Nathaniel Stokes became the Earl of Westfall when his cousin fell out of a boat in the Lake District and drowned. Before he was an earl, he was plain Nate Stokes, one of Wellington’s most trusted spies, and he still can’t seem to settle down and be a staid aristocrat. So no one will look to closely at him, or ponder why he was absent for so much of the war on the Peninsula, he cultivates a clumsy and bookish persona, wears fake spectacles and walks with a limp. He likes finding lost and stolen trinkets and artworks for his fellow peers, and is intrigued when the Marquis of Ebberling comes to him to find a governess that fled his home three years ago, who stole from him, and may have killed his wife. He’s offering an obscene amount of money to get the job done quickly, and Nate likes the challenge of finding someone who disappeared without a trace so long ago.
Emily Portsman, as the girl is now known, found refuge at the scandalous Tantalus Club, a gambling establishment staffed entirely by well-born and educated young ladies, run by Lady Haybury, the heroine of A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes (and the first book in this series). She’s not left the club for three years, for fear of Ebberling finding her. Twice a week, she has to dye her hair brown, and while she invites the occasional gentleman up to her rooms, she tries to stay unnoticed as much as possible. So when she overhears Nate at lunch, talking to his younger brother about locating a thief among the staff at the club, all her paranoia returns in full. Believing him to be a befuddled scholar, she invites him to her room to seduce his mission out of him, not realizing that she’s playing straight into Nate’s hands. As the two become closer, Nate becomes more and more convinced that Ebberling left several key points out of his tale, and that Emily is not the ruthless murderer he’s been sent to find, at all. But how can they prove her innocence, against the word of a rich and powerful peer of the realm?
Charles de Lacey had a massive falling out with his father, the Duke of Durham, because when he was 22, Charlie wanted to marry a penniless girl of unsuitable family, and his father made sure the marriage never happened. Now Charlie’s father is dead, and he discovers that the late duke also had a youthful indiscretion, but that said impulsive marriage may cost Charles his title as duke, and make him and his younger brothers illegitimate. While his two brothers initially started trying to sort out the whole scandal, one through legal means and the other by tracking down the blackmailer, they’ve both gone and fallen madly in love with their new wives, demanding that Charlie himself save the ducal title, his estates and their fortunes.
Gerard de Lacey may be declared illegitimate because of a clandestine marriage his father, the recently deceased Duke of Durham, entered into in his youth, before he married Gerard’s mother. A year before his death, the Duke started receiving letters blackmailing him. Now the London gossips won’t stop talking about the “Durham Dilemma”, his brother Edward is busy trying to prove their legitimacy through legal means, and his older brother Charlie, the heir, is mainly staying far away from the whole business. Gerard thinks the best way of solving the situation is tracking down the blackmailer. He also plans on finding himself a rich wife as soon as possible, so that he can secure his future, even if the scandal is not resolved in the de Lacey brothers’ favour.
First of all, I have no idea what the heck is going on with the cover of this one. God knows what she’s actually doing, my husband has several theories, but all of them pretty much qualify in the NSFW category, so we’ll just leave it at that. Covers like these make me so very happy that I have an e-reader, because while I’m really not at all ashamed to admit that I enjoy romance novels, and read a lot of them, this is just not a cover I would want to display while on public transport on my way to work and back every day.
Lord Edward de Lacey is second of the Duke of Durham’s three sons. On the Duke’s deathbed, he confesses to Edward, and his youngest son, Gerard (the heir to the title is a wastrel and a rake who apparently had a massive falling out with his dad, and doesn’t show up in time for the passing of his father) that he has a rather inconvenient secret he’s been keeping. In his youth, before he became a Duke, he married a woman in secret, and never really made sure the marriage was dissolved or checked whether said woman was dead before he married his sons’ mother. He’s been receiving threatening notes that suggest someone knows about this, and the three young lords will need to figure out what actually happened, or their entire inheritance is at stake. More on my blog.
An open letter to Anya Wylde author of Penelope (A Madcap Regency Romance)
Dear Ms. Wylde:
Sincere congratulations on completing and publishing your second novel. It is indeed a great achievement and one which I certainly cannot claim; however, I have read a very, very many historical romances, so if it is true that novels are never finished only abandoned, I have some notes for you. If you have moved on, they might help with your next effort.
1. The writing itself is perfectly serviceable. The plotting, characters, tone, and editing are problematic.
2. The bit with “Are you thinking about your grandmother?” was very clever.
3. The heroine, Penelope, arrives at the Duke’s London residence with a PET GOAT. She may be a bumpkin with no filter, but this is patently ridiculous. It is neither endearing, nor whimsical. It is malodorous and incontinent. Why not a puppy? It could grow up, calm down, and, this is the important part, be house-trained.
4. The reader is given two random and extremely brief scenes of Penelope’s dead mother in heaven looking down on her between rounds of tossing her halo for wolfhounds to fetch. Sure. Why? Give a dog to Penelope and kill the dead mother (and the damn goat).
I’ve been feeling pretty depressed this year so I’ve been cheering myself up by reading romance novels. I’m up to book 11 in CBR V but I’ve only managed to review 4. I’m actually pretty embarrassed by what I’ve read this year, but since I couldn’t manage a quarter cannonball last time, I’ll take everything I can get.
Yes, I know. The title is ridiculous. There seems to be a trend in current historical romance, in particular the ones published by Avon, to have silly, punny titles. I mentioned it to my husband, who coined an absolute gem of a “so bad it’s good” title, and I’m hereby claiming it as my own, as it appears no one has yet to write a novel entitled Earls Just Want to Have Fun. That one’s mine, bitches. When I finally tire of teaching and decide to become the first Norwegian famous for Regency romance novels, that shall be my debut novel.
Lady Philippa “Pippa” Marbury is decidedly odd by society’s standards, and has known it her entire life. She’s more interested in horticulture, anatomy, physics and mathematics than gossip, fashion, balls and fancy dresses. She wears spectacles. In two weeks, she’s about to marry in a lavish double ceremony with her vibrant younger sister, to a man who’s perfectly nice, and more importantly, is the only one who ever thought to propose to her. As Pippa has always believed in doing thorough research and that this is the way to prepare for everything, she is in need of a research partner who can help her figure out the more puzzling aspect of married life.