Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Tangling with the CEO by Annie Seaton

 

Tangling with the CEOI was given an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

This reasonably short book looks to be the first in a series, the hero and heroine Blake and Ana have a history – and it’s about to be kick-started…(slight spoilers ahead)

Set in San Francisco, Blake is the CEO in question – and Ana is, unfortunately for her – likely to lose her job along with her friends in the restoration department of a local hardware store.

Ana has an appointment to see Blake about their future – but on turning up at his house a family crisis hits and she’s about to spend a weekend helping him out with his sister’s kids. One of the children also is Autistic, and I clocked him straight away – as a family member is Autistic. It was lovely to see a real and positive representation of it. It was also lovely to see a lovely real representation of family and a houseful of kids and pets!

This is a sweet book with kissing only if you don’t enjoy books with sensual scenes and has a positive vibe throughout.

All in all I really enjoyed this book, it was sweet, funny and had a suitably uplifting ending. I would have liked to have known a bit more about Blake and Ana, and it seemed that their original parting was dealt with quite quickly.

I would recommend this as a fun quick read, and look forward to seeing more of Half Moon Bay.

This ebook is available to download now.

You can find a copy of this review on my Goodreads page.

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Book Review: The Divorce Party by Jennifer Hayward

The Divorce Party by Jennifer HaywardI was given a copy of this book by the author.  As I have watched their progress to publication including the So You Think You Can Write competition, I also wanted to review it here.

Similarly to the last Modern/Presents book I reviewed at the beginning of this book the hero and heroine Riccardo and Lilly are not together – in fact they are about to celebrate signing their divorce papers at their very own divorce party!  What Lilly does not expect is that Riccardo has no intention of allowing the divorce to go ahead.

To ensure being able to pay for medical treatment for her sister, Lilly feels forced to return to Riccardo on his terms, temporarily.  Riccardo sees it as an opportunity to make amends and to repair the marriage – unbeknownst to Lilly he is still in love with her and cannot understand why she left him.  When the two of them go away together to Barbados for the weekend their D-Day is about to happen, and Lilly’s insecurities and the lies surrounding their marriage have to be finally faced.

The sexual tension between them is fairly explosive right from the beginning and there are sensual scenes throughout.  They are a very strong willed couple!

This is a particularly emotional book, and both characters are flawed and need to look at themselves before their relationship can work.  Again, like the last book I reviewed, this marriage will begin at the end.

I am really enjoying this subtle changing in the roles of the latest Mills and Boon Modern characters and stories, and look forward to more like this.

Incidentally, this story won the 2012 So You Think You Can Write competition, and it is a worthy winner.

A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.

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Book Review: Rumours that Ruined a Lady by Marguerite Kaye

Rumours that Ruined a LadyI received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I was very surprised and honoured to find that I am also thanked in the book!  Very, very exciting.  You’ll have to read it to find out why, hehe.

But there are many more reasons why I love this book…

The first is that it is another sequel, so another sister in the Armstrong sisters family – though you don’t need to read the others to read this book.  You might find it does add to your enjoyment.  There is one more sister to go now, Cordelia, for those that are following.

Next, and most importantly, is this is totally not your average Regency romance novel.  It is for a start much, much darker.  It is a tale of a marriage gone very wrong, a thwarted love affair – and is in a sense told backwards through some flashbacks throughout.  I got used to those, but I must say didn’t enjoy them as much which is what contributed to my final grading of the story as a whole of 41/2 stars and very nearly a 5.

The hero and heroine in the story are Caroline Armstrong, but when we meet her Lady Caroline Rider, and Sebastian the Marquis of Ardhallow.  Through the flashbacks we get to know them both and their love affair that develops when they are much younger.  Of course, at that time it is doomed to fail, and when we catch up with them both Caroline has left her husband and is living a very scandalous life – even going so far as to take opium which threatens her life.  Sebastian is attempting to destroy his own life by becoming known as a womaniser and gambler and refusing to settle or associate with his father.

A muddle all round really – so how will this end well you might ask?  Well that’s a very long story – and a very good reason to read this one.  Not only does it deal with scandal, but within it the natural complexities of falling in love (again) and deciding what best to do with your life – if you can’t have who you want.  Caroline cannot be divorced, and Sebastian must marry to continue his family line.  The bleak scenes at Sebastian’s family home really get this point home to you with his own mother’s experiences.  But the resulting healing brings with it a chance for the future.  When Sebastian confronts his past and Caroline finally deals with her husband a solution presents itself…

The only small things I didn’t like were the many flashbacks and how the huge problem keeping the hero and heroine apart was only dealt with via a letter in the epilogue – I felt this deserved more.  Having said that, this is a very, very good book.

Do I sense further thawing in Bella the girls’ stepmother?  And will Lord Armstrong finally be brought down a few pegs?  Come on Cordelia, don’t disappoint me!

A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.

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Winner: Marguerite Kaye Competition!

I’m pleased to announce via the random number generator the comment picked and the winner of Marguerite’s book Rumours that Ruined a Lady.

The winner is…Mandy!

Please email me with your address using the blog’s email which you’ll find on the left hand sidebar of the page, and I’ll pass it on to Marguerite so she can send you your book.  Thanks to everyone for commenting, I think I’ve picked up a few more here to add to my collection…

I’ll be giving away shortly vintage copies of some of my favourite novels – Sharon Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour and Madeleine Brent’s Tregaron’s Daughter – so stay tuned for more details on that.

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Book Review: The Rings That Bind by Michelle Smart

The Rings That Bind I was given a copy of this book by the author.  As I have watched their progress to publication, I also wanted to review it here.

First of all – if you don’t like cheating in Mills and Boon novels – don’t think that this isn’t for you!  But beware, as you may not like the first chapter at the very least.  What you do need to know about Nico and Rosa, the hero and heroine in question is that at this stage of the book they may be married – but technically speaking they are not in love.

Like many marriages in these stories – it is one that is a business relationship, and particularly so in The Rings That Bind – it was never intended to be anything else but convenient.  No previous knowledge of one another, no secret feelings/babies or anything else.  What it does eventually contain in a hot-house relationship that is slightly claustrophobically played out in a yacht.  But I’m ahead of myself here.

Nico Baranski (who I’m adding to my love Russian heroes list) is a very successful businessman.  As such, he marries Rosa to their mutual satisfaction.  He gets a very efficient woman permanently in his life, but mainly to stay as his PA.  She gets to move on from her clingy ex and to continue to enjoy her successful business relationship with Nico.  Win/win you might say for a couple that don’t require love.  This is what brings me back to the first chapter.  Rosa realises that in the eleven months that they have been married she is falling in love with Nico.  From now on we are allowed to glimpse Rosa’s extreme loneliness and barren childhood.  The warmth and security, albeit a working one has shown her how life could be if she and Nico loved one another, and why she should end the marriage now.  Why she falls into the arms of her ex (ouch).

Neither the hero or heroine know how to act with this information they now have before them.  Rosa tries to run – Nico tries to shape and control it as a business exercise via a trip abroad to sign some contracts.  What they get is the chance to live a week of their lives like they are in love in a yacht off the island they are staying on.  A chance to become intimate – which they never did before and there are some sensual scenes here – and the chance to become honest with one another about who they actually are, come from and want to be.

As such I found this story a refreshing read, the marriage effectively ends at the beginning, a relationship blooms in the middle, and the marriage begins at the end.  Very clever.  My only quibble is that although Nico is Russian and I get the fact has travelled extensively, I did find some of his British slang a little off putting at times.  Having said that, I look forward to Michelle’s next book.

A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.

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Guest Post & Giveaway: My Favourite Research Books – Marguerite Kaye

I’m very excited to welcome the lovely Marguerite Kaye to my humble blog this week in order to celebrate the release of her latest book – Rumours that Ruined a Lady.

We’re often talking about books and historical research, so what better subject to have a natter about here!  Take it away Marguerite…

Hi there, and thank you so much for inviting me to talk about one of my favourite subjects, historical research.

I read a LOT, though what I don’t read a lot of are traditional ‘history’ type books. I do have those so I can check up on dates and times and key events, but it’s the detail of history I enjoy most, and the gossip, and for those two things, you can’t beat letters and diaries.

I first came across Lady Hester Stanhope in The Oxford Book of Letters (ed Frank Kermode and Anita Kermode).  Lady Hester acted as her uncle, Pitt the Younger’s political hostess, before heading off to a colourful and ultimately tragic life in Arabia.  It was many years later that I returned to her letters for inspiration when I was writing an Arabian-set romance, but that goes to show that nothing is wasted.  The Oxford Book of Letters is one of those anthologies that are perfect for dipping into when you have a spare half hour.  There is a letter from Fanny Burney to her sister which describes her mastectomy in a great deal of blood-curdling detail.  What struck me though, was the strength of Burney’s personality that shone through, and the depth of the bond between the siblings that allowed her to be so frank. And that’s what I really love about this book. The letters are intimate.  They not only give a real sense of the personalities involved, but they give a real sense of time and place, and for me, that’s what makes the history embedded in them memorable.

Historically, marriage is much more about property than love.  I first came across Lawrence Stone’s books on marriage at university, little thinking that they would be of use so many years later.  My much-thumbed copy of Uncertain Unions and Broken Lives is a fabulous source of material. Lawrence covers the full range of courtship, marriage, divorce and separation in England (which is quite different to Scotland).  There are endless permutations of clandestine marriage, for example, that would make endless variations on plots for a romance.  What has always struck me, particularly from reading some of the case studies he uses, is how relatively easy it is to get married, and how very, very difficult it is to get divorced – particularly for women, and particularly with the freedom to marry again. In fact, so difficult that I almost had to give my latest hero and heroine an unhappy-ever-after because I couldn’t find a historically-accurate way of getting her out of her first marriage.

I do like a good scurrilous history, and Julie Peakman’s Lascivious Bodies is just that.  If you want to know the tricks of the trade employed by courtesans in the Eighteenth Century, or if you’re interested in finding out the range of specialist brothels Covent Garden had to offer, then this is your book.  Molly Boys, cross-dressers, sexual toys and contraception, it’s all here, in bawdy yet authentic detail – some of which I included in my short, Behind the Courtesan’s Mask.

For ‘straight’ research, my current favourite was recommended by the very person who hosts this blog.  Scotland’s Lost Houses by Ian Gow is a beautiful glossy produced by the National Trust for Scotland, of just some of the stately homes that are now lost to us forever.  I ‘borrowed’ Hamilton Palace, exterior and interior, for Crag Hall, my hero’s home in Rumours that Ruined a Lady.  The lush illustrations in Gow’s book inspired me to have my hero and heroine tour the house, and the photograph of the Golden Bed of Brahan (from Brahan Castle) inspired another scene in my book – though I added a mirror!

As usual, I have a huge ‘tbr’ list, but two books are top of the heap.  First off, Antonia Fraser’s Perilous Question, on the drama surrounding the 1832 Reform Bill. It’s a subject I know little about, and I know, because I think I’ve read everything else Antonia Fraser has written, that she’ll bring not just the history but the characters to vivid life. It also helps that I am honoured to have managed to get my hands on a signed copy. Since I’m immersing myself in the 1920s for my next couple of stories, the other book is Mary S Lovell’s The Mitford Girls. I adored Lovell’s biography of Lady Jane Digby, so I don’t doubt I’ll enjoy this, and that it will give me loads of ideas.

But no matter how big my ‘tbr’ pile may be, I am of the very firm belief that you can never have enough books. So if you have any recommendations, do share them with me, I’d love to hear them.

You can see all my reviews, fiction and non-fiction, on my Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/MargueriteKaye. There’s more about my books, their inspiration and lots of other stuff on my website: http://www.margueritekaye.com.  Or why not just come and chat to me about books and life in general on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/margueritekayepage

Rumours that Ruined a Lady

SPOTTED: LONDON’S FAVOURITE FALLEN HEIRESS, TAKING UP WITH THE ROGUE MARQUIS!

Amongst the gossip-hungry ton no name has become more synonymous with sin than that of Lady Caroline Rider, cast out by her husband and disowned by her family. Rumour has it that the infamous ‘Caro’ is now seeking oblivion in the opium dens of London!

There’s only one man who can save her – notorious rake Sebastian Conway, Marquis of Ardhallow. Soon Caro is installed in his country home, warming his bed, but their passion may not be enough to protect them once news of their scandalous arrangement breaks out…

Thank you again for popping by Marguerite, and as a special treat, there is also a chance to win a print copy of Rumours that Ruined a Lady.  All you have to do is tell us about your favourite book in the comments section, and then Marguerite will pick her favourite answer. 

My own review will be appearing on the blog very soon, and why this book is particularly special to me :-D

I also can’t resist adding that I’ve just been to my local bookshop and purchased Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England by Sarah Wise (I loved her book on grave-robbing) and The Search for Richard III: The King’s Grave by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones (I’m a massive Richard III fan).  All this in my very own Yeadon’s bookshop Books Are My Bag…bag!  I think you’d like the Wise one, Marguerite!

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Book Review: The Language of Spells by Sarah Painter

The Language of SpellsI received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

I must admit I was intrigued by the title, and what the content could be when looking at this book, as I have an interest in the esoteric anyway.  Never mind stories that contain even a hint of magic, so I was excited to get reading.  Also, this is the author’s début book – so obviously I’d never read her work before.

From the very start I was pulled into the story – a hint of a dark past, an inheritance from Great Aunt Iris, and a small (cosy?) English village that our heroine goes back to after many years.  A great time to read it I think – as the seasons are going from Autumn to Winter in the book as they are as I read it.  Not to mention CAM.  Yes, we’ll come back to him…

Gwen Harper is from a family of women who most will refer to as witches.  Growing up with a sister and a single-mum, life wasn’t easy and they moved around a lot.  Gloria, the girls’ mum did not use her magic wisely – or at least for good – and when Gwen shows signs of having a gift for finding things, she uses it to full account making money from people who want to use it as a service – and this is from a child.  Needless to say, Gwen and her mum are not particularly close as we come into the story – and neither is Gwen with her sister Ruby, who resents any talk of magic.  Also introduced is her niece Katie, who will prove to hold a pivotal role in the story.

Talking of dark pasts, Gwen also left a past love back in Pendleford – Cam Laing, and boy is he gorgeous – even if he does come across initially as having a broom inserted!  Cam has remained in the village to become a lawyer in the wake of his father’s death, and is angry that Gwen left him without a proper explanation.  I won’t go into why Gwen left the village many years before as it will contain spoilers, but let’s just say it ties into the magic that runs throughout the whole book.

Gwen won’t be able to stay at her new house in Pendleford without confronting the past however.  There are people who believe in her family’s magic in a good way and in a bad way.  This story is also about family and friends relationships, and their complications.  She will need to make choices about her past and future and whether she is ready to leave her transient lifestyle behind and settle.  The story also has a line of suspense running through it when Gwen has to deal with someone who is trying to scare her into leaving.

It is also such a fun book.  The character of Gwen has such heart and courage – she is witty and strong – and far more than the girl that left the village.  I think part of the reason I enjoyed the book so much is that we spend almost all of it entirely with her, and end up routing for the future that she desires.  I really connected with her, and also laughed along with her.  And who could not like Cat!

I really loved this book – and it is not often I say this, really.  An amazing début, I was sucked in so much I could hardly put it down and finished it in about a day I think.  I also couldn’t stop talking about it!  That is it’s charm and the skill of the writer, you can’t quite put your finger on what it is…

I hope to read more in the future by this author.

A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.

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Book Review: The Seduction of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn

Seduction of Lady PhoebeI received an ARC of this book (ebook) via NetGalley.

The author of this book was initially unknown to me, but upon reading the blurb and seeing the cover, I was intrigued enough to requested a copy to try.  I must say, despite not being quite sure at the start by the end of the book I knew that I had enjoyed it very much.

Lady Phoebe Stanhope is what you might refer to as an Original.  Unmarried, though 24 years old, she knows her horseflesh, can handle herself in a fight – but most of all is in no rush to find herself a husband.  After all, she also has money and status of her own.  Lord Marcus Finley, the seducer in question of the title – would certainly not be her choice of husband, after a youthful indiscretion on his part towards her.  However, he is about to find that upon his return to England, he now has many responsibilities to take on, and Phoebe is certainly one he would happily volunteer for.

I did find that this book was a little slow for me at the start, and I wondered whether I would take to Phoebe and Marcus.  I believe in a way I preferred Marcus, as surprisingly, he takes more of the traditional female/heroine role.  Having always known that he cared for, and later loved Phoebe, he is in a position of having to prove this to her, and convince her to marry him.  Along with a slightly villainous sub-plot, which to be honest was only a minor distraction and I could have easily done without and slowed the pace somewhat.  I could also understand Phoebe’s indecision to a certain extent – but it did wear a little thin towards the end.

The hero and heroine do have some sensual scenes, and their decisions relating to intimacy were quite modern I thought – though not hugely, distractingly so.  I appreciated the warmth between them and their families.

All in all, the book came to a satisfying conclusion leading to the introduction to the next book in the series, about Phoebe’s friend Anna.  I am certainly impressed and intrigued enough to want to seek it out upon publication.  Recommended for a light, romantic read with some sensual scenes.

Available now on ebook and print via Kensington.

A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.

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Book Reviews Update – Autumn

I’m just about to start posting finished reviews for several books from earlier in the Summer, and from the August period.

In the meantime, here are the ones from mid Summer to most recent that will also be appearing as soon as I’ve finished reading and reviewing them:

  • The Seduction of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker
  • The Rings That Bind by Michelle Smart
  • Wildish by Robert Parry
  • The Divorce Party by Jennifer Hayward

Stand by for review updates as I am able to post them.  I will also have some more new ones into Autumn/Winter to add in the next few weeks.

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My Waterloo

Since I went to Apsley House back in July, I’ve become a tad obsessed with all things Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo – not that I wasn’t interested in them before.

I love the story of Lady De Lancey – so I must get Lady De Lancey at Waterloo: A Story of Duty and Devotion by David Miller and re-watch the DVD of Waterloo which I saw years ago and has great battle scenes.

I’ve acquired these great books so far:

  • Waterloo: A Near Run Thing by David Howarth
  • Ladies of Waterloo – original accounts from Charlotte Eaton, Magdalene De Lancey and Juana Smith
  • To War with Wellington by Peter Snow
  • Dancing into Battle A Social History of the Battle of Waterloo by Nick Foulkes

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