Novella

#Review | The Low Road by Eleanor Harkstead #TheLowRoad @e_harkstead @PridePublishing

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Hello my lovely friends, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of; The Low Road by Eleanor Harkstead, which is a gorgeous little story, perfect for curling up with a cuppa and couple of biscuits, enjoy.

Can a lonely driver and a tragic hitch-hiker cheat both time and death?

One night in the pouring rain, Alex stops on Gallows Hill to pick up a hitch-hiker. But when the hitch-hiker vanishes from the passenger seat, Alex fears for his sanity.

Then he discovers that Gallows Hill is a place filled with ghosts—of smugglers, witches and highwaymen.

And a young, tragic hitch-hiker named Joe.

When Joe appears again on Gallows Hill, Alex dares to hope that they can cheat both time and death. But how can there be a future for them when Joe is trapped in a few minutes of a rainy night forty years before?

What a lovely little story this is, I was fascinated by the premise of this from the off, it’s quite an unusual love story but I knew that if there was one person who could pull off a living/dead romance then Eleanor Harkstead is the author to do it, and by jove does she pull out a original and beautiful little romance out of her hat.

The story opens one stormy rainy night with Alex driving along a deserted road called; Gallows Hill, he is a bit low in spirits, I felt a real loneliness pouring off Alex even his mother senses it from him as she tries play cupid and set him up with a nice young man she knows. Alex is a bit in limbo where it comes with relationships, then when on the road he spots a hitch-hiker through the rain spattered windscreen, it is an encounter that changes everything for Alex. I love how in those few moments when Alex and Joe first meet there is a real spark between the two men, Alex enjoys the ‘younger’ man’s company, but only for Joe to completely disappear from a moving car. I mean literally poof, now you see him and then he’s gone, but where has he gone? Or more importantly was Joe even in the car in the first place?

I real feel for Alex, he thinks he may have found a guy who he enjoys being around, and who he feels very comfortable with and then all of a sudden he’s not there, Alex is confused and a bit perplexed, he thinks he might be going a little mad, but when Joe appears again on the same stretch of road, Alex knows that this is real he has formed a real connection with very adorable, all smiley Joe, and at the same time he knows that there is something not quite right going on here, which is when he starts to investigate Gallows Hill and Joe the hitch-hiker.

In such a short story there is a lot of emotion, it’s not just a wham bam, I have fallen in love with a ghost, story, there is a bit of intrigue. I particularly love how Alex is desperate to know more about the young man who appeared beside the road, the young man who even in such a short space of time stole Alex’s heart. It is a weeping moment when we all learn what happened to Joe, yes he’s dead, but what happened to him?

The ending is so lovely, it goes full circle, we not only find out what happened to Joe, but the past and the present entwine themselves together to form a wonderfully engrossing story. I love the fun and cheeky banter between Alex and Joe, they flirt, tease and wink their way through their shared part of the story, they are such a cute couple to get to know. The writing is solid, its a real skill to be able to achieve such wonderful character and emotional development in such a short story. Even though I wish there was more, I loved where it ended, this is a splendid love story.

This was a Arc copy from the author, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Eleanor. x

The Low Road is to be released on 15th October, and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

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#Review | Desires Of Lady Elise; A Regency Novella by Rachel Ann Smith #DesiresOfLadyElise@rachelannsmit11

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Hello everyone, I have the pleasure to be sharing my review of Desires of Lady Elise, which is a lovely debut from Rachel Ann Smith, so grab a cuppa and enjoy.

Lady Elise knows all too well the risks of falling in love. Her heart was broken by a rake. Instead of hunting for a husband, she helps other ladies escape the nefarious plans of unscrupulous gentlemen.

After a scandal costs Lord Thornston Elise’s hand and heart, he has lived on the fringes of the beau monde. But when his best friend, the Duke of Fairmont, requests his assistance, Thornston is torn. Helping Fairmont means facing the woman who holds his heart and soul.

Succumbing to temptation, Thornston re-enters Society to find Elise still unwed. But as he seeks to reignite her desire for him and earn back her trust, he becomes entwined in one of her investigations. But when events take a dangerous turn, he might lose the woman he loves before he can win her back

This is a lovely quick read, at only 98 pages you can literally read this in one Desires of lady Elise the debut Rachel Ann and from this I can really see a promising future within the historical romance genre and I am sure we are going to be hearing about her for many years to come.

After having her heart broken by a scoundrel years before, she is determined no to suffer again, but instead of going out husband hunting as is what society claim she should be doing, she instead goes out of her way to help ladies escape the clutches of notorious rakehells. But as she helps and rescues other ladies she is still bruised from her own encounter and worst still she still loves the scoundrel who ran off on her all those years ago.

Harold left years before amid scandal, he knows he broke Elise’s heart but he had no choice but to leave, since then he has always been on the outside of the ton looking it. It is only because Elise’s brother has asked Harold for assistance in a certain investigation of his own that makes Harold return to society, only to come face to face with the woman who has been on his mind all these years.

Its not the most taxing story to read, it has a sweetness to it that I found endearing, but there is a bit of intrigue that surrounds Harold and why he left.

My only reservations with this is that there is a lot packed into such a short story, which is what a lot of authors tend to do with novella’s, my personal view is that this would have been better made into a full sized novel, that way the author could have really gone to town and really invested into each characters back story, for example with Harold, I would have loved to know far more about him and his work with the home office and more about his past that led him to b the man that he has become and why he has the reputation that he has. There is nothing better then really delving into the mind of the characters that you are following.

Apart from that and the constant use or ‘my lord/my lady’ which did get a little tiring, this is an impressive debut, it is fast paced, fun and engaging novella. I look forward to seeing what comes next from Rachel Ann, the writing is strong and fluid, there is a real fun feel to it that keeps you reading. Judging by this I have no doubt that she is an author to watch out for in the future, and maybe the next book will be a full length novel which will show her splendid writing off.

This was an Arc from the author in exchange for a honest review, thank you Rachel.

Desires of Lady Elise can be purchased from Amazon.

#Review – Lady Joy And the Earl : A Christmas Novella by Regina Jeffers (@reginajeffers) #Christmas #Regency #Romance

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They have loved each other since childhood, but life has not been kind to either of them. James Highcliffe’s arranged marriage had been everything but loving, and Lady Joy’s late husband believed a woman’s spirit was meant to be broken. Therefore, convincing Lady Jocelyn Lathrop to abandon her freedom and consider marriage to him after twenty plus years apart may be more than the Earl of Hough can manage. Only the spirit of Christmas can bring these two together when secrets mean to keep them apart.

My View

Well this is a wonderfully heart-warming and emotional seasonal story. I am a big fan of Regina Jeffers work, she has a real gift at story telling, she magically captures the readers attention with her charming stories which have some of the most wondrous characters who the reader can really get behind and cheer on. Lady Joy and The Earl is no different, I found this to be a magical story full of raw emotion and a delightful cast of character’s.

Jocelyn (or Joy) and James have been in love with each other since they were children, as their family’s estates are right next door to one and other, they often used to spend many hours and days together. They both new where they wanted their lives to go and that was to be together, unfortunately James’ father had already arranged a marriage for James ever since he was still in the cradle and it wouldn’t be with the neighbouring Marquess’ daughter. Joy was obviously devastated when hearing of James’ marriage, because she didn’t know the details of the arrangement she felt both cheated and disappointed that James would do such a thing to her after she had loved him all her life. Which into the an arranged marriage of her own, never to see each other for another twenty two years.

Both had very unhappy marriages, in different ways so twenty-two years later once widowed and past their moaning period they can both be and do what they want to be. For Joy that means she finally has her freedom, even if that freedom does come at a cost due to what happened when her husband died. She wants nothing more than to go about her life with her children and finally be able to live. For James there is only one thing that he wants, the one thing that was stolen from him; Joy! He is set on finally claiming his Joy for his own, just as he wanted in the first place. But first he must make it past her high defences, for she is far from the spirited woman he knew she has become a shell of her self and he knows that gentleness and a little Christmas magic is the only way forward for both of them to be happy.

Joy hasn’t had the best of luck, first the one man she loved with all her heart suddenly ups and marries someone else, true that it was all arranged when he was a baby, but she doesn’t know that. Her confusion and hurt is always there, even after twenty years apart her heart may do a jolt and speed up at the mere sight of this distinguished, handsome man but also present is her devastation. She was then married off to a horrible man and his treatment of her has left an imprint on her, she is such a wonderfully kind and loving woman but that sparkle tat James loved about er has been put out. But James, being the wonderfully self assure and slightly arrogant man – but in a very good way he can see that there is a flicker of the woman beneath the hurt, I love this man he really is wonderful and oh, so handsome he isn’t cruel or nasty he is utterly charming and he oozes sex appeal. Joy is an amazing woman, she is strong when it comes to her children and she is fierce yet she is vulnerable and fragile. I love the gentleness James shows her and how with his careful wooing she becomes her real self, I particular love the way he subtly flirts and cajoles her into bantering with him. So sweet and funny!

I love this book! The story is very well developed and refreshingly new for the genre, it moves from scene to scene flawlessly. But the thing that I do love about this sweet short story is the chemistry between the leads, James and Joy are a match made in heaven they have both been scarred – if emotionally scarred by the turn of the events when they were young. The feelings for each other is constant, you can feel the emotion on every page, from the rapidly beating hearts to the fact that they can’t stop gazing at one an other. It’s beautiful written, but I expected no less from talented Ms Jefffers .

Gorgeous story, just perfect!!

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

Lady Joy and The Earl can be purchased from Amazon.

Review : One Night Under The Mistletoe (Convenient Christmas Brides Anthology) by Laurie Benson.

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A convenient arrangement
Three festive Regency romances…

In The Captain’s Christmas Journey, by Carla Kelly, Captain Everard is escorting Verity to her governess job—and for propriety’s sake that means a convenient engagement!

In Louise Allen’s The Viscount’s Yuletide Betrothal Eleanor advertises for a ‘suitable’ gentleman to pose as her betrothed over Christmas.

And in Laurie Benson’s novella, Juliet’s One Night Under the Mistletoe leads to a marriage of convenience with handsome former love Lord Montague…

My View

One Night Under The Mistletoe is book two in The Sommersby Brides series, which for those who haven’t read the first one yet (I highly recommend that you do) is a mini series which follows three sister’s in their pursuit of finding their happily ever after, even if they don’t realise they are looking for it, and that is exactly what you can expect with this one. Ms Benson really has become my go-to author for tender and sensual romances that take, not just the character’s on a journey of discovery to find their happy ever after but also the reader.

When I heard that Laurie Benson was writing a story in a Christmas anthology, I was very excited to see what would come out of it and I was not disappointed with this. I particularly like the fact that instead of writing a stand-a-lone to go in this anthology – which a lot of other authors would have done – Ms Benson chose to carry on the Sommersby Bride series.

Montague is in search of the perfect kiss, a kiss that will blow his mind. He has kissed a lot of women in his life, but he has only ever had a mind blowing, great kiss just once, and since that day he has tried to find a woman who can match and then hopefully he will find the wife that he knows deep down he needs. He doesn’t find anything like the kiss he wants, but what he does find in a secluded library at a ball changes his life forever.

Juliet is quietly reading in the library when she is come upon by the deadly handsome Monty. She remembers when they shared a secret kiss and like Monty she has never really been able to move on from it, only that the man himself broke her heart so terribly she can’t allow herself to love him again.

An innocent and unexpected encounter, forces them to do exactly what neither of them want; to find themselves in Marriage of Convenience. Juliet thinks that this is it, she is stuck in a loveless marriage. Without giving too much away, I love how they begin to reconnect with each other and it is very lovely seeing how they begin to see one an other as more than just a ball and chain. Their road to happily ever after isn’t an easy one as at first their relationship is strained, but the magic of Christmas allows them to finally find what they are both so desperately wanting.

This ticks all boxes for me wonderfully, romantically challenged character’s, beautiful story that enchants and entertains, plus a flawless Christmassy setting that is magical and season wrapped up with that Benson gift to make the reader fall in love. The only downside is that I would have liked it to go on a little longer, which is always the case with novella’s, but this really set’s us up for the next sister’s story. I am really looking forward to seeing where Ms Benson will take Lizzie, she was the sister that I was intrigued by from day one.

A wonderfully seasonal, ever so romantic and magical story that will leave you feeling all warm and ready to put up your own Mistletoe.

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

One Night Under The Mistletoe (The Convenient Christmas Brides Anthology) is to be released on 1st November and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Review – The Shamrock and the Rose (Novella) by Regan Walker

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Set in London in 1818, it’s the story of Rose Collingwood, daughter of a baron, who wanted to play Portia in The Merchant of Venice. To accept the part at the Theatre-Royal at Haymarket, the very proper young lady assumes the disguise of Miss Lily Underwood, the actress. Who knew all of London would soon be at her feet sending her love notes? One such Valentine goes awry only to be found by the dashing Irish barrister, Morgan O’Connell. Though he would have seduced the actress, Morgan must court the lady. Given three choices much like Portia’s suitors, can she resist the handsome Irish rogue? And who is it who is following her?

This is another cleverly written story from the talented Ms Walker, Set in London 1818, Lady Rose Collingwood, daughter of the famous Admiral Collingwood – who was a real figure in history – she wants excitement, she wants to do what she has always wanted to do, which is be on the stage in the theatre. Under the alias of Lily Underwood, Rose has got her wish to play the part of Portia in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. At night she is in her element, wooing the crowds with her skilful performance and during the day she is the sweet, obedient Baron’s daughter. Rose has the best of both worlds, as long as know one from either side of her life knows the truth. She is happy with her double life, she has no intention what so ever of doing the dutiful society lady thing of marrying and producing heirs. No, she wants to be free, to do as she pleases and that is what being an actress gives her.

It is while she is doing a particulay enthralling performance as Portia that she catches the eye of charming barrister in training; Morgan O’Connell, cousin to the famous Danial O’Connell. He is enchanted by her, he wants to know the real ‘Portia’ so when by chances comes across a secret valentine addressed to Lily Underwood, he can’t believe his luck especially when it leads him to the front door of the Dowager Countess of Claremont, who just by chance is in the mood for a bit of match making. She divulges a secret to him and gives him the perfect opportunity to meet and get to know the real woman who has captured his attention.

…he’d been the most handsome man in the room. Recalling that his family was rich in sheep, goats ad good will, and she added, “He has a wry sense of humour and that rare quality of being able to laugh at himself…”

I do love intermingling character’s that jump from one book to another, even when those books aren’t related, and Ms Walker has a real flare with having her characters intermingle and interact throughout her books. The best book jumping character I have ever encounted has to be the brilliant, Dowager Countess of Claremont. She is a hoot; such a wonderful character and I am so pleased that again this feisty lady has made an appearance.

I particularly like how different Morgan and Rose are, they are two individuals that you wouldn’t have initially put together, and yet they really work. Barrister in training; Morgan is dazzlingly charming, being an Irishman in London at a time of great political upheaval cannot have been easy, yet he proves himself and shows just what a smart genuine man he is. I really like how he can laugh at himself, he can take a joke. He is supremely confident, but not in an arrogant way and he is able to converse with all people and really stand his ground with topics that he is passionate about – and he is a very passionate man. Swoon worthy, would be accurate!

As Morgan and Rose’s budding romance begins to bloom, they are caught in a compromising position after an incident while out on a carriage ride. Add to that an attempted kidnapping, a zealous fan lurking in the shadows and a moment alone in an empty house and you get a thrilling and beautiful romance.

He broke the Kiss and looked into her eyes, “Say something, Rose.”

“That was not proper.” It was all she could think to say, though she experienced a pang of guilt at not discouraging his kiss before it took place.

He chuckled. “ You seemed to like it. Was it your first?”

She could feel herself blush and looked down as she whispered “Yes.”

His finger brought her chin up, “Good such a passionate English Rose. I think perhaps another is in order.”

As ever with Walkers work you are educated as well as entertained. As well as the sweet and loving romance between Rose and Morgan, there are snippets of what was happening in Ireland with the Protestant/Catholic and Political conflict. Walker has written the unrest and fragility of the time with the upmost care and sensitivity, it doesn’t over power what is a gorgeous love story. For me, I always like those snippets of fact from history incorporated into stories and this is wonderfully done.

The Shamrock and the Rose is such a lovely story, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would have liked there to be more then there was, I found it a little short, but that’s to be expected from a novella. But, I would love to read more about Rose and Morgan. Over all a perfect love story for Valentines and St.Patricks Day.

The Shamrock and The Rose can be purchased from Amazon.

Review – An Actors Guide To Romance by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

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When long-time theatrical enemies are cast as lovers, their late-night rehearsal brings a whole new meaning to method acting.

For twenty years, Adam Fisher and Thomas Fox have been the best of enemies. From their first meeting at drama school to shared stages, shared bills and a competition to amass the most illustrious awards, they have been the names on every theatregoers’ lips. Separately they can sell out an entire run in an hour, so when they’re cast as lovers in London’s hottest new play, the tickets are gone in minutes.

But for rakish Adam and gentlemanly Thomas, the small matter of their first on-stage kiss is causing a headache for everyone. Over a bottle of wine on one rainy night in the city, these two acting legends will do whatever it takes to banish their first-night nerves. After all, as everyone knows, the show must go on.

This is so different to anything I have read by Ms Curzon before, it’s fresh and new and the first contemporary I have read for a while. I am in two frames of mind about it, though on one hand I like it, the story line about these two rival actors taking on their most difficult job by playing lovers is fresh and so different to what I have read before. The characters are interesting as different from each as you could get and, yet they make a great duo, for a short story their past history is surprisingly very detailed – from the moment when they first met and why they are rivals even their past relationships everything is covered. On the other I would have liked a bit more of it, I would have liked to know where Adam and Thomas go from where the book leaves them, for me their story is cut of in it’s prime and it left so many questions in it’s wake about the characters and where the story was going.

“Equal billing, darling! I am no one’s support.”

Adam and Thomas have known each other since drama school, which is where their rivalry really started they have both competed with each other for roles for as long as they can remember and now they are both actors at the top of their game and both are highly sourght after. So when a mutual friend cast them as lovers in her knew theatre prodiction they both jump at the chance not just to help an old fiend out but to maybe rile each other up a bit. As soon as the word is out that the great Thomas Fox and Adam Fletcher are actor together in this new show people flock to the theatre and the ticket fly out of the door, so now the first show is a sell out but there is a problem – our leads have an issue with the kissing scene.

After weeks of rehearsing they just cannot do this scene, with the opening noight just around the corner Thomas knows that some thing has to be done about it, so one night he grits his teeth and goes to try and resolve the issue between the two of them. But can Adam and Thomas get past this obstacle and make this a show a success? or will their mutual mixture of irritation and lust for each other get in the way?

“Two handsome chaps like us, eh?” Thomas tried for levity. “What’s the world coming to if we’re both single?”“Isn’t it a shame that it was hate at first sight?” Adam laughed…

These two are like chalk and cheese, you really have never known two such different characters Thomas is a gentleman to the core, he is cool and serious and unlike Adam – who you find is far more flamboyant, Thomas is more reserved. Thomas, I think is more nervous about this scene then Adam, but it’s got nothing to do with him being ashamed or embarrassed about his sexuality – and why should he be? Its more of the fact who he has to kiss.

Adam is a rake, there is no other word to describe him, he likes nothing better than messing about and playing the clown. I find Adam hugely fascinating he does act like the court jester, but I think there is something else beneath all that bravado. He is just as nervous about this kiss as Thomas and this is why he fools about as much as he does, he enjoys winding Thomas up to see how far he can push him and yet when Thomas is obviously nervous, Adam has this knack of calming him down.

For a short story it has a lot in it, I find that those moments when Adam and Thomas are alone to be their real self’s is very beautifully written, there is a lot of sexual tension between them. Apart from it being a bit too short – I would have liked this to be a full story so that we can really get to know Thomas and Adam. I liked it, it’s clever and very witty and a really interesting and different read, and yes I do very much recommend it.

This was a ARC copy via the author’s in exchange for an honest review.

An Actors Guide to Romance is released on 23rd January 2018 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Review – Christmas Revels IV: Four Regency Novellas by Hannah Meredith, Anna D. Allen, Kate Parker,Louisa Cornell

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The Revels Continue…

The Sergeant’s Christmas Bride 

Sergeant Jacob Burrows just wants a place to bed down for the night. He never expects to be confronted by a lady with a gun. Elizabeth FitzWalter intends to drive the stranger off her land, until she realizes he meets her most pressing need.

Home for Christmas 

When Charity Fletcher receives a mysterious bequest—a house by the sea—she hopes to rebuild her life. Lord Gilbert Narron leases a seaside house to hide from his memories of war. Charity’s refuge is Gil’s bolt-hole… but what both are seeking is a home for their hearts.

A Memorable Christmas Season 

The last thing Lady Roekirk expects at her Christmas party is a dead traitor in her parlor… or the Crown’s Spymaster helping her hide the body. Thirty years earlier, she’d been forced to wed another and Lord Keyminster became a spy. After this long, does their love stand a chance?

A Perfectly Unforgettable Christmas 

Every day, Lucien Rollinsby endures a memory of Christmas Eve. Not even his lovely new neighbor can make him forget that horrible night five years ago. Caroline McAlasdair remembers that Christmas Eve, too. But if Lucien recalls her presence there, it will destroy their only chance at happiness forever.

Oddly as it sounds this is my first anthology and it definitely, won’t be my last. I loved how each novella is linked in a small way, there is a theme running through the four stories that connect them together, and yet as you read each of the authors personalities and writing styles jump out at you, which keeps the anthology running and keeps you reading as you are desperate to see what the next author has in store for you.

I was really excited about reading this one, not just with it being my first anthology and it being Christmasssy but I have read and heard of the authors before, so I knew that I would be in for a treat, and it was the running theme going through each novella that caught my attention.

Soldiers and spies finding their happily ever after has always been my Achilles heel when it comes to Historical Romance, I love reading about a tormented soldier who had been through harsh and brutal experiences and finding their happy ending. How the love of a good, strong woman can bring them that peace they so crave and, this is what happens in these four novellas each couple has had their own trials and tribulations and we see each one struggle to move on with his and her lives to finally find their happy ever after.

This anthology feature’s four Christmas themed novellas by four great romance authors, these stories are seasonally poignant and crisp, each has a high emotional story with characters that you will love from page one.

In this anthology we have a story that could be reminiscent of the Nativity story except with a rough and loyal soldier and a heavily pregnant young woman who isn’t averse to waving a shot-gun at people. A young lonely woman craving a little independence who inherits a house but also has an unexpected and at first un wanted guest, while her guest just want’s peace and quiet to ease his wild thoughts of the war. A story that just like a case out of Poirot, a traitor is found murdered at a Lady’s Christmas Ball only for the secret agent who is helping her to be her long-lost love, this handsome spy/agent never got over his first love and he is more than willing to help her, but is she hiding something from him? And finally, the last story sees a wounded war veteran who is depressed by what he has experienced, that he is just wanting to die only for him to meet with the very woman who is the cause of his nightmares, the beautiful widow did something many years ago that if anyone found out then her life would be over and yet the man who could destroy her life is the very man she is drawn to.

I highly recommend Christmas Revels, they are fun and romantic and so full of Christmas cheer that you can imagine yourself there with them.

This was an Arc copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Christmas Revels is out now and can be purchased at Amazon.