Book Review: One Night to Remember by Erica Ridley

One night to Remember by Erica Ridley #BookCover #BookReview

Notorious whip Giles Langford is surprised to learn his blacksmith is a girl, shocked to realize she’s the out-of-his-league sister of a duke, and horrified to discover he’s fallen in love with the impossible-to-tame woman anyway. With no money and no title, Giles has nothing to offer but his heart…

Felicity Sutton knows poverty firsthand, and she’s never going back. She might miss the smithy, but not the relentless desperation of no home and an empty belly. Of course she’ll accept the stability of a wealthy ton suitor. As for the penniless daredevil she loves, well… At least they’ll have one night to remember.

Meet the unforgettable men of London’s most notorious tavern, The Wicked Duke. Seductively handsome, with charm and wit to spare, one night with these rakes and rogues will never be enough…

I got this book a while ago, read part of it, but in going through my Netgalley library etc I realised I hadn’t finished it or reviewed it. This is my attempt to rectify that

This fits in with other books by this author (in this and other series) where it is female centric, and the woman often finds herself rebelling against expectation in order to find themselves

Much of this is over 2 weeks where Cole (aka Colehaven) has entered into a bet with another member of the gentry, which he bets that his curricle will beat the curricle of the other (Silas) in a race in two weeks time

Cole has promised his sister (the Lady Felicity) that it would not be him riding the curricle – in fact he has engaged the best smith in town (Giles) to maintain his curricle and drive it. The main/only proviso – that Lady Felicity is the apprentice to help on upgrading the curricle.

Over the next 2 weeks, Giles and Felicity fall in love, all whilst Felicity is trying to make an catch in the TON that would give her the stability she needed whilst allowing her the freedom to do what she wanted. Ultimately a major decision needs to be made – what does Felicity need more – the apparent stability of a titled husband, or love?

This was a decent story, but reading this a year after reading the other books in the series was interesting. It can easily be read alone, as whilst there are references to other stories in the series, this story is not dependant on having read the other stories in the series. There is ONE reference to distances being measured in “blocks” – a personal bug bear of mine when reading stories written for the American Market, but written about Regency London. Gah!

Book Review: Midnight Bargain of a Runaway Marchioness by Patricia Haverton

Midnight Bargain of a Runaway Marchioness by Patricia Haverton. Woman in yellow dress on staircase, back to reader, looking over left shoulder

“You’re my world and I’m incapable of not loving you.”

When her mother sneaks inside her bedroom at night and begs her to flee, Lady Rhodeia wastes no time. With only a small bundle and the clothes on her back, she runs away, hoping against hope that her betrothed won’t ever find her.


There are two things Emmet MacLachlan, Marquess of Maynardshire, hates above all else: the Season and matchmaking. Furious at his meddling mother, he hopes a night ride will calm the beast in his gut. Until he finds an injured woman in the middle of a storm.

With Rhodeia’s true identity hanging above them like the executioner’s ax, Emmet is determined to escape with her to Scotland and start anew. A plan that quickly goes sour when Rhodeia’s father announces a bounty for her. And unbeknownst to them all, the beast that claws at Emmet’s gut has flesh, bone, and a heart made of stone.

Lady Rhodeia is an only child, who is generally ignored by her father – at least until he sees her use in marrying her off to the Earl of Carrington. Carrington is an older man, with a reputation for being a drunk, a Cad and a cheater, having a thing for younger women, and disposing of them when he’s bored.  Rhodeia’s mother is of much the same mind as her daughter – both are horrified at the thought of the marriage, so Rhodeia’s mother arranges for her to escape the house and travel to Rhodeia’s aunt in Scotland.

However, things don’t go entirely to plan and Rhodeia gets caught in a nasty storm, which results in her spraining her ankle falling off her horse and having to take refuge in a nearby abandoned cottage.  Little does she know, it’s not as abandoned as she initially thought, with Emmet Maclaclan, the Marquess of Maynardshire also taking cover. He has recently returned from India following the death of his father, in order to take over the running of the estate.   He finds the estate has been run into the ground, in part because of his mother’s frivolous spending and his father’s mis management and adultery.   Emmet also seems to be an eternal disappointment to his mother due to no interest in dressing accordingly, making the right connections, and by refusing to marry the woman who dumped him for another man 8 years previously. 

Meanwhile, Emmet and Rhodeia travel to London, in order to get Rhodeia’s ankle looked after. Neither of the MCs have told the other who they really are, not wanting to expose themselves as something more. Both do it for secrecy at the beginning but then cant think of ways to correct the other.

Two weeks later, Rhodeia’s father has been searching for Rhodeia, as he cant see beyond the marriage. He believes that Rhodeia is in London, and employs investigators to find her. Meanwhile Emmet’s mother employs an investigator to find out what Emmet’s getting up to, since he’s being so secretive.

Finally things come out into the open, at roughly the same time as Emmet and Rhodeia realise they love each other. Both get to confront their respective parents and at least Emmet’s mother has some reason behind her behaviour (even some of it is objectionable and she cant see anything wrong with it).  

The book draws parallels between the two leads and how they refuse to meet the expectations of the dominant parent which is a nice change to the standard Romance book – it’s usually only one Main Character that has the issue and it’s the other to teach that they can be loved by someone else. The Secondary characters are decently rounded out, considering – not enough that I would expect subsequent novels containing these SCs, but a bit better than other novels.

This was a reasonable (if unchallenging) Romance novel – slightly better than a lot of the other Romance novels, but not in the realms of Georgette Heyer (who I will say is in her own league!)

Book Review: SpellBreaker by Charlie M Holmberg

A world of enchanted injustice needs a disenchanting woman in the newest fantasy series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

The orphaned Elsie Camden learned as a girl that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those, like her, born with the ability to break them. But as an unlicensed magic user, her gift is a crime. Commissioned by an underground group known as the Cowls, Elsie uses her spellbreaking to push back against the aristocrats and help the common man. She always did love the tale of Robin Hood.


Elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey is one elusive spell away from his mastership when he catches Elsie breaking an enchantment. To protect her secret, Elsie strikes a bargain. She’ll help Bacchus fix unruly spells around his estate if he doesn’t turn her in. Working together, Elsie’s trust in—and fondness for—the handsome stranger grows. So does her trepidation about the rise in the murders of wizards and the theft of the spellbooks their bodies leave behind.

I got this as a freebie on Amazon, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. This has a world narrative already set up, there is no “I’m going to explain something that is different because I think you’re stupid”. There is some explaining going on, but nothing that patronises the reader – it’s relevant, timely and dealt with appropriately.

London 1895. There are spell makers and there are spell breakers. Every skilled and licenced Spell Maker are called “Master”, even the women. This is a highly regulated field, which usually means that only the rich get to take part. The less rich (but with talent) tend to be unlicenced and therefore effectively practice outside the law.

This is down as a “duology” and therefore not a trilogy. 2 parts, not 3. Ok. Makes a nice change.

This book establishes the world, and the main characters. The narrator is Elsie, who was (apparently) abandoned by her parents and siblings when she was much younger, and the finding her family has been much of her focus. Another part of her focus has been what she calls “the Cowls” i.e. those hidden in the shadows but still directing her spell breaking skills. She is sent on various jobs – unfortunately only realising (often too late) what those tasks meant.

Meanwhile, during one of her early spells, Elsie is found by Bacchus Kelsey, and the two strike a bargain – she breaks some spells for him, and he wont betray her secret.  His mother is Portuguese, his father English, and he is based in Barbados where he spends a lot of his time in the sun, so he’s a lot darker than the locals. Not much is made of this, which is hopefully a good thing. Just enough to remind readers that “not all leading men have to be white, you know?”. I just hope this is not seen as a tokenism thing – there is noone else like Bacchus in the story, more’s the pity.

Whilst most of the story is told from Elsie’s point of view, we get some stories from Bacchus, at least where he attempts to look after his friend’s estate (the whole reason for meeting Elsie), plus his attempt to become a Master Spellmaker – through legal means, of course! If there is a downside to this book, it is that Bacchus and his attempt to become a Master SpellMaker is a tad underused.

Anyway, the threads start to come together in the last third or so of the book and because I don’t do spoilers I wont give away what happens here!. It pulls all the threads together whilst setting up the chance at a second book, which wont me out till 2021 (naturally, lol!). First freebie in ages where I’ve looked up the following book – that says a LOT!

 

 

Book Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G Smith

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

 

I will admit I got this a while ago, and it was only when I had the chance of an extended break that I got the chance to sit down and read it. 

I thought it was my oldest ebook from Netgalley, but when I checked Netgalley – Ai!!  Yes, it’s an “old” ebook, but not on Netgalley – I need to know where else I need to post this review.

It starts with a woman, under an enchantment that made her a toad, finally escaping her enchantment (losing a toe in the process). She returns to the house and the “family” she remembers, only to find that she has been away for 7 years, and the vines have fallen into disrepute during her absence.

The vineyard has been brought by a man of science and law (from the city) since her disappearance, and he doesn’t appreciate her return as someone who practices “magic” (i.e. “not science”) over the vines.

Meanwhile Elena (the now-ex-toad) has her own theories over who cast the spell to make her a toad – only to be accused of his murder.

The remainder of the book introduces us to various characters and plot devices to resolve the issue of who killed who, how and why.

Whilst this (to me at last) was a slow start, it was easily consumed in a few days when I had the chance to sit down and read it. It wasnt “gripping” enough for me to put it down in the beginning, but was enjoyable and fast paced enough when I finally had the chance to sit and complete it.

Even whilst the denouement was fairly heavy with magic, there is a reasonable balance between science and (black) magic, so most people should be able to accept this as a story.

 

 

Book Review: The First Village by Ian M Evans

Wales AD 383 is the most remote province of Roman-occupied Britain, colonised for over 300 years. Magnus Maximus, known to the Celts as Macsen Wledig, has grown restless with his role as general of the Roman army in Britannia. His nights are broken by dreams of an impossibly beautiful Welsh maiden. He sets his sights on moving his legions out of Britannia to challenge Gratianus – the emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

Flavius Arcadius is less than enamoured by his general’s plans. The army’s withdrawal will leave his family, neighbours and all of Britannia unprotected and at the mercy of internecine conflict between the local tribes and the even greater threat of pagan invaders from the east. He does, however, have a vision for the future – a fortified villa surrounded by a self-sufficient community – if only he could find a way to stay behind when the legions move.

 

 

Being a fan of authors like Lindsey Davies, Robert Harris, etc. I do have a thing for ancient (e.g. Roman) History. Therefore I had high hopes for this book. Woe!

I got to Chapter 9 – where they were *still* talking about, maybe, perhaps, going to their boss in regard to looking for the tottie he’s been dreaming about. I stopped there. Can I have a little more action please, and less as to why he’s not shagged the local freed, rich, woman who may or may not be giving him the run around?

It can/could have been good – other reviews imply it’s great later on in the story. However, I really couldn’t wait.   Too much talking, too much dry exposition, too little stuff happening….Unfortunately, too little to keep me engaged….

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Mystery of the Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

 

The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot–the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket–returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in the London of 1930.

Returning home from a luncheon, Hercule Poirot is met at his door by an imperious woman who introduces herself as Sylvia Rule. “How dare you? How dare you send me such a letter?” Ignoring his denials, Mrs. Rule insists that she received a missive claiming he had proof she murdered a man named Barnabas Pandy and advising her to confess her crime to the police. Threatening the perplexed Poirot with a lawsuit, she leaves in a huff.

Minutes later, a rather disheveled man named John McCrodden appears. “I got your letter accusing me of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.” Calmly, Poirot again rebuts the charge. Each insisting they are victims of a conspiracy, Mrs. Rule and Mr. McCrodden deny knowing who Pandy is.

The next day, two more strangers proclaim their innocence and provide illuminating details. Miss Annabel Treadway tells Poirot that Barnabas Pandy was her grandfather. But he was not murdered; his death was an accident. Hugo Dockerill also knows of Pandy, and he heard the old man fell asleep in his bath and drowned.

Why did someone send letters in Poirot’s name accusing people of murder? If Pandy’s death was an accident, why charge foul play? It is precisely because he is the great Hercule Poirot that he would never knowingly accuse an innocent person of a crime. Someone is trying to make mischief, and the instigator wants Poirot involved.

Engaging the help of Edward Catchpool, his Scotland Yard policeman friend, Poirot begins to dig into the investigation, exerting his little grey cells to solve an elaborate puzzle involving a tangled web of relationships, scandalous secrets, and past misdeeds. 

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Book Review: Lord of Secrets by Erica Ridley

 

Heath Grenville is the problem-solver for London’s elite. Unmask the devious cretin skewering the ton with audacious caricatures? With pleasure. His success should keep the powerful happy. But when his work leads him to a young lady outside his class, surely he won’t do anything so scandalous as to fall in love…

By day, Miss Eleanora Winfield is a proper, unremarkable paid companion. By night, Nora’s skillful hands sketch the infamous penny caricatures rocking high society. Nora desperately needs the money…and her anonymity. But how can she keep them both, when she’s fallen for the one man whose livelihood and reputation requires him to expose her?

From Netgalley, this is number 5 in this series, and I have read several of the earlier books, Lord Of Pleasure Lord of Night and Lord of Temptation.

Heath Grenville is the problem solver for London society, sorting out tawdry affairs etc that could embarrass his friends and relations. It also makes him privy to secrets that other people have, and which some people would pay anything to find out about.  One thing  he doesnt know is the identity of the person doing the caricatures that are cutting too close to the bone. It becomes clear that the person doing the drawings does not just hear about the events they draw, they were actually there when it happened.

Meanwhile he becomes enraptured by the red headed woman who appears at social events but seems remote and disengaged – till he realises that she is not in his class and therefore he shouldnt even be talking to her, never mind inviting her to dance. She has come to town to be a paid companion and her job relies on her not exciting any scandal. It turns out that she produces that caricatures to show her brother (who lives on the family farm with their grandparents) what’s happening whilst she’s away – it just so happens she cant read or write, so her only choice is to draw.

Unfortunately, it turns out that her brother has sold some of these pictures and they have landed back within London society, and are causing trouble. She tries to rectify things, but what she does only makes things worse. Meanwhile she tries to keep her distance from Heath, but he keeps pursing her – she doesnt know whether he already knows what she’s done, or for reasons more personal.

Anyway, we see some characters from previous books, shocks abound, and as per all good romances, things work out nicely in the end.

 

Book Review: Saving Grace by Sandy James

Grace Riley is on the run—from her past and from her fears. The victim of a violent rape at the hands of a rich politician’s son, she must “disappear” to escape his constant attempts to recapture her. Moving from cattle drive to cattle drive as a cook, she avoids her tormentor for nearly twenty years. When she discovers that the brother she gave up for adoption after their mother died in childbirth was orphaned at an early age, she is frantic to verify that he’s safe. She tracks him to a cattle ranch in Montana.

Widower Adam Morgan owns the Twin Springs ranch, but finds himself falling into a life of loneliness. Although he enjoys spending time with his grown daughter and the two men he rescued when they were living on the streets, he longs to meet a woman he can love. Living in the Montana territory where men greatly outnumber women makes finding a new wife difficult. Weary of working cattle, he is ready to make some changes in his life.

Grace falls ill on her journey, but she manages to make it to the Twin Springs ranch where her brother is supposed to be living. Adam takes her in, concerned for her health and the reason she’s searching for one of his adopted sons. Their chemistry is immediate and intense, but can Grace heal from her past of pain and fear? When her secrets are finally revealed, can Adam forgive her deceptions and learn to love again?

From Netgalley in exchange for a review.

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Book Review: No Perfect Magic by Patricia Rice

Will Ives, the bastard of the late marquess, is as strong, handsome, and smart as his titled brothers, but he has no interest in society or book learning. His unique gift for training highly-prized rescue dogs is all he needs. His peace is shattered the day the beautiful but eccentric Lady Aurelia demands his help in finding a child no one knows is missing. 

The daughter of a duke, Lady Aurelia has everything: wealth, beauty, and a family known for their good works. Unfortunately afflicted with hyper-acute hearing, she spends most of her time cringing in her room. She wants to please her father and make a good match, but how can she when every dinner, tea, and ball is pure torture? 

When a child only she can hear cries for help, Aurelia must find a way to turn her affliction into the gift it is, before it’s too late. Will, in turn, must overcome his reluctance to work with a lady who makes him feel inadequate in all ways but one. 
With the reluctant aid of Will and his dogs, the pair sets out on an unusual journey that will surely lead to heartbreak— or a love against all reason. 

Book 6 in the Malcolm series which I received from LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers monthly batch.  Will is one of the illegitimate Ives offspring, whose gift is “talking” to dogs and training them for search and rescue. He believes he knows what type of woman he should get married to – even has someone in mind – and just hopes that she will leave him in relative peace to do what he wants. Therefore, when he is confronted with the Lady Aurelia, she is apparently the exact opposite of his ideal woman: small, impossibly petite, rich and apparently more than a little scatter brained. However, the two off them go off to find a child lost in the woods that only Aurelia can hear.   it is the result of finding this child that occupies the rest of the book, and brings the two people closer together, and allows both to find the peace they were looking for.  We get to understand what it’s like for Aurelia to have such sensitive hearing, what Will manages to do for her without even trying, and what both suffer when they are apart from each other. Continue reading

Book Review: Meet Me At Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

Ellie Matthews has come to Wychwood-on-Lea to find a new start for her and her daughter Abby. But, life there doesn’t start out as idyllic as she had hoped. While Ellie loves her cute cottage in Willoughby Close, the Yummy Mummies at the primary school seem intent on giving her the cold shoulder, Abby has trouble fitting in, and her boss, Oliver Venables, is both surprisingly sexy and irritatingly inscrutable.

But miracles can happen in the most unexpected places, and in small, yet wonderful ways. Slowly, Ellie and Abby find themselves making friends and experiencing the everyday magic of Willoughby Close. When Oliver’s nephew, Tobias, befriends Abby, the four of them start to feel like family… and Ellie begins to see the kindness and warmth beneath Oliver’s chilly exterior, which awakens both her longing and fear.

Ellie knows all about disappointment, and the pain of trying too hard for nothing, while Oliver has his own hurts and secrets to deal with. When the past comes rollicking back to remind both of them of their weaknesses and failings, will they be able to overcome their fears and find their own happy ending?

Picked up from Netgalley and read over the New Year – it’s only now, in checking reviews that I’ve realised that I haven’t written one for this book!

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