Review: The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews

Title: The Winter Companion

Author: Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: 11 February

Available for preorder

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Yet again, Mimi Matthews delivers a deliciously addictive and wonderfully written love story with The Winter Companion. This time, we delve into the lives of Neville Cross and Clara Hartwright. If you’ve been following the Parish Orphans of Devon series, then you’ve already had glimpses of Neville. Of all the boys (now men) who’d grown up together in the orphanage, I was always most curious about Neville, especially considering the injury he’d sustained from his fall from the cliffs. We get more insight into his life and how his BTI has affected him and the choices he’s made along the way.

With the coming Christmas holidays as the backdrop, Matthews sets the stage for a very nice slow-burn love story. We have Neville, painfully shy at times and more at home outdoors than in drawing rooms making small talk, and Clara, a paid companion to Mrs. Bainbridge who longs to learn and know more–but held back because of her gender and a secret from her past. Already from their first meeting, thanks to an elderly pug called Bertie, we know that Neville and Clara are meant to be. The question is how will it come to pass. And their path to love is very satisfying.

There are so many things that I loved about The Winter Companion: the richness of the setting, how Matthews weaves in the cast of characters we recognize from previous books in the series, how even the secondary characters come across as fully realized people and not simply as props… I could go on. But the most important factor for me in loving this book was how Matthews writes about Neville and his brain trauma injury. Gaining insight into how it has affected his life and how he’s tried to deal with it…as well as the initial resentment he felt at being the one left behind…made me as a reader feel such empathy for him and gave me a better understanding of why Neville never strayed far from the abbey.

I also enjoyed that Matthews allows us time to get to know Neville and Clara. They’re complex characters and having the chance to find out how life’s experiences made them who they are gave even more depth to their story.

If you like historical romance, then I think you’ll love the Winter Companion. For me, reading this book was pure pleasure. Highly recommended!

Review: The Wicked Sister by Mary Lancaster

Another winner from Mary Lancaster! I’ve truly enjoyed the Blackhaven Brides series, and the Wicked Sister is a worthy finale to the series. 

When Maria, returns from London with a scandal (stemming from a misunderstanding) behind her, she expects to be punished by her mama and scolded by her older brother, Gervaise, Lord Braithwaite. She doesn’t expect to cross paths with Michael Hanson, who happens to be Gervaise’s personal secretary and something of a radical. He’s highly unsuitable – but when did that ever stop a flirt…or the possibility of love?

Add to it political intrigue as news of an impending battle with Napoleon Bonaparte threatens to tear Europe apart again…well, you’ve got yourself one hell of a fun page turner.

Great characters whom you instantly empathise with and the setting of Blackhaven is as wonderfully described in Book 13 as it was in the earlier books in the series. I feel as though I have been there many times. 🙂 

Loved it from start to finish. Highly recommended!

Review: Perception by Terri Fleming

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 14.28.45Title: Perception

Author: Terri Fleming

Publication Date: July 13, 2017

Synopsis:

Mary Bennet does not dream of marriage. Much to her mother’s horror, Mary is determined not to follow in the footsteps of her elder sisters, Jane (now Mrs Bingley) and Lizzy (now Mrs Darcy). Living at home with her remaining sister, Kitty, and her parents, Mary does not care for fashions or flattery. Her hopes are simple – a roof over her head, music at the piano, a book in her hand and the freedom not to marry the first bachelor her mother can snare for her.

But Mrs Bennet is not accustomed to listening to her daughters.

While Kitty is presented with tempting choices and left trying to resist old habits, May discovers that things are not always what they seem and that happiness has a price. But by the time she realises that her perceptions might be false, could she have missed her chance at a future she’d never imagined?

REVIEW

As much as I love Jane Austen’s novels, I tend to avoid the stream of sequels to them written by contemporary authors. Initially, I fall under their spell and read them, but more often than not they don’t really leave me feeling satisfied. Imagine my happiness now that I’ve finally read a Jane Austen sequel that was very satisfying and left me wanting to read more! Yes, I can happily say that Perception is a Jane Austen sequel I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Perception picks up several years after Pride and Prejudice. We follow the lives of Mary and Kitty Bennet, the only daughters still at home with Mr. and Mrs. Bennet now that Jane, Lizzy and Lydia are married. As with Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet bemoans the plight of still having two unmarried daughters and wonders what will become of them. Mary, who is a bookish introvert who has accepted that she is not as beautiful as her sisters and also hates the societal conventions that require women to be frivolous and vapid, seems to accepted her lot in life. She assumes she will be a spinster who must take care of her parents when her sister Kitty eventually marries. For her part, Kitty worries that she will never meet anyone she wants to marry. She also assumes that she will end up a spinster, still living in her childhood bedroom and caring for her ageing parents. But, of course, fate…and the arrival of a very eligible bachelor shakes things up for both Mary and Kitty.

Perception excels at returning the reader to Longbourn House of Pride and Prejudice and into Mary and Kitty’s lives. Fleming does a wonderful job of recreating slightly older and (not always) wiser Mary and Kitty and their every day worries and squabbles. I loved watching the evolution of two women as individuals and as sisters. I also felt that the potential suitors Fleming created for the sisters were perfect choices and the arcs of their relationships was enjoyable to read, especially as Fleming often took unpredictable turns in the course of the story.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I can highly recommend Terri Fleming’s Perception. I loved following this wonderfully written sequel to Pride and Prejudice, and I look forward to reading more novels by Fleming.

My rating? 5 stars

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What’s Kim Reading? – April 1-7

What's Kim Reading?

You all know that I am a voracious reader. Here’s a list of books I’ve #1clicked this week.

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 10.57.36Title: The Makeover

Author: Nia Forrester

Synopsis:

They’ve got the ‘friends’ part down pat. But now, they have to learn how to be lovers.

Samantha has been best friends with Colton since they were toddlers. His NBA career has never impressed her, nor would he want it to. Their friendship is based on two things: a long, shared history, and Sam’s tendency to keep things real with him, even if the rest of the world doesn’t.

When Sam realizes that the feelings she has for Colton—that are much stronger than friendship—might be returned, it seems like their problems are over, but no, that’s when the real trouble starts.

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 11.00.15Title: Vienna Dawn (The Imperial Season, Book #3)

Author: Mary Lancaster

Synopsis:

En route to Vienna, where the great powers of Europe are making peace and elaborate entertainments, spirited Russian countess, Dunya Savarina, is rescued from ruin by Captain Richard Trelawny, a wounded British officer who has given up on life and happiness.

Resourcefully, Dunya secures Trelawny’s alliance in her master-plan to marry her first love. After all, having lost an arm and an affianced bride in rapid succession, the captain is clearly in need of her peculiar brand of help in his own affairs. Together, they embark upon a deception intended to win back their old loves.

Roused from indifference by Dunya’s whirlwind vitality, Trelawny adroitly handles his sham engagement, hostile family, wicked seducers, espionage, elopements, and duels, all the while protecting Dunya and trying very hard not to fall in love with her.

And Dunya begins to suspect that first love is not always the greatest love – or even the most fun.

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 11.05.07Title: The Swedish Prince

Author: Karina Halle

Synopsis:

I never believed in fairy-tales.

Never held out for Prince Charming.

Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.

Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my doorstep.

At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.

But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.

Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.

He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.

Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.

I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.

When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?

Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?


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Carl Philip, the real Swedish Prince

I’ve just started reading The Swedish Prince. It’s New Adult, which is not a genre I usually read, but it’s fun so far–especially since I live in Stockholm, Sweden. Our real Swedish Prince (Carl Phillip of Sweden) is pretty dishy and very married these days, but it’s nice to dream. 😉

Once I finish reading The Swedish Prince, I’ll start with The Makeover. I am a diehard Nia Forrester fan. She is an author whose work I automatically #1click without even needing to read the synopsis. Why? She *always* delivers stellar fiction.

What are you reading this week?

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Review: Vienna Waltz by Mary Lancaster

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 17.03.03Synopsis:

Intrigue, suspicion and true love at the Congress of Vienna…

In 1814, with Napoleon finally defeated, the great and the good of Europe descend on Vienna to plan a lasting peace – and to dance.

Ejected from her home on the death of her father, Lizzie Gaunt – along with her gaggle of siblings and a large, unruly dog – finds herself in Vienna with her diplomat uncle. But Lizzie is determined not to remain dependent upon her aunt and uncle for long. After witnessing a daring theft, she recruits the unusual thief to carry out her plan – which should hurt no one except her father’s heir, the vile Russian cousin she’s dubbed Ivan the Terrible.

However, Lizzie’s simple scheme is soon complicated by a wounded Austrian spy, a formidable English matron, a masked Russian rakehell from the Emperor’s masquerade ball, and a mysterious villain selling information that could ruin the Congress before it properly begins. And then there’s Cousin Minerva’s romantic difficulties, and Cousin James’ gambling debts to sort out.

While Vienna dances, Lizzie tries to solve everyone’s problems, and ends by falling disastrously and dangerously in love.

 

Review:

I stumbled upon Mary Lancaster’s Vienna Waltz while doing research for a historical romance I would like to write. Since I love Vienna (it’s one of my favorite places to visit) and I’ve always been fascinated by the Austro-Hungarian empire, this was the perfect historical romance for me to read.

Vienna Waltz starts with a theft. Our heroine, Lizzie, is at the opera with her aunt and cousins when she witnesses a thief snatch a woman’s necklace. This act leads to a case of mistaken identities and romantic intrigues that in the heart of the Austrian capital.

This lighthearted and romantic novel does a fantastic job of capturing the grandeur and the intrigues around the Congress of Vienna, when heads of state gathered to negotiate long-term peace following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. Lancaster does a wonderful job of weaving fact with fiction, peppering her story with historical figures and a charming Russian hero, Vanya, who is not at all what he appears to be. In Lizzie, we get a headstrong heroine who is determined to do what she can for her orphaned sisters and brothers, even if it means putting her own life on a shelf.

If you love reading historical romances set during the regency era, but would love to read something other than stories set in England, then give Mary Lancaster’s Vienna Waltz, the first book in her Imperial Season series, a try. It’s exciting, well written and such a delight to read. I fell in love with Vanya and Lizzie and I think you will too.

My rating?

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Book Review – An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 06.50.37Alyssa Cole has done it again: written a historical IR romance set in a tricky time period and done so with amazing aplomb! I am usually skeptical about IR romances set during the American Civil War. This is due to too many of them romanticising the master-slave relationship in a way that, for me, feels disingenuous. In An Extraordinary Union, Cole takes the completely different angle to her story.

Instead of giving us the stereotypical master and slave who fall in love trope, we get something far more exciting–two Union spies in the Loyal League infiltrating the household of a Confederate senator. One of the spies is Elle, a free Black woman with the gift of being able to remember *everything*; as a spy, she puts her life on the line by going to Richmond, Virginia to pretend to be a mute house slave to get information that will help foil the Confederacy. The other spy is Malcolm, a Scottish immigrant pretending to be a Confederate soldier who manages to get close to the senator for the very same purpose–to get whatever information he can about the Confederates’ plans in order to bring them down.

Of course their paths cross in a not-so-meet-cute, but it’s exciting and it sets up the story well. We are reminded constantly of the dangerous situation that Elle and Malcolm are in–if they are found out, they will be tortured and/or killed. And for Elle, who has seen the horrors of slavery as a child and has willingly put herself back in the same situation for the sake of the Union, she is not willing to give in to the attraction she feels for Malcolm–initially she does not know he is also a spy, but also because she has seen the reality of her situation face to face–she and other slaves are property, they are seen as breeders, less than human, disposable. And she’s seen it from the side of slavery and from the abolitionists, some of whom view abolishing slavery as a mission while not caring about or even respecting the very people they claim to want to help. Malcolm’s own experiences in Scotland at the hands of English tyranny have left an indelible mark on his life and that of his family. And while he knows it cannot compare to what Elle has seen and experienced, it does make him more aware of the reality they face and it strengthens his conviction that this is not the sort of world–where men can deem other men as being less than human, buy and sell other men, rip apart families, even kill other men with no fear of the law–he wants to live in.

Cole has woven an exciting story that hooked me from the first page. And my skepticism was completely blown away thanks to her writing a story that does not shy away from the harsh realities of slavery and racism. I used to live in Richmond, Virginia–the capital of the Confederacy–so it was nice being able to picture the story taking place there.

Highly recommended! I am definitely looking forward to the next instalment of this series.

My rating?

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Review: Distracting the Duke by Elizabeth Keysian

Distracting the Duke

by Elizabeth Keysian
Publication Date: February 20, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Historical Romance

REVIEW

Elizabeth Keysian’s Distracting the Duke is an entertaining page-turner of a regency romance that had me hooked from page one.

Early on, we have one of those embarrassing moments that eventually set up Distracting the Duke’s meet-cute: Clara overhears Marcus and a friend discussion what sort of woman he should marry and Marcus is initially dismissive on Clara and her charms. She is far too opinionated and intelligent for him, and he is in the market for a “brainless, biddable” wife who will not argue with him and will bear him lots of children. Clara, on the other hand, is a widow who is not the least bit interested in being any man’s wife–after a disastrous marriage to an odious, abusive man, what she wants is independence, since (at the moment) she is having to live under her brother’s roof and by his rules. Marcus is all set to woo Ellie, Clara and her brother’s ward, but somehow Clara keeps distracting him.

Though Clara and Marcus start off as enemies of sorts, it’s obvious these two are meant to be. The chemistry between them is electric and they both ignite the other’s curiosity and passion. I really liked how Ms. Keysian added doses of reality–touching on the domestic abuse and betrayal Clara was subjected to in her first marriage and the emotional and physical abuse Marcus dealt with during his formative years as well as how watching his parents marriage crumble affected how he himself views the institution.

This is a well-written story with engaging characters. My only quibble is that sometimes the pacing felt a bit too fast and I wanted the author to slow down a bit. I also longed for a little more historical bits (more about the politics of the time, etc) but the characters kept me hooked and I was charmed by their love story.

A recommended read!

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BUY:

SYNOPSIS: 

Devonshire, England, 1820

Determined to avoid the strife-filled marriage of his parents, Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, wants an amenable, biddable wife, and has set his cap for a certain pretty miss. Unfortunately, her vastly opinionated, frustrating, and lamentably beautiful guardian, Lady Clara Tinniswood, keeps distracting him, tempting him to consider a far more tempestuous—and passionate—union.

Recently widowed Lady Clara Tinniswood wants only to organize a quiet new life for herself, beyond the control of any man. But one shockingly unguarded moment while confronted by Marcus’s gloriously naked body catapults her headlong into a forbidden passion and threatens to undermine all her well-laid plans.

Even if Marcus abandons his sweet ideal and surrenders to his growing desire for Clara, there’s one unalterable issue which could destroy their hopes forever… 

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ABOUT ELIZABETH KEYSIAN

Elizabeth Keysian felt destined to write historical romance due to her Cornish descent, and an ancestral connection to the Norse god Odin. Being an only child gave her plenty of time to read, create imaginary worlds, produce her own comics, and write sketches and a deplorably bad musical for an amateur dramatics group.

Three decades spent working in museums and archaeology fired Elizabeth’s urge to write, as did living on a Knights Templar estate, with a garage full of skeletons, a resident ghost and a moat teeming with newts.

Elizabeth lives near Bath in England with her partner and cats.

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Book Tour: How to Play the Game of Love by Harmony Williams

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How to Play the Game of Love

by Harmony Williams
Ladies of Passion, #1
Publication Date: October 17, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Historical Romance

how-to-play-the-game-of-love-cover

BUY:

Synopsis: He’s everything she thinks she doesn’t want.When Miss Rose Wellesley’s father threatens an arranged marriage, she knows she’d better settle on a choice quickly or end up having no say in who she marries. Fortunately, she’s garnered a rare invitation to Lady Dunlop’s “Week of Love” house party, an annual affair notorious for matchmaking. Her plans to expedite a proposal would go smoothly if not for the brash younger sister she must chaperone, her outspoken, disagreeable best friend, and the bullish Lord Hartfell who seems determined to dog her every step.

Lord Hartfell embodies every last thing Rose dislikes in a man. He’s domineering, tenacious, argumentative, and a little too casual with his nudity for her tastes. Worst of all, Rose can’t seem to get him—or his kisses—out of her mind.

Rose is determined to find a more appropriate husband, even if her heart disagrees with how unsuitable the stubborn lord is…

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EXCERPT:

The rustle of cloth hailed Hartfell removing his jacket. Ignoring me, he laid it on the floor in front of the chuckling fire. Not a terrible idea. After unknotting and unwinding the cravat from his throat, he discarded it onto the gleaming desk. Then he went to work on his shirt.

I turned my back. “What in damnation are you doing?”

“My clothes are soaked. Yours too. Even if you’d like to catch a chill, I’d rather avoid it.”

He sounded amused, not at all contrite or ashamed. And he’d called me shameless.

“We’re very much alone,” I reminded him.

“If we stood in the middle of a crowded room, it would hardly be appropriate for me to undress.”

At that, I whirled on him. “It is not appropriate now!”

His shirt hung over the back of the desk chair. He stood, utterly bare from the waist up, in nothing but his breeches and boots. The soft-looking mat of hair on his chest glimmered golden in the firelight.

He lingered far too close. A ballroom would not have been enough space between us, but he stood scarcely two steps away. With his ground-eating strides, maybe one.

Breathlessly I added, “Anyone might walk in.” My heart beat frantically, restraining my voice to a whisper. If I were discovered with him in this state of undress, I’d have to marry him.

A more odious fate, I couldn’t imagine.

With a shrug, he crossed to the closed library door and locked it.

My mouth fell open. “What did you just do?”

“I ensured no one would interrupt us.”

“Interrupt us? You make it sound like we’re having a conversation. You are undressing.” I lowered my voice and hissed out the last word.

He turned. “Maybe we are, and you’re just too blasted stubborn to hear it.”

His chest loomed within an arm’s reach now. I’d stalked toward him without noticing. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the unadorned flesh of his body.

He was what Francine would call an agreeable specimen. Of course, she referred to plants rather than people when she spoke those words, but no other description fit him. I hadn’t had the misfortune of seeing many men bare-chested, after all. My experience was limited to one.

The breadth of his shoulders devoured the space in the room, closing in on us until he seemed to surround me. The downy hair on his chest beckoned. Would it feel soft? Raspy? I clasped my hands behind my back to keep from finding out firsthand. My gloves, a bit damp, squelched softly. His muscular physique surprised me. What did he do to stay so supremely fit?

“Do you like what you see?” he asked in so low a rumble, I nearly mistook his voice for the thunder outdoors.

ABOUT HARMONY WILLIAMS

harmony-williams

Harmony Williams has been living vicariously in Regency-era England since she discovered Jane Austen. Since time machines don’t yet exist, she’s had to make do with books—fictional and non-fictional. On the rare occasions she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, she likes to drink tea and spend time with her 90-lb lapdog. A feminist, she writes stories about strong women and the men who support them as equals.

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Conquering William Blog Tour

Conquering William Blog Tour 

August 30-September 8

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Sir Arthur’s Legacy, Book 3  

by Sarah Hegger

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Series: Sir Arthur’s Legacy, Book 3

ISBN-10: 1601839162

ISBN-13: 978-1601839169

 

 

Blurb

 A practical marriage…

He married for convenience, but William of Anglesea had hoped for more than piety from his new bride. Raised in a convent and thrice widowed, prim Lady Alice of Tarnwych seems like an innocent when it comes to the marriage bed—except for the tentative passion he senses in her touch, and sees in her eyes. It seems the bold knight has a new challenge in alluring Alice. But will seducing his intriguing wife lead to his downfall?

An inconvenient desire…

Everything about charming, free-spirited William defies the cloistered world Lady Alice comes from. Duty brings her to their bed—and a long-held hope for a child. Yet after three indifferent husbands, the desire William shows her awakens her own. Little did Alice expect the powerful feelings he would inspire, emotions that make her ready to abandon her rigid beliefs, and the only family she’s ever known—when William’s life is on the line….

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Excerpt

If she lived to be a hundred, Alice never wanted to attend another wedding, particularly not as the bride. The odor of roasting meats almost undid her, and she took a long draught from her water goblet. A bride did not vomit all over her wedding feast.

Her father, face ruddy with wine, sidled up and pinched her side. “God’s teeth! Smile, you stupid wench. I have found you a good ‘un this time. Far better than a butter-face like you could hope for.” Goblet held high, he strode away, sprinkling wine across the heads of those he passed. His forced laughter grated on her ear.

To her right, her groom drank from his goblet. In a deep, smooth voice, he murmured to his mother on his other side. As he shifted, his muscular thigh pinned her skirt to the bench.

Loathe to draw his attention, Alice tugged the dull brown wool.

He inclined his head with a smile, moved his leg, and freed her skirt. “I beg your pardon.”

God save her from her beautiful husband. “No matter.”

“May I serve you more water?” Eyes deeper blue than the lake beneath the castle twinkled at her. Candlelight gleamed off his dark hair and clung to his finely etched face.

“Thank you, but nay.”

With another smile, he turned back to his mother.

She would prefer if he did not smile so much. Or did not smell so appealing. His subtle woodsy-sweet spice teased her every time he leaned nearer. He did quivering things to her innards. How could she hope to hold a man such as this? Atop the scarred table, their trencher sat between them, still full of mutton, gravy oozing into a brown puddle on the table. It couldn’t be worse. Her father had outdone himself this time. Three husbands he’d chosen for her and this one, by far, the most daunting.

Aye, but William of Anglesea would make fine children. Tall, strong boys, broad and powerfully built like their sire, and girls to take after his mother and sisters. A child of her own. A downy head nestled against her breast, a tiny body cradled in her arms. She touched her palm to her flat, empty belly, and put her hand back on the table before anyone could notice. Even butter- faces had dreams.

A jester before the dais capered about, ringing his bells and doing his best to enthuse the assembly with joviality. Poor man raised only titters of amusement. He must have come with her father for the wedding, for they had no resident jester at Tarnwych. A few determined souls cheered the jester on his way, and a band of minstrels took his place. The cheery pipes led the lutes into songs praising the bride’s beauty and the groom’s virility. Could they not spare her those? She’d wager the minstrels would change their songs when they left for the inn tonight.

The bawdy ballad of Alice of Tarnwych and William of Anglesea. She made up her own words to the cheerful wedding song the minstrel band warbled.

The peacock ruts with a dull, brown wren,

 A dull brown wren,

 a dull brown wren

The peacock ruts with a dull, brown wren,

Fa, la, la, la la.

William, the peacock, with his striking looks and finery had stood beside her in the chapel, and the top of her head had only reached his shoulder. How the ladies in attendance had sighed as he dipped his dark head and recited his vows to her, the dull, little wren in her brown wool dress with her atrocious hair confined to a wimple. Both William’s sisters boasted glorious flaxen hair the hue of summer wheat, not brazen red. Willowy and graceful they glided in rich, silk slippers like butterflies, whilst she stomped around in her sensible clogs.

Sister Julianna leant in and kept her voice low. “This is a bad business. This family is sown with wild, spoiled seed.”

Then there was that. Whispers of the taint on Sir Arthur’s beautiful family carried even this far north.

“It is time.” Gracious and lovely, Lady Mary of Anglesea rose with a sweet smile for Alice. “Shall we?”

“Aye, let us get to the meat of the matter.” Smug grin eating his face, her father thumped the table.

Rising too, Sir William offered his hand to her. Grip warm and sure, he helped her climb over the bench, then straightened her skirts for her. No fault could she find with her groom’s manners. As far as she could see, he had no faults at all. Men like William should marry their faultless equals. How different would this be if she looked like his mother and sisters? If she could enter his bed with her head held high, confident in her groom’s delight in her beauty.

The other women stood with her. Lady Faye, flawless and serene in her pregnancy, golden hair framing her enchanting face. Her second new sister-in-law, Beatrice. Bea, they called her, and on occasion Sweet Bea. Not as fair as Faye, but her pretty countenance made more so by the lively march of humor across it.

God mocked her by surrounding her with all this overbearing comeliness.

“Come along, then.” Beatrice’s smile stretched false with forced good cheer. Nay, they no more welcomed this match for their brother than she did.

Another wedding night and she would endure.

Bio

Sarah Hegger B&W copy 

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

She currently lives in Colorado with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

Sarah is the recipient of the 2015 EPIC Award for Historical Romance.

She is represented by Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

 

Giveaway (to enter please go to sarahhegger.com)

To celebrate the release of #3 Sir Arthur’s Legacy, Conquering William, Sarah is giving away 3 copies of Conquering William (US winners may receive their copy as an e-book or paperback, international winners will be provided their copy as an e-book only) and 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards.

To enter, simply become a subscriber to Sarah’s quarterly newsletter. If you’re already subscribed, or wish to gain additional entries, leave a comment on one of the two blog posts below:

Why I Find That Mindfulness is Vital to My Work & What Cultivating Compassion Shares with Writing Romance

Writing and Research in Historical Fiction: A Peek Into My Method and My Madness

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Book Review: Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.03.38It’s not often that you get a chance to read a Regency romance with people of color in focus. Vanessa Riley challenges the usual norms of Regency romance with her latest novel, Unmasked Heart, an inspirational romance with a biracial heroine as its heart and soul. All of her life, young Gaia has felt that she is not as loved or cherished as her siblings. She thinks it’s because she resembles her mother, who was rumoured to have Spanish blood. Gaia is gentle, good-natured and patient–exactly the sort of daughter her father should love, but still he is distant with her and treats her like she is a step above the servants. What Gaia wants most in life is to marry the neighbour’s son, a botanist with a fickle heart. Enter to the scene the Duke of Cheshire. He is in need of help from someone like Gaia–someone who will be kind and patient with his mute daughter. He’s not looking for love. He thinks himself incapable of love. But when he and Gaia meet, and they have two meet-cutes, it’s obvious that Fate has already got something planned for them.

I really enjoyed reading Unmasked Heart. I am not someone who usually reads inspirational romances as I generally find them too preachy. However, Vanessa Riley does a great job of

Author Vanessa Riley

Author Vanessa Riley

NOT being preachy and focusing on what is at stake–the relationship, the growing respect

Gaia and the duke have for one another and–when Gaia uncovers the secret of her past–the soul-searching necessary for her to come to terms with who she really is. I thought the question of race was handled quite well–it makes sense that there would be gossip, and that her father would assume that his actions could shield Gaia from disappointment without realising that he is doing his daughter a disservice.

A positive and interesting take on the Regency tale with a sweet heroine you want to cheer for.

My rating?

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