Regency Era (1811-1820)

The Christmas of a Countess by Linda Rae Sande

The Christmas of a Countess (The Holidays of the Aristocracy Book 1)The Christmas of a Countess by Linda Rae Sande

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Holidays of the Aristocracy #1
Publication Date: 10/24/17

What a delightfully funny, totally unlikely and improbable tale. It reminds me of those zany old romantic comedy movies from the 1940’s (like My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant & Irene Dunn) where you have a handsome, sophisticated man, a beautiful wife and lots of witty banter. If you are a regency purist, it will probably make you a bit insane. However, if you can suspend that and just enjoy a funny, romantic tale you’ll find yourself chuckling. While you don’t get explicit sexual descriptions you definitely have a libidinous bunch of characters – think rabbits – with varied and sundry locations.

Milton Grandby, Earl of Torrington, had loved his best friend’s sister since she was a child. He’d missed out on his chance to win her hand and she married another. He never married – just assumed he’d die still unmarried. At the beginning of each season he would choose a different widow to escort to all of the functions of the season – and at the end of the season, he’d buy her a parting gift and go on his way. Then, Adele is widowed and he has his chance with her.

Adele Slater Worthington knew Milton Grandby and she also knew his reputation, so when he approached her, she assumed that he wished for her to be his widow of the season. Imagine her surprise when he proposes shortly after that – and declares his love. She doesn’t believe him at first but, over time, he proves that he really does love her.

Our story begins when Milton decides that they need to spend the Christmas period at his country seat. While making the arrangements Milton learns that his valet, Alonyius Banks, has a brother who is near death. Alonyius isn’t interested in stopping at his home to see his brother even though it is right on the way. However, the coach with the Earl and the Countess manages to get through the weather to the country seat, but the coach with the servants, valet and ladies maid, is stranded.

We actually have two romances – one between the valet and ladies maid and then the continuing romance of Milton and Adele. There is much more to Alonyius than it would seem at first and you’ll learn all about it as you progress through the story.

One of the things I really like about the story is that all of the main characters are mature – in their late thirties and even into the mid-forties. The author assures you are aware that they are older because she keeps referring to their grey hair — especially the grey chest hair.

There are so many inaccuracies and improbabilities that it isn’t worth the time to go through all of them, but I’ll speak of a few.

  • There are the conversations – they might take place today, but they would definitely not have taken place during 1816. I’m speaking of almost every conversation in the book – between servants, between masters and servants, etc. They are witty and funny and I enjoyed them, but they are definitely inappropriate for that time.
  • There is the interaction between Milton and Alonyius as well as between Adele and Alice Simpkins. Their conversations are much too personal to be believable. For instance, at one point Milton says “Good God, Banks! She just needs a good lay.” And then goes on to suggest that Alonyius give her (Alice) a tumble. Then, there is the encouragement of a wedding, sharing of expensive gowns and jewelry, etc.
  • There is the choice of Alonyius’ profession. It just isn’t a believable choice given his background. I won’t explain more, but you’ll see why when you read the book
  • There are ‘old sayings’ sprinkled throughout the book – some were true to the time period and others were not – for instance ‘The whole nine yards’ wasn’t a saying until the 1900’s – but – ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’, was period accurate. I didn’t check them all, but it was an easy enough thing to do.
  • There is the lack of proper address. It is dismissed as a concern because Milton doesn’t like it. I don’t believe that would have been honored during that time period and it would have been so easy to just get it right.

This was a fun and enjoyable read – as long as you can put aside any issues with period correctness.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or

If Ever I Should Love You by Cathy Maxwell

If Ever I Should Love YouIf Ever I Should Love You by Cathy Maxwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars Rounded up to 5
Series: Spinster Heiresses #1
Publication Date: 12/26/17

Many kudos to Ms. Maxwell for dealing with some tough issues – and doing it superbly. Our heroine isn’t the normal skittish maiden. She has some excellent reasons for not wanting to marry and some real issues to overcome. Our hero has his own set of issues and you wonder how they are going to overcome them individually and together to finally reach that HEA they deserve. I do not enjoy dark books at all and I was fearful this one would be dark – but it wasn’t – it was wonderfully hopeful while still leaving you to wonder if they could overcome. However, it isn’t an easy read – definitely not a fluffy and light read. There were times when I wanted to turn both characters over my knee and spank them, but as you learn more about them and come to understand them, you begin to not only like, but respect them.

Leonie Charnock is a very flawed young lady who has no desire to marry. However, her parents want her to marry – and to marry into the aristocracy. Yes, she is literally for sale. That really is a sad commentary on the times, isn’t it? Her home is not a happy one. Her parents live totally separate lives and both ignore her. She has never known love and has no idea what love or happiness is. So, you can imagine how difficult it would be for her to recognize it if she found it. Then, throw in the horrendous thing that happened to her and you have the makings of a total disaster of a life. However, a little tipple now and then makes all the pain and loneliness a little easier to bear.

Roman Gilchrist is now, unexpectedly, the Earl of Rochdale. Sadly, he has inherited a debt-ridden estate and his man of business tells him the only way out is to marry an heiress – a very rich heiress. Roman is a romantic and always wanted to marry for love. His whole family has married for love and they are still in love – he wants that for himself. He soon realizes that the only way to take care of his family is to pay off the earldom’s debts and restore the family seat to a habitable condition. He also feels a deep responsibility for the tenants and others on the estate who depend on him. Therefore, he considers what his man of business has to say – and when the man of business gives him the name of the richest heiress – his mouth drops open. Leonie Charnock!

Roman and Leonie have a history from several years ago when her father worked in India for the East India Company and Roman was a soldier stationed there. I won’t tell you the story because that would be a spoiler – but I can tell you Roman never forgot Leonie. Sometimes that remembrance was not with fondness, but he never forgot her.

I absolutely loved the book, the characters, the writing – well – all of it. My only wish is that it could have been a tad longer so that we could have seen more of the friendship and interactions between the ‘Spinster Heiresses’. I would have also loved an epilogue a year or so out in the future so we could see Leonie and Roman with their bouncing baby AND also see her shocked parents visiting for the first time – shock at the changes in their daughter and how she and Roman are living.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

Merry Christmas, My Viscount by Emily Windsor

Merry Christmas, My Viscount (Rules of the Rogue)Merry Christmas, My Viscount by Emily Windsor

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Rules of a Rogue, #1.5

Release Date: November 28, 2017

This was a very sweet Christmas novella that is tied into the Rules of the Rogue series, but could easily be a stand alone title.

Spymaster and newly minted viscount, Asher Rainham is attending a holiday house party being hosted by his friend and former spy Lucas. Asher is a very sweet man who happens to be perceived as a bit odd by most people, he has a keen ability to read people, calculate odds and it a bit socially awkward. The book opens with Asher being perplexed by Mrs. Lily Mereworth, for the first time in too long to remember, Asher cannot read someone and it fascinates him.

Lily Mereworth is a distant cousin and dear friend of Rosalind, Lucas’ wife. She is a widow who is trying to find herself again after years of an unhappy marriage. She has concocted a list of things to accomplish before Christmas Eve, things that will help her reclaim her former joy and happiness. And she has managed to complete all but two things on her list – Drinking Absinthe and seducing a rogue – both of which she hopes to do at this house party.

Lily and Asher do not start out on the best of terms, she beats him at cards and he unintentionally insults her. But neither can really deny the growing attraction. Lily tries to ignore the feelings Asher invokes, because she doesn’t want to remarry and she is pretty sure Asher is not a man who would dally with a woman.

Asher wants Lily, but treads carefully, he knows he wants more than Lily is ready to give, but he is determined to win her in the end.

The story is well written, flows nicely, has a lot of amusing scenes, a few steamy-ish scenes, a great cast of secondary characters and a very well earned HEA. One of the things I liked best about this story is that Asher and Lily are not your stereotypical hero and heroine – they are both older, he is not a rake and she is not a dewy eyed virgin, it was a nice change of pace from the atypical historical romance and much appreciated by this reader.

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

To the Duke, With Love by Amelia Grey

To the Duke, with Love (The Rakes of St. James, #2)To the Duke, with Love by Amelia Grey
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Rakes of St. James, #2

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Maybe 3.5 stars

I liked this installment of the Rakes of St. James, but I didn’t love it.

The Duke of Hawksthorn “Hawk” wants to spare his sister, Lady Adele any heartache his past prank may cause her in the season by having her betrothed before it starts and he has found the perfect match for her, Mr. Paxton Quick, there is only one thing standing in his way……..Paxton’s sister Loretta.

Banished to the country after refusing to marry the man her uncle chose for her, Loretta is determined to make sure her beloved brother is not forced to marry against his will.

These two have an instant connection, but Hawk isn’t looking for a match for himself and Loretta has taken a vow to never marry. But neither can deny the pull of attraction between them. Hawk finds ways to see Loretta and when he finally asks her to marry him, she refuses, holding fast to her vow.

Hawk will have to find a way to convince Loretta to set aside her vow or lose the only woman he has ever loved.

The book is well written, but it is very “put-downable”, there is no real conflict, drama, angst or villain, and nothing keeping them apart save Loretta’s insistence at adhering to a vow she was forced to make. There is a bittersweet side plot involving an orphaned boy and a host of charming secondary characters, a lot of sexual tension and one or two semi-steamy love scenes and finally a HEA. This is the second story in the series, but it could absolutely be read as a stand alone title with no problem.

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


Christmas at Thorncliff Manor by Sophie Barnes

Christmas at Thorncliff Manor (Secrets at Thorncliff Manor, #4)Christmas at Thorncliff Manor by Sophie Barnes

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Thorncliff Manor #4
Publication Date: 12/5/17

This is a delightful read with a mystery, hidden doors, tunnels and rooms, missing treasure and four romances. I have not read the other books in this series, but that didn’t detract from enjoying this one – it just made me want to go back and read them! If you are a Regency purist, this book may set your teeth on edge because it does contain some anachronistic language, phraseology and social standards, etc. I am usually one of those purists and frankly, I just enjoyed the book!

Lady Duncaster is quite a matchmaker and she’s invited her good friends Lord and Lady Oakland along with their four remaining unmarried daughters to spend Christmas with her. She’s also invited four imminently eligible bachelors to spend Christmas there as well. She won’t interfere, but if they come to know and love each other while they are at Thorncliff Manor, that is a good thing. They know each other already, they just need to spend some time together.

Fiona Heartly is the youngest of the four sisters and doesn’t feel there is any hurry for her to marry. She’s sweet, refined, good-natured, witty and mischievous. She is also obsessed with finding her great-aunt’s jewelry box that she is sure is hidden somewhere at Thorncliff. Edward, Earl of Chadwick is a long-time friend of the Heartly family and he and Fiona have always been close despite their age difference. He has also fallen in love with her. Can she ever see him as anything other than a friend?

Emily Heartly always has a sketchbook in her hand, but she never lets anyone see her drawings. They are private and she just feels they are good enough for anyone to see. Will the Marquess of Montsmouth be able to convince her to show him her sketches? He is a renowned art lover and expert. Will he love her sketches? Will he love her?

Laura Heartly is a published author and a genuine romantic. The Duke of Lamont has two young wards who need a lady in their lives – but he deserves love too. Can they come together and love each other?

Rachel Heartly is a scientist, very smart, very focused and very practical. She’s so focused that she has no time to worry about social skills, hair styling or fashion. Viscount Belgrave is the cousin of the Duke of Lamont. He’s very kind, good natured and curious. He loves discussing science with Rachel. Can they find love with each other?

They all have quite an adventure on their way to love and happiness and along the way, they solve a decades-old mystery and find a treasure. This is a fun read.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

The Heiress’s Deception by Christi Caldwell

The Heiress's Deception (Sinful Brides, #4)The Heiress’s Deception by Christi Caldwell

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4

Series: Sinful Brides #4
Publication Date: 12/12/17

Lovely fourth book in the Sinful Brides series. Calum has always been my favorite of the ‘brothers’ and I was really looking forward to his book and his HEA. As it turns out, it is my least favorite book in the series. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the first three. The end just felt rushed and the solution with the missing brother just felt too fortuitous and then there was nothing else about him. I’d like to explain, but I don’t want to put spoilers in this review.

The story is solidly written, stays on-point and makes you like the main characters and dislike this villain. I always enjoy this author’s writing.

I have a complaint, but I don’t know whether to point it toward this book or the series. I am left feeling ‘unfinished’. According to the burb on the Goodreads page, this is the last book in the series: “In the final installment of USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell’s Sinful Brides series, a runaway heiress entrusts her fate to the man she betrayed.” So, we are now left with several things that should have been wrapped up – in my humble opinion. Adair is the fifth ‘sibling’, yet he didn’t get a book – say what? There is no settling of what happens to the Hell and Sin Club. Does it shut down? Does it recover and thrive? Do the ‘siblings’ come back there to live in and run the club? I am hoping that the blurb on Goodreads is incorrect and that there will be a final book that will feature Adair and wrap-up all of the loose ends with the club, etc. Maybe with a lovely epilogue three or four years down the road showing all of the families happily gathered for a celebration of some sort.

Lady Eve Pruitt has always been a very lonely, forgotten and overlooked motherless daughter of a Duke. Her father did love her but ignored her after his wife died. Her next oldest brother, Kit, is away most of the time but spends time with her on the very rare occasions when he is home. Her oldest brother, Graham, is cruel and sadistic and does some gosh-awful things to Eve. Eve has survived it all, but when Graham sets Eve up to be raped, she knows she has to escape. She only has to be in hiding for three months because when she turns twenty-six, she comes into her inheritance and can make a life for herself. It is amazing that Eve has remained as sweet, considerate and caring as she has given all of the things her brother has done to her.

Calum was born in a loving home. His father was a merchant and both parents doted on Calum. However, when he was five, both parents died within just a couple of months of each other. Calum ended up in a foundling hospital where he was beaten regularly – until he decided that living on the streets was preferable. So, he escaped and became a very adept pickpocket. If you read the earlier books you know the story of how the ‘siblings’ came together and what they’ve been through up to this point. Calum was the one in the group who kept his love and kindness. Oh, he could be hard and mean, but underneath, he cared for others.

Calum and Eve had a history. She blamed herself for his death and he blamed her for her betrayal. When Calum was fourteen and Eve was nine they met in the stables on her father’s townhouse property. They spent a year meeting off-and-on and became fast friends. Eve was so thrilled to have a friend – someone who actually saw her and spoke with her as an equal. Calum liked spending time with the little girl, reading books and learning the constellations, etc. When Calum was stabbed, he sought refuge in those stables. Eve was terrified and sought help from the one person she should not have trusted. Calum ended up in Newgate, bound for the hangman’s noose.

Another issue I have is that Eve’s brother isn’t dealt with at all. There isn’t even any public censure must less punishment of any kind. I would have been satisfied if he’d just fallen off his horse and broken his neck. Maybe something along the lines of Calum calling in all of his debts and then he and Eve living in one of the estates. I don’t know – just something.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence

The Lady and Mr. Jones by Alyssa Alexander

The Lady and Mr. Jones (A Spy in the Ton, #4)The Lady and Mr. Jones by Alyssa Alexander

Series: A Spy in the Ton, #4

Release Date: November 27, 2017
Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars

Mary Elizabeth Francis Catherine Ashdown, Baroness Worthington aka Cat is in a bind, her father has died and though she has inherited the barony and the estates, her father put everything in trust naming her uncle Henri Wycomb (yes, the same one from the previous book) as her guardian and a trustee. Cat is stymied at every turn by her uncle and he is pushing her to marry – in fact he has selected her groom and signed the contracts. If she refuses, she will lose Ashdown Abbey.

But things seem to be going from bad to worse for Cat, she is attacked outside a shop and is saved by Jones. Jones is on a mission that involves her uncle, he had no desire to reveal himself to her, but when she catches him in her uncles study later, he has no choice and they come to an agreement, that he will keep her informed and she will feed him information.

The more they meet, the deeper their bond becomes, but Wycomb is up to something and Cat is not safe. Jones is falling for her, but knows nothing can come of it, yet he can’t seem to walk away from her.

Cat knows she loves Jones, loves him enough to walk away from her legacy – but he won’t let her. When Cat is abducted and Wycomb’s scheme is revealed, will it be too late for Jones to save the woman he loves? And is he finally ready to accept that Cat loves him enough to walk away from her inheritance?

The book is well written, but there are a couple of formal address mistakes and as in the last book it is still being referred to as “Carleton House” instead of Carlton House. The love scenes are on the warm side, but in no way graphic or steamy. Readers who were dismayed with Wycomb in the last book will be overjoyed to see him get his comeuppance in this book and to revisit The Flower, Shadow & Angel as well as their spouses and growing families. The book is action packed and has a bit of mystery that is very well done. The ending was not what I was expecting and personally, I think Cat was overly forgiving, but I was happy with the ending and enjoyed the epilogue.

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

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