Set in an alternative Edwardian England, this is a comedy of manners, manor houses, and hedge mazes: including a magic-infused murder mystery and a delightful queer romance.
Young baronet Robin Blyth thought he was taking up a minor governmental post. However, he’s actually been appointed parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society. If it weren’t for this administrative error, he’d never have discovered the incredible magic underlying his world.
Cursed by mysterious attackers and plagued by visions, Robin becomes determined to drag answers from his missing predecessor – but he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey, his hostile magical-society counterpart. Unwillingly thrown together, Robin and Edwin will discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles.
The Binding meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light.
Homomisia, sexism, racism, death of a parent, murder, attempted murder, torture, kidnapping, bullying, on-page sex
Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly featurefor book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?Here are the rules:
Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
The Halifax Hellions are the most scandalous, outrageous, ungovernable ladies in London. From the day of their debut—in which Matilda smoked a cheroot and Margo tied a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue—they’ve turned the ton upside down. But when Matilda elopes with a dangerous aristocrat, Margo must stop her twin before this new misadventure becomes a permanent marriage. For help, Margo turns to her brother’s best friend—because if anyone can get them to Scotland in time, it’s starchy solicitor Henry Mortimer.
Henry Mortimer has precisely one secret in his otherwise buttoned-up life: he’s been in love with Margo for seven wonderful, agonizing years. When she turns up at his doorstep, soaked to the skin and desperate for his help, he cannot turn her down. A week alone in a carriage with the object of his desires an arm’s length away? Surely he can survive that. He hopes.
But the road to Scotland is paved with disasters—caves and crashes and the bloody rain that keeps forcing Henry to hold a damp, shivering, sinfully tempting Margo in his arms. Only an unstoppable force could drag the truth of Henry’s affection from his lips. Unfortunately for him, Margo Halifax has yet to be stopped.
Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.
Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.
Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.
The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…
This is a frothy pleasure, full of brilliant repartee and enticing wit—one that readers will find an irresistible delight.
Ada Treadway has been in love before, and it brought nothing but heartache. Still, she retains her cheerful optimism and is fiercely protective of the independence and respect she’s earned as bookkeeper of the Phoenix Club. When the owner enlists her help to organize his friend’s estate ledgers, she’s eager to prove her expertise and her worth. But his friend turns out to be a disagreeable, unpleasant beast, and Ada works to find the warm-hearted gentleman she’s sure lurks beneath.
Maximillian Hunt, the Viscount Warfield doesn’t care if he lives to see tomorrow, and he certainly doesn’t want to recall yesterday. The arrival of the meddlesome and effusively positive woman who will put his accounts in order not only reminds him of the past he’s desperate to forget, she sparks something within him he thought dead. Tempted by a future he never imagined, he must do the impossible: convince her that he’s worth risking her heart a second time.
TL;DR:Overall, while this started off strong, the romance felt a little too half-baked for me to fully enjoy it. That’s not to say that I didn’t like these characters or enjoy their story because I did, and I was actually quite convinced that this was going to be a favourite in this series, so it was quite disappointing that their romance ended up being a bit unsatisfying for me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series though as we finally get McDougal’s story!
As a refinement tutor, Mrs. Juno Langton helps young ladies develop the skills and confidence to secure an advantageous marriage. Her cheerful disposition never wavers no matter how challenging her assignment. When a house party provides an opportunity to match her difficult charge with a duke, Juno will go to any lengths to satisfy her employer and ensure the young lady’s future. Too bad the duke is an unsmiling, rigid grouch, albeit an irritatingly handsome one.
The Duke of Warrington dislikes social gatherings and despises the Marriage Mart which makes it nigh impossible to find a wife. He plans to secure his future duchess at a house party, but she’s being managed by a thoroughly meddlesome—and provocative—Mrs. Langton, who is determined to find his better nature. He’ll do anything to avoid her sunny charm and room-brightening smiles, but she’s breaking through his shell and the only way he can think to keep her quiet is to kiss her. He must marry the young lady, not desire the companion.
But now he’s rethinking his wife choices.
TL;DR:I’ve come to really enjoy Darcy Burke’s books ever since discovering her historical romances last year and The Rigid Duke was no different. It was an enjoyable grumpy/sunshine romance that’s slightly more sex than plot but was a quick and entertaining read that delivers a sweet HEA!
Every three years, like clockwork, Ruark Hannigan, Earl of Wexford loses his heart. Alas, he promised his father he wouldn’t marry until the age of thirty so that he’d be certain in his choice. When his best friend’s sister needs him to pose as a potential suitor to garner attention on the Marriage Mart, he’s the perfect candidate—if only he hadn’t kissed her in secret.
Lady Cassandra Westbrook can’t forget the incident between her and Wexford, and she’s having a devil of a time focusing on finding a husband. The fact that her father intimidates every gentleman has made her quest intolerable, and her two brothers who could help are proving completely worthless. But if she doesn’t settle on someone, her father will arrange an “acceptable” marriage by the end of the Season.
Finally, Cassandra has a chance at courtship, but, frustratingly, it’s not with the impulsive and irresistible Irishman her father detests and she desires. However, when Ruark sees the woman he passionately wants—despite his better judgment—swept into the arms of another man, the prospect of losing her becomes intolerable.
TL;DR:Intolerable was another very enjoyable addition to the Phoenix Club series! I was excited for Cass and Ruark’s story after we see a brief interaction between them in the previous book and I wasn’t disappointed by this forbidden older brother’s best friend romance! 😍 This was a sweet (although sometimes frustrating) love story between two tender-hearted characters. There was cheeky banter, sizzling chemistry and side characters you will also come to love!
When the heart is afire… By his own admission, Lord Ernest Brook is a rake. With sapphire gaze, sinfully handsome looks and a duke for a brother, the pleasures of London have come with ease…apart from one. Ever since the gauntlet of her first wintry dismissal was thrown, the widowed Hebe Lock has stirred his deepest desires, but just what would it take to woo such a woman?
Sparks will fly. Hebe Locke has vowed to never again fall for a scoundrel after her brief marriage to one left her broken and haunted. Now she finds comfort with paintbrush and canvas, but as a female artist in a male world, commissions are as rare as a ballroom without rakes.
A castle of enchantment. As the heat of late summer warms the land, an ancient, moated castle plays host to a widow and a rake, both concealing passions contrary to their reputations. But as Lord Ernest awakens Hebe’s desire and thaws her frozen emotions, can she hold true to her vow? Or can this rake win the one heart he yearns for?
Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.
TL;DR: After meeting Ernest in his brother’s story, The Duke of Diamonds, and getting a glimpse of the potential romance between him and Mrs. Locke, I had a feeling that I’d love their story and I wasn’t wrong! Who knew that a rake could be so devastatingly sweet? Honestly, if Ernest had pointedly looked at me over the top of his glasses across the table, I’d probably have swooned into my pudding too! 😂 I found the writaing just as full of wit and warmth in this book and there were some great laugh-out-loud moments as well, especially as Hebe and Ernest playfully antagonise each other at the beginning!
Although their romance isn’t necessarily different to a lot of regency romances, I loved their characters as they were easy to root for and their banter made it so entertaining to read! Hebe and Ernest both put up a front when they are in London in front of the ton but neither of those fronts is entirely true to their hidden characters, and I loved watching both of them shed those facades the longer they spend in the country and get to know each other! My heart broke for Hebe, who was in an abusive marriage until her husband’s death, but the scars run deep and have changed her into a young woman who feels like she doesn’t know herself anymore. Art is what brings her joy and what she finds comfort in so she turns her attention to that as she resolves to never open her heart to a man again, especially not to a rake.
Then enters Ernest, a dashedly handsome and deviously charming man, known by all from London to the country for his rakish ways that are regularly splashed on the gossip pages. Yet little does anyone know how Ernest longs for the wildness of the country and the connection he has to the land, animals and people there. He’s so much more down-to-earth than I expected and I loved his character more for it!
It was so satisfying to watch them come out of their shells and I loved how art played a part in that. It is their love of horses (and animals in general really) that bring them together and as Ernest watched Hebe paint them so full of life, they are able to connect through their understanding and compassion for the animal, and it is also what makes them realise that there’s more than meets the eye to either of them. There were some delightfully swoon-worthy moments as they become more vulnerable with each other, and paired with their banter and sizzling chemistry, it resulted in some great steamy scenes! 🥵
In addition to their story, there was a bonus romance between Hebe’s aunt Beatrice and Ernest’s stable master, Redmond. This sweet second-chance-romance didn’t detract from the main romance between our H/H, and though it was a little bit angsty, their connection after all these years apart was undeniable! I loved aunt Beatrice, who was such a cheerful and supportive presence in the story, so it was great to see her also get a HEA with the love of her life. Other than aunt Bea, there were other great supporting characters in this story who I found endearingly charming, quirky and witty, too. Grampy Tom was a particular favourite and I loved his ‘mysterious’ teachings relating to life and the weather and anecdotes about life.
Overall, I’m really enjoying this regency romance series and I’m looking forward to reading the next story in the series, although I have no idea when that will be (sad panda)!
Have you read The Rake of Hearts or is it on your TBR?
In the coldest flint, there is fire… Casper Brook, the eighth Duke of Rothwell, has forever spurned frivolous pleasures, his restless emotions remaining buried beneath duty and command. Yet when a titian-haired minx perches upon his ducal desk and claims to know the whereabouts of his one burning obsession, a game of wits and passion erupts…
Fire ignites from a spark… Miss Evelyn Pearce possesses naught but a frail young sister and an ebony-black cat. Left destitute by her baronet father’s spendthrift ways, fate and talent hand her the opportunity to seek escape from the dangerous alleys of London town. The cold Duke of Diamonds holds the key, and all Evelyn must do is resist his not-so-cold kiss…
A dance of flaming desire… A passion forged on secrets can never be satisfied, but as guises fall and plots unravel, will the duke’s controlled façade shatter to reveal his searching heart within? Regency romance with warmth and wit. This book contains sensual scenes.