Georgian

Audiobook Review – Salt Hendon Collection: A Georgian Romance Boxed Set by Lucinda Brant

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Salt Bride
Salt Hendon Series Book 1

When the Earl of Salt Hendon marries squire’s daughter Jane Despard, Society is aghast. But Jane and Lord Salt share a secret past of heartache and mistrust. Four years on, they are forced into a marriage neither wants; the Earl to honor a dying man’s wish; Jane to save her stepbrother from financial ruin. Beautiful inside and out, the patient and ever optimistic Jane believes love conquers all; the Earl will take some convincing. Enter Diana St. John, who has been living in a fool’s paradise believing she would be the next Countess of Salt Hendon. She will go to extreme lengths, even murder, to hold the Earl’s attention. Can the newlyweds overcome past prejudices and sinister opposition to fall in love all over again?

Set in the opulent world of the 18th century aristocracy, Lucinda Brant delivers another delicious 18th century romantic experience. High drama, witty prose, a deft palette of historical detail, and a weave of subplots will keep you mesmerized from beginning to end.

SaltRedux
Salt Hendon Series Book 2

Jane and Salt—four years of Happily Ever After
Sir Antony Templestowe—four years of Exile
Lady Caroline—four years of Heartache
Diana St. John—four years plotting Revenge
The time has come…

How does a brother cope with life knowing his sister is a murderess? How can a nobleman have the life he has always wanted when a lurking evil consumes his thoughts and haunts his dreams?

What will it take for good to triumph over evil?

My View

I started reading/listening to “The Salt Hendon Collection” with an open mind, I have tried audiobooks before and I have always been skeptical, as I have never really enjoyed them as I do a regular book. But I am not one to give up on something without at least giving it a secret chance and as the lovely Lucinda Brant so generously offered me a complimentary copy, how could I refuse? So I gave Audiobooks their second chance.

As much as I want to say I loved every moment of this, I hate to say I didn’t. It has nothing to do with the brilliance of the story because the overall plot is fabulous, I have heard so many good things about Brants work and I do agree that she is an exceedingly talented author. The way she entwine’s the characters personal lives with a fast and intriguing plot is superb and I cannot say a single bad thing about her writing.

It’s the same with the narrator, Alex Wyndham. He is a sensational story-teller, his articulated voice is like pure velvet. The way the simplest words just rolls off his tongue can make any woman melt, if I was watching him on the stage or Television, then I would be swooning. His ability accentuate each individual character is pure brilliance, he could read the phone book and still make it could sexy. But, unfortunately even his refined and cultured tones couldn’t save it for me.

The issue wasn’t the story or the narrator, but the Audio version itself. When I’m reading a regular book I become transported to the era, I am living and breathing the story along with the characters, I just didn’t get that same sense with the Audiobook. I couldn’t visualise the characters or the scenery, I couldn’t understand or relate to them and get their personalities like I usually do, all I got from it was the wonderful Mr. Wyndham’s voice in my head telling me a story.

I know without a doubt that if I read this as a regular book, then I would become emersed into the Georgian era and love it, because it has all the ingredients of a great story. For me this particular way of reading it, didn’t work.

I always hate giving negative reviews, but I abide by my own rule, that I will always be honest in my reviews. For those that do like an audiobook they will adore “The Salt Hendon Collection” but this has just confirmed that audiobooks aren’t for me, but I am going to get the book version of this and I am going to read more of Brants work as I want to get to know the characters and plots.

Overall the Audiobook experience didn’t work for me, but Lucinda Brant is definitely an author I am going to read more off.

This was a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review : The Mistress Of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon

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Everyone thought she was dead…

In 18th century Covent Garden, Madam Moineau, is the mistress of Blackstairs, an establishment catering to the finest clients in London.

The mysterious, veiled lady of Paris was better known in the past as a former courtesan and went by the considerably less exotic moniker of Georgina Radcliffe, or Georgie to her friends.

In the winter of 1785 two men appear in Madam Moineau’s life.

Rogue artist Anthony Lake has recently returned from Europe. Lake is on his own assignment, searching the streets of London for the daughter he only recently discovered he had fathered.

He learns that the child’s mother is dead, brutally killed and Anthony finds himself on an unexpected mission to avenge his ex-lovers’ murder.

Nearly ten years after he left Madam Moineau, then known as Georgina, for dead, Viscount Edmund Polmear returns to London.

He has a new fiancé in tow and is soon to be found around Blackstairs, seeking a further mistress for his own pleasure.

His sudden appearance is a shock for the victim that he believed he left for dead, forcing Madam Moineau to face the horrors of her own past head on.

Anthony Lake and Madam Moineau’s lives become inevitably and inextricably entwined as they find themselves up against the fearsome and unforgiving Viscount Polmear.

Brief Summary

Artist, Anthony lake has returned to London with one thing on his mind and that is to find the daughter he never even knew existed, but now he does know of her he wants her in his life. He wants to be the father that he never got the chance to be while she was young and with her mother dead he is his daughters only relative, the only person to look after her and guide her. Or so her thinks!

He scours London for any word of his elusive daughter and while on his search he drops in at a coffee shop where he meets the most intoxicating and intriguing women he has ever met in his life, she is the flame and all men are moths to her beautiful light. She is the queen bee amongst her drones and he can’t get enough of her. Who is this veiled tantalizing creature?

Madam Moineau knows her little world better than anyone, she rules and she isn’t afraid to show her power, but beneath the veil she is a not just physically scarred young woman but a psychologically damaged one as well, after surviving a horrific assault from her husband, an attack that should have killed her she has reinvented herself from Yorkshire Whore Georgina to the greatest Madam of the age, owner of Blackstairs Brothel she treats her girls with the respective that they would never had got anywhere else and she is hugely respected in return, amongst this she is also the adoptive mother of a young and rather out spoken girl named Molly. And so far everything in Her life is perfect. That is until a stranger turns up and turns her life upside down.

Georgina and Anthony have become embroiled in the same plot, they are both up against the same enemy a man who is worse than Satan himself, the snide, cruel and murderous Lord Polmear. A man who secrets Georgina knows and a man who would kill to have them buried.

My View

I have said it before and I am going to say it, yet again! I really like Catherine’s work, her writing draw’s you in, I love novels that have a lot of history and Curzon is a pro. I am always in awe of how cleverly she entwine’s historically accurate life and times with an entertaining fictional story where you become submerged into a dark and dangerous world. Curzon is a master of this.

Georgie is a great character, she is a genuinely loving women. She has been through hell and yet she hasn’t turned jaded or sour from her experiences. True, she is a little cynical of those around her; which can be understood and isn’t at all surprising. But she has so much love in her closely guarded heart and you really see that love when she is with young molly. Their relationship is so sweet and so natural that you get a real sense of who this woman real is under the facade of the Madam.

She is such a resilient women! A strong, brave woman who dragged herself from where the evil Polmear left her for dead and re-created herself into what she is today. She is remarkable, but then again she is from Yorkshire and I think we all know how remarkably resilient Yorkshire folk are 😉 to me she shines.

“Until Anthony held her she had almost forgotten how safe it could be in someone elses arms, so used to being strong for herself, that it no longer occurred to her that there might be someone else in the world who’s strength she might be able to rely on.
Only for them to let you down again in the end.
He almost had me for the fool.
I have no need for men, let him revel in his whores. He is gone from my life, forever and we shall be the happier for it, our home shall settle down once more.
And the Madam of Moineau shall reign over Blackstairs again”

Anthony has no idea what he has gotten himself into, he is a rare, good man in a world of scoundrels and villains. He wants to do right by his daughter, and you have to give him credit for that, he is charming and highly intelligent and he sees things so much more than others do. He saw Georgie and he knew she was special even from behind the veil.
A sophisticated and classy tale of two individual’s trying to do their best to make a life for themselves and amongst so much peril and danger there is a tantalizing love story where our too leads are just too stubborn in their own rights to see and accept what is staring them in the face.

Now I really loved The Star of Versailles and The Crown Spire; with it’s two handsome highwaymen was fabulous, but this just caught my attention! It pulled me in and I have to say that The Mistress of Blackstairs is my favourite of Curzon’s work. It is just flawless! It’s like a good cup of tea when made to perfection, brewed strong with the perfect amount of sugar. It’s rich and solid and the story flows fast and seamlessly.

An intriguing plot that has you guessing where in the world this is going to take you, For me this is an all out winner, a five out of five! It has got everything that I look for in a Historical book, fabulously gripping story, the history to back it up and characters that are so well-defined that they just jump off the page. This is why I read historical books.

Historically packed, entertaining and believable…Just superb!

This was a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Mistress of Blackstairs Ebook edition is out now and available on Amazon.

Review : The Star Of Versailles by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham

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As the Reign of Terror tears Paris apart, a dandy and a spy are thrown
together on a desperate race through France.

In the darkest days of the Reign of Terror, rumors grow of the Star of
Versailles, the most exquisite treasure ever owned by the doomed Marie
Antoinette. For Vincent Tessier, the notorious Butcher of Orléans, this
potent symbol of the ancien régime has become an obsession and he’ll stop at nothing to possess it.

When Alexandre Gaudet arrives in France to find his missing sister and
nephew, the last thing he expects is to fall into Tessier’s hands. With
Gaudet tortured and left for dead, salvation stumbles accidentally, if
rather decorously, into his path.

For Viscount William Knowles, life as a spy isn’t the escape he had hoped
for. Yet a long-held secret won’t let him rest, and the fires of Revolution
seem like the easiest way to hide from a past that torments him at every
turn.

Adrift in a world where love, family and honor are currencies to be traded,the world-weary Viscount Knowles and the scandalous Monsieur Gaudet have no choice but to try to get along if they want to survive. With Tessier in pursuit, they search for the clues that will lead them to the greatest treasure in revolutionary France—the Star of Versailles.

My View

Paris is in up roar as the Reign of Terror is here, people are dying by the minute and those that have been spared or have escaped are terrified for what could happen next. The feared “National Razor” is working over time and the evil Robespierre is raining terror down on all in his path. Alexandre Gaudet is a foppish playwriter, who has returned from England back to Paris to find his sister and his nephew, who have had to go on the run as the reign of terror hit Paris hard. They are running for their very lives as it is said that they know the where about of the Star of Versailles, the beautiful and rare diamond that once belong to the ill-fated Marie-Antionette. The evil Tessier or “Butcher of Orleans” is on their trail and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Star.

Gaudet is captured by Tessier and after being severely tortured he is facing the dreaded “Razor” but luck is on Gaudet’s side as he is sent to be interrogated by Yves Morel one of the most vile and murderous men in Paris, but this “Morel” is actually British spy William Knowles. Brooding and secretive William save’s Gaudet’s life and with just one clue to where Gaudet’s family and possibly the Star of Versailles is, our unlikely duo set off on what will become a deadly game of cat and mouse in a dangerous and bloody time.

Catherine and Willow have a gift of creating interesting and realistic character’s that just stick with you long after the last page, whether that be the lead character’s William and Gaudet or the secondary ones such as the brilliant spymaster Dee or untrustworthy Sylvie. But the real star’s of the show has to be – apart from Gaudet’s too cute Poodle; Papillion – the boy’s themselves. They are the most unusual pair that I have come across for ages, Gaudet is flamboyant and egotistical and just hilarious whereas William is quiet and brooding and serious. They really are chalk and cheese, but yet they work.

And with Alexandre Gaudet in his crimson coat, laughing with that shriek and carrying a white poodle, we can not hope to be invisible.

“Do you ride?” William asked Gaudet, hoping the answer would be yes. “Horses will carry us to the coast, if so.”

“At Versailles, I was feted for my equestrian skills. I do not ride, I excel.” Gaudet preened his hair for a moment. “And you shall see only my fine derrier, disappearing into the distance.”

“That is a delight,” he told Gaudet with a sniff, “that I shall manage to live without.”

“I will have you know that the fineness of my bottom has been discussed in parliament.”

“Well,” William stated, “they do tend to struggle to find matters of interest.”

It is a different take on the tried and tested Historical Romance, but I have to say that the ladies’ have successfully created a loving and tender story that is full of emotion. They have got William’s confusion over his sexuality down to a tee, it’s beautifully done and very sensitive. The way that William struggle’s with his growing feeling’s for Gaudet is so heartbreaking really, you are just willing him to cast off his doubt’s and take the plunge because as eccentric as Gaudet is, he is a good and caring man. He can see what William is going through and ever so slowly he tries’ to draw the real William out.

Catherine and Willow’s work as cowriter’s is just getting better and better, I really enjoyed The Crown Spire but this one; The Star of Versailles llase it just shines. One of the many thing’s I love about Historical Romance is the history part, I like delving into and learning about the era and The Star Versallaise has beautifully interwoven fact and fiction, it’s imaginative and cleverly written that it take’s us on a thrilling romp through a brutal and deadly era, you get a real sense of how awful that period was.

Catherine and Willows work is strong and entertaining, I can’t wait to see what these two talented ladies have in store for us next. The Star Versailles is a pure joy to read and highly recommended, a definite must read for all Historical Romance fan’s.

This was an ARC version from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham ~ Review

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A Georgian Novel

Scotland, 1795

When the coach carrying Alice Ingram and her niece, Beth, to Edinburgh is attacked, they’re grateful for the intervention of two mysterious highwaymen who ride to their rescue. Beth is thrilled by the romance of it all, but Alice, fleeing her brutish husband, has had more than enough drama in her life.

As the women find sanctuary in a tavern on the Great North Road, Beth is thrilled to meet Edward Hogan, the roguish publican. Despite the difference in ages and backgrounds, the couple have instant chemistry and when Ed invited Beth to visit his Edinburgh tavern, she resolves to get to know him even better. Yet Beth is also taken with the highwayman who rescued her; after all, there’s something irresistible about a rogue.

Shaken from the attack, Alice grudgingly allows herself to be seen by Doctor James Dillingham, Ed’s best friend. Though Dillingham sees the telltale signs of physical abuse on Alice, she refuses to speak of it. Dillingham is dour and Alice frosty, and the two take an instant dislike to each other, so why does their shared coach journey to Edinburgh the following day seem to sizzle?

Once in Edinburgh, Beth starts secretly spending time with Ed, who she begins to think might know more about those highwaymen than he is letting on. By day, Alice sorts Dillingham’s paperwork at the charity hospital he runs yet by night she sneaks off to meet her own highwayman, travelling the back roads of the city with the masked figure. Slowly, Alice is coming back to life. But will the husband she is fleeing find her out? And will her highwayman come to her rescue again?

Set during the heady days of the Georgian era when bodysnatching and highwaymen were never too far away, The Crown Spire is a thrilling romantic adventure rich with excitement and packed with historical detail.

My View

Alice and her niece Beth are on the run from a life of cruelty, blackmail and terror, they are making their way to Edinburgh when in the middle of the night on the Great North road their carriage is come upon by a gang. Both ladies of forcefully taken off into the woods and off to an uncertain future, both unaware where the other is and scared of what is going to happen to them. But materializing out of the tree’s and darkness comes their rescuers and their rescuers just happen to be a pair of highway men.

On first meeting their highway men our ladies fall for their irresistable and roguish charm in a heartbeat, not unsurprising really! They are saved and taken to an inn where they meet the cheeky, charming Innkeeper Ed Hogan and the shy, gentlemanly Doctor James Dillingham. There is something irresistable and provoking about these two handsome Scotsmen, not to mention something very familiar, could it be that Alice and Beth may have met these two rogues before?

I love this, the chemistry between both our couples is rich and sensual and very sexy, like all Historical Romance fan’s I do particularly like a good rogue and The Crown spire doesn’t disappoint, in fact we are spoilt as there are two highway men to get to know and adore. It’s going into the super market and getting a two for one deal. Catherine and Willow have created two strong and charming heroes, that you are bound to fall for.

Alice froze in place, not daring to look around for fear that it should be nothing but a breeze playing tricks with her too-fertile imagination, the form just a shadow turned to flesh by her hope. slowly she lifted her gaze to the mirror once more, heart hammering “You came”.

“I thought” he replied in the voice that she had first heard on the Great North Road, “That I would look once more, just to be sure.”

“Forgive me,” she turned , her gaze drinking in the welcome sight of the masked man. “I was afraid.”

“I hope my note wasn’t too presumptuous?”

Not at all, she was quick to reassure him, thinking with a jolt of the paper she still treasured “I had wanted to contact you but did not know how. . .”

“You wanted tp see me?”

I did” she flushed to the roots od her hair at that admission, adding impulsively as she got to her feet, “I do.”

James and Alice, at fist you don’t think that they will work together, they are chalk and cheese they tend to constantly rub each other the wrong way and the bickering they do is actually really funny. But once you get to know each others past and how they became to be as lonely and detached as they are, you find that they have got more in common then first appearances.

James is a shy gentleman, he is unused to attention from the opposite sex and he is isn’t exactly sure of himself and his capabilities to woo, but once he has put the mask into place his true personality come to the service and he is romantic, enticing and arrogantly sure of himself that he literally sweeps Alice from her bed and off her feet. It is so lovely to see how with Alice he comes to lean less on his alter ego and become more the man that he is, which is exactly the same with Alice. While with James and her highway man she starts to live and her frosty mask gets replaced by a youthful, happy Alice.

“Hello” she murmured, leaning back against his touch.

“fancy,” he held up an ornate mask of bright blue silk, decorated with glittering beads, “being the most glamorous highway robber in Edinburgh?”

beth gave an excited squeal, eyebrow raising as she asked, “How could I say not to that?”

“I thought this was your colour,” Hogan laughed, kissing her cheek. “Get dressed, we’ve work to do!”

“Can I have a kiss first?” He was happy to oblige her request, lips soft against hers. Beth held it for a long moment, leaving him in do doubt as to her feelings until she finally broke the kiss to murmur, “I love you. . .”

“How could you not?” The reply was teasing, though he told her then. “I love you too.”

I have to say that my favorite has to be Ed, he is a proper rogue whether that be as himself the Landlord of the “Rum Duchess” or as the cheeky highway man. He is so sure of himself that he does border the line of arrogance but he doesn’t care, his joyful and exuberant persona is catching and you can feel your self just smiling as he charms his way around Edinburgh. But he is a loyal and good-hearted man, the chemistry between him and Beth is electric after just one meeting te=hey can’t keep their hands off each other, it is steamy and fun and sweet, he his protectiveness of Beth is absolute.

This is a charming foray into Georgian history, the story is fast and exciting, you know where the story is going with our couples but the way we get to there is thrilling, the only flaw I have for The Crown Spire is that because it is character driven we don’t get as much history and detailing about Georgian Edinburgh as I would have liked, but apart from that it is a great book, very entertaining and one that I would recommend.