‘A Surrendered Heart’ by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

ash tp jmSTORY: When cholera strikes Rochester, NY, most of the members of the Broadmoor family flee to their castle home in the Thousand Islands. But Amanda Broadmoor resolves to remain in Rochester to help control the spread of the dreaded disease.

However, much more than Amanda’s health hangs in the balance. Mishandling of the family fortune threatens to leave the Broadmoor family penniless and scorned by society unless Amanda is willing to sacrifice her future.

Will she be forced to marry a man she disdains in order to save the Broadmoor legacy?

REVIEW: Rochester, New York – 1899

Cholera cases are showing up in Rochester and Amanda Broadmoor who is an aspiring doctor is volunteering her skills at the Home for the Friendless.  Along with Dr. Blake Carstead, they are quickly running out of supplies to treat the victims.  When Amanda succumbs to the illness, Dr. Carstead insists that she be kept at the clinic while he personally treats her.  Thankfully, Amanda survives and slowly regains her strength.  By then, their togetherness has resulted in them falling in love.

Her father and mother, Jonas and Victoria Broadmoor are happy their daughter is well but insists that she not return.  They feel that her work is beneath them socially as they are scions of the Broadmoor family of Rochester.

Amanda and her cousins, Fanny and Sophie, have been close all of their lives.  Fanny is engaged to a young man who has ventured to the Yukon to seek his fortune.  He has been gone a long time, but Fanny is faithful to him and knows that he will return.  Sophie is married to Paul and has a little baby, Elizabeth.  When Fanny’s parents passed away, her uncle Jonas took over handling her inheritance. However. Jonas has made some bad financial investments and in order to cover his debts, he has commingled his funds with Fanny’s to enable him to use her money.  But upon the death of his attorney who has been covering up his dealings, the truth is about to be made known.  That’s when Jonas agrees to a loan from Ellert Jackson, a cold, calculating but wealthy man who wants to make Jonas pay for ruining his own family years ago.  When Jonas realizes he has not read the agreement properly, he has no other recourse but to agree to Ellert marrying his daughter, Amanda.  Jonas will agree to anything to keep his mismanagement of Fanny’s funds from becoming public knowledge.

Will Amanda be forced to marry the evil Ellert and turn her back on her love for Blake?

This is the third and final book the Broadmoor Legacy.  Unfortunately, I have not read the first two books but was able to keep up the theme of the story.  I enjoyed the novel but became a big aggravated at the “family first” ideology.  However, I realized it was how things were viewed during that time period.

Connie for b2b

‘Tyringham Park’ by Rosemary McLoughlin

tp rmclSTORY: The country estate of Tyringham Park is the epitome of wealth and privilege. Home to the Blackshaws, it finds itself the backdrop to tragedy.

It is a beautiful day in 1917, and Tyringham Park is in an uproar after Victoria Blackshaw, an innocent toddler, disappears without a trace. The feverish search for Victoria soon uncovers jealousies and deceits that both the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants of the grand estate have fought for years to keep hidden.

As time passes, Victoria’s disappearance casts a long shadow over all of their lives. Charlotte, the Blackshaws’ less-favored eight-year-old daughter, finds herself severely impacted by the loss of her sister. Charlotte’s greatest wish is to escape the con­fines of the estate, but Tyringham Park and its many mysteries may never release their hold on her. Like all those at Tyringham Park, she is caught in a web of passions and secrets, trysts and betrayals that seems to ensnare everyone connected to this once great house.

REVIEW: 1917 – Tyringham Park, Ireland

Little Victoria Blackshaw, age 22 months, has been taken out for a stroll in her pram by her mother, Lady Edwina.  Thinking she was sleeping, her mother left in to go to the stables.  When she returned, Victoria was gone.  Fearing she had wandered over to the river and drowned, everyone searched for her but she was never found.

Victoria’s older sister, Charlotte, was left to bear the brunt of her mother’s temper.  Her mother felt she was ugly and could never measure up to Victoria.  Charlotte’s nurse Dixon was completely hateful to Charlotte and had been the same way to Victoria.  She hurt Charlotte, screamed at her and made her life miserable.  Charlotte’s mother, Edwina, did not care and her father, Lord Waldron Blackshaw, spent his time at the War Office in London.  The man did nothing but drink and was constantly drunk.

In the meantime, Edwina gives birth to Harcourt, son and heir.

Charlotte was left devastated at Victoria’s loss; totally ignored by her family; and mistreated by her nurse.  As time passes, we see the different stages that Charlotte goes through in her life to make some meaning of it. As far as her mother is concerned, she can never do anything right.  Lady Edwina is evil personified in her life-long treatment of her.  As a child, Charlotte is a very accomplished horsewoman. Later on, she becomes a very talented artist.

Charlotte falls in love with Lochlann Carmody, the friend of her younger brother, Harcourt.  Both young men are attending medical school to become doctors.  One night, when Lochlann is partying at Tyringham with Harcourt, they get drunk and Charlotte becomes pregnant by Lochlann.  Appalled at what he did, Lochlann agrees to do the right thing and marries Charlotte.  They then head to Australia where Lochlann will be the physician at a small hospital in a remote area of the country.

Their marriage is not a loving one but Lochlann tries all he can.  Charlotte faces difficult ordeals one of which requires Lochlann to make a very difficult decision.

This saga is an amazing story that includes both upstairs and downstairs characters.  Another Downton Abbey type book.  I was mesmerized as I read it and even though it was nearly 500 pages long, I did not want to see the book end.  I hope readers will enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Connie for b2b

 ‘The Royal We’ by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

trw hc jmSTORY: “I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

REVIEW: The story begins in Autumn of 2007 when Rebecca (Bex) Porter arrives in England from America to take art classes at Oxford.  She is immediately immersed with lots of fun students including Heartthrob Heir Nicholas (Nick), Prince of Wales.  Of course, Bex is intrigued by Nick and finds him as handsome as she has ever heard, but does her best not to pant after him.

Bex had left her twin sister, Lacey, back in the U.S. attending medical school which had been Lacey’s dream.  It was difficult for them to be apart from each other as they had always been so close. However, she dives right in with her new friends and participates in all of the drinking games and fun activities which is part of the Oxford scene.

Bex and Nick soon become friends and spend lots of time in her room watching American DVDs and just relaxing.  Nick has his bodyguards close by but the press has agreed to not pester him while at Oxford in exchange for occasional interviews with Nick and his brother, ginger-haired and fun-loving Freddie.

Before long, Bex and Nick start to date and become lovers.  Trying to keep their relationship from the press becomes more and more difficult.  However, with the help of their friends and Freddie, they manage to have a relationship.  Soon, Lacey sees what her sister is enjoying and decides to chuck it all and join her.  Happy as Bex is to see her, her presence soon causes big problems.

Pressure from the royal family and the press continues to build which makes it very hard for them.  The Family feels that an American is just not the person Nick needs to marry.

We see how they party really hard while hiding from the spotlight of the press.  The stress of maintaining their love while the royal family tries to freeze Bex out leaving her on the sidelines watching Nick as he performs his duties and interacts with beautiful girls, slowly begins to break Bex’s heart.

As the years pass, Bex and Nick work at maintaining their relationship and love but find it very difficult to do.  However, they are finally engaged and a wedding is planned which blossoms into even more problems.

Will they be able to overcome the odds and finally be married?

As the world awaits the birth of William and Kate’s second baby, this book was published at the perfect time.  Followers of William and Kate will love this novel.

Connie for b2b

‘A Good Rogue is Hard to Find’ by Kelly Bowen

agrihtf kbSTORY: He Thought He’d Seen It All . . . 

The rogue’s life has been good to William Somerhall: He has his fortune, his racehorses, and his freedom. Then he moves in with his mother. It seems the eccentric Dowager Duchess of Worth has been barely skirting social disaster-assisted by one Miss Jenna Hughes, who is far too bright and beautiful to be wasting her youth as a paid companion. Now home to keep his mother from ruin, William intends to learn what’s afoot by keeping his friends close-and the tempting Miss Hughes closer still.

. . . Until He Meets Her

He’s tall, dark, and damnably intelligent-unfortunately for Jenna. She and the duchess are in the “redistribution business,” taking from the rich and giving to the poor, and it’s going great – until he shows up. But even as William plots to make an honest woman out of her, Jenna will use all her wiles to reveal just how bad a rogue he can be . . .

REVIEW: London, June 1817

William (Will) Somerhall, the Duke of Worth, has a reputation as a complete rogue.  He owns Breckenridge estate and runs it well, but his main interest is horse racing.

Will’s mother, Eleanor, the Dower Duchess of Worth lives in the Dower House on his estate.  Will avoids visiting her as she has become known as being extremely eccentric.  Unable to say no again to her many invitations, he agrees to attend a dinner party but arrives late to find total chaos.  Chickens are running around the house and his mother has a pet python she has named Phillip.

Will is introduced to his mother companion, Jenna Hughes.  He is immediately smitten with her as she is the same woman he met at a ball a year ago and disappeared before he could get to know her.  Fearing that his mother has totally taken leave of her senses, he insists that he is going to move in with her.

Ah, but Jenna and her mother have a secret that slowly starts to come to light.  The Duchess has built a very impressively large horse barn and has acquired some outstanding horseflesh.  As Will has always prided himself on being a horse expert, he is surprised to find these expensive horses.

Jenna claims to be the daughter of a now deceased surgeon and thus has good medical knowledge.  What she fails to add is that her father was a veterinary surgeon.  When the Duchess first met Jenna, she was extremely impressed with her knowledge of horses and immediately hired her to be her “companion.”  However, she is much more than that.  Jenna has known extreme poverty and has seen many shop owners lose their businesses due to the fact that some arrogant customers don’t even bother to pay their bills.  Thus, she is on a mission to change that and, hopefully, get a law introduced into the House of Lords where people will be forced to pay their bills.

As Jenna and Will become attracted to one another and Will learns more about her plans, he is quite intrigued to join with her to help in her campaign.

The unique way in which Jenna and the Duchess have schemed to help the poor and carry on with the horse racing is knitted together beautifully in this book.  The plot is quite different from what I’ve read before and I must say that the author has a fabulous imagination.  I enjoyed the novel very much and look forward to reading more from Kelly Bowen.

This novel does not publish until April 28, 2015.  Thus, I have tried to add as many teasers as possible without giving away any spoilers.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Rutherford Park’ by Elizabeth Cooke

rp ecSTORY: Snow had fallen in the night, and now the great house, standing at the head of the valley, seemed like a five-hundred-year old ship sailing in a white ocean…

For the Cavendish family, Rutherford Park is much more than a place to call home. It is a way of life marked by rigid rules and lavish rewards, governed by unspoken desires…

Lady of the house Octavia Cavendish lives like a bird in a gilded cage. With her family’s fortune, her husband, William, has made significant additions to the estate, but he too feels bound—by the obligations of his title as well as his vows. Their son, Harry, is expected to follow in his footsteps, but the boy has dreams of his own, like pursuing the new adventure of aerial flight. Meanwhile, below stairs, a housemaid named Emily holds a secret that could undo the Cavendish name.

On Christmas Eve 1913, Octavia catches a glimpse of her husband in an intimate moment with his beautiful and scandalous distant cousin. She then spies the housemaid Emily out in the snow, walking toward the river, about to make her own secret known to the world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, an epic tale of longing and betrayal is about to unfold at Rutherford Park…

REVIEW: The building of Rutherford Park first began in 1530.  It is a vast estate added onto and improved by each Earl who has lived there over the years.  Currently, William Cavendish, the 8th Earl and his wife, Octavia reside there with their three children, Harry, 19, and daughters Louise and Charlotte.  Louise is soon to be presented at court.  Rutherford Park has always been run is a very strict way and the staff is very attentive to their duties.

Harry is a young man who dreams of flying in a plane and hopes one day to do so.  Louise and Charlotte dream of their season and the balls and dinner parties they will be able to attend.

Octavia is woman who is becoming bored with her life.  Her children are nearly grown and her duties of running her home are not enough to stimulate her.  Her husband, William, is a good man but when Octavia sees him in the arms of a visiting distant cousin, her faith in her marriage is shattered.

The servants know their places and keep themselves separate from the family.  However, when housemaid Emily Maitland suffers a tragedy, the results end up affecting the Cavendish family.

An indiscretion from William’s past comes back to haunt him and ends up driving a wedge between him and Octavia.  Will their marriage be able to survive it?

With the threat of war imminent, life changes for the Cavendish family, the staff and the entire country. Louise finds herself caught up in a frightening situation that ends up showing the entire family what is truly important in life.

I enjoyed this novel.  It was written in a rather depressing way although it was still quite good.  Downton Abbey fans should find this book to be interesting to them.

Connie for b2b

 ‘The Devil Takes a Bride’ by Julia London

tdtab jlSTORY: A plan born of desperation…

Once the toast of society, Grace Cabot and her sisters now await the shame of losing high status and fine luxuries upon the death of the Earl of Beckington. The dire circumstances are inevitable unless, of course, Grace’s wicked plot to seduce a wealthy viscount into marriage goes off without a single hitch. But once a stolen embrace with the wrong man leads her to be discovered in the arms of Geoffrey, the Earl of Merryton, her plan takes a most unexpected—and scorching—twist.

…and altered by passion.

Governed by routine and ruled by duty, Geoffrey had no desire for a wife before he succumbed to Grace’s temptation. Though his golden-haired, in-name-only bride is the definition of disorder, he can’t resist wanting her in every way. But once her secrets meet his, society might consider their lives to be ruined beyond repair…while Geoffrey might just see it as a new beginning.

REVIEW: The Earl of Beckington has passed away.  His second wife, Lady Beckington and his four stepdaughters, Honor, Grace, Prudence, and Mercy Cabot are now finding themselves without the funds that they used to enjoy.  The Earl’s son by his first marriage has taken over as heir.  The large dowries the girls had always expected have now been significantly lowered and the girls are afraid that no one will want them.

Grace Cabot decides to take her future into her own hands and plots to be found being seduced by a well-known rake, Lord Amherst.  The plan goes well until the person she meets in the dark turns out to be Amherst’s brother, Jeffrey Donovan, The Earl of Merryton.  When they are caught, he agrees to immediately wed Grace and takes her to his home, Blackwood Hall.  Jeffrey has a reputation for being a very cold man but Grace hopes that she will be able to learn to love him and find out about the real person inside him.

Jeffrey is a man ruled by habit and perfection.  He has an obsessive compulsive personality resulting from the cruelty he was subjected to by his father.  In addition, much of his thoughts are filled with sexual depravity.  He thinks of himself as a mad man and tries to keeps his habits secret.

As Grace and Jeffrey settle into Blackwood Hall, she realizes that he has a problem and does all she can to help him relax his stringent ways which is not an easy task.  However, she is relentless and hopes to help him with his problem.  However, Grace has a secret too.  Her mother is mad and continues to go downhill.

The story is a perfect example of OCD and their sexual encounters are quite explicit.  This is a different type of story that may appeal to many people.  I enjoyed Grace and found her to be a strong woman. However, Jeffrey is a person that I would find hard to like.

Connie for b2b

‘Wagers Gone Awry’ by Collette Cameron

wga ccSTORY: Brooke Culpepper resigned herself to spinsterhood when she turned down the only marriage proposal she’d likely ever receive to care for her family. After her father dies, a distant cousin inherits the estate and becomes their guardian but permits Brooke to act in his stead.

Heath, Earl of Ravensdale is none-too-pleased to discover five young women call the dairy farm he won and intends to sell, their home. Desperate, pauper poor, and with nowhere to go, Brooke proposes a wager. His stakes? The farm. Hers? Her virtue. The land holds no interest for Heath, but Brooke does and he accepts her challenge.

Brooke loses, and her devastation is compounded when the cousin arrives, intending to haul the Culpepper misses off to London. Heath astounds himself and proposes in order to apply for guardianship of the other girls.

Does Brooke dare marry the handsome stranger who’d been bent on compromising her? Will Heath regret his impulsive gesture, or will unexpected love flourish?

REVIEW: Esherton Green, Cheshire England

April 1822
Brooke Culpepper, age 23, has a heavy load on her slim shoulders.  Since her parents passed away five years ago, she has been tasked with caring for her sister, Brette, and her three cousins, Blythe, and twins, Blaike and Blaire.  In addition, she has the responsibility of running their Esherton Dairy Farm.  Money is very sparse and she has to do all she can to try and make money to buy a new bull for their cows, otherwise there will be no more new calves.  The five ladies are all beautiful, blue-eyed blondes and each of them works hard to raise money via selling herbs, fruit and vegetables, sewing, and giving piano and voice lessons.  Their own food supplies are minimal and their clothes are nearly thread-bare, but they are happy being together.
When Brooke’s father died with no male issue, the estate passed to a distant cousin, Sheridan Gainsborough.  In those five years, the girls have never seen him even though he is also their guardian.  He is simply a greedy man who has “allowed” them to remain at the farm for half of the profit from it.  To prove Sheridan’s stupidity, he loses the property in a gambling wager to Heath, the Earl of Ravensdale.  Heath hates country life, preferring city life and his constant stream of kept women, whom he insists that they be clean and disease-free.
Heath travels to Esherton Green to investigate his new property finding five beautiful women inside.  Arriving in the midst of a violent storm, he is soaked.  The Dairy Farm is but a few miles from his good friend’s home where he had stayed.  Tristan, the Marquis of Leventhorpe, is another confirmed bachelor.  Heath comes across as a jerk only interested in making a deal with Brooke that she become his new mistress and in exchange, he will let her family continue to live at the farm.  But when Heath goes missing after leaving Esherton Green, Leventhorpe arrives to investigate and finds Heath has been knocked out and drugged.  How could this have happened?  It is necessary that Heath stay at the farm to recuperate and Leventhorpe refuses to leave him.
Brooke is forced to pay out what little money she has for a physician to attend him, in addition to feeding him what little food they have.  How will this all turn out for the ladies?
I loved this story and don’t want to give away anymore spoilers.  Suffice to say that readers are going to fall in love this series.  The characters are written perfectly.  I cannot wait for the next books in the series to see what is in store for each of the ladies.
Connie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the author