Review: The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh

temporary wifeHero: To say that the Marquess of Staunton does not have a good relationship with his father is an understatement. When summoned to return home after eight years of separation, he decides to thwart his father’s matrimonial plans by finding his own wife first. He wants to embarrass and wound and decides the lowest he is willing to go – a plain biddable working gentlewoman – and advertises to find her. But of course, advertising for a wife is out of the question so he advertises for a governess. After she has served her purpose, Anthony will pension her off and go back to his usual routine.

Heroine: Miss Charity Duncan saw her future spin out before her as a dull and bleak thing. She would be an aunt and a sister, but never a wife or mother. She would always need to support her family in one role or another. Too beautiful to gain work as a governess, she disguises her beauty and answers an ad that will change her life. Mr. Anthony Earheart’s proposal is outrageous and yet… it could be the answer to her family’s debt. She does not expect him to be a Marquess anymore than he expects her to beautiful and vivacious. They’re both in for a surprise.

Review: I hugged this book a couple of times while reading it because it was so good. This is definitely staying on my favorite’s shelf. I can’t believe I picked up The Temporary Wife from a community table at my condo. Mary Balogh’s writing pulled at my heart and reminded me why I loved to read romances. I’d rate six stars, if my rating system went up that high. What I liked best: Staunton discovering that his heart can be touched and transforming into a better man, their first time together at a hotel on the way to his father’s estate, and Charity’s ability to win over everyone determined to look down on her – including Anthony’s ducal father.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring

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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: ★★★★☆

Buy: Rumors Among the Heather

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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 Soldier by Grace Burrowes

Reviewed by Aggie S.

Devlin has finished with war and serving his King. He just wants to go home and take care of the family holdings. Upon arrival he finds a waif of a child in his fountain, dirty and straggling looking. He is informed that this waif conveyed with the estate, which he finds hard to believe. He is to be responsible for this child’s upbringing.

First thing he determines is that the child needs a bath, but nobody in the castle will help, so he assumes that this waif is a male child and then finds out differently rather quickly. Second he finds a governess, Emmaline, o take care of this unruly waif and a tutor to teach.

Emmaline is running from something or to something; Devlin can not decide which. But alas the soldier in him comes out again and he is determined to find out and do something about it. Emmaline in the meantime has decided that things are heating up too much and decides to take off again. She gives him notice and takes off. Winnie, in the meantime, becomes more of a handful because she wants Emmaline back. What happens, does the hero get the girl or do circumstances make things impossible?

Review: A must read! For an English romance this has a great story to it and was hard to put down once started. I hope to find more like it by this author.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Soldier

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Review: The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (The Burgundy Club, Book 3) by Miranda Neville

Heroine: Kidnapped, Celia Seaton is no passive miss. At the first opportunity she gets out of the attic of a two story cottage wearing only her under clothes. Stumbling upon her worst enemy (who doesn’t even know he’s her enemy because she doesn’t register on his radar) conked out across the threshold of the house, Celia hesitates on what to do. When he wakes and doesn’t know who he is a brilliant idea takes shape.

Hero: Tarquin Compton is a rich fashionable dandy (but not gentry) who collects erotic books and books on poetry. When he gets lost in the moors he stops at a cottage for directions and gets knocked out by Celia’s kidnapper. When he wakes he suffers from amnesia and buys Celia’s story that he’s her fiance. Well he buys some of it anyway, there’s no way his name is Terence Fish, which makes him wonder if he tricked Celia about who he was in order to seduce her.

Favorite Moments: When she gives him her web of lies about who he is and what he means to her, the cauliflower incident, and when she gives herself to him.

Missed Opportunity: Tarquin immediately confronts Celia about her ill use of him after the return of his memories, instead of actively trying to be the man she created for him. I thought he was really falling for her at the time and would rather go undercover to discover if she really loved him or was just using him before his confrontation. But apparently he needed to get his head on straight before he could regret his harsh actions/words.

And heroine should have said once when he was still suffering from amnesia that she loved him… all of him even the parts he couldn’t remember, because she was darn near thinking it and that would have been sweet. It would also force Tarquin to come to terms with his idiocy sooner. Luckily she rejects his reluctant and insulting proposal to patch up her now ruined reputation.

Mystery: Why is an ex-fiance/governess who has been tossed aside/dismissed for moral turpitude kidnapped? Terence Fish wants to know and so should you!

Review: A fun romp with witty banter, a plucky heroine, an amnesiac hero, and cauliflower! You won’t regret running out to get this book for your collection.

Rating: ★★★★½

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Review: Seducing an Angel by Mary Balogh

by Marcia, guest reviewer

Lady Paget, Cassandra Belmont is rumored to have killed her husband—with an axe.  She is in terrible financial straits and must find a rich man who can support her and her household; Alice her companion and former governess, Mary the housemaid and cook, Belinda, Mary’s illegitimate daughter and Roger the three legged, one eared dog.  Cassandra does not really like men so she has no qualms about seducing and trapping one into a financial agreement.  She has no intention of marrying, even if it were possible.

Cassandra, dressed in black and wearing a black hat and veil, goes walking in the park with Alice and she spies Steven Huxtable, Earl of Merton.  She has heard that he is very rich.  He has a cheerful, open, innocent manner and look about him and she thinks that he would be easy to manipulate.  It doesn’t hurt that he is gorgeous.  When Cassandra learns that Steven will be at a ball that evening, she decides to attend, even though she does not have an invitation.  So begins her seduction.

Steven notices Cassandra walking in the park.  Even though he cannot see her face, he senses that she is probably attractive.  When she enters the ballroom that evening he is sure that she is the woman in black and is stuck by her incredible beauty.  Cassandra is tall and voluptuous with a crown of glorious red hair and vivid green eyes that slant slightly upward.  She is a siren.  But it does not take but a few minutes for him to hear the rumors; the ballroom is buzzing with them.  Steven does not believe these rumors for a minute.  They are ridiculous.  What woman could even lift an axe never mind kill someone with it.  If indeed she did kill her husband, she probably had a good reason, didn’t she?  He is intrigued and wants to ask her to dance.  So begins the redemption of her reputation.

Those readers who are familiar with the first three books in the Huxtable Series will not be surprised by Steven’s maturity and strength of character.  He has been carefully raised by his oldest sister and later his guardian, Elliot Wallace, Duke of Moreland.  The characters from those earlier books are also an integral part of this story, but readers who have not read them need not worry.  Mary Balogh does a great job of thoroughly and succinctly bring the reader up to speed and this book stands on it’s own.

Seducing an Angel is by no means a moralistic tale, but there is a subtle, spiritual thread that weaves it’s way through seduction, temptation and desire and leads the characters to the whole cloth, the laughter and generosity of friends, the love and intimacy of family and the warmth and protection of home.  All of Mary Balogh’s stories have heart and through her words we catch a glimpses her character’s souls and we love them too.

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy: Seducing an Angel

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Only Mr. Darcy Will Do and the Treasure Hunt

by Kara Louise, guest blogger and author of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do

Keira invited me here today and gave me a very interesting suggestion for for my guest blog. She asked me to prepare a treasure hunt similar to what Darcy did in my newest book, Only Mr. Darcy Will Do.

In this variation of “Pride and Prejudice,” Elizabeth is forced to become a governess when her father dies. She is governess to a six year-old girl named Emily Willstone and is treated well in this position.

Elizabeth soon discovers that Mrs. Willstone has a long-time acquaintance with Mr. Darcy. Her sister, Rosalyn Matthews, has had a secret affection for him for a long time. Elizabeth can only hope that they will not discover that he once proposed to her, or worse yet, that she turned him down. She feels particularly awkward when he extends an invitation to the family to Pemberley and cannot fathom that he would even want her there.

As she spends time at Pemberley and in Mr. Darcy’s presence, she begins to see a side of him that she had not seen before. He is kind, caring, compassionate, and he loves his sister dearly. She is surprised by his actions on many occasions and the treasure hunt he plans is one of those. I have included below a portion of the book that takes place in the library following the treasure hunt. Elizabeth and Emily had been in there looking for a book on birds that Darcy recommended. When he finds it, Emily hurries off with the book to show her mother, leaving Elizabeth alone with him.

*~*~*

“I would like to thank you, Mr. Darcy, for a very enjoyable afternoon.” The smile on Elizabeth’s face conveyed a hope that she could be in his presence with a degree of equanimity.

“I am pleased you enjoyed it.”

Elizabeth let out a breathy chuckle. “I would not have supposed you interested in planning such a thing as a treasure hunt.”

He raised an eyebrow and he allowed a very slight smile to grace his face. “My father often used a treasure hunt to help me in my studies. The enticement of finding a treasure prompted me on more than one occasion to learn my lessons well. Truth be told, many of the clues we used today were ones that my father used.”

“I believe your father must have been very wise.” Elizabeth let out a genial laugh.

Darcy’s eyes met hers. “Yes, he was. I can only hope to be half as wise as he was.”

Emily suddenly appeared at the door. “Miss Bennet, may we go for a walk and take this book? I want to see if I can find some of these birds.”

Darcy raised an eyebrow at Elizabeth. “It sounds as if someone desires your presence.”

“Hmm, yes. Duty calls.” She turned to her charge. “Emily, that sounds like a splendid idea!”

They walked toward the door, Emily holding protectively onto the book, and Elizabeth hearing Darcy let out a sharp breath.

*~*~*

In Only Mr. Darcy Will Do Elizabeth realizes that as a governess she is now much more decidedly beneath him. When she discovers that she is falling in love with him, she must prepare herself for the fact that he will never renew his offer, and even worse, that he possibility invited the Willstones to Pemberley so he could further his acquaintance with Rosalyn, as Rosalyn hopes and the Willstones suspect.

I have actually made up a real treasure hunt for you all to enjoy, but instead of walking about the grounds of Pemberley (I know you are disappointed), you will have to use the internet. I have prepared several questions about Jane Austen and “Pride and Prejudice” and if you know the answer, you only need to put the answer at the end of the URL I will give you below. If you get the answer right, you will go to the correct page, and there you will find the next clue. If you get it wrong, you will more than likely get an error page.

Good luck!

Question 1) According to “Pride and Prejudice,” which of the Bennet daughters claims that she is the tallest?

Directions:

  1. Put the correct answer to the above question at the end of this URL into your web browser: http://www.ahhhs.net/ You can copy and paste it or type it in manually. Then you must add your answer after the forward slash. For example if your correct answer is answer, you will have ahhhs.net/answer.
  2. Then hit ‘go’ or ‘return.’ I have not used any capital letters. (For example the answer to a question is Darcy, you would have ahhhs.net/darcy.)
  3. When you have finished the treasure hunt, email me at 2karalouise@gmail.com with the correct answer to the final question of the treasure hunt that you were able to guess. Everyone who emails me (no matter how far you get) will be entered in the giveaway. Everyone who completes it will get an extra chance in the giveaway. The first person to email me with the final answer will get 2 entries, and everyone who gets the extra question at the end gets an additional chance. Hope this makes sense! This makes for a lot of chances to win!

Thanks for letting me stop by and I hope you have fun!

Prize – A copy of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do

Additional details – Open to US and CANADIAN readers. Last Day to Enter is April 1, 2011.

PS: For an additional entry – Leave a comment here on LRP about treasure hunts, but do not give away the answers to any of Kara Louise’s questions! If you do I will delete your comment. :)

Review: Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise

Kara Louise is a must read!

The Story: Elizabeth’s trip to Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle is canceled when Mr. Bennet dies. The only thing for the four girls and Mrs. Bennet to do is to make the best of a bad situation. Jane and Elizabeth take positions as governesses with Jane working for their aunt and uncle in Cheapside and Elizabeth taking a position with the Willstones. There Elizabeth is loved by her charge and respected by her employers.

When Miss Rosalyn Matthews joins the household, Elizabeth forms a friendship with her. This friendship is severely tried when Rosalyn confides she seeks to gain Mr. Darcy’s affections and to marry him. Elizabeth doesn’t quite know what to do or how to feel about the situation.

Even more perplexing is Mr. Darcy’s sudden regard for the Willstones. Rosalyn sees this as a sign that one day soon she will become the Mistress of Pemberley. Can it be as Rosalyn says? Or is there another reason Mr. Darcy engages the Willstone family?

Review: Kara Louise’s Only Mr. Darcy Will Do is stunning, eloquent, and just plain wonderful. It is one of the best Pride and Prejudice variations I’ve ever read! I loved it so much that as I was nearing the end I kept wishing for more pages to magically insert themselves in the back of the book. Have you ever wished that were the case too when reading a really good book? I wanted to devour the ending and yet savor it because I knew there wouldn’t be any more. A keeper for sure!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Only Mr. Darcy Will Do

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