Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review of The Scandal of It All by Sophie Jordan *The Rogue Files"

Leave it to Sophie Jordan to write a truly astounding story that is a page turner you don't want to put down!  This one is unique in that the heroine is older than the hero.  Graciela, the Duchess of Autenberry has been a widow for 10 years.  Her marriage was an unhappy one, the only good that came out of it was her daughter and her step-children Enid and Marcus.  If you read the first book in this series you have already met Marcus, the Duke Of Autenberry and his best friend Colin, the Earl of Strickland.  Don't worry if you haven't, this book stands alone as a must read.

Ela decides that it is time to start living for herself and her best friend talks her into going to a club where you can indulge in almost any fantasy you desire.  As soon as she enters she realizes that this is a mistake but she cannot seem to move.  All around her people are engaging in all kinds of sexual acts that she didn't even know existed.

Colin, Earl of Strickland is no stranger to the sophisticated and jaded woman who frequent this club. He is just strolling through a room when he notices a woman standing in the middle of the room looking like she was lost and frightened.  Being a Gentleman he approaches her to see if he can be of assistance.  Ela is horrified that Colin is here.  He comes to her rescue and keeps Marcus from discovering that his step-mother is here.  There is an instant sexual attraction that scares Ela and she refuses to entertain any relationship with Colin.  He is younger and she has never thought of him in that way until he awakens feelings that she never experienced with her husband.  Colin is fascinated with Ela and realizes that he was always attracted to her but kept himself from thinking about her as anything than his best friends step-mother.  Now he has had a taste of Ela and will not give up until he has her in his bed.  Can Colin convince Ela that they should be together?

I have everyone of Sophie's Historical Romances.  Her writing is intricate, intelligent and addictive. This story is not your typical romance novel.  The age difference is just one of the many plot twists that make this a wonderful and compelling read.  I loved the journey of discovery Ela went through and how Colin was determined to make her see that their was a future for them.  I admit I teared up a couple of times, especially the last three chapters and the epilogue.  Don't skip a word of this book or you will miss a splendid love story that will leave thoroughly satisfied but asking for more.

Received a complimentary copy for an honest review.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review of The Pirate and I by Katharine Ashe

Another wonderful addition to the Devil's Duke Series.  This novella is about Charlie Brittle and Esme Astell.  Esme works in a shop across the street from Charlie's family printing business.  She secretly loved him and he didn't know that she existed.  Then one day Charlie disappeared and never returned. Two years later Esme is in Scotland attending the Society of Perfumers to learn and obtain a post as an apprentice to a master perfumer and move to Paris.  

Walking back to her boardinghouse one night she literally runs into Charlie.  He has changed so much physically.  If she didn't recognize his scent she would not have known who he was.  Charlie pretends not to know who she is and disappears into the night.  

When Charles appears again it is to ask Esme to help him find a dog that will buy his freedom from the pirate that he is being pursued by.  He needs Esme nose to sniff out the scent and lead him to the dog. Charlie has been enslaved on a pirate ship for the past 21 months having suffered torture and other cruelties, he is not the same man he used to be and will never be able to go home.  So begins the adventure that will lead Esme and Charlie on a path brimming with danger, excitement and a new beginning for both.

Katharine is one of my favorite Historical Romance Authors.  Her stories are original.  Her characters are intelligent, strong, brave and a joy to get to know.  Her writing is sensual and beautiful.  She is also historically accurate and I learn something new with each book she writes.  This is a novella that reads like a full length novel, full of hair raising peril, unforgettable characters and a Happily Ever After.  I recommend this book to anyone who loves superb stories that will leave you wanting  more.

Received a complimentary copy for an honest review.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Blog Tour for The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day...
Author Info
New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "gracefully furious." A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Chapter 1
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, Parliament

She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.
Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.
August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.
Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.
He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.
January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.
His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.
April the seventeenth, 1833.
The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.
He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.
Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.
Where had she gone?

The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.
And they had.
March the first, 1833. The day they met.
So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.
If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?
That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.
And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.
Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?
Where had she gone?
The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.
Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

Book three in the Scandal & Scoundrel Series is a an amazing journey of two people who experienced what few in the world do, a love for the ages.  This is a heart wrenching story of a love that is tested by sorrow, loss and separation.  Seraphina Bevingstoke, Duchess of Haven arrives home in England from self exile to demand a divorce from her husband, Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven. Years earlier they were caught in a compromising position and were forced to marry. 

Sera has made a place for herself and all she wants is to forget the heartache, pain and sorrow that resulted from her marriage.  They are both hiding their feelings and the confusion and pain that they both feel hides the love that has always been present.   Sera also had a miscarriage and is told that she will never be able to have children and she knows that Malcolm needs a heir.  She is convinced that a divorce is the best option for both of them.

Can Malcolm convince Sera that he loves her and only wants to make her happy. He does not want a divorce.  This story has two strong characters whose suffering, pain, loss and newfound understanding of love and trust will make you cry.  I am not ashamed to admit that I cried tears of sadness and happiness.  This is truly a love story that is epic in the telling as only Sarah can do.  I knew when I read "Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake" that she was going to be one of my keeper authors.  I have read everything she has written since and have loved everyone of her books.  I recommend this book highly.  A perfect love story.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Print copies of THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN and A SCOT IN THE DARK, books 1 & 2 in the Scandal and Scoundrel Series (US Only))

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Review of Catching Captain Nash by Anna Campbell

The Dashing Widow Series is one of the best in the Historical Romance Genre and Anna Campbell is an exceptional story teller.  Even though this series is written as novellas, they read like a full length novel.

This story begins with a husband thought dead arriving home to find his brother Silas announcing the engagement of his wife to another man.

Captain Robert Nash was lost at sea and picked up by pirates and was kept prisoner for five years.  He was cut off from all human contact and tortured daily.  The only thing that kept him sane were thoughts of his wife and dreaming of seeing her again.

Morwenna Nash has mourned her husband for five years and is finally persuaded by his family to move on with her life.  She knows that she will never love another man like she loved her husband Robert. What no one counted on was her husband appearing at her betrothal ball to another man.

Robert is not the same confident, witty gentlemen he was when they married, and she is not the same naive young woman.  Can they find the way back to the love that brought them together five years ago?

This is a beautiful love story that runs a plethora of emotions that will take them on a journey of revelations that brings sorrow or a love to last a lifetime.

I would read an ingredient label if Anna Campbell wrote it.  She is that good.  This book is worth so much more than the 99 cents price tag.  I recommend Anna's book whole heartily.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review of Confessions of a Dangerous Lord by Elisa Braden

Every time I read a new Elisa Braden Historical Romance I think that the next one cannot be better,  I am proven wrong.  This is number seven in the Rescued from Ruin Series and it is as exceptional as the last six.  Elisa writes a stunning story of revenge, unrequited love, and a surprising climax that will captivate and satisfy anyone who loves to read Historical Romance.

Lord Dunston, Henry is a Gentleman of many talents.  No one who knows him would believe that he has been ruthlessly searching for the man that killed his father.  His public persona is of a happy go lucky Gentleman without a care in the world.  He is witty, handsome and has a penchant for colorful waistcoats.

Maureen Huxley has secretly been in love with Henry for years.  The problem is that he has made it plain that he will always be her friend and cannot give her more.  Henry is hunting for a individual that will kill anyone that he feels is in his way.  Henry does want Maureen, but he is not willing to declare himself until he has brought this maniac to justice.  It is only when a suitor starts to court Maureen  that he finally realizes that he wants her forever and hunting the murderer will have to be put aside.  He does not want to lose her to some one who cannot not love her like he does.

Elisa knows how to write beautiful stories with enthralling , intelligent characters that you will fall in love with.  There is no skipping paragraphs and pages when I am reading one of her books.  Every word is an intricate part of the story and you don't want to miss a moment.  I recommend this and the previous six whole heartily.

Received complimentary copy for an honest review.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Review of Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

The second book in the "Studies in Scandal Series" is a delightful read.  I am so glad Maitland and Daphne got their own story.  This story has a great mystery, a treasure hunt,  murder,  mayhem and a really nasty villain.

One of four young ladies to inherit an estate, Daphne is the mathematician who loves anything to do with numbers.  When a cipher that will lead to lost gold is found Daphne is the only one who can solve it.   She has always been an outsider to the world that she has lived in her whole life.  She doesn't mean to be socially awkward but her straightforward approach tends to rub people the wrong way.

Until she meets Dalton Maitland,  Dalton seems to understand her and is very attracted to her and would like to have a future with Daphne.  Daphne is perfectly willing to become Dalton's lover but she has no interest in matrimony.  Dalton will use all his Dukely wiles to convince Daphne to marry him.

Manda writes a fast paced exciting story that will have you reading non-stop.  Her characters are wonderfully witty and intelligent.  If you like adventure and a truly gorgeous love story, this is your kind of book.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review of A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes


This not my first Sophie Barnes Book, it's my favorite!!  The cover alone should sell this book!!  Raphe Matthews is an amazing hero.  Orphaned at a very young age by his father's suicide after his mother left him and his three young sisters.  Because of the huge debt left by his father he had no choice but to accept help from an unsavory character to survive and support his younger sisters.  Raphe is the perfect "Diamond in the Rough".   

After living for years in the slums of St. Giles he unexpectedly inherits a Dukedom and moves him and his sisters to Mayfair where they experience the attitudes and prejudices of the Aristocracy.  When he encounters Lady Gabriella Radcliffe he thinks she is just another spoiled young lady who has always had everything given to her on a silver platter.  He couldn't be more wrong.  Gabriella volunteers to help him and his sisters tutor them in everything that they need to know to become accepted members of Society.

As the story progresses Raphe and Gabriella spend time together and find themselves falling in love. 
Will they be able to make a life for themselves among the Ton?  What I love most about Sophie's writing is her characters.   They always have such depth that they practically leap right off the page. Add a well paced plot that is full of surprises that will make you smile throughout and you have the perfect Historical Romance Novel.  Do not miss this one!!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review of The Day of the Duchess by Sarah Maclean

Book three in the Scandal & Scoundrel Series is a an amazing journey of two people who experienced what few in the world do, a love for the ages.  This is a heart wrenching story of a love that is tested by sorrow, loss and separation.  Seraphina Bevingstoke, Duchess of Haven arrives home in England from self exile to demand a divorce from her husband, Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven. Years earlier they were caught in a compromising position and were forced to marry. 

Sera has made a place for herself and all she wants is to forget the heartache, pain and sorrow that resulted from her marriage.  They are both hiding their feelings and the confusion and pain that they both feel hides the love that has always been present.   Sera also had a miscarriage and is told that she will never be able to have children and she knows that Malcolm needs a heir.  She is convinced that a divorce is the best option for both of them.

Can Malcolm convince Sera that he loves her and only wants to make her happy. He does not want a divorce.  This story has two strong characters whose suffering, pain, loss and newfound understanding of love and trust will make you cry.  I am not ashamed to admit that I cried tears of sadness and happiness.  This is truly a love story that is epic in the telling as only Sarah can do.  I knew when I read "Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake" that she was going to be one of my keeper authors.  I have read everything she has written since and have loved everyone of her books.  I recommend this book highly.  A perfect love story.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review of Three Weeks With A Princess by Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa has done it again!!  A love story between two people of two different worlds.  Lia Kincaid lives at Bluebell Cottage with her Grandmother and has the run of the estate Stonefell where she grew up.  Lia knows that she is a walking scandal.  She is one of the illegitimate offspring of a Royal Prince. Her mother and grandmother have been mistresses to powerful and wealthy men.  She has no intention of following them into that profession.  Then her grandmother's protector died and did not provide for them.  Now she has to find a way to provide for them both. 

Jack Easton's uncle has passed away and he must go to Stonefell to take over management of the estate and title of Marquess of Lendale.  The estate is nearly bankrupt from his Uncle's excesses and disregard for the condition of the people who depend on the estate for their livelihood.  As always when he visits the estate he always stops at Bluebell Cottage to see Lia and her grandmother.  Lia and Jack have been friends for ages.  Jack has to tell Lia and her grandmother that even though his uncle did not name them in his will, they will always have Bluebell Cottage and his financial support.

Lia knows that Jack cannot afford to support them.  She has decided to go to London and become an actor like her mother.  Jack follows her to London and mayhem commences.  

There are so many reasons why I love Vanessa's books.  Her writing is intelligent and insightful and witty.  Both Lia and Jack are complex, engaging characters that you will love.  This book is has the right mix of action, heart stopping danger and a journey that will take Lia and Jack to a HEA. While reading this book I could not see how Vanessa was going to resolve the problems of Jack's and Lia's class difference because it seemed impossible, there were too many obstacles to overcome, but she does it with a ingenious ending that will satisfy and delight. Vanessa is one of my go to authors when I want to read a well written love story, and all of her books are keepers that I will read over and over again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review of Seducing Mr Sykes by Maggie Robinson

The second book in the "Cotswold Confidential Series is just as enjoyable as the first one.  What I really enjoy about Maggie's books is the humor and the lengths that the characters take to avoid each other when it is plain as day that they are made for each other.  The old adage "Opposites Attract" is the main trope to this series.

Sadie is sent to Puddling by her father to punish her and make her capitulate to his plans for her to marry.  Sadie wants nothing do do with the men of the Ton and the longer she can avoid, in her mind, a fate worse than death, maybe her father will give up and leave her alone.  Her plan is to stay in Puddling as long as she can get away with it.  Unfortunately she doesn't count on Tristan, our Hero who is a member of the Puddling Board that evaluates it's visitors and decides when they are rehabilitated and can leave to resume their normal lives.  From the beginning Tristan knows that Sadie is nothing but trouble, but he simply cannot resist her.

The only thing they do not count on is the fierce attraction that develops between them.  This is a story full of hi jinks, witty dialogue and moments of hilarity.  Maggie knows how to write a beautiful love story.  Her characters are amazingly complex and the plot is intricate and flows at a great pace.  This is a truly original story.  Maggie writing is smart and sexy.  I cannot wait to read the next one in the Series.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review of The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

This is the sixth story in The Sinful Suitors Series,  four full length novels and two novellas.  I have read them all and recommend them highly.  

This story is about Niall Lindsey The Earl of Margrave and Brilliana Trevor.  Young and in love they thought nothing could come between them.  Then Niall is forced to fight a duel to protect his sister and is exiled to the Continent.  Briliana is devastated but she cannot go with him because if she left there would be no one to take care of her ill mother.  

Seven years later Niall is back in England given a full pardon and is determined to avoid Brilliana.  She is now a widow with a young son.  He doesn't understand why she married another man just a few months after he left England.  She betrayed their love and he cannot forgive her.

Brilliana was broken hearted when Niall left London, but she was only 17 years old. When pressured to marry another man to rescue her Mother and Father from Debtor's prison she relents and marries. But she has never stopped loving Niall and her marriage was a mistake from the beginning. The only good that came out of her marriage was her son Silas.  Now Niall is back in England and she is desperate to avoid him.  She cannot go through that kind of heartache again.

This is a tale of young love, betrayal and redemption.  Niall and Brilliana have secrets that have to come out if they have any chance of a happy ending.  Niall is ready but Brilliana is not so sure.  She cannot trust her judgement anymore when it comes to men and what her heart feels.  Add in a family mystery that includes illegal activities.

This book will surprise and delight.  Sabrina is a truly talented romance author who writes wonderful characters and surprising plots that are of the highest standards in Historical Romance. Her stories are wonderfully original.  Witty dialogue, laugh out loud moments make her books must reads.  I have been reading her stories since her first book was published "A Dangerous Love" which made me a lifelong fan.  I will buy, read and keep her books, including her all of the Deborah Martin novels.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review of The Bad Luck Bride by Jane Goodger

The first book in a new series by Jane "The Brides of St. Ives" is splendid!!  Jane is a truly gifted author who will have you immersed in this wonderful story of the pain of rejection and the redemption of a love that will last a lifetime.  Alice Hubbard has now been through three engagements and is still not married.  She has earned the unflattering nickname "The Bad Luck Bride" by the London gossips.  All she wants to do is return to her home in St. Ives and NEVER, EVER get married.  The only man that she has actually loved left England four years ago.  He was her older brother;s best friend.  When her brother died he is devastated and leaves without a word to Alice or her family.  She has no idea that he felt the same way about her.

Henderson Southwell is a bastard, literally.  He has no idea who his father is and his mother wouldn't care if he disappeared off the face of the earth.  Thank God for his Grandparents, they raised him with love and respect.  Even though he is a Commoner his Grandfather gave him an education where he met his best friend, Joseph Hubbard, the Grandson of a Duke and a Marquess.  Joseph never treated him any different than his Aristocratic friends and they became inseparable.  Henderson would go to Joseph's home in St Ives for all school holidays.  That is where he fell in love with Joseph's younger sister Alice.  He knew he could never have her so he kept his feelings to himself.  When Joseph died, Henderson couldn't face Joseph's family and left England to make his fortune in India.  Now four years later he is back and determined to tell Alice how he feels and to marry her.  The biggest obstacle is her Father who likes Henderson, but since he is a bastard and a commoner, her father doesn't think he is good enough for his daughter.  Can Henderson convince Alice's parents that he loves her and will be able to keep her in the lifestyle that she is used to.  Add in the mysterious deaths of four young men from St. Ives who have died in the last four years, one of them being Joeseph,  presumably by accident, and you have a great read.

Another lovely book from Jane.  What I enjoy about her writing is the flow of the story, the intricate blending of the plot with the great characters that she has created.  There is no character angst, both Alice and Henderson know what they want and will do whatever they have to do to be together.  Both are strong individuals with honesty and integrity that comes across from the beginning of the story. Romance that will have you swooning and reading late into the night.  Loved this one!!  Cannot wait for the next book in the Series.  Alice has single friends in St. Ives, hopefully they will get their story.

Received a Complimentary Copy for an Honest Review.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Blog Tour for The Girl With The Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

While you were sleeping...
With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...
I told everyone I was your wife
When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England.
If only it were true...
Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

This will be the first book I have reviewed by Julia Quinn since I started this blog four years ago.  I have read and kept the entire Bridgerton Series since I read "The Viscount Who Loved Me" which I adored and loved everyone of them.  My favorite is Colin and Penelope's story "Romancing Mr. Bridgerton".  I did read "Because of Miss Bridgerton" but did not review it, I don't remember why.  It was the first in her new Series "Bridgerton Prequels, Rokesby #1).  Now on to my review of this novel (Rokesby #2).
I have always enjoyed her writing and this book was no exception.  The story was original, her writing as beautiful and lyrical as always.  There wasn't a lot of laugh out loud moments that I am used to in a Julia Quinn novel, but to be fair, this book took place during War where both the hero and heroine were away from their homes.
Cecilia Harcourt found herself in an untenable position and had no choice but to take a chance and leave her home to travel across the ocean to find her missing brother.  What she finds is that her brother is no where to be found and his best friend is lying unconscious in an army hospital.   The only way she can see him and make sure that he is taken care of is to pretend to be his wife.  What happens when he wakes up and finds her there?  Will he go along with her story, or if he never wakes up, how will she find out what happened to her brother?
Edward Rokesby wakes up in an Army hospital confused and doesn't has no memory of the last few months.  Cecilia Harcourt is here, how and why is she saying she is his wife? Where is Thomas, her brother. He cannot remember what happened to him and doesn't remember marrying Cecilia.  He takes her at her word and accepts her as his wife.  Now they have to try to put together what happened and where is Thomas?
As a fan of Julia's books I did like this one.  It was different in that is was more serious in it's content. Edward is a great hero who brings out the best in Cecilia, who has never had much to be happy about in the life that she has led so far.  I think Edward was good for Cecilia in that she never really had much to enjoy about life until she met him.  Edward is the kind of man who is compelled to take care of other people, that is why I think he was better off with Cecilia than he would have been with Billie Bridgerton, who was the kind of girl to take charge.  In the end this was a good story about two people who find each other in a world of peril, strife and tragedy and make a life together.

Received a Complimentary Copy for an honest review.

Manhattan Island
July 1779

His head hurt.
Correction, his head really hurt.
It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.
There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.
But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.
An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.
But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.
That war he’d mentioned... people did die.
With alarming regularity.
So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.
So he kept his eyes closed.
But he listened.
He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor. Someone was moaning in pain.

Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.

He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.
And a bit like hard work.
He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.
On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.
“How is he today?”
Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.
Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.
“The same,” came the woman’s reply.
“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon...”
“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.
“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”
“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”
The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”
“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”
A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be... March? April?
No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.
But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked? “There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much. But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.” The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret. “Er...” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?” Her brother? Who was her brother?

“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”
Mrs. Rokesby?
“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.
Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby...
“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”

“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”
Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?
Who was this woman?
Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?
“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.
“I... I don’t think so.”
She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.
“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”
He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?
“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.
“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.
The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.
He still breathes.”
“Mrs. Rokesby...”
Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.
“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”

Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.
Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.
Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.
Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.
She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.

Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.
“You write to her,” he’d said.
So he did.
Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.
Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.
Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.
That would have been strange.
Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and...
Edward thought hard.
...and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.
He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him.

Author Info
Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.
Website:  http://juliaquinn.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJuliaQuinn/
GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/63898.Julia_Quinn
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