‘Temptations of a Wallflower’ by Eva Leigh

toaw elSTORY: In society circles she’s known as the Watching Wallflower—shy, quiet, and certainly never scandalous. Yet beneath Lady Sarah Frampton’s demure façade hides the mind of The Lady of Dubious Quality, author of the most titillating erotic fiction the ton has ever seen. Sarah knows discovery would lead to her ruin, but marriage—to a vicar, no less—could help protect her from slander. An especially tempting option when the clergyman in question is the handsome, intriguing Jeremy Cleland.

Tasked with unmasking London’s most scandalous author by his powerful family, Jeremy has no idea that his beautiful, innocent bride is the very woman he seeks to destroy. His mission must remain a secret, even from the new wife who stirs his deepest longings. Yet when the truth comes to light, Sarah and Jeremy’s newfound love will be tested. Will Sarah’s secret identity tear them apart or will the temptations of his wallflower wife prove too wicked to resist?

REVIEW: London – 1816

Jeremy Cleland, age 28, is heading to stay at his family’s Mayfair mansion, Hutton House. A vicar for the parish of Rosemead, Jeremy is the third son of the Earl of Hutton whose main home is in Hertfordshire. Jeremy has been summoned by his father. A difficult man, Jeremy had been forced by the Earl to become a vicar and must always do as the man says or be threatened to lose any financial support from him. However, he is much loved by his mother who is very keen on finding a wife for him. His father and uncle, the Marquess of Allam, are waiting to talk to him.

The Earl and Marquess are very pious men and are outraged by The Lady of Dubious Quality, an author who has written an erotic novel entitled, “The Highwayman’s Seduction.” She has also written other quite erotic novels. As she writes under a pseudonym, the two men want Jeremy to find out who she is. They are intent on finding out the identity of the author so that they can keep their labels as moral leaders and can make this writer stop writing her lewd books. If Jeremy is successful, his father has promised to increase his money which will allow him to live better. With essentially no choice in the matter, Jeremy agrees.

Lady Sarah Frampton, age 23, is the daughter of the Duke of Wakefield. She is attending social events in town and is quite bored by them. She wishes only for quiet and solitude so she can write. Nicknamed the Watching Wallflower. she lacks for attention. She prefers simply to observe people. Secretly, she is also The Lady of Dubious Quality. Her true identity must never be known as the resulting scandal would be devastating. But she will continue to write because she loves it.

When Jeremy and Sarah meet and begin to see one another in society, they find they have a lot in common and are attracted to one another. Since Jeremy is just a vicar, Sarah’s mother feels he is beneath her and tries to discourage their relationship. But a clandestine meeting at a club where masked people have anonymous sex with one another throws them into a tailspin. Sarah has attended to see what the place is like and Jeremy has attended to see if he can find The Lady of Dubious Quality there. They dance together not knowing whom the other is. A kiss leads to her fleeing and Jeremy in search of her because he is sure she is the author he is seeking.

As their attraction leads to love and finally marriage, they couldn’t be happier. But how can Sarah keep her secret from Jeremy? Will the truth finally come out?

This is a very good book. It started out a bit slowly but my interest increased as the book went along.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Scandal Takes the Stage’ by Eva Leigh

stts elSTORY: Successful playwright Maggie Delamere has no interest in the flirtations of noblemen like Cameron, Viscount Marwood. She once paid dearly for a moment of weakness . . . and vows to rebuff the wildly persistent—and irritatingly handsome—scoundrel at every turn. But when pressure to deliver a new play hampers her creativity, an invitation to use his country estate as a writer’s retreat is too tempting to resist…

For years, Cam has admired Maggie’s brilliant work, and he can’t pass up the opportunity to discover if the beautiful, mysterious playwright is as passionate and clever as the words that flow from her quill. He’s never offered a lady his bed without being in it, but if it means loosening Maggie’s pen—and her inhibitions—he’ll do exactly that.

But soon Cam’s plans for seduction become a fight for Maggie’s heart. He’s more than the scandalous, carefree rake society believes him to be . . . and she’s the only woman who has ever noticed.

REVIEW: Eva Leigh continues her The Wicked Quills of London series with another heroine who is good with a quill. This one is a playwright and she is having a ‘writer’s block’, but have no fear. Our hero has been admiring this woman for some time  now, and he comes up with a solution to her problem.

I have to say that this story was a tad slower than the first book, but I did like the characterization of the hero. He was such a romantic and a lot of fun to follow around.

The heroine took a bit of getting to know and once I had a better picture of who she was I begun to warm up to her.

Together, they were an interesting couple, but the romance was driven mostly by our hero, which at times felt a bit awkward. Once the heroine gets on board, the chemistry was undeniable and the story is richer for it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Forever Your Earl’ by Eva Leigh

fye elSTORY: Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?

Daniel has secrets and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.

But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.

REVIEW: This is a debut from a new author for me and a first book in her The Wicked Quills of London series in which we’ll be meeting three heroines who are all good with their quills.

We open the series with an owner of a prominent scandal sheet.

This was such a fun, F.U.N., read! From the opening scene to the last, you’ll be on a rollercoaster and you’ll not want to get off.

I loved everything about this story! The plot was as much intriguing as our heroine was about the life of our hero. And speaking of, what a man he was! To go to the lengths that he does in order to help a friend, is not just honorable but commending.

To follow these two as they’re trying to read each other and in the process fall in love, was a delight.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Compromising the Marquess’ by Wendy Soliman

ctm wsSTORY: England, 1814

Leah Elliot sells secrets to survive. Donning boy’s clothes, she uncovers society scandals for a London gossip rag to support herself and her sister, who were left destitute after their father’s death. When she meets the dashing—and perhaps dangerous—Hal Forster, the Marquess of Denby, she learns he may be involved in treason. The rumor is too valuable not to sell, despite her attraction to him…

Hal does have a secret, but he’s no traitor: he’s a spy embroiled in a mystery, seeking the man who killed his contact in France. He sees the alluring woman behind Leah’s disguise at once but is intrigued enough to play along…until he realizes that she’s the source of the rumors interfering with his investigation and forcing him into an unwanted betrothal.

Now, Hal and Leah must work together to draw out the culprit and undo the damage caused by Leah’s gossip. Or will their passion only cause more scandal?

REVIEW: This was a fun and fast pacing read that I liked a lot. I thought the heroine brave and smart, doing what she had in order to survive.

The hero was someone with courage and fortitude to see through who and what our heroine is and does.

Through out the book I just kept hearing the expression “needs must”, which totally applied to Leah. It’s the “necessity” that “compels” her to spy on the ton thus earning her keep, allowing her to survive.

It’s Hal who has to decide if she really had no choice but to do what she did and did the events compel her to do something she would much rather not.

If you like your romance sprinkled with a doze of mystery, this is sure to fill the bill.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Secrets of a Soprano’ by Miranda Neville

soas mnSTORY: Teresa Foscari, Europe’s most famous opera singer, comes to London to make a fresh start and find her long lost English family. Her peerless voice thrills everyone—except Maximilian Hawthorne, Viscount Allerton, the wealthy owner of a rival opera house. Notorious Teresa Foscari is none other than Tessa, the innocent girl who broke his youthful heart. Yet Max still wants her, like no other woman.

Amidst backstage intrigue and the sumptuous soirées of fashionable London, the couple’s rivalry explodes in bitter accusations and smashed china. Tessa must fight for her career—and resist her attraction to Max, the man she once loved and who now holds the power to destroy her.

REVIEW: London – 1818

Maximillian (Max) Hawthorne, Viscount Allerton, is quite taken with the singing voice of a soprano, Teresa (Tessa) Foscari, a.k.a., La Foscari and LaDivinia, and he realizes that her talent is far superior to any that he offers at the Regent Opera House. Now, Max has decided to try and steal her away from the Tavistock Theater by offering her more money. She is singing at the Tavistock Theater which is managed by Bartholomew Mortimer, a rival to the Regent.

Tessa has taken the job with Mortimer as she desperately needs money. However, he is proving to be a crude and pushy man reminding her that she is actually under contract to him.

In hopes of getting to see Tessa, Max sends a note inviting her to dinner, but she accepts another peer’s invitation. Max is thinking that Tessa may be the young girl he met years ago when he was just 19. He believes that she may actually be Tessa Burkett with whom he had had an affair many years ago. When they are reintroduced, they both realize that they did indeed know each other in the past. Tessa is still attracted to him and he to her. However, her reputation as having had many high level lovers in the past makes him very angry to which she reacts with disdain.

As the Regent Opera House struggles along, the Tavistock is filled with people wanting to hear La Davinia sing. However, the fear that Tessa may not be paid by Mortimer frightens her because she did not get legal advice before signing her contract with him which may be filled with loopholes.

Max’s mother is pushing him to give up the theater, get married, and provide her with grandchildren.

Max and Tessa are truly attracted to one another but both are too stubborn to give in to their emotions. Can they learn to trust each other?

In this story, I did not like either Tessa or Max. Tessa’s tendency to throw china shows me an immature woman with no self-control. For Max to spend so much time with a struggling Opera House when he should be busy with his property, investments, and family also says he’s immature.

I have enjoyed the author’s novels in the past, but this one is not a favorite.

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Connie for b2b

‘The Woman from Paris’ by Santa Montefiore

twfp smSTORY: They had built their lives in this grand old house, its walls encompassing their family and their secrets. Nestled in the sweeping hills they have always known, the house is part of their history, their heritage. But these four walls also hold a secret.

When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident, a beautiful young woman named Phaedra appears at his funeral—claiming to be the lord’s illegitimate daughter. In his will, Lord Frampton has left the priceless Frampton suite of sapphires to this interloper, confirming her claim and outraging his three adult sons and widow. Eventually, however, Phaedra’s sweet nature thaws the frosty relationships. She becomes the daughter that Antoinette Frampton never had and a wise and compassionate granddaughter to the formidable Dowager Lady Frampton. But an attraction grows between Phaedra and the eldest son, David. It seems an impossible love—blocked by their blood connection and by the fury of one family member who is determined to expose Phaedra as a fraud.

Filled with the luscious scenery and enchanting characters her fans adore, Santa Montefiore’s The Woman from Paris confirms the remarkable power of love to heal broken families and tender hearts.

This novel was published under the title The Summer House in the UK.

REVIEW: Lord Frampton has just died in a skiing accident leaving behind his widow, three sons, one granddaughter and his mother. However, at his funeral, Phaedra, a lovely woman appears claiming to be his daughter.

Although the family members are reeling from the loss of Lord Frampton and the shock of the appearance of Phaedra, they are all soon drawn to her magnetic, soothing and loving personality.

I feel that synopsizing this novel further would give out way too many spoilers. Suffice to say that the characters in this novel are so real and the emotions and personalities of each one are perfectly described.

The wise individual that is Phaedra is so strong, intelligent and lovable. This is one of those stories that captures you from the first page all the way to the last. You feel like a part of the family after you read it.

I have not read Santa Montefiore’s other novels, but will I will certainly rectify that very soon. Wonderful novel!

Connie for b2b

‘Park Lane’ by Frances Osborne

pl foSTORY: London, February 1914. Eighteen year-old Grace Campbell arrives in London from Carlisle, her family’s hopes pinned on her becoming a secretary. The only job she can find is as a housemaid in the mansion that is Number 35, Park Lane, and soon she is entangling herself in an ever-thickening web of lies.

Upstairs, a jilted and humiliated Beatrice Masters is determined not to return to the New York of her childhood before she has salvaged her pride. She secretly joins Emmeline Pankhurst’s militant suffragettes and is steadily drawn into the violence rocking the city.

But Grace and Beatrice’s existences are not as parallel as they seem. Little do they realize that their hidden lives and emotions will soon be revolving around the same man – or that the coming war will change the boundaries of both their worlds for ever.

REVIEW: ‘Park Lane’ is a novel that captures that most evolving time in history – the turn of the century. Society is changing along with industrial improvements and inventions. It presents the dedicated work and pain that the suffragettes endured to get the vote for women.

We also see the changes of England as World War I approaches. The differences between the “haves” and “have nots” are clearly depicted. The suffering of the soldiers as the war is in full swing and the sacrifices of not only the soldiers but the women volunteers as well is described in depth. Not a pretty thing but oh so real.

I found Park Lane to be a very intriguing novel that kept me captive right up to the very end. The author obviously put an enormous amount of research into it.

Connie for b2b