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text 2015-12-09 15:54
Checkmate: Chess in Romance Novels
The Eight - Katherine Neville
Desperate Duchesses - Eloisa James
Pawn (Ironclad Bodyguards Book 1) - Molly Joseph,Annabel Joseph
You're the One: a Bistro La Bohème novella - Alix Nichols
One Night Is Never Enough - Anne Mallory
Queen's Gambit - Marie Treanor
74 Seaside Avenue - Debbie Macomber
Game of Kings: A Thrilling Modern Reimagining of Pride and Prejudice - Anthea Carson,D.J. Natelson,Jane Austen
Miss Gabriel's Gambit - Rita Boucher
Finessing the Contessa - Wendy Soliman

At a family birthday party this week, I looked across a room filled to the brim with people to see my son not engrossed in a hand held device but playing chess with his uncle's best friend. 


A love this quiet fierce game that spans generation, place, time, and culture.  


I will admit to sucking at it myself but I don't have to be good at something to like it. 


Here is a list of wonderful Romance Novels featuring chess, chess players and chess sets.


My lists are never in any particular order. Enjoy!


1.  The Eight by Katherine Neville


Computer expert Cat Velis is heading for a job to Algeria. Before she goes, a mysterious fortune teller warns her of danger, and an antique dealer asks her to search for pieces to a valuable chess set that has been missing for years...In the South of France in 1790 two convent girls hide valuable pieces of a chess set all over the world, because the game that can be played with them is too powerful....


2.  Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James


A marquess's sheltered only daughter, Lady Roberta St. Giles falls in love with a man she glimpses across a crowded ballroom: a duke, a game player of consummate skill, a notorious rakehell who shows no interest in marriage—until he lays eyes on Roberta.


Yet the Earl of Gryffyn knows too well that the price required to gain a coronet is often too high. Damon Reeve, the earl, is determined to protect the exquisite Roberta from chasing after the wrong destiny.


Can Damon entice her into a high-stakes game of his own, even if his heart is likely to be lost in the venture?


3. Pawn by Molly Joseph


High stakes chess competition has always been a man’s game—until Grace Ann Frasier topples some of the game’s greatest champions and turns the chess world on its ear. Her prowess at the game is matched only by her rivals’ desire to defeat her, or, worse, avenge their losses. When an international championship threatens Grace’s safety, a bevy of security experts are hired to look after her, but only one is her personal, close-duty bodyguard, courtesy of Ironclad Solutions, Inc. 

Sam Knight knows nothing about chess, but he knows Grace is working to achieve something important, and he vows to shelter her from those who mean her harm. When she leans on him for emotional support, attraction battles with professionalism and Sam finds his self-discipline wavering. Soon the complexity of their relationship resembles a chess board, where one questionable move can ruin everything—or win a game that could resonate around the world.


4. You're the One by Alix Nichols


When schoolteacher Natalie meets chess grandmaster Adrien at the Bistro La Bohème, the connection is immediate and real. Romance is in the air -- until life makes a move to test how well they know their hearts...


5. One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory


From the first glimpse he knew he must have her — even if only for a single night . . .

Powerful, ruthless, seductive—the lord of London’s underworld—Roman Merrick gets anything he wants . . . and he burns for Charlotte Chatsworth, a polished jewel in the glittering ton. So he engages her debt-ridden gambler father in a game of chance, wagering ten thousand pounds against one night with the man’s exquisite daughter. And Roman Merrick never loses.


But one night is never enough . . .


Charlotte is devastated to learn that her reprobate father has lost her in a card game to the most dangerous man she’s ever met. With the threat of ruin behind every corner, Charlotte embarks upon a perilous path with the man she cannot forget. But in truth, it’s Roman who has everything to lose—for a game undertaken for pleasure alone soon has him gambling his heart. And love and passion unleashed could bring his great, dark empire tumbling down . . .



6. 74 Seaside Avenue by Debbie Macomber


Olivia Lockhart-Griffin 

Cedar Cove, Washington 


Dear Reader, 

Do you remember Teri Miller? She works at Get Nailed, the beauty salon here in town. Well, Teri got married a little while ago—to Bobby Polgar, the famous chess champion. They've moved into a beautiful house, 74 Seaside Avenue, which has a spectacular view of Puget Sound. 


Teri's my hairdresser, and she confided that something seems to be worrying Bobby. When she asked him about it, he told her he was "protecting his queen," and she got the oddest feeling that he wasn't talking about chess, but about her. 

Rachel Pendergast also works at Get Nailed, and I've heard that she has two men seriously interested in her. I also wanted to tell you that Linnette McAfee, who's Roy and Corrie's daughter, recently left town because her love life fell apart. We all know about that kind of trouble. 


Oh, by the way, Teri says we should come in soon for a manicure and a chat…. 




7. Queen's Gambit by Marie Treanor


The Grand Master of her body—and her fate.


Ever since a jealous wife cursed her, Christi Blythe has lived seven hundreds years of a half life, trapped by day in the black queen of a chess set. She lives only between the hours of dusk and dawn, waiting for the one true love who is willing to sacrifice a vital game of chess to break the curse.


Now, years after she has given up hope, her remote Highland hotel is hosting a chess match between two high-profile Grand Masters of the game. One of them is the brilliant but erratic Russian, Andrei Zuvaran.


Andrei suspects there is something different about the luscious barmaid and her chess set. One hot night with her—and one shocking dawn—confirms it. But he can’t afford to lose this match. Not even to free her.


He’s got more riding on it than money, more than his heart. His next move could cost a life.


8. Game of Kings by Anthea Carson


Something is rotten in the world of chess. Darla Martin is perfectly content to live in Denver, work at a library, and play chess every night. That’s before she meets Mikhail, a mysterious and proud Russian grandmaster. And Maxwell, who is charming and handsome and speaks of dark things. And Fred, who warns her not to look into his eyes. Before she knows it, Darla’s comfortable world is turned upside down.


9.  Miss Gabriel's Gambit by Rita Boucher


Beautiful Sylvia Gabriel has more cause than most to despise the Game of Kings. Chess has been the ruination of her life—ending her engagement, filching her fortune and reducing her to poor relation. But when she finds herself falling in love with chessmaster David Rutherford, the new Lord Donhill, Sylvia stakes her heart, her future and her reputation on the riskiest gambit of all


10. Finessing the Contessa by Wendy Soliman


Lord Robert Forster hopes to meet his match—on the chessboard. He jumps at the chance to cross rooks with the renowned Sicilian widow Contessa Electra Falzone. However, the lovely foreigner's bold opening gambit raises concerns about her politics when she finds her way into his bedchamber, not with seduction in mind, but to steal state secrets.


Electra Falzone has always avoided scandalous liaisons, until blackmail forces her to turn thief and risk her reputation in the arms of the handsome Lord Robert. If her manipulators were threatening only her, she would confess all to her fellow strategist. But given who will suffer if she fails, she can't afford to take that risk.


Drawn to the exotic contessa, Rob won't allow her to be used as a pawn by an unscrupulous schemer. But if Electra is determined to play this dangerous game for reasons of her own, nothing Rob can do will stop her.



Let me know if I missed a Chess Romance you love!


Vote for the best of the best on my Goodreads list: Checkmate: Chess in Romance Novels

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review 2013-09-01 00:00
Rita Boucher's "The Devil's Due"
The Devil's Due - Rita Boucher

This book is from the old Signet Regency romance line, although it is not strictly speaking a Regency romance at all. The story takes place in an old castle in Scotland that had been abandoned when the previous laird dies and his only son is believed killed in battle in the Peninsular War. The new laird, Duncan, did not die in battle, but had been betrayed by an Englishman, then captured and held by the French. After he escapes from the French prison, he and his faithful Cockney valet/batman make their way back to the family castle and find the heroine, Kate, living there with her mute daughter and her maid-of-all-work Daisy. It turns out that the same Englishman who betrayed Duncan to the French is responsible for the daughter's loss of speech and Kate's having to live in hiding in Duncan's castle. The story is somewhat convoluted and has too many pat coincidences to give it more than 3 stars. The use of Cockney accents for the speech of the English servants of Kate and Duncan and Scots accents for the Scottish villagers is a bit distracting and slows the reader down until one figures out what is being said, but does add to the atmosphere of the book.

The book's cover illustration is a bit silly because the hero actually has only one eye, having lost the other when he was betrayed and ambushed, and wears an eyepatch. In the scene illustrated on the cover, he has also not shaved for about a month and has a full growth of beard, as well as a scar from his jaw up to his missing eye! Also, in the book the couple are dancing some sort of Scottish reel, not waltzing.

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review 2009-08-26 00:00
Lord of Illusion (Signet Regency Romance)
Lord of Illusion (Signet Regency Romance) - Rita Boucher Heroine: Rowan Du Le Fey, the widowed Comtesse Du Le Fey, France's mistress of witches

Hero: Damien Nostradamus Wilton, Lord Wodesby, England's chief mage

Verdict: When I finished this book (read cover to cover in one sitting, 5AM in the morning be damned!), I literally had only one word: "Wow." This book was amazing, and Boucher left me speechless with the deftness of her pen and the depth of her characters. She has intricately woven an exciting and moving story that leaves a deep impression on the reader even after you put down the book. I found myself wishing the Wodesbys were real and that their magical world really was all around us. Although the cross-section may be small, lovers of Harry Potter and Regency England will fall in love with this book. The story itself is a serious one (not a Barbara Metzger comedy), but it is so emotionally arresting and creative that you are just drawn into the world of magical Regency England.

In a sentence or two: Rowan and Damien meet in the country disguised as a dowdy governess for Sir Hector's children and stage magician, respectively. She has been blackmailed into using her Gift to spy for Napoleon, and Damien has been sent to find the cause of governmental leaks coming from Sir Hector's household.
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review 2009-08-26 00:00
The Would-be Witch - Rita Boucher A mainstay on my traditional Regency rereads list. I pull this one out about once a year to get reacquainted with the Wodesbys.

Miranda Wilton has grown up in a world of magic - true, ancient magic. Her family, the Wodesbys, is one of the oldest in England. They are direct descendants of Merlin and have served as advisors to royalty for generations. Although children who carry the Blood (i.e., those of magical heritage) are promised to others of the Blood from birth, Miranda, at 28, remains unwed. Why? She carries the Blood, but any powers that may have manifested in her have been dormant since birth. As such, no family of the Blood wants to risk marrying their son to Miranda, who they fear might produce children who are also "lacking" as she is. Although they are an ancient and noble name, the Wodesbys have always carried the air of mysticism, and those of the ton (and not of magical heritage), while respectful of the Wodesby's lineage, have no desire to ally themselves with the family. Thus, Miranda carries all of the burden of her ancient name - the whispers, the rumors, the tales of sorcery - while enjoying none of the wondrous magical benefits.

Lord Adam Brand watched his father empty the family coffers in his search for evidence of the hereafter and signs of his beloved wife after her death. Now, having replenished the family fortunes upon assuming the marquessdom after his father's death, Adam has made it his life's mission to unveil the charlatans that purportedly practice "magic" for money and, in so doing, dupe gullible innocents like his father. When Adam encounters Miranda, her beauty and misguided (or so he believes) belief in the power of magic intrigue and challenge him. He is skeptical of this "magic," and when he hears Miranda proclaim with shame that she lacks any of these magical powers, he's taken aback that such a seemingly intelligent woman could believe in such nonsense. He doesn't understand how a woman of Miranda's birth and beauty can consider herself lacking in anything, to be honest. Through a series of events that begin with a tarot reading from Miranda's mother and include assistance from a feline familiar named Thorpe, Miranda and Adam are thrown together when Miranda's mother bestows the Wodesby's seal of protection upon Adam.

This novel is very well written and presents two seemingly opposite personalities that are brought together by circumstances, both magical and practical. With the aforementioned Thorpe, a giant mastiff named Angel, an otherworldly seance, gypsy Rom servants, and an appearance by the Mage of England (Miranda's brother, the H of the next book, Lord of Illusion) to add to the magical atmosphere, this book is not your typical traditional Regency. A secondary romance between Adam's uncle and Miranda's widowed mother adds a nice element of depth and counterpoint to Adam's resistance in believing in the magic in which his uncle (whom Adam respects) already so clearly believes.

It's unusual to have a traditional Regency that carries a paranormal element. This book does it quite well, and Boucher writes a well-plotted and moving tale of two complex souls finding each other in the midst of magical London.
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