‘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

‘Unwed and Unrepentant’ by Marguerite Kaye

mk uauSTORY: Burned by love and fearful of being trapped by marriage, headstrong Lady Cordelia Armstrong is furious when her father manipulates her into a betrothal with his business partner, and her one-time lover, Iain Hunter.

Understanding Cordelia’s reluctance, Iain proposes a pretend engagement. For now they will make believe, but there is no need to fake the attraction that still burns hotly between them. As they travel to magical Arabia, the lines between fantasy and reality blur. Will either of them really be able to walk away once their deal is done?

REVIEW: Lady Cordelia is a young woman with a past.  Nine years ago, she ran away with a young man of her choosing to get married.  Her father had dictated to her whom she would marry and Cordelia completely rebelled against his tyranny.  As it turns out, Cordelia never did marry she ran away to meet and has since become a very wealthy woman on her own.  Now, she has returned to her father’s home to face him hoping to finally mend fences with him and be reunited with her sisters.  During her “exile,” her sisters had not been allowed to have any contact with her at all.  Two of her sisters have married Arabian princes and she wants to journey to their homes to visit them.  As her mother had passed away many years ago, her father was now remarried with more children added to the family.  However, her father is still using his manipulative powers by introducing Cordelia to Iain Hunter whom he has employed to buy some Arabian ships for him.

They undertake a long journey for Cordelia to visit her sisters and for Iain to buy some ships.  Their togetherness soon leads to an attraction that progresses to a love affair.  Where will it lead?  Will there be a happy ending?

I thoroughly enjoyed this delicious novel by the great Marguerite Kaye.  Her in-depth research before writing this book is obvious as her account not only of the legs of the journey, but also her delightful descriptions of the scenery, flowers, weather etc. made me feel like I was right there in the moment.

I hope readers will be sure to get a copy of this wonderful novel when it is published on April 16, 2014.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

‘Rumors that Ruined a Lady’ by Marguerite Kaye

RTRAL MKSTORY: Spotted: London’s Favorite Fallen Heiress, Taking Up With The Rogue Marquis!

Amongst the gossip-hungry ton, no name has become more synonymous with sin than that of Lady Caroline Rider, cast out by her husband and disowned by her family. Rumor has it that the infamous “Caro” is now seeking oblivion in the opium dens of London!

There’s only one man who can save her—notorious rake Sebastian Conway, Marquis of Ardhallow. Soon Caro is installed in his country home, warming his bed, but their passion may not be enough to protect them once news of their scandalous arrangement breaks out…

REVIEW: Sebastian Conway, Marquis of Ardhallow, is attending a soiree when he comes across a roomful of people smoking opium.  In the middle of the room, he spies a woman who appears to have passed out.  Realizing she looks familiar, he decides to investigate and finds that she is none other than Lady Caroline Rider, a woman he fell in love with many years before.

Fearing for her life, he takes her home with him to care for her and get her back to health.  The rumor is that she has is thrown out by her husband for supposedly being caught with the boot boy.  However, the truth is much different and Caroline’s reputation is being utterly destroyed by her husband.  The truth is a quite different story.

Caroline and Sebastian met when they were much younger and their estates joined.  Caroline’s beloved mother died when she was little leaving her and her sisters with a father who soon married Bella who gave him the sons and heirs he so desired.  Against her will, Caroline is pressured to marry Sir Grahame Rider and plunges into a marriage filled with misery, while Sebastian remains a bachelor.  Unable to divorce her husband, Caroline is completely frustrated as she and Sebastian want to be together but cannot as society will not allow it.
I enjoyed the story of Caroline and Sebastian and learned a lot about how little women had any rights when it came to ending a marriage.  They were the ones treated as outcasts and they even lost custody of their children.
Marguerite Kaye has once again woven a wonderful story of two people desperate to be together but the customs and laws of the time wouldn’t let that happen.  The author uses flashbacks to tell this story.  In my opinion, she did a good job of it as sometimes flashbacks can be confusing.
My review is based on an ARC of the book which is scheduled for publication on November 1, 2013.

Connie for b2b

*ARC provided by the Author.

‘The Beauty Within’ by Marguerite Kaye

TBW MKSTORY: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Considered the plain, clever one in her family, Lady Cressida Armstrong knows her father has given up on her ever marrying. But who needs a husband when science is the only thing to set Cressie’s pulse racing?

Disillusioned artist Giovanni di Matteo is setting the ton abuzz with his expertly executed portraits. Once his art was inspired; now it’s only technique. Until he meets Cressie….

Challenging, intelligent and yet insecure, Cressie is the one whose face and body he dreams of capturing on canvas. In the enclosed, intimate world of his studio, Giovanni rediscovers his passion as he awakens hers….

REVIEW: Lady Cressida (Cressie) Armstrong is one of 5 daughters of Lord Henry Armstrong, a veteran diplomat, and the late Lady Catherine Armstrong.

Three daughters are married and one daughter is being introduced to the ton by her aunt. As Cressida has reached the age of 26 without receiving any offers of marriage, Lord Armstrong is despaired of her.

When he receives word that his second wife, Bella, is expecting their fifth child to add to their current 4 sons, he has decided to have Cressie be the governess to his sons.  The other governesses have been run off due to the naughtiness of the boys.  

Lord Armstrong knows Cressie is a clever person but he does not realize that her mathematical knowledge and capabilities are enormous.  Unbeknownst to anyone, she has published a number of articles on the rudiments of mathematics under a pseudonym.  It is frustrating for her that she must hide her intelligence as it’s not acceptable in women.

Giovanni di Matteo, a well-known Italian artist, has been hired by Lord Armstrong to paint his 4 sons. He is to observe them in the schoolroom while Cressie is giving them lessons. She proves to be an excellent teacher and comes to enjoy her work.  The time together with Giovanni gives the two of them a chance to get to know one another.  In addition, he proves to be really good with the boys and patiently introduces them to various activities outside such as how to make and fly a kite.

Cressie and Giovanni’s friendship and attraction to one another grows but Cressie opens up more about herself than Giovanni does. He is hiding his past and is not ready to share it. They enjoy deep and intelligent discussions.

Then Giovanni abruptly leaves and Cressie is heart-broken as she does not know whether he will return or not. Why did he leave and will he return?

I so enjoyed this novel.  Once again, Marguerite Kaye has written a wonderful story that grabs the reader’s attention and challenges them to ponder, as well, the psychological aspects of the story. The characters are solid and interesting. This is a book you won’t soon forget.

Connie Fischer for b2b