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Not so much a Rake – more a Beau

My Fake Rake Book Cover My Fake Rake
(The Union of the Rakes, Book 1)
Eva Leigh
Fiction, romance, historical
HarperCollins UK, Mills and Boon
January 31, 2020
384

Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to create the perfect man, to act as her suitor, and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.

To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing—albeit fake—rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else…

Sebastian is in love with brilliant, beautiful Grace, but their bargain is complete, and she desires another. Yet when he’s faced with losing her forever, Sebastian will do whatever it takes to tell her the truth, even if it means risking his own future—and his heart.

This is a Regency Romance with a difference.
@ There is plenty of bawdy talk and swearing and sexual escapades occur.
The author does not pretend that all society young women are innocent or
inexperienced.
@ The young women are scientists.
They write papers that are published- though I am not sure how accurate
this is.
@There are mixed races married in respectable’ society. Again, I
would like some evidence.
But there are some excellent academic points made about
hypotheses. That they only stand until there is evidence that
they must change if evidence dictates it. And that our biases
influence our beliefs and how we explore the world and science.
And that people (The author says men) only value what
others possess…

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Mining in Cornwall

The Secrets Of Lord Lynford Book Cover The Secrets Of Lord Lynford
(The Cornish Dukes, Book 1)
Bronwyn Scott
Fiction, (Mills & Boon Historical)
HarperCollins UK
December 26, 2019
368

He’s destined never to marry She might change his mind... Eaton Falmage, Marquess of Lynford, is an expert at distracting himself from the painful truth which means he’ll never wed. Seducing mining widow Eliza Blaxland seems the perfect diversion. Until he learns Eliza guards her heart as fiercely as her hard-won independence. He longs for more, but that would mean confessing his secret…and risk losing her forever!

This is an historical romance but written in a very different style and subject matter.

It does however, reemphasise the issue with marriage and property ownership of the Victorian ages and before. It wasn’t until The Married Women’s Property Act 1870 that women were allowed to keep their earnings rather than hand them over to their husband or father. But this was not enough, so in 1882 The Married Women’s Property Act  was passed and now:

  • A wife could hold her own wages and investments independent from her husband.
  • A wife could inherit up to £200.00 in her own right and keep the money.
  • A wife could keep property inherited from her next of kin as long as it was not a Trust asset.
  • A wife could inherit and hold rented property.
  • Both the husband and wife could be made liable to support their children.

In 1893 an Act was passed that entitled married women the same rights to their property as unmarried – and by the way, this Act also applied to formally engaged couples. There were further Acts of Parliament in 1964 and 1970 to revise the earlier Acts and make them uptodate.

In the Novel, we have a widow who by virtue of the death of her husband and the presents he had gifted her before, had become the majority shareholder in a Mining Corporation and thus Chairman. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with many of the other men on the Board who held shares as they did want to be governed by a woman. They did not believe that women knew enough about business and that their place was in the home having babies. So a power struggle ensued. This was the time when Cornish mining reached its height, before foreign competition depressed the price of copper, and later tin, to a level that made the extraction of Cornish ore unprofitable. The areas of Cornwall around Gwennap and St Day and on the coast around Porthtowan were among the richest mining areas in the world. And copper had been mined and tin traded, in Cornwall since around 2000BC. At its height the Cornish tin mining industry had around 600 steam engines working to pump out the mines (many mines reached under the sea and some went down to great depths). This boom went on until the late1800s as lead was also discovered in these mines and around, but by 1880 the boom was failing and mines began to shut down. [Wikipedia]

In the meantime, we have our Lord who had had measles as a teenager.

It is a rare complication of measles that can cause sterility in males if there is severe testicular inflammation, although sterility is more often caused by mumps of course. So a romance between these two was an issue – firstly she was Trade; secondly she was older than him; and thirdly he believed she would want more children. And our widow was very wary about the prospect of marrying again as then she would lose control of her business and fortune and her daughter’s future.

I thought this was an interesting story told with great style and even though it lacked humour it was rich in snippets about just how the Victorian world was developing in the Sciences and investigations of the natural world. 5

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Who lives downstairs?

The Neighbours Book Cover The Neighbours
Nicola Gill
Fiction
HarperCollins UK
February 6, 2020
400

To get up from rock bottom, you’ve got to take the stairs...

Meet Ginny, 34, and Cassie, 55. Neighbours, and (very) unlikely friends.

Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she meets her downstairs neighbour…

Cassie Frost was once a beloved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the prickly woman who lives below her floorboards?

Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds collide, they realise that bad neighbours could become good friends…

This is an interesting book as it defies the commonly promulgated idea that we don't know, or care about, or neighbors in London. My personal experience is that this is not true. 
In hondon, we live in small communities, towns if you will, where, when you walk out the shop owners know you, the station staff recognise you, and you always bump into, and talk with, a neighbor. True, you need to smile and say 'Hello' first and maybe join in a community activity, of which there will be lots to choose from. 
Not so in  Commuter Land. 
I lived there for 19 years and barely knew nextdoor. 
Here in London I know lots of people & even have had drinks with
the people upstairs.
That said, this is a warm story, almost sentimental, with a young person befriending the grouchy neighbor below stairs, and as such helping her turn
her life around.

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Sailing in the Greek isles

The Greek's Surprise Christmas Bride Book Cover The Greek's Surprise Christmas Bride
(Sisters in the Spotlight, Book 1)
Lynne Graham
Fiction, Contemporary Romance
HarperCollins UK, (Mills & Boon Modern)
November 14, 2019
192

All the billionaire wants for Christmas is...a wife! Greek tycoon Leo is a businessman, not a family man. Yet becoming guardian to his orphaned nieces and nephews leads him to make the ultimate sacrifice—finding a wife! And kind-hearted Letty is the perfect bride for the job. Letty can’t let her family fall into financial ruin. A convenient Christmas wedding to Leo is the ideal solution! Until their paper-only arrangement is scorched by the heat of their unanticipated passion! Which awakens innocent Letty to the inescapable truth: she wants more from Leo than she signed up for…

Why are all Greeks Shipping Magnates? However, the description of the children is nice and overall the book was nicely written.

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Oh these Irish families

The Liar’s Daughter Book Cover The Liar’s Daughter
Claire Allan
Fiction, Psychological,
HarperCollins UK, Avon
January 23, 2020
400

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon.

But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.

As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him…

A gripping suspense novel about deadly secrets and lies. The perfect read for fans of Clare Mackintosh.

The ‘good’ man is very ill with cancer, and in his illness he is attended by his family – in good Irish fashion. He has cancer and has only months to live so they are gathered – his daughters, one by second marriage and one by the first are there to look after him. The husband and baby of the second daughter are there too as the baby is still being breast fed; and the sister arrives from England. All to say the last things they needed to him before…

But it is not a happy family.

In good traditional Irish family sagas there are dark secrets and they start to ooze out – and then he dies, and the police come calling and more emerge from the dark Irish boglands it seems. The text feels like you are wandering in a dark misty bog, where there is no solidity to your footsteps – the foreboding that there is something really wrong oozes from the book in a delightful fashion.

This is not a book to read if you want to be cheered up. This is a book that re-emphasised for me, the insidiousness of the way the Roman Catholic church offers forgiveness and sanctuary in return for a few prayers, no matter how heartfelt they are, your sins are forgiven if you only tell the priest in confession. Well I don’t believe that. It gives people too easy a way out of their deeds. And yes, our ‘good’ man had many sins to be forgiven and he thought becoming religious in his older age would help…

The style has the right quality for a book with this storyline and draws you in, and the characterisation is well done.

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