Review: Rumours Among the Heather by Amanda Balfour

rumors among the heatherReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Juliana Hastings is in a dire situation after being left destitute from her unfortunate father’s death. She is still in mourning, but has to get her life together, and wonders how she will be able to cope when her fiancé decides to jilt her. Her only hope is to become a governess for Matthew McDonald.

Matthew McDonald is in a dire situation as he becomes a fugitive when the Jacobite Rebellion ends. When he turns to Juliana who he has come to know as a great friend, confidante and lover, she gives him all he needs – yet when he is caught, he thinks she has betrayed him and continues to hate her even though she still loves him. When he is set free later, he wants to find Juliana and get his revenge.

Review: Matthew has the aid of his friend to get him safe passage to freedom at the beginning, but events soon change for the worst. Amanda brings the characters together under the worst of circumstances, while Matthew is busy trying to get away from his attackers; Juliana wants to get closer to him to be work for him. Matthew has a nephew, Ian whose mother died who doesn’t talk for long periods of time, leaving him with a boy who doesn’t want to learn through stubbornness. Juliana likes the challenge though and accepts his terms even though she is perceived to be too young for the position of governess.

He is surprised at her bluntness and temper, but intrigued that she had been brought up to be a genteel lady. The further into the story I got, I felt Matthew became more and more intrigued by her even though she says she doesn’t want to flirt with him, and just wants to get her job done. Her actions seem to betray her thoughts, leading her down a path she can’t come back from.

Good bits:

  • Matthew’s altercation with a footpad in the street – daring to say the least!
  • Having a pub called the Pig and Whistle.
  • Matthew notices Juliana tries to hide her beauty, but he knows a pretty girl when he sees one.

Bad bits:

  • The story takes a while to get really interesting.

Last thought: Amanda has gone to a lot of trouble to portray a beautifully ‘bonnie Scotland’ that can be loved by all, especially the characters that enrich the entire novel.

[Rating:4]

Buy: Rumors Among the Heather

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Review: The Duchess Hunt (House of Trent, Book 1) by Jennifer Haymore

duchess huntReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sarah Osborne and Simon Hawkins have known each other for a very long time. Some time has passed since they last saw each other. Upon his return, a mystery is afoot. I love a story that starts off with a mystery. I have to follow because I need to know when the mystery gets solved.

Sarah was the child of an employee and as an adult she is now an employee herself. This was probably the norm back in that time period because everyone stayed within his or her “station”. Simon is a good man who looks at a person beyond their station. I’m glad that this practice has long since changed.

There is one scene where Luke, Simon’s brother shows up a little “under the weather”. As I read the scene, I have to wonder if he’s going to have his own book. And in going over to Jennifer’s web site, http://www.jenniferhaymore.com, I find out that book two titled The Rogue’s Proposal will be his story. The book will be coming out in November of this year. They have a sister Esme and she has a novella titled The Devil’s Pearl, which came out in May.

Jennifer will keep you on your toes because just when you think everything is going well for Simon and Sarah, she gives the reader a “What?” moment. At this point you have no choice but to keep reading otherwise you won’t know how things turn out.

This is most certainly a story of true love especially when nothing can stand in the way – including what other people think. If you’re looking for a story that will make you feel good at the end but with a mystery – a mystery that is not solved by the end – you will want to pick up a copy of Jennifer’s book. And if you haven’t read Esme’s novella, I’ve already picked up my copy, you’ll have plenty of time to get it read before November.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: The Duchess Hunt (House of Trent)

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Audio Review: A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2) by Julia Quinn

night like this julia quinnHero: Daniel Smythe-Smith, the Earl of Winstead, has finally returned to England after several years spent abroad, living in fear of his life. He’s gotten good at looking over his shoulder, but he must admit it’s really nice to not need to do that. When he meets his cousin’s governess, Daniel knows she hiding something and he is intrigued and lays a hot pursuit to win her affections. But even with the assurances of his friend, a man he shot and nearly killed over a card game, a powerful and ruthless enemy is after him still. But who? He doesn’t like that whoever it is, is willing to put Anne in danger.

Heroine: Anne Wynter is not who she appears to be, a governess to three young ladies. Her past hides a secret she must run from constantly and use every precaution to keep. A change of name, sending letters by different post offices, moving to London, it is all to avoid a single man who broke her heart at 16. Anne knows she was born and bred a lady, but as tempting as Daniel is, she doesn’t know if she can risk her heart once more.

Review: Daniel is a beta hero, perhaps not by choice, but because of circumstances. A young noble man on the run is unlikely to develop alpha tendencies, but that said, he’s clever in his pursuit of Anne and arranges meetings all the time when she least expects him. In real life, I’m not sure such an approach would work, because Anne gave a lot of “no” signals which Daniel ignored. Anne gives as good as she gets however, and punishes Daniel for his sneakiness by making him participate in playacting his cousin’s original play (which is terrifyingly horrendous and involves unicorns). The best aspect to both characters is that they never let the horrible set of circumstances they found themselves in to bitter them. Both Daniel and Anne stayed true to their original natures, perhaps a little more cautious and wiser, but ultimately fundamentally the same. I loved their meet-cute at the musical and kisses…. and Hugh definitely intrigues me as a reader. I am ready to read his romance!

Narrator: Rosalyn Landor is one of my favorite narrators. She makes any book a pleasure to hear.

[Rating:3.25]

Buy: A Night Like This

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Get into Bed with Anne Gracie (Author Interview)

AnneGracie4_2Keira: How does a governess become a companion?

Anne Gracie: In my book The Autumn Bride Abby is sacked from her governess job when she smuggles in her sister and two friends for the night. They have nowhere else to stay — they’ve just escaped after being kidnapped and taken to a brothel. Things go from bad to worse, and in desperation Abby goes to break into an old mansion in search of something to steal. Instead she finds aristocratic Lady Beatrice Davenham in dire straits — bedridden and in the hands of lazy and neglectful servants.

So with the old lady’s cooperation she and her “sisters” pretend to be Lady Beatrice’s nieces, thus improving everyone’s situation.

Keira: Why was Lord Davenham in the orient?

Anne: When he was just eighteen Lady Beatrice’s nephew, Max, Lord Davenham had inherited a title and a mound of debts. For the last nine years, he’s been away in the Orient, making his fortune, and now he’s come home. He’s not impressed to find his home invaded by impostors. Especially when his aunt informs him that he’s got nothing to say about it — if she wants to have nieces, she’ll have nieces!

Keira: What is the most interesting Regency rule you’ve come across in your research?

Anne: I honestly can’t think of one — the thing is, people bent “rules” in those days just as much as they do now. The important thing was not to get caught.

Keira: A governess’s most loveable qualities are. . .

Anne: My heroine, Abby is the kind of person who takes care of other people. She’s a loyal friend and sister, and she’s also impetuous — she can’t ignore another person in trouble — and that’s what gets her into trouble. She’s a fighter, too — she stands up to Max from the very beginning.

AutumnBride64k

There was the sound of a scuffle, and she ran down the last few steps to the landing in time to see Featherby fall to the floor and a tall, dark-haired stranger push past him and enter the house. Before she could gather her wits, he’d crossed the hallway and was racing up the stairs toward her, taking them two at a time on long, powerful legs.

“Stop!” Abby braced herself, flinging her hands out to bar his way. “You can’t come up here.”

She fully expected him to shove her roughly aside, as he’d shoved Featherby, but amazingly, he stopped.

She had an impression of a hard, chiseled jaw, a bold nose, a firm, compressed mouth. And he was tall; even standing three steps below her, he was taller than she. Her heart was pounding. What sort of a man would shove his way into a lady’s house with so little ceremony? At this hour of the morning?

He was casually dressed in a loose dark blue coat, a white shirt, buff breeches and high black boots. His cravat was carelessly knotted around a strong, tanned throat.     Despite the almost civilized clothing, he looked like . . . like some kind of marauder. His jaw was unshaven, rough with dark bristles; his thick, dark hair was unfashionably long and caught back carelessly with a strip of leather. Gray eyes glittered in a tanned face.

A dark Viking—surely no Englishman would have skin that dark, burnished by years under a foreign sun.

“Who’s going to stop me?” He moved up one step.

She didn’t move. “I am.”

Keira: How do you define love?

Anne: I couldn’t — I just know it’s everywhere, all around us, and has many different forms and faces. In The Autumn Bride, for instance, there isn’t just love developing between the hero and heroine, there’s love between the sisters, and between the four girls and the old lady.  The old lady adores her autocratic nephew and even though she drives him to distraction, he adores her too. It’s everywhere — you just have to know how to look for it.

Buy: The Autumn Bride (A CHANCE SISTERS ROMANCE)

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of The Autumn Bride is up for grabs! Enter by leaving a comment or asking Anne a question!

Review: The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick

paidcompanionHero: Arthur Lancaster, Earl of St. Merryn, needs a fake fiance to distract the ton while he’s hunting a murderer. A real one is too much bother and prone to runaway. So how does one acquire a fake fiance without worrying about the silly chit wanting to actually get married? Arthur devises a great plan to solve the conundrum – hire a paid companion! Such a chit needs funds and will have no illusions. She’ll be well-bred and respectable and everything a real fiance must be in order to pass scrutiny. But so far he hasn’t found one to fit the job – you’d think there would be at least one young lady around wouldn’t you?

Heroine: Elenora Lodge, ex-heiress, lost everything she owned because of her stepfather’s get rich schemes. She manages to secure the farm worker’s positions and steal her jewelry when leaving. The jewelry provides a safety net for a better future. Elenora wants to own a book store and is willing to work as a paid companion to get there, except she can’t find a suitable position all the ones the agency sends her to are cretins and drunkards. Can an unusual proposition yield the results she so desires?

Review: If you like steampunk overtones you will love this romance. The alchemy is a science that just seems like magic involving lasers to make Jove’s Thunderbolt. Even creepy criminal butlers get their just desserts. Loved the hero and heroine. Everything was wonderful in this book and hit all my buttons just right. I love it when books do that – this is a keeper!

[Rating:5]

Buy: The Paid Companion

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