*BLOG TOUR & REVIEW* ~ Jane Grey: A Homage to the Brontë Classics (The Brontë Brothers #1), by Nina Mason (includes excerpt)

#historical #Victorian #romance

Title: Jane Grey

Author: Nina Mason

Genre: Historical Romance

Time period: 1850

Heat Level: Moderate

Here’s the blurb:

Matthew Brontë, a true romantic at heart, believes the only happiness in life is to love and be loved. And yet, he fears he lacks the capacity to love…until he meets Jane Grey. Jane, a humble English governess, seems perfect for Matthew, apart from one significant snag: Jane can only marry a man of means and Matthew must give up his fortune if and when he marries. When faced with the choice between love and money, which will each of them choose?

More about Jane Grey: 

Set in France’s Loire Valley in 1850, Jane Grey tells the story of a frustrated painter and a beleaguered English governess who comes to France to tutor a flirtatious young heiress in the social graces. Jane Grey meets Matthew Brontë when he takes a spill from his horse near where she is walking—the same way Jane Eyre met Mr. Rochester in the book our Jane is reading at the time. Jane finds it uncannier still that Matthew is a cousin to the author of Jane Eyre.

After Jane helps Gabriel home to his chateau, he offers her drawing lessons to repay her kindness. Regrettably, the only way she can accept his gift is to pretend the drawing lessons are for Lady Cecile Brousseau, her spoiled and selfish pupil.

As the weeks pass, Jane and Matthew discover they have much in common, including shared interests in art, poetry, literature, and gardening. They seem perfect for each other, apart from one significant snag: Matthew cannot marry without forfeiting his fortune, and Jane can only marry a man with the means to support her as well as her dependent relations back in England.

Will the strength of Jane and Matthew’s devotion be enough to overcome this seemingly unsolvable dilemma? Or will Jane be forced to choose her duty to her family over her own desires?

Jane Grey is an original work with subtle shadings borrowed from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey.

Here’s an excerpt: 

“If you don’t mind my asking, was your relationship with the countess an affectionate one?”

“Hardly.”

Matthew’s candor pleased Jane on more than one level. “So, you didn’t love her?”

After an extended silence, he said, looking pained, “To be truthful, Miss Grey, I’ve never loved any woman—and often doubt myself capable of experiencing that most-coveted of emotions.”

His words crushed her hopes and brought more tears to her eyes. “Surely, you are wrong. For you strike me as a man of great passion.”

“I used to be.” His countenance grew even more sullen. “But now, my heart is like a tree in winter. Barren, leafless, and encrusted with ice.”

“Perhaps it will thaw when you meet the right woman,” she offered hopefully.

He brought his face very close to hers and, for a breathless moment, she thought he meant to kiss her. Instead, he said in a strained voice, “I probably should keep this to myself, but my cold heart has warmed some since making your acquaintance.”

For several hellish-yet-heavenly moments, they sat together in silence. His mouth was so close to hers she could feel his breath warming her lips. As her heart leapt toward him, her body impulsively followed. Their mouths met ever so sweetly. Then, mortified by her forwardness, she jerked back and turned away.

“Forgive me. I shouldn’t have been so presumptuous.”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” he said. “I rather liked the feel of your mouth on mine.”

She liked the feel of his, too—very much indeed—but carrying on like a common hussy would only lead to her ruin. “Perhaps we should return to the house and see if Cécile’s headache is any better.”

“Yes,” he said with audible strain. “Perhaps we should at that.”

He stood and offered her his arm. She took his coat sleeve between her gloved hands and let him lead her farther along the path. After they’d walked several paces, he said, “I don’t believe I’ve yet asked your favorite flower.”

“No, you haven’t.”

He waited a few moments before letting out a small laugh. “Will you not tell me what it is?”

“Very well.” She released a sigh. “I shall tell you. As queer as it may seem, my favorite flower is bleeding heart.”

He laughed, drew to a stop, and freed his arm from her grasp. Turning toward the bed to their right, he bent over the boxwood border and plucked several stems of the flower she’d named. Then, he offered the bouquet to her with a gallant bow. “Please allow me to offer you this humble token of my admiration.”

She accepted the flowers with joy in her heart. It was foolish, perhaps, to experience so much elation in response to so simple an offering, but no man had ever given her anything before. He’d also demonstrated tremendous compassion when she told him about her family—and had admitted to liking the brief intimacy they’d shared.

Might he have some feelings for her? Or was he just being kind? Oh—and what about his secret? She must take care not to let him turn her head, lest she end up brokenhearted when the truth came out.

 Here’s the buy-link:

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Grey-Bront%C3%AB-Brothers-Book-ebook/dp/B06XGKX571

Note: Jane Grey will be 99 cents until May 21 and thereafter will revert to the regular price of $3.99

My Review

An expertly crafted Victorian Romance ~ 5 stars

I am familiar with reading Nina Mason’s erotic historical and paranormal romances such as her Royal Pains and Knights of the Tarot series of which I am a big fan. Jane Grey, a standalone historical romance is a departure from the erotic genre as the heat level of this work is classed as moderate and the romance between the main couple is a sweet one. Nevertheless the author’s storytelling ability and character development are once again flawless.

The tale expertly evokes the Victorian novels of the time, in particularly those penned by the Brontë’s, namely Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Anne’s Agnes Grey, to which the work, although an original, pays homage: Matthew, the hero, is a cousin of the Brontës and the book references Jane Eyre in particular. The use of language in the book and the descriptions of the Loire Valley where the novel is set transported me to the time period perfectly. Jane Grey reflects the social mores and the moral dilemmas often found within the literature of this period –  Jane, an impoverished governess can only marry a man of sufficient means to support her dependant mother and siblings and Matthew will lose his fortune should he marry. Can love triumph over this seemingly impossible situation? I was invested in the characters from the off and intrigued to find out where the narrative would go.

Matthew and Jane are perfect for each other, sharing many interests, such as art and literature, interests which Matthew, up until now a man who although having no difficulty in attracting the opposite sex, has never found in another woman. Indeed, before finding Jane, the romance his soul craves has eluded this handsome and passionate artist and his muse has mourned its lack. The quiet and studious Jane soon finds herself falling in love with a man of Matthew’s intelligence and depths, even as she doubts that her feelings will be reciprocated due to what she perceives as her own failings.  However, their relationship is blighted at every turn by the selfish antics of Cécile, the jealous and capricious heiress who Jane is tutoring and the wastrel cousin of Matthew’s benefactor who will go to desperate lengths to wrestle Matthews fortune from him. The passion and longing between Matthew and Jane is evident in their every word and glance and I was willing them to break free of their self inflicted and societal bonds as I was anxious for their HEA.

If you enjoy reading historical novels set in Victorian times, which explore the relationships between men and women and the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ within society, coupled with a sweet yet passionate romance, then this book is definitely for you. Highly recommended.

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.

Here’s more about the author:

Nina Mason, the author of eleven published books to date, is an incurable romantic who strives to write love stories that entertain and edify. A research fanatic, she goes to great lengths to ensure the locations and time periods in her books are accurately portrayed (and thanks the Powers That Be for the internet). Born and raised in Southern California, Ms. Mason lived in Oregon briefly before moving to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and college-bound daughter. When she isn’t writing, she makes historic dolls, fairy babies, and putters in her garden.

Contact Nina: ninamasonauthor@gmail.com

Visit Nina’s website: http://ninamasonauthor.com

Follow Nina on Facebook: http://facebook.com/ninamasonromance

Follow Nina on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ninamasonauthor

Get Nina’s newsletter: https://vr2.verticalresponse.com/s/authorninamasonsnewsletter

 

 

*BOOK BLAST & REVIEW* – Sinful Possession (Cynfell Brothers # 5) , by Samantha Holt (includes excerpt and giveaway)

Sinful Possession - Banner

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – Sinful Possession
SERIES (& book #) – Cynfell Brothers # 5
AUTHOR – Samantha Holt
GENRE – Historical Romance
PUBLICATION DATE – 25th January
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 37000

NOTE – Can be read as standalone


Sinful Possession - CoverBOOK SYNOPSIS

Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The Cynfell brothers are the very embodiment of a sinful existence. But could the right woman change that?

Sloth

Miss Lila Radley was set to be the belle of the ball this summer. With her charming manners, beautiful looks and excellent connections, everyone anticipated her receiving endless proposals.

However, no one expected her to be kidnapped.

After she witnesses a murder, Lila finds herself in the hands of two overwhelmingly attractive brothers—entirely against her will. However, while the twin Cynfell brothers might be as devastating in looks as each other, only one intrigues her—the brooding Lord Ash Cynfell.

Unfortunately, he is the very reason she is in danger.

Already battling with his own demons, Ash finds himself with an additional burden to bear—Miss Lila Radley’s safety. He cannot very well abandon her as it was due to his inaction that a man ended up dead and a serial killer is now targeting her. Unfortunately, keeping the vivacious Lila protected until the murderer is found is going to test him in every way possible.

Can he resist her charm and beauty, aware a worthless man like himself is no good for a woman like her? All he knows is that when Lila turns her sunny smile onto his twin brother, his finds himself unable to summon his usual relaxed attitude. Has Ash Cynfell, the most reclusive brother, finally found something worth fighting for?

BUY LINKS

AMAZON KINDLE US – http://amzn.to/1TPGbFQ


EXCERPT

“What were you thinking?”

Ash narrowed his gaze at Harris. “There’s a serial killer out there. A powerful and dangerous one.”

His brother paced in front of him while Ash sat on a chair too small for his build outside of the bedroom.

The bedroom that held a currently enraged Lila. The crashes of furniture had stopped only a short while ago. It seemed no one had noticed that Lila had gone. Her family, according to Harris, had assumed she’d retreated to bed. They were, as his brother said, a little scatter-brained.

He couldn’t deny he had come to that conclusion from his short acquaintance with them, but Harris spent more time in society so his opinion was likely correct.

So that at least gave him time to decide what to with Miss Lila Radley.

Pin her to the bed and kiss away her fury?

He smirked to himself. No. Tempting as that was, he suspected that would only increase her ire. Since she’d awoken from her faint, she’d been full of fire. He wouldn’t tell her that he had enjoyed picking up her soggy form and carrying her to his brother’s carriage far more than he should have done. He also certainly wouldn’t mention how she’d curled a hand around his neck and burrowed herself against him.

He released a sigh. If it wasn’t enough he’d already near fallen for her on sight, she was now appealing to his need to protect. There was nothing quite like being needed by the opposite sex. And when she’d tucked her face into his neck, he’d been lost.


My Review

Five stars *****

Scandalous and Sexy Victorian Escapade

I just loved Sinful Possession, the latest addition to Samantha Holt’s Cynfell series. In this scandalous and sexy read, the hero is compelled to kidnap a debutante in an effort to save her from the clutches of a serial killer.

The romance between the handsome and reclusive Ash and the feisty and headstrong Lila sizzles with sexual tension from the off. At first she is enraged that Ash and his twin Harris have whisked her away from the marriage mart, despite the duo being sinfully attractive and (at least in Harris’ case) charming. Yet it is the brooding Ash who draws her and the banter between them and the results of their enforced proximity is highly diverting. Even his occasional grumpiness and his propensity to fall asleep at inappropriate times does not put her off. She starts to view this man who places her well-being above his own as a keeper. Yet does he want her for his own and what is he hiding? It takes a very determined Lila to persuade this man of his true worth.

I just adored Ash’s determination to protect Lila, even at the expense of her reputation and his good name. He is instantly attracted to her and it is not long before he wants to protect her not just from the killer on the loose but other men who covet her. There are some highly amusing scenes where these protective instincts come to the fore.

Samantha Holt certainly excels at both scenes of sexual tension and sensual love-making and she delivers both with alacrity in this novella. Recommended for historical romance lovers who are looking for a sexy, satisfying and diverting read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me as part of this blog tour for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Author Banner

AUTHOR BIO

Samantha lives in a small village in England with her twin girls and a dachshund called Duke. She enjoys writing historical romance involving chivalrous knights, hot highlanders and cravatted men. Writing is her (more than) full time job but on the rare occasion, she’s not writing, she loves to visit the many stately homes and castles nearby.

AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS

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**BLOG TOUR & REVIEW** ~ The CynFell Brothers, by Samantha Holt (includes excerpt and giveaway)

cynfellbrothers
BOOK INFORMATION

SERIES – Cynfell Brothers
AUTHOR – Samantha Holt
GENRE – Victorian Romance
COVER ARTISTLove, Lust & Lipstick Stains


BOOK SYNOPSIS

Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The Cynfell brothers are the very embodiment of a sinful existence. But could the right woman change that?


BUY & TBR LINKS

Sinful Confessions

Sinful Confessions

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My Review

Sin Away! Fabulous start to a new series! *****

Sinful Confessions is the first instalment in Samantha Holt’s sensual Victorian Romance series, The Cynfell Brothers. This novella is the story of Julian Cynfell, the Marquess of Lockwood, the eldest of seven very naughty brothers. Julian embodies the sin of wrath, being a very grumpy lord indeed, wallowing in self-inflicted solitude since the untimely deaths of not one but three wives. Believing himself responsible for their demise, he shuns and is shunned by society and has driven all but his most faithful servants away. His only real solace is the correspondence he has struck up with Viola Thompson, the daughter of a business associate, whom he believes is far out of harms way in America.

But oh what tangled web! Julian is completely blindsided when the beautiful and brazen Viola unexpectedly turns up on his doorstep, alone and unchaperoned. Just what is a reclusive lord to do? Misunderstandings abound as Viola is under the distinct impression that they are to be wed, a state that the hero is sworn off, believing that he is a danger to any future spouse.

Julian is now forced to deal with his demons as he fights his immediate and growing attraction to Viola, convinced he needs to keep her at arms- length for what he believes is her own safety. For Viola’s part she is understandably taken aback when she realises the error of coming to England, but I liked her spunk and how she bounces back making the most of the situation and Julian! As an American she tests the sensibilities of both Julian and English society at the time to its limits, which makes for some highly amusing scenes!

The romance between the hero and the heroine is at the heart of this sensual romance by Samantha Holt. I just loved the premise of this plot, which the author exploits with her customary finesse, creating oodles of sexual tension, and a story interjected with plenty of humour and torment (especially for the unsuspecting hero)!

I recommend Sinful Confessions to lovers of historical romance. I find the whole concept of sinful men irresistibly appealing and I am looking forward to indulging in the other novellas in this series in which we find out about his siblings, who each have a particular vice to overcome before they are to find their HEA.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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

 

Sinful Deeds

Sinful Deeds

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AMAZON KINDLE UK


Sinful Liaisons

Sinful Liaisons

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Sinful Liasons - Teaser

EXCERPT

Sinful Liaisons
Oxfordshire, 1897

A breeze whistled across his nether regions. Pierce grimaced. It could have been worse, he supposed. At least the day was mild with no sign of rain. He peered into the distance. Only the deeply grooved road cutting its path through the gentle hills hinted at civilisation. He grimaced again. Where the bloody hell was he?

He curled a fist and began trudging along the grass at the side of the road. Stones pricked his bare feet.

“Bloody Goddamn it.”

Pierce was going to kill Giles if he lived through this. He hadn’t intended to visit their favourite gambling den, but Giles just had to talk him into it. Nor had he meant to get utterly foxed. He hardly remembered wagering everything including his clothes. As for how he’d ended up naked on the roadside…

“Bloody Goddamn it all to hell.”

One final wager…He had vague recollections. Something to do with a race? Damnation, if only his head wasn’t so fuzzy. But even then, why had Giles left him to sleep it off in a field—naked?

The rumble of a carriage made him stiffen. He wouldn’t get far with his bare feet. A form of transport would be useful indeed. But who would give a naked man a ride? Pierce shrugged to himself and turned, cupping one hand over himself to preserve what little modesty he had left and using the other to gain the driver’s attention.

The black, glossy carriage rumbled closer, led by two horses. He saw the driver glance his way then look again before turning his head away. Dirt spattered his legs making him jump back as it rolled past.

“Rot in hell then,” he muttered half-heartedly and resisted the urge to scuff his bare foot across the ground.

A command from the driver reached his ears and he held his breath as the horses came to a halt. The vehicle stopped. Both hands over the family jewels, Pierce waited. The door swung open.

“Thank you,” he uttered, lifting his gaze to the heavens, and hurried toward the carriage. He cursed under his breath when several more rocks jabbed the soles of his feet.

Trying to look as noble as one could when naked, he paused in front of the open door. There, in the dark confines of the vehicle and set against plush royal blue seats, an elegant redhead skimmed her gaze up and down his body. Even in the gloom of the carriage, he saw an eyebrow rise. Then he noted the curve of her lips.

Pierce stared back. He allowed his own gaze to travel over her, observing the generous rise of her breasts against a low cut bodice and the slender waist that led to hips that were emphasised by a bustle. Hair coiled high, it gave him a fine view of the gems on her neck and ears. From the delicate porcelain skin to the emeralds casting a faint green hew across it, everything about this woman told him of her importance.

And her attractiveness. He had to force his gaze from her breasts or else both hands wouldn’t conceal anything.

“Get in.”

AUTHOR BIO

cynfelllogo

Samantha lives in a small village in England with her gorgeous twin girls. She enjoys writing historical romance involving chivalrous knights, hot highlanders and cravatted men, but sometimes gets lured away by bad boy bikers, soldiers and other heroic modern men.


AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS

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WEBSITE / BLOG
FACEBOOK


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BLOG TOUR WITH REVIEW ~ **Kissed At Midnight** by Samantha Holt (includes excerpt and giveaway)

Sensual Victorian Romance

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BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – Kissed at Midnight
AUTHOR – Samantha Holt
GENRE – Historical Romance
PUBLICATION DATE – 18th February
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 60,000
kissed-at-midnight-cover

BOOK SYNOPSIS

August Avery, a renowned civil engineer, has found himself the sole custodian of his cousin’s six month old daughter and he needs assistance—fast. He understands how to build railways, to construct bridges and to save the railway tycoons thousands of pounds. He doesn’t understand, however, how to care for a child.
 
When Ivy Davis turns up at his door looking for work, he believes his prayers are answered. If only the exotic, exuberant young woman did not prove to be such a distraction from his busy workload.
 
Unsure if she is even up to the task of looking after a baby, Ivy finds herself swayed by the handsome and slightly desperate August into working for him. With her singing career failing before it even started and no other talents, she decides looking after a young child cannot be so hard, surely?
 
But the child may turn out to be the least of her worries. Her handsome, brooding master seems to keep her awake more than the baby. Add to that her desire to achieve her dreams of singing on stage and the machinations of the indomitable Mrs. Pepperwhite who sees her as competition for August’s hand, Ivy finds this simple job growing harder by the day—as does her desire for her master…

BUY & TBR LINKS

EXCERPT

Ivy darted a look at the door as she eased herself down onto the bed beside her master. The housekeeper could have no reason to come upstairs but if she caught her in the master’s room—on his bed no less—she could be in quite a pickle.“Mr.—” A snore escaped his mouth and she shook her head.

“Oh dear, Mr. Avery. You are the one who is in a pickle I think. Or more likely utterly foxed.”Leaning over, she went to grasp his hand to study the damage and froze when he grunted and rolled towards her. His arm landed near her backside on the bed and his head was almost on her lap. Ivy attempted to take his hurt hand from behind her but he twined it out of her grasp and released a low mumble.

She gasped when his hand curved around her backside. She wore only her chemise and her drawers. Mr. Avery’s warm hand fairly burned through the cotton, feeling as though she would wake up with a handprint on her bottom. She twisted to yank his hand away, only to end up with his head pressed against the side of her breast. Mr Avery nuzzled his face against her breast and she stilled. She should draw away, press him back, but for some reasonher body refused to cooperate. Hands to his head, she found his hair to be soft and thick.

Oh dear. One part of her body seemed to be working—her fingers. They twined into the softness, so at odds with the rest of him, from his stern features to what she suspected was a body that rivalled the statues of London. He released a muffled groan against her and she heard him inhale deeply.

“Smell so good,” he murmured.Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. She was going to lose her job not two days into it if she was not careful. Her nipples were tight and hard. Lush heat rolled throughher as he burrowed closer and his hand splayed across her back to hold her to him.

A creak from somewhere else in the house startled her into action. She jerked back and clasped his wrist to force his hand back. At least in his foxed state he wasn’t particularly strong. She had no doubt if he really wanted to keep hold of her, he could, but had he been sober, she was positive he’d want nothing to do with the governess.  A man like Mr Avery likely enjoyed the company of women less… interesting-looking than her. Blonde ones with soft features and a delicate manner.

He rolled onto his back, a grin cracking his face. His eyes were at half-mast and she wasn’t sure what amused him. Recalling her original reason for being on the bed, she grasped his hand and inspected the cut. It had already stopped bleeding so couldn’t be deep. Ivy rolled her eyes to herself. All this for a tiny scratch. At least he was so foxed he would never recall any of it.

 
samanthaholt
AUTHOR BIO

Samantha lives in a small village in England with her gorgeous twin girls. She enjoys writing historical romance involving chivalrous knights, hot highlanders and cravatted men, but sometimes gets lured away by bad boy bikers, soldiers and other heroic modern men.
AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS

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GIVEAWAY PRIZES

Signed picture of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy
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Set of signed swag

My Review

Upstairs meets Downstairs in this sensual Victorian romance *****

I loved Kissed At Midnight, where the usual walls between master and servant crumble and passion ignites. The read is sensual, romantic and fun as the two protagonists, Ivy and August, who may well be my favourite Samantha Holt couple to date, circle each other, trying in vain to deny their growing mutual attraction.

August is in a real pickle since he assumed the responsibility for caring for his cousin’s baby Elsie, and in an uncharacteristic show of impetuosity he hires Ivy as her nursemaid, despite her lack of experience in such a role. Both know that the situation is only transitory as Ivy’s real goal is to forge a career as a singer.

The author’s voice in this novel is decidedly playful, driven in part no doubt by the character of the heroine, Ivy, whose actions compel the evolving romance with her knack of plain speaking and spontaneous nature. By contrast the engineer August is methodical, cautious and conservative in outlook. Ivy is the perfect yin to his yang, free spirited and adventurous. I just adored how the tale shows us how August’s well-ordered life is soon compromised by Ivy’s presence in his household.

I loved how the author showed this handsome man grappling with his conscience regarding how to treat Ivy, a woman in his employ who he is honour bound to protect, yet at the same time the very woman who he is developing an irrepressible attraction for. He also strives to avoid the unwelcome attentions of the widow Mrs Pepperwhite, who does not care for Ivy’s appearance on the scene.

Ivy is quite a heroine! I loved her back story and her character which goes against everything that is expected of a Victorian lady. She certainly upsets August’s routine and in a household as small as his, the usual rules between master and servant are soon compromised. Their romance is a real page- turner as neither August or Ivy know how to cope with their growing feelings for each other and there are a number of barriers to their HEA: Ivy’s ambition to become a famous singer; August’s desire to maintain his distance from the hired help and Mrs Pepperwhite’s interest in August.

Their love-making scenes between the couple are hugely romantic and sensual and although August is a true gentleman, he is very much flesh and blood and as I read I could sense the growing desire between him and Ivy which demands to be sated…..

All in all a super sensual romance and I feel one of the author’s best to date. Recommended for readers of historical romance.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this novel was made available for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

 

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Review – Once Upon a Rake, by Samantha Holt

A Second Chance at Love

Sensual Victorian Romance 

Onceuponarake

 Blurb

In Victorian England, Little Ellie Browning swiftly discovered happily ever afters did not exist and rakes were simply rakes. When the man she had adored for years kissed her and left her heartbroken and she was forced to marry an elderly earl to save her reputation, she resolved to put any dreams of fairy tales aside.

Seven years later, the now widowed Eleanor, Countess of Hawthorne, has returned to England after years of travelling and is now part-owner of a cotton mill left to her by her late husband.

But the owner of the mill, and the very same handsome rake who hurt her years earlier, has no desire to let a woman interfere with his business, let alone little Ellie Browning—no matter how fascinating he finds her since her transformation from coltish scarecrow to almost graceful countess.

Lucian is still recovering from the after-effects of one of his mills succumbing to fire, and now he’s fighting to save the other in a tough economic climate. He doesn’t need this new distraction, especially when, after a series of accidents, it becomes clear someone wishes the mill to close and he has to find the culprit—fast.

With things heating up between Ellie and Lucian, it’s apparent that not only is the mill in peril—they are both at risk of getting burned…

My Review

A Second Chance at Love *****

Once Upon a Rake is the second of Samantha Holt’s Victorian romances I have read, the first being Tempting His Mistress and once again it is a fantastic read! It is a tale of second chances and an unexpected reversal of fortune for both the hero and heroine, where they must help each other recover from old and new wounds before their HEA can be reached. It also delves into the social issues of the day surrounding the working conditions in cotton mills, which I enjoyed reading.

When Ellie Browning is found in a compromising position with the rakish Lucian her father marries her off to a much older man, to preserve her reputation. Fast forward seven years and the newly widowed Ellie, now a countess, returns to England determined to participate in the running of the mill that her deceased husband had invested in. Lucian, the mill owner, is no longer the rake he was, cutting himself off from society and throwing himself into the business to keep it afloat. Ellie by contrast is now to all intents and purposes an accomplished young woman, having gained much confidence from her life with her late husband. Yet both are lonely and the heroine still feels unworthy of a man like Lucian, who she is still very much attracted to.

Although Lucian resents what he views as Ellie’s interference in the mill, she will not be prevented from helping. I loved Ellie’s tenacity in persuading Lucian to let her get involved. The more time he spends with and comes to know Ellie, the more respect he garners for her and he becomes obsessed with her, despite himself. However, he has little to offer this woman who is now his social superior and begins to regret how he acted towards her in the past.

I just loved the handsome but taciturn hero Lucian! When he is first introduced in the book he comes across as a thoroughly self-centred and unlikable character, totally unworthy of the adoration of the young heroine Ellie. Samantha Holt manages to redeem his character as we learn about what has happened to him since he last saw Ellie. By the end of the novel he had totally redeemed himself in my eyes, having learned a lot in the intervening years, yet still remained as devilish as ever! I found the way in which the author portrays Lucian’s dawning realisation that Ellie is the woman for him very well done.

I adored that Ellie is an unconventional woman in terms of her impulsiveness, outspoken nature and her interests. She comes across as a very believable and worthy heroine. Although she strives to be confident she has a number of vulnerabilities, which I was rooting for her to overcome. I also liked how she sees past Lucian’s grumpy demeanour and slowly finds out about the reality of the man that he has become. Dare she take a chance on him this man who once broke her heart?

The sexual tension between the couple simmers until passion ignites – and ignite it does! The lovemaking scenes are sweet, sensual and sizzling and I really wanted the couple to admit their true feelings for one another. The read also has an element of danger and suspense as Lucian and Ellie try to get to the bottom of problems at the mill.

I recommend this read to lovers of historical romance who are after a fast-paced, entertaining and sensual read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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Author Links

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGEWEBSITE / BLOGFACEBOOK

Check out Samantha Holt’s Tempting His Mistress, also set in Victorian England.

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**REVIEW** ~ Tempting His Mistress, by Samantha Holt

Sensual Victorian Romance

Book Blurb

temptinghismistress800What could possibly induce at woman to follow in the footsteps of her mother and further sully her reputation by becoming a mistress?

Lilly Claremont is well used to being at the centre of gossip. Being the illegitimate child of a rich businessman never failed to titillate the gossips and while she cared little about the wagging tongues she never intended to reinforce their opinions of her by ruining herself completely.

But it seems Lord Hawksley is determined to make the fascinating Lilly his mistress…

Evan has no doubt her bold tongue and beautiful body could keep him entertained for some time. Captivated by her, he must find a way to burn through his desire for her. He cannot marry a woman of such social standing so why not make her his mistress?

After the murder of her father, Lilly is searching for answers and they lead her directly to Lord Hawksley. But will they also lead her to his bed…?

My Review

A Sensual Delight!

Loved, loved, loved Samantha Holt’s foray into Victoriana! Tempting His Mistress has a strong hero and heroine and a sensual and suspenseful plot. It also touches on a number of burning social issues of the day pertinent to women and their role in society and how much their lot in life was controlled by men.

The heroine Lilly, as an illegitimate child of a businessman and his mistress, is in a real pickle and I felt for her immediately. Her mother is deceased and she has no one to support her after her father’s sudden and violent death, having to rely upon the charity of others. She is introduced to Lord Hawksley, aware of a rumour of his involvement in her father’s demise. Immediately wary, at the same time she wants to find out if he is guilty or not. Sparks fly when they meet and I adored the repartee between the couple!

Lord Hawksley is entranced by Lilly’s open and forthright manner and mutual attraction sizzles. When his brother, a married man, mentions making Lilly his mistress, Lord Hawksley cannot contemplate the thought of her being ruined by his own brother and makes the offer himself. At first shamed and angered by his proposition Lilly, conscious of her penniless state, acquiesces. She also hopes that she will be able to find out the truth about Lord Hawksley’s involvement in her father’s death.

What starts out as a business arrangement develops into something stronger and emotions come to the fore. Lord Hawksely recognises that it will be difficult to let her go once their arrangement is over. Marriage between a lord and a social outcast such as Lilly is, of course, unthinkable. Not only that but he has his own reasons for not wanting to marry….

Lilly discovers that there is a lot more to the sardonic lord than she thought and she knows that he has secrets. When danger threatens will the couple be drawn together or forced apart? Also how can they find a HEA given the social mores of the time?

Samantha Holt deals sensitively with the role of mistresses in Victorian Society and the plot explores other issues pertaining to women, which are at the forefront of political debate at the time, such as women’s education and their place in wider society. The double standards experienced by Lilly as a lord’s mistress are particularly heartbreaking.

The sizzling scenes (of which here are many) are divine and the relationship between Lily and Lord Hawksley is strong and believable. The couple are just made for each other – a tortured alpha male with secrets and vulnerabilities, and a woman, although viewed as below him in social station, is one who calms and excites him like no other.

The supporting characters are well drawn and it is clear that the author has done a great deal of research into the social issues of the time to give the novel just the right amount of colour without detracting from the plot and the central romance.

Another must read for romance fans from this author.

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.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK   Amazon US

Author Links

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGEWEBSITE / BLOGFACEBOOK

Check out Samantha Holt’s Once Upon a Rake, also set in Victorian England.

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*BLOG TOUR, REVIEW & GIVEAWAY* ~ Devil’s Return (Allan’s Miscellany #4)

LOVED this sparkling, original and emotionally intense Victorian romance. Devil’s Return is the first work I’ve sampled by Sandra Schwab and after reading it I’m eager to become acquainted with her backlist and future works. Scroll down to read the blurb for this novella and read my review. Tina 🙂

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Devil’s Return
by Sandra Schwab
Allan’s Miscellany #4
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance

AllansMisc-04-NEW

 

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Synopsis

Seven years ago Fran and Alex were very much in love. Yet because Alex was only a younger son with no prospects to speak of, Fran’s family pressured her into breaking the engagement and marrying a rich, titled man instead. Filled with bitterness, Alex left England for the New World.

Now he is back, more dangerous and more cynical than ever before. He has found fame and fortune as an adventurer, traveling the world from America to the Near East and writing about his travels for Allan’s Miscellany. He has come to London to drum up interest for his friend’s archeological excavations. Soon, he finds himself the darling of London society, admired by men, wooed by women.

Fate has not been so kind to Fran. After a disastrous marriage, which has left her with deep emotional and physical scars, she is widowed and now lives in genteel poverty.

By chance, Alex and Fran’s paths cross again. They have both changed so much, and past betrayals and past hurts still divide them. So surely there can be no second chance for their love…

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My Review

 Sparkling, Original and Emotionally Intense! 

Oh My! What an emotionally gripping Victorian Romance! The novella was a pure delight to read and I’m now eager to become acquainted with Sandra Schwab’s backlist and future works.

Devil’s Return is book #4 in the Allan’s Miscellany series and the tale gives the hero Alex and the heroine Fran a second chance at love –  before I go any further a box of tissues is an absolute must! My heart went out to them both – Fran, compelled by her family to walk away from Alex and marry an older man and Alex, a younger son with little prospects, who felt so rejected that he went abroad. Yet after seven years their fortunes have changed. Alex, the ‘devil’ of the title is a most eligible (not to mention sexy) gentleman, who has London at his feet after having his adventures and accounts of archaeological discoveries shared in the Allan’s Miscellany. After unexpectedly meeting Fran in London he is shocked at how she has changed and although initially determined to resist the pull she still exerts on him, fate has other ideas…..

Fran by contrast is now an impoverished widow, nursing many scars, physical and emotional, which we learn about as the plot evolves. Although I suspected some of what had occurred I admit I cried buckets when Alex found out the truth and more so when he confronted Fran with his knowledge. Bravo to the author for such an original and engaging plot, which I will not divulge any further in this review as it would spoil the read. Suffice to say that Fran has great fortitude and is a heroine who thoroughly deserves a HEA.

The novella is a far cry from doom and gloom however. It veritably fizzes with sparkling wit and repartee amongst the Victorian intelligentsia. Indeed, it makes for a totally charming, highly original and entertaining read. It is full of fascinating characters, whose own stories and romances I am eager to read about. I strongly recommend it to all readers who love romance.

I was given a copy of this novella for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

About the Author

Sandra Schwab

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.

She holds a PhD in English literature and lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library. Her new series about the fictional magazine Allan’s Miscellany combines her academic research on Victorian periodicals with her love for story-telling.

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