*ARC REVIEW* ~ The Spymaster’s Redeemer (Dreda’s Men), by Alexie Bolton

#historical #romance

Blurb

Two people on opposite sides of a civil war. Frances Dreda is an officer in the Taylian State Security Bureau who enforces obedience to the law by the deterrent of prison and the noose. He investigates the activities of the outspoken and intellectual Lady Felea Whelani who he suspects aids the rebels by codebreaking and feeding and educating their children.

They should be mortal enemies but are intrigued by each other but he mistrusts women and Felea is repulsed by his detachment and his severity. Can love overcome cultural differences and prejudice? Can Felea humanise this officer?

My Review ~ 4 and a half stars

Entertaining and Compulsive 

Alexie Bolton’s The Spymaster’s Redeemer, the author’s first novel, kept me entertained from beginning to end. It is a sweeping historical romance with complex characters and a well developed plot.

The central story is that of the relationship between the two protagonists – the ‘Spymaster’ of the title Frances Dreda, and Lady Felea, the daughter of an academic suspected of supporting enemies of the Emperor of Taylia, a fictional country near the Austria- Hungary border. There is also much emphasis on the politics and power play between different individuals and factions. The push and pull between the couple also highlight the differing expectations put on men and women. I found the result to be a thoroughly compulsive read as the author skilfully weaves these different threads together.

I enjoyed both the sexual tension and the heated exchanges between Dreda and Felea which begin as soon as their paths cross. Dreda is investigating her father’s potential guilt, a crime punishable by death and as his daughter Felea herself is under suspicion. Dreda takes an uncharacteristic personal interest in the case as something about the young woman intrigues him, taking it on himself to establish the extent of her guilt or innocence. As for Felea, she fears for her own fate and that of her father and wants rid of this odious man who is an unwelcome threat to her sanity and wellbeing! I will not divulge how the plot develops, suffice to say that the story is a complex one and is full of unexpected twists with plenty of action, suspense and romance.

Of particular merit is the good job the author does in developing both Dreda’s and Felea’s characters. I found Dreda to be a fascinating individual who attracts and repels at the same time. As the Emperor’s right hand man, he is cold and calculating, a misogynist who uses women for his own ends and a master manipulator. Felea blindsides him not only with her exuberance and apparent innocence but also with her intelligence. I enjoyed how she gets under his skin and challenges his preconceptions. For her part she is an accomplished individual due to the freedoms given to her by her academic father and loathes the thought of being controlled by a man. Although they are opposites in many respects, they are well matched and I enjoyed how their relationship develops given the obstacles in their way, not least their own pride and preconceptions.

It is an impressive first novel by the author and I am looking forward to reading more of her work.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Connect with the Author

https://www.facebook.com/The-Spymasters-Redeemer-292324974543422/

 

**REVIEW** ~ Knight’s Captive, by Samantha Holt

Elizabethan Historical Romance

Blurb

Samantha-Holt_Knight_ConQueen Elizabeth sits on England’s throne. A once Catholic country is now ruled by a Protestant queen. In a time of fear, turmoil and bold deeds, many heroes are seldom written into history…

After aiding in the capture of the flagship Rosario and helping to defeat the Spanish Armada, Sir Henry Bainbridge is set to make his mark on the world and strengthen his position as a man of authority. Now in charge of the Spanish prisoners, Henry must negotiate their return to Spain and manage the care of his people.

However, when he comes across a woman amongst the survivors, his future plans are put on hold. The exotic beauty draws him in and his honour will not let him doing anything other than protect her. Henry takes her into his home and places her under house arrest. He can only hope his principles are enough to protect her from his desires…

In a time when small differences spark fear into the heart of many, Antonia finds herself drawn into a battle between a zealous priest, a discontented population and the most honourable man she’s ever met. Nothing can ever come of their attraction, not while he’s holding her father prisoner and not when so many differences divide them.

Or can it?

My Review

Sweet Captor/Captive Romance ***** (FIVE STARS)

Samantha Holt’s latest release, Knight’s Captive, is a lovely romantic read. The narrative takes place in 1588 against the backdrop of the attempted invasion of England by the formidable Spanish Armada. The safety of the country is in doubt and the Protestant queen Elizabeth is keen to put down any possibility of Papist plots, which may aid the enemy.

The hero Sir Henry is stunned to find a young woman aboard the Spanish flagship that has been captured. Antonia is the daughter of the captain and whilst the captured Spanish crew are taken into custody and sequestered in the local village, she is taken to Henry’s ancestral home under house arrest, her fate, like that of her compatriots dependent on diplomatic negotiations between the two warring countries.

Henry is immediately drawn to the young woman admiring her spirit, bravery and beauty. He is perplexed at what would prompt someone of the fair sex to risk their life aboard the ship. There is clearly a lot more to Antonia than meets the eye and as the days pass and the couple spend time together, they begin to mean a lot more to each other than captor and captive. Yet what chance of a HEA do they have, when Antonia is effectively an enemy and a pawn in the ensuing diplomatic relations? She is a Catholic reviled by his queen and those like the local zealot priest, who would see the Catholic faith and their followers destroyed. Moreover Antonia has her own personal demons to contend with.

I immediately rooted for the heroine and admired her for her spirit, strength and compassion. A young widow she has a dark past which is revealed as the plot unfolds. Henry is an honourable man and determined that no harm will befall Antonia whilst she is under his protection, even from his own desires….. The romance is overall a sweet one, although it does have some sensual scenes. I particularly liked the sexual tension between the couple as they both seek to deny their growing feelings for each other, in the belief that nothing can come of a liaison which could end in tragedy. It is a page turning read as the themes woven into the novel come together the couple must fight more than their own feelings before their fates are decided.

I loved reading a novel set in this time period and the descriptions of the devastation of the Spanish flagship at sea, village life and Henry’s household evoked the period beautifully. It was all the more fascinating as instead of being set at court, it focused on the countryside, where the impact of the attempted invasion and its aftermath on the local populace and the plight of those who still practice the Catholic faith is explored.

A super read for lovers of historical romance.

Purchase links:

US: http://amzn.to/1NL2c5n

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01054FDEI

Connect with the Author

Find Samantha on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/samanthaholtromance

Join her street team 

http://www.lovelustandlipstickstains.com/p/street-team.html

www.samanthaholt.org.uk