Victorian Romance

#Review : A Holiday by Gaslight (A Victorian Christmas Novella) by Mimi Mathews (@MimiMatthewsEsq)

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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 View

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.

Perfect!

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.

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#Review : The Bowes Inheritance by Pam Lecky (@pamlecky)

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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.

My View

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

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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?

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / IndieBound / Powells

Exclusive Extract

CHAPTER ONE
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.

Duck.

“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.

Burns, maybe?

“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—”

“Mortimer, please.”

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

My Review

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.

Author Website / Twitter: @Kerrigan_Byrne / Facebook: @KerriganByrneAuthor / Instagram: @KerriganByrne

Review – The Daughter of River Valley (Cornish Tales) by Victoria Cornwall

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Can you trust a man with no name?

Cornwall, 1861

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?

My View

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.

Review – The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon #1) by Mimi Matthews

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She Wanted Sanctuary…

Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill–though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome–is anything but a romantic hero.

He Needed Redemption…

Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household–and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one.

Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena’s past threatens, will Justin’s burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?

My View

Oh, my word! I don’t have enough words to say how unbelievably incredible this book is. I literally started this book and devoured it in one go, that first page hooked me right up until the last very last word. I am a huge fan of Ms Matthews, her writing is always flawless and articulate, but this simply is in a league of its own.

The Matrimonial Advertisement is book one in this new series; Parish Orphans of Devon, what a marvellous way to be introduced to this series. Judging by this, this series is going to be a cracking good one and I am now waiting with baited breath for the next instalment. I really am very impatient. 😊

Lady Helena Reynolds is running away from London, running away from something worse than death. She answers a Matrimonial Advertisement in the paper, gets on a train and travels to Devon to marry a man she has never met. She is desperate, this really is the only way she can protect herself. The man himself and her soon to be home isn’t exactly what she expected, he isn’t exactly the knight on a white horse with a fairy tale castle on a hill, he is just as vulnerable and tormented as her.

Helena is a scared, desperate young woman who is facing something that no woman should have to face. She has been treated absolutely abysmally by her powerful uncle and his cronies and now she is running not just her life, but her sanity. My heart bleeds for Helena, especially when all she wants out of her marriage is for Justin to be kind to her, she is a good person who has been through so much. Ms Matthews has created an incredible young woman, her fear and desperation is palpable in every scene she is in. Yet deep down there is a strong woman who just wants to be free of her fear, she wants to be happy. Justin is the perfect man for her, he is protective to a fault, kind and honourable, he opens her eyes to exactly the kind of woman she wishes to be.

Self-made man and Ex-military Captain; Justin Thornhill is reluctantly in search of a wife, not something he is looking forward to. But as his man-of-business took it upon himself to put an advertisement in the paper for a bride, he knows that if he is ever going to gain the trust and civility of the villager’s instead of constant disdain towards him, he needs a wife to help him. He expects an older stern woman who will be able to manage a house and servants, what he doesn’t expect is a young beautiful woman, who is terrified and secretive.

Oh, my goodness! What a man Justin is, he is a brilliantly good man. Always putting others first, he never thinks of himself and when he does it is only to think of what a horrible man he is – which is a complete lie. He think’s himself to be too much of a monster for anyone to love, especially the likes of fragile Helena. But, he is an incredible, brilliantly handsome, tormented kind man who is highly protective to those he loves, ruthless in business and principled.

Both go into this ‘Marriage of Convenience’ with one purpose in mind, that this arrangement will benefit them both, him for the wife that he clearly needs and her for the protection she desperately needs. As each of their personal secrets are revealed, they soon learn that this arrangement is something more than either of them had expected. I love how they start bonding and getting to know each other over the likes of Charles Dickens, it brings a great realism to their relationship.

This isn’t just a tender and loving romance as there are some very sensitive and difficult subjects that are a vital part of the whole story. Such as asylums and the Indian revolutions, these are tough and heartbreaking subjects and the scenes are full of angst and emotion. When Justin and Helena finally reveal their past’s, which involve those subjects those scenes are raw and heart-wrenching. Ms Matthews has done an astounding job at covering these hard and difficult subject’s, and she has conveyed the subject with realism and respectful clarity.

Anyone who has read my reviews, will know how much I love this lady’s work. I am a massive fan of Mimi Matthews she is my go to author for anything Victorian, her brilliantly composed and stylish writing engages and entrances. ‘The Matrimonial Advertisement’ is a lot darker that what we have come to expect from Ms Matthews, but for me this is Gothic Victorian story-telling at its best. This is how this genre is supposed to be written!

The plot is solid and fresh it takes you on a journey that will have you reaching for the tissues, I can guarantee that you will be weeping like a baby. The characters are astounding, they develop throughout the story in a natural and wonderful way, not just as people but as their romance blossoms so beautifully. Ms Matthews has out done herself with this, by far one of the best books I have read -ever! I cannot wait to see what comes next in the series, I am hoping that Justin’s best friends and fellow orphans; adorable Neville and Cunning Tom get a story.

This is a hauntingly beautiful, gripping and heart-wrenching story.

It is simply spellbinding!

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

The Matrimonial Advertisement is to be released on 4th September and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Review – Captain Amberton’s Inherited Bride by Jenni Fletcher

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‘Marry me…

…And you’ll have your freedom.’

Her father’s will dictates that Violet Harper must wed or be disinherited—but she’d rather face the wilderness of the wintry Yorkshire moors than be bound to cynical, damaged soldier Lance Amberton. Lance promises a marriage of convenience that will grant Violet her independence. In exchange she must put her faith in Lance, and see beyond his gruff exterior to the man beneath…

Firstly, let me say that if I was one of those reviewer’s who rates books with star’s then this would be a huge ten star book, but as I’m not I’ll just overly gush about how much I love this book instead.

I am an avid reader of Jenni Fletcher’s work, everything from her Medieval’s to this Victorian and I have to say that this is the finest I have read, Captains Amberton’s Inherited Bride is a beautifully written story with some well-crafted and defined character’s, which portrays a wealth of knowledge and research into the era. I am an odd reader that I can always seem to ‘see’ the hero of the story so much clearer than the heroine, yet in this case Violet spoke to me – her character shouted out and made me listen and when I did, the revelations of not just the character but of how I felt about her were astounding.

Are you saying that you were willing to lose your inheritance just to walk around some old walls?’ ‘Yes.’ She seemed nonplussed by his reaction…..
‘Indeed.’ He didn’t know whether to laugh or be offended. ‘You must have heard some very interesting stories about me, Miss Harper. I’ve always flattered myself that I was more attractive than crumbling stone.’‘I didn’t mean it like that. It’s not the wall itself—more the idea of it. The freedom to do something I want to do. That’s what I want, freedom.’

Lance (Lancelot) Amberton is the black sheep of the family, he is on a knife-edge where his father is concerned and so when an innocent mis-understanding concerning his twin brother’s future wife; Violet, this just confirms everything that his father and the whole of society think of him – that he is a un-repenting scoundrel who has is a basically a waste of space. Lance gets banished from and right there and then he walk’s out of his family home, goes back to the army and from that day he never see’s his brother or father again.

After living her life practically, a prisoner in her own home, because of her stern, selfish and controlling father – who is such a pathetic bully who really should be ashamed of his treatment of his beautiful daughter. Violet has always been told by him that the only reason any man would want to go near her was because of her vast wealth, she grew up sheltered in her prison like home with this man telling her daily that she is odd, ugly and no one will ever love her for her. At her first ever – and only ever – social outing she meets Captain Amberton, who because of her naivety she instantly thinks that he is making fun of her and doing what her father has always said a man will do to her and string her along. One thing leads to another and she is witness to the Captains banishment, while she is pushed closer and closer to the Arthur; Lance’s twin.

Arthur is a man who is very unhappy with his lot in life, he doesn’t want to marry Violet he has his eyes set on the beauty of society but being the more reticent and dutiful twin, he never stands up for himself where his father is concerned. He goes along with whatever his father says, but in his heart and mind he is screaming for someone to listen to him.

Five years later Violet’s father, Lance’s Father and Arthur all die, she thinks that this is her chance for the freedom she so desperately yearns for, she is severely saddened by Arthurs death, but she cannot hide the fact that she now feels free. That is until she hears of the terms of her father’s will, which basically states that if she doesn’t marry the heir to Amberton she will be cut off, which is one thing but that’s means as Lance is now the heir it is in his hands her fate and happiness rests. She really doesn’t want to marry him, infact she doesn’t want to be in the same breathing space as the ‘beast’ as he is now called. She can’t go back to how her life was, to putting herself back under the control of man she wants to live rather than be ruled over.

…staring at her feet for a few seconds before crouching down suddenly. ‘There a pattern here.’‘It’s a Yorkshire rose.’ He watched the graceful sweep of her fingers across the floorboards. She was so small, so delicate, and yet there was something entrancing about her….

Lance isn’t the fun-loving, scoundrel he was, he has become a cold, stoic and deeply unhappy man, and I do have to say that my heart bleeds for this traumatised man. The pain he is in – not just due to being shot in the leg, but he is emotionally damaged and that has a lot to do with his family and their treatment of him more than what he had to go through while at war, even though that has had a huge impact on his character.

He blames Violet for everything that has happened to him and I suppose you can see where he is coming from, for the first time in his life he was doing something that was good and proper and because of that he gets banished from his family. The only person Lance knows who is always on his side is his twin brother Arthur – are you seeing the Arthurian link yet? I love that! Arthur is the only person in Lance’s world who genuinely has any love for him, so when Arthur drowns in what is classed as an accident, Lance feels as though someone has ripped out his heart. Like the other half of himself has been stolen away, he is absolutely gutted!

He isn’t keen on the idea of marrying Violet, any more than she is of him and there is some hugely entertaining moments between them as they bicker and throw insults to and fro. I do love a ‘Enemies to Lover’s’ trope and this was right up my street. I do really like Lance, he reminds me of John Thornton from North and South, he is a tormented but ever such a good man and I never did feel that he was the scoundrel that his father and whole of society deemed him to be. After coming back from the war injured instead of skulking away into the shadows – don’t get me wrong he does that too, his soul intention on a daily basis is to drink himself into oblivion – he decides to help put the people of his estate and neighbouring area’s by not only purchasing a iron works but he wants to open a colliery which not only brings vital jobs to the area but gives him something to live for – other than living in the bottom of a whisky bottle. He thinks of the regular people, he feels their plight and he wants to do the best for them.

‘A kitten and a beast?’‘Violet and Lance.’ She lifted her head up to kiss him lightly, and then not so lightly, on the lips. ‘Who will Arthur find, I wonder?’

I always seem to understand and ‘get’ the heroes, I don’t seem to connect with heroines as much as I do the heroes but, in this case, it is so different. I felt hugely connected to Violet in a way that I haven’t ever connected with a heroine before, I understood her! Everything about Violet struck a cord with me, parts of her character and circumstances reminded me of myself. I understood her thirst for knowledge, her fascination with history her urgent need to do what she wants with no restrictions and being able to explore places she has never been before, see things she has always wanted to see without responsibilities holding her back. She is a sheltered little thing who just wants a bit of freedom to do what she wants, when we first meet her she is a naive over sensitive little thing, but I saw a sparkle, a fire under that sheltered façade.

For me this is by far the best Fletcher has done, I do love her medieval’s but this is something special, I do have a real soft spot for Victorian stories and this is just fabulous it is infused with Fletcher’s unrelenting passion for history, for the era and especially for Yorkshire. I particularly love how she has written in the beautiful Yorkshire Rose into the floors and ceiling of Amberton Castle. I love the Arthurian undercurrent is such a wonderful addition, it’s subtle and perfect for the story. I really can’t say too many good things about this book, for me it is a breath-takingly pure and beautiful tale and this story really shows just what a fine and articulated writer Ms Fletcher is, she time after time shows that she can handle the hard and complicated stories as well as the loving romantic ones.

I think that any author who can switch so seamlessly from one era to another and create such inspiring and fabulously original stories that draw you in are so talented and Jenni Fletcher is up there with the best.

Just perfect!

Captain Amberton’s Inherited Bride is to be released on 22nd March and can be pre-ordered at Amazon

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

Review – The Viscount and The Vicars Daughter; A Victorian Romance by Mimi Mattnews

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England, 1861. A world-weary rake and a prim vicar’s daughter are thrown together during a holiday house party. Will they discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

A WORLD-WEARY RAKE
After years of unbridled debauchery, Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton has hit proverbial rock bottom. Seeking to escape his melancholy, he takes refuge at one of Victorian society’s most notorious house parties. As the Christmas season approaches, he prepares to settle in for a month of heavy drinking…until an unexpected encounter changes his plans—and threatens his heart.

A PRIM VICAR’S DAUGHTER
Valentine March is not the drab little spinster she appears to be. When her new job as a lady’s companion lands her smack in the middle of Yorkshire with England’s most infamous rake, she resolves to keep her head down and her eyes fixed firmly on her future—a future which most definitely does not include a sinfully handsome viscount.

A MATCH MADE IN SCANDAL
A friendship is impossible. An affair out of the question. But when one reckless act binds them together, will two star-crossed souls discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?


Let me start by saying what an unbelievably great book, it is rich and emotional and for me definitely what I have now come to expect from Ms Matthews. The Viscount and the Vicars daughter is very different from other historical romances it does go along the lines of marriage of convenience but the difference if that Tristan genuinely does love Valentine very much, and he wants to do what is right by her – after what happened, even with so much going against them not just society and his father and his lack of funds after his after cuts him off but also his black reputation. To see his transformation from the cynical and harsh rake to the loving and protective man right before your eyes is refreshing and appealing and hugely enjoyable.

The story opens as Tristan Sinclair; Viscount St Ashton is making his way to the Fairbanks house party, which is a notoriously scandalous event that only the blackest of reputations from society attend. He isn’t attending because he want’s to, he’s there because he has been summoned by his father; the Earl of Lynden who figures this is the best chance to have ‘the chat’ with his wayward son and heir. Tristan cannot think of any thing worse than having to listen to his father lectures about him settling down and stopping his rakish behaviour, or maybe his sire will do what he is always threatening and cut him off? Anyway, while trying to waste time before he must face his father’s wrath he stumbles across a woman in the woods, a chance meeting that will change his life forever.

“….But kissing you…” His expression warmed. “Valentine, I wanted to kiss you in the folly— when I was wet, irritable, and cold sober.” He paused. “I want to kiss you now.”

After the death of her father, vicars daughter Valentine March has had no choice but to go into service she is the companion of the most selfish and manipulative women ever, really tis woman and her daughter are horrendous they are so selfish and vain that they have their staff especially the woman dress in the same uniform of spectacles and black sack of a dress just so that they don’t over shadow precious felicity – really that would be the end of the world – she is upset after spoilt Felicity Brightwell has more or less destroyed the only thing she had of her late mother, the nasty little madam in a fit of temper had burnt Valentines’ mothers bible. It is while in the woods at her lowest that she meets the most handsome man that she has ever met – a meeting that will stay with her for the rest of her life.

From that one chance meeting in the woods both their lives turn up-side-down forever, as on the first night of the house party Tristan is told in no uncertain terms that is has to either do his duty and move to their ancestral estate in Northumberland or he be cut off starting with immediate effect and Valentine goes back to her job as companion/slave to Lady Brightwell, but both have of them have been affected by their chance meeting. Valentine as much as she distrusts the rakish and sinful Tristan she cannot get the sinner out of her mind, for a few moment’s he wasn’t the scoundrel that everyone thought his to be but he was kind and caring and so different to what she expected the Lord of St. Ashton to be. Tristen has met his fair share of women and every one of them have fallen to their knees at his charm, and yet the prim and virtuous Valentine March is so different she isn’t at all what usually takes his attention yet all he can do is think about her. For the first time in his life he is concerned for someone else bar himself, his protective instincts are on high alert whenever she is around, especially being at this scandalous and debaucherously sinful party.

“You’re slipping away from me. I can see it. I can feel it happening, but I don’t know how in the devil I’m supposed to stop it.”
“I’m not slipping away from anyone. I’m right here.”

Tristan can’t seem to help himself, but he wants to help her, when he returns some items to her that she left in the woods after they had met, they share a moment which turns into something more only for them to be discovered by the whole house. Valentine is dismissed from her post as companion and Tristan knows that there is only one way for this scandal to disappear – him and Valentine must marry!

Let us just say that valentine is shocked by this turn of events, after her own nearly scandalous episode in her past she has become weary and cynical of all men – especially those silver-tongued charmer’s such as the Viscount, but this one moment of pure joy has been her downfall and if she doesn’t accept his proposal she may become destitute. Tristan even though he had no intention of marrying yet again can not explain his addiction to this woman, she sets him on fire whenever she is close. He finds that in that moment when they are both backed into a corner he can’t think of anything better than marrying her, he wants her, and Tristan will do anything in his power to have her.

Everyone, which is including Tristan’s father; the Earl is adamant that Valentine will be ruined because Tristan is the worst rake ever, he is known to never keep his promises and that he is too wild to ever settle down – especially with the likes of a lowly vicar’s daughter with a secretive past. The moment that they become engaged you are willing them on, you are wanting them to finally find the happiness that they both deserve. I felt so very sorry for Tristan because of his wild youth he has been stuck with this label that he can’t seem to ditch. I really do like Tristan, he is a powerful force, not just the fact that he is a Viscount that has nothing to do with it, he is charismatic, dynamic with a very well hidden and very rarely seen good heart and any woman that he sets those genuine smiles on are exceedingly privileged because they are rare and beautiful.

“I’ve put my faith in you, sir. And I have precious little faith left to spare. Don’t you dare let me down, Tristan. Don’t you dare break my heart.” Tristan stared down at her, stunned.
“Do I have your heart, Valentine?” Her mouth trembled.
“I’m very much afraid that you do.

The relationship between Valentine and Tristan is honest and pure, he never lies or misuses her, he is kind, unlike his reputation he acts like the true gentleman around her something which has very rarely happened to Valentine. She has never been treated as though she is special or like a proper lady before in her life, in all honesty when her mother died her father the vicar was very harsh with his grieving daughter and so she hasn’t experienced true kindness so obviously she is suspicious of Tristan’s motives. I love how from the moment of meeting Valentine, Tristen knows that this woman is exceptionally special and that she is just what is fractured and blackened heart needs – he knows she is the one immediately, he doesn’t fight how he feels for her the biggest obstacle in their way is her independent and cynical nature.

The Brightwell’s are the most horrid and spiteful women you have ever met, as much as Lady Brightwell irritated the hell out of me with her constant simpering and ‘poor me’ routine the crown for the most self-centred, manipulative and spiteful woman must go to her daughter; Felicity – who being the jewel in the aristocracy’s crown but, she is as unpleasant as you can get. I view her as more of an acid tongued viper, just waiting to strike and I think that Matthews has got their character’s and personalities just spot on, they are both awful self-centred women, yet they have such a prominent role in the book and without them Valentine and Tristan wouldn’t be the adorable couple that we come to know.

I do really like this one, as we have come to expect from Ms Matthews we are transported the fascinating Victorian era, and I do really like this era it is full of promise of what is to come and also darkness of what is happening and amongst the grim reality we have wonderful stories like this one. The Viscount and the Vicars Daughter is hugely romantic, fabulously written and researched, it teases the senses and makes you wonder and surprisingly all the romance comes from Tristan. He surprises you as you get to know him throughout the book, the change in him from his black rakish reputation to the man he becomes is beautifully composed.

This is very much recommended, if you like the marriage of convenience with a light twist and transformed rakes and cynical, shy heroines this is the book for you – even if you don’t like all that, this is still a must read.

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

The Viscount and the Vicars daughter is out 23rd January 2018 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.