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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Spinster Is Special!


 by Anna Campbell

Hey, it's Christmas Eve! Not only that, it's my last review for the year. Thank you so much to all of you who have swung by to share your thoughts and recommendations. My TBR pile thanks you. My VISA card, not so much! ;-) Seriously, thanks to the Dishies and all their regulars. I always love popping by here each month to discuss a great book or two.

So Happy Holidays! Happy Christmas! Happy New Year!

I'd like to finish the year's reviews of some really great books with two more that may have passed under your radar.

Emily Larkin is a talented writer from New Zealand who has written romantic fantasy as Emily Gee and historical romance as Emily May. Her first book THE THIEF WITH NO SHADOW was nominated for two RITAs in 2008. I first read one of her books when I agreed to quote for THE UNMASKING OF A LADY, a fantastic historical romance with elements of OLIVER TWIST and Cinderella. I wasn't at all surprised when it was a finalist in the Australian Romantic Book of the Year awards in 2011. Since then, I've read pretty much everything Emily has written.

Emily is now writing for Entangled and it's well worth hunting out both these stories I'm reviewing today. The e-novella THE COUNTESS'S GROOM, a prequel to THE SPINSTER'S SECRET, came out in September this year. In TSS, an erotically charged diary plays an important part in the plot. TCG details how that erotic diary came to be written.

19-year-old Rose Quayle, Countess of Malmstoke, has been forced into a cruel marriage with a violent man. She's like a wounded and frightened animal when she meets Will Fenmore, a groom on her husband's estate Creed Hall. Will is a lovely character - seriously, lovely! He's a man of few words, kind, perceptive, gentle, and head over heels in love with Rose. But of course in 1762 England, a groom in love with a lady has no hope of happiness.

Well, unless the groom and the lady are brave and resourceful and willing to take some terrible risks.

Rose gradually falls under Will's spell to a point where she becomes his lover (the love scenes in this story are beautifully tender). She details her sensual awakening in a diary that she hides in a secret cupboard in her bedroom.

I really enjoyed this story about a woman emerging from a nightmare to seize her chance at happiness. And as you've probably gathered, the hero is a darling!

While it's not necessary to read Rose and Will's story before you start THE SPINSTER'S SECRET, it makes a nice appetizer for the main course.

Matilda (Mattie) Chapple is the kind of heroine I love in a Regency romance.The impoverished, intelligent, frustrated woman of no spectacular beauty who struggles to find a place for herself and her talents in a world hostile to female independence. Jane Austen was just such a woman - there are some lovely PRIDE AND PREJUDICE parallels in this story to give Austen fans a nice smile.

Mattie lives at grim Creed Hall, the setting for THE COUNTESS'S GROOM, as an unvalued poor relation with her miserly uncle, Sir Arthur Strickland; her self-centered aunt; and her aunt's impoverished companion. Mattie is a woman of courage and initiative with a dream for breaking free from her dull, restrictive existence. To finance her plan to open a boarding house, she's writing a series of 'confessions', penned by the supposed courtesan Cherie. The confessions have taken London by storm and everyone is agog to discover the author's identity.

So that's the spinster's secret - she writes dirty books!

As a virgin, Mattie has no personal experience of the encounters in her stories, but she has the erotic bestseller FANNY HILL and the mysterious diary she's discovered in a hidden cabinet in her bedroom to help her. If her moralistic and judgmental uncle discovers what she's up to, she'll be out on her ear. Also - and I liked this element of Mattie's character - she's conscious that while her uncle has never been generous, he has kept her from starving all these years. She doesn't want to hurt him with a scandal. So our spinster has many reasons to hide her activities.

Enter our hero, Edward Kane, who has returned physically and mentally scarred from his horrific experiences at Waterloo, at battle at which Mattie's beloved cousin Toby Strickland was killed. Toby was Edward's best friend, so he's calling on the family to deliver his condolences personally. Edward is eaten up with guilt because Toby died saving his life, so when Sir Arthur discovers that the notorious Cherie lives locally, Edward promises to expose the pornographer.

Of course the last person he suspects of being Cherie is plain, downtrodden Miss Chapple.

Edward is trapped with the awful food and nightly sermons at Creed Hall until he can fulfill his promise to his host. And as time goes on, plain Miss Chapple becomes increasingly intriguing and not plain at all.

But what happens when Edward discovers very personal details of his affair with Mattie appearing in Cherie's confessions? The feathers start flying!

There is so much that I love about this story. I love the secondary characters. Even grumpy old Sir Arthur is three-dimensional. I particularly love Mattie and Edward. Neither of them has had an easy path through life. When they meet, both are so wary, that it takes them a long time to realize they've found their soulmate. I love the setting with its atmospheric gothic touches. I love the wry humor and deep emotion. I love how Emily uses such rich and evocative Regency detail to create this story about finding love where you least expect it. I REALLY love the first love scene which is sweet and awkward and passionate.

So if you're looking for something lovely to read this Holiday Season, why not pick up THE SPINSTER'S SECRET? I bet you love it just as much as I do! 

The love scene in THE SPINSTER'S SECRET really is beautifully done. Let's be naughty this Christmas Eve. What's the best love scene you've read recently? Maybe we can forward the details to Mattie for her saucy books!

PJ here.  Thanks, Anna! These stories sound so yummy!  We're giving away kindle copies of both books to one person who leaves a comment.  Deadline for comments is December 26, 2013.  Merry Christmas and good luck!  

27 comments:

  1. Welcome back, Anna! You've just added two new stories to my Christmas list. I want to read both of these...now! Unfortunately, I have much too much to do today but these will definitely be waiting for me when the glitter of Christmas settles.

    Merry Christmas, my friend. I love your monthly visits but none more so than December. You've become one of my Christmas Eve traditions. ♥

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    1. PJ, what a lovely thing to say! It's fun calling in here all year but as you say, Christmas Eve is special. Let me know what you think about these - I think they're absolute finds! And a very happy Christmas to you! xxx

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  2. Hi, Anna! Hope you are enjoying your summer over there. So glad you shared these books with us today and I’m really looking forward to reading them. I love stories about spinsters because I hope the story will end with the spinster becoming a married lady and finding her HEA!

    Hope you have a lovely Christmas!

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    1. Connie, I don't think I'm giving you any spoilers when I say that that's precisely what happens in this one, LOL! Hot day here for Christmas which has already started in Oz. Looking forward to having a lovely day! Thanks so much for all your lovely support over the year! x

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    2. Thank you for the sweet words, Anna! I’m still hoping to get your way some day. I cannot tell you how much I admire your energy and your talent! Hugs, my friend!

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  3. I think both of these would be wonderful reads, I will be checking them out as soon as I get back out of kitchen, I am making salads today so they marry by tomorrow. Merry Christmas Anna, hope Santa treats you well, he will be getting to your house first. Please tell him I am making cookies.
    Hope you feel better PJ, thankfully I missed bronchitis this year.

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    1. Dianna, glad Santa is on his way and he's not bringing bronchitis this year! Bleuch! Hot day here! By the way, he was excited when I told him about your cookies! Happy Christmas and thanks for being such a wonderful friend during the year! x

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  4. These look really good, would love to read them.

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    1. Quilt Lady, definitely worth checking out. And I have a nasty suspicion they may have gone under the radar for a few people. I love how Emily uses real Regency detail to make the world so rich and real.

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  5. Aww Anna I love your posts and will miss your reviews here but I will see you over at the Banditas. ;)
    Sadly I haven't gotten a chance to read sexy sex scenes over the Holiday season but I heard Courtney Milan's scenes are Fantastic!

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    1. Ki, I'm still going to be reviewing here! In fact I've got the next three reviews written and raring to go, never fear! Love swinging by here to talk about books I love and hear what I should read next from you guys. Have a lovely Christmas!

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    2. Don't worry, kipha. We're not letting Anna go! This is just her last review for this year. As she said, she already has the first three months of 2014 in the can! :)

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  6. Don't enter me into the drawing because I've read both of these stories this year. I read THE SPINSTER'S SECRET first and gave it a 5 star rating on my goodreads page. Then I read the novella and really enjoyed it.

    Merry Christmas, PJ, Andrea, Anna and all the readers of TRD!

    Marcy Shuler

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Marcy! Merry Christmas to you as well. I hear from my brother that y'all are having a white Christmas. Hope it's lovely!

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    2. Marcy, so glad you already know about these books. Wasn't the Spinster's Secret a lovely story?

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  7. Anna, I always enjoy your posts here at TRD. :) I have read several good love scenes, but just remembering the books I have read, no specific love scene cones to mind. The stories sound good; spinster deserve HEAs!

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    1. Deb, love it when confirmed spinsters find happily ever after. You'll really enjoy these. Thanks for saying you enjoy the reviews - I love the discussions we all have.

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  8. It's a good thing a have a brand new binder with loads of empty pages. I can add a whole ton of "must-read" authors to it.
    I haven't read anything by Emily Larkin.....guess who's going in?! ;-)
    A good spinster story is the way to go, get my pj's and my hot chocolate, favorite reading chair and I'm all set.

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    1. Dalila, sounds like you've got everything organized for a lovely reading session. Love the idea of a brand new binder full of great books to read!

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  9. What a fun post! Ummm... The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers... fantastic! Thanks for sharing ;)

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    1. Thanks, Erin. Ooh, I hadn't even heard of that one. Must check it out!

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  10. Anna, thanks for telling us about these books, like what I'm reading and having loved her Emily Gee book, for sure will pick these up. Always hoped to find more by Emily Gee and do have some Emily Mays in the TBR, which aka I did find out about. I think you're right that she is one not discovered by many, but should be. Happy Holidays to all!

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    1. Pam, so glad you've discovered Emily's writing. I think she's wonderful. I've enjoyed everything she's written but I think Spinster would be up there with my particular favorites. Hope you enjoy the Emily Larkins as much as you've enjoyed the Emily Gee/Mays!

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  11. Another new-to-me author with books that sound great. I would so love to win these books. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Karen, I think she's passed under the radar for a few people which is a pity when she's so great. Good luck in the draw.

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  12. This is a anew author to me and the books sound really good. Will have to check them out.

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