on December 1st 2017
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One Christmas house party leads to two Regency love affairs!
A Governess for Christmas
by Marguerite Kaye
At the glittering Brockmore house party, former army major Drummond MacIntosh meets governess in disgrace Joanna Forsythe, who's desperate to clear her name. Both are eager to put their pasts behind them, but their scandalous affair will make for a very different future…
Dancing with the Duke's Heir
by Bronwyn Scott
As heir to a dukedom, Vale Penrith does not want a wife, and certainly not one like Lady Viola Hawthorne. So why does London's Shocking Beauty tempt him beyond reason? Dare he try and tame her, or is a Christmas seduction the best way to bring her to surrender?
The first flurry of snow had begun to land on his carriage roof as it swept up the long drive in mid-afternoon, as if announcing his arrival, though he’d thought at the time that sunrise might have been more apt. This invitation was, after all, intended to herald a new dawn for him. Now, gazing distractedly out of the tall drawing room windows in the shadow of the long blue drapes, Drummond MacIntosh saw that the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore’s extensive grounds were covered in a glittering and, for the moment at least, pristine seasonal white blanket. This particular window faced due west, but he could see no sign of the sun through the thick, leaden sky. Behind him, the other guests took tea and made polite conversation. He ought to be doing both of those things himself, but now he was here, Drummond was more ambivalent than ever about the reasons for his presence at this party.
It ought to be clear cut. This was the opportunity he had been seeking to forge a new life for himself, to finally escape the purposeless existence he had been forced to endure. Three-and-a-half years since that fateful day which had brought his life crashing down about his ears, it was time to accept that he needed help.
Drummond sighed, reminding himself that he was damned lucky to be here. The unexpected summons and subsequent discussion which had precipitated his invitation to Brockmore was a most unexpected Christmas gift, and yet, now he was here at this most prestigious house party, instead of embracing the event, he was prevaricating. Why couldn’t he just do as he was told? Of course, if he always had done so, he wouldn’t need to be here in the first place.
They would be greening the house later, though seaweed rather than holly would be more appropriate decoration for this particular room. The painted silk wall hangings of the drawing room were cobalt blue. Grotesque sea creatures were carved into the gilded arms and legs of the blue damask sofas which lined the walls, and the art which adorned the walls also had a maritime theme, the overall impression intended to be, he supposed, that of an underwater cavern. Which by rights should be inhabited by mermaids and denizens of the deep, instead of this collection of well-heeled, well-dressed members of the haute-ton.
It was three years past June since he had attended his last great social occasion, before the tragic events which had precipitated his catastrophic fall from grace. The Duchess of Richmond’s now famous, indeed infamous, ball had been held on the eve of the battle of Waterloo. The crime Drummond had subsequently committed had been heinous, and though he still firmly believed that the crime he had refused to commit was even more so, his mutiny had been ultimately pointless. One life had been destroyed, his own forever changed by the summary justice meted out. It had been justified, there was no arguing that fact. Just as there was no doubt, as far as Drummond was concerned, that he had been right to act as he did, even though his superiors deemed it utterly wrong.
Right or wrong, it was done now, and ancient history, according to the Duke of Wellington, his ex-Commander-in-Chief. It was apparently time for Drummond to re-join society. Drummond himself believed it long past time. After a year moping in the country trying to come to terms with events, he’d taken a deep breath, cast aside his deep regret along with his lingering resentment and his shame, and forced himself back out into the world. But the people who inhabited his milieu had summarily rejected him. Never mind that his military record until that fateful date had been impeccable. Never mind his commendations, his years of dedicated service to his men and to his superiors and his country. Only that last treasonous act mattered. Doors had been slammed. Familiar faces had been averted. He could not deny that he deserved this treatment, for ultimately, he was guilty. Yet he could not quell a lingering sense of injustice.
Clearly, none of the guests politely sipping from the dainty Royal Doulton tea cups emblazoned with the Brockmore coat of arms either knew nor cared about his ignominious past, for all had greeted him politely, not one had snubbed him. Actually, it struck him for the first time as odd that despite his own many connections, he wasn’t acquainted with a single person here. Not even his hosts, who had been cajoled by Wellington to extend this most exclusive invitation.
‘A Brockmore house party,’ Wellington had informed Drummond, ‘can be the making of a man. Everyone knows that Marcus and Alicia invite only those and such as those. Men of influence, women of breeding. They can smooth your path to rehabilitation, for where the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore lead, all of society follow. Even myself,’ he’d added with one of his ironic smiles. ‘You would be a fool to refuse this opportunity, and despite evidence to the contrary, I know that you are not a fool. I have plans for you, MacIntosh, and I am a man who gets what he wants,’ the Duke of Wellington had informed him, in that magnanimous tone he had, of conferring great favour which would be accepted unquestioningly with great gratitude. ‘You’ve a practical mind, a cool head, if we are to discount that one aberration, and you’ve a natural authority that make men inclined to follow you. Between ourselves, though it will not be announced for another two days yet, I am very soon to be in a position where I need a man like you, for Lord Liverpool has appointed me Master-General of the Ordinance. With the Brockmore name firmly behind you, doors will open again, allowing you to make a success of the posting.’
CONTINUE READING HERE
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
A Governess for Christmas by Marguerite Kaye
I adore Marguerite Kaye novels, they are always so uplifting, moreso when they are set at Christmas time as this book is.
Brockmore house parties in the summer are known as matchmaking events by the Brockmores. Drummond Mackintosh, a former army major, had been invited to attend a Christmas house party there and hopes that it too won’t be a matchmaking event. He is attending for one reason and one reason only, he needs to put his shameful past behind him. Brockmore’s good word in the right ears will go a long way to making that happen.
Joanna Forsythe is attending the same house party for very similar reasons. She doesn’t need help from Brockmore himself, but a person in attendance at the party might offer her employment, something that has been in short supply for her due to a scandal in her past.
Perhaps these two damaged souls naturally gravitated towards each other. There was definitely an instant attraction between Joanna and Drummond even before they knew each others’ stories.
The story revolves around this wonderful couple, how happy they make each other and yet how they both know they have no future together. Two people with scandals to their names cannot make a fresh start unless they are beyond a shadow of a doubt good as gold. Something they can’t be if they are known to be in a relationship with another scandalous person. Knowing they must part after the party they enjoy each day to the full, but how will they cope when the time comes to say goodbye.
As I mentioned earlier, this author’s books are always so uplifting, and this one was no exception. The descriptions of the people, their clothing, the house and its surrounds were fabulous. It was so easy to be able to picture the scenes. The romance between our couple was warm and very passionate. It was so obvious that they were soul mates and I couldn’t read the book fast enough to see how everything would end. I loved too, how the scandals they were both involved in were understandable and forgivable ones. I couldn’t help but feel so sad for both of them, they definitely deserved their happy ending.
Dancing with the Duke’s Heir by Bronwyn Scott
Lady Viola Hawthorne is a very independent young woman, she doesn’t want to get married, she wants to go to Vienna to play music, to have freedom and to not to have to answer to a husband. In order to obtain that freedom, she has made a reputation for herself. She is London’s Shocking Beauty. Her parents despair of her and when they all are invited to the Brockmores’ Christmas party Viola is determined to create a scandal. She is sure that one more scandal will see her parents give up on trying to marry her off, and they will let her go to Vienna.
Vale Penrith is the Brockmores’ heir after losing both his father and his older brother a few years ago. He and his mother are attending the party and although this isn’t supposed to be one of the Brockmores’ infamous matchmaking parties, Vale knows that they have somebody lined up for him. He doesn’t want to marry, and if he does, it won’t be a marriage of convenience if he has any say in it.
When Vale first sees Viola she is on top of a ladder trying to hang some mistletoe, a crowd of young men supposedly helping to secure the ladder. But of course, they are helping themselves to the view of her uncovered ankles and maybe more up her skirts. Vale isn’t impressed at all. Things change though when he gets to spend more time with her and it isn’t long before they figure that some time spent alone could be fun if both keep in mind that neither wants a future together past the length of the party. The problem is, the more kisses and fondles that they share, and the more they get to know each other past the facade they put on to the public, the more they like each other. Neither can give up their plans though, so what will happen when they figure out that their like might just be love? Also, Viola is not the woman earmarked for Vale, so even if they did decide they wanted to be together, would they be allowed?
This was a great story. I was a little put-off, to begin with, at how sexually forward Viola was. She came across as more of a courtesan than a lady. It wasn’t all for show either, as a lot of it happened in private with Vale. That said, I am sure that not all women in those days were the young innocent virgins that I quite often read about. So from being put-off, I moved onto finding it refreshing that Viola knew what she wanted and went for it. It also made for some very passionate scenes. Vale was a charming character, if a bit pompous, to begin with, but I loved both him and Viola by the end.
I voluntarily reviewed these two stories in an advanced readers’ copy of this book.