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Christmas comes again

The Duke's Desire Book Cover The Duke's Desire
12 Dukes of Christmas
by Erica Ridley
Historical Fiction ,Romance
WebMotion
Pub Date 24 Dec 2019

Meg Church adores two things: life in a village of perennial Yuletide, and the freedom of being a spinster with no reputation to protect. Oh, very well, three things: She’s harbored a secret tendre for Christmas curmudgeon Lucien le Duc since the moment she first glimpsed him. But the sexy blacksmith won’t give her the time of day, much less a night of torrid passion.
Ever since Lucien le Duc was forced to flee his beloved France during the revolution, his all-consuming goal has been to recover not only his lost land and fortune, but also his rightful place among the French aristocracy. He would never be distracted by an English dairy maid’s sultry glances… or her soul-consuming kisses… or the temptation to turn one night into forever…
The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

I always read her books as soon as I get hold of them, and then wait anxiously for the next in the series. Now this is book 8 of the 12 Dukes of Christmas.  Annoyingly the remainder of the series are available on Amazon but didn’t some out in NetGalley before Xmas.

How did she count the 12 dukes, well she included the le Duc brothers and this is the story of Luc, the last one in the village to marry or even have a serious relationship. Why? Well he was focused on going home – to France – and getting the family lands, and possibly even a title, back as the Revolution was over. He also therefore refused to speak English. And had developed a rather bad speaking accent and poor vocabulary as a result.

We have another of our feisty and unconventional heroines involved in this story – Meg. Meg was far from an innocent, although her preferred method of birth control was sponges soaked in vinegar and douches. These actually date back a long way – ancient Egyptians also used sponges with either vinegar or lemons in the belief that the acidity will kill sperm. What she didn’t know was that using vinegar could lead to the deterioration of normal vaginal flora, and can irritate the vaginal mucus. Both eventualities heighten the risk of developing infections. However, she was right to some extent, as vinegar can kill sperm, but the sponge would need to be kept inside for quite some time to ensure that no sperm are left in the vagina.

So Meg sets out to seduce Luc before he returns to France, as she has had a crush n him forever.

As always with these series, when an author says ‘I’m going to write 12 books in a very short length of time, the books are short novellas with little character or story development, and this only gets shorter as the series continues. Nonetheless, if you’ve read the previous books, you know the characters involved and the setting so it doesn’t matter so much. And Erica still has a good style of writing and I really liked her making fun of the way 19th century writers wrote torrid sex scenes…

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Meet a Blacksmith from France

The Duke's Embrace Book Cover The Duke's Embrace
12 Dukes of Christmas
by Erica Ridley
Historical Fiction , Romance
WebMotion
Pub Date 3 Dec 2019

Unpaid and under-appreciated journalist Miss Eve Shelling never goes anywhere without a trusty notebook and her overprotective Duenna—who happens to be a bullmastiff. Eve learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted. She’s definitely not falling head-over-heels for the deceptively charming subject of her front-page column. Local blacksmith Monsieur Sébastien le Duc is the pillar of his community—when he’s not pillaging elsewhere. He’s a rakish dandy with a heart of stolen gold and two teeny tiny secrets. One happens to be a wee international smuggling operation. The other involves losing his heart to an ambitious journalist determined to expose the truth at any cost… The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

Another story about Cressmouth in the series of the 12 Dukes. This time we meet Bastien another of the le Duc family.  He and his brother Luc run the Smithy for the town, the only smithy, which means that as they want to return to France and sell the smithy business, property and all apart from the cottage, the town will be without a blacksmith.

Alongside this we have an enterprising yung woman who runs the Cressmouth Chronicle. Her father claims to own it and run it, but a. He took her dowry to finance the purchase of the type and printer, and b. She does all the writing and printing work, he just OKs the content! So much for women’s property rights in this period.

So when she wants to write a juicier story than the usual ‘How wonderful Cressmouth is’ and ‘The town that celebrates Christmas’ etc etc they disagree. Especially when she wants to write about the Frenchmen running the Smithy…

And so a romance ensues.

The usual standard of writing we come to expect from Erica and nice content. Again we growl when we hear about the property rights of men versus women and how women are ‘ruled’ by the men in their family.. and find ourselves grateful that we no longer need a co-sponsor for our mortgages (I did when I was much younger) and that we can vote and run our own businesses.

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When a Duke is a Duc

The Duke's Bride
12 Dukes of Christmas
Erica Ridley
Historical fiction, Regency, Romance
WebMotion Historical Fiction ,
Pub Date 12 Nov 2019

Single father and confirmed bachelor Jack Skeffington is the mastermind behind an international smuggling ring, yet unable to control his rambunctious ten-year-old twins. What he needs is a stern, experienced, no-nonsense governess. What he gets is his business partner’s untouchable sister, whose delectable body Jack yearns to pull close.

Mademoiselle Désirée le Duc cannot wait to return to France and regain her lost vineyard. But to do so, she must repay crippling debt. Determined to buy freedom, she accepts temporary employment from an Englishman with a wicked smile and a big… wine cellar. His kisses taste like heaven and his arms feel like home. How can she choose between two families separated by the sea?

The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

Another nice story about Christmas / Cressmouth town and the characters we meet in it. We have met the French émigrés before – the 3 le Duc siblings. 2 brothers and a sister. And of course there is the town’s ‘smuggler’ / pirate / ex-privateer and supplier of good French brandy and wine from his partners.
A Privateer was an authorised pirate – that is someone who the Crown licensed to raid other ships and carry away their bounty. With a percentage of the profits going to the Crown of course to pay for the wars and the lack of taxes from the imported silks and wines that didn’t occur due to the war…
And then there was typhus. In Ireland 1816 a major epidemic of the disease produced 700,000 cases out of a population of 6,000,000. More major epidemics followed  in 1821 and 1836 and again in 1846 with the Potato Famine. It is a bacterial infection spread by parasites – and the most important form of typhus being epidemic typhus (borne by lice). Other forms are murine, or endemic, typhus (flea-borne); scrub typhus, or tsutsugamushi disease (mite-borne); and tick-borne typhus.
So another romance about a Duc rather than a Duke but pun or not it follows in the 12 stories about Dukes promised…

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Actual Dukes? Ducs?

Dukes, Actually Book Cover Dukes, Actually
by Erica Ridley
Historical Fiction , Romance
WebMotion
Pub Date 22 Oct 2019

The Duke of Azureford isn’t the arrogant, aloof lord his peers perceive him to be. Yes, he’s awkward, but he has a plan to fix it. In order to woo a respectable lady, he must learn how to flirt. The completely inappropriate girl next door would make a perfect instructor, but a terrible duchess. So why can’t he walk away? Incorrigible hoyden Miss Carole Quincy likes billiards, fast carriages, and the beautiful, buttoned-up Duke of Azureford. She’d be delighted to help him out of his shell and into her arms. Who cares if they’re just pretending to flirt? The heady, breath-taking, soul-consuming feeling inside her runaway heart surely can’t be loveThe 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!

A short xmas novella in the Xmas town, high in the mythical English mountains. where they get lots of snow, almost all year round. New England one suspects…

Cute and funny. Love a heroine who can play billiards because she knows her geometry! Not me alas, but why not? I have friends who are architects/engineers and can do all this, it was just the social customs then that made females un-emancipated.

As always a nice read.

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Mayhem but not enough Magic

Magic & Mayhem Book Cover Magic & Mayhem
by Erica Ridley
Romance , Sci Fi & Fantasy
WebMotion
Pub Date 26 Jul 2019

KISSED BY MAGIC Enjoy an Outlander-meets-Frozen romantic comedy: A treasure-hunter risks an ancient curse and ends up trapped inside an icebound castle with a medieval princess! MUST LOVE MAGICPrincess Bride-meets-Office Space romantic comedy: When a magically challenged fairy jeopardizes her apprenticeship by getting involved with a sexy mortal, it's one disaster too many. In order to earn her wings, she'll have to ditch the human–and her one chance at true love. SMITTEN BY MAGIC A former corporate raider plans to redirect his money and attention toward family and good works. Unfortunately, his attempts to make things better meet with one disaster after another. His plans disintegrate further when he runs into an angelic tourist with... wings?

Another set of 4 books, re-issued from first published, revised, edited and improved. But still not quite 4 stars.

Whilst these are romantic comedies they read like they are still early stories where the author is still learning her trade – not as sophisticated as her current novels.

Some were better than others, and they all had a good twist that didn’t rehash the standard fairy story (like Red Riding Hood or Cinderella of which there are far too many on the shelves now).

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