**REVIEW** ~ A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery (The Discreet Gentleman Series book 1), by Kris Tualla

Historical Romance

kris tualla

Book Blurb

Brander Hansen lost his hearing at age seven, his inheritance at twenty-three. Furious at his father’s betrayal, Brander leaves home to make his way as Lord Olsen, a ‘discreet gentleman of discovery’ in 1721 Christiania, Norway. He intends to gain his own estate and begins buying the debt markers on Kildahlshus.

Baroness Regin Kildahl’s husband has gambled away her estate and sunk to more dangerous habits. She writes to Lord Olsen soliciting his help saving both her husband and her home. When her husband dies, Regin offers herself and her title to anyone who will redeem his gambling debts, unaware of Brander’s plan and circumventing his efforts.

The Hansen heir accepts her offer and hires Lord Olsen to deliver his bride. Brander’s choices are clear: give the widow and her estate to his younger brother, or claim them both as his own. But who would accept a deaf husband?

My Review

A Real Treat for Fans of Historical Romance!

***** (5 Stars) TOP READ

I was totally entranced by this romance by Kris Tualla. A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery is a real treat for fans of historical romance, combining passion, deceit, murder and mystery into one page-turning read. It is the first book that I have read by the author and I loved her voice and how she effortlessly pulled me into the world of early eighteenth century Norway. The angst driven romance between Brander and Regin, the hero and the heroine, is beautiful to behold and has many twists and turns.

Brander, the ‘discreet gentleman of discovery’ of the title is in modern parlance a private investigator/spy, employed by others to unearth secrets and solve crimes. He is also an aristocrat, an eldest son, who, on account of his deafness and inability to speak, was disinherited by his father, who, deeming Brander unfit, made his younger son his heir. Brander is determined to make his own fortune and purchase an estate to prove his worth to himself and his estranged family. Niels, his valet and cousin  works alongside him and acts as his ears and confidant.

When Brander is employed by Regin to find out about how her husband’s debts are bankrupting her home, and subsequently witnesses his death by foul means, their lives begin to get entangled. Brander has his eye on Regin’s ancestral home and unbeknown to her purchases her husband’s markers. Yet the lady, in a desperate effort to save her estate, offers her hand to any man who can pay for her debts. Brander thus finds himself in the impossible position of transporting this woman, whom he has developed strong feelings for, across the frozen countryside of Norway to his own ancestral home to deliver her into the hands of his younger brother and his father’s heir.

Brander is a tortured alpha male to die for! He is ashamed of the impact of his disability on others, believing that he is fit to be no woman’s consort and is therefore sworn off marriage. However, he is attracted to Regin unlike no other woman and they share some passionate encounters. Yet even if he was able to put his fears aside, how could he possibly expect her to want him when he has deceived her so badly on not one but two accounts? Also how will his family react when he appears at their door with his brother’s bride after they have not seen him since he stormed out of their household many years ago?

Regin has no idea who Brander is, least of all that he is the brother of her intended. Also she does not realise that the debts she is liable for are now owed to him. She is hugely attracted to him and admires him for his inner strength and tenacity on dealing with his disability and also for his skill in solving crimes, all of which become apparent during their long and arduous journey. Yet how will she react when she finds out about his duplicity? And if she can overcome his betrayal how can she persuade him that he will make a fit husband? What future can they possibly have as she is now promised to another?

Brander is so conflicted and many of the passages are truly heartrending as he battles with his emotions. Regin too fights her own battle as she embarks on a future with an unknown bridegroom whilst she is harbouring growing feelings for her escort. They are a perfect match for each other and Regin sees him first and foremost as a man, not someone with a disability. The author does an excellent job of exploring how early eighteenth century society would have treated those with hearing loss and I loved how Regin and his cousin Niels communicate with him using sign language.

The book is a standalone in that it has a definite conclusion. However, I’m pleased to note that the couple’s story continues in further books in the series.

I wholeheartedly recommend A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery to lovers of historical romance.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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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Gentleman Traitor by Alan Williams

Gentleman_traitor_final_RESIZEDAlan Williams’ ‘Gentleman Traitor’ Book Blurb (followed by review):


After years of exile in Russia, Kim Philby has had enough. He wants out. But where can he go? He knows too much to be let loose. Above all, he knows too much about his old accomplices who still operate at the highest levels of the British Establishment, occupying top Whitehall positions. So once he sticks his nose outside his privileged Soviet lair, the old wolf’s as good as dead. MI6, the KGB – above all, MI6 – will ruthlessly hunt him down. But Philby is, after all, one of the most skilful agents of all time. So he risks it.

Vicious power politics in London and Moscow… murder beside the Black Sea… bloody massacres in the heart of Africa – as Philby makes his break, violent death follows him. And British Intelligence is threatened with the exposure of the greatest infamy in its history…

Spy fiction from the same stable as Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

Originally released in 1974, Gentleman Traitor has been re-released in December 2013 by Hashtag Books.

I have to say that Gentleman Traitor was an on/off/on read for me, although I did read this over the busy festive period. The very first chapter gripped me with it’s drama and violence, after what was thought to be a group of terrorists entering a busy hotel in Africa, opening fire and killing every soul there, including youngsters! This was quite horrific and at one point in particular with young girls involved, it was quite emotional and tragic.

I just had to read on and longed to find out who was behind this attack. Were the culprits terrorists with serious political issues or could there be some other explanation to this horror? However, the following chapters focused on journalist, Barry Cayle, who was set to write a book on spy and traitor, Kim Philby, who had been living in exile in Russia for the last few years with a reputation of a man who likes a drink or two. Although the initial chapters were of interest and a great basis and background for the remainder of the story, I was a little disappointed that there was no more mention of the event from the first chapter and that the pace of the book was a little slower than I had expected.

The reader follows Cayle’s journey through most of the first half of the story and we find out about Philby’s desired comeback and the story picks up again at a nice pace as Cayle gets to meet Philby. Alan Williams describes the distances that Philby (and anyone connected to him) needs to make to keep everything under wraps extremely well and clear, making it a nice read to follow at the same time as providing the reader with a more complete picture of Philby’s way of life and everything he has to consider before making a move. There are moments in Gentleman Traitor when you simply just don’t know what is going to happen and when, making it an intense read at parts.

I like Cayle’s enthusiasm and determination to acquaint himself with Philby as much as he can. Cayle knows he is in dangerous waters but he still has this drive to discover as much as he can and to be as close as he can if and when anything should happen. Philby, although a traitor, doesn’t seem to be a character the reader dislikes. He has his problems and, knowing he is a hunted man, he has to go to extremes to avoid capture or even death. These events unfold in tragic and disastrous ways for some others, which is incredibly sad and unfortunate for those involved. However, I found myself wanting him to be able to make it through all of this and be able to live the rest of his life in a more relaxed manner and completely disconnected from the British and Russian Establishments.

I must admit a little more speed would have been welcomed during the first section but I must hand it to Alan Williams that he has written this novel well. With a great deal of politics continuing in the background of the main plot, involving the USSR’s KGB and the British MI5 and MI6 and also the geographical scope covering Europe and Africa mostly, one cannot doubt that Alan had extensive knowledge in this area. (I have later came to realise that Alan was in fact a great journalist himself, corresponding from across the globe, and at times when tensions must have been high, in Vietnam, for example.) It was also quite exciting to discover that Kim Philby was a real-life spy who did live in Russia. A character I am sure Alan Williams met once, briefly in Beirut. If so, this explains the storyline of Cayle and Philby, i.e. Cayle is possibly a fictional character based on Williams himself.

After hoping for a little more action in the first half, I did find the latter chapters somewhat fast moving and exciting in comparison. This half of the book certainly goes into the details of Philby’s ‘escape’ from Russia. From hijacking planes, travelling through Scandinavia, keeping an extremely low profile and maintaining an alias this second half becomes quite tense and gripping at times! Without wanting to spoil the ending, I have to say that I was surprised at the ending but found it interesting and liked it a great deal. For me, it was left open with a chance to write a sequel, however, I do like the idea that the reader can still ask questions and perhaps make up their own ending. This is not to say that on the most part stories weren’t wrapped up, because in many respects they were. The story truly came full circle.

Once I realised that Gentleman Traitor was written in 1974, before I began to read the book,  I did consider how I would find the language of the era and questioned whether or not this would be a difficult story to follow. But, as I mentioned above Williams has written this thriller well. It is easy to follow, informative of some political views of the day and well explained. As I was born a good eight years after the original novel, my knowledge of the political states of the countries involved and the espionage that went along with  it is very little. For instance, I was aware of the KGB in the USSR but only as I was an avid fan of the fictional tv series ‘The Professionals’ CI5 (the re-runs in the late 1990’s). Many of the episodes focused on foreign politics and MI5/6 and the KGB and more. Gentleman Traitor has made me more interested in the politics of the 1970’s, even if just to gain a small background knowledge.

I did carry out a little digging and found this great article on Alan Williams, and also found out some more ‘facts’ on Wiki.

Gentleman Traitor is available in Kindle edition  on Amazon UK for 77p, and on Amazon US for $1.25. (Prices are correct at the time of posting but are subject to change.) You can also find paperback copies of Gentleman Traitor on Amazon too!

Gentleman Traitor was received gratefully by publisher, Hashtag Books, in return for an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker