Catherine Curzon

#Review – The Captains Cornish Christmas (A Captivating Captains Story #4) by Catherine Curzon (@MadameGilflurt) & Eleanor Harkstead (@e_harkstead) #CaptivatingCaptains @PridePublishing

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A Captivating Captains story

For a lonely Cornish lifeboatman and an author who’s more used to crime scenes than love scenes, this Christmas is going to be very merry indeed!

When Jago Treherne agrees to man the Polneath lifeboats one snowy Christmas, he knows he can forget turkey and all the trimmings.

Yet when he boards a seemingly empty yacht and stumbles upon sexy Sam Coryton enjoying an energetic afternoon below decks, Jago soon realizes that he might be unwrapping a very different sort of Christmas gift this year!

My View

I always get very excited whenever a new ‘A Captivating Captains’ book is out, I have been avidly following this series from the very first book and I’m always giddy to see what is to come next. As always, I jumped at the chance to read this one, and as always I was not disappointed, not only is the cover gorgeous, but the story is pretty good too 😉

The Captains Cornish Christmas is a short novella, set in gorgeous Cornwall and revolves around the Captain of the Polneath lifeboats; Jago Treherne. What surprised me about this and what was different from the other’s in the series, is that instead of being split POV between the leads this story is told more through Jago’s perspective, which I found quite endearing especially as Jago is – for me, the star of the whole book and I really enjoyed seeing the story play out from Jago’s perspective.

Jago is spending this festive season on duty, he is manning the lifeboats and has no expectations of celebrating Christmas – except maybe at the end of his shift he will go home have a cuppa with his very spoilt cat; Peregrine – Isn’t that a great name? Yet when the weather begins to turn, he comes across the what looks like a yacht in trouble, which actually turns out to be the Morveren owned by best-selling author and child hood friend; Sam Coryton. Once on board he finds to his embarrassment that Sam isn’t in trouble at all – well only if he counts falling head over heels, crashing to the floor and ending up butt up on the floor with a black eye, which is very funny – he is in, shall we say a rather intimate position, that leaves poor Jago feeling rather hot under the collar and a tad embarrassed 😉 Sam has moved back to Polneath after becoming tired and a bit world-weary of London life and he is trying to escape a family Christmas. When ruggedly handsome Jago unceremoniously barges in on him, it is like a gift from the gods and he fully intends on making the most of his good fortune.

Jago is by far one of the most adorable character’s from the whole series, he is uncomfortable, shy and a tad lonely, plus not to mention his self-confidence issues. He believes that the glittery, handsome as hell and overly confident Sam would never look twice at an ordinary, gruff and rough around the edges, salty sea-dog like him. But that is where he is so wrong, from the moment when we first meet them you know instantly that there has only ever been one man for Sam, every other relationship has just been a stop-gap, he is the kind of man that he needs someone in his life.

What I love about this series is that each one is different, you don’t have to read them in any order as they are all stand-a-lone stories. Each one is as different as the next, every aspect of romance is covered so no matter what genre you read there will be something everyone will love.

The Captains Cornish Christmas is a charming, witty and sensual romance. The story progresses quickly right from the off there is a buzz about Jago and Sam. I love the difference in their personalities, Sam is far more relaxed and confident in his own skin whereas Jago is more reserved and shy, that is until they are behind closed doors, then he shows his hidden lusty side. The thing that I particularly love is the dialogue between Jago and Sam, they are very open with one another, there is no hidden agenda’s with them and at times it is wonderfully cheesy, plummy and very Cornish – courtesy of Jago, who actually reminds of the characters from the TV show Doc Martin.

Another winner, really these two wonderful ladies can do nothing wrong in my book, the writing is as always perfect and highly enjoyable. It’s sweet and sexy, with the best laugh out loud moment’s – the beginning on the yacht is a corker.

Highly recommended, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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

The Captains Cornish Christmas is to be released on 11th December and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

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The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble (Captivating Captains #3) by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

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When a ghostly dandy and his roguish companion try their hand at matchmaking, things definitely go bump in the night.

For centuries, foppish Captain Cornelius Sheridan and brooding John Rookwood have haunted the mansion they duelled and died for. Now these phantom foes must join forces to save both their home and their feuding descendants.

But when Captain Sheridan sacrifices his afterlife for the sake of true love, will Rookwood risk everything to keep his companion by his side, or is it too late to say “I love you”?

My View

Oh, my goodness! How much do love this series?…Really, there isn’t enough time – or space in the post to say. As soon as I got offered to read this, I jumped at the chance to read it and I did stay up way past my bedtime to read it 😉 The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble is book three in the wonderfully diverse and splendiferous Captivating Captains series, I have fallen in love with this series, you never know what’s going to come next. Or for that matter what era you’re going to be transported to.

After they killed each other in a duel over Rookwood/Sheridan Manor Sheridan and Rookwood are left roaming the huge house for the next couple of hundred years protecting it from various threats. Plus, left to put up with each other, the two men who were mortal enemies in life carry on bickering in death, steadily over the years growing closer and closer when suddenly their home under the threat again – from a very unlikely source – they must join forces to protect their manor.

Captain Cornelius Sheridan is by far the dandiest ghost you have ever seen – or not seen. Gentlemanly, foppish, vain and hugely entertaining; Sheridan has been irritating and winding up brooding, highwayman John Rookwood from life and into death.

Rookwood is a brooding, monosyllabic and devilishly attractive man who is harbouring a secret love towards his spectral companion. But being the typical grizzly and grumpy bear that he is, he refuses to confront and admit what his heart is telling him. So when Sheridan sacrifices himself, they both could have lost their chance to finally be honest about how they feel.

These two are a hoot, they constantly snipe and provoke one another, whether it’s Rookwoods growling and stomping about or Sheridan’s fabulously up beat chatter. Curzon and Harkstead have a this talented of created the most engaging and laugh out loud characters, ever and these two are two of the best. If I was going to be living in a haunted house, I want to be sharing that house with these two. I love how different they are to each other and yet their personalities’ tend to bounce of one an other. Sheridan or ‘The Captain’ is such a fabulously fun character, the way he antagonizes Rookwood is so entertaining – Plus, I’ve always been charmed with green eyes. Rookwood – Oh, Rookwood! I probably sound like a broken record, but I do love a rough-around-the-edge, gruff man and this one is simply grand. Sheridan and Rookwood are definitely two of my favourite character’s, they are a wonderful double-act!

The Captains Ghostly Gamble is an amusing, dreamy and original romance that will keep you enchanted and riveted to the end. I love how even though this is a short story, there are two romances packed in, one in the mortal realm and the other on the ghostly plane. Both are connected, but I ain’t going to tell you in what way, you’ll just have to read it and find out. This is another hugely romantic story about ever-lasting love, with two of the least bit scary but hugely entertaining ghosts you have ever met. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest instalment of this marvellous series and I wait with baited-breath to see what comes next.

Roll on the next one!

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

The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble is to be released on 11th September and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Exclusive Chat With George Standish-Brookes & Henry Fitzwalter, Stars of The Captain and the Cricketer.

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Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome the stars of ‘The Captain and the Cricketer’ George Standish-Brookes and Henry Fitzwalter to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive and illuminating chat. Really these lads are a hoot! (Plus, they provided scones, so I’m happy.) So, take a seat, get the tea and scones at the ready because you really don’t want to miss a moment of this chat.

Frankie: Hello lads, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Hello! Captain George Standish-Brookes reporting for duty all alone, alas, as Fitz is in the kitchen talking to a concerned resident about their ferret’s toenails or some such – village vets never sleep! So for now, at least, you’ll have to put up with just me.

Frankie: I don’t mind at all, it’s so good to have you here. Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?

George: I’ll give you three. No, four. Captain George Standish-Brookes. One doesn’t like talking about oneself – the gossip columns have done enough of that already. Instead, I’ll give you five words to describe Fitz – Henry to his mum – instead, and he can deal with the George side of things. So Fitz, who has now joined me with a pot of tea and a plateful of scones, is five words of fabulous. Handsome, smart, tweedy, sexy, husband.

Frankie: Hello Henry, so glad you could join us.

Henry (aka Fitz): Oh hell, I’ve dropped the scones! Well that’s very kind of you, Standy-Bee. My five words for you would be… gorgeous, brave, mischievous, shirtless and kind.

George: I’m not always shirtless, just in case people were wondering about what I do in winter. Often, not always.

Frankie: *Smiling* If you could take a holiday in any era and place, when and where would it be? And why?

George: I’m very fortunate to have seen many of my bucket list destinations whilst filming my Secret Histories series for the Beeb. And as anyone who’s watched them (which is, I think, several million of you) will know, I’m no stranger to getting togged up and trying out life as it was back in Sparta, Rome, the Russian revolution, Sherwood Forest and half a dozen other amazing eras.

Henry: Several million? Could I have a sixth word to describe, George, please — cocky!

George: You’ll get us an X rating talking like that! If I take my pick though, I’d whisk Fitz and I back to Rome in the 1960s. We’d hop on a scooter and join Anita Ekberg for a frolic in the Trevi Fountain!

Henry: I’d pick the Treetops Hotel in Kenya in the 1950s — but without any shooting going on. I’d just like to drive about in a jeep with George and watch the lions at sunset.

George: Oh, that’s a lovely idea, darling. You and I tooling about, you in your Panama hat and sensible togs, me in far less. Sunblock and a smile.

Frankie: Can you tell us a little about your latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

George: The Captain and the Cricketer is a new release by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead that tells our story, Fitz and me, from daggers drawn to sharing scones and a lot more besides. In true promo fashion, you’ll have to buy it to find out how we solved a crime, saved a village and banished a billionaire!

Henry: And rescued a foal! George — if you blow on the scone, it’s perfectly edible. They were only on the floor for under five seconds.

George: Your mind’s in the gutter today, Fitz. Blow on this, cocky that! And yes, we rescued a lovely foal and a darling of a dog, who is eyeing that scone with interest but no hope of getting it. Fitz surrenders his scone to nobody!

Frankie: *Cough’s subtly* Who was your childhood hero?

George: Fitz. He was my best chum and I always wished I could be him, because he never struggled with his homework or got bowled out first wicket. He’s still my hero today, I’m very blessed to know him.

Henry: I always admired George when we were nippers. But might I say James Herriot? I have all of his books, and George and I were glued to the screens on Sunday evenings watching his adventures!

George: I always had a bit of a crush Tristan when I was a boy. The first stirrings!

Henry: Ah, Tristan — there’s a man who knows how to carry off a cricket jumper.

George: That was Dr Who, darling. Do you remember that stick of celery he wore? I should do that at the next match, cricket jumper, whites, celery. I’m halfway to a Bloody Mary.

Frankie: If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?

George: The Captain and the Cricketer, since it’s the only Curzon/Harkstead novel that stars Henry and me. Whoever plays me would have to be very, very British. A posh boy who looks good in cricket jumpers and out of them!

Henry: Not that he was an actor, but my hero — James Herriot.

George: Good choice, Fitz. I have no idea what he looked like, but spiritually, you’re the heir to his stethoscope.

 

*Frankie’s note : Above left the real James Herriot and right my choice of who would play George; Toby Stephans.

Frankie: You are the stars of the Captain and the Cricketer, but who is your favourite character in the book – yourselves excepted? (Question rewritten by George and Henry!]

George: If I can, I’ll say say Jez and Nimrod, our horse and dog, because they’re a couple of gorgeous little heroes. Otherwise I think Reverend Standish-Brookes and Bad Billy Fitzwalter, our 18th century ancestors. They’re quite a trailblazing and scandalous pair! And the rev’s mum, Georgie, because she was up for just about anything and looked fabulous in a frock!

Henry: And you look fabulous in a frock, too, darling! As for me, well, the newts who live in Longley Parva Manor’s lake are a particular favourite.

George: I’ve spent many happy hours running programme ideas past those newts – they’re refreshing full of common sense for a chap who’s used to dealing with the British press!

Frankie: *Giggles away for a good five minutes* What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

George: Three tips for an aspiring anything, just to have a happy life. Be patient, be kind, eat cake.

Henry: I am an aspiring author myself, you know. I’ve started to write my memoir. A sort of 21st century James Herriot.

George: All Fitzes Great and Small.

Henry: That’s the working title! My advice would be: don’t let your dog chew your pens, don’t let your dog eat your notepads, and finally, don’t let your dog walk across your keyboard.

Frankie: *Laugh’s again* Great tip, just keep dog away. If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

George: I’m rather fortunate in that my careers as an occasionally shirtless TV historian means that I’ve been able to meet a lot of my heros and work with a fair few of them so I’m probably going to have to jaunt back into history for this one. What about you, Fitz? Siegfried, Tristan and Tricky Woo?

Henry: I always thought the late, great Robert Hardy would’ve been fun to meet — he seemed to be full of bonhomie. Jenny Lind — she could sing for us after dinner, as I’ve always wondered what her voice sounded like. Not on some scratchy old record, but live — that would be amazing, wouldn’t it? And the legendary W G Grace, too — would love to get some tips from him. Maybe practice with him in the hallway.

George: Oh, that’s a marvellous trio, you could all share a pizza and a few bottles – think of the stories! I would gather good old Magellan, whose voyage I recreated for the Beeb a couple of years ago. I’d love to meet the remarkable Sacagewa too, because she’s a lady we should all know a darn sight more about. To fill the third seat who better than the man, the legend, the great, David Gower. I’m sure they’d all find plenty of common ground. Cricket and exploring – perfect!

   

*Left to right : Jenny Lind, W.G Grace, David Gower and Siegfried, Tristan Farnon and James Herriot with Tricky Woo.

Frankie: Thank you both, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to chat with me today. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

George: Strawberries and cream shared with Fitz, sitting beside the lake at home on a balmy summer evening. Perfection!

Henry: With a bottle of champers?

George: At least. Maybe even two.

Henry: Sharing an ice cream cone on the prom at Brighton with George. With lots of sprinkles and raspberry sauce!

George: Everything’s better with lots of sauce.

Frankie: Perfect! Thank you, lads. It has been wonderful to chat with you today and thank you for the scones. I don’t mind that they’ve been on the floor. 😉

Meet the Authors

You have met George and Henry, now here are the two wonderful ladies who have given wings to their story.

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century.

She has written extensively for publications including HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine, Your Family History, Real Crime, Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World. Catherine has given solo talks at venues and events including the Stamford Georgian Festival, the Jane Austen Festival, Lichfield Guildhall, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and Dr Johnson’s House. In addition, she has appeared with An Evening with Jane Austen, starring Adrian Lukis, at Kenwood House, the Hurlingham Club, Godmersham Park, the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, the Jane Austen Festival, Bath, and the Stamford Georgian Festival.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found watching the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously step hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

George and Henry’s Story

The Captain and The Cricketer

When an uptight countryside vet and a sexy TV star meet on the cricket pitch, they’re both knocked for six!

Henry Fitzwalter is a solid sort of chap. A respectable rural vet and no stranger to tweed, he is the lonely inhabitant of crumbling Longley Parva Manor.

Captain George Standish-Brookes is everyone’s favorite shirtless TV historian. Heroic, handsome and well-traveled, he is coming home to the village where he grew up.

Henry and George’s teenage friendship was shattered by the theft of a cup, the prize in a hard-fought, very British game of cricket. When they resolve their differences thanks to an abandoned foal, it’s only a matter of time before idyllic Longley Parva witnesses one of its wildest romances, between a most unlikely couple of fellows.

Yet with a golf-loving American billionaire and a money-hungry banker threatening this terribly traditional little corner of Sussex, there’s more than love at stake. A comedy of cricket, coupling and criminality, with a splash of scandal!

You can pre-order their story now at Amazon.

Review – The Captain and the Cricketer (The Captivating Captains #2) by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

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FROM POPULAR GAY ROMANCE AUTHORS CATHERINE CURZON AND ELEANOR HARKSTEAD

Book two in the Captivating Captains series

When an uptight countryside vet and a sexy TV star meet on the cricket pitch, they’re both knocked for six!

Henry Fitzwalter is a solid sort of chap. A respectable rural vet and no stranger to tweed, he is the lonely inhabitant of crumbling Longley Parva Manor.

Captain George Standish-Brookes is everyone’s favorite shirtless TV historian. Heroic, handsome and well-traveled, he is coming home to the village where he grew up.

Henry and George’s teenage friendship was shattered by the theft of a cup, the prize in a hard-fought, very British game of cricket. When they resolve their differences thanks to an abandoned foal, it’s only a matter of time before idyllic Longley Parva witnesses one of its wildest romances, between a most unlikely couple of fellows.

Yet with a golf-loving American billionaire and a money-hungry banker threatening this terribly traditional little corner of Sussex, there’s more than love at stake. A comedy of cricket, coupling and criminality, with a splash of scandal!

My View

Well, this is just splendid! It has a classic English village feel to it, that makes you think of an episode of Father Brown. I am a huge fan of Curzon’s and Hartstead’s work, so I will admit that I was squealing in pure delight when I got the chance to review this glorious book. And it really is glorious, prefect reading for sitting in the sunshine, with a cuppa and a scone. 😊

This is the second book in the ‘Captivating Captains’ series and because it is so different to the previous; ‘The Captain and the Cavalry Officer’ these books are very much stand-a-lones. As ‘The Captain and the Cavalry Officer’ was set during WW1 and this is a set in a little very English village in the present day. Personally, I think it’s a stroke of genius, as it keeps the reader wondering what on earth is going to come next with these Captivating captains.

Best friends Henry and George were like two peas in a pod, always by each other’s side. They laughed and joked and played cricket together, until one summer Henry vet in training and new army recruit George played a game of cricket that changed their lives When the famous Longley Parva Cricket cup goes missing and Henry’s eyes are fixed firmly on George. This scandal destroyed their friendship and put a stop to what was clearly something developing between them. George went off to forge his Military career and Henry finished is veterinary training.

Fast forward fifteen years, and the two once friends are back together. Captain George is back from the war, he is now a huge celebratory and he is now back in the village he was born. He is back to clear his name, to find out what exactly happened to the cup and to prove to Henry that he is isn’t the rascal he thinks he is.

Whereas Henry became the vet he was destined to be and is now a stuck-in-his-ways, and lonely man with a house he can’t afford and a millionaire sniffing around on the want to cause problems to contend with. Henry has held onto that childhood bitterness toward George all these years, yet he unashamedly watch’s all his TV shows and buys his former friends books.

George may act the confident, pompous and slightly arrogant and cocky celebratory who is ever wanting the limelight, yet there another side to this gorgeous man. He hated not having Henry as a friend for all those years and I think that Henry’s opinion of George really matters to him. He is kind and gentlemanly with the perfect Officer’s bearing. George is a gorgeous, I mean, utterly breathtakingly gorgeous! No wonder Henry has always held a torch for his old friend, who can blame him falling under that green-eyed rogues, spell? And Henry, well what can I say about stiff, complex and adorable Henry? Other than, that he was a fool for letting this amazing man slip through his fingers the first time around.

I found these two to be such fascinating men, both tainted in their own way. They are both battling inner demons. They are so made for each other, both are honest and good men who deserve so much goodness. Plus, they are cheeky, fun and charismatic each in their own way!

As they face various trials everything from uncovering the missing cup mystery to trying to outsmart a villainous millionaire and overcoming prejudice. Their romance blooms and they grow closer, the old best friends re-connect, they get to know the men they are now. I particulay love the scene where Henry admits to George that he is gay, and he has always loved the handsome soldier. That really is the one of the most romantic scenes, the little looks and touches from George are not just beautiful but in those moments the atmosphere changes, it becomes charged and heated.

This isn’t just a second chance love story, there are multiple branches of the story that link together to create this beautiful, poignant and hugely satisfying story. I adore this, it has mystery, twists and a compassionate love story that touches on the prejudice that can be shown towards gay people and how that can affect the person and how they traverse their life to be happy. This is a beautifully written and charming romance that will keep the reader glued to the page as the whole story is unveiled and our adorable couple’s romance blossoms.

This a wonderful and articulated story, that sweeps you along from one scene to another at a gentle and soothing pace. A bit like a game of cricket, it is entrancing and delightful.

I can’t wait for the next Captain to march in.

Highly recommended!

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

The Captain and The Cricketer is available from 17th July and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.

Review – The Captain and The Cavalry Trooper (Captivating Captains #1) by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

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As the Great War tears Europe apart, two men from different worlds find sanctuary in each other’s arms.

Captain Robert Thorne is the fiercest officer in the regiment. Awaiting the command to go to the front, he has no time for simpering, comely lads. That’s until one summer day in 1917, when his dark, flashing eye falls upon the newest recruit at Chateau de Desgravier, a fresh-faced farmer’s boy with little experience of life and a wealth of poetry in his heart.

Trooper Jack Woodvine has a way with strong, difficult stallions, and whispers them to his gentle will. Yet even he has never tamed a creature like Captain Thorne.

With the shadow of the Great War and the scheming of enemies closer to home threatening their fleeting chance at happiness, can the captain and the cavalry trooper make it home safely? More importantly, will they see peacetime together?

This is book one in the new ‘Captivating Captains’ series, and what an introduction! I think this is set to be a powerful and addictive series and a great addition to both Ms Curzon and Ms Hartstead’s catalogue, it is astoundingly touching and beautifully portrayed. There is heartache, tender romance and danger all wrapped up in brilliant story from an era that really doesn’t get show cased enough in Historical Romance – which I don’t know why, as it was such a intriguing era that had so much going on.

On one summer day in 1917 a young trooper arrives at the Chateau de Desgravier, where a segment of the British Army is based. Trooper Jack Woodvine is a raw and inexperienced soldier having enlisted late due to a shoulder injury and so far, he’s seen very little in the war, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in his skills with horses. He can calm and soothe the most stressed and temperamental animal and in doing so can also soothe the owners. As soon as he gets to the Chateau he soon finds out that this place could just be a dangerous as being at the front.

Budding poet Jack has always thought there was something not quite ‘right’ about him, his desires don’t follow with what is expected, he has always hidden that side of himself and has never acted on his urges. Up until he had joined the army, he was always ashamed and embarrassed about his what he calls ‘unnatural desires’ and then he stepped into the Chateau de Desgravier and meets his commanding officer; the fierce, professional and charismatic Captain Thorne, who captures Jack’s attention and his imagination from the first moment he see’s him. But, surely such a fine figure of a man wouldn’t be interested in a lowly farmer’s son.

Jack is a real cutie! He is just wanting to do his bit for his country, even though he had broken his shoulder – which would have meant that he would have been exempted – he still joined. Jack is such a cute lad, he is naive of the world around him I don’t think that he thoroughly realises what is in store for him and what he would be facing. Yet he yearns to take his place amongst all the others who have taken the King’s shilling, and I respect him for that. He isn’t made for war though, but he does feel very strongly about doing the right thing. I think in a way he wants to prove himself, he wants to show that he isn’t just a farmer’s son.

Captain Thorne – Robert, is by far the most gruff and fiercest of all the officer’s, he is an experienced Captain and has seen way too much fighting. He is based at Chateau de Desgravier but he knows that it is only a matter of time before he and men at the Chateau will be deployed to the front, especially with the way the war is going and the amount of men that the army is losing on a daily basis. He really isn’t interested in anyone and finds that he isn’t in the right frame of mind to have his head turned by handsome young lad’s, that is until he meets his newest recruit.

“It’s Robert.”

Jack sighed, a laugh in his throat.

“See, I can whisper the horses and I can whisper the officers too….but I havn’t a clue what the B. stands for.”

“that’s my one remaining mystery…”

Jack is given the job as Robert’s groom, to care for his temperamental white horse; Apollo. Under Jack’s gentle and unwavering care of Apollo he starts to calm the tormented mind of the horse and in the process he and Robert begin to grow closer until they finally give into their mutual attraction for one and other. But, all does not go plain sailing for our couple, not only are they under constant threat from the war but there is danger’s lurking within the Chateau de Desgravier itself that Jack ad Robert have to overcome.

Robert is a good man he wants to do the best for his boys, if he could he would send each and everyone of them home, so they can’t be hurt by the vicious fighting. He has seen what this brutal and violent war is doing to innocent young men and he has aged ten years since it started. He has been in the trenches and at the front and that has darkened him in ways that may never see light again, it has jaded him. Meeting Jack has really brought some fun and love back into his life and light back into his dark nearly dead eyes. And in return Robert is an attentive, caring and super sensual lover.

They are such a cute couple and there are some really lovely and tender moments between them, I particulay like those quiet moments when they are just being themselves. There is a really lovely scene when they are having a quiet moment together where Jack is quietly writing a poem about Apollo while Robert is secretly drawing him. It’s so beautifully written and shows them for the tender and romantic men they are and gives them the moment of calmness before the storm as there are dangers on the horizon not just with the war but closer to home in the shape of their own comrades.

“I love you, Robert. No matter what happens, I always will.”

“Wherever we may be, I shall never love another but you.” Thornes voice trembled, just enough for Jack to sense the trepidation in him. “And I never have until I saw you.”

Jack pressed his lips to Thornes neck.

“I loved you from the moment you first smiled at me.”

There are some real characters at the Chateau, from the manipulating and bullying Quin ‘Queenie’ to the cheeky and rakish, choir boy Bryn, the mix of different personalities gives the story a sense of real life.

This is wonderful, a haunting tale of love found in the most unexpected and dangerous places between two characters, who are sensitive and courageous. Even though it is set right on the front with the war in the background, at a time where there was so much bloodshed and loss, the story is very much about Robert and Jack. It is very moving and beautifully written – not that I was surprised at that, as these two ladies are wonderful narrators. I do love The Captain and The Trooper, I will admit to being, a little biased as I already have a love for this era, but this really captures the imagination of that period but in a completely new and profound way.

I am looking forward to reading more from The Captivating Captain’s, I think this series is going to be a wonderfully moving and addictive and I can’t wait to see where we go next.

This is so good, I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical romances. Even for those that don’t usually read this genre I would highly recommend it, all I will say is put a side what you think of WW1 era romances and read this with fresh eyes, because it is fabulous and so wonderfully romantic, and I am positive you will fall head over heals for Robert and Jack. 😉

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

The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper is to be released on 3rd April and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

Chicks, Rogues and Scandals Best Books of The Year, 2017

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It’s that time of year again where I look back through the year and pick out my favourite books that I have featured on Chicks, Rogues and Scandals, it has been especially hard this time to pick my favourite’s as this year has been full of the most amazing books you can imagine. I have found new author’s that are now go to authors for their genre, new style books and series’ it has been an amazing year of reading. I have ditched my usual formula of best Hero/Heroine/Plot but I have still got a book of the Year – right at the bottom of the post. There are others books that I have loved this year, but if I kept adding books it would end up being my top 50 – I have already added more then I intended, as I only intended on doing my top ten, but there were some books that I couldn’t possibly leave off.  So, in no particular order here are my favourite Books of 2017 followed by my Book of the Year!

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14 Best Books of the Year; 2017

Echo in the Wind by Regan Walker

Echo in the Wind is a beautifully written story, its thrilling and exciting but yet the love story is so tender. Jeán Donèt really steals every scene he is featured in. He is a hero who can make any woman swoon with just a smouldering look, he is an enigmatic and suave individual who has a breath-taking Gaelic confidence and charisma. A heroine, who is not a wilting wallflower she is a vibrant and strong-willed, independent woman who has her own beliefs and views on the world and she isn’t afraid of voicing them. Together these two are a force to be reckoned with, but they compliment each other too. There isn’t anything about this that I don’t like!

The Viking Warriors Bride by Harper St George

This is so sexually charged, the chemistry between Vidar and Gwendolyn is red hot, any hotter and your eyes would smoke with just reading it, they are made of the same stuff. I love when they start getting to know each other, there is a real spark between them and the respect he shows her is sweet and uplifting. As always the writing is strong and articulated as we have come to expect from St. George. When I read an historical I like the historic detailing within the story and St George doesn’t disappoint, she has got it all spot on, everything is crystalized and explained to a high degree from the smells of our characters to the actual Viking marriage ceremony – which I found absolutely enchanting, the trading of the swords is a beautiful ritual.

Angel Comes to the Devils Keep by Regina Jeffers

This is highly enjoyable read, the romance between Angelica and Hunt simmers and sizzles nicely, Ms Jeffers has done a lovely job at building up their relationship from when Hunt gets injured right to the end, you never know in which direction their story is going to take as there is so much that stands in their way. Yet, that connection that they share, that Hunt has especially, is tender and loving and at times you are just as agonised as he is. I really like how Jeffers has mixes a romance novel with a murder, kidnapping an espionage thriller, I found it exciting, romantic and one that I highly recommend.

The Unexpected Countess by Laurie Benson

This is great read, there is the perfect amount of romance and adventure with a huge, fabulous twist that is so unexpected. The Unexpected Countess is a huge success, a thrilling jaunt with an original plot. It is just so good! Benson has really out done herself with Hart and Sarah she has done such a great job with them, especially Hart who is a seriously great man to get to know I like Benson’s work her fun and charming personality just oozes off the page. But what I particularly like about her writing is that you get a real feeling of a writer who loves what she does, she puts her heart and soul into her work, her warmth is so palpable, her work is comforting as well as thrilling which I find so rare.

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews

Now I loved this book, I do love my heroes to be trouble and vulnerable and wanting a strong women to help them back to happiness and this is just that, this is truly breath-taking and I loved every single moment of it, the plot is gorgeously written. The simplicity of the story is what gives it real back bone, there isn’t twists turns at every corner so you lose track of the initial story. The Lost Letter is a beautiful, romantic and emotionally shattering, as the writing is so well-defined that you feel every emotion and I just love it to bits. For me this is one of those books that you keep on the bookshelf for ever, you will read and re-read it and you will never tire of Sylvia and Sebastian’s love story.

Besieged and Betrothed by Jenni Fletcher

What a terrific read, I will apologise for the amount of gushing I will most likely be doing about this book, but I have so much to say about it. Jenni Fletcher has real out done herself with this, it is such a compelling and highly charged romance that grips you from that very first page where our bulking, tank of a hero spots the fiery haired, tomboy on the battlements. I was literally hooked, and I was eager to finish and yet when I did turn the last page it was a sobering moment as that was it, done. I could’ve read this again as soon as I had finished. It’s fun, witty and at times heart-breaking, and fabulously engrossing. I just love it.

The Lions Embrace by Marie Laval

The Lions Embrace follows on from Angel Heart in the last book we met Marie-Ange and Hugo Saintclair who are the parents of our hero in this one; Lucas Saintclair and oh, my word what a man! He is simply delectable! Lava’s talent at entwining history of area and the cultures and languages, with a thrilling game of cat and mouse plus the tantalizing love story is faultless. She sprinkles The Lions Embrace with her customary Gaelic charm and she enhances your reading with detailing the sights, aromas and culture of each area we visit during the book and it enhances the reading experience. You become transported to this hot, dusty and dangerous place and it is utterly exhilarating.

 The Knights Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke

I love this, this is absolutely superb! It sticks with you and gets under your skin, but in a very good way you become absorbed in their dark and dangerous world. I have read Historical Romances​ that has stuck with me long after finishing the book, but this is right up there with some of the best books I have read. It’s beautiful, heart wrenching and you get tingles while reading it. I do genuinely love this book, the plot is fast, complex and thrilling. Rhain and Helissent take you on this sensual, nerve wrecking journey as they find their feet and try to survive and move on with their lives.

The Last Gamble by Anabelle Bryant

This is the third instalment of “The Bastards of London Series” and I do think this is the best one yet. I have been really looking forward to reading this one, after meeting the dark and shadowy Luke Reece in the previous book’s he intrigued me. I wanted to know his story, his past and what in the hell his happening with his lost son and Bryant doesn’t disappoint. This series caught my attention from day one and it’s gone from strength to strength, Bryant has yet again created an entertaining, thrilling and sensuously attractive story. The thing that does set this one apart from the others has to be Luke, we have had snippets of this shadowy man’s turmoil in the previous two books “The Den of Iniquity” and “Into The Hall of Vice” and to finally get to see his story unfold and see his Happy Ever After is very satisfying

No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee

No Rest For The Wicked is apart of the “Heart of a Hero” series and it is a series I am looking forward to reading more of. The chemistry between out estranged couple is heated, the tension just ripples as well as the distrust for each other. This is fast, fun and exciting a fabulous read. I do really like this, it is smart, sexy and so well written but the more than that it makes you think. It is really lovely watching as these two get to know each other all over again and as their defences lower and they get closer and closer. They are both very reluctant to reveal their hearts, so it’s quite sweet when they finally do.

lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress by Lara Temple

This is book one in this new series; The Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies Series by the highly talented Lara Temple, and one that I have been looking forward to reading. But nothing prepared me for the huge emotion that surges through you as you read it. I know that Temple has said that this series is her baby, this is a personal story for her and you can really understand as you are reading it just how much of herself she has put into this. I have always liked her work but this really resonates with me, this touched a cord with me more than any other book I have read before, you can feel Temple’s heart and soul running through this, it is very emotional and it packs a real punch and it stays with you long after the last page.

The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham

On first meeting their highway men our ladies fall for their irresistable and roguish charm in a heartbeat, not unsurprising really! They are saved and taken to an inn where they meet the cheeky, charming Innkeeper Ed Hogan and the shy, gentlemanly Doctor James Dillingham. There is something irresistable and provoking about these two handsome Scotsmen, not to mention something very familiar, could it be that Alice and Beth may have met these two rogues before? I love this, the chemistry between both our couples is rich and sensual and very sexy, like all Historical Romance fan’s I do particularly like a good rogue and The Crown spire doesn’t disappoint, in fact we are spoilt as there are two highway men to get to know and adore. It’s going into the super market and getting a two for one deal. Curzon and Winsham have created two strong and charming heroes, that you are bound to fall for.

A Warriner to Rescue Her by Virginia Heath

Move over Heathcliffe there is a new gruff, monosyllabic, tormented hero in town in the form of Captain Jamie Warriner. Oh my word! I was warned I would love him and he has more than lived up to the hype, he really is something special. He is a proud man who after serving his country with courage facing down more horrors than any man should face he is back and he is in pain, not just physically but he is trying adjust to civilian life but like a lot of soldiers today poor Jamie is struggling. I was drawn to him the moment I met him in the previous book “A Warriner to Protect her” there is just something about this gruff but hugely sensitive man, that draws you in. Yes, he may be as stubborn as an OX – as well as built like one – but he has a good and kind heart, who needs a little love.
Proof of Virtue by Leila Snow

Ms Snow is was a new to me author and I can say this is simply stunning, there is pure and honest anguish which oozes of the page, It’s raw and immensely real to the era and really shows what life in the Victorian era was like for regular, working-class people. It’s so realistic, it’s like you are in the work house and mill alongside Emma, and you are experiencing her turmoil and suffering. It is gloriously detailed and graphic, some may think that for a historical romance it is too graphic of their suffering, but for me that is what makes an historical. This is how they should be, it has real meat on the bone. I can absolutely say for certain that Ms Snow is going to go very far in this genre, her way with language and fact is mesmerizing. If you’re like me and you like grittier, brutally honest and very real historical where the romance is hard fought for genuinely deserved, than this is the book for you.

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So Chicks, Rogues and Scandals all time Book of the Year, 2017 is…

The Captains Disgraced Lady by Catherine Tinley

Tinley has captured the mixed emotions of Waterloo war is mesmerizing. You feel the sadness and despondency of the men and the civilians. Those chapters that cover the battle are superb, the detailing of what was going on and how everyone was coping and the actual battle scenes where Harry is in hand to hand combat is brutal and engrossing. This is atmospheric and so beautifully written and from reading this, I do think Tinley has a gift for capturing those little nuances in human thought and feeling and placing on the page. I had been looking forward to this story and it was so much more than I expected, you’ve probably guessed by my gushing how much I love this book and that I cannot recommend this enough, this is a must read! If you like your charming yet fragile heroes, feisty independent heroines all brought together with a stonking good plot and tied off with some beautiful romantic scenes and moments then this is the book for you.

So there you have my favourite books of 2017, have you read any of them and if so what you think? I’d love to know what your favourite’s have been from the past year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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