‘Scandal at the Midsummer Ball’ Anthology

satmb mk bsSTORY: Two forbidden relationships…one house party to remember! 

THE OFFICER’S TEMPTATION by Marguerite Kaye

Colonel Fergus Kennedy must make a suitable match at the Midsummer Ball. But when this officer encounters sultry acrobat Katerina Vengarov, he finds himself torn between duty…and heart-stopping, irresistible passion!

THE DEBUTANTE’S AWAKENING by Bronwyn Scott

Kael Gage is the last person at the Midsummer Ball Miss Zara Titus should speak to—and anything more is definitely off-limits! But the notorious rake seems determined to awaken this innocent debutante’s every desire…

REVIEW: The Officer’s Temptation – Marguerite Kaye

Brockmoore Manor House Party – June 1817

The Duke and Duchess of Brockmoore are hosting their annual summer house party for some of their friends. This party is primarily meant for making good marriage matches among the highly eligible attendees.

One attendee, Colonel Fergus Kennedy of the Ninety Second Regiment of Foot, is finding the weather to be quite warm. Sir Timothy Farthingale introduces himself to Fergus and proceeds to tell him more about the other guests. One lady in particular has caught Fergus’s eye. Lady Verity Fairholme, a lovely young woman, is the niece of the Duke of Brockmoore. As he observes her, Fergus realizes that she would make a great wife should he accept a diplomatic posting to Egypt as requested by Wellington. But when he is introduced to her, he is taken aback at her indifference to him.

Adventuring outside for some cool air, Fergus comes upon Miss Katerina Vengarov practicing her tightrope walking. She and her brother, Alexandr, are the Flying Vengarovs from Russia. They have been hired to entertain the guests at the party. After some great conversations, they begin a friendship which soon turns to passion. But how can two people of such different statuses be together?

The Duke is pressuring his niece, Verity, to show interest in Fergus and they are both stumped as to why she doesn’t. Finally, Verity honestly tells Fergus that he appears to be a nice man but she absolutely does not want to live in Egypt.

Fergus is satisfied and relieved with Verity’s honesty for he has found himself in love with Katerina. They soon find a solution that will allow them to be together.

REVIEW: The Debutante’s Awakening – Bronwyn Scott

Brockmoore Manor House Party – June 1817

Miss Zara Titus is attending the house party hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Brockmoore. Her fiance, Viscount Haymore, has just broken off their long standing betrothal. It seems he found someone he truly loves. Since her betrothal to Viscount Haymore had been made by their parents when they were very young, she has not had a chance to get to know many other men. Now, she finds herself as simply a three-season debutante. Zara’s mother, Viscountess Aberforth, is pressuring her to find a husband and soon, but she wants the freedom to just be herself for awhile. She is determined to fight her mother’s demands.
Zara soon spies a very handsome man across the room and using her fan, lets him know she would like to meet him.

Kael Gage is not a wealthy man. The grandson of an earl, he owns a small horse farm that generates a good income for himself. Not necessarily in the market for a wife, he is still enjoying the house party. When Zara and Kael meet, sparks fly and he thinks to seduce her. But she is determined to not let him best her so she spars with him which leads to some stolen intimate moments.

When Zara’s mother becomes aware of her attraction to Kael, she is livid and tells Zara some evil things about Kael that make her wonder if it is the truth or not?

Can these two overcome the obstacles put in their path to love?

These are both cleverly written novellas which includes lots of fun that the attendees have at the party. I only wish I had been invited!

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the authors

‘Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah’ by Marguerite Kaye

ocold mkSTORY: Just who is Lady Deborah?

I am the Dowager Countess of Kinsail, and I have enough secrets to scandalize you for life.

I will never reveal the truth of my soul-destroying marriage—some things are too dark to be told. But at least no one can guess that I, a famously icy-hearted widow, am also the authoress of the shamelessly voluptuous romances currently shocking the ton!

Only now I have a new secret identity, one that I will risk my life to keep—accomplice to Elliot Marchmont, gentleman, ex-soldier and notorious London thief. This adventurer’s expert touch ignites in me a passion so intoxicating that surviving our blistering affair unscathed will be near impossible….

REVIEW: Lady Deborah Napier, the Dowager Countess of Kinsail, has chosen to live a quiet and solitary life in the years since the early death of her husband. The miserly funds given to her from her late husband’s brother are barely enough to keep her. Thus for some time, she has been using her enormous writing talents by penning erotic novels under an assumed name that have been huge sellers especially to matrons and even some men. The novels allow her to release her suppressed sexual fantasies squelched by the coldness and cruelty of her late husband. However, the scars from the mental abuse and degradation inflicted upon her over the years by her late husband are many and run deep leaving her convinced she is worthless as a woman.

Elliot Marchmont, a well-to-do gentleman had been a solider who had witnessed many deaths and severe wounds of his fellow soldiers. His disgust at the mistreatment and abandonment of wounded soldiers has led him to become a skilled thief robbing the very people responsible for the disgusting neglect of these men who have so bravely served their country.

Due to her sleeping difficulties during her annual visits to her late husband’s home, Deborah likes to take late night walks around the grounds. She happens upon Elliot escaping a robbery. Her lack of fear of him and her humor intrigues him. As she was so impressed by Elliot’s successful robbery, Deborah decides to add a fictitious robbery to the novel she is currently writing. Her editor is so impressed with this additions that he tells her she must add even more of these types of events to guarantee that the book will be a huge seller. She contacts Elliot to try and convince him to take her on a robbery with him. While they are both drawn to one another sexually, Deborah will not allow herself to give into her attraction to him. He finally complies with her request to accompany him and they undertake a successful robbery that leaves her feeling invigorated and alive. Thus, with changes to the details of the robbery they commit, she adds more fodder to her novel thus ensuring it will be accepted by her editor and guaranteed to sell many copies.

Elliot is unable to stop thinking of Deborah nor she of him. Thus, he contrives a way to enlist her help with writing about the mistreatment and abandonment of wounded soldiers to bring attention to the situation. With this project for them to undertake, they grow closer and Deborah begins to relax more with Elliot. Finally, the shocking reason for her late husband’s treatment of her is finally revealed which allows Deborah to realize she is not at fault for the treatment inflicted upon her during her sad marriage.

Marguerite Kaye has written a delicious and sexually exciting novel chock full of nail biting, edge-of-the-seat intrigue that will have the reader unable to put the book down as they have to see what happens in the next chapter. The sensitive way Ms. Kaye portrays the mental damage incurred by Deborah and the patience and gentleness with which Elliot helps her to work through and understand the reasons for her late husband’s treatment of her is very touching indeed.

Connie for b2b

‘The Soldier’s Rebel Lover’ by Marguerite Kaye

tsrl mkSTORY: When Major Finlay Urquhart was last on the battlefield, he shared a sizzling moment with daring Isabella Romero.

Two years later, Finlay has one final duty to perform for his country, one that reunites him with this rebellious senorita!

Except Isabella has her own mission, which means that no matter how much she craves Finlay’s touch, she can never tell him the truth. But she’s underestimated Finlay’s determination to protect her, and soon she finds herself letting her guard down, one scorching kiss at a time!

REVIEW: Major Finlay Urquhart of the Ninety-Second Regiment of Foot has been fighting in Spain during the war with Napoleon. A Scottish man, he prides himself on wearing his kilt. He is on lookout when he catches a Spanish woman named Isabella. At first thinking she is a French spy, he soon learns that they are on the same side. They rest, share some food, and talk. Finlay is intrigued by her but they part soon after.

England – 1815

Finlay has returned home after the war to live with his brother at Trestain Manor. But now Finlay has been asked to return to Spain on a mission to find El Fantasma, a.k.a. The Ghost, and get him out of Spain. Although no one knows what he looks like, El Fantasma is part of a group of people rebelling at what the government wants repressed. When Finlay recalls that Isabella claimed to know him, he decides to travel to Spain to ask for her help in locating him. He will pose as a wine merchant looking to purchase a large amount of wine and meet with Isabella’s brother who owns a large winery.

When Finlay and Isabella meet again, they try to act like they don’t know each other. When they get a chance for a private talk, Finlay tells her that he must find El Fantasma and help him escape the country. But when she finally tells him the identity of this person and that she has been a part of the rebels, Finlay is shocked but intent on helping the cause of the rebels. Thus ensues a daring escape as they flee to save themselves.

This was a story full of intrigue. The author’s descriptions of the area and the trials of the people who experienced the war are quite vivid.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘The Soldier’s Dark Secret’ by Marguerite Kaye

tsds mkSTORY: The truth behind the hero Officer Jack Trestain may have been one of Wellington’s most valued code-breakers, but since Waterloo, he’s hung up his uniform. If only he could just as easily put aside the tortured memories he carries deep within; Perhaps enchanting French artist Celeste Marmion might be the distraction he so desperately craves?

Except Celeste harbors secrets of her own, and questions that she needs Jack’s help to solve! With Celeste’s every touch an exquisite temptation, how close can Jack get without revealing his darkest secret of all?

REVIEW: England – August 1815

Jack Trestain is a highly decorated an admired code-breaker who has just returned from fighting against Napoleon.  He is living with his brother, Charlie, and family at their home, Trestain Manor.  Charlie has inherited the home and title from their father and he and his wife have been working hard to re-do the home and the grounds.  Jack is having a difficult time settling back home.  Nightmares of the things he has seen and experienced during the war fill his nights leaving him exhausted and with a constant feeling of guilt.

Celeste Marmion is an artist raised in France and has been commissioned by Charlie Trestain to paint the gardens of Trestain Manor before its planned transformation.  Celeste was sent to school at age 10 by her mother who was always indifferent to her.  Her mother’s essential desertion has always hurt and troubled Celeste and now she is on a mission to find out more about her.  She uses her talent of painting to make money to support herself.

As a guest at the manor, Celeste and Jack meet and are almost instantly attracted to one another.  They each recognize the other as someone who is suffering from bad experiences in their pasts which only draws them closer together.  When Celeste shares a letter with Jack she had received from her estranged mother, Jack quickly agrees to accompany her to France to work with the clues they have to solve the mystery of her mother’s past.

These characters are brilliantly written to reveal two wounded people looking to one another for solace. Celeste is hurting because she feels her mother never loved her and Jack feels a terrible guilt for people he may have harmed or was unable to help save during the war.

Once again, the author has created a novel that has obviously been researched in-depth to share with the reader not only a great story but the history of the war itself.  I know readers will enjoy Jack and Celeste’s story and finish the novel with a feeling of satisfaction having read a story that will long remain with them.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Strangers at the Altar’ by Marguerite Kaye

sata mkSTORY: The secrets behind the wedding veil

For penniless widow Ainsley McBrayne, marriage is the only solution. She’s vulnerable yet fiercely independent, so shackling herself to another man seems horrifying! Until handsome stranger Innes Drummond tempts Ainsley to become his temporary wife.

Once married, Ainsley hardly recognizes the rugged Highlander Innes transforms into! He sets her long-dormant pulse racing, and she’s soon craving the enticing delights of their marriage bed. She has until Hogmanay to show Innes that their fake marriage could be for real…

REVIEW: Edinburgh – June 1840

Mrs. Ainsley McBrayne, a widow in her late 20s, has just learned from her attorney that her late husband had gotten into deep debt for which she is now responsible.  After she angrily leaves the attorney’s office, she accidentally bumps into Innes Drummond.  Realizing she is upset, he invites her to sit in a café with him and talk.

Innes Drummond, is an engineer in his mid 30s who has been left heir to a castle and vast estate called The Strone Bridge Estate.  In order for him to gain his inheritance, he must be married.

After their chat and sharing their problems, they agree to a marriage of convenience for one year.  At the end of that time, Innes will have gained access to his inheritance, obtained the money to pay off Ainsley’s debts, and they will be free to go their separate ways.  Simple, right?  Well, not if you fall in love with each other.  But back to the story.

Ainsley is an unfulfilled woman who never felt she was truly loved by her late husband.  Innes is a man plagued by many demons and consumed with guilt that he has become the heir when it was his brother, Malcolm, who loved Strone Bridge and had been groomed to one day be the laird.  Innes had not been back to the estate for many years and found that it needed a lot of work to keep it up.  Ainsley is immediately enthralled with the place and sees so much potential for it in the future.

Innes and Ainsley find an attraction to one another that they had not anticipated in the beginning.  But where can this lead if they are to stick to their original agreement?  Can Ainsley help Innes to face his demons and open up to her about them?  Can Innes help her regain her self-esteem and realize that she truly is a desirable woman?

A very good story with two very strong characters experiencing substantial emotions.  Come learn about their pasts and see if they may truly find a future together.

Once again, Marguerite Kaye has proven her incredible talent of slowly exposing the souls of her characters that gives readers deep insight into their lives.  She shows their damage, how they were hurt, and how it can be healed.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Never Forget Me’ by Marguerite Kaye

nfm mkSTORY: As War Blazes Across Europe, Three Couples Find A Love That Is Powerful Enough To Overcome All The Odds…

A Kiss Goodbye

1914

As war looms, genteel Flora yearns to be more than just an observer. She finds a revolutionary kindred spirit in soldier Geraint—but will their fragile love be crushed before it can start to bloom?

Dearest Sylvie

1916

Soldier Robbie cannot forget his one hedonistic night in Paris with beautiful waitress Sylvie. But as Europe burns, can these two star-crossed lovers ever be reunited?

Forever With Me

1918

Nurse Sheila is horrified to discover her new boss is the French surgeon she woke beside after Armistice Day! Fighting for their love will be the bravest thing she’s ever had to do….

REVIEW: Novella One:  “A Kiss Goodbye”

Argyll Scotland, October 1914

Glen Massan House sits in a promontory overlooking Loch Massan.  It has been lived in by generations of Carmichaels.  The current Lord Andrew and Lady Elizabeth Carmichael live in their huge home with their daughter, Flora, age 23.  Their older son, Robbie, age 25, runs a wine import business and their younger son, Alex, age 17, is at school.  The family fears that soon Robbie will be signing up to fight the war and Alex has already let it be known that he wants to sign up too as soon as he is of age.

The Carmichael family has just learned that their home has been commandeered by the Army and the family will have to move to their Lodge which is significantly smaller than Massan House.  The home is to be used for special training for the Army.

Corporal Geraint Cassell was raised in a Welsh Mining village.  When he arrives at Massan House with his Army buddies, he cannot help but be appalled that people still live in such extravagant homes.

It is soon decided that Flora will oversee the Army people moving into their home.  Her organizational skills are well-honed and the family agrees that she will be perfect for the job.  Flora has been torn as to whether to sign up and volunteer with the VADs. However, she feels that coordinating the Army move into her home should keep her busy for now.

When Flora first meets with Geraint to discuss the transition, sparks fly because they are both outspoken people.  Although they clash, they are also attracted to one another at the same time.  As their meetings increase, so does their attraction.  Knowing that her mother does not approve of her friendship with Geraint, she cannot help but want to be with him more.  Geraint realizes that he is just a man from a mining family and she is a lady.  As he wants to be with her, he must break it off.  He has also found that he is being sent to France to fight.  How can he leave her?  Can she let him go?  Can their love for one another last?

I enjoyed this novella and found it to be so sweet.

Novella Two:  “Dearest Sylvie”

Paris – 28 October 1916

Captain Robbie Carmichael of the Argyllshire Battalion, Argyll and Southern Highlanders is convalescing in Paris after a severe shrapnel wound that nearly took his life.  While sitting in a bar one evening, beautiful Frenchwoman and waitress, Sylvia Renaud, brought some wine to him.  She seems so pleasant that Robbie invites her to sit with him and enjoy a glass of wine.  As with many other soldiers at that time, Robbie was suffering from the effects of the war.  Many are lonely, disillusioned, and simply want to experience human touch and warmth.

They chatted for some time enjoying their wine and when it came time to leave the bar, they were both quite tipsy.  At Sylvie’s invitation, they head to her place and make love.  Shocked at their shared passion, they are both somewhat embarrassed as they say goodbye the next morning figuring they will never see each other again.  However, their attraction is so great that they do get together again before Robbie is sent back to the front.  They have both been damaged by the war and find themselves clinging to one another for comfort.

Sylvie and Robbie begin to write letters to each other sharing their past history, their feelings of how the war has affected them, and how they hope to see one another again.  The letters are very touching and from them, we learn a lot about these two people.

Will Robbie stay safe from harm?  Is there a chance to them to be together after the war?

This novella is very touching and beautifully expresses the pain that so many people experienced during the war.

Novella Three – “Forever with Me”

Base Hospital, Boulogne-sur-Mer France   11 November 1918, Armistice Day

Sheila Fraser, a Highland lass from the town of Glen Massan, is watching the happy people dancing in the streets as they celebrate the Allied victory.  A blonde VAD nurse who used to be a maid for the Carmichael family, Sheila is looking forward to going home and seeing her mother again.

Luc Durand, a Frenchman, saw the lovely Sheila and asked her join him and dance in the streets too. Uncertain at first, Sheila decides to relax and enjoy the festivities. Before long their happiness leads to them kissing and an intimate encounter.

Glen Massan, Argyll Scotland  –  March 1919

Back in her hometown, Sheila finds that the Glen Massan House has been donated by the Carmichael family and is now named the Alex Carmichael Trust Hospital.  Alex was the younger son of the Carmichael family who died from his battle injuries just one month from the end of the war.  As it happens, Sheila was with him at the end and was happy to be there to comfort him.

Although Sheila is not a formally schooled nurse, she has had years of hands-on experience during the war.  Her hope is to get a position at the Carmichael Hospital. With her earlier experience as a maid with the family, she is quite familiar with the home.  Her friend and the daughter of the Carmichael family, Flora Carmichael Cassell, has helped her to apply for the job.  If she doesn’t get the job, the only alternatives she has are to be a maid or a companion.  When the new head of the hospital arrives, she will have to interview with him in hopes of getting a job as a nurse.

Lord Carmichael is not coping well with the loss of his son, Alex, which means that Lady Carmichael has to watch over him carefully to be sure he eats and such.

Robbie Carmichael and his wife, Sylvie, spend their time in London and France rebuilding his wine business.

Geraint Cassell was wounded severely in the war but is improving and is expected to be released from the hospital soon so he and his wife, Flora, can get on with their lives.

When Flora and Sheila welcome the new head of the hospital, Sheila is surprised to find that he is none other than surgeon and Doctor Luc Durand.  At first, they act as though they have never met before. Tasked with showing him around the Carmichael House now renovated into a spacious hospital, she presents her case to him for the job.  After listening to her, he agrees that she can do the job and hires her with another job to also coördinate many other features of the hospital.

Will Sheila and Luc be able to put their past indiscretion behind them and be able to work together professionally?  Will their latent attraction to one another spark anew?

This novella knitted the three stories together beautifully, thus ending a beautiful saga.  I have always loved Marguerite Kaye’s ability to write a book that so perfectly expresses the emotions of her characters.  I hope readers will enjoy this terrific novel as much as I did.  I highly recommend it.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘The Couple in the Dream Suite’ by Marguerite Kaye

mk tcitdsSTORY: Step behind the hotel room doors of The Chatsfield, London…

1921, London

The first time the doors open on London’s newest hotel – The Chatsfield – disillusioned soldier Justin York expects to be bored by the wealth and glamour on display. Instead he’s entranced by the star of the show – socialite Miss Vera Milton-Kerr… Vera’s felt nothing but ice in her veins since The Great War, but Justin’s dark-eyed gaze has her burning up!

With a key to The Chatsfield’s legendary Dream Suite, he offers her one night only… Resisting their chemistry is impossible, but hoping for more than one frenzied night is Vera’s biggest risk of all!

REVIEW: It is 1921 and the new luxury hotel, The Chatsfield, is having a lavish opening.  Along with members of “the silver screen” there will be many aristocrats and super wealthy people.  Rooms have been reserved for certain people as well.

Justin Yorke is a writer for the “People’s Tribune” and is there to write an exposé of the opening.  He writes under the name ‘Red Lancaster.’  At the opening, Justin’s friend, Dexter Maxwell is with Miss Vera Milton-Kerr, well-known stage performer.  Dexter introduces them and then tells them he is leaving and gives them his room key.  As they chat, drink and get to know one another, they decide to go up to the room where they make passionate love.  As the night goes on, they talk and tell one another their backgrounds and how the war has affected each of them.  Vera has been married before and her husband was killed in the war.  Afterward, she became a show girl and buried herself in that lifestyle.  Justin was a soldier in the war and has horrible memories of it, in addition to suffering a breakdown.  After talking all night, they open their hearts to one another and realize that they have each found the person of their dreams.

Follow them as they leave the Dream Suite in The Chatsfield to see where life leads them.

This is the first of three short stories that author Marguerite Kaye is writing for the Mills and Boon series, “The Chatsfield.”

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author