#Review Her Deceptive Duke (Wicked Husbands series #4) by Scarlett Scott @scarscoromance #HerDeceptiveDuke #WickedHusbands #Victorian #Romance
Georgiana, Duchess of Leeds, hasn’t seen her husband since he left her on their wedding day for an extended hunting expedition and never returned. But she isn’t the sort to wait around pining for an arrogant oaf who can’t bother to recall he has a wife, no matter how sinfully handsome he may be.
She finds all the fulfillment she requires in caring for the stray cats and dogs of London’s streets. Until, that is, the duke returns, and she uncovers the truth about where he’s been…
Kit, Duke of Leeds, never wanted to be duke. He was content with his life as one of Her Majesty’s most dedicated spies until his brother’s unexpected demise left him forced to marry an American heiress to save the family estate from ruin. The day he married her, he left for a secret assignment in America, with no intention of returning.
Seriously wounded and his cover ruined, Kit’s forced back to London where he finds a townhouse brimming with creatures and a wife who can’t bear the sight of him.
With husband and wife beneath the same roof at last, their marriage of convenience sparks into a passion that’s as undeniable as it is unexpected. But is desire enough to bring two wary hearts together? And once Kit’s wounds are healed, will Georgiana’s love be enough to make him stay?
WARNING: Contains explicit language and steamy scenes.
Well, what a fantastic book! It’s ultra hot, saucy, thrilling, exciting, sensual….I could go on but over the course of this review, I may bleat on a wee bit too much about how amazing this book is. I cannot believe that I have never read Scarlett Scott’s work before, why is that? I must have been walking around with my eyes shut to have missed this fine author, but that will soon be rectified as I will most certainly be reading more from Ms Scott.
This is book four in the Wicked Husbands series seeing as I hadn’t read any of the other before I can whole heartedly say that you really do not need to. I read this as a stand-a-lone, because the story is centred around the couple and not so much the spy network – we will get to that later 😉 I didn’t think that I had missed out on anything from the previous books, true I now need to read the other’s just because this was so darn good.
The story starts with Georgianna and Kit marrying, not voluntarily theirs was the typical arranged marriage of convenience; his Ducal family needed money and she has money as she is the daughter of a wealthy American. Match made in heaven? Not quite, seeing as the moment they are married and before the wedding day is even finished Kit swan’s off without a backwards glance at his new wife and Duchess. To say that poor Georgianna is riled doesn’t even come close to how she feels about her husband, all she can do is stand by and watch his retreating broad shouldered back walk away from her.
In the months while her husband was off on his so called ‘hunting trip’ she has had to find a way to take her mind of the hurt she was feeling when he left, that hurt soon turned into anger and now she feels nothing for the man she was made to marry. She started rescuing animals and nursing them back to health, she has literally filled the house with all manner of animals – which once her husband returns and finds dogs in his master chamber that makes for some very amusing scenes between estranged husband and wife.
He does sound like a cad and really he could have waited a day at least before he fled, but I do like Kit and there is a very good reason why he had to flee. Kit is not just a high and mighty Duke but he is also apart of a secret group of her majesties spies called ‘The legion’ he had to rush off on his latest mission, one that unfortunately for him is the one that nearly gets him killed. He turns up again months later; severely wounded after being shot when his cover was blown. He has no choice but to go home with his tail between his legs as everyone thinks him a traitor, let us just say he isn’t looking forward to the reunion with Georgiana.
I absolutely adore ‘enemies to lovers’ trope stories, I love the conflict between the couple and the HEA feels so much more earned and these two are fantastic. They argue, rant and rave, they throw abuse and insults at one and other as though it’s as easy as breathing and then there is the making up sex; my goodness me it mightily hot! Kit is gruff, broody, argumentative, he never wanted to be Duke he is far happier in his spying role, he never wanted a wife – especially one as free- spirited and feisty as Georgianna, who would be as happy as Larry to skewer him with something sharp; but the estate and the title needed the money. Yet beneath all that ruthlessness and cold heart there lies a good, loyal, decent and brave man who merely wants to do his duty. Georgianna is a wonderful lady, yes she does hate Kit with a passion for doing a runner, but when he turns up wounded she is the first to jump in and help her husband, but that doesn’t mean life is plain sailing for them especially with an unknown traitor on the loose and Georgianna ready to shoot anyone – including Kit – with her trusty pistol.
I love it!! It is such a great story; thrilling, imaginative fast-paced and supremely sexy. The character’s are well developed from the moment of meeting them you are instantly drawn to into their story but more then that they are immensely likeable and very funny; especially when they want to throttle each other. It is defiantly one that will be read and re-read again and again.
I do have to warn that there is a lot of strong language throughout, and the sex will make the reader rather hot under the collar. So if you don’t like explicit bedroom scenes and a foul mouthed hero then this may not be the best book for you, but I would say give it a go as the story is a corker. With a traitorous and complex plot, sexy spies, brooding dukes and fiery duchesses, plus a mansion full of vagrant animals; what’s not to love?
A must read for all historical romance lovers!
This was a complimentary copy via Aurora Publicity in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Pam.
Her Deceptive Duke can be purchased from Amazon.
#Review The Viscounts Veiled Lady (Whitby Wedding’s #3) by Jenni Fletcher (@JenniAuthor) #TheViscountsVeiledLady #WhitbyWeddings #Victorian #Romance @MillsandBoons @HarlequinBooks
A lady hidden from society
A viscount with his own secrets…
When Frances Webster meets brooding Arthur Amberton on Whitby shore he’s a different man from the dashing young gentleman she once carried a flame for. But life has changed her too. After a tragic accident left her scarred, physically and emotionally, she’s led a solitary life. She cherishes their new friendship, and yet she can’t help but hope Arthur sees the beauty within her…
Now this is truly wonderful, I have been waiting with bated breath for Arthur’s story since briefly meeting him in the previous book. I fell in love with his brother Lance the minute I set eyes on him, but I was fascinated with Arthur, I wanted to know him and know why he disappeared and the results of it. He was so different to Lance and I can happily say that this was well worth the wait, Ms Fletcher has pulled out all the stops with this beauty. It is such a loving story all about two people who after both suffering their own personal heartaches find themselves a bit lost in the world, Frances and Arthur are in need of love that can only come from another who understand them and loves them for who they are.
When Arthur Amberton returns after his mysterious disappearance Frances is sent with a message to him from her sister; Lydia – who just happened to be secretly engaged to Arthur that is until he disappeared, now he is back Lydia is determined to be Lady of the manor, she thinks that if she can get him alone for just ten minutes he will fall helplessly in love with her and take her off to Amberton Castle, only problem with that plan is one she is currently in mourning and can not leave the house and two Arthur knows the real Lydia he knows what a manipulator and gold digger she is and wants noting to do with her. Which is where Frances comes in, she can be the messenger.
Frances only goes along with her sister’s slightly mad plan because Lydia being a selfish, spiteful, spoilt little madam, practically blackmail’s Frances into doing her dirty work. Frances would rather not meddle in their affairs she is far happier making her jet jewellery but with her sisters spiteful threat she dons her veil and off she goes across beautiful Whitby to find a man who no longer wishes to be apart of civilization again and try to persuade him to give her sister the second she Frances knows Lydia doesn’t deserve. Only as with all great romances stories all doesn’t exactly go to plan and what should have a been a simple message delivery turns into a twisted ankle, dinner with the two broodingly beautiful Amberton brother’s at Amberton Castles and one sinful lordly pig farmer scandalously peeling off her stockings…ouh, la la! Followed with lots of pent-up lust, frustration, overwhelming emotions and picnics on the beach accompanied with some seriously delicious cakes.
But it’s not all plain sailing (the expression wasn’t intentional, but quite fitting) and cake eating, our two have got serious issues to over come before either of them can even think about moving on and taking that huge step with one another. And this is where the story really comes into it’s own, and where Ms Fletcher excels with her gift for portraying most subtle of human emotion in ways that grabs the reader’s heart. For me it’s is their connection, the fact that they are both fractured and how between the two of them they learn to move forward and to be at peace. The story really focuses on their psychological emotion, their pain, their vulnerability and their eventual hope for the future, which I found utterly heart-warming to read.
Frances is such an amazing lady, I felt a real connection with her, she resonated with me in ways that doesn’t often happen, I understood her. She is a real understated heroine, she is selfless, imaginative, creative, brave and she has an inner strength and intelligence about her that I found utterly captivating. She is has lived her life after her terrible accident under the illusion that she is now destined to be alone, that she isn’t worth anything and worse she truly thinks herself as a burden because of misunderstandings she has always feared to be an embarrassment to her family which is one of the reasons why she covers her scar with the veil and why she finds so much happiness and peace from making her jewellery.
Arthur is so different to how we last saw him, he is a large, brooding, self-conscious, vulnerable, tender, sensual, ruggedly handsome and he has quite the foul mouth. Plus since his return he has cast off the ‘proper’ gentleman etiquette and has thrown himself into his farm….there really is nothing funnier and, may I say sexier than a gorgeous man running around after piglet’s 🙂 I found he also has a real darkness about him, he appears locked in to his self loathing thoughts and it is only the pure, kind, caring and loving heart of Frances that really makes him see past the darkness and into the light.
This is an enchanting story about second chances, about over coming great inner conflict to find your happily ever after. The romance between Frances and Author sizzles right from the off – well its’ not surprising seeing as when she first sees him again, while he was not wearing a great deal and left little to the imagination. There is a spark between them that ignites into some more the longer they are around one and other, and when they kiss….my, oh my! The air fizzles with lust and romance, it is well worth the wait, I can tell you. Their relationship develops in a very natural way and it is that what readers can relate to and will fall in love with – after all who hasn’t shared a cake at a picnic with a loved one?
Utterly captivating! An exquisite, beautifully written story of heart-felt love that will leave the reader with enchanted and yet again proves what an exceptional writer Ms Fletcher is and worth her weight in gold!
This was an Arc via the author in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Jenni.
The Viscounts Veiled Lady is to be released on 24 January and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
#Review Marriage Deal With The Viscount (Allied At the Alter #1) by Bronwyn Scott (@Bronwynscott) #AlliedAtTheAltar #Historical #Victorian #Romance #MarriageDealWithTheViscount @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks
‘I can protect you.’
But she must accept his ring!
An Allied at the Altar story: after an abusive marriage, Sofia is struggling to find acceptance in Society. So when dashing Viscount Taunton needs her investment for his business, she’s surprised by his strong, supportive nature.
In Conall’s arms she discovers true pleasure. Yet to fully leave her past behind, Sofia must consider Conall’s offer of his full protection – in the form of wedding vow
This is a fabulous start to a whole new series; Allied At The Alter, which going by this first book is going to be another brilliant series by a favourite author of mine. This is essentially a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ story, but as ever with Ms Scott’s work there is always a great secondary plot or a twist to the tale. I love that Bronwyn Scott has set this series in the Victorian era, which is such a change from her hugely popular and brilliant regencies, I can say without a doubt that she has pulled a beauty out of the bag with this one.
Conall; Viscount Taunton after gaining the title he now has to deal with the problems that go along with it, which in Taunton’s case means they are in dire need of money. Conall comes up with the most brilliant plan to gain the funds that his family and more importantly the title needs and that is to do what many aristocrats deem as rather vulgar. He plans to go into business!! I know shock and horror, he wants to start trading with the mills with his Alpacca wool, but to do that he needs capital but when he goes to the one man who could set this venture off refuses him point blank he must find another avenue to go down.
I love that about him he is an enterprising, creative and imaginative young man who has a proper head on his shoulders, in fact he rather makes me think of John Thornton from North and South – I think everyone knows how much I love a man who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and this is the man. Conall is a very proud man, it does grate that he has to beg but where his family is concerned he will do what is needed. I really, really love him he just wants to do what’s right he is motivated, enigmatic and at times very serious but that just adds to his appeal. Once he gets turned down by a family friend no less he has no other choice than to fall on to the charity of the mysterious but incredibly wealthy; La Marchessa di Cremona.
Sofia has her own reasons to be as mysterious and hidden in the shadows as she is, if found she would face a fate far, far worse then death, which is why she is equally as desperate for this deal with Conall to go well. She is a complex woman, and I love how Ms Scott doesn’t divulge all of Sofia’s secrets in one go, she teases with dropping little clues and subtle hints through out the story. Yes, it is pretty easy to figure out her back story and why she is fleeing, but it’s incredibly satisfying finding out about this woman. Sofia may appear to be an alluring, beautiful, majestic creature from another planet and yes she is, but that is a mask to protect herself, she is pretty damaged, she is vulnerable, afraid and has trust issues.
I adore both Conall and Sofia, as individuals they are tough cookies who are fighting to not just keep their heads above water but to save their family and themselves. But for me they really shine when they are together, they are both immensely intelligent, resourceful, charismatic and proud. You would think that they would be like chalk and cheese, but that’s as far from the truth as you can get they are each others rock.
This isn’t your stereotypical boy meets girl romance, there is intricate layers that entwine some very serious subjects within the story; such as abuse, divorce and a county which is forging a head into a new innovative world. I love Victorian novels, it was a time of change of new ideas and all of that is features in this book. The character’s are engaging and likeable, the two leads off course are perfect but I love the secondary characters too which are fascinating, and fun to get to know, even the baddie is mesmerising.
Overall this is a brilliantly written, original, thrilling, engaging, captivating and page-turning romance that will keep you teetering at the edge of your seat, reading with baited breath as the story unfolds. A great start to a whole new series, one that I cannot wait to dive into again with book two.
A great book and highly recommended!
This was an Arc copy via the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you Bronwyn.
Marriage Deal With The Viscount is to be released on 27 December and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
A Courtship of Convenience
Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.
A Last Chance for Love
But severing ties with her former beau isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time, there’ll be no false formality. This time, they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.
My goodness, yet again I am blown away with the excellence that is Ms Mimi Matthews. I am a huge fan of her work – In fact, I have said that very sentence so many times, I’m sure that Mimi and everyone reading my reviews must be sick of hearing it, but I don’t care I am still going to shout it from the rooftops just how much I admire this fine lady’s work.
A Holiday By Gaslight is a wonderfully seasonal novella that will definitly leave the reader feeling all warm and Christmassy, set during the Victorian era – which I do have to say, that Ms Matthews is the best there is when comes to this era – and it is full of seasonal joy and atmosphere, the historic detail is as always flawlessly described, it is literally like waking up in this era and joining Sophie and Ned at the Christmas house party.
With the her family facing financial ruin, mainly due to her selfish and inconsiderate father and her brattish sister, Sophie Appersett knows that with no dowry she will most likely have to marry below her station and quickly to bring in the much needed funds her family need especially if they are to carry on living in the land of luxury that they are accustomed to. Walk on stage Edward Sharpe, the handsome, brooding and monosyllabic working class, mill owner and merchant. A man who her class cannot abide because of his humble roots yet will go out of their way to grasp hold of his hard earned cash.
After two month courting, Sophie breaks it off with Ned. She thinks him gruff and silent, in their brief courtship she cannot bare he thought of marrying such a silent man, a man she doesn’t know and who refuses to talk to her. Ned is far from what Sophie thinks him to be, he is silent because he is following what a rather stupid book on society rules says, instead of being himself. They meet again during her parent’s annual Christmas house party, which is when she begins to see what we all see, that he is a wonderfully thoughtful and fascinating man and Ned too sees that she isn’t like the rest of society she doesn’t see him as just a walking bank balance, she is kind and generous and very loving and open.
I have to say that I do love the scene where Ned tell Sophie that he will get a kiss from her, it is such a fun scene and really shows Ned’s witty and fun loving side and shows that he is much more that the incredibly shy with women, brooding yet amazingly intelligent and hard-working man he is, especially when he says he will kiss anywhere either under the mistletoe or under the stairs, I love that!
This is magical, it beautifully entwines a gorgeous Victorian Christmas, social prejudices of the era and the most marvellously different cast of character’s that you would ever want I a historical romance. Each character brings their own personalities to the story, that gives it that realism that I love, Sophie’s sister Emily was a little irritating brat and Mr Murry, well he is a real rakish charmer. I love that the driving force of this is Ned and Sophie not just over coming their own misunderstanding towards one and other, but also attempting to bring their two completely different worlds together to have a harmonious and unforgeable Christmas.
Yet again, Ms Matthews has created another wonderfully charming and vividly rich romance, that will have the readers swooning with absolute delight.
This was an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
A Holiday by Gaslight is to be released on 13 November and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
Historical Romantic Suspense and Mystery with a Dash of Rebellion …
Dublin 1882: When determined but impoverished Louisa Campbell inherits a large estate in the north of England, it appears to be the answer to her prayers. Her younger sister, Eleanor, is gravely ill, and believing the country air will benefit her, they take up residence at Bowes Farm.
However, they soon realise all they have inherited is trouble. Their mysterious benefactor’s reputation leaves the young women battling to gain acceptance in polite society, especially with Nicholas Maxwell, their handsome neighbour and local magistrate.
Louisa unearths secrets from their family’s past that threaten their future and she must dig deep to find the courage to solve them before their lives are destroyed. But most importantly of all, can she trust and love the man who is surely her sworn enemy?
B.R.A.G. Medallion Award: A ‘Discovered Diamond’ Novel: Shortlisted for The Carousel Aware Prize 2016: Longlisted for the HNS 2016 Indie Award.
Well, what an exhilarating and wonderfully enchanting story, this is the first I have read by Pam Lecky, I was fascinated by the sound of this book the moment I saw it, but the actual words within the pages are far more than I would have expected. The Bowes Inheritance isn’t just your stereotypical historical romance, there is a real raw and exciting edge to this that kept me hooked and turning the pages with lightning speed. What surprised me about this book was that it is Ms Lecky’s debut novel. I was just amazed by that as this has a quality that I would never have expected from a debut.
Louisa is practically destitute, she and her ill sister; Eleanor are living literally off the cuff after their father’s death. When she receives word that she has just inherited a large estate in Cumberland from an uncle she never even knew existed, but why hadn’t her family ever spoken of the mysterious ‘Uncle Jack’? This couldn’t have come at a better time for Louisa and Eleanor, she fully intends to sell of the estate and make sure that her sister has every luxury she needs. She sets sail for England, but once face to face with her inheritance she soon sees that the Bowes Estate is just the thing that they need.
No sooner has she stepped foot through the front door then she realises that all is not as it seems, there are secrets coming out of the woodwork at every corner and the more she finds the more her life becomes threatened on top of that she has the disarmingling handsome magistrate; Nicholas Maxwell on her back, making her blood boil with both lust and absolute anger. And the blackened reputation of her mysterious and some-what nefarious uncle Jack constantly lurking in the back ground, plus her ill sister to care for.
Ooh, what a tangled web of darkness, lies and deceit our Louisa has found herself entwined in, I do hugely like Louisa, she is a breathe of fresh air amongst the all the debutants out there, she is very resourceful, proud of who she is and where she is from, loyal to her family – even of they don’t deserve it, but more than that she is a genuinely lovely person who has a good heart and a feisty spirit.
This is a brilliantly crafted, atmospheric and satisfying historical story that entwines romance with mystery, The Bowes Inheritance has an impressive plot which see takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through the Victorian era and into the dangerous underworld of the Irish Rebellion, which I will admit I didn’t know a lot about but Ms Lecky has created a strong and intelligent storyline, that will have the reader wanting more. I do love an historical that has a lot of historic detail and this is wondrous, it is rich and vivid the writing is stunningly real, every aspect of the story is captivating. I have to say that Ms Lecky has captured the atmosphere with spot on clarity, you can feel every emotion that Louisa goes through as through your were right there with her, the prejudice and uncertainty that she has to face would make a lesser woman hide away but not strong and resilient.
I do love this book, I was blown away and instantly charmed with the style and quality of Ms Lecky’s writing, so much so that I know for a certainty that I will be reading more from this talented author.
A stunningly beautiful debut from an author I know will go far.
This was a complimentary copy from the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Bowes Inheritance is available now and can be purchased from Amazon.
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels #6) by Kerrigan Byrne Blog Tour; Review & Exclusive Excerpt
About the Book
THE DUKE WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…
He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…
A LEGENDARY LOVE
Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?
If Lorelai Weatherstoke hadn’t been appreciating the storm out the carriage window, she’d have missed the naked corpse beneath the ancient ash tree.
“Father, look!” She seized Lord Southbourne’s thin wrist, but a barrage of visual stimuli overwhelmed her, paralyzing her tongue.
In all her fourteen years, she’d never seen a naked man, let alone a deceased one.
He lay facedown, strong arms reached over his head as though he’d been trying to swim through the shallow grass lining the road. Ghastly dark bruises covered what little flesh was visible beneath the blood. He was all mounds and cords, his long body different from hers in every way a person could be.
Her heart squeezed, and she fought to find her voice as the carriage trundled past. The poor man must be cold, she worried, then castigated herself for such an absurd thought.
The dead became one with the cold. She’d learned that by kissing her mother’s forehead before they closed her casket forever.
“What is it, duck?” Her father may have been an earl, but the Weatherstokes were gentry of reduced circumstances, and didn’t spend enough time in London to escape the Essex accent.
Lorelai had not missed the dialect while at school in Mayfair, and it had been the first thing she’d rid herself of in favor of a more proper London inflection. In this case, however, it was Lord Southbourne’s words, more than his accent, that caused her to flinch.
As cruel as the girls could be at Braithwaite’s Boarding School, none of their taunts had made her feel quite so hollow as the one her own family bestowed upon her.
“I-it’s a man,” she stammered. “A corp—” Oh no, had he just moved, or had she imagined it? Squinting through the downpour, she pressed her face to the window in time to see battered knuckles clenching the grass, and straining arms pulling the heavy body forward.
“Stop,” she wheezed, overtaken by tremors. “Stop the carriage!”
“What’s bunched your garters, then?” Sneering across from her, Mortimer, her elder brother, brushed aside the drapes at his window. “Blimey! There’s a bleedin’ corpse by the road.” Three powerful strikes on the roof of the coach prompted the driver to stop.
“He’s alive!” Lorelai exclaimed, pawing at the door handle. “I swear he moved. We have to help him.”
“I thought that fancy, expensive school was supposed to make you less of an idiot, Duck.” Mortimer’s heavy brows barely separated on a good day and met to create one thick line when he adopted the expression of disdainful scorn he reserved solely for her. “What’s a cripple like you going to do in the mud?”
“We should probably drive through to Brentwood,” Lord Southbourne suggested diplomatically. “We can send back an ambulance to fetch him.”
“He’ll need an undertaker by then,” Lorelai pleaded. “We must save him, mustn’t we?”
“I’ve never seen so much blood.” It was morbid fascination rather than pity darkening her brother’s eyes. “I’m going out there.”
“I’m coming with you.”
A cruel hand smacked Lorelai out of the way, and shoved her back against the faded brocade velvet of her seat. “You’ll stay with Father. I’ll take the driver.”
As usual, Lord Robert Weatherstoke said and did nothing to contradict his only son as Mortimer leaped from the coach and slammed the door behind him.
Lorelai barely blamed her passive father anymore. Mortimer was so much larger than him these days, and ever so much crueler.
She had to adjust her throbbing leg to see the men making their way through the gray of the early-evening deluge. Just enough remained of daylight to delineate color variations.
The unfortunate man was a large smudge of gore against the verdant spring ground cover. Upon Mortimer and the driver’s approach, he curled in upon himself not unlike a salted snail. Only he had no shell to protect his beaten body.
Lorelai swallowed profusely in a vain attempt to keep her heart from escaping through her throat as the man was hoisted aloft, each arm yoked like an ox’s burden behind a proffered neck. Even though Mortimer was the tallest man she knew, the stranger’s feet dragged in the mud. His head lolled below his shoulders, so she couldn’t get a good look at his face to ascertain his level of consciousness.
Other parts of him, though, she couldn’t seem to drag her eyes away from.
She did her best not to look between his legs, and mostly succeeded. At a time like this, modesty hardly mattered, but she figured the poor soul deserved whatever dignity she could allow him.
That is to say, she only peeked twice before wrenching her eyes upward.
The muscles winging from his back beneath where his arms spread were ugly shades of darkness painted by trauma. The ripples of his ribs were purple on his left side, and red on the other. Blunt bruises interrupted the symmetrical ridges of his stomach, as though he’d been kicked or struck repeatedly. As they dragged him closer, what she’d feared had been blood became something infinitely worse.
It was as though his flesh had been chewed away, but by something with no teeth. The plentiful meat of his shoulder and chest, his torso, hips, and down his thigh were grotesquely visible.
“Good God, how is he still alive?” The awe in her father’s voice reminded her of his presence as they scurried to open the carriage door and help drag the man inside. It took the four of them to manage it.
“He won’t be unless we hurry.” The driver tucked the man’s long, long legs inside, resting his knees against the seat. “I fear he won’t last the few miles to Brentwood.”
Ripping her cloak off, Lorelai spread it over the shuddering body on the floor. “We must do what we can,” she insisted. “Is there a doctor in Brentwood?”
“Aye, and a good one.”
“Please take us there without delay.”
“O’course, miss.” He secured the door and leaped into his seat, whipping the team of fresh horses into a gallop.
As they lurched forward, the most pitiful sound she’d ever heard burst from the injured man’s lips, which flaked with white. His big arm flailed from beneath the cloak to protect his face, in a gesture that tore Lorelai’s heart out of her chest.
The burn scored the sinew of his neck and up his jaw to his cheekbone.
Pangs of sympathy slashed at her own skin, and drew her muscles taut with strain. Lorelai blinked a sheen of tears away, and cleared emotion out of her tight throat with a husky sound she’d made to soothe many a wounded animal on the Black Water Estuary.
His breaths became shallower, his skin paler beneath the bruises.
He was dying.
Without thinking, she slid a hand out of her glove, and gently pressed her palm to his, allowing her fingers to wrap around his hand one by one.
“Don’t go,” she urged. “Stay here. With me.”
His rough, filthy hand gripped her with such strength, the pain of it stole her breath. His face turned toward her, though his eyes remained closed.
Still, it heartened her, this evidence of awareness. Perhaps, on some level, she could comfort him.
“You’re going to be all right,” she crooned.
“Don’t lie to the poor bastard.” Mortimer’s lip curled in disgust. “He’s no goose with a defective wing, or a three-legged cat, like the strays you’re always harboring. Like as not he’s too broken to be put back together with a bandage, a meal, and one of your warbling songs. He’s going to die, Lorelai.”
“You don’t know that,” she said more sharply than she’d intended, and received a sharp slap for her lapse in wariness.
“And you don’t know what I’ll do to you if you speak to me in that tone again.”
Most girls would look to their fathers for protection, but Lorelai had learned long ago that protection was something upon which she could never rely.
Her cheek stinging, Lorelai lowered her eyes. Mortimer would take it as a sign of submission, but she only did it to hide her anger. She’d learned by now to take care around him in times of high stress, or excitement. It had been her folly to forget … because she knew exactly what he was capable of. The pinch of her patient’s strong grip was nothing next to what she’d experienced at the hands of her brother on any given month.
Ignoring the aching throb in her foot, Lorelai dismissed Mortimer, leaning down instead to stroke a dripping lock of midnight hair away from an eye so swollen, he’d not have been able to open it were he awake.
Across from her, Mortimer leaned in, as well, ostensibly studying the man on the floor with equal parts intrigue and disgust. “Wonder what happened to the sod. I haven’t seen a beating like this in all my years.”
Lorelai schooled a level expression from her face at the reference to his many perceived years. He was all of twenty, and the only violence he witnessed outside of sport, he perpetrated himself.
“Brigands, you suspect?” Sir Robert fretted from beside her, checking the gathering darkness for villains.
“Entirely possible,” Mortimer said flippantly. “Or maybe he is one. We are disturbingly close to Gallows Corner.”
“Mortimer,” their father wheezed. “Tell me you haven’t pulled a criminal into my coach. What would people say?”
The Weatherstoke crest bore the motto Fortunam maris, “fortune from the sea,” but if anyone had asked Lorelai what it was, she’d have replied, Quid dicam homines? “What would people say?”
It had been her father’s favorite invocation—and his greatest fear—for as long as she could remember.
Lorelai opened her mouth to protest, but her brother beat her to it, a speculative glint turning his eyes the color of royal sapphires. “If I’d hazard a guess, it would be that this assault was personal. A fellow doesn’t go to the trouble to inflict this sort of damage lest his aim is retribution or death. Perhaps he’s a gentleman with gambling debts run afoul of a syndicate. Or, maybe a few locals caught him deflowering their sister … though they left those parts intact, didn’t they, Duck?” His sly expression told Lorelai that he’d caught her looking where she ought not to.
Blushing painfully, she could no longer bring herself to meet Mortimer’s cruel eyes. They were the only trait Lorelai shared with her brother. Her father called them the Weatherstoke jewels. She actively hated looking in the mirror and seeing Mortimer’s eyes staring back at her.
Instead, she inspected the filthy nails of the hand engulfing her own. The poor man’s entire palm was one big callus against hers. The skin on his knuckles, tough as an old shoe, had broken open with devastating impact.
Whatever had happened to him, he’d fought back.
“He’s no gentleman,” she observed. “Too many calluses. A local farmhand, perhaps, or a stable master?” It didn’t strain the imagination to envision these hands gripping the rope of an erstwhile stallion. Large, magnificent beasts pitting their strength one against the other.
“More like stable boy,” Mortimer snorted. “I’d wager my inheritance he’s younger than me.”
“How can you tell?” With his features beyond recognition, Lorelai was at a loss as to the man’s age. No gray streaked his midnight hair, nor did lines bracket his swollen lips, so she knew he couldn’t be old, but beyond that …
“He’s not possessed of enough body hair for a man long grown.”
“But he’s so big,” she reasoned. “And his chest appears to have been badly burned, the hair might have singed right off.”
“I’m not referring to his chest, you dull-wit, but to his coc—”
Lorelai winced. It was as close to a reprimand as her father ever ventured. Mortimer must have been very wicked, indeed. It was just her luck that he did so on perhaps the first occasion Lorelai had actually wanted her brother to finish a sentence.
A rut in the road jostled them with such force at their frantic pace, Lorelai nearly landed on the injured man. His chest heaved a scream into his throat, but it only escaped as a piteous, gurgling groan.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. Dropping to her knees, she hovered above him, the fingers of her free hand fluttering over his quaking form, looking for a place to land that wouldn’t cause him pain.
She could find none. He was one massive wound.
A tear splashed from her eye and disappeared into the crease between his fingers.
“Duck, perhaps it’s best you take your seat.” Her father’s jowly voice reminded her of steam wheezing from a teakettle before it’s gathered enough strength to whistle. “It isn’t seemly for a girl of your standing to be thus prostrated on the floor.”
With a sigh, she did her best to get her good foot beneath her, reaching for the plush golden velvet of the seat to push herself back into it.
An insistent tug on her arm tested the limits of her shoulder socket, forcing her to catch herself once more.
“Lorelai, I said sit,” Lord Southbourne blustered.
“I can’t,” she gasped incredulously. “He won’t let me go.”
“What’s this, then?” Mortimer wiped some of the mud away from the straining cords of the man’s forearm, uncovering an even darker smudge beneath. As he cleared it, a picture began to take shape, the artful angles and curves both intriguing and sinister until mottled, injured skin ruptured the rendering. “Was it a bird of some kind? A serpent?”
“No.” Lorelai shook her head, studying the confusion of shapes intently. “It’s a dragon.”
Copyright © 2018 by Kerrigan Byrne
I have only no word’s adequate enough to convey how much I loved this book, this is by far one of the best book’s I have read. It really is astoundingly good! This has everything that I personally look for in a historical romance; complex and flawed character’s in need of love, intricate and intriguing storyline, secondary character’s that are as brilliant as the lead’s all sprinkled with history and romance. I have only recently discovered Kerrigan Byrne’s work, and this is only the second book of hers I have read, but I know that I have found an author’s whose work I will be reading and re-reading for years to come.
While on her way home with her abusive and manipulative brother and father, fourteen-year-old Lorelei (I absolutely love that name, it’s beautiful) spot’s a man laying beside the road, forcing her father and brother to do the right thing and stop to check on him. Finding that he is still alive Lorelei takes it upon herself to nurse the intriguing young man back to health. To her he is like a breath of fresh air in her dark oppressive life with her bullying family, she takes pleasure in nursing her broken angel back from the underworld. Even once he regained consciousness she took pleasure in trying to help him regain his memory, without much luck. She was inexplicably drawn to the damaged and devilishly attractive young man she named Ash, she had fallen in love with him. She senses deep down there is a dark and somewhat dangerous being that she yearns to help. Even at such a tender age she knew that there was something very special between them, then one day he was gone with a promise that he would he would come back for her, always.
I love those tender and careful moments between them as she helps him heal, he can’t remember anything about himself yet he feels like he has darkness in him but that seems to ebb away whenever she is around. His annoyance and confusion is heart-breaking, I love the way how she tries to bring him out of himself and that first kiss….so sweet!
Fast forward twenty years, Lorelei on the morning of her forced marriage with a man old enough to be her grandfather she is kidnapped by the deadliest, most ruthless Pirate that has ever sailed the sea’s. But it isn’t the kidnapping that has shaken her, it is who has taken her. The tall formidable, tattooed man before her telling her that she is now to marry him, the man who calls himself; The Rook is none other then the young man she gave her heart to and who left her all those years before.
Rook after a lifetime of hardship since he was forced to leave her he has been through torture and torment to become the ruthless, dark and deadly man he is now. Yet the one thing that has always kept him alive was the thought of Lorelei and knowing that he would find a way to return to her and claim her as his own. He has set out to avenge her; his golden angel, his saviour from those that wish to or have harmed her. But his well laid plan takes a bit of an unexpected turn as when he finally gets the women he has loved for all those years in his grasp, she appears to hate him. Which a well-placed knee in his family jewels seems to confirm. Can he bring her round to his way of thinking or will her golden touch and kindness make the phantom of the seas soften?
Well what can I say about Rook? What an amazing man, I will admit that while reading it I had this image of Tom Hardy in my head as Rook. Tattooed, huge, rough a bit deadly and yet with a kind heart, he has a lot of love in his cold black heart especially for Lorelei. She is the reason why he is standing breathing, his love for her is absolute and I think that if any man looks a woman the way Rook looks at Lorelei is a good man and so swoon worthy! I love this guy! He is charming in a brutal, in your face kind of way but what drew me to him rom the start was his vulnerable side, Rook has secrets and darkness that envelopes him, and yet he may be a blood thirsty pirate, but he is a good principled man.
This is book six in the Victorian Rebel’s series, now I haven’t read them all or the first in the series, but that doesn’t matter as I saw this as a stand-a-lone. These books are sexy, smart and so engrossing. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is a thrilling, edge of your seat highly sensual romance that will keep you glued from the very first page. You are gripped by the stylish writing, the sizzling chemistry between Rook and Lorelei. I do have a real soft spot for Victorian era romances and this one is amazing, it is fresh and atmospheric, yet at the same time it is dark and dangerous.
Absolutely fabulous, I cannot wait to read more from the Rebels.
This was an ARC copy via the publisher as part of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.
Can you trust a man with no name?
Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …
Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she’s been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.
Fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?
Well this is wonderful. Victorian Romances are a favourite of mine, it was an era that had so much change and out of it comes so many wonderful stories and this is one of them, it is incredibly good. This is the first book I have read by Victoria Cornwall, even though I have always loved the look and sound of her work. I cannot believe that I have never read any of her books until now, but I will be reading more. This is an amazing introduction to this exceptionally talented author’s work. It has everything that I look for in a romance; bang on the mark historic details, strong and vulnerable characters and a twisty plot that keeps you wanting more.
After the death of her beloved grandfather, Beth is left to live out her life in relative peace and quiet. Well that is what her grandfather promised her, he promised her a home for life and with her sewing she has an income. But that idyllic life soon gets thrown out the window, when suddenly she is receiving threats about her home, she feels she is being watched and out of the blue a strange man bursts into her home with intentions that are as mysterious as the man himself. Beth does what any woman would do in these circumstances; she protects herself. She cracks him with the frying pan, only for her conscience and good, caring nature to kick in and she soon keeps the stranger in her cottage to care for him.
But her actions have consequences as the dark and devilishly attractive stranger has lost his memory. He doesn’t know who he is, where he is and most importantly why he suddenly burst into Beth’s home and what he wanted from her.
My goodness, Beth is an incredible character; strong, funny, independent…plus she can’t half wield a heavy, copper frying pan. But she is also a young woman who is slightly out of her depth, she has suddenly found herself with far more on her plate than she ever expected and yet being a resilient woman, Beth takes it all in her stride. True at times her actions could be construed as rash, but that is what I love about her, she is very real. Anyone who has read my reviews will know how much I like the ordinary characters, those that have had to fight for everything. Which is why I really like Beth, she is just a very normal working-class woman, who so any can relate to. She has a hatred for the rich she doesn’t trust those with privilege due to her own, somewhat scandalous background and that loathing has really made her the strong woman she is now. she admires and loves the regular man working man.
The man she call’s ‘Luke’ is as confused and perplexed by the whole situation as she, he initially blames her for the turn of events. Once he has regained consciousness and starts getting his strength back he begins to get terrifying flash backs that invade his dreams. Flashbacks that are so disturbing even he starts to wonder who on earth he is and whether he is a good man or not. And even he feels remorse for how he barged into Beth’s life. Like Beth, my heart breaks for ‘Luke’ there is a lot of darkness about him, he is powerful, and he has a raw brutal masculinity about him that is both intimidating and intriguing. ‘Luke’ is a large, beast of a man who has secrets – even if he can’t remember what they are. He is so vulnerable too and that is the side of him that drew me to him. When he start’s getting flash backs and the nightmares, which involves disturbing bloody bodies it makes you want to hug him and comfort him, not that this proud man would allow that comfort.
They are both very similar, both independent and reluctant to accept help. These two people are tough in mind and spirit and even though there are serious trust issues between them, you see that deep down they are kindred spirits. There is a connection between them and as they try and forge on try and solve all the mysteries that is surrounding them both, they each see the other in a completely different light.
This book is such a beautiful story! An emotional, compelling and atmospheric tale with two fascinating, beautifully developed and engrossing characters. The entwining plot takes you on a journey, a voyage of discovery as we follow these two wonderful people as they find the answers to all the questions that have arisen though out, there are twists and turns that keep the reader gripped right until the last page.
I am a huge fan of lots of detail and history while reading and this is absolutely spot on, perfect. The story is steeped in historic detailing, I particulay love the descriptions of Cornwall, each scene is excellently descriptive that it captures the readers imagination and whisk’s them away to another time and place, the realism grabs you in a way that you can practically taste the sea air. This is a clever, articulate and beautifully written story with a mesmerizing romance. Ms Cornwall’s writing is a pure joy to read, she captures your attention with her artful words. Just wonderful!
A definite page-turner, I cannot recommend this book enough and I will definitely be stocking my bookshelves with Ms Cornwall’s books.
This was an ARC copy via the publisher Choc Lit in exchange for an honest review.
The Daughter of River Valley is released today and can be purchased at Amazon.