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A spinster and a spitfire

A Duke Will Never Do by Darcy Burke Darcy Burke Publishing Romance Pub Date 19 May 2020 Book Cover A Duke Will Never Do by Darcy Burke Darcy Burke Publishing Romance Pub Date 19 May 2020

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Untouchables series comes your next Regency obsession: The Spitfire Society... Meet the smart, independent women who’ve decided they don’t need Society’s rules, their families’ expectations, or, most importantly, a husband. But just because they don’t need a man doesn’t mean they might not want one.

After failing on the Marriage Mart, Jane Pemberton has two choices: submit to her parents’ edict to marry their boring neighbor or become a self-declared spinster and take up residence in the official headquarters of the Spitfire Society. It’s really no choice at all, and Jane is eager to embrace her newfound independence. She soon finds an unconscious viscount on her doorstep and nurses him back to health. When he offers to compensate her, she requests payment in the form of private instruction of a scandalous and intimate kind.

Having spiraled into a self-destructive abyss following the murder of his parents, Anthony, Viscount Colton, physically recovers under the care of an alluring spitfire. But it is her charm and flirtatiousness that soothes his soul and arouses his desire—until an extortion scheme forces him to face the sins of his past. Now, to save the woman who’s given him everything he lost and more, he’ll have to pay the ultimate price: his heart.

So once upon a Regency period, when a young girl fails to attract a suitor in the marriage mart before she become an old maid – usually around 21 years of age – she has to become an unpaid servant somewhere. To her family – her elderly parents, an ancient aunt as a companion, an extra nanny to her siblings’ children or similar.

And if you had the money yourself, which was very unusual, you could set up home with a companion yourself.

But young girls of 21 or even older women, seldom had their own money and so were dependant on others. So if you hadn’t got a husband and didn’t want to become an unpaid servant, what were you to do?

Luckily, for our young heroine, she knew someone who not only had money but also a spare house she could lend her to live in, and enough to spare her some money to maintain it and buy the necessaries and some fripperies.

So Jane refuses to marry the ‘last resort’ husband of her parents’ choice and sets up home as a spinster in the HQ of what was now he Spitfires Society. A society for women who wanted more than what was customary for themselves.

Hey wanted independence of thought and action and not necessarily an husband.

Jane is a nice young lady, nicer than her reputation appears – a scandal had been attached to her about which she had no inkling. And she takes pity on a rake because of her niceness and starts his reformation – very rockily.  A nice story but not with quite the oomph that I expect of Darcy, and little that’s new in discussion of society and customs that

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Meddling Mamas

All You Need is a Duke Book Cover All You Need is a Duke
Duke Hunters Club #1
Bianca Blythe
Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op

When Margaret Carberry’s mother drags her upstairs at a ball, Margaret does not expect her mother to tie her to the bed and lock the door. Unfortunately, Margaret’s mother has taken it upon herself to declare Margaret compromised—whether or not Margaret wants to resort to such tactics to snare a husband. Jasper Tierney, the Duke of Jevington, is surprised to encounter a half-clothed woman sprawled upon his bed. He is even more shocked to discover her identity. Margaret Carberry is renowned as an incorrigible wallflower, not a seductress, no matter how appealing her bare flesh is against his bedding. When Margaret declares she won’t go along with her mother’s scheme and will find a husband on her own, Jasper vows to assist her, lest Margaret’s mother concoct another method to arrange a compromising situation. Jasper is certain of one thing: he has no desire to marry. As Jasper works to match Margaret to a fellow duke, the prospect of a forced marriage with her lacks its earlier loathsomeness. Perhaps he missed his chance for true bliss.

This was a really fun book to read – the combination of a wallflower and an incredibly determined mother who wants to climb the social ranks with a Duke for her daughter gives lots of great humorous moments in this story.

Margaret is a lot more courageous than she originally thought and jumping of of the window – well..

I like this series start and will certainly read more of them. The houseparty was a good idea too even though it didn’t really work for the Duke in the way he wanted it to. But this means we have several more Dukes to find out about their romances and have been introduced to them in preparation for the rest of the series..

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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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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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