Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford


Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (335 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

A Georgette Heyer-esque tale of high society in the glittering Regency

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about Flora, but his plans are thwarted when she suddenly arrives.

Their attraction flares, but their romance becomes complicated when the sinister Anthony Durand shows up and threatens Flora. Every bone in Robert’s body says to save her…but he’ll have to learn that some damsels in distress can save themselves if he truly wants to win her heart.

Jane Ashford creates a memorable story, full of conflicts, about a brilliant young woman who wants respect for her accomplishments and wants to fight her own battle, yet longs for love. Woven into the story is a hero who finally comes to recognize the wisdom of his father’s words: “restraint and knowing when to exercise it is a far more arduous discipline than unconsidered action.” While the setting of the story may seem more-of-the-usual, the mystery, suspense, humor, revelations, and LOVE keeps one turning pages.

Flora Jennings, daughter of a scholar and trained to be acute, observant, active, to use her intelligence, does not fit into haut ton society. However, she is at a house party at the country home of the Earl and Countess of Salbridge. Harriet Runyon, a distant relative and her chaperone, tells her a smile is a tool to be used to pry information out of people, to smooth things over, and can be a wonderful substitute when one does not wish to answer a question.

Lord Robert Gresham, the son of a Duke, not the heir or the spare, but the son who is the “Pink of the ton” knows Flora from their intellectual discussions and argues, but was not expecting to see her at a house party at his friend’s country estate—a house party loaded with men who are wellborn, well-heeled, well-behaved; men, one of whom, might be a suitable husband for the Earl’s sister, Lady Victoria.

However, Victoria has her mind made up. She wants Robert and feels she has a right to him because of a childhood promise. She has no idea he is more stimulated by a fine mind than he is by a low cut neckline.

Add to that the arrival of two unwanted guests who remind Flora of one of the most terrifying experiences of her life an Flore becomes unsure of her ability to the world of the ton the way Robert had adapted to her intellectual world on Russell Street.

Probably the most interesting of all the arrivals is the little dog Robert rescued on his way to the party. He is a philosophical, wise little fellow, Robert names him Plato. I was always delighted to see him appear, because he was always in the know before anyone else.

Jane Ashford sweeps the reader into the story at once. She makes the story sparkle with love scenes that send the senses soaring, with lovers that have unfailing respect for each other, and with an altogether satisfactory tying up loose ends—a story that lets the reader sigh with pleasure at the end—delighted about how well everything turned out.

Fool For You by Rina Gray


Fool For You by Rina Gray
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Sports journalist Melanie Foster has achieved most of her goals: Bomb.com job—check. Tomboy-to-smoking-hottie makeover—check. Convince her best friend, Damien Richards, to slide a ring on her finger and father her two-point-five kids—not so much. When she activates Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, she never imagines her BFF already has plans to stroll down the wedding aisle with another woman.

Damien’s in the middle of crisis mode. The non-profit for young athletes at which he volunteers is in financial trouble. He’ll pull out all the stops to rescue the organization that saved his life after his career-ending injury—even if it means sacrificing his personal happiness.

But when he finally wakes up to love and the very non-brotherly feelings he’s long held for Mel, it just might be too late. Damien must convince her that he’s worth the risk and turn the tables to show her he’s the one ready to be a fool for love.

Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is in full effect, but will it really bring Melanie the love she seeks?

I thought it was weird that Melanie Foster waited all these years to confess her love to her long time friend Damien Richards. The timing couldn’t be more off since Damien is in a serious relationship and just recently got engaged. Melanie is all in when it comes to getting Damien to love her. With his fiance Vanessa in the way it may not be as easy as Melanie thought.

Melanie is a smart and career minded woman that knows a lot about sports. From tomboy to heels and lady-like attire, Melanie came off as self centered in her timing to reveal her feelings to Damien. She tried once back in college to tell Damien how she felt but to no avail. Damien is a caring and likable guy that has his hands full. Refurbished Dreams, a mentor organization that helped Damien from a troubled path when he was younger, is now being closed down. Damien, a volunteer at the center, offers his help to keep the center open along with being pressured to marry his girlfriend Vanessa. With secrets, jilted love and friends that have your back and others that do the stabbing this makes for a interesting read.

The author has a good writing style with humor and up to date jargon. The plot is interesting, but has a few slow parts. At first I thought it was a little predictable but I was glad to see there are a few surprises at the end. A recommendation to readers that enjoy a quick read that delivers a happy ending to a woman set on getting her man.

Sweet Inspiration by Linda Carroll-Bradd


Sweet Inspiration by Linda Carroll-Bradd
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (50 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice for the musical festival, and she spies an intriguing stranger.

Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing from one competition to the next. Interest ignites at his first glance at the woman who is enthralled by his music. He is drawn to Cadence whose heart seems big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.

A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a major problem—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?

Cadence is getting very tired of being the reliable person in her family. If one of her sisters isn’t asking for her to organise the theme and menu for one of their parties, someone in her extended family is making some other request that gnaws away at her day. Determined to be spontaneous, she leaves her small shop for a quick walk in the sunshine. When a haunting melody captures her attention she follows the sound of the music, intrigued. She meets Rafe, a tall, dark and mysterious man who instantly steals her affections. Can this man be part of her future?

This is a lovely, sweet romance story with plenty of steamy chemistry. I loved how Cadence was a sweet, small-town girl. I felt a bit bad that she’d managed to allow herself to be used a bit (in a nice and kindly sort of way) by family and friends around her. Cadence sits on a bunch of committees, babysits at the drop of a hat for her sisters and acts as a counselor and go-between for far too many people. All to the extent where her own dreams and desires are stifled. I loved how when Rafe finally walks into her life Cadence’s own desires suddenly come into the fore and she gets the courage to finally go after some of the romance and adventure she secretly yearns for.

While the storyline is mostly very sweet and slow, there are a few steamy kisses and a passionate clinch. Rafe and Cadence spend the night together (completely platonically) too so I’m not certain it would be appropriate for teenaged readers – but all other age groups should find this a wholesome, character-driven and excellent romance story. Overall I found this story to be very wholesome and in some ways empowering. Sometimes very good people can find it difficult to say “no” when friends and family ask for favours or help and shelving their own dreams and needs in the process. I loved how Cadence decided to follow her heart with Rafe and start their adventures together. I found it to be a powerful, loving and very happy storyline and I really enjoyed it.

Readers who like a bit of steam and spicy kisses with their romance, but nothing too physical or sexy should find this a good balance with an interesting storyline and some memorable characters.

Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis


Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (353 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

There’s no such thing as a little in love…

Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. Then there’s the muscular wall of stubbornness that’s security expert Archer Hunt—who comes before everything else. No point in telling Mr. “Feels-Free Zone” that, though. Elle will just see other men until she gets over Archer . . . which should only take a lifetime . . .

There’s no such thing as a little in lust…

Archer’s wanted the best for Elle ever since he sacrificed his law-enforcement career to save her. But now that she’s earned happiness and success, Archer just wants Elle 24/7. Their chemistry could start the next San Francisco Earthquake, and Archer doesn’t want to be responsible for the damage. The alternative? Watch her go out with guys who aren’t him . . .

There is such a thing as…

As far as Archer’s concerned, nobody is good enough for Elle. But when he sets out to prove it by sabotaging her dates, she gets mad—and things get hot as hell. Now Archer has a new mission: prove to Elle that her perfect man has been here all along…

I enjoy Ms. Shalvis’s alpha heroes because they are so capable, contained and confident, except when it comes to the women who are able to get under their skin and turn on that emotional switch that flips them upside down and sideways. It never ceases to amuse and entertain me and that’s because Ms. Shalvis writes them so well. Archer is another wonderful hero for readers to fall in love with. We don’t get to keep him but Elle does – but what is she really going to do with him? Keep him or push him away? Love him or leave him? Only way to find out is to read the latest wonderful romance in the Heartbreaker Bay series.

The bulk of the novel’s conflict comes from Elle and Archer’s personal conflicts. They have a shared moment in history but they remember it differently and it colors their relationship in the years that follow. What neither realizes is that there was something that sparked between them back then and it’s powerful. Yet both characters needed to mature, find their own places in life and make choices that make them the people they are when the novel begins. The question then becomes – can they stop looking at each other through the filter of the past to realize that what they have now when they gaze into each other’s eyes in the present is what they both have been searching for? It’s a bumpy ride to the revelation. The high points are when their bodies are smarter than their brains, when passion explodes to show just how compatible they are, giving readers hope Elle and Archer will come together sooner rather than later.

My only complaint is that Elle took too long to come to her senses. I mean, the techniques Ms. Shalvis used to extend the heroine’s decision making process was cute (temporary truces when she had her ‘mad’ on) and it did bring a smile or two but I simply couldn’t understand why she was at that level of stubborn. Perhaps it needed the book length to give time for her sister to show up so there could be another quasi-HEA to round out the happiness factor. From there a domino effect captured Archer’s dad in its influence. I guess it could be said that the end justified the means. Still, I think the book could have been a chapter shorter if Elle could have gotten out of her own way just that little bit. Maybe it’s just me being impatient.

I really liked the sparks between Elle and Archer. I wanted them to figure things out sooner before there was an ‘oops’ that endangered the hero. Being in the business that he was, and Elle by her association with his crew, I knew someone was going to be in jeopardy. So who was going to be the hero or heroine to the rescue? That depends on interpretation. You decide. I thought it was a great external conflict because it affected the internal conflicts. A two-fer.

Accidentally on Purpose is definitely worth taking the time to read. Why? Not just because Ms. Shalvis wrote it. No, because it’s really that fun, entertaining and satisfying and the plot is engaging. For anyone who is following the series, I think they’re going to be happy and for new readers, I bet it’ll be a great discovery. Whichever you are, pick up a copy and get lost in the romance. It’s solid.

Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson


Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (354 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she’s hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn’t move three thousand miles to work on his uncle’s B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian–and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they’ve got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the north shore of fabled Prince Edward Island. It’s a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won’t you stay for the season?

A One-Click that was totally worth the risk.

The story starts with Marie who is down to her last few dollars and needs to buy a ferry ticket to go to Prince Edward Island. While waiting she meets, an older man, Jack who just so happens to be in need of someone to help him pick colors for an inn he’s just purchased. While at the inn Marie meets with a few of the local residents, Aretha and Caden and things seem to be going okay for her until Jack’s nephew, Seth enters the picture and things begin to get rocky.

I loved all the characters in this book. They came across as lifelike and loveable and I found myself cheering each of them. What I enjoyed the most was the speed at which the author revealed why Marie was running so far from home. Nothing was dumped too soon into the story which I felt added to its appeal. Seth too has his own demons to bear and as they slowly begin to trust one another you find yourself wanting to read more at each sitting.

There’s a second romance weaved into this story which was also enjoyable and that’s the one between Aretha and Jack. The conflict was believable and just when you thought they’d turned a corner there was something else that got in the way and made you want to read on.

I can’t remember ever reading a book set on Prince Edward Island but Ms. Johnson did such a good job describing it, I think I’d like to see it for myself. If you like sweet romances with lovable characters, a realistic plot and an island setting, then I’d definitely check this one out.

How Hard Can It Be? by Robyn Peterman


How Hard Can It Be? by Robyn Peterman
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspsense
Length: Full Length (278 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

One happy ending coming right up…

What happens when an accountant decides to grab life by the horns and try something new? Apparently a pirate named Dave, a lot of pastel fleece, and blackmail—just to start with…

Visualize and succeed, Oprah said. I was sure as hell trying, even if my campaign to score a job as the local weather girl had ended in a restraining order. Okay, TV was not my strength. But a lack of talent has never stopped me before. Which is why I’ve embarked on a writing career. I mean, how hard can it be to come up with a sexy romance?

Leave it to me to wind up in a group of grandmotherly porno writers who discuss sex toys and apple cobbler in the same breath. Also leave it to me to leak an outlandish plot idea to a bestselling author with the morals of a rabid squirrel. And only I could get arrested for a jewelry heist I didn’t commit—by a hunky cop whose handcuffs just might tempt me to sign up for a life of crime. Maybe I’ve found my calling after all…

I had a hard time starting off writing this review because I just didn’t know quite where to start. Do I mention the cringe-worthy giggles, the bust-a-gut laughter, the blushing snickers, the eye-popping ‘I Can’t Believe I Just Read That!’ shock or I need a tray of ice cubes because the sex is so hot while alternating to giggling at the ridiculous snafus the heroine gets herself into? My emotions were all over the place while reading How Hard Can It Be?. I can say with all confidence that I have never, ever, in all my years of reading come across a villain as … colorful, creepy, coarse, corrupt and comical as the one in this novel. I could not believe my eyes. The villain also inspires awesome alliteration.

Seriously though, I can’t be serious. Yes there is the mystery of what kind of information the villain has on Rena’s new writer friends that they’ve been blackmailed for almost twenty years; yes there is the fact the heroine has to be arrested for violating a restraining order; yes there are mysteries that abound that though different in nature are the binding that holds the book together and allows for all the hijinks and hilarity to have reason to exist. Even with all those potentially heavy and dire conflicts, Ms. Peterman kept me on the edge of my seat with suspense. Not for something bad to happen, but for the next madcap adventure, over-the-top description or comment, or Rena’s internal dialogue as she tries to make sense of the alien world of writers that she’s stumbled upon. Don’t EVEN get me started on the book, Pirate Dave and His Randy Adventures I’d fall off of my chair and never get up.

I had to classify this book under the erotic genre only because it overwhelmed me with sexual weirdness. How does a person use a garden gnome or garden tools for sex? BDSM references and jokes bounded off my eyeballs like ping pong balls. And please don’t ever mention silly putty to me – I’ll never look at it the same way ever again. But handcuffs are definitely all right, even more than alright if Jack is the one wielding them because he is so sexy and hot and he knows what he’s doing. Oh my!

If a reader is uncomfortable with the F-bomb being used as a verb, noun and adjective, then be warned. The F-bomb practically does calisthenics in this story.

There are a ton of surprises in store for readers because most every character in the novel isn’t quite what they seem. Nothing is as they believed and the truth is just as bizarre. But not as bizarre as the villain’s decorating taste. That has to be read to be believed.

How Hard Can It Be? is a solid romance because there is a happy ever after that is as grin inducing as the rest of the novel. Ms. Peterman has a wild imagination that is stunning. I guess this is book one of a trilogy; the other two involve Rena’s friend and Kristy’s eventual love’s sister. I’d read the second book first so it’s a safe bet that the three novels can be read in any order. However, now that I’ve read all of them, the little innuendos and subtext in the other two books make so much more sense that I feel like I should read them all in order to get the full effect. That would not be a hardship. I just need to make sure that I leave myself plenty of time for my reading pleasure. If readers are in the mood for hilarious kinkiness woven through a fun romance, then this is the book to try. Just watch out for the aliens in Aunt Phyllis’ toaster.

Back to Your Love by Kianna Alexander


Back to Your Love by Kianna Alexander
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (348 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

What would you give for a second chance?

Xavier Whitted has a lot on his plate. As a hardworking businessman, mentor to troubled teens, and aspiring politician in his Southern hometown, the daily demands never let up. A weekend at the beach for his best friend’s wedding is exactly what he needs. What he doesn’t need is to run into the woman who broke his heart ten years ago.

Imani Grant is more beautiful, confident and intelligent than ever, and their connection is still sizzling. But Imani harbors a secret that could destroy both their blossoming careers. She knows she has to keep her distance, but Xavier is determined to win back her heart–consequences be damned.

Back to Your Love is a gentle story with flawed but still admirable characters. The friendships and kinships are supportive and strong.

Imani Grant, now a doctor of dermatology, left home after high school graduation with determination to pursue her goals. She’d left with a broken heart that had never healed. Now, ten years later, she is home with a successful practice.

She and Xavier Whitted, who dumped her instead of proposing to her when they graduated high school, still have undeniable chemistry and caring that bring them together in a way that sends the blood racing.

Xavier, a CPA by profession and an avid social worker, sets in to regain Imani’s trust, not an easy task. He knows he handled a life-changing situation very poorly ten years ago. He is determined to correct that mistake.

Kianna Alexander filters in back-story and slips in foreshadowing that keep the reader intrigued. However, the internal conflicts Imani struggles with drive the story along a obstacle strewn path. While she tells herself, “The truth will set you free,” she can’t come to terms with guilt she carries.

For this reader, the love scenes crop up more often than needed. They are explicit but well-written. They just lose some impact by repetition.

Kianna Alexander does a beautiful job of writing about how the bad characters’ and the good characters’ lives get mixed up and influence both Imani’s and Xavier’s professional and personal lives. She does a masterful job of bringing all things together for that happy-ever-after.

Smooth enjoyable reading!

Graphite & Glitter by Shae Connor


Graphite & Glitter by Shae Connor
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (75 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy (F/F interaction)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

All that glitters might just be gold.

Adrienne Michaels’ best friend is getting married, and Adrienne’s not feeling it on the night of the bachelorette party. Then she meets Tessa Smith, bass player for an all-female glam rock tribute band. After a one-night stand worthy of the hottest rock star fantasies, Tessa surprises Adrienne by asking her on a real date, and Adrienne soon finds Tessa’s side gig pales in comparison to the down-to-earth music geek beneath the glitter. Tessa even helps Adrienne through a family loss, but when Tessa gets a sweet job offer in another city, Adrienne has to make a choice: let her go, follow her halfway across the country—or become part of the reason for her to stay.

It was only supposed to be a fling.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the dialogue. Whether it was main characters or one of Adrienne’s friends talking, everyone was always on point when it was their turn to speak. There were a few times when I had to stop reading and let myself chuckle for a minute before diving back into the plot because of how humorous and realistic all of those conversations were.

I would have preferred to see a little more character development when it came to Tessa and Adrianne’s personalities. The plot showed how they behaved when they were at work, but I never quite got the same sense of their personalities when they were in less formal situations. As much as I liked them, I would have loved to know more about who they were when they let their hair down and completely relaxed. Those sides of their lives remained a mystery. I would have given this book a perfect score if I’d known the main characters just a little better.

Adrianne and Tessa were perfect for each other in every way. They were both so witty and flirtatious that I couldn’t wait to see what kind of playful comeback they’d come up with the next time they met. I also loved the fact that they had so much in common. This made it easy for me to understand why their relationship moved as quickly as it did. They agreed on so many different things that it simply wasn’t necessary to talk a lot of that stuff out. It was nice to have that foundation set so firmly while I waited to see if these characters would end up together for longer than one night.

Graphite & Glitter was a beautiful love story. If you’re in the mood for something funny, hot, and romantic, definitely give this tale a whirl.

A Perfect Beginning by Casper Graham


A Perfect Beginning by Casper Graham
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (65 pgs)
Other: M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Brandon Miller is attracted to his superior, Jacob Connors, and the man’s boyfriend, Harold Collins, but he doesn’t want to insinuate himself into another couple’s relationship. Unexpectedly, the two men ask him out on a date and invite him into their lives.

Jacob Connors is having problems with his boyfriend, but neither men is willing to end things between them. Instead of working things out in an ordinary manner, their relationship becomes more complicated when they decide to add Brandon Miller into the mix.

Will Brandon be the missing puzzle piece that completes the relationship between Jacob and Harold? Or will the three men crash and burn together?

Jacob and Harold had been together for years, their rough, aggressive sex belying just how deeply they loved each other. As good as their relationship is though, it lacked any tenderness and they both knew they needed to add some to even though both out. Jason decided adding one of his employees, Brandon, into the mix might be exactly the sort of thing they needed. Harold isn’t as sure, but is willing to try anything to help their relationship be as perfect as possible.

I found this to be an interesting take on how a committed, solid, long-term couple could include a third person and alter their relationship into becoming a ménage. Jacob and Harold were both very self-aware and honest about the issues in their relationship, and while it certainly isn’t conventional to add a carefully selected third party to balance – they were certain it would work for them. And they proved to be correct. The two strong-willed, alpha males understood themselves enough to know they couldn’t – wouldn’t – change, and Brandon acted as quite the buffer between them. I have serious doubts this would work very often (if at all) in reality, but the joy of fiction is that – for me at least – it only needs to be logical, not necessarily realistic.

This short story also appealed to me as it showed and explained quite a few of the structural changes that need to occur when two become three. Jacob and Harold were both very open to each other of what sort of fantasies they were having when they decided to include Brandon, which I found helped greatly open their lines of communication – which is critical in a ménage. Also, they didn’t rush to immediately include Brandon in every aspect of their life. I was pleased to see that they took a more careful and realistic pace to the whole matter.

With a nice slow pace, I enjoyed watching Jacob, Harold and Brandon integrate their lives together and become a threesome. With plenty of steamy, descriptive sex and plenty of alpha like passion I feel this is sure to appeal to a large audience of M/M readers.

Valor Under Siege by Elizabeth Boyce


Valor Under Siege by Elizabeth Boyce
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (224 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

All’s fair in love and politics…

When ambitious solicitor Norman Wynford-Scott is ousted from his legal studies due to a holiday revel spun out of control, he adapts a new plan of running for the Parliament seat of a local village. Only trouble is, the same irresistible woman who ruined his good name is thwarting his campaign at every turn.

Widowed and drink-addicted, Lady Elsa Fay has retreated to the family village of Fleck to regain her sobriety. She’s distracting herself from her troubles—and her memories of the one passionate night she shared with Norman—by organizing the Parliament campaign of her husband’s cousin. Until Norman arrives intent on winning the seat for himself.

Shamed and determined, Elsa will do all she can to send her former friend and now adversary packing—even if it means breaking her own heart in the process.

1817 London … and the punch catches fire. Yes, the party punch. On fire. Elizabeth Boyce’s new historical Valor Under Siege sets off in a surprising manner, and if curiosity did not at once envelope the reader, her style would undoubtedly beguile them.

If flouncing gowns, sharp-heeled shoes and wandering flames do not do-in poor old Norman Wynford-Scott, his urge to ‘leave a mark’ on the school might well.

Wynford-Scott captures the readers’ sympathies at once. Events, intended to be enjoyable Christmas revels, have gotten out of hand. Though we’ve scarcely met our main character, he’s plainly being pushed out of his comfort zone.

Lady Fay is quite a different character, all in all. She might feel shame, but she knew what she was about. We readers are still back, feeling for poor Norman. Lady Fay’s predicament seems well-deserved. We’re thinking maybe he should have … but no giveaways here! Valor Under Siege is full of the quirk-ily unexpected, and I don’t want to spoil a minute of it. Although there are laugh-out-loud moments, there is the surprisingly heartfelt as well. Occasionally the book might wallow in Lady Fay’s outlook a tad more than strictly required; my one and only complaint.

Hot moments are indescribably hot, thoroughly described but not overdone, not out-of-place. The backdrop is perfect; from Gray’s Inn to the grand home, Norman’s preference for riding to traveling in the carriage, and Fay’s trust in and reliance on her servant. The historical setting is well done but not intrusive.

Valor Under Siege is a clever, quick, unexpected and genuinely hot . Its a case of drawing-room valor to be certain, but valor nonetheless.