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The Duke Smiles

Joy to the Duke Book Cover Joy to the Duke
(Love is All Around Book 3)
Darcy Burke
Historical Romance
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date 12 Nov 2019

Denied the woman of his dreams by his father’s meddling, Calder Stafford, has spent the last decade proving himself to be self-sufficient, austere, and utterly uninterested in joy. Now that he is the Duke of Hartwell, he’ll enact his revenge by abolishing the holiday traditions his father loved so well. His sisters will not sway him and neither will the woman—newly returned to town—who was stolen from him.

Returning to Hartwell to care for her mother, widow Felicity Garland is delighted to be back home, especially for the holidays. However, the jolly festivities she expects are nowhere to be found. When she goes to the source of the problem—the duke—she’s astonished to see how much the young man she once loved has hardened. It’s up to her to break through the impenetrable fortress around his heart—not just to save Christmas, but to save him.

As always a nice read from Darcy. We follow up Mr Grump from the previous novels and his love life and what happened with him and his father.

The storyline continues with orphans and women who need homes due to missing husbands for whatever reason and we have a type of Dickens Xmas novel without the ghosts of Christmas Past but lots of Actions of Father’s Past to replace it.

This book really just rounds up the story lines from the previous novels in the series without any more social commentary of the era – except a side of doctors bleeding people when they are very ill which really did no good at all. Doctors were basically, mostly, incompetent and a transmitter of diseases.

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Beware Family History

A Perfect Cornish Christmas Book Cover A Perfect Cornish Christmas
Porthmellow
by Phillipa Ashley
Romance , Women's Fiction
Avon Books
31st October 2019

But after last Christmas revealed a shocking family secret, Scarlett’s hardly feeling merry and bright. All she wants this Christmas is to know who her real father is.

So Scarlett heads to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further.

Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival … But can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year, or are there more surprises on the way?

Thank goodness, a Cornish novel where it rains, it storms, gales do blow and overall the weather isn’t brilliant every day!

An interesting and complex small town set of characters inhabit this novel, with plenty of gossip and rows and misunderstandings. The only missing character was Aunt Joan - she deserves her own novel!

So we have people behaving badly, parties in the 190s fuelled by alcohol and wacky baccky, and the resultant secrets that finally come out. Plus PTSD, bad fiancés, fiancées,  university crushes and lots more. Real people, suffering real emotional traumas.

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Gifts keep coming

The Gift of the Marquess Book Cover The Gift of the Marquess
by Darcy Burke
Romance Historical
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date 15 Oct 2019

The Marchioness of Darlington wants nothing more than a houseful of children, but after three years of marriage Poppy has given up hope. When she learns her husband doesn’t share her sense of loss, Poppy tries to soothe her aching heart by helping at a local institution for single women and mothers. But the arrival of an expectant mother only reignites her longing, driving the wedge between her and Gabriel deeper. After losing his mother and sister in childbirth, Gabriel, the Marquess of Darlington, is secretly glad his wife hasn’t been able to conceive. He can’t bear the thought of losing her, not even to achieve their dream of having a family. Desperate to prove his love, Gabriel makes a shocking proposition. It’s a risk, but if he can overcome Poppy’s fears and hesitation, he can give her what she wants most for Christmas. From the USA Today bestselling author of The Untouchables comes a Christmas Regency series! Don't miss these holiday classics retold with love, passion, and heart. Book One: The Red Hot Earl Book Two: The Gift of the Marquess Book Three: Joy to the Duke

As always Darcy has managed to add in a social commentary to her Historical Romance series of novels.

In this book we consider the issues of illegitimacy; rape by aristocracy of housemaids and the inability of the maids to bring them to justice; poor laws and the dreadful houses for single women with children that separated them and failed to provide a means to earning a living; sterility when you need an heir and spare for the title; and finally childbirth and the dreadful rates of deaths in childbirth and of babies.

There were 3 main causes of childbirth death up till the 20th century.

1. Puerperal fever or Pyrexia – which was carried by doctors and midwives on their hands and clothes from one patient to anther due to lack of washing, disinfecting etc.

2. Placenta previa or separation of the placenta and thus haemorrhages.  If the uterus failed to contract after birth or there was some trauma, all of these could cause blood loss which they were unable to stop and of course, there were o transfusions then.

3. Eclampsia or pre-eclampsia.

In all, there were up to 25 deaths in childbirth for every 1000. And still births were not recorded so we have no knowledge of just how many babies were born and not named. It was the custom for many families not to name the child until it had lived for a week or even a month. And thus a death would not be officially recorded.

It was no wonder then, that people feared childbirth… I know I would have died in childbirth if I had lived then and so would my son.

All the above not withstanding, it was a well crafted story with a nice romance and good story-telling. I enjoy her books and they do tend to make me think about the social inequalities and other social issues, which is a good thing, and makes these stories just that little bit more.

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How to get a Princess

The Princess Plan Book Cover The Princess Plan
A Royal Wedding, Book 1
Julia London
Fiction, Historical Romance, Victorian Mystery
HarperCollins UK
November 19, 2019
400

Passion. Intrigue. Love. “This is a perfect historical romance” – Sunday Times Bestselling Author Sarah Morgan “The gorgeous characters and the wit and charm made this a book I simply didn’t want to put down. I was willing Eliza and Sebastian on to their fairytale happy ending!” – Nicola Cornick

London’s high society loves nothing more than a scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip off about the crime, forcing Sebastian to ask for her help in his quest to find his friend’s killer.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more dangerous than a prince socialising with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And soon, as temptation becomes harder to ignore, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.

Well, what can we say about this book? Very different from any other historical book and I love the Gazette – and the chaotic household of the Judge and the sisters, and all their escapades.

Of course, there is also a Prince and a Trade Deal, else how would there be a Princess? But a Prince can’t marry a Commoner especially one that has been outed as in Society as being deceived badly by the man she thought was her fiancée. But they didn’t quite know just how far she had gone with her fiancée or matters would have been even worse.

Eliza has a strange habit for women of that period – she repairs clocks. Which is a very fiddly task indeed and she has courage and a certain amount of bravado as she believes she is no longer a marriage prospect which enables her to be rather more cavalier about her behaviour.

I liked these sisters and I am sure that there will be more books about them, but starting with Eliza was good. Nicely written with lots of plots and some twists and fun. And some reality as to how people would have really lived if they were middle-class rather than society

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A Rabbi as Paladin

For Whom the Shofar Blows Book Cover For Whom the Shofar Blows
Rabbi Ben 1,2,3
Marvin J Wolf
thrillers , mysteries, religious
Rambam Press; 2 edition
October 1, 2013
358

Rabbi Ben, hero of For Whom the Shofar Blows and A Scribe Dies in Brooklyn, is back. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—newly-engaged, Ben is in Pittsburgh for a medical procedure when he passes out in the street. He comes to in the home of Abby Silverblatt—the older sister of his ninth-grade girlfriend. Ben had saved her son from being attacked by school bullies. Invited to services at the Sanoker Shul, Abby’s tiny synagogue, Ben is asked to give a guest sermon—their Rabbi Geltkern, has disappeared. Abby’s wife Yolanda, a Pittsburgh cop, along with Abby and Stan Bernstein (who helps run the shul) ask Ben to look into Geltkern’s disappearance. Oh, and could he fill in for their rabbi while he’s at it? Ben just wants to take it easy, but how can he say no? Sifting through the clues of Geltkern’s disappearance, Ben discovers unusual goings-on at the synagogue. Papers are missing, a mysterious motion-detection camera alerts someone on the outside when the building is occupied, and an intruder visits the premises. When Bernstein is found dead in his office, his files stripped bare, Ben knows he’s touched a nerve. The more Ben uncovers, the less it makes sense—until he begins to suspect that perhaps Geltkern isn’t really a rabbi. Using Talmudic logic, Ben pieces together the puzzle, and comes up with millions of reasons why someone would want him out of the picture. With the help of a bowling alley’s oversexed accountant looking to score a strike with our red-haired hero, Ben unravels an elaborate plot that goes back to Sanok, Poland on the eve of World War II, and beyond. It is a far, far better thing that he does, than he has ever done.

A review for the 3 books currently in the series. When will book 4 be published please?

For Whom the Shofar Blows (1)

A Scribe Dies in Brooklyn (2)

A Tale of Two Rabbis (3)

I enjoyed reading M-9 so much that I checked the author out. Marvin J Wolf has also written real crime and other non-fiction, but I found a really enjoyable 3 book series (so far) about Rabbi Ben the Rabbi without a Schul but acting as a Paladin, as he puts it. This being a trouble shooter for various Rabbis and their Congregations in and around America.

I would put these 3 as 4.5 stars. The first 2 better than the 3rd but still very good reading. Some extremely interesting points about the way the Jewish religion is practiced in the US – more reform – (I was brought up Orthodox), especially the fact that women were permitted to handle the Torah and read even if not an official Reform Synagogue, but yet with some religious things that I was not aware of.   But then I’m not a Rabbi! So helpful for those who want to know more about the Jewish faith – I particularly liked the explanation that Jewish people don’t need Confession and Atonement , as life is all about doing good and atoning for doing wrong immediately – helping others through deeds and living a ‘good’ life.

I am waiting for book 4 to come out – clearly the author has ideas on what it is to be like but has got side-tracked into writing M-9 etc etc.

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