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When a horse is aristocratic

Ten Days with a Duke Book Cover Ten Days with a Duke
12 Dukes of Christmas
Erica Ridley
Fiction, Romance, Regency
Erica Ridley
November 13, 2020
200

From a New York Times bestselling author: a second chances, enemies-while-lovers reunion romance where nothing is as it first appears, and everyone’s motives are suspect… Olive Harper's family has been feuding with the Westons for decades. The Westons’ stud farm is the biggest, but the Harpers’ is the most famous... and she's the sole heiress. Or was, until her father brokers a truce by offering the Weston heir the Harper farm. The only way to get it back is to marry the knave who kissed her and humiliated her, twice—or prove to her father that some rifts can never be healed. Scholar and botanist Elijah Weston is dreadful at feuding. For one, he prefers horticulture to horses. For two, he's been desperately in love with his mortal enemy ever since he kissed her—and, yes, publicly destroyed her—all those years ago. When he's given ten days to win Olive's heart, he arrives with marriage license in hand. But where lies and double-crosses abound, how can lifelong rivals learn to trust their hearts? 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!

So we are back in Cressmouth aka Christmas where we have a horse ranch that that we have we have heard about before as they supply the horses that pulled the sledges up the very steep High Street; and of course Prinnie, the Prince Regent, wanted to buy Duke the amazing stallion who doesn’t like anyone to ride him – apart from one person – that is the person who nursed him through his foal- hood, who bottle fed him and who trained him. Our heroine in other words.

However as we know, in Regency times we have come across this problem before – women cannot inherit or own property  – they need a man, and so it’s necessary for our heroine to find a man. Also her father thought she should be married so that she could then own the horse farm through him, or at least that’s what he told her.

He had long ago had a major argument with his partner which had led to the horse business being split into 2;  one part in Christmas and the other part in London. He now contacted his ex-London partner to facilitate a rapprochement, and suggested that his son might marry our heroine and this is where the Story starts. There is one problem however with the London son – he’s a botanist doesn’t really like horses. He is concerned with a major avenue of research – finding a herbal remedy for when the placenta is retained in childbirth – as this leads to the mother bleeding out – as his own mother had. Of course, this does not please his father, but he continues, and is in need of money to hire the necessary scientists for his project. He thus agrees to woo the heroine in =exchange for funding from his father.

 I’ve looked into some of the plants that are mentioned here in the book to see which ones do have some medicinal impact and some of them certainly do, others are really just decorative. The first one mentioned is nelumbo nucifera also known as the sacred Lotus or Indian Lotus. It is completely edible in all its parts and may be an antidepressant or anti diabetic; the second plant mentioned is olea sylvestris which is in fact the wild olive and as we know olives are very edible indeed. There is a mention of the grass that the horses have in their pasture – phleum pratense,  this is a perennial grass and actually isn’t all that good for horses to eat when it is still green. It is sometimes called cats tail and is especially good when added to hay as it produces fibre and is good for the horses teeth as it is rather tough.

One of the things being researched into are plants that can induce Labour. Sometimes midwives will recommend castor oil or raspberry tea, or blue cohosh tea. However, there are no reliable studies to support that any of them actually work.

There are two orchids that are also mentioned, a Costa Rican orchid also called the Easter orchid –

Cattleya mossiae orchid plant care and culture | Travaldo's blog

– and an epiphytic orchid from the Asian Sub Continent which is miniature and very floriferous called vanda ampullacea.

🌿 Vanda ampullacea, formerly Ascocentrum ampullaceum - Compact Orchid  Species | eBay

This series is fun and the Dukes in question are often unexpected. In this particular book, the Duke is a horse. I always enjoy this writer and is interesting to see that she has brought into the story plants from the part of the world in which she lives – Costa Rica. Which is a wonderful plant friendly  part of the world!

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Kisses under the Mistletoe?

A Mistletoe Vow To Lord Lovell Book Cover A Mistletoe Vow To Lord Lovell
(Mills & Boon Historical)
Joanna Johnson
Fiction
HarperCollins UK
October 1, 2020
368

Will their vows last a lifetime... Not just for Christmas? Abandoned by her husband, and society because her father was a slave, Honora Blake will never rely on anyone again. Until dashing Lord Lovell breaks the news that she is a widow – and penniless – and insists she spend Christmas with him and his pregnant ward. Beneath the mistletoe, passion flares between Honora and Isaac. Then childbirth places his ward’s life in jeopardy, and these strangers suddenly face marriage to protect the baby!

Another in the Black Lives Matter and slavery theme. Set in the time period (1817) when being Black in England was unusual and not always recognised well by Society. Even when people were born free. And the ideas that brought about Abolition of Slavery were still in their infancy.

Honora came from America and had been courted for her dowry by a scoundrel – of which there were quite a few as Society men didn’t dabble in Trade or work to make a living – other than gambling of course! She existed, one can’t really say lived considering the state of it, in a house her husband had left her in, 3 years previously, with no money and no way of gaining any – her only options being to wait on her husband to deign to send her some, or for her to sell her possessions. She was far too proud to go home – even if she could afford the fare – and admit just how right her family had been about Frank Blake.

We also have the illegitimate children theme added in to this story and the need to conceal a pregnancy from Society as it would impact on future marriage possibilities let alone the difficulty of concealing the existence of the child if you were a woman and the father did t take responsibility. It was not uncommon for a rich man to require his wife to take into her family the offspring of his lovers – as long it wasn’t too many! It was easy enough to isolate yourself in the country if you were married, for a few months after a discrete bit of padding to enhance the lie…

A nice story line bringing out some of the social issues of the time. And a promise to kiss under the mistletoe…

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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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And the fairytale retold?

From Cinderella To Countess Book Cover From Cinderella To Countess
(Mills & Boon Historical)
Annie Burrows
Fiction, Historical, Romance
HarperCollins UK
May 28, 2020
368

From Cinderella in the shadows To Countess in the spotlight?

Lady’s companion Eleanor Mitcham longs to escape her unhappy life. Having been told she’s too lowly to speak to Lord Lavenham, Eleanor defiantly accepts his challenge to teach her employer a lesson—by marrying him! He is an eligible earl after all! However, his determinedly cynical view of marriage makes her dissolve their convenient betrothal and flee—leaving the drama of the household behind and Lord Lavenham hot on her heels!

A sweet and sappy romance that lifts the spirit with its daft dowager who has servants who adore her.

And a naive beyond belief heroine, and the cynical hero – who recognised the truth of most of society’s  marriages – that they are purely for gain – wealth or land ,and that after the production of the heir and spare, the two ‘combatants’ need rarely see each other and can continue with their own amusements.

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And Who’s your Father?

A Duke's Daughter
Kathleen Buckley
Historical Fiction | Romance
The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Pub Date 28 Apr 2020

Can a duke be thrown into debtor's prison? If so, Emily, dependent on her cousin, the heir to her father's impoverished dukedom, wonders what will become of her? With great reluctance, she agrees to marry a man willing to pay for an aristocratic bride. 

Rejected by the woman he loves, Ambrose Hawkins, shipper, importer, and former pirate, settles for a female who can further his social ambitions. His marriage to Emily is prospering until a man who blames Hawkins for the failure of his own courtship is murdered. Hawkins is the obvious suspect… 

 

…and the obvious suspect usually hangs. 

This is a competent story of Beauty and the Beast – here identified as a refined Duke’s Daughter and a rough shipowner and businessman, but it lacks any real spark.

For me, the characters seemed 2 dimensional with little depth. I also dislike women who knuckle under to stereotypes. The girl seemed particularly wishy washy at the beginning.

The story idea was reasonable, if not new, but needed to be better situated historically to give validity to the shipping, politics, coffee houses and fashions at the very least.

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