Publication Date: 4/14/20
As always, this author’s writing is excellent. I think you’ll enjoy these novellas.
Kisses and Scandal – 3-Stars
This was, by far, my least favorite of the three novellas simply because the premise is so very unlikely. The characters are very likable, the writing, of course, is solid, but a footman (that is a real footman not a peer in disguise) and a Duke’s daughter just didn’t resonate with me.
Lady Philomena (Phil) is the sister to the scandalous Duke of Mayne. Phil’s mother absolutely doesn’t approve of her brother’s recent marriage to a scandalous widow who is much older than he is, so she has every intention of assuring Phil marries well and scandal-free. She’s given Phil a deadline to either choose her own groom or one will be chosen for her. Unfortunately for Phil, the man she loves and wants to marry would provide nothing but scandal. He is, after all, a footman.
James Finnegan comes from the slums of Dublin and along with two of his friends, they have a plan to acquire a fortune and leave for the Americas. When James wants out of their plans, his friends decide to move along without him. James will do whatever it takes to keep Phil safe, but can he also keep her love?
The ending stretched my imagination even further than the overall premise of the story and I just couldn’t buy into the whole thing. It just felt contrived to me.
Counterfeit Scandal – 4-Stars
Bridget was working for the Home Office as a counterfeiter when she fell in love with Caleb who was a spy. Caleb left on a mission, a long and very dangerous mission – and he didn’t tell her he was going. Just as she learned she was expecting Caleb’s child, she was told that Caleb had died. She resigned from the Home Office and soon met a man who cared for her even though she didn’t love him in return. He was fine with her having Caleb’s child. So, she married him because she thought it would give her child a better life. Well – that was a mistake. Her husband was good to her and her son, James, but he was naïve when it came to money, so Bridget and her husband ended up in debtor’s prison. Rather than subject her young son (about 3 years old) to life inside the prison, she took him to a foundling home and told them she’d be back for him.
Several years later, her husband is dead and she’s out of prison with all debts paid. She’s been working at Miss Brodie’s Academy for a year and has saved up enough money to rent a room and to retrieve James from the orphanage. Except, the orphanage isn’t there anymore. It burned and nobody can tell her what happened to the orphans who lived there.
She rents the room with the intention of spending every spare minute looking for James. However, as she is leaving the home where she has rented the room, Caleb is entering the same home. She is absolutely and totally shocked. She tells him that he must find a new place to live and otherwise expresses her anger. Later, she realizes that she needs Caleb’s help to find James, so she tells him the whole story. He has also explained why he hasn’t contacted her and why they faked his death. They decide to work together even though it will put Caleb’s life in danger.
Their search takes them to Spitalfields and Mayfair and into a lot of danger. Quite an exciting search.
How To Brew A Perfect Kiss – 5-stars
This was my favorite of the three novellas. I adored Thomas and Raeni and as a couple they were perfect. Both were – or had been – slaves – and now they are both in England to find their freedom. They had a wonderful tale to tell and I loved reading about them.
Thomas Gaines was a slave in America in the Carolinas, where he worked in the tobacco fields. Through courage and good luck, he managed to escape to England and has never looked back. He taught himself to read, found employment and saved his money. Now, he is the very prosperous owner of several businesses including the just-opened business on Bond Street.
Raeni Sawyer is the daughter of an English landowner in Jamaica and his slave mistress. Raeni was raised well and was never in want for anything – but she was not free. When her circumstances changed, she fled Jamaica for England. Alone and penniless in London, she found work in Bond Street Coffee and Tobacco which was owned by Mr. Thomas Gaines.
Their meeting was tumultuous, but the attraction was instant and only developed over the coming days and weeks. Thomas turned out to be very considerate and caring and Raeni was capable and gentle. Each filled a need in the other, and it was delightful to see them come to care for each other.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.