Audiobook Review: WINTER’S FLAME by Elizabeth Rose ~ a comical situation with an edge of disaster

Winter Flame

Title: Winter’s Flame  Seasons of Fortitude, Book 4
Author: Elizabeth Rose
Genre: Historical Romance Medieval
Pages: 256
Published by: RoseScribe Media Inc.
Published Date: November 9, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B075331V4N

Narrated by: Brian J. GillSeasons of Fortitude
Length: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Release Date: December 18, 2017
Published by: RoseScribe Media Inc.

Seasons of Fortitude Series:
Highland SpringBook 1
Summer’s Reign – Book 2
Autumn’s TouchBook 3
Winter’s Flame Book 4 

Also be sure to read the Legendary Bastards of the Crown Series:
Destiny’s KissPrequel
Restless Sea Lord Book 1
Ruthless KnightBook 2
Reckless Highlander – Book 3

 Synopsis:

Passion ignites and the sparks fly when a border lord and a noblewoman skilled at the forge are brought together under unusual circumstances.

Lady Winter has always been curious since childhood and even though she is a noblewoman, she has learned from the best blacksmith to be skilled at the forge. While at her sister’s wedding in Ravenscar, she decides to stay and help the blacksmith who trained her. His eyesight is failing and although he was once the best blacksmith in all England, now he is doomed without Winter’s help. The late lord Ravenscar made a deal with Sir Martin de Grey of Northumberland. The blacksmith is to forge a sword from the finest Damascus steel. But to insure that Lord de Grey collects on his deal, he’s taken the blacksmith’s son in exchange.

Sir Martin de Grey arrives in Ravenscar to collect his sword. He needs it to go up against his enemy – Clan Dunbar in an age-old feud. Martin’s brother is imprisoned and he will do anything to save him. But when he discovers his sword is not ready and the man he made the deal with is dead, he takes drastic measures. He brings the blacksmith and his daughter to Castle Heaton to finish forging the sword. While there, he finds himself immensely attracted to the beautiful commoner’s daughter.

Winter finds herself in a predicament. Sir Martin de Grey has mistaken her for the blacksmith’s daughter since she was working in the forge. Now, to tell him the truth would risk her friend never seeing his son again.

Sparks will fly when the truth is revealed and circumstances turn lovers against each other. But with passion hotter than the fires of the forge between Winter and Martin, can something that started as lust turn into an undying love between them?

(This is the last book of the series. It is best to read the Legendary Bastards of the Crown Series, as well as books 1-3 of the Seasons of Fortitude Series first, however, each book stands alone.)

 

Review:

I’ve enjoyed this series, although I didn’t read any of Legendary Bastards of the Crown Series which the author suggests.  I didn’t find the series lacking because I hadn’t.  Each sister is very different and with great entertainment I followed their difficulties in life while finding their true loves.

Winter is very stubborn and high-spirited.  She is also very protective of people she loves, as we discover when she does something unthinkable for a noble lady—works in the forge to help the blacksmith.  She also discovers she has a passionate streak when she meets Sir Martin de Grey.

The story is quite comical, even though the stakes are high.  As Winter is helping the blacksmith who no longer has good enough eyesight to do his work, Sir Martin de Grey comes to the forge demanding his sword.  Of course, the sword hadn’t been worked on because Sir Martin had taken his son as a hostage, who most recently did the blacksmith’s work.

Now Sir Martin enjoys women, pure and simple — but never touches a virgin.  He sees Winter, thinking her the blacksmith’s daughter, and is immediately interested in the wench. Lady Winter has to pretend to be the daughter and eventually they must both go to Sir Martin’s own forge to work on the sword.

I liked Lady Winter’s curious manner and her desire to learn more about what happens between a man and woman. Her demeanor has Sir Martin thinking she has done this before–which she hasn’t! Her curiosity could just kill the cat! Her no-nonsense approach to life, even at nineteen gives her a maturity other girls don’t have at her age.

When Sir Martin de Grey approaches her, taking her to his chamber, she goes.  That chamber has painted scenes on the ceiling which should make any maiden swoon.  Not Lady Winter.  Like I said it’s all very comical and you will get some laughs from it. Sir Martin almost forgets why he needs the sword to be forged and doesn’t learn of Lady Winter’s true identity until he has done the deed. All this just complicates the situation further.

Another character I find humorous is the nanny.  In fact, the narrator does the personification of this woman to perfection.  Nanny is a seer, but doesn’t see all.  Just glimpses. She’s been Lady Winter’s nurse since she was a bairn and follows her to Sir Martin’s castle. She tries to talk reason into Lady Winter, but Winter is just too curious!

On the whole, his narration was good. It’s pacing and tone was one of levity. It is with some regret I felt the narrator portrayed little emotion from Lady Winter as she is in Sir Martin’s bed or close to.  The tone of the dialogue rang false, feeling too dry and methodical, rather than playful.

Bottom Line:  5 for story , 4 for performance

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Audiobook ABDUCTED AT THE ALTAR by Cynthia Wright ~ beginning of a new series, Brides of Skye

Abducted at the Altar

Title: Abducted at the Altar: A St. Briac Family Novel, Brides of Skye, Book 1
Author: Cynthia Wright
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Pages: 290
Published by: Boxwood Manor Books
Published Date: September 21, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B07GFT77BG

Narrated by: Tim Campbell
Length: 8 hours, 32 minutes
Release Date: October 17, 2018
Published by: Cynthia Challed

Publisher’s Summary

From a New York Times best-selling author comes an irresistible romance of 16th-century Scotland!

When a spirited Scottish lass crosses paths with a charismatic Outlander, sparks fly that threaten to set fire to their separate worlds….

Vibrant Fiona MacLeod has never left the Isle of Skye, except in the pages of cherished books. However, everything changes when her mother makes a deathbed request that Fi travel to Falkland Palace and experience the royal court. It may be her last chance to see the world before she is married off to an overbearing Highland warrior.

Across the ocean in Europe, architect Christophe de St. Briac enjoys a perfectly ordered life. He’s a rising star among the artistic builders of the Renaissance and has his pick of women to warm his bed – until King François I pressures him to accept a project at Scotland’s Falkland Palace.

Although Fiona and Christophe are from different worlds, they soon find their passionate souls have everything in common. But while they seem to be on a collision course with destiny, dark forces are conspiring to keep them apart….

Connecting books:

You and No Other (Thomas and Aimée)
Of One Heart (Andrew and Micheline)
Abducted at the Altar (Christophe and Fiona)

The St. Briac family in the 18th century:

The Secret of Love (Gabriel and Isabella)
His Make-Believe Bride (Justin and Mouette)

©2018 Cynthia Challed (P)2018 Cynthia Challed

 

My Thoughts:  I’ve read or listened to author Cynthia Wright’s books for a long time.  I always start a read knowing I’ll be entertained with fully-developed gentle, honorable characters who end up taking part of my heart when the tale is complete. Her diabolical antagonists are wily and devious — a pleasure to see them fail with their schemes.

This tale is not the exception.  Narrator Tim Campbell makes the listen a page-turner with his fantastic flexibility between French accented English and the Scottish brogue.  He positively takes the characters Wright creates to a higher level!

Fiona MacLeod is a dutiful child, particularly to her family. She loves her mother and father very much.  When her mother dies, she has only her father, who is devastated by her mother’s death. He is a man who can’t seem to let go of his daughter and plays right into the hands of the antagonist. He seems to be a weak man, but with a good heart.

Fiona has her dreams, perhaps more than the average highland lass, thanks to her mother teaching her how to read and write and the hours of reading together.  When she meets St. Briac she is intrigued with him, spending time questioning him about the places he’s lived.

The antagonist whom we find has reasons to do what he does, is misguided with some mistruths. He is quite the unsavory sort, but Fiona’s father doesn’t see his bad character for he hides it with smiles and a lordly demeanor. Her father betrothes her to him without her consent. Should she do as her father wishes?  Afterall, many highland marriages are made for alliances and not love.  But Fiona wishes for more.  She wants to be loved and to love her husband.

Christophe St. Briac is every bit the rogue – women in his bed, but leave them before morning.  His passion is to create beautiful buildings.  As an architect, he had grand plans for Le Louvre and had been given a promise to work on that dream when he’d done a little favor for the King. I enjoyed getting to know the man behind the work-driven one. He is attracted to wee Fiona, and she to him.  But Christophe doesn’t consider himself a marrying man.  Will his love to her be strong enough to keep him from returning to France?

Wright’s tales leave a smile on my face and a light heart. She entertains with conflicted  characters, humor, and passionate, determined heroes and heroines who struggle to reach their happy ever after–all the while cheered on by the reader/listener!

 

Posted in Audiobook, Audiobook Review, Highland Romance, Highland Stories, Historical Romance, Medieval Romance, New Book Release, Romance | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: MY ONE AND ONLY DUKE by Grace Burrowes ~ an unusual and titillating read.

my one and onlyTitle: My One and Only Duke  Rogues to Riches Book 1
Author: Grace Burrowes
Genre: Historical Fiction, Regency
Pages: 465
Published by: Forever
Published Date: November 6, 2018
Sold by: Hachette Book Group
ASIN: B07B8F42K2

 

Publisher’s Summary:

From a New York Times bestselling author and one of “the very best in today’s Regency romance” (Elizabeth Hoyt) comes the story of the unconventional Wentworth family in this charming new series with a Cinderella twist.

One minute, London banker Quinn Wentworth is facing execution. The next, he’s declared the long-lost heir to a dukedom. Quinn has fought his way up from the worst slums, and now he’s ready to use every dirty trick he knows to find the enemy who schemed against him.

Jane Winston, the widowed and pregnant, crosses paths with Quinn while her father is preaching to the prisoners. Believing his days are numbered, Quinn offers her marriage as a way to guarantee her independence and provide for her child. Neither thinks they’ll actually have a future together.

He’s a wealthy gutter rat out for vengeance. She’s a minister’s daughter who must turn a marriage of desperation into a proper ducal union. Are they doomed from the start or destined for a happily-ever-after?

Also includes the bonus novella Once Upon a Christmas Eve from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt!

When his carriage wheel snaps in a snowstorm, Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, is forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met.

“Skillfully crafted and exquisitely written, Burrowes’ latest is pure gold; a brilliant launch to a promising series.” —Library Journal, starred review

 

My Thoughts:  This happens to be the first book I’ve read from author Grace Burrowes.  It seems I’ve been missing some serious talent!

The story began with death or close to.  The last days of a man, who apparently is rather a good man for he looks out for those who are less fortunate them himself.  Yes, even in Newgate prison. Quinn Wentworth is to be hanged.  We know he didn’t do anything to warrant the hanging.  He was set up.  But Quinn was a man of methodical talent – he took care of those around him first – his sisters, a couple of young boys thrown into Newgate, a couple of prostitutes and then, surprisingly a woman, whose tale you will weep at, Jane Winston. Burrowes paints a dismal picture, smells and all, of Newgate which actually existed and was finally torn down in 1904.

The tale is rather grim and there are many dark moments, but after Quinn’s hanging, events rapidly change.  Quinn is a man to be respected.  He is certainly a man of wealth and as a banker one of some reputation.  However, that being said, there are those who don’t think kindly of him, and the story is one where he must ferret them out.  After all, his family and now the extended family may be in danger.

As the story unfolds, we find that Jane Winston, daughter of a man of ‘God’ (that I must use loosely), is made of stern stuff and certainly one with courage, someone to be admired.  I enjoyed how Burrowes wove her character and wisdom into a character of strength.  A boon to Quinn and much needed to balance out his life.

At the same time, Quinn Wentworth offered much to Jane.  She was malnourished, and thought little of who she was.  Each of them helped to discover the other.

Quinn has a very curious family.  A younger brother who although can walk, prefers to stay in a wheelchair and play the invalid. He also has two sisters who are used to being ostracized in society and have a difficult time when Quinn’s familial circumstances in society change.  I was left with the hope the series will continue giving me a chance to know what is really behind Stephen’s act and what choices Quinn’s sisters will have in gaining a footing in society.

All in all, this intriguing story with its depth of emotion, while exposing societal problems of the time gives much to the reader to contemplate and anticipate coming events, waiting for the next of the sequel to be released.

Bonus Material:  Elizabeth Hoyt’s Once Upon a Christmas Eve novella was a welcome surprise.  This novella is a racey and entertaining read. Adam Rutledge, a viscount gets marooned with his grandmother at a mansion in the county for a couple of weeks while his grandmother’s health improves.  A rake, like no other, his reputation precedes him and Lady Margaret is no easy catch!  A spitfire and them some.

We find that Adam is more than his reputation.  While Lady Margaret comes out with pistols loaded, we find she does have a heart.

 

Posted in Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Victorian Romance | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Audiobook Review: DRAGONBLADE by Kathryn Le Veque


Dragonblade

Title: Dragonblade The Dragonblade Trilogy, Book 1
Author: Kathryn Le Veque
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Pages: 368
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.; 2 edition
Published Date: July 29, 2014
ASIN: B0085MQTA0

Narrated by: Tim Campbell
Length: 11 hours, 34 minutes
Release Date: March 3, 2014

Publisher’s Summary:
A. D. 1326 – Tate Crewys de Lara is the son of kings. The illegitimate son of Edward Longshanks, Tate has the qualities of a magnificent king. But fate is cruel, leaving him a mere knight protecting young Edward III during the uncertain days following the horrific murder of Edward II.

While gathering allies for the young heir in Northumberland, he meets the Lady Elizabetha “Toby” Cartingdon. Daughter of the Lord Mayor of Cartingdon Parrish, Toby is a gorgeous woman with a mind for business. It is she who runs the parrish, not her father. Taken aback by the strong, bitter female, Tate is nonetheless intrigued with her. He soon discovers why Toby seems so hard; her father is a drunkard and her mother is an invalid, leaving Toby responsible to not only provide for the family, but also for the welfare of her small sister.

Feeling something more than curiosity, Tate begins to break through the hard surface to discover the warm and compassionate woman beneath. Yet factions who would see the young heir dead make a sudden appearance, drawing Toby into their malevolent plan. Soon she finds herself linked to both Tate and the quest to take the throne from Roger Mortimer. It becomes Tate’s destiny to not only win a throne for young Edward, but to win Toby’s heart as well.

My Thoughts:
This tale will keep you riveted to the events. As in all Kathryn Le Veque’s Medieval romances, they include so much more. They are set in a historical setting where factions are divided, gritty with battles, sometimes gore, and completely saturated with emotion–not to mention they have very satisfying and passionate love scenes.

Edward III has two problems. He’s 14, which is just about the time a boy wants to be a man. However, being the King makes it a precarious existence—not yet having the skill set to govern or make wise decisions. It’s hard to be a King in hiding, fearing your enemies will find you and destroy you before you attain your rightful place on the throne. Luckily, he has his uncle to protect him, Tate Crewys de Lara, who has the best of qualities within himself. As the illegitimate son of King Edward II, he steps up to the challenge.

When Tate does his duty by the King, hoping to raise an army and possibly find a way to finance it, he comes upon a parrish and a town meeting of sorts. Toby, Lady Elizabetha, has spoken contradicting the head of the parrish, who happens to be her father. Unbeknownst to the village folk, Tate and several large knights are at the back of the crowd. Tate dislikes the beautiful, but disrespectful, assertive approach Toby has. But this dislike slowly changes as he discovers and understands what Toby endures. This part of the story shows what Tate and Toby are made of—hero and heroine material!

Toby is an intelligent woman and through several events and the terrible destruction of her home she discovers all that Tate has not told her. This is where Le Veque puts the reader on edge, as it were.

Where Tate is all good intention, he falls flat on his face with Toby. Toby, not only surprises Tate, she will surprise the reader with the powerful, determined will she possesses. She’s a gutsy woman I came to respect and admire.

I look forward to the rest of the Dragonblade series.

A note about the narrator – Tim Campbell. I have listened to many of his narrations and he has become one of my favorites. He takes a talented writer’s story and makes it all the more pleasurable. I hear the emotion of the characters within  dialogue—even in their thoughts. His deep bass voice is melodious, at times dramatic, with a pace capturing the mood of the scene. He’s also very flexible with character personification, using tone, dialect, and various accents when called to do so.  Check out the sample of his narration on Audible.com.

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Audiobook Review: WALLS OF BABYLON part of the De Wolfe Pack by Kathryn Le Veque

 

Walls of Babylon

Title: Wall of Babylon DeWolfe Pack Series
Author: Kathryn Le Veque
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Story Setting: 1471, Lancashire/Yorkshire border
Pages: 387
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc., 3 edition
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B014GME7QA

Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
Length: 12 hours and 46 minutes
Release Date: February 4, 2016
Published by: Kathryn Le Veque Novels

Publisher’s Summary

1471 AD – 10 years after the Battle of Towton, Sir Kenton le Bec, the Lion of the North, serves Warwick the Kingmaker as the man’s attack dog. There is no fiercer knight in Warwick’s arsenal than Kenton le Bec, a powerful and cunning fighter. Kenton has been tasked with securing Babylon Castle, a fortress that secures a road between Lancashire and Yorkshire. It is a strategic castle and currently in the hands of Edward’s forces. When Kenton and his army move in, all of that changes. Yet things are not always clear-cut.

Lady Nicola Aubrey-Thorne is the widow of a great Edwardian supporter. When Kenton conquers her home of Babylon Castle, she offers him nothing but resistance and hatred. Kenton sees a beautiful, spoiled woman who fights him on every turn, yet the spark of attraction is there. As Kenton comes to learn the darker secrets of Babylon, he comes to understand Lady Thorne and her sorrows. And his attraction toward her grows beyond his control.

Join Kenton and Nicola in a world of opposing loyalties yet united attraction. Their lives become irrevocably intertwined even if their loyalties to the men who would be king differ. The passion they feel for one another, and the love, is something few people ever experience. It is a complicated and complex situation, one where difficult decisions must be made if Kenton and Nicola are to remain together.

When Warwick is captured by enemy soldiers, Nicola must do all she can to save the man who she once considered her enemy. Will she be too late?

©2015 Kathryn Le Veque (P)2016 Kathryn Le Veque

Review:

In this wonderfully emotional story we find what a woman scorned is capable of.  She is indeed a force to be reckoned with.  But what if her scorn is built on a falsehood?  Ah, the skies fall, the torrent of hurt is overpowering, and once again, with this turn, Le Veque will take you on a journey which in the end, will leave its mark on you.

This particular story is narrated by Sean Patrick Hopkins. His narration doesn’t really enhance or detract from the story.  The story, in and of itself, is very satisfying and he delivers dialogue well enough.

Sir Kenton le Bec is a giant of a man.  He, being so good at what he does, is the attack dog for Sir Warwick who aligns himself with King Henry.

Equally fierce and determined is Nicola, the widow of a brutal and undeserving man, recently passed from an infected wound. Her fierceness in protecting her children and her eldest’s title and Babylon, for now he carries the title of Baron, will be the turning point of this tragedy. Her fierceness becomes vindictive and paralyzingly anguishing before all is done.

Nicola fights Sir Kenton, tooth and nail, as it were, who has now taken siege of Babylon castle.  But the animosity changes. Sir Kenton begins to admire the spirit of the woman, and she equally gains respect for the knight, for not only is Sir Kenton a great warrior, he is a kind soul and a man of his word. (here I wish Nicola would remember this when she overhears something about her, not directed to her) He sees her children need guidance and with expecting nothing more, he gives them the guidance they have never had in their lives.  A spark of attraction is lit between Sir Kenton and Lady Nicola, but love is not linear, it takes its twists and turns, becoming ultimately richer through the journey.

Le Veque always writes a tale where emotion keeps me in the grips of a good story. As a author, her books are page-turners. If you are one who loves the medieval era, honorable knights who will eventually having you sigh with ultimate satisfaction of their deeds well done, don’t miss this author’s work.  She has written so many novels, you would think she would run out of plotlines, but they are all fresh and entertaining.

 

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Audio Review: HAZARD part of the lovely Rockliffe series by Stella Riley in production with Alex Wyndham


hazard

Title: Hazard Rockliffe, Book 5
Author: Stella Riley
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: 1777, England
Pages: 348
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Narrated by: Alex Wyndham
Length: 10 hours, 6 minutes
Release Date: May 11, 2018
Published by: Stella Riley

Publisher’s Summary:

Hazard: A game of Chance and Luck, made riskier when Fate is rolling the dice.
For Aristide Delacroix, the first throw summons shades from his past. A man he had met, just once, over a card-table… and the lovely girl indirectly responsible for plunging his life into catastrophe.

For Lord Nicholas Wynstanton, tired of waiting for Madeleine Delacroix to make up her mind, it slyly suggests he begin a whole new game with loaded dice; while for Madeleine, it devises a terrifying lesson in missed opportunities and the uncertainty of second chances.

And for Genevieve Westin, hoping widowhood will be happier than marriage, it brings a rude awakening – leaving a single, wild gamble as her only option.
A cardsharp turned businessman, a duke’s charming brother, a stubborn, razor-edged beauty, and a desperate widow.

Four players in a game of Hazard… all playing for very high stakes.

©2018 Stella Riley (P)2018 Stella Riley

Review:

The publisher’s summary of this story just didn’t do the story justice. I see the symbolism, but it doesn’t hit the mark for me.  Now the story is another matter…!

Author Stella Riley’s writing is as elegant and rich as the time period  she writes in. Her characters flow off the page, with a wide-range of personalities the narrator does an absolutely superb job showing the reader.

The setting, and plotline produces a delightful cast of characters with multi-layered challenges. 

This series has been a wonderful one to following and I look forward to book six which comes out quite soon.

The Duke of Rockcliffe has a presence in each of her stories, some more than others. In this story, the brother of the Duke takes a front seat, Lord Nicholas Wynstanton, as well as a very good friend of his, Aristide Delacroix. Both gentlemen have the same problem, with a twist with a woman they are attracted to.

As with most families, personalities between siblings can be vast.  Nothing is more true than the personality of the Duke of Rockcliffe and his brother Lord Nicholas.  The Duke is quite cold-blooded with a warm heart, and with ennui dripping from every sentence.  While Nicholas is so completely opposite.  One thing is certain.  The two brothers love each other with a fierceness you will discover as the story progresses.

Lord Nicholas knows what he wants – he wants Madeleine Delacroix, Aristide’s sister, but she is definitely not an easy catch! She has a problem with the huge gulf of society between them and knows he could so much better than her.
Nicholas is entirely lovable. I absolutely love his joie de vivre, his bubbly personality keeping family and friends laughing.  All but Madeleine… Narrator Wyndham does a marvelous job portraying his gaiety and seemingly not a serious thought in his head, not until later, that is, and that’s the beauty of how Riley fleshes-out her characters which Wyndham is right in step.

As Lord Nicholas becomes more frustrated with the woman he is attracted to, we really get to know the man, the man who eventually Madeleine cannot help falling in love in love with. Her prickly, acerbic tongue covers her true feelings, helping to keep as far distance as she can from Aristide.

Aristide, Madeleine’s brother is attracted to Genevieve, a woman he should avoid, and frankly doesn’t want to remember. She was the catalyst to the pivotal moment in his life, where virtually he hit rock bottom. When they re-meet, she doesn’t remember him at all – another nail to keep Pandora’s box closed. He struggles… She seems so innocent and doesn’t appear to be lying. And yet…?

It takes two to tango. Genevieve Westin hasn’t had an easy life. So when the two part earlier in their lives, her desperate decision to marry to save herself from her brother Rafe, comes to haunt her. Now, after the death of her first husband, she finds herself with little choice. If she is to marry the one of her choice, she must do it quickly. Rafe will make the decision for her, if not.

But love challenges aren’t all that this story is about. It’s about how men and women brought low struggle to gain a place in society. It’s about how men of ill ilk stopping at nothing to get what they want. Madeleine is caught up in a scenario where she not only defends herself, she defends Nicolas. Love that scene — an eye-opener for stubborn Madeleine!

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Review: THE DUKE’S FALLEN ANGEL by Amy Jarecki. This series promises to be sizzling!

 

5-star-review

 

Dukes Fallen Angel

Title: The Duke’s Fallen Angel Prelude to the Devilish Dukes Series
Author: Amy Jarecki
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: London, 1833
Pages: 337
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B07FF4KCH9

Synopsis:

When passion begins to boil, fame and fortune no longer seem to matter.

The Duke of Ravenscar intended to debut the most acclaimed ballerina in the civilized world to open his London theater. But when the ship arrives with an understudy, Drake is convinced the fortune he has invested will be forfeit. Until he sees the woman dance.

Britannia LeClair arrives in London excited to be performing the lead in La Sylphide. A foundling, she has had to work harder and with more determination than anyone in the corps. At last, her debut in London proves her worth despite her lowly birth. Until she meets the smoldering gaze of the Duke of Ravenscar.

Determined not to become anyone’s mistress, Britannia keeps the duke at arm’s-length while she sets to uncovering the mystery of her parentage. With only a miniature painting and a monogrammed handkerchief, her inquiries lead to a series of escalating accidents and threats.

When Drake realizes Britannia is in danger, he will move heaven and hell to protect her…if the strong-headed ballerina will let him. As they traverse through the mire of skullduggery and hidden shame, events unravel to endanger them both. Will the truth prove worth uncovering, or will it sever the deep love that has come to bond their very souls?

Review:

Here are two people who immediately you take to heart their plights – Duke of Ravenscar and Britannia LeClair.

Duke of Ravenscar has put all on the line for a wager. (obviously dukes have way too much money and little brains – hey, just saying!) Drake has wagered it all. If his venture of opening a new theater, bearing his family name, The Chadwick Theatre, appointed with the most elegant of surroundings and cost him more than he could afford, fails, the man is doomed. But it was a done deal. He chose the most prestigious and sought after ballerina in France, one Mademoiselle Taglioni. He had it in his pocket!

But when the ballerina wasn’t among those who were shepherded to his theatre, and found her understudy sent in her stead, he was on the verge of an apoplexy.

Britannia, the understudy, had been sick for the last two days as the ship crossed the Channel. Weak and exhausted, she had to prove her worth, no less in her bedraggled clothing. Her future as a ballerina was at stake. If the duke sent them back to France, she would no longer be welcome on stage.

I was caught up with the emotion swirling around these two characters. They both had so much to lose. To make the story even more intriguing, Britannia didn’t know who her parents were, a fondling with a few clues to her identity. The author adds another layer of worry for Britannia. She had been very nearly injured in several ‘accidents’.

As all this unfolds, so does the duke’s heart. He justifies all his actions when it comes to Britannia. For all his blustering anger at the beginning of the story, he becomes a besotted doting man by the end.

I appreciated Jarecki’s research about ballerinas of that time. Although our heroine is fictitious, Mademoiselle Taglioni was very real. Toe dancing was just coming into vogue and shorter costumes kept inching up, which very nearly does in the English noblewoman and has the gentlemen wishing they could see more!
Taglioni

Illustration Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Unfortunately, a passionate dancer like Britannia, also gained a certain poor reputation whether deserved or not.

Jarecki always writes a richly entertaining tale, layered with intrigue, broken hearts and happy ever afters. This one is no different.

 

 

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Audiobook Review: DRAGON KNIGHT’S RING ~ Adam begins his own quest to reunite with his Meggie! This one is a show stopper!


Dragon Knight's Ring
Title:
Dragon Knight’s Ring Order of the Dragon Knights, book 5
Author: Mary Morgan
Genre: Historical Romance, Scotland, Time Travel
Story Setting: Urquhart Glen, Scotland, 1204; The Great Glen in Scotland – 1207; present day Scotland
Pages: 281
Published by: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Published Date: August 12, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B01HDWY8S2
Narrator: Jamie Dione

 

Order of the Dragon Knight’s Series — click to order from Amazon:
Dragon Knight’s Sword
Dragon Knight’s Medallion
Dragon Knight’s Axe
Dragon Knight’s Shield
Dragon Knight’s Ring 

 

Publisher’s Summary:  Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie. When he uncovers a shocking revelation, Adam questions everything about the woman he thought he knew and loved. He may have traveled the veil of ages, but time is now his enemy.

 Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past—her death. When Adam arrives at her door confessing he knows her, she is confused and wary. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from this stranger. Yet, when a truth is revealed, can she trust the man to unlock the chains from her mind and heart?

Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights?

 

My Thoughts:  Adam MacFhearguis is a man torn.  Torn in so many ways and the perfect hero.  He wants to do the right thing because of love. Founded in the magic of the highlands and the old ways, he searches for answers in the new religion, for the old religion didn’t save him from losing his Meggie.  He seeks a God who could forgive him for letting Meggie, his true love die, for he can’t forgive himself.  

For three long years he searched and only found more devastation at the hands of religion while battling in the Crusades. His soul reaches out to Meggie, even in her death he seeks her. Returning home from the Crusades, he goes to the standing stones and remembers all of that awful day and wishes for the impossible. The Fae deem to give him that chance.  

At the day of Meggie’s death, her blood spilt on sacred soil, the Fae transported her to the future, 2016, where she was given life with no memories of her past.  At the same time, Adam became the 5th Dragon Knight, appointed so by the Fae.  He knows nothing of this until he has a conversation with Meggie’s brothers. In frustrating desperation, he goes to the standing stones and remembers all of that awful day and wishes for the impossible. The Fae deem to give him that chance.

He knew it was a foolish request, since he no longer believed in them, but in his heart, Meggie did, so he said the words for her. “Can ye not bring her back, Fae? If only to see her face one more time, he uttered softly.

Bringing the ring to his lips, Adam placed a kiss on the red stone before tucking it away in this pouch, belted at his waist.

As the tortured knight knelt at the foot of the standing stones, Adam’s quiet, broken prayer whispered across the Highlands to another realm. And in that moment, when she heard his sorrowful plea, the Guardian granted him his request.

But now there are greater issues, two realms of beings are at stake.  Lachlan, the evil one, plots with The Dark One to take over the world. Will Adam help her remember in time for Meggie holds the key. She must trust Adam, remember who he is and regain the key to destroy Lachlan in time!

The race to have her remember, her frustration, the changing of all time if she doesn’t remember, is the propelling energy in this exciting tale, where evil will change all that is known if the calculations of the Dragon Knights and three rogue Fenian Warriors are not correct.  The Fenian Warriors are willing to forfeit their lives to save both the realm of the Fae and humans — a true and noble quest of their own. Will they be powerful enough?

I enjoyed listening to the last book of the having read an ARC copy.  The narrator, Jamie Dione,  is new to me. In the most part, he did the story justice.  I particularly enjoyed Adam’s character portrayal with his emotion ready to explode while he gains control of his new power.  

Ms. Morgan’s stories torture the heart, gouge the soul, then uplift the spirit soothing and healing what she’s destroyed. But you say, it’s make-believe!  It’s just a fantasy of the mind!  Dear reader, I was there, I saw it all. I’m a believer.

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Audiobook Review: SPECTRE OF THE SWORD, part of the series of the de Lohr Dynasty by Kathryn Le Veque

Spectre of the Sword audiobook cover artTitle:  Spectre of the Sword de Lohr Dynasty, Book 6
Author: Kathryn Le Veque
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Pages: 338
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc. 4 edition
Published Date: June 29, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B008DP2P7K

  

Publisher’s Summary:

A.D. 1203: The Lady Elizabeau Treveighan is the illegitimate daughter of Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany. Elizabeau was sent to foster at a very young age, her identity known only to herself and the earl who fostered her. When her half-brother Prince Arthur is murdered and rumors begin to fly that the opposition to King John intends to marry her to a Teutonic prince and supplant her and her new husband as the rulers of England, she suddenly becomes a very hot, and very dangerous, commodity.

Sir Rhys du Bois is charged with keeping Elizabeau safe until her arranged marriage can occur, but the task turns into one of monumental proportions. It’s one harrowing flight after another as Rhys tries to keep Elizabeau from harm’s way. Somewhere in the process, they fall madly in love with each other and the knight finds himself battling duty and love in order to stay on task. Torn, but with a tremendous sense of duty, he cannot escape the feelings that are swamping him, and Elizabeau does not make it easy for him. Her love for him supersedes her loyalty to her country, and to a family name that has only meant heartache for her.

When Elizabeau is finally captured by the king’s men and slated for execution under the charge of treason, Rhys will risk everything to save her from the executioner’s sword. However, Rhys is betrayed by another knight and soon, he too is slated for the executioner’s axe. As Rhys and Elizabeau face death together, allies come together for a covert operation that will save their lives. It’s a race against time before King John’s men can execute the last legitimate heiress to the throne and her protector turned lover.

©2013 Kathryn Le Veque (P)2014 Kathryn Le Veque

Review:

The reader will be caught between Elizabeau and Rhys–two individuals whose hearts are squeezed and tortured weighing which is most important – honor as a Knight who must comply what his liege demands, duty to country as a noble woman, or the searing intense love connection they find. I was easily thrown into this quagmire of emotional turmoil which author Le Veque is so good at developing. 

Not only do Elizabeau and Rhys deal with this emotional dilemma, they find themselves hunted down.  Elizabeau is to wed a prince she has never met for political gain for her country, she is also being hunted by her enemies to rid themselves of what she may attain. Rhys must save the woman at any cost to himself.  A true knight of honor. 

This quick-paced, page-turner with its dangerous setting and emotional intensity, kept me listening well into the night.

Elizabeau is quite a character, with spunk and a desire to live her life as she wants to.  She wants Rhys, not some Teutonic prince to placate her country. Her quick wit and spontaneity of action saves the day, but at the same time very nearly gets Rhys killed—there were some rather breathless moments laced with humor.

Rhys has always been a warrior and knight.  He lives and breathes their code.  He struggles mightily to avoid having his heart entangled with a woman who will bring them both down.  He is quite the warrior mathematician, which does him in good stead when faced with losing Elizabeau forever. However much he fights the lure of Elizabeau he cannot remain untouched.  She is a sweet, loyal and loving woman.

This is a stunning, emotionally engulfing story.  The narrator has an unusual style and is not one of my favorites.  However, he did a terrific job in portraying the intimate emotion between the two of them.  Scenes tête-à-tête, were singularly impactful and held me in rapt attention.  I was the proverbial fly on the wall.

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Not all Dukes are cut from the same cloth…Some are over the top. Dark, emotional, and riveting…THE DUKE OF MINE by Delilah Marvelle

 

This Duke of Mine

 

Title: This Duke of Mine A Grimm’s Fairy Tale Historical Romance
Author: Delilah Marvelle
Setting: London and Weymouth, England; Cassel, Germany; Victorian Era
Pages: 262
Published by: Delilah Marvelle Productions, LLC
Published Date: August 21, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B07GRDZ932

 

Synopsis:

Once Upon A Time…there was a Duke who wore a brass key around his throat. No one in the kingdom knew what it unlocked until SHE came along… 


Miss Magdalene Evelyn Barlow may be related to the Grimm brothers, but her life, even as an heiress, is anything but a fairy tale. Only one man can bring that tale to life: The Duke of Thornton. His gruff and isolating ways hide an overly passionate, guilt-ridden man who refuses to let any woman near until trouble-toting Magdalene rolls up her lace sleeves and introduces him to the scrubbing magic of…love.

Length: Full length novel
Heat Level: It will cause respectable people to swoon!
Era: Early Victorian
Real Historical Figures: Featuring the Grimm Brothers!

 

Review: 

It’s always a shock to me when I begin one of Marvelle’s novels with its high Heat Level.  She does get my attention and so do the characters!  It is all made clear as the story unfolds why the characters are the way they are.  Reader, she takes us to the darker side of the pain of living and gives us an experience of living embroiled in emotion, pain, suffering, and eventually hope.

Her characters have interesting personalities, molded from their past experiences, which enrich the telling of the story, and take me beyond the foul language which may spew from the mouths of some of the characters.  Marvelle definitely puts me in the setting, pushes me into the emotional tangle her characters find themselves, sometimes face first! Each character has a backstory which makes them who they are, whether the character is up to the challenge or not, and we are privy to that and more as the tale unfolds.

In this story Duke Thornton, Anthony, has a real problem, other than being addicted to laudanum.  It’s with himself.  He sees no merit in himself and carries a dark secret within his heart (again, we discover what that is).  He has become what he thinks he is.  Hence, the foul language and in your face attitude. 

Magdalena has lived her life in fairy tales.  She’s the ultra-extreme of the Duke. She reads and guides her fellow young women through teaching the moral stories she finds in the Grimm Tales.

Drawn to the Duke yet repulsed at what he crassness he treats the world, she pushes back. In one conversation, she is frustrated with the Duke and likens him to a wolf, showing him an illustration within her book.

Magdalene regally nudged that large hand away , signaling she disapproved of his behavior.  Paging through her book of folklore mantras, she methodically left it open to a story she knew all too well: Rotkappchen. Little Red Cap

She tapped the illustrated face of a wolf in nightclothes peering over linen a bed. “There is no need to be a cliché. Speak plainly here before these young women or do not speak at all.”

He lowered his gaze to the illustration. Rigidly closing the book, he set it on top of the financial ledger, aligning them spine to spine with the back of his hand with a sweep.

His steady gaze bore into her. “You certainly take an unfeeling and harsh view of wolves. Did no one tell you they mate for life?”

Magdaline Barlow reminds him of innocence and goodness—he’s intrigued, yet parts from her, and a year passes without him able to remove her from his thought.  His dark side rejects her joie de vivre. But we the reader, see good in him.  Here is what he says to the girls at the school which endears him to me.

“It’s time you understand   the real world, people can and will die. Don’t ever look the other way. Not even if family or society tells you to.”

Pointing at their heads with the sweep of a rigid hand, he continued, “They say men are the future of England, but that is woefully untrue.  You are the future, ladies.  That is why I even bothered walking through those goddamn gates and fought my way through mosquitos. For I know you will all one day raise daughters and sons that will go out into the world and mold our society.  You create the world we live in a therefore it’s important to always speak up for yourselves and others. For who else will? Most certainly not us men who haven’t even given you a goddamn vote in Parliament.  The only way to therefore vote is by using that throat. So use it. For that is your power, to be able to speak, and do not ever let anyone intimidate you into silence again. Do you understand me?”

With that lecture to the girls, he won me over, just as much as he won Magdaline.

Anthony and Magaline have a lot of growing to do, both from different spectrums of the emotional and maturity wheel. Many years pass.  Each have changed.  When they come together, their story of love is absolutely worth waiting for.

If you like your stories gritty, exploring the darker side of man, you will fall in love with Marvelle’s style.  Even through all the heartache, her stories leave the reader with a happy ever after.

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