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Go for a jaunt

The Rake's Enticing Proposal Book Cover The Rake's Enticing Proposal
Lara Temple
Romance , Women's Fiction
Mills and Boon
Pub Date 27 Jun 2019

The rake has a proposition… Will she accept? Part of The Sinful Sinclairs. When globe-trotting Charles Sinclair arrives at Huxley Manor to sort out his late cousin’s affairs, he meets practical Eleanor Walsh. He can’t shake the feeling that behind her responsibility to clear her family’s debt, Eleanor longs to escape her staid life. Chase can offer her an exciting adventure in Egypt… But that all depends on her response to his shocking proposal!

A really nice long read with lots of interesting titbits about how the British Museum acquired its collections – especially the Egyptian items…

There were good character portrayals with their thoughts and emotions well documented from both male and female perspectives and characters.

Clear writing style with good grammar.

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Strange inheritance

A Magical Inheritance Book Cover A Magical Inheritance
#1 (Ladies Occult Society)
Krista D Ball
Independently Published
28/5/19

Miss Elizabeth Knight received an unexpected legacy upon her uncle’s death: a collection of occult books. When one of the books begins talking to her, she discovers an entire world of female occultist history opened to her—a legacy the Royal Occult Society had purposely hidden from the world.However, the magic allowing the book to speak to Miss Knight is fading and she must gather a group of female acquaintances of various talents. Together, they’ll need to work to overcome social pressures, ambitious men, and tyrannical parents, all to bring Mrs. Egerton, the book ghost, back.

A really interesting book. I enjoyed the language used and storyline, and it had some excellent points made about the role of women in society at that time in our history. It is not a Regency romance. It is not light and frothy but serious in its discussions of family, marriage, education and inheritance in 1810. Not to mention men’s attitudes towards women and their very small heads that don’t contain enough brain power to be able understand Latin and Greek, riddles, puzzles, mathematics (other than household accounts),  let alone the Occult.

Now the Occult here is a type of magic, it combines supernatural, paranormal, spells and herbs and ghosts.

The novel tells us a lot about being frugal and what it really meant – wearing fabrics until the patterns fade and dresses until the seams fall apart, upon which time, the material is re-used for a child’s dress or a lining or…

I also like the idea of invalid food that was common – I wonder what our invalids would say if we fed them boiled turnips with a little butter, and bread soaked in the liquor left after boiling salt beef for hours.

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And the scandal was the price of bread..

One Night of Scandal Book Cover One Night of Scandal
Wicked Dukes Club
Darcy Burke
historical fiction, Regency, romance
Darcy Burke Publishing
28 May 2019

Jack Barrett is an ambitious member of parliament with no time or desire for a wife. When he catches the Duke of Eastleigh’s sister sneaking inside one of London’s private gentlemen’s clubs, he’s shocked—and dangerously charmed—and assumes the role of protector, only to discover she has the means to destroy him. Social pariah Lady Viola Fairfax masquerades as a man to pen a column in a popular women’s magazine. When she stumbles upon a brewing scandal that implicates a prominent MP, she seizes the chance to establish herself as a real journalist. However, the infuriating and intoxicating man may not be the radical he’s purported to be, and the more time they spend together, the more she risks the one thing she’s sworn never to do: fall in love.

Whilst this is a typical Regency romance in the normal trope – there is an extra fillip to this novel that I particularly liked. It made the central storyline relate to the political unrest at this time.

This was a time of rebellions on the Continent and also minor rebellions and lots of unrest at home in the UK.

The story talks about the lack of female and universal suffrage and the people who were agitating for the latter – the former had not yet crossed the men’s minds.. nor that on marriage a woman lost all right to property and money, not to mention her body.

On 28 January, 1817: Henry Bankes records that the Prince Regent’s coach was attacked as he returned after opening a new session of Parliament [https://dcc.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/bankes-archive/attack-on-the-prince-regent/]. It was never clear whether it was a bullet or bullets shot, or stones that were thrown at the coach, but it certainly worried the Govt of the time. This was period when the Tories were in power (as opposed to the Whigs) and who were predominately made up of  the aristocracy and those who were more right wing in political leanings – Whig was a term applied to horse thieves and, later, to Scottish Presbyterians; it connoted nonconformity and rebellion, whereas Tory was an Irish term suggesting a papist outlaw – so both were originally terms of abuse, that were later taken on board as ways of defining political leanings. [https://www.britannica.com/topic/Whig-Party-England]. Some politicians had hereditary boroughs to represent whereby one family held the seat for many years, some MPs represented what were known as Rotten Boroughs as they were in the ‘gift’ of a peer and rarely had many voters, and thus the MP had little to no work but still received his pay.

It was during this time that there was a great deal of unrest caused by poverty for instance the Bread Riots of 1800 and 1801 caused by a lack of bread for the poorer classes; lack of universal suffrage; and of course a number of philosophers – or writers of political treatises were being printed and widely circulated. Tom Paine was one such writer and his book, the Rights of Man was considered highly treasonable. [https://spartacus-educational.com/PRspencean.htm]

In response, the Govt decided that Habeas Corpus – ‘bring me the body’ – that was a Common law writ used when it was thought that a prisoner had been unlawfully imprisoned without trial and sentence, and which was generally used to require the prisoner to be brought to trial, was suspended in 1794.  Of course, if you don’t have any real evidence but just suspicions that this person is a rebel or is undertaking treasonable acts, then you don’t want to have to produce him.

By the early 1800s Thomas Spence had established himself as the unofficial leader of those Radicals who advocated revolution and similarly to current revolutionary cells, there was no central organisation, merely local groups which were autonomous. There was an argument that “if all the land in Britain was shared out equally, there would be enough to give every man, woman and child seven acres each”. The group of people who followed Thomas Spence were known as Spenceans. Whilst many who advocated reform at this time were peaceful, others were not and by 1820 a number of violent events had been planned – all were foiled by the use of police spies.

All this political unrest and the use of Govt spies provides a nice ‘spindle’ from which this story can be spun.

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Night-time is when you…..

One Night of Surrender Book Cover One Night of Surrender
(Wicked Dukes Club Book 2)
Darcy Burke
historical romance, Regency
Darcy Burke Publishing
30 Apr 2019

After one passionate night a decade ago, Valentine Fairfax, Duke of Eastleigh, never forgot Isabelle, the intelligent, witty and forbidden daughter of a head of college at Oxford. However, since suffering a disastrous marriage to an unfaithful wife, the duke has vowed never to succumb to temptation again. Until the day he discovers his friend’s governess is the one woman who still haunts his dreams.

Once penniless, Isabelle Cortland has finally saved enough money to finance a school for impoverished girls. But when a chance encounter rekindles buried desires, Isabelle knows she can’t be a duke’s mistress and a headmistress at the same time. No longer a naïve girl, Isabelle won’t repeat the past. Not even for one night of surrender...

A series in conjunction with Erica Ridley (an author I have read extensively, and thus was comparing) about certain ‘Wicked’ Dukes, their friends, and their romances.

An enjoyable tale, written competently but I found it too short for me. It could easily have been several pages longer in my opinion and then a more complex story could have been told. Whilst following the usual trope of ups and downs of a romance that we expect I was not sure that this book has quite the story-telling sophistication that for me is needed when re-telling Regency romances for the modern day. However, I’m more than happy to try another novel by this author. It is often awkward when joining in a series written by another author.

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Be a painter… have some debt!

Mrs Whistler Book Cover Mrs Whistler
Matthew Plampin
Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
03 May 2018

Chelsea, 1876

Struggling artist Jimmy Whistler is at war with his patron. Denied full payment, he and muse Maud Franklin face ruin.

As Jimmy’s enemies mount, he resolves to sue a famous critic for libel, in a last-ditch attempt to ward off the bailiffs. Although she has no position in society, Maud is expected to do her part. But Maud has a secret that forces her to choose between art and love.

Mrs Whistler is a dazzling glimpse inside a world of passion, art and power.

A nice blend of reality plus imagination – as the author himself admits, the exact circumstances cannot be known as there were no diaries, and ‘Mrs’ Whistler herself and her actions and feelings were never documented at the time.

It seems clear that Whistler was not only a braggart but also naive and always thought that either people were his friends or his enemies and never considered that some may have had dubious reasons for being his friend – see Howell. And were so many of his paintings really destroyed? If so, it was a real shame. But his classic painting of his mother is still to be viewed.

Personally though I cannot agree with his reaction to Burne-Jones having seen a recent exhibition of his work where it demonstrates just how good he was, and how multi-talented, despite his later somewhat fanciful works of angels etc.

I am great fan of Whistler’s moody paintings where the items are barely distinguishable – the low light and almost monochromatic effect are wonderful.

I surprised myself by enjoying the book, but then I like (almost) all the Pre-Raphaelite painting/painters and found this an interesting exposition of just how they lived – so many debts – yet so much entertaining, and the fostering of children was heart-rending to read about.

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