The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne, by Natasha Blackthorne (Intimate Secrets, Book 1)

Erotic Historical Romance

Adult/18+ Read

Book Blurb

Lady Blayne

Catriona, Lady Blayne is recovering from a most delicate situation. Driven to the brink of madness by love for her late husband, a young man too ill to meet the demands of the marriage bed, she teeters on the brink of scandal. Now she must face the carnal temptation personified by her husband’s cousin and heir, James, the new Lord Blayne. His sensual appeal, contrasted with his iron will and stern self-mastery fascinates her. She can’t help but ask: what if sensual indulgence is the only way out of her darkness? However, she is not free to explore the idea. There are those who seek to control the young widow, keeping her imprisoned through emotional manipulation and physical coercion. With her growing restlessness, the very people she loves and trusts the most are becoming an increasing danger to her sanity and safety.

James is determined to protect Catriona—but he will not soften to her again. She rejected him once and James can’t risk losing his heart a second time. As heir to the Blayne baronetcy, he must marry a woman socially and politically appropriate. Such a scandalously self-indulgent lady as Catriona won’t do. Yet the pretty girl he once knew has grown into a beautiful, curvaceous woman that is every man’s dream.

Especially his.

Erotic Romance; Regency Historical; Elements of Sensual Domination, Spanking and Light Bondage; Rubenesque Heroine; Character-Driven Story with Angst and Strong Internal Conflicts; Standalone Long Novel.

Reader Advisory: The characters discuss issues of abuse which took place in the heroine’s backstory. Frank sexual language & period appropriate sexual slang and general bedchamber naughtiness. 

My Review ~ FIVE STARS! TOP READ.

Sexy and Angst-Ridden!

Once again it’s hats off to Natasha Blackthorne for another fabulous sexy and angst-ridden erotic historical romance, which delves deep into the psyche of its characters and the sexual mores of the time. Indeed, The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne, cuts straight to the heart of Regency sexuality and what was considered right and proper behaviour between a man and wife and how women should conduct themselves in and out of the marriage bed…. Double standards abound and the novel operates on a level far removed from the polite Regency veneer of many works set in this period.

Being familiar with Natasha Blackthorne’s work (I’ve previously read Her Mystery Duke which is equally complex, and angst-ridden and which I highly recommend) I was expecting both a scorching and emotional read and I can unreservedly say that this book delivers! I love tortured characters,and in this the female lead Sunny, aka Catriona, is as tortured as they come, the details of her past slowly revealing themselves to the reader and the hero James, the new Lord Blayne, as the story unfolds. I was as devastated as James as I learned of the trauma of her marriage and her life since the death of her husband Freddy, James’ deceased cousin.

Catriona is no straight-laced Regency miss. She is a sensual and complex creature and has suffered greatly on account of her natural carnal desires. The novel explores a number of heavy themes: grief, guilt, death, abuse, (including drug abuse), dominance and submission and desires that at the time considered female debility and madness. A number of scenes brought tears to my eyes for what she had been through and her current situation.

The hero James is also a complex and tortured character in his own right and I loved his own emotional journey, as well as Catriona’s as they work through the many issues that at the same time pull them together and apart. James is a man torn between his duty to the family and his growing love for Catriona, a woman proving herself to be most unsuitable as a wife. There are also a number of characters in the novel whom I despised with a passion as they attempt to thwart James and Catriona’s HEA! indeed, this tale really pulls at the heart strings, it is so emotional! It also does not shy away from some very intimate scenes!

Readers of historical erotic romance not yet acquainted with Natasha Blackthorne will love this novel, which I also recommend to lovers of historical romance who are looking for a spicier read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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

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*WEEPING ANGELS* by Cristy Rey ~ Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

Four years ago, Frankie Rios walked away from her best friend and big sister, Iris. To Frankie, Iris died the day that she last rejected Frankie’s attempts at getting Iris alcohol and drug treatment. Rather than accept grief for her beloved sister’s loss, Frankie turned to her music. A renowned cellist, Frankie has managed to ignore the pain and suffering of losing the person she loved most in this world. With Iris out of her mind and out of her life, Frankie was able to move on…or so she thought. Until Iris really died.

Topher went to war in 2001 only to return two years later damaged and broken. Unable to reconcile the war vet with the boy he used to be, Topher gave up on life. When Iris Rios, his long-lost childhood best friend, dies from liver failure at thirty-two years-old, Topher is forced to confront his past. He must decide whether he deserves to heal. He must decide whether he will take that first step and then take another until he can recover what he lost: himself.

Weeping Angels is a story of grief carried and grief ignored. It’s about learning to love and moving on. Mourning someone once is hard enough, but mourning someone twice is unimaginably harder.

 

Weeping Angels

Cristy Rey

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Genre: Women’s fiction, romance

Release date: June 27, 2014

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Excerpt

What Frankie says breaks me. It breaks me. And it’s not even about Iris or me; it’s about Frankie. Everything she said about Iris fills me in on years that I’ve missed. Even when I’d been standing right beside her, I was ignoring what now seems so obvious it’s blinding. Yet, for all the talk about Iris’s alcoholism and suicidal tendencies, what Frankie’s opened up about is herself.

I’m not even sure she notices because she’s so guarded. Never once has she reflected on what she’s said. She’s been stating facts, telling stories. That’s what she thinks, anyway. I know this like I know myself, because it’s what I do. I state facts and I tell stories, and what I’m actually doing is diverting attention from what’s going on inside.

Frankie’s all Iris this, Iris that, but what I hear is: I can’t live with myself because Iris was never happy and I couldn’t save her. It’s what I hear inside myself every minute of every day, and my heart breaks for Frankie and for me. What I do next comes so naturally that it scares the living shit out of me. I don’t let her leave. I hold her as close as I can because what I want is for her to be inside of me the way she’s let me be inside of her.

In this space and time, Frankie and I are one person. I’m angry with her. I’m aggressive about it, maybe even hurting her, but I reason that it can’t be any worse than how she’s been hurting herself by balling this all up for decades.

As much as I need her to be close, I want to push her away. I want her to leave and never come back. I want Frankie to take flight tomorrow morning, and I want to be the one to deliver her to the airport because what I’m feeling is something that I’m not ready to deal with. I tell myself to let her stay here, to give her this space from death that she needs. I’m surer now more than ever that we have an unbreakable bond, but I don’t want it.

We have right now and I need it right now, but I can’t want to have it tomorrow. I can’t want to have it ever again. It’s like being with yourself all the time, but only with the ugliest parts of you. It’s looking at all the broken pieces of your psyche and being forced to confront them.

That’s what Frankie is to me. That’s what she’s been to me all day if I cop to it. Maybe it was like that last night when I went out after her in the parking lot and walked her back to the service. Maybe it’s why I couldn’t believe that she could be out there alone with no one to hide her sadness from the world. I’m making up for it today, though. Right now, I’m making up for leaving her naked and on a slab for the world to pick apart. The more I hold her, the more I fear that I’ll never be able to let her go, but I keep doing it because she’s something worth saving and, if she can be saved, then maybe I can be, too.

My Review

A Beautiful, Raw and Intense Love Story

I am familiar with Cristy Rey, having read her Paranormal Romance Taking Back Sunday which I hugely enjoyed. Weeping Angels is an entirely different read, billed as Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance, it portrays an intense journey embarked on by two lost souls and deals with the raw emotions of grief, guilt, anger and pain. It is also a beautiful inspirational love story, unlike no other I have read, and I am awed by the versatility of this writer.

In Weeping Angels Frankie and Topher meet after Iris, Frankie’s sister, has died as a result of alcoholism. Frankie, a renowned cellist, has been estranged from Iris and her family for four years after Iris refused to seek help for her addiction and her family did not acknowledge that she had a problem. Frankie pours her anger and grief at the situation into her music, which in many ways has been her constant prop in the face of witnessing her once beloved sister’s slow demise since childhood. Despite qualifying and working as a lawyer after being discharged from the military, Topher has all but given up on life and struggles to cope with PTSD arising from a Traumatic Brain Injury. Topher used to be Iris’ best friend before he enlisted, having little to do with the reclusive Frankie who refused to party and was devoted to her music.

However Iris’ death draws them together. Topher gives Frankie first the physical and then the emotional support she needs and a strong bond develops. Yet Topher believes that he is broken beyond repair, too broken for Frankie, who has her own demons to deal with. Frankie too has issues, not least her guilt at the death of her sister and the anger towards her family who did nothing to help her sister deal with her addiction. With Topher based in Miami determined to protect Frankie from himself and Frankie living in San Francisco any future together appears doomed, unless the bond they formed is strong enough to overcome their distance and overcome the tangled emotions at play.

I was totally absorbed in the development of the relationship between Frankie and Topher. Cristy Rey cleverly portrays their innermost thoughts in chapters alternating between Frankie and Topher’s POV. Both are broken in their own way and their coming together does not magically make their problems go away. Instead their meeting offers them an opportunity to overcome their problems and embrace a future together if they are willing to chance it. I loved both characters, who display a great deal of strength despite the cards Fate has dealt them. I also loved how the author illustrated Frankie’s character and emotions though her relationship to her cello and how Frankie’s music helped strengthen their bond.

Weeping Angels is a beautiful, original and emotional read, which although will have you reaching for the Kleenex, is also an inspirational one. I strongly recommend it.

A copy of this novel was given to me for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

About Cristy Rey

Cristy Rey is the author of the romantic urban fantasy Incarnate series. The first book, Taking Back Sunday, and a short prequel novelette, Edge of Seventeen, are available now at online retailers. She also writes and publishes unconventional romantic women’s fiction. Her first standalone, Weeping Angels, is available now, and her second, Heart Grow Fonder, will be out in winter 2014/2015.

Cristy lives in Miami, FL where she is a reader and writer most of the time, and a knitter much less of the time than she was six months before she took up writing again. She writes the books that she likes to read. She describes her writing style as riot grrrl Jane Austen sprinkled with a little magic. There’s always a killer soundtrack running in the background of her novels – all you need to do is turn to the playlist to know what’s up.

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Echoes from the Past – Part 1- Harry and Part 2 – Eloise (The Peggy Rodman Series), Sarah Colliver

513LlSIAKoL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-067Peggy’s Deductions Help  Spirits Find Peace at Last

These poignant and uplifting tales describe how Peggy Rodman, a wife and mother, uses a new found gift to help  lost and confused spirits make sense of their past and reunite with their loved ones. At the same time Peggy finds some comfort from her own grief at the death of her dear mother. Although both tales brought tears to my eyes, they both ended on a positive note and I found them to be inspirational and uplifting reads in their examination of love, loss and reconciliation in this life and the afterlife.

In Echoes from the Past – Part 1 – Harry, we are introduced to Peggy, the heroine. Peggy has recently moved into a cottage with her husband and two boys.  In the run up to the move Peggy’s mother was taken ill and died.  Peggy is struggling to come to terms with her grief, whilst helping to support others such as her dad, who lives nearby and her two boys who have started a new school. Three months after the move, whilst exploring the area around her new home, she discovers a secret place where she meets a young man called Harry, who she realises lived over a century ago.  Peggy recognises that she has developed a rather extraordinary gift – the ability to interact with spirits of the departed. Harry’s memories of his life are confused and he has become tied to this earthly plane. Peggy helps him to remember and find peace at long last, moving on to be reunited with his loved ones. At the same time Harry’s actions encourage Peggy to find her own peace and start to come to terms with her mother’s passing.

The character of Peggy, a wife and mother, with hopes and fears we are all familiar with, is one which is easy to empathise with.  Peggy is a gentle and thoughtful person, who is very much in tune with her environment and takes pleasure in engaging her senses. She is happy and secure in her relationship with Ed, her husband, and adores her two school age boys. However, she is in a dark place, deeply grieving for her mum, and her ability to communicate with those spirits who remain tied to this world is new to her.

Harry is a lovable character. He is confused and is shocked when Peggy helps him to realise that he is in fact dead and recognises that Peggy is from a time that is not his own. At first he cannot recall much of his life and feels desperately sad. However, with Peggy’s help he is encouraged to make sense of his flashbacks to his past life and eventually his death, enabling him to reunite with his family in the afterlife where he can find happiness again.

Both Peggy and Harry comprehend that something extraordinary is happening and that they have been brought together for a reason. They have a strong physical and emotional connection, which neither understands. I enjoyed the fact that for a ghost, Harry appears very corporeal indeed, like a living breathing person. Indeed, there is reference to Peggy feeling his breath on her cheek, as well as being the recipient of his touch, hugs and kisses. Peggy feels guilty about the attraction she feels for Harry and Harry also feels guilt for he knows that he was happy with his wife and children when he was alive.  Their shared experience of grief enables them to gain comfort from each other.

The story has some mystical, almost fairy tale qualities, especially in how the author describes Peggy’s secret place. I particularly enjoyed the presence of the dove throughout the tale, which I read as a symbol of love and peace and representing a link to the afterlife. For the most part the author’s writing style flowed readily and quickly drew me into the plot and the characters. I would have liked to know a little more about Peggy’s relationship with her husband Ed, which seems very close and loving and hope that this will be explored further in subsequent instalments. I am also curious about Peggy and Harry’s special attraction to one another and wonder if we will be seeing any more of Harry as Peggy’s story unfolds.

I found the tale a very thoughtful and touching read in how it explored the deep emotions connected to death,  grief and  the afterlife. I liked the way that the story concluded and found it to be an inspirational read.

In Echoes from the Past – Part 2 – Eloise, Peggy is getting her life back on track after her mother’s death, whilst a8201da7e24b0a20e32f0e.L._V400995341_[1]-002becoming reconciled to the responsibilities of her special ability. Her joy of life is returning and, at her husband’s suggestion, she applies for a job in Gloucester. It is there, after attending  her interview, that she encounters the troubled spirit of Eloise, who has outstanding issues to resolve before she can pass over peacefully. Peggy is more than happy to assist, especially when she hears her heartbreaking tale. Once again Peggy uses resources available at the local records office to identify some truths previously unknown to Eloise. She also helps Eloise to  remember what happened, helping her to reconcile the past and to reunite with her loved one.

Eloise is a fascinating character, who lived in the late 1800’s. We learn that she was well educated and wanted to contribute to society through working in an area often reserved solely for men. Unusual for a woman of her time, she was able to find work in the offices of the local match factory. Her story focuses on a romance between her and a young man called Charles. Her unfinished business concerns events and misunderstandings which arise soon after she weds him – I will not reveal any more than that as it would spoil the plot for those wishing to read the series.

In this instalment, Peggy grows in confidence and relishes the fact that she can offer help to the troubled spirits she seems to draw to her. We also learn more about her husband Ed and Peggy’s relationship with him. Eloise’s experiences of struggling to justify her role in the workplace as a woman in late Victorian Britain were interesting to reflect on. Peggy comes to realise how lucky she is to have the freedom to work and be a a wife and mother without society judging her harshly. I found the issues raised to be very thought provoking and the conclusion of the tale an uplifting one.

As with Harry’s story, I could sense that the author had carried out a lot of local research into the time and places that her characters inhabited.  This added to my reading experience and added depth to the characters and the narrative. Once again the tale was an emotional one and I welcomed the fact that Peggy was able to help Eloise find peace at last. The two instalments flow almost seamlessly into one another and should be read in order. I am looking forward to the next instalment of Peggy’s story, The Lost Children and the fourth and final instalment which is planned. I recommend the Peggy Rodman Series to those who like to read about the paranormal and explore, in a sensitive way, the issues connected with grief and loss and the veil between the world of the living and those departed.

Reviewed by Tina

To read author Sarah Colliver’s post, in which she talks about her inspiration behind the Peggy Rodman Series, click here.

Author Sarah Colliver’s website/blog http://sarahcolliver.wordpress.com

The Peggy Rodman Series on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Find Sarah Colliver on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EchoesfromthePast