*REVIEW* – The Path to Horn Cottage: A Cunning Folk Mystery, by Prudence S Thomas

#fantasy #alternatehistory #suspense #magic #crime #mystery

Blurb

Horn Cottage, an ancient cave house, has been home to the cunning folk of Thornton Cleveleys for generations. The early death of her mother left Meryall as the cunning woman for her village before her training was complete. A young man seeking Meryall’s help to find his missing sister draws her into an ever more complex and sinister mystery. Can she use her divination skills to help solve the mystery of the missing woman and avert a tragedy? An atmospheric journey through a mystical land, The Path to Horn Cottage is the first book in the Cunning Folk Mysteries series.

My Review

A Delightful Read – 5 Stars *****

I found Prudence S Thomas’ A Path to Horn Cottage to be a thoroughly entertaining read, which effortlessly transported me into a world of magic and belief in the old gods and their ways.

Also what a gorgeous cover – it perfectly reflects the essence of the story and it’s central character, the young ‘cunning woman’ Meryall, as she strives to reveal the whereabouts of a missing woman whilst balancing her own responsibilities to fellow villagers. As the story unfolds Meryall finds she has to journey from her home in her quest to uncover the shocking truth.

The author does an excellent job of creating an alternative reality where England has resisted the conversion to Christianity, instead cleaving to the old religion and its associated magic. I liked the central character Meryall: a strong and capable young woman, who is finding her way in life. She harbours her own doubts and frustrations as she seeks to balance her duty as her village’s ‘cunning woman’ with her natural curiosity to explore more of the world. Her partner Madoc is a perfect foil for her. The book is full of many interesting secondary characters, not least Meryall’s adversary.

I enjoyed the world the author has created,  – it is clear she has done a considerable amount of research into making it both credible and diverting. I look forward to reading more about Meryall in future works.

Recommended for readers who enjoy a suspenseful read set in a historical/fantasy context.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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*REVIEW* ~ A Suitable Wife (The Fitzgeralds of Dublin #2), by Lorna Peel

#historicalromance #historicalfiction #Dublin


Blurb

The lives of the Fitzgerald family are about to change forever…

Dublin, Ireland, 1881. Will and Isobel Fitzgerald settle into number 30 Fitzwilliam Square, a home they could once only have dreamed of. A baby is on the way, Will takes over the Merrion Street Upper medical practice from his father and they are financially secure. But when Will is handed a letter from his elder brother, Edward, stationed with the army in India, the revelations it contains only serves to further alienate Will from his father.

Isobel is eager to adapt to married life on Fitzwilliam Square but soon realises her past can never be laid to rest. The night she met Will in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding has devastating and far-reaching consequences which will change the lives of the Fitzgerald family forever.

My Review

A stirring and heartfelt read with colourful characters – 5 stars

I just loved this latest release from Lorna Peel! A Suitable Wife, set in 1881, continues the story of the Dublin doctor Will and his wife Isobel who we first meet in A Scarlet Woman (click on title for my review). The book can be read as a stand-alone but I recommend that you pick up the first book to get the most of this most emotional and page turning read.

The book delves deeply into relationships between the sexes and between social classes  – not solely the relationship between the couple, but those between other family members and wider society. All is seen through the eyes of Will and Isobel whose love manages to hold everything together despite all of the many difficulties that come to pass – cue you will need a handkerchief! Isobel in particular is one strong character and the couple are well matched in terms of wisdom and strength. I have read a number of this author’s books and she excels at interweaving deep characterisations with an emotional and stirring plot line.

The revelations which come to light after the tragic death of his brother Edward in India throw a huge curveball into the lives of Isobel, Will and his family and lead to a great deal of soul searching for the family. This puts more stress on the relationship between Will and his father. Isobel’s past is difficult for some to accept but it is surprising what goes on behind the closed doors of others. Other characters have their own secrets and I enjoyed how the author weaved further revelations into the story which is full of twists and turns.

There are certainly some eye opening scenes concerning the couple, their relatives and social circle and the author has clearly carried out a great deal of research into medical issues and social mores of the time, research which helps make the book such  compelling read,

The read totally sucked me in and transported me into the late Victorian era within Dublin, a time when women clearly played second fiddle to men and where appearances and perceived if not actual social mores are all important. Will and Isobel really go through the wringer, but their strength and love shine through and the read is above all an uplifting and life affirming read with a satisfying conclusion.

Recommended to readers who enjoy historical fiction with romance and strong characterisations and which gets to the heart of the social issues of the day.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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*REVIEW* ~ The Militia Man’s Lady (Dreda’s Men Book 2) , by Alexie Bolton

#historicalfiction #historicalromance


Book Blurb

This is the second book in the series ‘Dreda’s Men’ and follows the exploits of the men in the Taylian State Security Bureau and their ladies. A post-Napoleonic war romance about ‘alpha’ militia men and their feisty, strong resourceful ladies.

Taylia is divided by civil war. Lady Helena von Vagna’s brother has gambled most of her family’s fortune away and it is rumoured he has helped the rebels. Her fiancé has deserted her and she toils to save her family farm. She has no desire to be intimate with any man, particularly the irritating, domineering, provoking Militia man Officer Peter Denman who saved her when she was being attacked by bandits.

Officer Denman is intrigued by this woman. He tries to help her when she is accused of murder and follows her to the sordid bowels of the city where she is vulnerable to the attentions of pimps and brothel keepers.

Lady Felea Whelani, the heroine in the first book, is now married to Francis Dreda, Commander of the Bureau. Their marriage is still tempestuous as Felea finds it difficult to conform to the expected behaviour of a dutiful nobleman’s wife. Her telepathic qualities are developing and her visions are now becoming clearer. The enemies of her husband are trying to undermine and destroy him. Can she and Helena prevent them destroying all she values and loves?

Can Denman manage to save Helena and claim her for himself? Will she want this ruthless militia officer?

My Review

Tension, adventure and romance – 4 and a half stars

The Militia Man’s Lady, a story of tension and adventure, recounts the romance between Lady Helena von Vagna and the militia man Peter Denman. It is the second book that I have read in the Dreda’s Men series, penned by author Alexie Bolton, the first being The Spymaster’s Redeemer (click on the title for my review).

I felt for Helena from the off as she has been badly treated by men – her brother has gambled away the family fortune and she has since been thrown over by her fiancé. Helena is left to help her mother manage the family estate and works tirelessly to make it pay its way. She not only has to tolerate her brother’s dissolute behaviour but has to put up with rumours that he was involved with rebels, putting her under suspicion.

Peter Denman encounters Helena first by chance and the by design as their lives become increasingly entwined. Denman performs many roles ~ her saviour, accuser and would be confidant and friend. Although attracted to Denman (and he to her) Helena is wary of men, especially those as controlling and domineering as he appears to be, as she values her independence. I loved that she did not fawn over him as did other women of his acquaintance.

As for Denman, he fears that Helena sees him only as a brotherly figure and in any case he tells himself and others that he is not ready for marriage. However, it is clear to all but the couple themselves that they are a perfect match for one another. As the plot progresses Helena manages to get herself into one scrape after another, due to a combination of her independent spirit and the designs of those who would do her harm. There are a number of well recounted dangerous and nail biting scenes where Denman is often on hand to save her.

However, Denman is not always in Helena’s life and I enjoyed the tension filled plot where the couple come together only to be torn apart by their own perceptions of what they as individuals want and what they perceive the other to feel. I was intrigued as to how they could secure their HEA after such an impasse, although at times I wanted to slap them both on account of their stubbornness! Nevertheless I enjoyed how the author resolved their differences. I also enjoyed meeting Francis and Felea, whose romance was featured in the first book in the series.

Readers who enjoy historical romances with strong heroes and characters and a plot full of adventure will enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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~*ARC REVIEW ~ Let Sleeping Dukes Lie, (Rules of the Rogue Book 2), by Emily Windsor ~*

#sensual #historical #regency #romance

 

Book Blurb

“Strait-laced. Ruthless. Arrogant.”
Alexander Westhide, the Duke of Rakecombe has no quarrel with such faint praise as he has forever shunned marriage, women and anything remotely resembling love. Indeed, the damning words merely serve to enhance his haughty façade. But beneath the controlled demeanour lies a duke beset by tragedy, a man turbulent and restless.

“Forthright. Impudent… Capricious saucebox.”
Miss Aideen Quinlan can’t quite express why she feels the need to taunt, tease and generally annoy the Duke of Rakecombe. Maybe it was for the heart-racing spar of words that always ensued, or maybe it was to see the duke’s broad fist clench on his ebony cane, green eyes glittering.
Or maybe it was because she was unable to erase the memory of his vehement kiss…

An unlikely couple.
Torn between his world of espionage and this unquenchable passion, the duke still refuses to lower his fierce defences.
If Aideen is to capture her resistant duke’s troubled heart, it is she who must follow the Rules of the Rogue.
Resistance is futile…

A sensual Regency Romance with warmth and wit, this story also includes unpalatable chefs, a darling of the Season with a secondary love story, deadly walking canes and sheep…

My Review – 5 stars

A troubled Duke meets his match… 

I loved this, the second in Emily Windsor’s Rules of the Rogue series. This delightful Regency romp pairs the dark and forbidding Alexander Westhide, Duke of Rakecombe, with Miss Aideen Quinlan, a lively and unconventional Irish miss who proves to be both his match and his undoing! It features some characters from the first book in the series, An Earl in Wolf’s Clothing, but can easily be read as a standalone.

Aideen and Alexander first encounter each other after he rescues her from a kidnapping. Since that fateful meeting, the pair have been circling each other on the rare occasions their paths cross at society functions. Aideen cannot resist baiting the Duke, rather than being repelled by his dour and standoffish behaviour, she finds herself drawn to him. Alexander is all alpha male: dominant, in control at all time and sinfully sexy – what woman could resist the challenge? Not Miss Aideen Quinlan for sure!

For his part the Duke recognises how this woman threatens his ordered existence – his work as a spy for the Crown is most definitely not conducive to forming close bonds with significant others. To ensure her continued safety and his own sanity he knows he needs to avoid becoming entangled with her at all costs – if only Miss Quinlan wasn’t so meddlesome (not to mention so damned attractive to him)!

Fate continually throws them together… Can the Duke protect this wild creature who is slowly, against his better judgement, becoming to mean everything to him, whilst still discharging his duties to the Crown? Can he safeguard her from harm? Can Aideen break through his hard exterior and charm the most inflexible of men, when he guards his secrets so well? Can she penetrate the darkness he is hiding before she loses her heart in the process?

I so enjoyed the battle royal that ensues between this couple and the games they play. Aideen is a fantastic heroine and she really is the Dukes undoing – he has never encountered an adversary quite like her. The dialogue and the push and pull between them make for a hugely entertaining read, full of witty dialogue, sensual scenes, sexual tension, danger and suspense. There is a scene at the end of the book which had me in tears (in a good way), I was so invested I their story- the characters and their relationship had become so real to me.

Recommended for lovers of sensual Regency Romances who enjoy dark, brooding and tortured heroes and spunky heroines who challenge them at every turn.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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*REVIEW* ~ Sleeping Lord Beattie (The Contrary Fairy Tales Book 1), by Em Taylor

#regency #erotic #romance #fairytaleretelling

Blurb

EM TAYLOR brings you an amazing new series of Regency stories based on the fairy tales you loved as a child.

Young ladies of good breeding do not kiss gentlemen in their bed chambers even if they have been asleep for three weeks. One would think Lady Emily would know that. One would think Lady Emily would not have entered Lord Beattie’s bed chamber alone. One would have thought that kissing the handsome viscount would have been the last thing she would have done.
But kiss him she did. And that was when the apothecary walked in. All of which meant she had to marry Lord Beattie.

Why the silly little chit had kissed him when he’d been out cold for three weeks, the Lord alone knew. And now Gideon, Viscount Beattie had to marry the outspoken little minx. But there was something a little charming about her. The problem was, her uncle was after his hide, the peasants were revolting – in the rioting sense, not in the disgusting sense – and he really needed to procure some grain from up north. He may as well kill two birds with one stone and elope with the interesting, frustrating, irritating and thoroughly delightful Lady Emily – soon to be Viscountess Beattie. It would be an interesting journey.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book has no magic in it. While loosely based on a fairy tale, the story is gender swapped and there is no paranormal happenings.

This book has scenes of an adult nature and is intended for mature audiences aged 18+

My Review – 5 stars

Charming, feel-good and sexy Regency Romance

If you fancy an entertaining and charming Regency Romance then look no further than Sleeping Lord Beattie, the first book in a new series of books by Em Taylor based on the retelling of well- known fairy tales.

Sleeping Lord Beattie (Sleeping Beauty with a role reversal) is set during the cold winter of 1815-16, which is threatening to cause unrest and upheaval in the country due to the poor harvest. Gideon, Viscount Beattie,  suffers a head injury and has lain asleep for weeks. His sister Sophie, fearing that her beloved brother is not long for this mortal realm, invites Emily her friend to visit for moral support.

Except that Emily goes above and beyond providing her friend with moral support… It is not long before the fun and mayhem begin!  Emily is drawn to the bedside of the sleeping lord and on a whim kisses him, her impulsive action awakening the sleeping Viscount! However, her actions are witnessed and Emily is compromised and risks ruination. it is fortunate that Gideon, a gentleman through and through (although a damn sexy one to boot) does the honourable thing and proposes to this woman whom he has never seen before…

The scene is set for a hugely enjoyable romp with a super hero and heroine. I loved the unconventional character of Emily – she is so unlike the sensible and simpering misses that frequent many a Regency Romance. Outspoken, clumsy and accident-prone her family despairs that she will ever find a suitor. And Gideon – he is soon drawn to the strange chit who had the temerity to kiss him. He finds her increasingly more fascinating, and as they are thrown together he has his work cut out to keep her wayward actions and thoughts in line without compromising her more fully! I enjoyed their sexual tension, their banter and the humour that this writer injects into her stories, as well as the sexy lovemaking scenes!

The tale, which also contains scandalised relatives (including an angry uncle), an elopement and desperate highwaymen, is an absolute pleasure to read and I recommed it to fans of the genre.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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*REVIEW* ~ Merry Christmas, My Viscount (Rules of the Rogue #2), by Emily Windsor

#historical #regency #romance #sensual #christmasread

Book Blurb

Mrs Lily Mereworth’s List of Bold New Life Resolutions. To be completed by Christmas Eve, 1814.

• Burn Miss Pikesworth’s Guide to Etiquette – Achieved.
• Visit a gaming hell and win oneself lots of money – Achieved.
• Imbibe new-fangled absinthe – Preparations underway.
• Seduce a rogue – ?

Attending a Christmastide gathering is surely the best way for the most proper widow Mrs Lily Mereworth to complete her list and banish her past. After all, there will be more than a few suitable gentlemen present.
If only a shrewd, hazel-eyed viscount didn’t keep disrupting her plans…

Newly ennobled Viscount Asher Rainham has no schedule for seduction, Christmas or dallying with women. He has merely turned up for the good company, intelligent card playing and excellent brandy. But as snow swathes the land, a certain Mrs Mereworth confounds his expectations and assaults his methodical senses.
Asher, spymaster, a man who never takes risks, finds himself in need of some Rules of the Rogue…

Ghost stories on a windy night, swordplay down the Great Portrait Gallery, snapdragon in the dark – a lady and a gentleman with no thought to love… Merry Christmas.

My Review

Delightful Regency Romance ~ 5 stars

Merry Christmas, My Viscount, by Emily Windsor is a fun, feel-good read, ideal for Christmas or at any time of the year. I adored it! It is the first book that I have reviewed by the author and I was impressed with how she effortlessly blended romance, sexual tension and humour to create a compulsive read.

I loved the heroine in the book, the widow Lily as she strives to recover her mojo. She is so determined to liberate herself from the memories of her marriage to her stuffy and controlling husband. She has worked her way through The List of Bold New Life Resolutions, which she created with the help of her friend Rosalind, and now only has to complete two outstanding resolutions before Christmas Eve – imbibe new-fangled absinthe and seduce a rogue – what a list! Fortunately the Christmas house party hosted by Rosalind and husband Lucas on hand to afford her plenty of opportunities …

Cue for a delightful and romantic read with plenty of humour as Lily, egged on by Rosalind in particular, resolves to complete the list before the allotted time. Her perusal of the rogue she’d most like to give her attentions to is particularly entertaining. However, everywhere Lily goes she finds the eyes and attentions of the oh so serious Viscount Asher Rainham upon her. The risk averse Viscount, spymaster extraordinaire, is flummoxed by the contradictions in Lily’s character and is determined to find out what makes her tick.  Indeed, this woman not only piques his interest but confounds his senses and his fascination quickly turns to attraction…

For Lily’s part, she becomes intriqued by the Viscount, against her better judgement. She realises that there is more to Asher than first impressions suggest. Yet will she want to risk more than a simple dalliance now that she is enjoying her newfound freedom?  There is plenty of humour and heaps of sexual tension as Lily and Asher fall for each other at the same time embarking on a journey of self-discovery in this hugely entertaining read.

I’d thoroughly recommend this to all romance lovers.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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✯☆ ‿➹⁀☆ ☆ RELEASE BLITZ ✯☆ ‿➹⁀☆ ☆ Sleeping Lord Beattie, by Em Taylor

Blurb

EM TAYLOR brings you an amazing new series of Regency stories based on the fairy tales you loved as a child.

Young ladies of good breeding do not kiss gentlemen in their bed chambers even if they have been asleep for three weeks. One would think Lady Emily would know that. One would think Lady Emily would not have entered Lord Beattie’s bed chamber alone. One would have thought that kissing the handsome viscount would have been the last thing she would have done.

But kiss him she did. And that was when the apothecary walked in. All of which meant she had to marry Lord Beattie.

Why the silly little chit had kissed him when he’d been out cold for three weeks, the Lord alone knew. And now Gideon, Viscount Beattie had to marry the outspoken little minx. But there was something a little charming about her. The problem was, her uncle was after his hide, the peasants were revolting – in the rioting sense, not in the disgusting sense – and he really needed to procure some grain from up north. He may as well kill two birds with one stone and elope with the interesting, frustrating, irritating and thoroughly delightful Lady Emily – soon to be Viscountess Beattie. It would be an interesting journey.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book has no magic in it. While loosely based on a fairy tale, the story is gender-swapped and there are no paranormal happenings.

Goodreads Link:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36247091-sleeping-lord-beattie

Buy Link: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B075NKLTRS

Author information:

Em was born and brought up in the Central Belt of Scotland and still lives there. She was told as a child she had an overactive imagination–as if that is a bad thing. She’s traded her dreams of owning her own island, just like George in the Famous Five to hoping to meet her own Mr Darcy one day. But her imagination remains the same.

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