Redeeming the Rogue Knight

DCTl41uXoAAISpfI was given an advanced copy of this book and, since I’ve enjoyed Elisabeth Hobbes’ work before, I sat down with my cocoa, looking forward to the first couple of chapters before bed.

At 2.30am, I turned the last page, satisfied with the way the book ended and assured that I’d at last be able to sleep, without wondering what would happen next.

Sir Roger Danby is a bad boy. A player who thinks women are there for his – and their – pleasure. He’s a bit of a bully, too, arrogant and, I have to say, not the most likeable of men. Yet, I felt strangely drawn to him, wanting to know more, hoping he would come good in the end.

His constant innuendo was very real, reminiscent of oh, so many men one encounters. They think they’re witty. We women roll our eyes.

However, there was a certain vulnerability about the man, too, and a naivete, shown by his genuine belief that every woman he had ever bedded had come willingly and because she couldn’t resist him, rather than because it was a man’s world and she didn’t really have much choice.

In Lucy, though, he found the perfect foil. Terrified she may be, but she isn’t about to surrender and meekly let herself be trampled over by him. She’s been burnt before, and she isn’t putting herself anywhere near that fire again, if she can help it.

The story was also satisfying because there were no cardboard cut-out villains. All the characters we met came across as real people, their actions and attitudes believable, their motives understandable, if sometimes reprehensible.

I did guess whose fault it was that Roger was hurt in the first place, but that didn’t detract from the story at all. Not every work has to be a whodunnit, and I didn’t guess the why till the end, so that was OK.

I wonder if we will see more of Roger’s squire, Thomas, in the future, and learn how/whether he has matured? I do hope so.

Five stars.

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Lord of Pleasure by Erica Ridley

Lord of Pleasure ebook by Erica RidleyI enjoyed Lord of Pleasure, though it took me some while to figure out why. I decided it’s because it is a charming story.

I really felt for Lord Wainwright when I first met him. He couldn’t seem to do anything that didn’t get his name in the scandal sheets. He didn’t even have to try. He was like the little lad who always ends up at the Headmaster’s office saying, “I didn’t mean to, sir, it just sort of happened.”

So now, he is trying to be respectable and keep his nose clean. Well, you can bet that means all sorts of traps and snares await him.

Except, they don’t.

He meets Lady X at the masquerade ball (and by the way, why is he attending a scandalous event when he is trying to keep his nose clean?). From their first meeting, I kept waiting for the whole thing to blow up in their faces. It doesn’t. Even when it does, it doesn’t. (Read the book, you’ll see what I mean.)

They meet, they fall in love, without knowing who the other is. They are at loggerheads in day to day life. Well, that is to say, she dislikes him. He is just bewildered and guilty, but unable to put things right with her because, she hasn’t told him why she is angry with him. Men are just supposed to know these things, aren’t they?

The story reminded me of Miklos Laszlo’s “Shop around the corner”, and this was its charm. We know they are in love, we’re willing them to get together for real.

The side story of trying to keep his name out of the scandal sheets was a distraction, and I kept forgetting about it, and then saying, “Oh, yes, of course,” when it was mentioned. Perhaps more could have been made of it. He could have been digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself throughout. As it stood, he is never seriously in danger of losing the wager, more’s the pity.

Still, scandal or no, Wainwright was a likeable hero and charismatic, and he brought Camellia from her shell quite nicely.

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Lord of Chance by Erica Ridley

Lord of Chance ebook by Erica RidleyI have read several of Miss Ridley’s books. She writes in a no-nonsense, straightforward style that makes reading a joy.

In “Lord of Chance” Tony is a wonderful hero. He is flawed, and in a terrible bind. I have to admit that, right to the end, I was unsure how he was going to get out of his predicament. I didn’t see it coming, but the solution was satisfying, and perfect. I felt his gambling addiction was well portrayed and believable. I ached for him in his struggle.

Charlotte was very real, too, although her character did not linger as his did. That may be a sign of my personal preferences. She certainly knew what she wanted and she went after it. Defeat did not faze her much. She was a fully paid up member of the Try-Again brigade.

One thing did jar, though. Once they found themselves accidentally married, the pair looked for ways to escape it and Tony said he would not contest any grounds she put up for divorcing him. However, in English law, a woman could not divorce her husband, under any circumstances, until 1937. So Tony would have had to divorce her, provided he could afford it (doubtful). The process would have ruined her, and so would have been the absolute opposite of what she wanted.

In Scotland, a woman could divorce her husband at the time of the book, but since the pair did not know the laws governing marriage in Scotland, I found it hard to believe they would know Scottish divorce laws.

Still, for the most part, I was able to ignore this and just go where the story led. On that journey, I laughed, cried, willed the characters forwards, and tried to hold them back.

I look forward to the next book.

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Rescued by the Warriner

A Warriner To Rescue Her (Mills & Boon Historical) (The Wild Warriners, Book 2) by [Heath, Virginia]The second Warriner book stayed with me longer than the first did. I really wanted it to go on so I could find out what happened next.

We meet Cassie, our heroine, when she’s behaving in a totally inappropriate manner – climbing a tree – but it’s written in such a way that I completely believed this young lady would act like this. I laughed out loud at their meeting, and the way he suffered for it.

In fact, there were quite a few laugh out loud moments, and some lump-in-throat ones, too. There was even a passage or two when the tension made me read noticeably faster, as I anticipated the pair getting caught out.

(The rest of this review might be seen as a spoiler, so be warned before you read on.)

I loved the way Jamie put a supercilious clergyman in his place. It reminded me of my father, and the way he would not tolerate lack of respect. As a Christian, I was, of course, dismayed to see a clergyman behaving in such an un-Christian way in literature (again! Outside overtly Christian books, they are often portrayed as mad, bad or dangerous. It would be nice to have a few “normal” Christians to redress the balance. We’re not all psychopaths.) However, I am realistic enough to know there are believers just like him, in fact, I’ve met them, and the over-pious Reverend came across as a very real person.

My biggest bugbear with this book is, we have to wait so long to hear about the other Warriner brothers. More please.

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The Duke’s Unexpected Bride

The Duke's Unexpected Bride (Mills & Boon Historical) by [Temple, Lara]I thoroughly enjoyed this, the second book I’ve read by Lara Temple. It all seemed so plausible – a companion, an over-indulged pug (that reminded me of Tricky Woo in the James Herriott series. Yes, I am that old.)

There was also a duke with honour running through him like the word Brighton through a stick of rock. Max is a gorgeous hero, and Sophie a worthy heroine. Not once did I think this pair did not deserve each other. The danger built up slowly and from an unexpected quarter, but no so unexpected as to feel contrived. The characters and their interactions are complex and three dimensional, too. Life is not all black and white in Ms Temple’s world.

I am hoping Wivenhoe gets his own book soon, too.

One bugbear, and it’s a minor one. I’ve seen it quite a few times lately, and it drives me crackers. Why, oh why, do authors have characters addressing a duke as “Duke”. It’s not a name. It’s not a nickname. It’s a title, and one which would have garnered a lot of respect in the days when the story is set. Characters not entitled to address him by his proper name would have called him “Your Grace.” Calling him “Duke” is akin to calling Queen Elizabeth II “Queenie.” It just isn’t done.

(I know cockneys call women “Duchess.” But that’s someone in their own circle. They’d never consider calling a real life duchess that.)

But that is the only complaint I have, and I eagerly await the next book.

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Another cracking read

A Warriner To Protect Her (Mills & Boon Historical) (The Wild Warriners, Book 1) by [Heath, Virginia]Virginia Heath is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. In fact, if her name’s on the cover, I’ll buy the book. This story did not disappoint.

All the ingredients are there for a cracking story. We have the penniless lord with a rotten reputation, a heroine in trouble, a villain who won’t give up and admit his plot didn’t work the first time around. There’s suspense a-plenty, but time for romance, too.

The book has an authentic feel, a lot of detail that brings the time and place to life. The details are used to further the story, and nothing seems superfluous or there just because. The writing is tight, the dialogue natural and the characters are all necessary. No walk on parts in this novel.

It’s a very visual story. I could see the characters as if they were on film, which certainly helped bring it to life.

In fact, I can’t think of a single thing about it that I disliked. Looking forward to the next one.

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Medical Romance: the first one I’ve read

Mummy, Nurse...Duchess? (Mills & Boon Medical) (Paddington Children's Hospital, Book 3) by [Hardy, Kate]I’ve never read a medical romance before. This one wasn’t enough to put me off them, but of itself, it wouldn’t make me reach for another, either. The writing flowed nicely, and the hero was likeable and moreish, while the heroine grew on me – I did not like her judgemental, quick-to-judge attitude at all at the start, but once she saw the errors of her ways, she seemed quite a nice person underneath.

My first problem with the book was the premise. If I have understood it correctly, the board of directors of a London hospital for children, an NHS hospital, wants to shut down said hospital and merge with another, distant one, because then they’ll become a private hospital and make money.

In England, boards of directors don’t have the final say on shutting down NHS hospitals. Oh, they can recommend it, and it goes out to consultation, after which the Secretary of State makes the decision. No Secretary of State, with voters to worry about, is going to consider, for a single second, closing a children’s hospital to make way for a private one. I simply could not get past this glaring hole.

On top of which, there’s little to no story. This is one of my bugbears. I like boy meets girl as much as anyone, but I prefer there to be something else happening, besides their love story. An attempt was made to give them a danger, and a semblance of a plot but it came late in the book and, to be honest, it felt contrived and tacked on.

Then there were the medical bits. We were treated to detailed explanations of children’s illnesses, mostly in “As you know, Bob,” dialogue, where one character tells another something they already know, just so the author can show off the information to the reader. Unfortunately, none of the information given was essential to the story, which made it all the more superfluous.

This may not be Ms Hardy’s fault. It may happen in all medical romances, and if it does, I apologise to her for criticising her for doing it.

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