Happy New Year!

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Wishing you all the happiest, healthiest and most prosperous year!

Connie, Leah and Melanie

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‘Say You’ll Love Me’ by Ally Broadfield

sylm abSTORY: She may be his favorite mystery…

All of Lady Abigail Hurst’s dreams seem to be coming true when at long last her childhood sweetheart asks for her hand. But when a maid is found dead, and her betrothed is the chief suspect, Abigail begins to wonder just what manner of man she’s marrying…

The Marquess of Longcroft, Edmund Townsend, has always preferred complex mathematical equations to the trappings of society. And love? Love is a non-quantifiable concept. Still, Lady Abigail is his sister’s friend, and he finds himself drawn into the mystery of her affianced… even as he begins to anticipate Lady Abigail’s company with unfathomable pleasure.

Investigating the murder may reveal more than the sordid truth. It may just reveal the love Abigail always wanted… a little too late.

REVIEW: London – 1815

Robert Wrexham, Viscount Hinsdale, and Lady Abigail Hurst have been betrothed since they were children. Their families’ homes border on each other and the two grew up together.

At their betrothal ball, Abigail catches sight of Robert attempting to seduce a maid in the back corridor. The maid then disappeared and the next morning was found floating in the Thames, having been strangled to death. It is discovered that she was Robert’s mistress and he is then charged with her murder. Robert confesses to Abigail that the murdered maid was his mistress and that he loved her, but he swears that he did not kill her. When Abigail learns this, she immediately wants to call off the engagement even though her parents try to persuade her otherwise. Against her better judgment, she agrees to leaves things as they are until the murderer is found.

Abigail seeks solace with her good friends, Georgiana and Henrietta, sisters of Lord Edmund Longcroft. Edmund is a kind and wealthy man who enjoys and is quite good at mathematical calculations. Since his father’s passing, he has been tasked with six sisters he needs to marry off. Edmund knows Robert and is aware that he has a quick temper with servants. At the request of Abigail and his sisters, he decides to investigate the murder. Thus, he begins to closely watch Robert and his activities. In addition, he advises Abigail to take extra precautions for her safety since Robert’s temper and the amount of alcohol he tends to imbibe can make him a dangerous person if indeed he did murder his mistress.

As Edmund and Abigail are together more often now discussing this investigation, they discover an attraction to one another and an appreciation for each other’s particular sense of humor.

Will Abigail finally break off her engagement to Robert? Will she be able to pursue her attraction to Edmund? Who killed the maid?

I really enjoyed the plot of this book. It was cleverly written and contains some humorous dialogue. I look forward to reading more novels by this author.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Dangerous Duke of Dinnisfree’ by Julie Johnstone

tddodSTORY: Justin Holleman, the Duke of Dinnisfree, is used to being wanted—in bed, for missions, and even dead. He’s protected his country more times than he can remember, gaining enemies along the way, but he failed to defend himself from the past that hardened his heart. Instead, he became an expert at shutting people out. Yet now, in order to save the king, Justin needs to let go of his old ways and let someone closer to him than ever before. He approaches the mission with his classic cold calculation, but his fiery new ally upends his ordered world and entices him at every turn. Suddenly he’s in danger of compromising his assignment and losing his heart, two things the rogue swore never to do.

Desperate to protect her parents from poverty, among other things, Miss Arabella Carthright unwittingly becomes a pawn in a dangerous political battle when she agrees to aid an enigmatic stranger. Having learned long ago to count only on herself, she’s surprised when time and again the duke actually aids her. But when his true assignment becomes clear, Arabella realizes the man she’s come to care for poses the greatest threat to those she loves.

As Justin and Arabella face their feelings and their web of deception falls away, they must decide how high a price they are willing to pay for love and loyalty.

REVIEW: London – 1820

Miss Arabella Carthright works as a seamstress. Although she was adopted, her parents have always shown her much love. Sadly, her mother is in a mental hospital and her father is confined to a wheelchair following a stroke. Arabella is doing all she can to try and make enough money to provide care for her mother and cover someone to be with her father while she is working, in addition to paying for their food and rent. She has just made four dresses for Lady Conyngham, rumored to be the mistress of King George IV, a.k.a., Prinny. When Arabella arrives with the dresses, the woman is throwing a temper tantrum and haughtily tells Arabella that the dresses arenot what she wants and refuses to pay for them. In anger, she also kicks a beautiful jewelry box encrusted with expensive jewels across the room demanding that someone remove it from her sight. A man who was visiting the Lady encourages Arabella to take the box and sell it. He says he fells sorry for her and she can get some money if she sells it. Desperate for money, she agrees.

A little background on this story. Queen Caroline is seeking a divorce from Prinny and has spies watching him to prove adultery. However, Prinny is a man who enjoys his drink and has stupidly sent love letters to Lady Conyngham who is holding them to use as blackmail. Prinny’s trusty friend, Justin, the Duke of Dinnisfree, has been tasked with getting the letters back. Oh, but others know about the letters and the race is on to see who can get them. It turns out that they have been hidden in the bottom of the jewelry box and it is known that Arabella has it.

Without giving away any spoilers, let me add that we have innocent Arabella desperately in need of money to support her parents and Justin intent on getting those letters returned to Prinny. The story is sweet, sexy, suspenseful and one you do not want to miss.

Once again, the author, Julie Johnstone, has written a well-researched novel with a tremendous plot. Enjoy!

Connie for b2b

‘How to Bewitch an Earl’ by Ally Broadfield

htbae abSTORY: He never expected the clues to lead to her…

Edward Adair, heir to the Duke of Boulstridge, is more interested in finding a missing family heirloom than a wife. But when his parents issue an ultimatum – marry or lose your allowance – he reluctantly agrees to attend a house party to find a bride. Instead, he discovers attractive but infuriating Miss Isabella Winthrop in his library, reading the private family journal that holds clues to the location of the heirloom.

Though Isabella finds Edward haughty and arrogant, she offers to take him to the next clue mentioned in the journal if he will pay her, which will enable her to help her brother restore his estate. Edward counters with an offer of an even larger payment…if she agrees to masquerade as his betrothed to deter the other ladies until the house party ends.

As they work together to solve the mystery their mutual attraction grows, but just when they begin to think they should make their engagement real, a secret is revealed that could destroy everything.

REVIEW: London – 1846

Edward Adair, Earl of Kenworth and heir to the Duke of Boulstridge, spends his days drinking and wasting time with his friends. But he has also spent an enormous amount of time in search of a famous tiara reported to be hidden somewhere in his family home. His grandfather had left a journal with clues to its whereabouts. His parents have chastised him saying that he needs to spend more time managing his estates, attending parliamentary sessions, and, in general, settle down and marry. To that end, his parents are planning a house party at Welsey Manor to introduce Edward to a group of eligible young ladies from which to choose a bride.

Isabella (Isa) Winthrop is a paid companion to Lady Concord who has been invited to the house party. No one but Lady Concord knows Isa’s true identity which she hides under plain, dull clothes. Isa has been forced to work as a companion to help pay the debts incurred by her father which has put her family estate at risk. Isa is the daughter of Lord Stowe, an Earl.

The Duchess of Kenworth and her daughter are very welcoming to Isa and invite her to borrow any books from their library that she wishes to read. When she finds an old journal written by an earlier Earl, she is taken aback when Edward finds her reading it and chastises her. After she explains that his mother has invited her to enjoy the books in the library, he then explains the mystery of the rare, pink diamond-encrusted tiara that has been missing for many years. She adds some information that she just happens to know and the two of them pair up to try and find the tiara.

The young ladies invited to the house party do not interest Edward at all but with his mother pressuring him to select one of them to marry, he and Isa agree to a pretend engagement. This, coupled with their desire to discover the tiara, puts them together a lot resulting in an attraction that cannot be denied.

Will they find the tiara? Will Edward and Isa find true happiness?

Once again, the author has written a very intriguing novel with romance, a good mystery, and lots of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more from her.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Spinster’s Guide to Scandalous Behavior’ by Jennifer McQuiston

tsgtsb jmcqSTORY: Free-spirited Lucy Westmore isn’t yet a spinster, although she fully intends to be. Fortunately, an eccentric aunt has left her both a diary detailing the secrets to spinsterhood and a cottage in Cornwall. Unfortunately, an insufferable marquess is angling for her prize! Turning Lord Thomas Branston down flat should be easy. So why does this man who won’t take no for an answer make Lucy’s body and soul sigh yes?

Thomas knows the real value of Heathmore Cottage, and he has no intention of letting some silly Society miss get her hands on it. He’ll simply have to charm Lucy into selling. But the clever young woman he encounters, first in London, then en route to Cornwall, stands stubbornly on her own two (quite lovely) feet. And now, Thomas can think only of sweeping her off them.

REVIEW: London – 1853

Miss Lucy Westmore lives with her parents and half-sister at Cardwell House in London. She is now age 21 and preparing for yet another season in which she does not want to partake. Lucy has decided that she wants no part of marriage and prefers to be a spinster. She likes her independence and does not want to hand over her life and her dowry to some man. When she learns that she has inherited her aunt’s cottage on a cliff in Cornwall near the town of Lizard Bay, she is delighted. Her aunt had been a spinster all of her life living in the cottage and appeared to be quite content. It is Lucy’s wish to follow in her footsteps. Edith Lucille Westmore, known as Miss E, has left several diaries to Lucy as well documenting her life in Lizard Bay.

Lord Thomas Branston, Marquess, has lived in Lizard Bay for several years. He is avoiding London as he has bad memories for him of the loss of his sister, hinted as being a suicide, along with his fiancee breaking off with him. His life in Lizard Bay has been good for him in many ways. He has stopped his drinking which had become very bad. He is also well-schooled in the flora and fauna of the area, many of which are quite rare. It is a small town with simple, easy-going, nice people about whom he truly cares. As he was a friend of Miss E, he is interested in purchasing the cottage to restore along with some surrounding grounds.

When Thomas approaches Lucy in London offering to buy the cottage, he is met with complete refusal even though his offer increases. Lucy has stated that she will live alone in the cottage herself just like her aunt. This decision is met with anger from her father which results in her running away to Cornwall. Upon arrival, she finds that the cottage is some miles from the town of Lizard Bay yet none of the townspeople will show her the way. They fear that the place is haunted.

Lucy is befriended by many of the townspeople and Thomas agrees to show her the cottage. Upon arrival and seeing the dilapidated condition of the cottage, she realizes she is completely over her head but she is stubborn and refuses help from Thomas even though she is attracted to him.

Will Lucy be able to stay in the cottage without any monies to support her? Will Thomas be able to convince Lucy that she is making a big mistake? There are some secrets about the area that are yet to be revealed and Lucy wants to find out about them.

The plot of this story was good, but I think it dragged on a bit too long. Lucy needed to be turned over someone’s knee. Her stubbornness became quite trying and she needed a serious comeuppance. However, the descriptions of the area of Cornwall were quite good and all in all I enjoyed yet another of Jennifer McQuiston’s novels. She is a very talented writer.

Connie for b2b

‘Lady Honor’s Debt’ by Maggi Andersen

lod maSTORY: Freedom. That’s all Lady Honor Baxendale wants—for her sisters and for herself. Honor has a bold plan to become financially independent, using a skill she learned at her father’s knee. She seeks the help of a solicitor and is pleased with her choice… as long as she can resist the solicitor himself.

Lord Edward Winborne has been happy to come to the aid of his four sisters in the past. But when a neighbor’s daughter, Lady Honor Baxendale, requests his help for a dangerous scheme she has in mind, he feels it his duty to dissuade her. When that fails, he wants to protect her, and then somehow finds he wants to do more. Much more.

REVIEW: Highland Manor – Royal Tunbridge Wells – 1822

Lady Honor Baxendale, age 26, is the oldest of five daughters. Her mother and stepfather would like to see her finally marry, but she has no interest in doing so. Honor wears spectacles and dresses plainly to keep from being noticed and to hopefully not stand out since her season seven years ago had ended in disgrace. At the time, she fancied herself in love with Richard, the son of Viscount Stenhouse. He had led her to a darkened part of a garden during a soiree and tried to have his way with her. Luckily she was found before anything happened, but she was sent home in disgrace.

Honor’s mother is a nervous woman plagued with headaches mostly as a result of her bad tempered husband.

Lord Edward Wenborne, the Marquess of Brandeth, is being pressured by his mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Brandeth, to marry and start a family. He is in no hurry to do so as he has two older brothers. He has chosen to become a solicitor and enjoys his life in London.

Honor asks Edward to investigate a Mr. Albert Leighton, the man who swindled Honor’s father out of his money resulting in her father taking his own life. She has a lovely set of jewelry she asks him to sell for her so she can raise the money needed to challenge Leighton to a gambling duel. Having learned a lot about gambling from her father, she is determined to show Leighton up for the cheat that he is.

Rather than sell her jewelry. Edward gives her the money she needs and she proceeds to challenge Leighton.

Will she win? What if she loses? How will she explain the loss of the money to her family?

This was a good story with an intriguing plot. I liked both Honor and Edward and I’m sure readers will enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by author