‘The Scoundrel’s Honor’ by Christi Caldwell

tsh-ccSTORY: London, 1822.

Thanks to her older siblings, Lady Penelope Tidemore is no stranger to scandal. In order for her to make a good match, her secret longings for intrigue and romance must be quelled. Yet it is through terrible mischance that Penelope is caught in a compromising position—however innocent—with the darkly enigmatic viscount Ryker Black.

Mr. Black is no gentleman. Raised from the streets and proprietor of the most notorious gaming hell in London, Black lives in a world filled with debauchery and danger. Taking a Society wife from the very ton he despises is not part of his plan, even if the innocent Penelope turns his blood hot with desire.

But Penelope isn’t afraid of Mr. Black, and she soon discovers that his reputation as a scoundrel may be designed to hide a surprising vulnerability. As this unlikely husband and wife grow closer, they learn that what started as chance could end up sealing their fates.

REVIEW: London – 1823

Lady Penelope Tidemore, age 18, is making her Come Out. With her are her widowed mother, the Dowager Countess of Sinclair, and her brother, Jonathan, the Earl of Sinclair. They keep reminding Penelope that she may encounter resistance from some people due to the scandals from the family’s past and they are worried that she may cause yet another scandal. The Dowager and the Earl have been reluctant to let her attend many functions, especially a ball.

When they decide to attend a ball hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Somerset, Penelope is ecstatic. One of the attendees is Ryker Black, Viscount Chatham, brother to the Duchess of Somerset, and the bastard son of a Duke. Ryker and his bastard brothers grew up on the streets of London doing whatever it took to care for themselves. Ryker was awarded his title from the King for having saved the life of the Duke of Somerset. Ryker’s sister, Helena, used to be the bookkeeper of his gambling hell before she married the Duke. Evidently, it is reputed that there is bad blood between Ryker and the Duke of Somerset. So, Helena has come to ask Ryker to attend the ball she is throwing to prove to the ton that there is no bad blood between the two men.

At the ball, Penelope is not enjoying herself. People are obviously gossiping about her, she has torn her hem, and the only men asking her to dance are relatives. She heads for the balcony for some fresh air where she ends up tearing her dress even more. On top of that, someone comes into the dark garden forcing her to hide. It’s Ryker. He realizes that someone else is in the garden and thinking it could be one of his enemies, he grabs Penelope and throws her to the ground. That’s when they are discovered. Uh-oh! Another Tidemore sister has caused a scandal and is ruined. Earl Sinclair tells Ryker he must marry Penelope. Reluctantly, Ryker and Penelope marry.

Penelope moves into Ryker’s rooms at the gambling hell which is not appealing to her. She wants a home but Ryker wants to be close to his business. There is always trouble brewing and he needs to be nearby to take care of it.

The story follows the two of them as they try to adjust to marriage and the fact that they are two very different personalities.

I simply did not like Ryker. He comes across as an angry bully. Penelope tries to placate him but it’s an uphill battle.

I have enjoyed this author’s books in the past, but I found this story to be too rough and violent and not at all what I would expect from her. However, I’m sure that others will find it very good.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘Once a Wallflower, At Last His Love’ by Christi Caldwell

oawalhl ccSTORY: Responsible, practical Miss Hermione Rogers, has been crafting stories as the notorious Mr. Michael Michaelmas and selling them for a meager wage to support her siblings. The only real way to ensure her family’s ruinous debts are paid, however, is to marry. Tall, thin, and plain, she has no expectation of success. In London for her first Season she seizes the chance to write the tale of a brooding duke. In her research, she finds Sebastian Fitzhugh, the 5th Duke of Mallen, who unfortunately is perfectly affable, charming, and so nicely… configured… he takes her breath away. He lacks all the character traits she needs for her story, but alas, any duke will have to do.

Sebastian Fitzhugh, the 5th Duke of Mallen has been deceived so many times during the high-stakes game of courtship, he’s lost faith in society women. Yet, after a chance encounter with Hermione, he finds himself intrigued. Not a woman he’d normally consider beautiful, the young lady’s practical bent, her forthright nature and her tendency to turn up in the oddest places has his interests… roused. He’d like to trust her, he’d like to do a whole lot more with her too, but should he?

REVIEW: Surrey England

Hermione Rogers is a strong young woman.  Her mother passed away several years ago leaving her father in a state of deep depression.  As such, their family finances are dwindling and Hermione is doing her best to keep things going.  Her older sister, Elizabeth, had a fever some years back which affected her mind leaving her mentally as that of a child.  She also has two younger twin siblings, Addie and Hugh both of whom look to her for guidance.
Hermione’s aunt has provided funds for Hermione to go to London for a season in hopes of her making a match and, thus saving the family from financial ruin.  While Hermione is agreeable to this, her first true love is her writing.  She has penned several stories under the nom de plume of Mr. Michael Michaelmas.
Sebastian Fitzhugh, the fifth Duke of Mallen, was taught to accept his responsibilities and has done a good job of it.  He’s quite content as his life is now.  However, his mother is pushing him to attend more soirees in hopes of finding his perfect duchess.
When Sebastian eyes Hermione at a dance, he is intrigued by her being absorbed with sitting and jotting things down on her dance card.  Thinking it strange that she is not simply watching the other dancers, he follows her as she heads down a hallway only to discover her sitting at their host’s desk writing away.  Thinking he is trying to accost her, she pushes to get away from him when he is only interested in what she is writing.   He becomes quite charmed by her and the feeling is mutual for her.  He just cannot figure her out but is afraid to become too involved with her because he might find himself ensnared by the parson’s mousetrap.
Ms. Caldwell has once again perfected her characters and expressed their emotions so well  which grabs the reader.  There is so much more to the story but I don’t want to give too much away.  Suffice to say, you will love this novel.  Christi Caldwell has nailed it again!
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Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘More Than a Duke’ by Christi Caldwell

mtad ccSTORY: Polite Society doesn’t take Lady Anne Adamson seriously. However, Anne isn’t just another pretty young miss. When she discovers her father betrayed her mother’s love and her family descended into poverty, Anne comes up with a plan to marry a respectable, powerful, and honorable gentleman— a man nothing like her philandering father.

Armed with the heart of a duke pendant, fabled to land the wearer a duke’s heart, she decides to enlist the aid of the notorious Harry, 6th Earl of Stanhope. A scoundrel with a scandalous past, he is the last gentleman she’d ever wed…however, his reputation marks him the perfect man to school her in the art of seduction so she might ensnare the illustrious Duke of Crawford.

Harry, the Earl of Stanhope is a jaded, cynical rogue who lives for his own pleasures. Having been thrown over by the only woman he ever loved so she could wed a duke, he’s not at all surprised when Lady Anne approaches him with her scheme to capture another duke’s affection. He’s come to appreciate that all women are in fact greedy, title-grasping, self-indulgent creatures. And with Anne’s history of grating on his every last nerve, she is the last woman he’d ever agree to school in the art of seduction. Only his friendship with the lady’s sister compels him to help.

What begins as a pretend courtship, born of lessons on seduction, becomes something more, leaving Anne to decide if she can give her heart to a reckless rogue, and Harry must decide if he’s willing to again trust in a lady’s love.

REVIEW: London England – 1815

Lady Anne Arlette Adamson, age 20, has caused her mother much frustration simply because she is not yet betrothed.  Anne’s twin sister, Katherine, is happily married to the Duke of Bainbridge.  Anne is a lovely young lady with beautiful golden hair. As a highly spirited gal, she is not willing to settle for just any man.  She wants to marry a Duke, just as her sister did.  She knows that the Duke of Crawford is in the market for a wife.  He is extremely wealthy and would surely suit her.

Harry Falston, the 6th Earl of Stanhope, age 30, has a reputation as a total rogue.  Because he is known for these ways, Anne decides to meet up with him in the conservatory while at a dance for she wants to enlist his help.  She wants him to teach her how to seduce a man.  Using these skills, her hope is to gain a proposal from the Duke of Crawford.

Harry is intrigued by Anne but is hesitant to help her.  When she tells him that if he doesn’t help her, she will find someone else who will instruct her, he reluctantly agrees.  His heart is truly not in this as there was a beautiful woman in his past who tried this same thing with him and ended up breaking his heart.

As they meet to discuss things, Harry finds that Anne is not the silly person he originally thought she was.  When he learns of the difficulties she has faced in her life, he realizes she is indeed a strong young woman simply seeking a happy and secure future.

Oh, but there is a true evil rogue by the name of Lord Rutland who would gladly seduce Lady Anne. Thus, Harry realizes that she and her reputation could be in danger and he finds himself becoming a man who really cares.  And, oh my, he might be falling in love!

Again, Christi Caldwell, has wowed readers!  She writes such wonderful novels with characters that tugs at the reader’s heartstring while providing us with numerous laughs.

This is Book 3 in the author’s “Heart of a Duke Series.”

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Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘A Marquess for Christmas’ by Christi Caldwell

amfc ccSTORY: Lady Patrina Tidemore gave up on the ridiculous notion of true love after having her heart shattered and her trust destroyed by a black-hearted cad. Used as a pawn in a game of revenge against her brother, Patrina returns to London from a failed elopement with a tattered reputation and little hope for a respectable match. The only peace she finds is in her solitude on the cold winter days at Hyde Park. And even that is yanked from her by two little hellions who just happen to have a devastatingly handsome, but coldly aloof father, the Marquess of Beaufort. Something about the lord stirs the dreams she’d once carried for an honorable gentleman’s love.

Weston Aldridge, the 4th Marquess of Beaufort was deceived and betrayed by his late wife. In her faithlessness, he’s come to view women as self-serving, indulgent creatures. Except, after a series of chance encounters with Patrina, he comes to appreciate how uniquely different she is than all women he’s ever known.

At the Christmastide season, a time of hope and new beginnings, Patrina and Weston, unexpectedly learn true love in one another. However, as Patrina’s scandalous past threatens their future and the happiness of his children, they are both left to determine if love is enough.

REVIEW: London, Winter 1818

Lady Patrina Tidemore, age 20, is one of four sisters, Penelope, Prudence, and Poppy. Her life is rather sad because she has been ostracized by the ton.  She foolishly agreed to elope with Albert Marshville, brother of her sister-in-law, Juliet.  Fortunately, they did not end up getting married and she is still a chaste woman.  However, all the ton sees is a ruined young woman.  Her escape comes each day as she visits Hyde Park and stares at the Serpentine lost in thought.

Weston Aldridge, the 4th Marquess of Beaufort, age 32, is a widower.  He was married to the beautiful Cordelia for 10 years.  However, she continued to betray him with other men.  After her death, he does not mourn her but is thankful for the two children he has from their marriage.  Charlotte and Daniel are normal, fun-loving children.

Today, it is snowing heavily and Patrina is shocked to be the victim of children throwing snowballs at her.  But when she decides to join in the fun and throw snowballs back at them, their father, Weston, arrives and he is aghast at her behavior.  They argue when Weston accuses Patrina of mistreating his children not realizing that they were actually playing.  They finally part on unfriendly terms.  However, a chance encounter that finds Patrina rescuing Charlotte, brings them all back together.

As Weston and Patrina get to know one another a little better, theirs is a rather rocky relationship. Patrina is ashamed of her misconduct and Weston is bitter over his late wife.  Are two damaged people able to set aside the past and learn to live and trust again?

This is a story that will tug at the reader’s heart strings and is written where you can actually feel their pain.  I really loved it and looking forward to more novels from Christi Caldwell.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘For the Love of the Duke’ by Christi Caldwell

ftload ccSTORY: After the tragic death of his wife, Jasper, the 8th Duke of Bainbridge buried himself away in the dark cold walls of his home, Castle Blackwood. When he’s coaxed out of his self-imposed exile to attend the amusements of the Frost Fair, his life is irrevocably changed by his fateful meeting with Lady Katherine Adamson.

With her tight brown ringlets and silly white-ruffled gowns, Lady Katherine Adamson has found her dance card empty for two Seasons. After her father’s passing, Katherine learned the unreliability of men, and is determined to depend on no one, except herself. Until she meets Jasper…

In a desperate bid to avoid a match arranged by her family, Katherine makes the Duke of Bainbridge a shocking proposition—one that he accepts.

Only, as Katherine begins to love Jasper, she finds the arrangement agreed upon is not enough. And Jasper is left to decide if protecting his heart is more important than fighting for Katherine’s love.

REVIEW: Winter 1814, London

Lady Katherine Adamson, age 19, has reluctantly agreed to accompany her twin sister, Anne, on another of her madcap schemes.  Anne wants to visit the Frost Fair which is held on the frozen Thames River for people wanting to make purchases from different vendors for Christmas.  Katherine has been petrified of water ever since she fell into the river when she was a child and nearly drowned.  But Anne insists that they go to the Fair in search of a heart-shaped pendant with the promise that the wearer will then find the love of a Duke.  This was the case for their older sister, Aldora who met and married Lord Michael Knightly brother to the very wealthy Marquess of St. James.  Both girls are hoping to make a good marriage.  Sadly, their father had squandered the family’s money before he died leaving the family with very little.

Jasper Waincourt, Eighth Duke of Bainbridge, age 27, is a miserable man.  Three years ago, he lost the love of his life, his wife and their son, in childbirth.  Since then, he has blamed himself and feels as though he murdered his wife.  He hates the Christmas season and his reclusive living has helped to earn him the reputation of the Mad Duke. He usually stays at his home, Castle Blackwood, a medieval Norman Castle.  As an only child growing up, he didn’t know affection as his parents never truly loved each other.

So, it is a special thing that Jasper’s friend, the Marquess of Guilford, has managed to get him to leave his Castle and venture to London.  It was very fortuitous they were attending the Frost Fair at the same time Katherine and Anne were, because the ice cracked and the icy water dragged Katherine in.  With great bravery, Jasper was able to pull her from the water and save her life.  Wrapping her in his coat, he took her home.  Katherine was very grateful but when trying to thank Jasper, she is totally taken aback by his cold attitude and non-solicitous manner.  Both are aggravated at the other as he feels that she should have been chaperoned and she feels that he has no right to speak to her that way.  Ah, but they do continue to run into one another around London and their encounters end up with them trading barbs.  Actually, they are attracted to one another but don’t want to admit it to themselves.

Knowing that she needs to marry, Katherine takes it upon herself to propose to Jasper.  Will he accept?  If they are to marry, will their different personalities allow them to be happy?

There is so much more to this story of the heartbreaking sadness that Jasper has borne.  Can it be overcome by the love of a good woman?  This is one of those stories that you want to pick up and reread immediately.  It’s that good.  I found it sad, romantic and happy and sexy.  When I read a really good book like this, I wish I could award it six stars.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author