Tag Archives: Historical

Review: Mistress of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Mistress of Pleasure by Delilah MarvelleMistress of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle
Series: School of Gallantry #1
Published by Self-Published on July 1, 2015
Genres: Erotic Romance, Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle Maitenon has no interest in her grandmother's school in London where gentlemen receive instruction--in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent and free from men and their overbearing expectations. But when Maybelle lays eyes on the Duke of Rutherford, who is well-known for his gentlemanly ways, she can't resist. Neither she or the duke are prepared for what their attraction is about to do not only to their sanity but their hearts.

WARNING: This book contains strong language and sexual content that may cause respectable people to swoon.

This quirky, sexy and scandalous Regency/Victorian Historical Romance is part of a series but can be read as a stand alone.

As a romance reader and reviewer, I’m always interested to see what happens with books I’ve read and loved before that are later reissued with extensive changes and plot expansions. MISTRESS OF PLEASURE was originally released in 2008 as the introduction to the School of Gallantry series, featuring 5 English lords needing lessons in love from a retired French courtesan. Now that rights to this book have reverted to the author, it’s back in a longer and even more entertaining version that better connects the book to those which followed it.

Maybelle’s never been accepted by the ton because of her beloved grandmother’s previous profession, and would rather spend her life exploring rocks and dirt in Egypt than risk her heart on any man. But when a moment of passion threatens to derail all her plans, only her grandmother can help her find the way to a love Maybelle never dreamed could exist.

Much like Maybelle, Edmund has sworn never to let love ruin his life, especially with his father as the worst possible example. But Edmund and Maybelle are better matched than either suspects, each chasing and fleeing each other in turn before the students at the School of Gallantry take matters into their own hands to get them together for good.

Although I had enjoyed the original version of MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, I found this new expanded and updated incarnation even more entertaining. We get more explicit connections to the series as a whole, most notably with regard to the final book which was released earlier this year. Indeed, there is so much more material here related to that story that I was glad I’d already read it, as I might have felt somewhat spoiled at seeing parts of it here first.

My favorite expanded scenes involved Edmund and his mother, and the additional insight we got into why the actions of Edmund’s father had been so devastating. If Maybelle hadn’t instigated their first unorthodox meeting, both she and Edmund would have ended up alone and unhappy, and that helped me be patient with their assorted antics as they finally figured out they belonged together.

The School of Gallantry is one of my favorite historical romance series and appears to be getting even better now with this first reissued book. Even if you’ve read MISTRESS OF PLEASURE before, you should definitely read it again. I’m glad I did, and I can’t wait to see what Delilah Marvelle does with the other older books in the series.


Review: The Duke of Andelot by Delilah Marvelle

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  The Duke of Andelot by Delilah MarvelleThe Duke of Andelot on April 10 2015
Pages: 314
Format: eARC
For fans of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Tom Jones comes a twisted, sexy tale that takes the French Revolution to smoldering new heights.

Long before becoming the flamboyant courtesan known to men as Madame de Maitenon, Thérèse Angelique Bouchard, dreamed of becoming an actress capable of commanding not only the stage but all of Paris. Until she meets an extraordinary aristocratic gentleman who sweeps her into his arms and the danger of his life, while offering her the sort of wealth she never imagined. What starts off as a seductive alliance, ends in her giving him the one thing she, as a mere bourgeoisie, cannot afford to give: her love.

After the murder of his older brothers, Gérard Antoine Tolbert, becomes the last heir to the powerful dukedom of Andelot, leaving him to fight for not only his life, but the allegiance he holds for the crown. During the final rise of the French Revolution that whispers of the violent change about to shake the entire country, Gérard meets an aspiring actress who entices him into wanting more out of not only himself but life. In trying to protect her from their overly passionate alliance and those that want him dead, he must decide what matters most: his life or his heart.

WARNING: This book contains strong language and sexual content that may cause respectable people to swoon.

THE DUKE OF ANDELOT is the triumphant conclusion to Delilah Marvelle’s excellent School of Gallantry series, but like the other books before it, it can easily be read as a standalone, even if you don’t know who everyone is in the lovely epilogue. I myself came into this series with book 4, NIGHT OF PLEASURE, and since then have enjoyed going back and discovering the stories running concurrently with all the others.

As the final book of the series, THE DUKE OF ANDELOT is somewhat different from the rest in that the bulk of its story takes place decades earlier. In it we learn how the notorious Madame de Maintenon found her own true love, only to lose him, perhaps forever, to the chaos of the French Revolution. Before she was the toast of Paris and London, she was merely Thérèse, the butcher’s daughter, tramping through the countryside on her way to her beloved cousin Remy and his small Paris theater. When a threatening highwayman turns out to be Gérard, a highly placed aristocrat on his way to attempt an improbable rescue of his beloved godfather, Thérèse is attracted to him, but skeptical of his motives. As their journey continues, their love for each other grows as quickly as the danger they both face while the Revolution speeds toward its predestined conclusion.

I’ll admit that when I first started reading, I was disappointed to begin in the past, with only my knowledge that this was Madame de Maintenon’s story to keep me from immediately losing interest. But once Thérèse and Gérard find themselves completely in love with each other, I was thoroughly hooked. And by the time they each must make the decisions they need to stay alive, I was awash in tears which lasted all the way to the short but satisfying epilogue which tied up the whole series in joy. Even the small repetitive parts (for those familiar with the previous books) couldn’t keep me from wallowing with glee in the Happy Ever After for the woman who had brought so many to others before her and the one man worthy of her love. THE DUKE OF ANDELOT is a satisfying historical romance for anyone who loves a happy ending that’s merely delayed, not denied.

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Review: Master of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5)Master of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.

In MASTER OF PLEASURE, the fifth book in Delilah Marvelle’s entertaining School of Gallantry historical romance series, we meet yet another student in dire need of Madame de Maitenon’s special sort of tutoring in order to be worthy of the woman he loves.
Its hero was featured briefly in NIGHT OF PLEASURE and I enjoyed getting to know more about him and seeing him find happiness with the woman of his dreams.

Malcolm, Earl of Brayton, has lived his whole life suppressing the desires that would otherwise destroy him. Instead he’s devoted all his passion and energy to serving the man who’d rescued him from certain destruction years earlier. But when Malcolm stumbles upon an impoverished lady in distress who appears sympathetic to his needs, his resistance ultimately gives way to what he must do in order to win her love forever.

Leona Webster wasn’t the first woman betrayed by a faithless fiance and unloving aunt, but she was determined to provide a better life for her fatherless son than the one she’d had so far. If only she had the means to match her intent. When Malcolm saves her from those sent by creditors to take all her possessions, he’s not alone in experiencing sudden long-repressed feelings of attraction. But can she give him what he truly needs from her, or must she just settle for his temporary protection until he sails away for good?

There is a fair amount of story overlap between MASTER OF PLEASURE and the previous book in the series, but not so much that it would affect the enjoyment by a reader new to the School of Gallantry. I appreciated seeing how Malcolm’s need to protect women from what he deemed his innate defect was ultimately his saving grace once Madame de Maitenon convinced him she could teach him how to safely satisfy his desires. Leona is a perfect match for him, and they fit together well as she more than rises to the challenge of loving such a man as he. There is frank discussion of sexual masochism, and those sensitive to such a topic may take issue with MASTER OF PLEASURE. But I found that the author handled Malcolm’s needs and Leona’s expectations with straightforward sensitivity throughout, and I recommend MASTER OF PLEASURE to anyone looking for a lusty and loving historical romance.

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Review: An American Duchess by Sharon Page

An American DuchessAn American Duchess by Sharon Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

AN AMERICAN DUCHESS is the latest from Sharon Page, an author I’ve loved and enjoyed for years in all kinds of romance subgenres. It tells the story of a modern young woman whose determination to embrace life in the face of death both attracts and disturbs a more traditional man equally determined to retreat from life for the same reasons.

Zoe Gifford was raised dirt poor and no amount of new money later in life will ever make New York society ever truly accept her or her mother. But that money will be enough to buy a marriage with the younger brother of an English Duke, and release the rest of Zoe’s trust fund so she can finally be free from her family and their expectations. When Zoe first meets her fiance’s older brother, their immediate mutual dislike appears to mask an even stronger physical attraction. But how can she marry the Duke for love when she had no intention of staying married in the first place?

Nigel, Duke of Langford, has survived the Great War at a huge cost to his physical appearance and psychological health. Now all he wants to do is bury himself at his family estate in England and hide away from the rest of the rapidly changing world. His brother’s American fiancee is the perfect example of the type of woman he thinks he can’t abide, yet she’s also compelling in a way that Nigel simply can’t resist. When Nigel discovers his brother’s plan to subvert Zoe’s plans for a brief marriage, the damaged Duke knows that he must claim Zoe for his own. But neither Nigel nor Zoe could have anticipated just how true the words “for better or worse” would be for them after the wedding was over.

Although I enjoyed AN AMERICAN DUCHESS overall, it was still a story that both charmed and infuriated me in equal amounts. The first section of the book starting from when Zoe and Nigel first meet, all the way up to their wedding, could have stood alone as a very good category romance. But this is also the story of what happened after they fell in love and were married, and what happens next is both tragic and confusing. Tragic, because Nigel and Zoe experience the worst sort of loss that two expectant parents can face, and the way they each cope with their grief drives a gigantic wedge between them. Confusing, because in the middle of their personal tragedy, both Nigel and Zoe became involved in additional plotlines that seemed to exist solely to provide an epic Big Misunderstanding that would seemingly force the couple apart permanently.

Of course, it was the time apart that made Nigel and Zoe realize that their love was worth every effort to trust each other with their mutual secrets and to do everything they could to make things work. But it was frustrating to see only hints of what Zoe’s life had been like during their separation, and then see the two of them magically resolve every single difference in a conversation they could have had all along. Even the baby epilogue (cleverly named “The Baby Epilogue”) presents the results of an obviously successful pregnancy with no reference to any difficulties the couple had faced previously in the book. Still, even with all the difficulty I had with the latter half of the book, the intimate scenes between Zoe and Nigel are uniformly great, and their initial romance is so wonderful that I still have to give 4 stars for the book as a whole. I just wish the rest of Nigel and Zoe’s story had lived up to the promise of what had gone before.

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Review: Bound To Be A Groom by Megan Mulry

Bound to be a GroomBound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.

Although I’m a big fan of Megan Mulry’s contemporary romances, this is my first time reading one of her historical romances, but if BOUND TO BE A GROOM is any indication, I’ll be adding them all to my To Be Read list. This book featured something I haven’t seen too often in erotic romance, and especially in historical erotic romance: a true MMFF polyamorous relationship. And to her credit, Megan Mulry made it work for me in this unusual context, although I’ll include the disclaimer that what I know about the year 1808 in Spain and England would fit on a grain of rice.

As our story begins, we meet Anna Redondo, the unacknowledged by-blow of her mother’s affair with a visiting English diplomat while still married to the Conde de Floridablanca. Anna has been locked away in a Spanish convent for most of her life, now newly released to attend her friend Isabella’s wedding. Then it’s off to a lifetime of servitude as a lady’s maid in the King of Spain’s court. Anna has other plans for her future, and they all involve Pia, her best friend in the convent and secret lover. Anna intends to become a noted courtesan to raise the money to keep herself and Pia together forever, but needs to learn the ways of men (and rid herself of her pesky virginity). So when a handsome man catches her eye in an all-too-knowing way, Anna presses her advantage, and changes her future forever.

Sebastian de Montizon didn’t expect to find his future bride at the wedding of his friend Javier de la Mina, but when a sweet little convent girl turned out to be the Domme of his dreams, how could Sebastian possibly resist? He’ll do anything to keep her happy, including sending for Pia to be an essential member of their new household. But when the three meet up in England with Lord Farleigh, a mysterious duke from Sebastian’s past, can their unconventional relationship expand by one more without ruining what they already have together?

The one word description that came to mind when I finished reading BOUND TO BE A GROOM was voluptuous. This book is all about sensual pleasure in a way not often found outside of erotica proper (as opposed to erotic romance, which this most definitely is). There isn’t too much worry about whether each additional member of this polyamorous relationship will be able to fit in properly, but there doesn’t really need to be, either. It helps that there are clearly two Dominants and two submissives in the mix, and that no lasting jealousy ever rears its head as they try out various pairings and positions. The only time I even briefly questioned its plausibility was when Farleigh’s mother was so understanding about his proclivities, but hey, she’s a mother who loves her son dearly, so why not? I’m not going to look too closely when the interactions between the two heroes and heroines are as interesting and well-written as these, with an elevated sexual excitement that (figuratively) steamed up my Kindle. Even the prerequisite baby epilogue (another detail that differentiates this from regular erotica) provided a lovely end to the story without losing its innate naughtiness to standard romance conventionality. I can only hope there will be more adventures to come in this unique series, as I’d love to read them all.

Favorite Quote:


“Yes, darling? You like that, don’t you?” She tapped the crop a few times against her palm, testing its resistance.

“Yes,” he whispered.

“What a fine instrument you are.” He wasn’t sure if she was talking to the crop or to him.

Then she began.

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Review: The Cry for Freedom by Jerri Hines

The Cry For FreedomThe Cry For Freedom by Jerri Hines

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was acquired by me for free on Amazon after the author contacted me directly to request a review at The Romance Evangelist.

When I first started reading THE CRY FOR FREEDOM, I was entertained by the introduction of our heroine, Hannah Corbett, when she met Marcus Durham, a mysterious handsome stranger who took a special interest in her while she was attempting to avoid yet another in a series of boring social events. As the story progressed, our Hannah morphed into a Mary Sue character whose only faults (headstrong, tomboy, more interested in the outside world than in parties and social gossip, etc) are the ones that our modern sensibilities would see as assets in the conflicts about to tear her world apart. Although at first it appeared to me that Marcus would be set up as Hannah’s eventual love interest, in THE CRY FOR FREEDOM, they only encounter each other sporadically as the conflict between those who support the Crown and those who want freedom from its rule morphs into full-out war.

THE CRY FOR FREEDOM features a whirlwind of activity as Hannah’s insular world is blown apart by enemies both within and without. After suffering incredible personal losses, Hannah insists on volunteering as a spy in the New York household of her own grandfather. Of course, in the grand tradition of all Mary Sues, she manages to overhear all kinds of incredibly useful information, thus proving wrong all those who thought her too young and inexperienced to be an effective asset. While Hannah’s life has been in upheaval, her brother Jonathan has suffered just as greatly, and we see periodically how the tragic events occurring in Virginia have affected his personal life as well. Meanwhile, the mysterious Marcus pops up here and again throughout the story, including in New York, where Hannah isn’t sure whether she could ever trust someone working on the same side of the people who tried to destroy her family. And then the book just…ends.

The Amazon blurb for THE CRY OF FREEDOM claims it’s the first in the Winds of Betrayal series, but for me, that description was incredibly misleading. This isn’t the first book in a series — it’s the first book in a serial. In a serial, each succeeding installment is structured like an individual chapter in a book, instead of a complete story connected to additional complete stories as the word “series” would imply. This distinction became all too obvious in THE CRY FOR FREEDOM, when just as it seemed Marcus and Hannah might have an actual romantic moment together, the next line was a title promotion of the third Winds of Betrayal book, followed by a brief excerpt. (Wait, wasn’t I just reading Book One? What happened to Book Two?) There is also a Book Four scheduled for release later in 2014, but for me, the Winds of Betrayal series/serial ends here.

Ultimately, THE CRY FOR FREEDOM had just enough plot to keep me reading, but not enough for me commit to additional books/chapters. Your mileage may vary.

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Review: Night of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4)Night of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.

Delilah Marvelle’s School of Gallantry series has been sitting on my insanely large To Be Read list for quite some time now, but it took the opportunity of doing this review to finally get me to take the plunge with NIGHT OF PLEASURE. I knew that in each book, there would be a visit (or two) at some point to the aforementioned school, but that they all could be read as stand-alone stories. And based on how much I enjoyed this fourth book in the series, I know I’ll be going back to binge read them all very soon.

We first meet the hero and heroine of NIGHT OF PLEASURE on the same day they meet each other for the first time. That day turned out to be both the best and worst day of young Derek Holbrook’s life. It was the best because he met the woman destined to one day become his wife; it was the worst because only moments later, he lost his beloved father to a previously undisclosed illness. Derek had been taught by his father that it was always better to show a happy face to others, never revealing true emotion, but after that man breathed his last, Derek (now Viscount Banfield) could only sob in his new fiancée’s arms.

Clementine Grey spent the majority of her childhood attempting to parent her own father while trying to stay alive amidst all the political violence surrounding him as a man of worldwide influence and stature. Clementine’s confused memories about the angry conflicts between her parents before her mother’s death have spawned unhealthy notions about what a true marriage would be to any man, convincing her that she should never marry if it meant bringing a child into a similarly dysfunctional household. Still, Clementine wouldn’t have to confront that problem until years from now, when she’s old enough to marry Derek.

Suddenly it’s eight years later, and Derek is all but swooning at the prospect of finally having the lovely Clementine as his own. This marriage was arranged by their fathers to provide money for the Banfield estate and a reliable husband for Clementine, but Derek is certain Clementine is just as much in love with him as he is with her. When she finally arrives for the wedding, only to assert that she intends to leave him for another man she considers merely a friend, Derek is understandably distraught. When he realizes she will not be swayed, he then convinces her to give him just one night with her, a night where they can be intimate with each other in the way he had dreamed of all those years apart. But it’s only when the night is over that the true story between Derek and Clementine will begin in earnest.

Because NIGHT OF PLEASURE was my first book in the School of Gallantry series, I wasn’t sure when to expect that institution to become a part of the plot. But as I was pulled more deeply into Derek and Clementine’s tumultuous romance, I forgot all about the School and just let myself enjoy the beauty of Delilah Marvelle’s writing. Derek is a lot like an overeager puppy when it comes to his love for Clementine, and rightfully feels like he’s been kicked in the teeth when he’s hit with the reality of her decision to leave him. Never mind that the reasoning behind her goal is flawed, never mind that they really don’t know each other all that well to begin with, even after eight years of written correspondence. The fact remains that Derek has been patient for far too long, and refuses to be denied at the very moment that should be ending his lonely wait. Meanwhile, Clementine finally understands the consequences of her plan to abandon Derek at the altar, including just how much her fortune is needed to support all the people who depend on him for their living. Her growing guilt prods her into agreeing to Derek’s single request before her departure. That night Derek and Clementine spend together provides a starting point in the path to their ultimate reconciliation, but it takes the fortuitous appearance of the School of Gallantry to gently instruct them in exactly what they need to enjoy a truly happy life together.

What I enjoyed the most about NIGHT OF PLEASURE was how the path to true love between Derek and Clementine was never easy or predictable, but it was always deeply satisfying, from the mixed emotions of its opening, through its twists and turns, and ending with its passionate and touching conclusion. I’m pleased to add Delilah Marvelle to my must-read historical romance writer list and I’m looking forward to savoring each of the previous School of Gallantry books in anticipation of the next one to come.

Favorite Quote:

By God. The girl who had once wiped away his tears had come to wipe them away again when he least expected it. He wanted to grab her and kiss her and smother her with every emotion he’d ever held within.

Only they were in a church, and the violins had stopped and people were staring.

“God love you,” he rasped. “God love you for astounding me.”

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Review: The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont

The Dark Affair (Mad Passions, #3)The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.

This review contains spoilers for THE LADY IN RED, book 2 in the Mad Passions series. You could try to read THE DARK AFFAIR as a stand-alone book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

When I read THE LADY IN RED last fall, Maire Claremont was a new author for me, and I hadn’t known what to expect. Its whirlwind plot and profound emotions were almost too much for me to handle (but in a good way). I actually had to force myself to put it down more than a few times, because I was so worried about what would happen to not only its hero and heroine, but the hero’s friend Viscount Powers, whose help was essential in their plan to save the heroine from her villainous father.

Powers – a tortured and brooding man who refused to answer to any other name – shared the same brutal need for opiates that plagued the heroine of THE LADY IN RED. While her addiction had been induced during her forced captivity in a madhouse, his was entirely self-inflicted after the untimely death of his wife and child. By the end of the previous book, the heroine and hero are both safe and happy in marriage together, but meanwhile Powers has given himself over entirely to his addiction. Months later, when we first see him in THE DARK AFFAIR, he has himself been involuntarily committed to a madhouse.

Margaret Cassidy was a titled lady back in Ireland, but that couldn’t protect her from the harsh realities of famine and poverty, nor from the ongoing violence as those who starved fought back against the cruelty of their English overlords. Her gift for healing has brought her to England, where she is tasked by the Earl of Carlyle to bring his son Powers back from the brink of insanity. Back when Margaret was still in Ireland and her father was still alive, Powers had sent a letter and funds to assist those in dire need of help, asking for nothing in return. Rescuing him now from his addiction is her opportunity to repay that act of kindness, even as her attachment to him quickly moves in a more personal direction. It will take all of Margaret’s talents and indomitable will to bring Powers back not only to sanity, but to a life where he can grieve properly for what he’s lost without sacrificing himself again. But when the violence she left behind in Ireland comes to call at her front door, what ends up being at stake isn’t just their shared happiness, but their very lives.

Once again, Maire Claremont has written a story that transported me into a world more darkly intense than most historical romances, with characters I couldn’t help but root for as they were forced to trust in each other even as they should rightfully be mortal enemies. The depth of Powers’s sorrow had only been hinted at in the previous book, but here it is front and center with everything you might expect, and worse. He has abused his mind and body for so long in self-imposed guilt for the death of his wife and child that his recovery is never really certain, even as the story moves toward that conclusion. And when we find out just how they died…well, it’s definitely understandable why he has suffered so greatly, even though it’s just as obvious to us, if not to him, that their deaths should not be on his head.

It’s also clear that only someone like Margaret would even have a chance to break through the wall of anger and opiates that Powers has built all around him, and not just because of her beauty and determination. Only Margaret has the ability to focus his attention beyond his own pain and outside the bubble of privilege in which he has lived his whole life as a member of the English nobility. But it will take more than that for them to move forward with a life together, and their Happily Ever After will be won only after those who seek to defeat them are confronted one last time.

I’m sad to see the Mad Passions series come to an end but I’m looking forward to seeing what Maire Claremont comes up with next. THE LADY IN RED vaulted her into my list of favorite historical romance writers, and now THE DARK AFFAIR has firmly established her place near the very top.


Overall: 4.5 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5

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Review: A Certain Latitude by Janet Mullany

A Certain LatitudeTitle: A Certain Latitude
Author: Janet Mullany
Genre: historical erotic romance
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Release Date: November 23, 2013

A copy of this book was purchased by me for my own personal enjoyment during a time when it was free on Amazon.

Publisher Summary:

1800—Allan Pendale, lawyer and the youngest son of the Earl of Frensham, is bound by ship for the West Indies, to impart the news to his estranged father that his mother has died. But he also has another mission—to find out the truth of his origins.

Miss Clarissa Onslowe is also on board, traveling to take up the role of governess to the daughter of the wealthy planter Mr. Lemarchand. There is nothing to keep her in England. An indiscretion five years before led to her reputation being ruined; her abolitionist family has disowned her and no gentleman would marry her now. But now she seeks redemption with her family by revealing the truth about the miserable lives of the slaves who work on the sugar plantations.

Clarissa’s previous encounter with love has left her aroused and restless, and Allan is a man for whom lust is a daily pastime; thrown together belowdecks during the long sea voyage, they embark on a sensual odyssey where no desire is left untested. But if they thought their exploration and ecstasy could not be bettered, then there are more pleasures to be taken and boundaries to be broken at their island destination—where “March” Lemarchand, sugar king and master of seduction, awaits them both…

This is a substantially revised version of Forbidden Shores (2007) published under the name of Jane Lockwood.

My Review:

Although I am a big fan of Janet Mullany’s work in contemporary erotic romance (Tell Me More, Hidden Paradise) this was my first experience with one of her many historical novels. A Certain Latitude was originally released under a different pen name, and it would have remained unread by me (even at the temporary price of FREE) if she hadn’t reissued it under the one I already knew and trusted. I couldn’t tell you if what she refers to as “substantial revisions” made this a better book than the original, but I can say that A Certain Latitude far exceeded any expectations I might have had going in, and is as good as any other historical erotic romances I’ve read. What made this book so enjoyable for me was what I’ve now come to expect in Janet Mullany’s work, namely a plot that turns a well-worn trope on its head and scenes of intimate passion which envelop not only the titular hero and heroine but also the supporting characters who enter their sphere with intentions both good and evil.

The notion of “civilized” people devolving into depravity while isolated in a more primitive place where the rules of polite society don’t apply is a trope less commonly found than it once was. It dates back to a time when the “old skool” romances were the norm, and often featured ugly racial stereotypes as a lazy shortcut in lieu of actual character development. But while it’s true that the veneer of civilization began to decompose for Allan and Clarissa even before they reached their destination, it’s clear that what remained was there all along, irrespective of what would take place on the island. It needed only the close quarters of the ship to emerge, and the all-too-knowing encouragement of one dissolute and dominant man to be forced into full flower as they move inexorably toward their shared destiny.

I must emphasize most strongly that A Certain Latitude is a true erotic romance in every possible way. The sexual encounters involving each of the featured characters are absolutely essential to the plot, as well as those which occurred well before any of them had arrived on the island. The scenes we experience as the story unfolds are explicit and unforgettable, with pairings that may shock those unused to such graphic detail. It’s rare to find such unflinching scenes in historicals that are written so well and in such loving detail, although they do exist in the works of Kate Pearce, Robin Schone, Sharon Page, and Maire Claremont. Thanks to A Certain Latitude, Janet Mullany is now a member of that elite list for me, and I’ll be seeking out all her other historicals for another chance to experience that special reading joy. 5 stars

Review: Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter, # 3)Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at SMI Book Club.

Daughters of the Nile is the third and final book in Stephanie Dray’s trilogy about Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra (yes, *that* one), that continues to fill in the missing pieces of her life that could only be imagined based on the few major details available in historical texts. In this book, we see Selene sent back to the husband she didn’t ask for, to be queen of a country that isn’t her beloved Egypt, and trying to establish her own dynasty away from the man who continues to threaten her happiness with his own twisted desires.

I haven’t read the previous two books in the series, but I’m a big fan of the author’s romance books under her Stephanie Draven pen name, so I jumped at the opportunity to bury myself in a lovely long book of historical fiction by an author I already loved. Dray provided just enough recaps where needed so that I wasn’t lost as a new reader to the series, and I felt like I’d actually learned something about the actual history without forgetting that Daughters of the Nile, is still fiction, however laboriously researched for historical fact where possible.

Cleopatra Selene is a remarkable woman who managed to survive in a time where any day could bring exile or death from multiple directions, most notably from Caesar Augustus, who never stopped obsessing over her the way he had over her late mother. She has to temper her desire to make her mark in history with the knowledge of the incredible danger she faces whenever she fails to do whatever Caesar and her husband expect from her. And yet she does survive and even thrives in a climate that would crush a less determined man, let alone a mere woman with such infamous parents as Marc Antony and Cleopatra.

But what really made Daughters of the Nile such a wonderful read for me was the improbable romance between Selene and her husband. Juba had aided Caesar Augustus in hastening the death of Selene’s parents, so her distrust of him was certainly understandable. The marriage had been forced upon them both as a convenience for Augustus in his quest to make Selene his mistress, but they were never intended to be a couple in truth. Seeing Selene and her husband Juba slowly learn to trust and love each other over the years in spite of all the terrible past between them was what made me cry when Selene’s life and the book both came to their inevitable end. Daughters of the Nile isn’t a fast or easy read, but it’s a great one, and definitely worth your while if you love historical fiction with a touch of genuine romance.

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