In the Shadow of Lakecrest

Kate Moore is a governess looking for a better life than she knew from her childhood. Her mother raised her to keep her eyes on the prize and marry a wealthy man who can take care of her. Kate gets her chance when she meets the mysterious bachelor, Matthew Lemont, and he is beguiled by her sensible nature and quick wit.

In a very short time, Kate becomes Mrs. Lemont. Her fairy tale beginning is short lived, however. The newlyweds are naturally headed to Lakecrest to meet Matthew’s mother and sister and surprise them with their good news. Upon arrival, however, Kate realizes that things are not as they might appear. A missing aunt, a winding labyrinth, a cellar dungeon and secrets upon secrets hide within the grounds of that strange, eccentric house.

Just when Kate realizes she needs to escape for her own safety, she realizes she is pregnant, and suddenly everyone, including her husband, seems to think she should be confined to the house until the baby comes.

Can Kate escape the tyranny in that toxic house before it steals her sanity? Could she be reliving the tragedy of the lost aunt?

In the Shadow of Lakecrest, by Elizabeth Blackwell, is a mystery novel with an essence reminiscent of V.C. Andrews. If you enjoy suspense you should pick it up!

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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place and the Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood

Miss Penelope Lumley is a governess at the home of the honorable Lord Ashton, watching over three very peculiar but remarkable children. Beowulf, Cassiopeia, and Alexander were found in the woods attached to the Ashton Estate, and were rumored to have been, until the day that they were discovered, raised by wolves. Despite their distinctive canine behavior and habits, they are excellent pupils and quite gifted in many ways.

The children are not the only peculiar things living at Ashton Place, Lord Ashton comes from a line of Lords who have a strange genetic illness which causes them to make strange howling noises whenever there is a full moon…And the matriarch of the family has decided to visit Ashton Place with her new beau, an ex-Admiral who dreams of starting an Ostrich-racing business with the widow Ashton’s money.

Penelope suspects that the Admiral is bad news for the Ashtons, and devises a very unorthodox and supernatural solution…

Can Penelope prove to the Ashtons that the Admiral is not who he seems to be? Can she discover the real secret behind Lord Ashton’s full moon illness? And what about the strange origins of the incorrigible children?

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: the Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood,  is an amusing middle grade novel which is the first in a series of books. The writing is light and amusing, and this could be a good novel to read aloud to an elementary aged child. If you would like a darker twist on the Mary Poppins-like stories, then give this series a try.

Scotsman of My Dreams by Karen Ranney

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Minerva Todd wants answers about what happened to her brother, and she will stop at nothing until she gets them–including breaking and entering into the home of a dashing Earl. Dalton MacIain has returned home from fighting in the American Civil War, blinded by a terrible wound.

Two unlikely individuals join forces to find out just what happened to Minerva’s brother, and who might be interested in harming the Earl…Now if only they can fight their mutual attraction, pride and independence long enough to complete the task at hand and find the truth…

Scotsman of My Dreams, by Karen Ranney is the second in The MacIain series, which is humorous and light hearted, and great for readers who love Tessa Dare or Maya Rodale.

Under the Same Blue Sky by Pamela Schoenewaldt

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Hazel Renner was raised by German-American parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When she came of age, she learned that her parents were not her true birth parents, that her early memories of a grand house with servants and fancy dinners is actually a memory from her childhood, and not a lingering dream. She leaves the home of her adoptive parents to be a teacher in a rural town called Galway and she hopes to find her own identity. Strange events ensue that will haunt her for a lifetime. Stunned by tragedy and injustice, she tries to trace her roots back to her mother, hoping to break the cycle that her birth mother started, causing destruction in her wake and possibly passing it to her daughter.

Her past leads her to a castle owned by a German Baron, a gardener who may be the love of her life, and a discovery of what she really wants in life…But with World War I in effect, she stands to lose everything and everyone dear to her.

Under the Same Sky, by Pamela Schoenewaldt, is a novel with a touch of magic, a lot of heart, and the deep emotion associated with loss and love. Readers may remember a previous novel by Pamela Schoenewaldt, Swimming in the Moon, which I covered when it first came out. Pamela Shoenewaldt has a gift for the deepest uncertainty which comes with blind love for someone, or many “someones” in your life-and the possibility that they are broken, damaged, or capable of harming themselves or others.

It Takes a Scandal, by Caroline Linden

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Abigail Weston has a life of promise in front of her. Her family is “new money” and she has a very promising dowry to make up for her lacking aristocratic background, she hopes to find a suitable (and hopefully devilishly handsome) husband when her father buys a country estate. She is immediately attracted to the brooding, serious neighbor, Sebastian Vane. But she learns that he has a dark past, and much of the town steers clear of him.

Sebastian Vane cannot pretend the lovely new neighbor exists, nor can he deny that he finds her irresistible. But what can he offer a woman who has everything, when he has nearly lost everything in his life?

These two love birds will fight against all odds to make their way to one another…But is their love strong enough to bring them together in the end? It Takes a Scandal is (obviously) a bodice-ripper of the first order. If you like smutty romance novels (you know who you are), then don’t miss Caroline Linden’s latest release.

Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale

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Maya Rodale’s Bad Boys and Wallflowers series, which started out with The Wicked Wallflower, has now introduced Wallflower Gone Wild. These lusty bodice-rippers are exactly what you might expect, full of fiery heroines and dark, brooding heroes who have no choice but to fall madly in love with one another (while, of course, breaking all rules of propriety along the way).

Novel #2, Wallflower Gone Wild, is about Lady Olivia Archer. Voted London’s Least Likely to Cause a Scandal, and hen-pecked miserably by her marriage-minded mother, Olivia is at her wit’s end. Especially when she realizes that her less than desirable financial situation has limited her options when it comes to suitors. Not to worry, however, Olivia’s parents have the perfect gentleman lined up for her- Phinneas Cole, otherwise known as The Mad Baron, who is widely known in the rumor mills as a mad inventor who murdered his previous wife.

Olivia will do whatever it takes to avoid marrying this frightening (but devilishly handsome) gentleman. She sets out to make sure that The Mad Baron would never find her attractive. Her plan seems flawless…But what if she doesn’t have the resolve to hold him off?

These novels are for the smutty novel-reading, bodice ripper crowd, so if you are looking for something easy to read and full of scandalous passion, pick up Wallflower Gone Wild today.

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…

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.

How to Deceive a Duke by Lecia Cornwall

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I will be the first to admit that when I saw the cover to this book, I thought “OH BROTHER, another cheesy romance novel…” but I was pleasantly surprised the night that I decided maybe some light, silly reading would be just the thing at the end of a long day…Lecia Cornwall’s How to Deceive a Duke was surprisingly fun to read, with just the right amount of cheesy and inevitable love, but some pleasant surprises giving it unexpected originality.

Meg (Marguerite) and her family have lost everything-if her older sister doesn’t marry the rogue, Nicholas Hartley, they will surely be ruined and have to sell off everything they own, and Meg will be forced to provide for the family by seeking employment. When her sister runs away from home at the prospect of marrying an infamous womanizer and all-around rake, Meg does the first thing that comes to mind-she puts on the gown and veil and walks down the aisle herself! The duke is none the wiser and by the end of the day she is a duchess-but what will happen when people learn that she is not the eldest Lynton sister, but the second? And what will it be like to be married to this terror of a husband?

The new duchess is in for a pleasant surprise, however, when she discovers that her womanizing husband is, admittedly, very charming indeed. She finds herself in a very confusing situation. Her duty is to bear an heir into the Hartley blood lines, but when the two of them are locked in a bedroom together, her duties are very little like duties, after all. Very confusing, indeed.

If you like bodice-rippers or historical romance novels, this novel is just what you need for an easy, pleasant read. Don’t be fooled by the cover, this is one of the better romance novels of the year.