Cover reveal for ‘Behind a Lady’s Smile’ by Jane Goodger!

Here is a cover for Jane Goodger’s newest book and first in her Lost Heiresses series. I hope you give this author a try. I just love her prose!

Ever since Jane was a young girl she adored everything Victorian, from houses to clothing to horse-drawn carriages. It was a pivotal time in history and one she loved to become immersed in. My Lords and Ladies Series is comprised of four loosely-tied books. You don’t have to read them in order, but if you do, you’ll recognize some old friends.

bals jgBOOK BLURB: It’s one thing for a girl to lose her way, quite another to lose her heart…
 
Genny Hayes could charm a bear away from a pot of honey. But raised in the forests of Yosemite, she’s met precious few men to practice her smiles upon. Until a marvelously handsome photographer appears in her little corner of the wilderness and she convinces him to take her clear across the country and over the seas to England, where she has a titled grandmother and grandfather waiting to claim her.

On their whirlwind journey, she’ll have the chance to bedazzle and befuddle store clerks and train robbers, society matrons and big city reporters, maids and madams, but the one man she most wants to beguile seems determined to play the gentlemen and leave her untouched. Until love steps in and knocks them both head over heels…

PRE-ORDER LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT:

His little shadow was back.

For two days, Mitch had noticed . . . someone. He wasn’t quite sure whether it was male or female, but that didn’t matter. Out here in the middle of nowhere, where a man could disappear and never be found, a man had to be careful. A man had to make certain his rifle was loaded, his canteen was filled, and he listened to his gut. And right about now, his gut was telling him whoever had been watching him for two days was up to no good.

“You wait here, Millie.” Mitch patted his mule and tied her to a scraggly white pine. If Millie really got in a mind to escape, the sapling wouldn’t do much to keep her in place, but he very much doubted Millie would get in the mind to do more than nibble on some grass.

Mitch was no stranger to the mountains of Yosemite.  He guessed he knew them better than most. He knew how to walk silently and he knew when to make a noise that might scare a grizzly away. That was one creature he wasn’t ashamed to admit he didn’t much care for. He’d seen the results of a bear attack and was quite certain he didn’t want to be on the receiving end of those razor-sharp claws. Other than grizzlies and men with guns, he wasn’t afraid of much else. A man who’d seen and done what he had learned not to be afraid.

Whoever was trailing him was high up, likely taking little peeks over the rocks that jutted out above him like crooked teeth. He climbed silently, his boots pressing into the thick cushion of pine needles, until he was pretty sure he was above his prey. He scanned the area, Winchester in hand, fully loaded and ready to fire. And then he saw a movement, a flash of hair.

“Well, damn,” he whispered, looking at the girl through his gun sight. At least he thought it must be a girl with that long, pale braid down her back. She was lying on her stomach, no doubt staring at Millie and wondering where the heck the man she’d been spying on had disappeared to. His eyes moved down, following the trail of her braid, until he reached the decidedly feminine curve of her backside. Definitely female.

jgAUTHOR BIO: I grew up in western Massachusetts and have lived most my adult life in New England. Thanks to my adventurous husband, I’ve also done brief stints in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Naples, Italy. Although I’ve written four contemporary romances under the name Jane Blackwood, my first love is historical romances set in Victorian times. I’ve written 13 of those with more on the way.
I have three kids, one in college, one a great drummer, and one an artist. I love the Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I work full time, have an editing business, and in my free time write like a fanatic.
Above the desk in my office is this sign: “And They All Lived Happily Ever After.” It may not be reality, but it’s real nice to think about…

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Spotlight on Jane Goodger and ‘The Spinster Bride’

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I love my secondary characters just as much as my two main leads.

This was not the case in THE SPINSTER BRIDE. Oh, I certainly adored George, my heroine’s odd and beloved younger brother. But about half way through writing the book I realized I had a big problem. I loathed Marjorie’ mother, Dorothea. She was mean, nasty, and wholly unlikeable. And yet my heroine, her daughter, loved her. Why? Was Majorie stupid? Blind? And why was Dorothea such a miserable person?

I realized I had created a cartoonish villain and I don’t write cartoonish villains. For one, I rarely actually have villains in my book, and when I do I try to insert a bit of humanity into them. Because even a villain has something good in them (I’m the eternal optimist).

I didn’t want to make her a rotten person. I wanted to understand her. And so, I gave her a story, one that began when she was a young, hopeful girl madly in love with a man so far out of her league it was heartbreaking. I loved that young, hopeful girl. My heart ached for her. I could relate to the young girl even if I could not relate to the older, bitter one.

This scene with Dorothea and her mother neatly speaks to why she became the woman she did:

 “Your Aunt Frances is getting on in years. The last time she was here, we talked about perhaps having you live with her. Keep her company. She’s so isolated out there in Ipswich.”

Dread fell heavy and hard on Dorothea’s stomach. Going to live with a widowed aunt was tantamount to completely giving up on any hope of securing a husband.

“But Ascot’s only two weeks away. I did so want to attend this year. And it’s the middle of the season. I cannot possibly go now, Mother.”

Her mother looked away, giving her head a subtle shake. “I do not mean to be cruel, Dorothea, but I believe that particular ship has sailed. You are twenty-eight years old, my dear. It is time you come to accept that you will never marry. You haven’t had a single prospect in ten years. To continue as you have been is to deny your circumstances.”

Dorothea swallowed heavily. It was true. No man had ever courted her, even though she had a sizeable dowry. It was not so unusual to be passed by, but Dorothea had never truly thought it would happen to her. “Lord Smythe—”

“For goodness sake, Dorothea, Lord Smythe has no more interest in marrying you than he would one of his hunting dogs.”

Tears flooded Dorothea’s eyes, and her throat hurt so much it felt as if someone were squeezing it. “That was cruel, Mother.”

Her mother’s eyes softened. “No, my dear, it’s the truth. And it’s high time you understood that. You are a good girl, kind and generous. But not every kind and generous girl finds a husband.” She picked up her fork. “You should probably begin packing tomorrow.”

Dorothea’s story is a vital part of THE SPINSTER BRIDE. Without it, I think it would be more difficult for the reader to relate to Marjorie, my heroine. I truly believe that giving secondary characters (not just the ones that will appear in a planned sequel) a bit more stage time (so to speak) can make a huge difference in the reading experience.

If you read THE SPINSTER BRIDE, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Dorothea. Do you still hate her? Or did she manage to get into your heart just a bit?

‘The Spinster Bride’

tsb jgBOOK BLURB: Mr. Charles Norris needs help finding a wife…

For he has the unfortunate habit of falling for each Season’s loveliest debutante, only to have his heart broken when she weds another. Surely Lady Marjorie Penwhistle can help him. She’s sensible, clever, knows the ton, and must marry a peer, which he is not. Since she’s decidedly out of his reach, Charles is free to enjoy her refreshing honesty—and her unexpectedly enticing kisses…

Lady Marjorie Penwhistle doesn’t want a husband…

At least not the titled-but-unbearable suitors her mother is determined she wed. She’d rather stay unmarried and look after her eccentric brother. Still, advising Mr. Norris is a most exciting secret diversion. After all, how hard will it be to match-make someone so forthright, honorable, and downright handsome? It’s not as if she’s in danger of finding Charles all-too-irresistible herself…

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

Jane GoodgerAUTHOR BIO: I grew up in western Massachusetts and have lived most my adult life in New England. Thanks to my adventurous husband, I’ve also done brief stints in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Naples, Italy. Although I’ve written four contemporary romances under the name Jane Blackwood, my first love is historical romances set in Victorian times. I’ve written 13 of those with more on the way.

I have three kids, one in college, one a great drummer, and one an artist. I love the Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I work full time, have an editing business, and in my free time write like a fanatic.

Above the desk in my office is this sign: “And They All Lived Happily Ever After.” It may not be reality, but it’s real nice to think about…

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

‘The Spinster Bride’ by Jane Goodger

tsb jgSTORY: Mr. Charles Norris needs help finding a wife…

For he has the unfortunate habit of falling for each Season’s loveliest debutante, only to have his heart broken when she weds another. Surely Lady Marjorie Penwhistle can help him. She’s sensible, clever, knows the ton, and must marry a peer, which he is not. Since she’s decidedly out of his reach, Charles is free to enjoy her refreshing honesty—and her unexpectedly enticing kisses…

Lady Marjorie Penwhistle doesn’t want a husband…

At least not the titled-but-unbearable suitors her mother is determined she wed. She’d rather stay unmarried and look after her eccentric brother. Still, advising Mr. Norris is a most exciting secret diversion. After all, how hard will it be to match-make someone so forthright, honorable, and downright handsome? It’s not as if she’s in danger of finding Charles all-too-irresistible herself…

REVIEW ONE: May 1874

Marjorie Penwhistle, age 23, is approaching being called a spinster.  Her mother, Dorothea Penwhistle, Lady Summerfield, is a widow.  The woman insists that Marjorie marry a titled man which means that her choice of men is fairly sparse.  Marjorie has just learned that her brother George, the Earl of Summerfield, has lost an enormous amount of money playing cards.

Charles Norris, the second son of Viscount Hartley, a diplomat, is the man who won George’s money. However, when he realizes that perhaps George does not fully understand the ramifications of his loss, he agrees to forgive the debt if Marjorie will meet him at his home.

Poor George is an extremely intelligent man involved in his life and strict daily routine. If his routine is interrupted in anyway, he becomes agitated.  Because he has this peculiarity, his mother does not like him at all thinking he is incompetent and is constantly threatening to remove his title from him.

Dorothea is a cold and hateful woman solely bent on seeing Marjorie wed to a titled man.  Her strictness with Marjorie is grating and, at times cruel.  Marjorie is a sweet girl always trying to appease her mother and be a go-between when her mother is cruel to George.

Marjorie agrees to meet Charles at his home and finds that he simply wants her to help him find a woman to marry.  If she is successful, he will forgive her brother’s debt. Charles has a reputation for being a rogue and since he does not have a title, her mother is even more against him having any type of friendship with Marjorie.  Thus begins a mission where Marjorie does her best to play matchmaker. However, will their constant contact result is something developing between them?

Come learn more about the personalities of these characters.  They are extremely well written and ones the reader will enjoy meeting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and really look forward to reading more from the author.

Connie for b2b

REVIEW TWO: I discovered this author only a couple of years ago and ever since I did, I’m just enamored with every character she creates, and not just her heroes and heroines.

‘The Spinster Bride’ is the fourth book in her Lords and Ladies series, but each one is unique and stand alone, and not connected with the others story wise, but rather character wise, meaning that the main characters were introduced to us in an earlier book.

We met both hero and the heroine of this tale in ‘When a Lord Needs a Lady’ and while I wanted to scream and pounce on Marjory in that book, in this one, I just wanted to give her a huge hug. Hero of this book I loved right off the bat. I think I related to him on so many levels, especially being loud and rambunctious.

Another thing you’ll note if you decide to read this author is the way she weaves multiple stories within the main one. In this tale we not only get to root for Marjory and Charles, but we can’t help but fall madly in love with George, Marjory’s younger brother who suffers from an affliction that can only be diagnosed today as Autism spectrum disorder. People, my heart went to tiny pieces as I met this character. I adored him!

But what sets this tale apart as well, is another person’s point of view from as far as forty years ago, that of Dorothea, Lady Summerfield who is our heroines horrific, overbearing and title hunting mother from hell. I hated her with every fiber of my being, and then the author throws me a curve ball, and I had to come to realize why this woman did the things she did, which in the end made her more human than I could have thought her to be.

I highly recommend this story because how can you go wrong with having to read three romances within one story?!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘When a Lord Needs a Lady’ by Jane Goodger

walnal jgSTORY: Lord Graham Spencer needs a wife.

But not just any girl will do. She must have the money to save his dilapidated estate and desperate tenants. So when he meets a charming American lady’s maid on the beach at Brighton, the last thing he ought to do is kiss her.

Katherine Wright is hunting a titled husband.

Or at least her mother is. But Katherine can’t get the memory of a most inappropriate kiss out of her mind. The handsome stranger who took her in his arms in Brighton was only a valet, but even if she is an heiress, she’d rather spend her life with him than some stiff British aristocrat.

Can true love survive two false identities, two scheming mamas, and two lavish house parties where all is revealed? It can…

REVIEW: I say better late than never. Meaning, I just realized that I read this book last year and never reviewed it. Shame on me!

Anyways, after I read ‘The Spinster Bride’ [the next in this series to be published tomorrow, and which will be reviewed by both Connie and I], I was eager to link to my review and low and behold, I couldn’t find it. So, here we are. I offer my apologies to the publishing house and to the author for doing this one almost a year later. Now onward to my thoughts about this great story.

The blurb is well versed and you can get the gist of this story, but what you can’t get from it is the awesome way in which Jane Goodger develops her characters and a myriad of different situations she places them in. Watching them extract themselves from these situations was a thrill!

Another thing you’ll notice as you read this story, is the way the author ‘colors’ her characters, rather than using only ‘black or white’ pallet. Her characters have many shades of many colors which makes them more interesting and entertaining, and makes them more human as they go through their emotional growth.

For an author to write a story which engages many emotions on a part of a reader, means that she/he had done an outstanding job, and I say this is exactly what Jane Goodger has done to me with this story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Dangerous Love of a Rogue’ by Jane Lark

tdloar jlSTORY: The next book in Jane Lark’s Kindle best-selling Regency romance series!

“The game is on with Pembroke’s little sister…” Lord Andrew Framlington watched Miss Mary Marlow. The woman had been warned to keep away from him, but she had a little contrary in her soul. She had not been deterred. Perhaps she had a taste for bad hidden beneath her cold denials, or a liking for naughtiness in her soul – either of which appealed.

“Stop pretending you do not like me…” Drew had urged Mary, “Stop running…” Her body urged her to as much as he did. Something pulled her towards him. Something unknown and all consuming… and yet how could she disobey her father and her brother…

REVIEW: I don’t know about you, but I love reading about broken heroes/heroines and up to this point I thought no one could be more broken than Judith James’s Gabriel St. Croix from ‘Broken Wing’ but I was wrong. Jane Lark went all out and created a hero that is broken and vulnerable to a point that the lines of love and hate were inseparable. In the one hand I hated the bitter and cynical man and on the other, my heart broke for the boy who only ever wanted to be loved by someone, anyone.

I never thought that a thorough rogue from a scene in The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ would be so complex or that the author would pair him up with a most sweet and innocent of women. The complexities of this character were such that if you’re not reading between the lines you may miss the reasons behind the initial attraction between the two polar opposite characters. Their immediate attraction to each other was palpable and the chemistry charged to an umpteenth degree which literally gave me the Goosebumps and in pairing these two Jane Lark created the most heart wrenching romance you can imagine.

The heroine of this book had been introduced to us in ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ [her brother’s HEA] and we actually watched her grow right before our eyes and now at nineteen we are faced with this poised, smart, kind and infinitely beautiful woman who is adored by her huge family. Her character was almost as complex as our unlikely hero. This young woman had grown up surrounded with love and attention, yet because of the enormous size of her family, she felt lost at times and she craved one on one attention from someone, anyone. She knew that her dowry was extensive and that it would attract many but what she never expected was for a man to admit that fact to her face, and that intrigued her.  The plot moved at a quick pace and I dreaded the ending. I just wanted this one to go on and on.
Seriously, if you’re like me, and you thrive on angst in your stories, this one has it in spades. If you’re searching for a tender, sweet and sensual romance, this one will melt your heart and leave you in a puddle. Must read!

This is book five in Jane Lark’s wonderful Marlowe Intrigues series and if you’ve never read this series, you better get on it. Here is the order just in case you decide to heed my advice. ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’ is Edward Marlow and Ellen’s story; ‘The Passionate Love of a Rake’ is Robert Marlow and Jane’s story; ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ is the story of Ellen’s son John and ‘The Lost Love of a Soldier’ is a prequel to ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’ and a heartbreaking story of John’s mother Ellen and his father Captain Paul Harding.

But if you’re still doubtful about this author and my recommendation, please feel free to download her two free novella’s also a part of this series as well, ‘Capturing the Earl’s Love’ and ‘The Desperate Love of a Lord’.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Fan2Author Interview with Jane Lark!

jl tlloas

b2bMelanie: I’m so happy to welcome this author! Just love her books! Without further adieu, here she is! Jane Lark! Jane, before I start with the questions, how about you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing career?

Jane Lark: Well so far my writing ‘career’ has been very brief… my first book was published in May 2013, and then republished by Harper Collins in October 2015 as The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, but I have been writing since 2006 so since October 2015 Harper Collins have been pouring out my backlog, and I now have seven books released and three more are due out in the autumn. But I have always loved writing and wanted to write novels for as long as I can remember.

b2b: Can you tell us more about ‘The Lost Love of a Soldier’ and why you chose to write this prequel to ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’?

The Illicit Love of a CourtesanJL: To be honest the only reason I wrote this was because readers asked for it. When I published the first edition of The Illicit Love of a Courtesan I immediately afterwards self-published a short story ‘Capturing the Earl’s Love’ (which was then taken off the market as Harper Collins contracted that too but it was not re-released until May this year). The short story shares the stories of two of the sub characters from the first book but at the time people kept thinking this would be the prequel and were looking for a prequel. 

b2b: How have your characters and their stories come to you and which one/s whispered the loudest for their story to be told?

JL: My characters generally come to me from elements of real people who lived out true stories at some point in history. From these true stories my imagination picks out elements and builds a patchwork of fictional Regency life. Initially I was not sure about writing the prequel, because obviously The Illicit Love of a Courtesan is about Ellen and Edward, and Edward would have no part in the prequel, and yet at the time people began talking about a prequel I was working on The Scandalous Love of a Duke, the story of Ellen’s son, John. The more I worked on that I felt Paul, who appears as a past character in two books, developing a personality of his own, and then because John was having such a difficult time accepting the fact he had never known his father, I felt as though I needed to write him, because then John could have access to him. I know crazy writers…

b2b: Which book you wrote might we be surprised to learn that you had the hardest TPLOAR JLtime writing?

JL: The Lost Love of a Soldier is definitely the hardest, initially it was only intended to be 15,000 to 30,000 words and just a fleeting visit to Ellen eloping, then following Paul into battle, like Capturing the Earl’s Love, which has gathered interest like a snowball on Amazon, but is really a very fleeting storyline, just to give people a bit of light historical entertainment. BUT then––I had to make The Lost Love of a Soldier far more true to fact than the other books because a) it had to follow what really happened in the build up to battle of Waterloo b) I had chosen an actual regiment for Paul to serve under in The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, and so I had to find out where they were when, to ensure the story was realistic. AND then––while I was working on those things, and discovering what the real soldiers and those that travelled with them experienced I knew the story had to be more than a shallow visit with a young Ellen.

2015 is the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, in the summer of 2014 the real 52nd Oxfordshire Regiment of Foot were in England, taking a break from war, before they were due to sail to America. I have worked with the military for about ten years of my life. I know what soldiers endure. I could not then write this book without respect for the real people who made the journey back to the battlefields of Europe which they had only left the summer before and where they had endured many incidents that would have left them with nightmares, and I could not make it a hurried tale, because by hurrying it, it would have become unrealistic and a bit bizarre to just dive into them in Brussels, the battle… and then..

jl ctelPlus it was also hard, because Paul is not the love of Ellen’s life. So the book could not center on the intense Romantic relationships I prefer to write. I have been married twice myself, and my second marriage is very different to my first. Ellen loves Paul, she is a seventeen year old girl in the 18th century who has never left her father’s estate, and never even been to a ball. She is entirely innocent, as many young women were in her day… And I wanted to honor all of that…

b2b: Is there a book you’re never tired of reading over and over?

JL: Katherine by Anya Seton. I just love that story. It also really moves me whenever I go anywhere the real John and Katherine lived…  Even though I know that Katherine is 95% fiction.

b2b: Do you like reading classics and is there one that you’re embarrassed to say you’ve never read?

JL: I like having classics on my bookshelf ;) I read them very rarely and general in short doses, the language in them is generally not all that flowing, let’s remember they were written for a very different generation of people. So while the stories are still great, the writing styles––not necessarily. But I did reread Vanity Fair while writing The Lost Love of a Soldier. There isn’t anything I would be embarrassed to say I have not read but youjl tsload may think it is a sin to say I prefer Vanity Fair, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Mill on the Floss to Pride and Prejudice.

b2b: Is there a book that you recently read that you wish you had written?

JL: Probably the wrong answer, but no. I enjoy the things I write, I always want to write for pleasure. Especially as I still have to work and writing is an escape for me. Even The Lost Love of a Soldier was awesome being able to connect with people who took part in Waterloo through imagination.

b2b: What’s a movie adaptation of a book that you loved or that you wish it is made?

JL: There are two movie adaptations of books that I’ve read that I think are good ‘Troy’ is one. I bet that is not what you were expecting. LOL. But I love the film Troy! The other one was the recent adaptation of Jane Eyre, it is the only time I have seen Rochester portrayed in a way that makes you actually believe he could have caught Jane’s interest.

b2b: If you were given only one genre to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Just YouJL: Historical… Sigh… I love writing love stories, but I love being in historical settings and discovering things about the people who lived in the past.

b2b: What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

JL: I don’t tend to buy books that make me laugh, I can’t remember one that ever has, and cry… I think One Day was the last book that made me cry.

b2b: What was your favorite book as a child?

JL: LOL Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series…. But by eleven I was reading Mill on the Floss and the Iliad. I was a strange child. I think I first read Katherine at the age of twelve.

b2b: What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

JL: My favorite TV show… ever… Time Team – covered so much. My favorite TV series, would be a toss of a coin between the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice and the 1998 version of Vanity Fair, neither stories make good films because too much has to be left out. My favorite film currently Tangled, by Disney ;) Random!

b2b: During a thunderstorm – stay inside or sit on porch watching the show?

JL: Sit on a porch 100% I swam in an outside swimming pool in a thunderstorm once,jl ify my mum didn’t know at the time, and I was only 8. I loved it! (P.S. don’t do it, bad idea for health and safety you’d fry if it hit).

b2b: Flannels or Silk?

JL: Oh my goodness SILK!

b2b: Sports car or SUV?

JL: Sports car all the way.

b2b: Cats or Dogs?

JL: DOGS!

b2b: Champagne or Beer?

JL: Beer, I am not a champagne girl. A good hearty locally brewed beer for me. Or even better a pale ale…

b2b: Movies or TV?

JL: Movies!!!!!!!!! <3 But like I say to my daughter reading a book is even better it’s like watching a movie for hours…. :D and while writing I get to be in the movie for weeks!

jl tdloal

‘The Desperate Love of a Lord’

FREE for PRE ORDER on AMAZON

Jane! I am so happy you had the time to visit with us! It was a blast to get to know you a bit better!

Bookworms, have any questions for our guest author? One of you will end up with a signed print copy of the gorgeous soldier on this cover!

Jane

AUTHOR BIO: Jane is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance, and a Kindle top 25 bestselling author.

She began her first historical novel at sixteen, but a life full of adversity derailed her as she lives with the restrictions of Ankylosing Spondylitis. When she finally completed a novel it was because she was determined not to reach forty still saying, I want to write.

Now Jane is writing a Regency series and contemporary, new adult, stories and she is thrilled to be giving her characters life in others’ imaginations at last.

Jane is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development in the United Kingdom, and uses this specialist understanding of people to bring her characters to life.

Social Media:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

‘The Lost Love of a Soldier’ by Jane Lark

jl tlloasSTORY: The stunning prequel to Kindle bestseller The Illicit Love of a Courtesan!
Life is for grasping and living…

Naïve and innocent, Lady Ellen Pembroke falls for a dashing young army officer. Captain Paul Harding has such an easy, enchanting smile and his blue eyes glow; vibrancy and warmth emanating from him. She is in love.

In turn, the Captain finds his attention captured by the beautiful young daughter of the Duke of Pembroke at a house party in the summer. Finding Ellen is like finding treasure on the battle field. His sanity clings to her – something beautiful to remind him that not all in the world is ugly.

Ellen is someone to fight for and someone to survive for when he is inevitably called to arms in the battle of Waterloo…

REVIEW: Let me preface this review with letting you all know how much I love reading this author’s work. I was left an emotional wreck each time I finished one of her books, and this one more so than the others and that is because this one is a prequel to Ellen’s romance with Edward in ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

My advice, to all that have not read this author, is to read this story before you go on to ‘TILOAC’. Take my word for it. It will help you understand the heroine Ellen much better.

Having read ‘TILOAC’ first, I knew the outcome of this story and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. I’m one of those that do not read the ending before I start the book. I can deal with the spoilers, but I can’t deal with someone letting me know what the ending is. It just ruins the story, don’t you think? Well, at least that’s what I think …thought, I should say. Because, in the end, my knowledge of this authors wonderful storytelling won me over and I went for it.

By the time the story was done, I felt sorrow, anger and a relief. That last one was only because I knew that Ellen’s story does not end with this book.

Ms. Jane Lark did an outstanding job at writing a heartbreaking ‘first love’ story of two young and disillusioned people. Both characters were well developed and the emotional turmoil and internal struggle they went through as they slowly came to terms with the choices they made in order to be together. The steady pace of the story helps a reader connect with and understand these two as they embark on the journey of discovery of each other and their environment. Especially the historical part and the era this takes place in. If you loved ‘War and Peace’ than you’ll appreciate the reality Ms. Lark gives to this story and its locations from Brussels at Lady Richmond’s ball, the Battle of Quatre-Bras and on to Waterloo. We are in awe as much as our teenaged bride is, of the life a soldier and his wife are forced to endure, from slow and muddy marches to making silent love in the cot among sleeping soldiers.

Even though I thought the story well written and plotted, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have been better off not knowing Paul at all. I found myself questioning his choices and accusing him of selfishness while at the same time making allowances for them because of his age. He was so very young and all he wanted to do is love and be loved.

In the end I have concluded that if I’ve read this story before book one, my appreciation and understanding of what Ellen went through would have been ten times of what it really was.

Do I recommend it? Hell yes. The prose alone is worth the read, not to mention the historical detail included. Be warned though. The emotional rollercoaster of this story is ever present and doesn’t let go until the very end, or the next book, I should say.
If you’d like to read of Ellen’s son John Harding, the Duke of Pembroke, his story is in ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author