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I want a kitten!

The Wallflower Wager Book Cover The Wallflower Wager
Girl Meets Duke
by Tessa Dare
Romance , Women's Fiction
Mills & Boon
Pub Date 13 Aug 2019

The addictive new Regency read from the New York Times bestselling author that’s perfect for fans of Georgette Heyer!

They call him the Duke of Ruin.
To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door.

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbour demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Rising to the challenge, Gabriel, who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse, is bewitched by the shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. But now she’s set her heart and mind on saving him…

Not if he ruins her first.

What if you really really don’t want to be married and are waiting out your Seasons until your parents are too bored to keep paying for them? But you would really like to keep every sad or hurt animal that you find. Especially kittens – lots of them. And will even go so far as to rescue a man!

But then your parents decide to do something about you? Send you away… because you are not really trying to get a husband are you? Or will you try?

I like this style of fiction – always have since Georgette Heyer times and these series of novels are only reminding me of her but with a small diversion towards modern times – the heroines are less missish and more feisty and not afraid to have sex with their suitors.

I am also, always a sucker for stories with cute animals and hedgehogs in pockets are the best yet.

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Is it right for a Lady?

A Debutante In Disguise
Eleanor Webster
Romance , Women's Fiction, Regency, Historical
Mills & Boon
30 May 2019

A society lady …with a secret!

Determined to help people, Letty Barton has a double life – she’s a trained doctor! No-one must know 'Dr Hatfield' is actually a woman. Called to an emergency, she comes face to face with her patient’s brother, Lord Anthony Ashcroft… They’d once shared a spark-filled flirtation – now he’s a brooding, scarred war-hero. But how long will it be before he recognises her, beneath her disguise, and the sparks begin to fly once more…?

This novel tackles yet another of the prejudices that were prevalent in Regency times – the fact that women were not permitted to become doctors.

It is good to see historical romance writers looking for more unusual, but politically and societally relevant, topics to cover within the trope. This novel was enjoyable and well written and looked at the Regency world and its constraints on how women were expected to employ themselves, especially the more gently born ones.

According to the Sicence Museum: “Women have always been central in providing medical care, whether offering remedies in the home, nursing or acting as herbalists. However, the medical profession has been male dominated for most of its history. In Europe this came about from the 1400s, when many cities and governments decided that only those trained in universities were allowed to formally practise medicine. As women were not allowed into the universities they could not gain a licence”.

[http://broughttolife.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/themes/practisingmedicine/women]

Even though there was a woman doctor – Trotula – at the earliest European medical school in Salerno, Italy, in the 800s. And then there was Dr Laura Bassi, who was  appointed Professor of Anatomy at the University of Bologna in 1732.

This novel however, is clearly based very loosely on Margaret Bulkley (1792 or 1795-1865) AKA James Barry who  masqueraded as a male doctor for 46 years,  and who was a successful British Army surgeon serving in India and Cape Town, South Africa,

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Let’s Travel?

One Night of Passion Book Cover One Night of Passion
Wicked Dukes Club
Erica Ridley
Historical Fiction , Romance
WebMotion
14 May 2019

Lifelong romantic Thaddeus Middleton is on the hunt for a wife. He hopes to find a woman more attracted to him than to money. Instead, he finds himself drawn to a spitfire who isn’t interested in him at all! At least, that’s what she says when she’s not kissing him beneath the stars...

Miss Priscilla Weatherby will inherit a fortune… provided she remains unwed and scandal-free. Easy enough, until she meets a man more dangerous than haughty lords and heartless rakes. Thad is a sweet, sexy delight, whose passionate embrace will ruin everything—including her! She’ll sacrifice anything for independence. Even love…

Meet the unforgettable men of London's most notorious tavern, The Wicked Duke. Seductively handsome, with charm and wit to spare, one night with these rakes and rogues will never be enough...

One night of passion was all she wanted – she didn’t think she needed or wanted, to get married, after all it would really interfere with her life – her requirement to remain unmarried in order to inherit a fortune. A fortune that would enable her to live well as a single female on the interest – once invested – and that would allow her to join her father and grandfather in their adventuring. But she had to behave as though she would like to get married – to attend balls and parties etc.

Erica Ridley always writes a good Regency romance and this one adds in the idea that a single female could go adventuring – if she had the money -Gertrude Bell of course is one of the most famous but she was a little later in the century. The one that really could be used as a model was Jane Elizabeth Digby (1807-1881). She managed to marry 3 times, have 5 children, and at the age of 46 married a Sheik and lived in the desert and went adventuring with him.

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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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