Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Victorian Era

The Merchant and the Rogue: The Dread Penny Society (Book 3), by Sarah M. Eden—A Review  

From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Thanks to Charles Dickens’ vivid imagination and keen eye for the overlooked, Victorian England’s readers met paupers and rag-sellers, prostitutes, and orphans. Many other authors followed his example in showing the light, the darkness, and everything in between, that are a very real part of our world. John Thornton, Dorothea Brooks, Helen Huntingdon, and more came to life alongside Oliver Twist, each fighting for truth, justice, and hope in a hard world. Sarah M. Eden’s latest in “The Dread Penny Society” series, The Merchant and the Rogue, is set in the city of Dickens: the mad, bustling, glittering, foul, terrible, great streets of 19th century London. Like the Victorian classics, it shines a light on the individuals who are not wealthy or aristocratic, and like the dread-penny novels of the time, it does this with plenty of flair, humor, and mystery.

If laughter truly were the best medicine, Brogan Donnelly would have been the healthiest Irishman in all of England. Jests came as easy to him as breathing, and that was more-or-less all anyone knew about him. He preferred it that way. – Chapter 1, Location 59 

Continue reading “The Merchant and the Rogue: The Dread Penny Society (Book 3), by Sarah M. Eden—A Review  “

Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Victorian Era

Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In 1837, a sheltered yet determined 18-year-old became Queen Victoria and ushered in an era of immense transformation. Increased educational and employment opportunities for women and an overall increase in literacy cracked open the previously elite worlds of journalism and literature and scientific invention in exciting new ways. It was a time when a lady bluestocking might finally earn the chance to collaborate with other intellectuals as an admired and respected equal. Master storyteller Jennifer Moore has created a lovely and well-researched representation of this unique era in the latest tale from The Blue Orchid Society series, Inventing Vivian.

During a fateful meeting in a library sanctuary while escaping the unwelcome pressures of a ballroom, science-minded inventor Miss Vivian Kirby had made a pact with four other remarkable young ladies to form the Blue Orchid Society and to achieve their private ambitions with each other’s support and encouragement. Vivian was thrilled by the thought that her dream “was actually achievable. And the difference, she realized, was that she had the support of people like herself.” (237) Continue reading “Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review”

Book Reviews, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction, Victorian Era

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose

Reader, I must confess that I went into this book totally blind. No blurb, no captions, and a mere glance at the cover. This is because I spotted the title and the author, and it was all over. I needed a gender swapped Jane Eyre-Dracula mash up to quench my insatiable curiosity and wonder over such a combo. Some authors might have difficulty pulling off such a feat, but I did not have a doubt in the world that in Mimi Matthews’ capable hands that John Eyre would dazzle.

John Eyre arrives at his new place of employment on a cold, rainy, and foggy night. He barely catches a glimpse of the new Yorkshire countryside or Thornfield Hall. His mind is weighed down by the past and his head aches dreadfully.  He craves the laudanum that he has been using to dull his memories and pain. But it is not long before natural curiosity for his peculiar new charges, his absent employer, and his new surroundings rouse him. Thornfield Hall might be remote, creak with odd noises, and the Yorkshire environs bleak, but John Eyre starts to settle in and feel a modicum of peace. Then Mrs. Rochester arrives.

Mrs. Rochester is changeable, direct, capable, and very much in charge. He senses there is great mystery from this well-traveled world-weary woman. She challenges him and his notions of women, and the world he has barely experienced in his humble circumstances. His very stolidity and sureness Continue reading “John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review”

Book Reviews, Regency Romance

The Indebted Earl: Serendipity and Secrets (Book 3), by Erica Vetsch – A Review

The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch 2021From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

Hello, fellow Austenprose readers! Finally—the winter is over and spring is here. To commemorate this season of growth and new beginnings, we bring you Erica Vetsch’s latest Regency creation, The Indebted Earl. The third in her Serendipity and Secrets series, it can be read as a standalone or as a continuation of the series. This novel’s themes of making (and forgiving) debts and starting afresh are universal, but this time, they come with the added flair of a wild seascape and even wilder hearts.

Portugal, 1814: As he sits by his friend’s deathbed, Captain Charles Wyvern wishes he could trade places. An oversight risked both of their lives during a Naval battle, and he believes it unfair that he—career member of the Royal Navy with no loved ones waiting for him on shore—healed from his near-fatal wounds, while Major Rich Richardson will leave behind his devoted mother and charming fiancé, Sophie. In Rich’s moments, Charles agrees to his friend’s final request: Will he temporarily leave the sea and do whatever he can to take care of the two women Rich is leaving behind?

Things were simpler at sea. The rules of engagement were clear, and the chain of command set in stone. Feelings and opinions didn’t enter into the equation, and total obedience was expected. Yes, things were definitely simpler at sea…but lonelier, too, if he was to be completely truthful. (118)

England, 1814: Lady Sophia Haverley—Sophie, to her friends and family—never expected to lose Continue reading “The Indebted Earl: Serendipity and Secrets (Book 3), by Erica Vetsch – A Review”

Book Previews, Regency Romance

A Preview & Giveaway of Winning the Gentleman: Hearts on the Heath (Book 2), by Kristi Ann Hunter

Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann HunterHappy Spring dear readers! My daffodils are budding, and hope is in the air.

On that uplifting note, I am happy to introduce you to a new Regency romance novel whose heroine is not your typical shrinking Miss pushed into a London Season. Winning the Gentleman is a forthcoming release by the bestselling author Kristi Ann Hunter—and it will surprise and delight you.

I adore a feisty heroine who bucks the system. I have fond memories of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice with her “decided opinions” tramping across the countryside, and Sophy Stanton-Lacy in Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy, the most beloved outgoing, independent, and unconventional heroine of the genre taking action and raising eyebrows. Hunter’s female protagonist, Sophia Fitzroy, rivals her predecessors. She is a horse trainer in a traveling circus with her own ideas of what a women’s life should be when she meets Aaron Whitworth, a gentleman in need of a racehorse jockey.

This unexpected concept for a historical romance novel is not only surprising but also refreshing. The setting in the Regency-era English countryside is enchanting, and their slow-burn romance captivating.

Kristi’s publisher has kindly shared an exclusive excerpt with our readers and offered a generous giveaway chance for a print copy of the book. Please see the details at the end of this post and leave a comment to enter.

Wishing you all happy reading. Continue reading “A Preview & Giveaway of Winning the Gentleman: Hearts on the Heath (Book 2), by Kristi Ann Hunter”

Book Reviews, Regency Romance

A Captain for Caroline Gray: Proper Romance Regency, by Julie Wright — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

An outspoken bluestocking lady in Regency England, unless independently wealthy, was most likely to be shunned by Society into involuntary spinsterhood and poverty. Suitable husbands were difficult enough to come by, but for a lady with a clever mind and vibrant opinions, her options were fewer still. Desperation led many a spurned lady onto a ship bound for India in search of Englishmen with lower standards and plentiful wealth. That long and arduous journey is depicted in author Julie Wright’s latest Proper Romance, A Captain for Caroline Gray.

Miss Caroline Gray’s unconventional education at the behest of her well-meaning parents had included “politics, science, and literature” (99) and none of the silly arts of flirtation that might have secured her future. Consequently, she had endured three London Seasons where the gentlemen “all liked her well enough before she opened her mouth. Conversation with her led them from interest to wariness. And when they’d discovered that she was often found at public lecture courses on physics, their wariness turned to outright disdain.” (182) Continue reading “A Captain for Caroline Gray: Proper Romance Regency, by Julie Wright — A Review”

Book Reviews, Regency Era, Regency Romance

School for Love: The Hapgoods of Bramleigh (Book 3), by Christina Dudley – A Review

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. Continue reading “School for Love: The Hapgoods of Bramleigh (Book 3), by Christina Dudley – A Review”

Book Reviews, Holiday Reading, Novella or Short Story, Regency Era, Regency Romance

The Christmas Bride: A Chance Sisters Novella, by Anne Gracie — A Review

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. Continue reading “The Christmas Bride: A Chance Sisters Novella, by Anne Gracie — A Review”