‘Captain Durant’s Countess’ by Maggie Robinson

cdc mrSTORY: Tucked amid the pages of The London List, a newspaper that touts the city’s scandals, is a vaguely-worded ad for an intriguing job—one that requires a most wickedly uncommon candidate…

Maris has always been grateful that her marriage to the aging Earl of Kelby saved her from spinsterhood. Though their union has been more peaceful than passionate, she and the earl have spent ten happy years together. But his health is quickly failing, and unless Maris produces an heir, Kelby’s conniving nephew will inherit his estate. And if the earl can’t get the job done himself, he’ll find another man who can…

Captain Reynold Durant is known for both his loyalty to the Crown and an infamous record of ribaldry. Yet despite a financial worry of his own, even he is reluctant to accept Kelby’s lascivious assignment—until he meets the beautiful, beguiling Maris. Incited by duty and desire, the captain may be just the man they are looking for. But while he skillfully takes Maris to the heights of ecstasy she has longed for, she teaches him something even more valuable and unexpected…

REVIEW: There’s only a handful of plots like this one in romance land and the reason behind it is because it’s not easy to pull it off without someone getting hurt, emotionally or physically.

That said, I found that this story handled the plot very well and I found that I liked this story because the author didn’t just settle on the sensuality part of this tale, but worked hard in establishing good, solid three dimensional characters to go with it.

Both main characters had strength and emotional depth to them that had me vested in their story.

If you’re looking for a story with a predictable plot but complex and endearing hero, this one will entertain you, no doubt.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘Schooling the Viscount’ by Maggie Robinson

stv-mrSTORY: Captain Lord Henry Challoner is a young viscount who’s left his ambition on the plains of South Africa. Wounded in the First Boer War, he’s come home and wishes he were anywhere else, until his desperate father sends him to Puddling-on-the-Wold to rusticate and recalibrate. How can Henry have any fun without any alcohol, or worse yet, any women? Kept under house arrest under the watchful eye of his draconian housekeeper and earnest local vicar, he’s bored enough to begin speaking to sheep until he literally stumbles across schoolteacher Rachel Everett.

Rachel knows she’s not on Henry’s improvement plan, but can’t seem to avoid or repel him no matter what she does to keep him at arm’s length. Could it be that she quite enjoys being in his arms, even if it’s against all the Puddling Rehabilitation Rules? Can Rachel circumvent the town fathers and Henry escape his personal jailors and demons?

REVIEW: 1881 – Puddling-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Lord Henry Challoner, age 25, has found himself staying in this “Rehabilitation” town of sorts at the insistence of his father, Arthur Challoner, the Marquess of Harland. It appears that his experiences and injuries of war have led him to live a life of excesses.

This small but isolated little village has rental cottages for “guests” who are fed gentle diets with no alcohol, accompanied by exercise and rest. The village residents are all aware of the “problems” of the guests.

One day while taking a walk – out of his assigned area – Henry is drawn to the sound of children’s voices and comes upon a small school with a charming schoolmarm.

Rachel Everett knows why Lord Challoner is in Puddling and she also knows she is not supposed to be speaking to him. But when he falls at her feet and she offers to help him up, he kisses her. After she slaps him, he apologizes even with her warning him that he must behave or she will report him to the vicar who is working with Henry’s father regarding his “incarceration.” Henry knows that his father simply wants him to settle down, become respectable, and get married. Thus, Henry immediately proposes to Rachel. When she hits him with his cane, he falls to the ground hitting his head, requiring that he get stitches.

Later, Rachel is home with her elderly father for whom she must care. This responsibility keeps her living in town and living at home. When her father hears about Henry kissing her, he is afraid he might return to the school and seduce her.

Thus continues the story of a man who quickly becomes infatuated with a young woman and decides she is the one for him.

On a positive note, there were some bits and pieces of humor in this story. The author has created an unusual situation, however, I found the thought of doing that to someone to be totally abhorrent. For someone like Henry who has been through the war to even allow himself to be treated that way is absurd. He comes across as a weak-willed man and Rachel appears to lack common sense too. I can certainly say I will not be reading any more books in this series. I hope the author comes up with some better plots in the future.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘The Reluctant Governess’ by Maggie Robinson

mr trgSTORY: A secretary for the renowned Evensong Agency, Eliza Lawrence may have a pretty face, but she’s much prouder of her mind and her morals. When she’s pressed into temporary governess duty as a favor to her boss, she doesn’t expect to bend one bit for the rakish Nicholas Raeburn. Not even when he opens the door to her half-dressed…

Despite his bad reputation, Nicholas is a man of honor. To Nick’s way of thinking, he doesn’t need any help raising his daughter, Domenica. If only he weren’t so drawn to the meddlesome woman’s sparkling wit and uncommon beauty…

But when an act of misplaced chivalry goes seriously awry, resulting in mayhem and almost murder, Eliza becomes the only woman he can depend upon. Nick will do anything to protect his family, but who will protect him from falling in love with his reluctant governess?

REVIEW: It is 1904 in Edwardian English where we find Eliza Lawrence who works as a secretary at the Evensong Agency managed by Lady Mary Raeburn.  Their motto has always been, “Performing the Impossible Before Breakfast Since 1888.”  Eliza loves her job. She has worked as a governess before but prefers her secretarial job and is proud of her skills.

Lady Mary’s brother-in-law, Nicholas Raeburn, is known as a wicked artist and Continental reprobate.  His specialty is painting nude women.  When he needs a governess, Eliza is coaxed into accepting the job temporarily until a permanent governess can be found.  
When Mary enters Nicholas’ home, she is shocked at the lack of a butler and the presence of nude models who pose for him.  However, she is delighted to meet her new charge, Dominica (nicknamed Sunny).  Her mother was a past lover of Nicholas’ and when she died, she asked Nicholas to take Sunny even though she was not sure that Nicholas was her father.
Nicholas is a devil-may-care man whose family lives in Scotland and owns a well-known Scotch distillery.  His has an easy life and has chosen to live it as he sees fit.
The first night Eliza is there, Nicholas has a dinner party for several of his friends after which they hit the town.  He comes in later drunk and beaten up.  Eliza hears him enter the house and knowing he sounds injured, goes to his aid.  She is already exhausted as the house members have come down with the flu.  When Nicholas also succumbs to the flu, she ends up becoming caretaker to him and others in the house.
While Eliza does not approve of Nicholas’ Bohemian lifestyle, the closeness involved in caring for someone intimately begins an attraction between them that cannot be denied.
This novel is well written and the humor is not to be missed.
Connie for b2b
Complementary copy provided by the author

‘Lady Anne’s Lover’ by Maggie Robinson

LAL MRSTORY: Lady Imaculata Anne Egremont has appeared in the scandalous pages of the “London List” often enough. The reading public is so bored with her nonsense, she couldn’t make news now unless she took a vow of chastity. But behind her naughty hijinks is a terrible fear. It’s time the List helped her. With a quick scan through its job postings and a few whacks at her ridiculous name, she’s off to keep house for a bachelor veteran as plain Anne Mont.

Major Gareth Ripton-Jones is dangerously young and handsome on the face of it, but after losing his love and his arm in short order, he is also too deep in his cups to notice that his suspiciously young housekeeper is suspiciously terrible at keeping house. Until, that is, her sharp tongue and her burnt coffee penetrate even his misery–and the charm underneath surprises them both. Trust the worst cook in Wales to propose a most unexpected solution to his troubles. . .

REVIEW: Major Gareth Ripton-Jones survives the war and returns to his home ready to marry his long-time love, the widow Bronwyn. While helping to fix a roof, he falls and shatters his arm which results in it needing to be amputated.  Bronwyn is now turned off by his appearance and refuses to marry him and later, she is found murdered and the townspeople now think Gareth is her murderer. That’s when Gareth decides to dive into a gin bottle to dull his pain.

Lady Imaculata Anne Egremont is running from London trying to escape her scandalous past and her lecherous father, Lord Egremont.  In order to hide from her past, she applies for a job as housekeeper at Ripton Hall, in Llanwyr Wales and the home of our hero.  Armed with a copy of The Complete Housewife to help her be able to do the job, she decides to darken her red hair and call herself Mrs. Anne Mont.  

Upon arrival, she finds the Major drunk, disheveled and the house in a filthy shambles.  Knowing she needs this job, she does her best to try and clean the house and do some basic cooking, but unfortunately even her coffee is quite disgusting as pointed out to her by the Major.  

Slowly they get to know one another better and Anne works at trying to get Gareth to sober up and straighten his life back. She also realizes that the only way for her to escape her father, she should wed, and thus proposes a marriage of convenience to Gareth. The union would allow her to demand part of her inheritance from her father, which they could use to fix up Gareth’s home.

But then the accidents begin to happen and they realize that someone is trying to hurt them.  Could it be Bronwyn’s real murderer?

While the basic plot here was fine, the explicit and gratuitous sex scenes were totally overdone.  I’m not a prude but I think they could have been tamed down somewhat.  I understand that Anne wanted to escape her father and the scandalous escapades of her past, but I could not understand why she would settle to live in the near-squalor of Gareth’s home especially having grown up in the lap of luxury.

Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library.