The Wicked Wallflower by Maya Rodale

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Lady Emma Avery is in quite a predicament-since her debut into society, she has very little to show for herself by way of marriage prospects-the one man who has shown her attention would love to settle down with her, but he needs to marry a lady with a dowry or his family will be ruined…And Lady Emma Avery hasn’t a penny to her name. One night, while drinking too much sherry, her lady friends come up with a scheme that will be sure to have her married by the end of the season…All she has to do is announce her engagement to a man who doesn’t even know she exists-the bachelor of the year, the womanizing Duke of Ashbrooke.

Little does Emma know, their little joke is about to have a domino effect-and the Duke of Ashbrooke may just need something Lady Avery can provide…But can they both maintain a “professional” relationship as they pull off their little ruse, or will they be overtaken by the temptation of one another and lose everything they know?

This novel is, obviously, the genre I refer to as “bodice-rippers” and is full of stolen kisses and impassioned arguments leading up to passionate lovemaking and inevitable happy ending..So if that sounds like something you like, be sure to pick up The Wicked Wallflower and give it a shot. Maya Rodale is one of my favorite authors in this genre, she adds a humor that many authors fail to integrate and you will be giggling throughout the entire novel.

Sins of a Wicked Princess by Anna Randol

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The third installment in The Sinners Trio series, by Anna Randol, is here. You may remember the preceding novels,  Sins of a Virgin and Sins of a Ruthless Rogue-Sins of a Wicked Princess is about the exiled Princess Juliana who is determined to get her country, Lenoria, back, after her castle was burned in a rebellion. She calls upon someone she knows who possesses a certain skill set to help her get the documentation she needs to regain control over her lands….She calls upon a spy, the famous man known in the underground as Wraith.

Ian Maddox has one goal, to ensure the safety of himself and his friends from an unknown threat. When he is summoned by the Princess of Lenoria he has no intention of assisting her in whatever petty problem she may have…But he quickly learns that her troubles may be woven into her own somehow, and decides to join forces with the girl and face the enemy together…Besides, she’s terribly attractive, especially when provoked to annoyance….

This is a mystery/historical romance that will satisfy anyone who loves bodice-rippers, so if you need a fix, buy Sins of a Wicked Princess. After a long week, everyone needs a guilty pleasure….

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

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Lady Elizabeth wants what every young woman wants…A little independence, a purpose in life, and maybe, if she’s lucky, fulfilling true love. Unfortunately, in 1914, a blossoming lady from an aristocratic family has only one true purpose. To find a husband who will be suitable for the fortune of the family line and become a respected lady of society, just like her mother.  Elizabeth longs to see the world, experience life, help people in need…But her mother will hear none of this, and the young lady of the house is forced to walk away, with almost nothing to her name, and no survival skills whatsoever, braving a world that would resent her if she told them her true social standing.

Seeking the one man who ever seemed to see her for who she is and what she can become, Elizabeth works hard to learn skills that would make the ladies back home faint with shock. A young lady driving a vehicle? A young lady in a war zone, hauling men from battle to the hospital? This young lady faces a world that barely embraces women in the workforce, experiences events that would give anyone nightmares, risks her own life every day, all without complaint…But with her heart full of love for Dr. Robert Fraser, a man who cannot acknowledge their relationship but whose passion for her surpasses all sensibility.

If you love novels with a “Downton Abby” feel, you will adore this novel. I, personally, love novels set in World War I, although I’m not sure I can tell you why, specifically, that is so, except that women came into their own during that war, they joined the workforce, they learned to survive at home without men to take care of them, in the most dire of situations…Which sets the tone for these novels, making you want nothing more than to see the heroine come out on top before the novel ends…

Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

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Downton Abbey lovers, don’t miss Rutherford Park, by Elizabeth Cooke! This novel takes place in 1913, when Lady Octavia Cavendish learns a painful secret about her own husband on the same night that a servant in the house attempts suicide. Rutherford Park will never be the same place again as the family struggles to stay together amid turmoil and changing times.

Will Lady Cavendish find happiness for once and for all, or will she settle for what she has always had and accept her fate? Will her son come clean to his parents about his own deep dark secrets? Will her daughter be allowed to marry for love? And what about the servants of the house-will they stay on at Rutherford as things change around them? If you love historical fiction, especially of the early 1900s era, you will adore Rutherford Park.

A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb

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A newly divorced art dealer has been commissioned to write a book about renowned artist Charles Aubrey, and he decides to travel to the town where the artist spent summers with his exotic mistress and two daughters, to see if he can find information that will set his book apart from all others. He finds Mitzy Hatcher, who claims to have been in a relationship with Charles Aubrey one summer before tragedy struck and he went off to fight in the war.

The quaint little fishing village seems to be full of secrets, however, and the locals are less than welcoming towards outsiders, especially outsiders who ask a lot of very personal questions about long-standing residents.

Traveling between the present and the past, lacing together the generations, A Half Forgotten Song, by Katherine Webb, is full of mystery and suspense, and just enough historical fiction to be perfection. If you loved The Unseen, by the same author, or you adore pretty much any of Kate Morton’s novels (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, The Secret Keeper), you will NOT want to miss this author or her works.

The Boleyn King by Laura Anderson

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What would have happened if Anne Boleyn’s baby had survived and been a healthy son? How would history have changed, and what would remain the same? What would Great Britain be like today? Would Mary or Elizabeth have ever found the throne?

The Boleyn King, by Laura Anderson, is a novel about a fictional King, William, the son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. William has good intentions as a ruler, but has a streak of stubbornness not unlike his father. Elizabeth supports and loves her brother and king, and Mary, while resentful still about her mother being cast aside, seems to only be a moderate threat to his reign thanks to her religious ideals. Minuette and Dominic are two childhood friends of the rulers who have been constant companions to them, and find relationships begin to change as the power structure is laid out before them with time.

These siblings are all at marriageable ages, and things are starting to get interesting. Will they marry for politics or will they find love? Will a secret rebellion knock William from the throne? Can a ruler ever truly be a friend to someone else? Philippa Gregory readers will love The Boleyn King, by Laura Anderson, so be sure to check it out for yourself if you love historical fiction and historical romance.

Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove #4) by Tessa Dare

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The Duke of Halford has a problem. His mother has decided that she has waited long enough for grand babies, and he absolutely must marry as soon as possible or else. But the Duke has no desire to burden himself with the fairer sex, and certainly no interest in chasing debutantes around London. His mother’s counter-offer? He doesn’t have to marry a wealthy heiress or a female with a dowry, he can marry anyone he wants, just so long as he finally marries and puts his family line in motion. The Duke agrees to this plan, but with his own agenda. He will find the most wildly inappropriate female for the job, and he will pay that female to be a complete disaster for his mother’s designs. With any luck, it will go so badly that his mother will stop pushing the issue for a while and he can have some temporary peace. But his plan is flawed. His working-class belle is very rough around the edges, and has just enough spirit and courage to make the Duke question his own methods of operation… Can he follow through with the plan without falling in love with Pauline?

Anyone who loves historical romance novels (bodice-rippers) will want to pick up Any Duchess Will Do, by Tessa Dare. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious and the romance is sweet and genuine. This novel is like a cross between Pygmalion (My Fair Lady) and Pride and Prejudice, with some sexy and slightly naughty sprinkled on top.

Seducing the Princess by Mary Hart Perry

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Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Beatrice was her best companion when her other daughters had long been married off. Approaching 30, Beatrice had long been considered a spinster. Suddenly, however, two gentlemen have appeared, both of which are suddenly interested in the woman : dashing nobleman Harry Battenberg, and a mysterious new stableman from Scotland who saved her from bandits while she rode her horse. Unfortunately, the Queen has no interest in losing her daughter to the hands of man, instead opting to keep her chaste and protected, and by her side for the rest of time.

Beatrice is torn like she has never been torn before. She wants to have her own life, and make her own decisions, and she very much wants Harry Battenberg, a man who seems to understand her deeply and appreciate her, and who has asked for her hand in marriage.  But when Victoria refuses to give her blessing to Harry Battenberg and banishes him from the kingdom, and Beatrice receives no word from him about his intentions or affections following the event, the handsome stableman begins to seem much more charming and attractive. But where does he come from and what are his secrets? What are his intentions? Something dark looms overhead, but Beatrice is too naive to anticipate the shock she is about to receive.

Seducing the Princess, by Mary Hart Perry, is a historical novel set in Victorian England (obviously) and will be greatly appreciated by just about anyone who enjoys a good historical romance. The novel also has very little in the way of lewd sexuality, I would even hesitate to call it a bodice ripper, consummated love is alluded to, but never written out descriptively. The author also wrote The Wild Princess, which is about Victoria’s daughter, Louise. These novels take creative liberty to add adventure to facts already known about the princesses (although the author admits that they are strictly fictional). Readers who like Phillipa Gregory or similar authors will truly enjoy Mary Hart Perry. Don’t hesitate, pick it up!

What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston

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Lady Thorold, recently widowed, left London to become acquainted with her cousin. She has a few drinks with the man, and doesn’t remember anything that happens for the next 12 hours. When she wakes up, she is married to a Scotsman she has never met before and they have spent the night together in a local inn. She promptly knocks him out and makes a run for it, like any respectable woman would do…

As the night’s events begin to come together, she realizes she may need James MacKenzie more than she thought–she may need him to free her from their marriage! But where is this illusive man? In the meantime, MacKenzie is out to find the spitfire of a blond who mesmerized him in the night and left him wondering where his horse and pocketbook have gone! In a very “what happens in Vegas”-like theme, these lovable characters are sent on a scavenger hunt to piece together the evening before and find out how to fix all the damage that they created, which, of course, they don’t remember themselves, but the villagers seem to have observed to great amusement.

This novel is definitely one of the more light-hearted “bodice-ripper” type of books I have read. If you like historical romance, you don’t want to miss this one, which is fun and amusing and perfect for a long soak in a bubble bath or maybe just a cozy rainy day. What Happens in Scotland, by Jennifer McQuiston is unexpectedly enjoyable, and you can expect more posts about this author on my page in the future, I hope.

Mistress of My Fate by Hallie Rubenhold

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Henrietta Lightfoot was raised as a ward in the home of a gentleman, taught to be an accomplished and well-mannered young lady in 18th century England.  When she and the young mistress of the house reach marriageable age, things start to get a little difficult-unwanted suitors pile up around the ladies, and one suitor is desirable to both Henrietta and her “cousin”. Henrietta knows that her love will never come to fruition, for she has no birth status, no dowry, nothing an aristocratic young man could want in marriage. But the young lord seems drawn to her, and things begin to spiral out of control.

Soon Henrietta finds herself on the streets, forced to fend for herself and find a way to survive. She goes to her lover for a brief period, but she always knew that they were not to be together as man and wife, and she would always be his hidden secret. His secret doings take him from her and she must examine her future plans or die in the streets of London. She decides to use the resources that she possesses, her beauty, her charm, her body, and find a gentleman who will keep her safe, for a small price…

A proper young lady quickly becomes a harlot, a kept woman among scandalous libertines and the most despicable of human beings, people she wouldn’t have been allowed to speak with in the streets in her prior life.

This is a novel about surviving, using your wits and doing the best you can in harsh, unforgiving times. At times cynical, at times vulgar, this novel is not sweet and flowery. Readers who like Philippa Gregory’s novels of historical romance and intrigue (The Other Boleyn Girl) will enjoy Mistress of My Fate, by Hallie Rubenhold, which is, apparently, the first in a series about Henrietta Lightfoot. The audiobook version of this novel, by Hachette Audio, comes highly recommended, so if you like audiobooks be sure to give it a try.