Arch and Reese barely are in time to save her.

Reese takes her to her room and then returns to deal with Chopwell – he calls him out and goes to check on Cara. This is when she learns about Charles’ betrayal of her sister – it is all too much and she lashes out at Reese – she tells him she knows about the wager and he is no better than Chopwell.

Reese is hurt and angry, but he will leave her alone, he returns to London to prepare for the duel – it is the least he can do for her. She is upset when she learns he left and Lucien is demanding answers – Emma is drawn into things and even though she is secretly in love with Lucien, she can’t tell him what she knows, she also thinks that Lucien is in love with Cara and is a little heart sick. Lucien returns to London for answers, but hits a dead end.

Cara returns and confides all to the duchess, who vows that everything will work out. She then calls for reinforcements. Reese refuse to call on Cara, thinking that is her wish, so the duchess has her work cut out for her. Cara feels terrible about the things she said, she admits to herself that she cares for him and may love him – but everything has gone terribly wrong.

Cara reenters society and works to get the votes she needs. She is at a ball and sees Reese, but he tries to avoid her, but when he is drawn into the group around her, he helps her further her cause and he realizes he loves her. He decides to take a chance and talks to her, but Cara still has a secret and she hopes that when she comes clean, Reese can forgive her.

This was the shining star in the anthology for me, again this is a no steam novella, but it is brimming with sexual tension, secrets, witty banter, very likable leads, great secondary character (who are begging for their own stories!) a well meaning meddling duchess and a sweet HEA.

Lady Hoyden’s Secret, Dawn Brower, 3.5 stars – Lady Helena Carter has after 3 seasons accepted that she will not marry, but that is all right because she has a plan. When her brother forces his friend Oliver Hunt, Marquess of Dashville to dance with her, she solidifies her plan. Five years later, Helena’s plans are just about ready to pay off. She is Lady X and has finally earned enough money to support herself until she is old enough to access her trust. She has been very successful and her favorite person to roast in her column is Oliver aka Dash.

Dash has grown up a lot since the night he danced with Helena, Lady X’s column had made him realize what a jerk he was and he has changed. He wants a wife and figures if Lady X sees him make amends with Helena, the task of finding a wife will be easier. He tried to reconcile with Helena, but she is having none of it. Oliver really sees her for the first time and decides then and there, Helena will be his wife. Now all he has to do is convince her that he has changed and is the perfect man for her.

He asks her for a second chance and she shoots him down and takes off. He follows her and finds her snooping in a desk, they kiss and she tells him to leave her alone. But fate has other plans and when they end up in Scotland together and he learns her secret and seems to accept her, she is thrilled. But when they are caught in a heated embrace and told they will have to marry, it seems like Oliver will get his wish,. However, Helena is not ready to concede defeat. Will Oliver be able to win over the woman he knows he loves or will Helena let past hurts and rejection doom her to a life spent alone?

This book was ok, there is a lot of modern verbiage, some completely unbelievable scenarios (especially for a Regency), no steam and an unlikable heroine – but Oliver is this books saving grace, he is wonderful and I can’t imagine why he loves Helena.

All in all this was a very good anthology, while none of the novellas are steamy (mores the pity) they are all well done and paced nicely. I would be happy to recommend this book.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

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