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review 2017-05-30 01:11
The Wicked Cousin by Stella Riley
The Wicked Cousin (Rockliffe Book 4) - Stella Riley

After his twin brother died and his father smothered him trying to keep him from any danger, Sebastian broke the chains to live a wild and carefree life. Now that he is a little older and wiser, he just wishes all the fervor from his younger exploits would die down.

Cassandra is less than impressed with all the stories about their wicked "cousin" but when she actually meets the man, she finds herself singing a different tune.

 

Fourth in the Rockliffe series, The Wicked Cousin focuses on Sebastian and Cassandra. I'm a newbie to this series and while it is entirely possible to start here, the extended family and friends secondary characters (heroes and heroines from the previous books) will make you wish you had read their stories. If you've read Grace Burrowes and her Windham series, the incorporation of past characters and world building is in the same vein here. I did think Riley did a slightly better job of unobtrusively weaving them in, not as much a feeling of off tangent if you're not previously acquainted with them.

 

And with the utmost reluctance, she saw what she had been unconsciously determined not to see. She saw what all the fuss was about.

 

Cassandra was our wondrously level-headed heroine, who does get a bit outshined by the hero, but always likeable. A heroine from a loving family with no horrible trauma almost seems like a novelty these days. However, the angst that was replaced with loving family dynamics, a sweet father and mother paired with an overly precocious little sister, provided heartwarming nuances and emotions more modern trends have been leaving out. I would have liked more scenes with Cassandra interacting with her sister, mother, and friends, as Riley did a tremendous job showcasing the male relationships.

 

It occurred to Sebastian that, in only a handful of meetings, he had come to like Cassandra Delahaye much more than was probably wise.

 

Our hero Sebastian is one that you won't help but fall in love with. The pain and sense of loss (both brother and sense of self) when his twin brother dies is heartbreaking. The way that Riley took this instance and constructed how it affected Sebastian, his family, and therefore their relationships added immense depth, you'll feel this story. Before we are introduced to Sebastian we learn of his persona but just like Cassandra learns, the true man is much more. His character make-up was so rich, confident, and teasing but yet vulnerable and shy at times. He was no one-trick pony or cardboard cutout, if you're a hero-centric reader, you don't want to miss Sebastian and his gorgeous garnet hair.

 

This was very much a character driven story, in which there was such an ease and flow to the writing that it envelopes you into the story. There was dramatic flair added with a scorned mistress causing problems for our couple. This provided some of the drama we all secretly love in romance but did stretch out for an unneeded extra scene; it turned around to feel like the deranged villain needed serious help instead of the truth spoke a bit harshly to her, even if it also felt justified. The story tempo is more leisurely, which with the richness of characters and story I didn't mind, but there were a few times I thought it was too slow following a bit long on offshoots. I also thought the climax of the story hit around the 80% mark and created a bit of a deflated balloon ending, however, people who like extended epilogues will probably enjoy the continuation.

 

All in all, I was a big fan of this story with its rich depth in characters and world. I've been complaining lately of story structure, definitely not a probably here, it feels like this was edited with a fine tooth comb. I'll be going back and reading the rest of the books in this series, I have a strong desire to grow more acquainted with the Duke of Rockliffe after his appearances here. There was also glimpses of a secondary romance featured and with the set-up of a duke's brother and woman who feels she couldn't be good enough for him, you can bet I'll be first in line when it gets published. We read romance to get lost in another world for some time, this is one you'll not want to come back from.

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text 2017-05-27 17:18
Reading Update: 50%
The Wicked Cousin (Rockliffe Book 4) - Stella Riley

I can't remember it exactly but the quote about falling in love slowly then all at once, yeah, that is how I feel about this. This is the kind of story you specifically buy a soft, cozy blanket to wrap up in and zone out the world to.

Also, because I would be remiss if I didn't send out the Ginger Haired Hero Alert.
Or maybe that should be a Garnet Haired Hero Alert :)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-08-10 20:55
The Mésalliance or He's Come Undone. . .
The Mésalliance (Rockliffe) (Volume 2) - Stella Riley

Every time I've decided to sit down and write this review, I became distracted. I'd pull out my copy of The Mésalliance, notes, and highlights, and then a strange thing would happen. I'd begin to read a passage I loved and pretty soon the review, and all else to be honest, was forgotten. Three times now, this has happened. One minute I would have a million thoughts waiting to be translated to somewhat coherent sentences, and then poof! I was lured right into reading the entire book. Again. And again. So perhaps distracted is not exactly correct. Ensorcelled? Fascinated? Mesmerized? Bewitched? All of the above? Now, I have battened down my hatches, girded things that need girding, clicked my ruby red slippers three times, and I'm hoping some sort of review will really happen this time. No guarantees, however.

 

I love/adore Georgian historical romances. It's an era that's so rich, so flamboyant and lusty and liberated. And, oh, those exquisite fashions for both men and women - hoopskirts and panniers, corsets, petticoats, clocked stockings, snuff/patch boxes, red-heeled shoes with diamond buckles, and, of course, longer hair for men. *sigh* Where's my DeLorean? How could I not enjoy The Mésalliance? And I did. At last count, three times. Oh, yes, indeed. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

 

Like the first meeting between Tracy Giles Wynstanton, fourth Duke of Rockliffe, and Adeline Mary Kendrick. She's just a sixteen year old wild child, and he's a twenty-eight year old seasoned soldier. Tracy has not yet assumed the ducal title and is visiting his "most distant and least favourite estate" in Northumberland, Redesdale. He escaped the heat of London while on furlough from an injury, avoids his garrulous bailiff, Mr. Forne, as much as possible, and is hopeful of returning to his army regiment soon. He's intrigued by the barefoot Adeline as much as he's dismissive of the "untidy child of incredible simplicity" who's "all eyes and mouth and wildly disordered nut-brown hair." Adeline likewise is fascinated by Tracy. Fascinated by his gentleness and kindness and calm reassurance the few times they accidentally meet. Though not experienced with either "gentlemen" or kindness, Adeline recognizes both qualities in Tracy. It's an unusual meeting without any of the banality.

 

Eight years pass before Tracy and Adeline meet again at a house party, and their second meeting holds an element of disappointment and shock at the changes in both of them. After her grandfather's death, Adeline is shunted off to live with her aunt, Lady Franklin, and identical twin cousins, Diana and Anthea (or "Dianthea, the stomach disorder"), shades of Cinderella. Adeline is not treated as family but as a servant at the beck and call of her aunt, intimidated by her Uncle Richard, and subjected to Diana's whims and tantrums. Her aunt and her brother, Adeline's Uncle Richard, scolded, locked away, and then beat the wild, gypsy child in Adeline into submission, but though she conformed and shored up her defenses for self protection, she also discovered a more subtle way to rebel: by combining "apparent docility with an under-current of clever, hard to combat acidity." Tracy ("Rock") is disillusioned to see the "unspoilt, sensitive, and fragile" creature from eight years ago has been replaced with a sharp-tongued, bitter woman. But Tracy doesn't know why she's changed; he merely sees the effects of seven years of having to hide her true self.

 

Meeting long-lashed aquamarine eyes filled with detached irony and set beneath narrow, winged brows, his first thought was that she was changed beyond recognition ... and his second, that he would have known her anywhere. The eyes and the voice were the same; it was only the suggestion of frosted bitterness that was new. (26)

 

All that remained was a cold-eyed woman with a barbed tongue - a fact that left him feeling faintly cheated until he remembered that painful flush, swiftly followed by flight. (27)

 

Likewise, Adeline's memory of the kind, young gentleman is replaced by a man who lashes out at Adeline in his anger and disappointment, words which Tracy later regrets and are a source of embarrassment for him.

 

He smiled at her with what at least two persons present recognized as dangerous benevolence and said gently, 'Perhaps you did indeed have just cause for doubting my ability to place you. After all, I'm compelled to acknowledge that I find you considerably changed.' He paused and conducted a leisurely head to foot appraisal. 'You appear, for example, to have discovered the benefits of wearing shoes - an achievement on which I can only congratulate you.' (27)

 

Adeline recognizes this man, the Duke of Rockliffe, is not Tracy. He is a man of her aunt's social strata, a stranger to her, remote, untouchable. This man with his practiced manner, courtly bows, elaborate mode of dress, snuff box, powdered hair, and subtle sarcasm was foreign to her. Eight years ago, he had demonstrated no artifice. His dark hair, sometimes so black "it glinted blue in the sun", had been natural, without powder. All of the changes are encapsulated in his powdered hair.

 

She remembered wanting, more than anything to touch it - but, of course, she never had. And now he chose to wear it powdered ... and stupidly, illogically, she had felt disappointed. (38)

 

And yet, she knows he was ashamed of the way he humiliated her in front of her aunt and her aunt's guests. And he tries to understand "why" she's different. Through all the conflict in these first meetings, the mutual attraction, whether wanted or not, is never in question. They strike sparks off each other and seem to be perfectly matched, in temperament, in wit, and in intelligence. I didn't even wonder why poor Tracy wasn't sure whether he wanted to kiss Adeline or shake her or why Adeline felt she needed to avoid Tracy.

 

I loved their separate moments of recognition, two moments at different times but that complement the other, moments in which they each see in the other a flash of their familiar selves from eight years ago. The sense of loss is replaced with an affirmation and confirmation of who they were and are separately and what they may become together. It's a reassurance for both that whatever the obstacles between them, they are simply Tracy and Adeline.

 

This time it was no fleeting brush of the lips. This time, he took what he had been wanting to take for a week; and Adeline, stunned as much by the suddenness of it as by the feel of his body against hers, found herself powerless to resist.

 

Slowly releasing her, Rockliffe looked into eyes that were no longer coolly composed but startled, confused and a little shy. Eyes that belonged less to the woman she was now than to the girl she had been eight years ago. ‘Ah,’ he thought. ‘Yes. There you are.’ (87-88)

 

Rockliffe emerged from the breakfast-room. His coat was of plain black cloth and, beneath it, his shirt was open at the neck and worn without cravat or vest. But it wasn’t his clothes that stopped her mid-step and made her forget to breathe. His hair, apparently freshly washed, was unpowdered … and black as a raven’s wing. The air froze in her lungs, something lurched behind her blue dimity bodice and she thought foolishly, ‘Oh. There you are.(116)

 

The Mésalliance is, to me, more Tracy's book than Adeline's. By that I mean, it is his character who undergoes more of a transformation than Adeline. She has to learn to trust, a hard battle and a difficult journey on its own, and it is her sense of unworthiness and lack of trust that allows a blackmail scheme instigated by her Uncle Richard to become the barrier between her and Tracy. It is also at the center of a series of misunderstandings and the impetus for the "Dark Moment", or the "point of ritual death" (Regis, The Natural History of the Romance Novel) and emotional separation between Tracy and Adeline throughout the second half of The Mésalliance.

 

Tracy's metamorphosis, however, is so very dramatic. A major part of my enjoyment of The Mésalliance was watching Tracy with his vaunted self-control, self-possession, charm, confidence, elegance (with just a touch of ennui, don't you know), a man who defines the word "languid" in both deed and word, a man whose rapier wit and laconic manner of delivery comes completely undone.

 

He is a kind man, a patient man, meticulous in his manners, tasteful and a trendsetter in his mode of dress. He is a loyal and supportive friend and brother. He is a man who eschews violence but who can deliver a stinging rebuff in a soft dangerous tone of voice with a modicum of words. For example, Tracy admonishes Adeline to be civil when her aunt and her self-absorbed cousin, Diana, come to London for the season. But, he can't resist one of his double-edged barbs to put Lady Franklin and Diana in their place.

 

And then, as the girls moved away, "Poor Thea is so timid, I sometimes despair of her. I only wish she could acquire just a fraction of dear Diana's confidence."

 

'I am sure you must do,' agreed Rockliffe sympathetically. 'And vice versa.'

 

Lady Franklin continued to gaze up at the Duke with faintly baffled suspicion for a moment and then gave it up. (148)

 

And then there are his snuff-boxes. Ah, me. These little trinkets are not simply accessories to be coordinated with the proper jacket and waistcoat. Be they Sèvres or "silver gilt decorated in the Florentine style", a Wedgwood beauty, a pretty enameled bauble, or a fine old ivory trifle from Paris, these little boxes are his way of deflecting the too personal question, buying time, a relief from boredom, an object of meditation, the opening gambit in a search for information, and a million other uses. In other words, snuff-boxes are to Tracy what the little blue blanket is to Linus van Pelt in Peanuts.

 

Over the course of the second half of The Mésalliance, his closest friendships with two men are strained to the breaking point for no greater reason than he is a man at his wits end trying to court his wife, knowing something is wrong and realizing she won't or can't share the problem with him but turns instead to his friends. The man who cooly dismissed a tempestuous mistress without lifting an elegant eyebrow is . . .jealous. Of his friends, Jack and Harry.

 

'I don’t know what the two of you have quarrelled about and I don’t want to know –but the sooner you make it up, the better for all of us.’ He grinned suddenly. ‘You may not have realised it, but you’re not the only sufferer. It’s making him extremely touchy and putting a nasty edge on his tongue.’

 

‘Dear me,’ drawled a soft, mocking voice, ‘Who can you mean, I wonder?’

 

'I find I object...rather strongly...to both curiosity and interference. And - much though I may regret it - I am quite willing to press the point, if necessary.' He paused, meeting Jack's gaze with cold amusement. 'I'm sure you understand me.'

 

'Oh for God's sake, stop being so damned ridiculous,' came the irritable and largely unexpired retort. 'I've told you before - it'll be a cold day in hell before I let you provoke me into crossing swords with you. And particularly over something like this.'

 

'Still craven, Jack?'

 

'No. Still sensible.'

 

'Ah. And do you consider it sensible to closet yourself away with my wife for a full fifteen minutes?'asked his Grace sweetly. 'For, if so, I believe I must acquaint you with your mistake.' (252-253)
~~~~~~~~~~
Well!’ exclaimed Harry with dry humour. ‘Am I allowed to sit down –or had I best take myself off to the other room?'

 

‘That,’ replied his Grace, ‘rather depends on what you want to talk about.’

 

‘Oh –I’ll be dumb, never fear. Though it would be a damned sight easier if I knew exactly what’s eating you.’

 

‘What is all this?’ asked Lord Amberley, laughing. ‘Do you know, Jack?’

 

‘It looks,’ observed Mr Ingram, ‘rather like a quarrel.’

 

‘Lord, no! Nothing of the sort,’ said Harry, seating himself. ‘You have to talk to each other for that.’ (244)
~~~~~~~~~~~
At a saner level beneath his involuntary jealousy, Rockliffe was well aware where Harry’s heart lay and, although this did not help him in his dealings with Adeline, it did make it possible for him to tacitly heal the breach with his lordship.

 

‘But he made damned sure I wouldn’t dare ask any awkward questions,’ confided Harry later to Nell. ‘Gave me the sort of smile you usually see over a yard of steel and advised me –ever so gently, mind –not to meddle. Then he showed me his newest snuff-box.’ (246)

 

The climax, so to speak, is at a very public venue - the Queensbury House Ball - among a few hundred of the crème de la crème of London Society. Though Tracy gives the appearance of a man in control at the beginning of the evening, dressed in his finest, he's a man who loses every bit of his control in just a few hours.

 

". . . elegantly saturnine in silver-laced black with the Order of the Garter displayed upon his chest and diamonds winking on his fingers and in his cravat. As always, his hair was confined at the nape in long sable ribbons - to which, tonight, was added a narrow diamond clasp; and as had been his habit again in recent weeks, it was thickly powdered." (263)

 

By the end of the evening, he has raised his voice, raised a little hell, lured Diana the viper into revealing her true colors to all and sundry, delivered a look so intimidating to poor Adeline she flees the ballroom, separated the villainous Uncle Richard from a few of his teeth, promised a fate worse than death if Richard Horton and his "hell-born niece" ever come near Adeline ever again, and chased Adeline down to his country estate at Wynstanton Priors.

 

Remember the silver-laced black brocade coat, diamonds, etc.? When he finds Adeline, he's covered in dust from the road, his right sleeve is "partially adrift", the Garter is missing as well as the lace at his wrists. The diamonds are probably scattered like breadcrumbs from London to the Priors. In place of his elegant buckled shoes, he's now wearing top boots, and his hair, still bearing faint traces of powder, is "hopelessly windswept." Tracy, it is fair to say, isn't a happy camper at the moment. He has unraveled in a most spectacular and very public way.

 

"So far, I've lost my temper, my finesse and a particularly fine snuff-box. I've bruised my knuckles, winded my favorite mare and missed my breakfast. But what I have not done is ride forty miles in a guise I can only describe as lamentable, merely for the pleasure of your conversation. Let's go." (280)

 

This is my first book by Stella Riley, and I thoroughly enjoyed every word despite a little disappointment that Adeline was so completely cowed and intimidated by her Uncle Richard and his blackmail scheme in the last half of the book as well as her inability to be honest with Tracy and place her trust in him once and for all. Tracy gave her every reason to believe he would not judge her poorly for the skeletons in her closet, and he generously gave her so many opportunities to enlist his assistance. She justifies her actions as protecting the man she loved, ensuring his name was never tainted with her scandal. I understood that in one respect, and that it led to a more disordered, unraveled, slightly messy Tracy made it a little easier to swallow. I'm ecstatic that there are two more books in this series - The Parfit Knight (Rockliffe #1) and The Player (Rockliffe #3) as well as the possibility of a fourth in the series in the future. Life is very good indeed!

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text 2015-03-03 15:26
Conflagrations: Great Urban Fires in Romance Novels
Rancher Wants a Wife (Mail-Order Weddings) - Kate Bridges
The Hostage - Susan Wiggs
The Spice Merchant's Wife - Charlotte Betts
Journey's End - Patricia Crossley
The Marigold Chain - Stella Riley
The Vagabond Duchess - Claire Thornton
By Elizabeth Camden Into the Whirlwind - Elizabeth Camden
One Sweet Moment - Maggie Craig
A Man for Annalee - Vonnie Davis
Blessed Assurance: Whispers of Love/Lost in His Love/Echoes of Mercy - Lyn Cote

Large scale events such as Urban Fires make wonderful settings for Romance Novels. They give the reader a natural conflict and a depth of history.

 

Here are some marvelous love stories set during the Great Urban Fires of San Fransico, London, Edinburgh, and Chicago.

 

My lists are never in any particular order. 

 

1. The Hostage (The Chicago Fire Trilogy Book 1) by Susan Wiggs

 

Deborah Sinclair is a beautiful, accomplished young heiress with a staggering dowry. But her fortune does her no good when, one horrible night, Chicago is engulfed in flames.

Tom Silver will walk through fire to avenge a terrible injustice—and he may have to. But when he makes Deborah a pawn in his revenge, the heat of the inferno fades next to the attraction he feels for his captive. And the further he takes her from everything she's known, the stronger their passion grows, until it threatens to consume them both.

 

2. Rancher Wants a Wife (Mail-Order Weddings Book 1) by Kate Bridges

 

A marriage to save them both… 

 

Among the responses Cassandra Hamilton receives to her advertizement as a mail-order bride, one stands out—Jack McColton's. The last time she saw him, she was a carefree girl, but tragedy has made her a cautious woman. 

 

Jack is mesmerized by his new bride—Cassandra might bear the scars of recent events, but she's even more beautiful than he remembers. They both have pasts that are hard to forget, but under the cloak of night, can their passion banish the shadows forever? 

 

 

3. The Spice Merchant's Wife by Charlotte Betts

 

666. Newly married to a wealthy spice merchant, Kate Finche believes all her dreams of a happy family life are just around the corner until the Great Fire rages through London. She watches in horror as their livelihood goes up in flames, filling the air with the heady scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

 

As the city is devastated, Kate's husband Robert is forced to seek employment to ensure their survival, but when he is found drowned, Kate refuses to believe that he has taken his own life. Widowed and penniless, she seeks refuge in The House of Perfume, the home of blind perfumer Gabriel Harte, who awakens Kate's senses to a whole new world. But as she flees from this forbidden love, her husband's murderer comes looking for her . . .

 

4. Journey's End by Patricia Crossley

 

Dr. Kari Lunne is ready to leave London in order to fulfill her dream of practicing medicine in the third world. On a last walk on Hampstead Heath, Kari and her dog bump into Mr. Tall, Dark and Mysterious and are catapulted four hundred years into the past - to Tudor England.Somewhere in the twenty-fourth century, maverick historian Aidan Torrance plans to make good his mistake by picking up the annoying woman—and her dog—and depositing them back into their own time, like a wrongly directed parcel. He has the technology. It should be simple.Aidan does not reckon on Kari's strong will. Kari does not expect to have to make choices that threaten her whole future. Neither of them expects to find love and happiness with someone far removed from their own space and time.Lovers meeting after a wild ride through time.

 

5. The Marigold Chain by Stella Riley

 

It is 1666 - the year when people who take prophecy seriously believe that the world is going to end.


For Chloe Herveaux - twenty years old, half-French and practical - marriage to wild, unpredictable Alex Deveril offers escape from a home she hates. For Alex, it is a refuge of a different kind. But while the marriage remains in name only and both, for reasons of their own, agree to seek an annulment, other forces are gathering.


England is once again at war with the Dutch and Prince Rupert, now commanding the Royal Navy, suspects that sabotage is at work within the fleet. Instructed to find the arch-traitor, Alex enters a dark labyrinth of intrigue - where no life is safe and nothing is what it seems.


Chloe, meanwhile, navigates the malice and scandal of Charles 11's licentious Court and plots a course of her own aimed at financial independence. But as the surprising facets of Mr Deveril's personality are gradually revealed to her, the long-awaited annulment becomes a double-edged sword.


Absorbed in his search for a traitor, Alex spares little thought for his bride - until a hot June night on the Falcon Stairs when he and Chloe stand united by tragedy.


As the flames of the Great Fire sweep over London, Alex and Chloe face their ultimate test. Their world is at risk ... their choices may save it.

 

6. The Vagabond Duchess by Claire Thornton

 

He'd promised to return

But Jack Bow is dead. And Temperance Challinor's quietly respectable life is changed forever.

 

Practical Temperance has no time to grieve for the irresistible rogue who gave her one night of comfort in a blazing city. She must protect her unborn child—by pretending to be Jack's widow.

 

A foolproof plan. Until she arrives at Jack's home…and the counterfeit widow of a vagabond becomes the real wife of a very much alive duke!

 

7. Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

 

s owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, Mollie Knox's future looks bright until the night the legendary Great Chicago Fire destroys her beloved city. With her world crumbling around her, Mollie will do whatever it takes to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek, an influential attorney for one of Chicago's finest department stores, is a force to be reckoned with among the city's most powerful citizens. Bold and shrewd, he's accustomed to getting exactly what he wants--until he meets Mollie Knox, the beguiling businesswoman just beyond his reach.

In the tumult as the people of Chicago race to rebuild a bigger and better city, Mollie comes face-to-face with the full force of Zack's character and influence. Zack believes this may finally be his chance to win her, but can Mollie ever accept this man and his whirlwind effect on her life, especially with her treasured company on the line?

8. One Sweet Moment by Maggie Craig

It's 1822 and Scotland's capital is a city of both splendour and squalor. Kate Dunbar is worked like a slave all day and preyed upon at night in the gloomy vaults that lurk under the Old Town's South Bridge but never gives up hope of a better life for herself and her beloved young brother Andrew.

When wealthy young medical student Richard Hope walks into her life, Kate knows his interest in her could lead them both into danger. Yet it's not long before the two of them have fallen head-over-heels in love.

Others are watching the young lovers. Radical booksellers Peggy and Nathaniel Henderson have Kate and Andrew's best interests at heart. Their greedy and grasping uncle doesn't, and he soon soon starts laying his own evil plans.

Kate and Richard's passionate and poignant romance is set against the brutal realities of life in Edinburgh's Old Town and the brightly-lit if sometimes uneasy affluence of the New Town. Their story intertwines with the richly-imagined colour and pageantry of King George IV's historic visit to Edinburgh in 1822 and culminates in the heart-stopping drama of the Great Fire of Edinburgh of 1824.

Can their love affair have a happy ending or will fate, the evil that threatens them and the rigid rules of class and society allow them only one sweet moment of happiness?

9. A Man for Annalee by Vonnie Davis
 
When men fight over the feisty new arrival in town, the battle for her hand begins...

Annalee Gallagher loses her parents, home, and business in the Great Fire of Chicago. When she travels to Cicero Creek in the Wyoming Territory to start a new life, more heartache awaits her, and so do the attentions of several men--for good and for evil. Why was her stagecoach attacked, and was the shot that zinged over her head one night a wild bullet or a bad aim?

Boone Hartwell, the marshal of Cicero Creek, suspects someone is out to kill the new spitfire in town. She amuses him and touches a lonely part of his soul, but keeping her safe is a fulltime occupation. More importantly, can a white man raised as Cheyenne rise above her other suitors to win her heart? One thing is for certain in his determined mind: He's the man for Annalee.
 
 

In Whispers of Love, Civil War widow Jessie Wagstaff must fend for herself and her son. When a stranger, Lee Smith, befriends Jessie's son, even though she recognizes nine-year-old Linc's need for a father figure, she's reluctant to let a new man into their life. When the Great Chicago Fire blazes, every heart is pushed to its limits.

 

In Lost In His Love, Jessie's son Linc, a social activist and reporter, charms his way through the upper class of San Francisco to build much-needed support for his fight against child labor. His main target is Cecilia Jackson, a beautiful heiress who doesn't recognize the crucial part she plays in this dangerous exploitation. As the secrets of her family's dark past are exposed, Cecilia must revive her own wounded spirit and find the strength to lean on the never-failing love of Christ. But when the 1906 earthquake hits, everyone's faith will be put to the test.

 

In Echoes of Mercy, Meg Wagstaff challenges the racial barriers of 1920s New Orleans in order to prove that her childhood friend did not commit murder. The stubborn lawyer prosecuting the case, Gabriel St. Clair, is an authentic Southern gentleman who makes the mistake of underestimating Meg, both her tenacity and her charm. Despite their many differences, sparks begin to fly. But when Meg discovers the truth, will Gabe be able to protect her from those who can't afford to have justice prevail?

 

 

Did I miss one? Gimme! 

 

To vote for the best of the best and add your brain power to the list, go to my Goodreads list: Conflagrations: Great Urban Fires in Romance Novels

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review 2015-03-01 21:33
The Marigold Chain
The Marigold Chain - Stella Riley

Lightning Review:

 

  • Felt more Historical Fiction that Historical Romance -- although interestingly the romance is very much the center of the story
  • Takes place during The Restoration, a period very much not explored in Hist-Rom

 

  • Reckless, Brilliant, Angsty, hero Alex starts out kind of an asshole -- not in a Romance Novel Hero asshole way, just as a general asshole.  But then he gets complex and has layers and you start thinking about him and you start to like him.  Good, deep characterization with him.

 

  • Heroine Chloe is a bit of a Mary-Sue.  But she's not sickly sweet with it, so you also kinda like her.  But I ended up liking Alex more than Chloe

 

  • I actually was digging best friend Giles and for a long time lamented that he wasn't he hero.  Wonder if he gets a book?

 

  • Lots of current event-y stuff happening around them.  History stuff.  Important stuff.

 

  • Also some Spy Stuff happens.  There is actually a really cool sub-plot where they need to find a traitor and Alex goes totally bad ass in a great fight scene in the end.

 

  • This author does supporting characters and friendships very well.  I have noticed this over the three books of hers that I read.  These people act and are portrayed like they are real friends who like each other even when they are arguing and fighting and pouting at each other.

 

Good book!

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