Georgana’s Secret: (Proper Romance Regency), by Arlem Hawks – A Review

Georgana's Secret by Arlem Hawks 2021From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Captain Frederick Wentworth: bold, self-confident, and passionate. At fifteen, I thought him boring, far preferring Mr. Darcy’s distant, sophisticated persona. Now at twenty-five, I find that Wentworth, Jane Austen’s final hero, has captured my attention. As I sit here and type this, I ask myself ‘What’s changed?’ For one, Wentworth has energy–vibrancy–that leaps off every page. There is no brooding silence or long caution with him. A man of action, he strides through life with a joie de vivre and a strong sense of compassion for those he encounters. Now that I look at this list, I wonder at my ability to ignore this very worthy hero for years! Before I crack open my copy of Persuasion for a re-read, let me introduce you to a novel starring Captain Wentworth’s equal in character and bravery. In Georgana’s Secret, Arlem Hawks’ debut Regency novel, readers meet a hero and heroine bound irrevocably to each other and the sea’s mercurial waves.

Dominic Payton loves the ocean. It is his life, career, and passion. Despite his mother’s growing pressure to look for a wife, he knows that few women would be willing to live an unconventional, often dangerous life on a Navy frigate. To care for his single mother–and because life isn’t worth living away from the sea–Dominic accepts a promotion to become HMS Deborah’s newest lieutenant. Under the guarded eye of Captain Woodall, Dominic begins to prove his knowledge and skill. Yet it is the role of friend that quickly becomes the most challenging; George Taylor, Captain Woodall’s skittish young cabin boy, is greatly in need of a confidante…and pugilistic mentor.

Georgana Woodhull has a secret. Three years ago she vanished from Society and her abusive grandmother’s power. While Society at large believes her to be locked within the shadows of her ancestral home, she instead treads the boards of the HMS Deborah as a lowly, stoop-shouldered cabin boy for her father. The dark humor at her situation hasn’t escaped her–before her mother’s death three years prior, the sea ruled her dreams. It was a wild freedom that ever called to her. Now, all she longs for is a fresh start on land. Continue reading

School for Love: The Hapgoods of Bramleigh (Book 3), by Christina Dudley – #BookReview, #RegencyRomance, #HistoricalRomance, #TraditionalRegency, @CNDudley

School for Love, by Christina Dudley 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Besides their prominent place on many Regency fans’ bookshelves, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Georgette Heyer’s Frederica have another trait in common: Their plots revolve around a group of loud, lovable, and independent people who have the good fortune to call each other ‘family.’ While our lively Elizabeth Bennet might complain (if given the chance for an interview) about her claustrophobic world, the charm and humor of Pride and Prejudice would be lost without the rest of the Bennet clan. Despite the familial meddling in these two great works, the heroines and heroes find love and, perhaps equal in worth, readers enjoy hours of amusement at their antics. Since 2013’s release of The Naturalist, Christina Dudley has followed in the footsteps of Austen and Heyer in her series, “The Hapgoods of Bramleigh Hall.” School for Love, her latest installment, continues the story of the eccentric Hapgoods and their hilariously romantic escapades.

As an unmarried member of a small community, Rosemary DeWitt has long worn the label of spinster. It isn’t that she’s afraid of marriage; rather, she refuses to marry a man who desires her solely for her wealth. As Rosemary busies herself by championing the right of education for her village’s young women, she hides her growing sense of discontent, only showing her free-spirited side to her parents and brothers. That is until a solemn-faced, sparkling-eyed visitor arrives in town.

“She had already, to her embarrassment found him a compelling man, but seeing his habitually somber features thus transformed made her breath stop. Why–it was better that the man only smiled rarely. Because, when he did do so, she supposed all the world would come to a tumbling halt as she had, transfixed… ‘Ah,’ she said to herself. ‘So Lionel does not get his winning ways only from his mother.’ This thought was followed by ‘whatever you do, do not reach out and touch the man again!'” (Location 1704)

A widower fresh from thirteen years in a loveless marriage, Hugh Hapgood struggles to be a good father to his three young children. While visiting his son, Lionel, who is in turn visiting his Hapgood cousins in Bramleigh, Hugh is surprised to find that his son has formed an instant attachment to the striking Miss Rosemary DeWitt. Miss DeWitt’s intelligence, conversation, and friendship soon capture Hugh’s thoughts and respect in a way that no Society Beauty has accomplished yet. Unfortunately for his goals of singlehood, she has also captured the fascination of his very wily, very tenacious children. As Rosemary and Hugh navigate the wilds of childish mayhem and compromising situations, they discover that no one is too old to find love…or too young to matchmake. Continue reading

The Christmas Bride: A Chance Sisters Novella, by Anne Gracie — #BookReview, #RegencyRomance, #HistoricalRomance, #ChristmasReading, @AnneGracie

The Christmas Bride by Anne Gracie 2020From the desk of Pamela Mingle:

There’s nothing like a romantic Christmas novella. Every year I look forward to a new batch to brighten my holiday reading. The best ones warm the heart, and this year we especially need that. The many readers already familiar with Anne Gracie’s Chance Sisters novels will love The Christmas Bride.

The story begins with Blake Ashton, known as Ash, making his way back to England after ten years abroad. He’s been living in the Far East, where his daily life involves “…balmy breezes, azure skies, spicy foods, and warm, willing golden-skinned, sloe-eyed women.” After a meeting with his business partners over the holidays, he intends to return to his adopted home immediately, without seeing his family. We learn that as a young man, he made some disastrous moves that had placed his mother and sister on the brink of ruin, but it’s not until later in the book that the scope of his misdeeds is revealed.

On the last leg of his journey, Ash is held up by a footpad with a pistol. He draws his own, and when a boy runs out yelling, “No!” Ash discharges his weapon and injures the footpad, who turns out to be a young lady. Horrified, he carries her to the rundown cottage where she and her brother have been living, and he stays on to care for her since there’s nobody else to do so. The fact that she’s quite lovely isn’t lost on him, either.

Charlotte (Charley) Underwood and her little brother, Toby, have fallen on hard times. Ash finds out from Toby that their father shot himself due to gambling debts. Until Charley comes of age in about a year, their cousin Albert is their guardian. He wants Charley to marry his son, whom Toby describes as a “drooling simpleton.”

Ash’s friends and business partners soon show up. Worried that he hadn’t arrived on schedule, they set out to look for him and soon located the cottage. Max, Lord Davenham, insists on taking Charley and Toby to Davenham Hall for the Christmas holidays. Ash will be there, of course. Because Toby is so enthusiastic, Charley reluctantly agrees. Continue reading

A Christmas Promise: Timeless Romance Anthology® (Book 16), by Joanna Barker, Annette Lyon, and Jennifer Moore— #BookReview, #HistoricalRomance, #HistoricalRegency, #ChristmasReading

A Christmas Promise 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:

Christmastime often recalls the many forms that love takes. We all know what it is to love our family and friends, and even to find love when we least expect it, all year round. There’s something special about this time of year in particular that amplifies those warm feelings. The many forms of love are beautifully demonstrated in A Christmas Promise, the latest Timeless Romance Anthology® featuring bestselling and popular Regency romance authors Joanna Barker, Annette Lyon, and Jennifer Moore.

“The Two Bells of Christmas” by Joanna Barker brings readers to a country house party with identical twin sisters Cassandra and Vivian Bell, who have been invited by the mother of a most eligible bachelor, Roland Hastings—unbeknownst to him. After a promising introduction in London, Miss Vivian Bell has set her matrimonial sights on Mr. Hastings. During the Bell sisters’ travels, however, Vivian falls ill. It soon becomes apparent that she will be bedridden for most of their visit, so she begs unconventional Cassie to pretend to be prim-and-proper Vivian and keep Vivian’s quarry from being captured by another husband-seeker. “I am still determined to do what I can to claim his attention. I’ll not leave such a thing as love to chance.” (56) When Roland arrives home from London anticipating a quiet Christmas with his mother, he is dismayed to find his home filled with houseguests of the single young female variety. Reminded of the promise he made before his father’s death to marry and produce an heir, Roland reluctantly agrees to make an effort to get to know the ladies his matchmaking mother has chosen for him. He is most intrigued by the outspoken Miss Bell and her contradictory behavior. Can eccentric Cassie protect her heart and make her sister’s dreams come true during her risky masquerade?

“Promise Me Again” by Annette Lyon presents Miriam Brown, the daughter of a sheep farmer, and Jacob Davies, the younger son of a landowning merchant. The enamored young couple wishes more than anything to marry and start a happy life together. But Jacob’s controlling elder brother Norman has lofty goals for him, and low-born Miriam is a hindrance to those plans. In an attempt to marry without Norman’s knowledge, Jacob and Miriam secretly plan to wed on Christmas Eve morning by special license in the church of a distant town. Seeking power and influence, Norman will stop at nothing to bend his brother’s will. Miriam wholeheartedly believes that “their love could conquer anything, including a misanthropic, jealous elder brother.” (1680) But will they emerge unscathed? Continue reading

A Castaway in Cornwall, by Julie Klassen – A Review   

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell:  

In this holiday season, acclaimed novelist, Julie Klassen, returns to the Regency world with her latest historical romance, A Castaway in Cornwall. Featuring dangerous wreckers, shifty smugglers, and mysterious strangers, readers may well detect a similar refrain to the haunting melody that is Daphne du Maurier’s classic, Jamaica Inn. Readers brace yourselves: prepare to be transported outside of the lights and glare of the 21st century to an old-world bathed in mists and deafened by the roaring of the sea. Prepare to meet a heroine who, against all odds, bravely fights to reclaim what the ocean has stolen.

“Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here in Cornwall, so far from my childhood home. I feel like a castaway, set adrift on the tide…” 

Laura Callaway has lived along Cornwall’s unpredictably beautiful shores since the reported death of her parents while en route to the Isle of Jersey years ago. With no closure from her own loss, Laura combs the shores for items to save from greedy locals in order to return them to the families of loved ones who have perished in shipwrecks. When a man washes up on the shore one fateful night, half-alive, by instinct Laura spares him from a wrecker’s death blow. Little does she know that this man isn’t the only survivor of the wreck, and this final survivor will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

“In a haze of confusion, Alex had seen the blurred image of a red-haired woman bending over him, her windblown hair falling around her lovely face, her eyes as dark as the depths. He’d thought the legend of the mermaid had invaded his dreams. Now he knew the woman was real…” 

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