Review: In Name Only by Janet Bieber

Format: Paperbackinnameonly
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Ian Patterson
Heroine: Valeriana Grace MacPherson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 5, 2000
Started On: November 7, 2010
Finished On: November 8, 2010

This is one of those titles that I just had to end up buying because storylines such as the one this story has promises to deliver a good read. I have never read any previous titles by Janet Bieber and hence this book proved to be a delightful surprise as it delivered a good romance worth sinking your teeth into.

The Hero: Born and raised in Ireland, Ian Patterson spent most of his childhood after 8 years of age with his paternal grandparents who had instilled in him his love for sailing. Knowing that there is nothing left for him in Ireland when his grandparents die within a couple of months of each other, Ian sets sail for America, the land of freedom. A man of ruddy complexion, tall and brawny in frame with rugged features, Ian is a handsome one at that and is the owner of his own shipping company, Patterson Shipping Line. When Reverend John MacPherson arrives in Cleveland with his four daughters in tow and introduces Ian to his second daughter Lileas Chastity MacPherson a woman of immense beauty, Ian is a goner from that very moment. Nine years on, he has four beautiful children whom he would never regret though his marriage has been less than perfect with a wife who was more fickle and selfish than anybody had ever realized.

The Heroine: Valeriana Grace MacPherson, now 28 years old is the eldest and spinsterish daughter of John MacPherson. Plain where her younger sister is a beauty, Valeriana or Ana as everyone calls her is the intelligent one in the family. Growing up with a father who has his own radical views on what is important in life, what is forbidden and allowed, Ana is a woman torn between using her own intelligence to deduce what is right and wrong and obeying her father’s preaching, the father who had taught her everything he knows. Labeled as prudish, prim and prissy by the town folk, Ana has never been courted and is resigned to a fate of spending all her life serving her father’s church by his side.

Storyline: The shocking and sudden death of Lily and her stillborn baby propels Ana to move into Ian’s home to look after her sister’s babies and save them from the “unholy” influence of Ian who has never proclaimed to be anything but human. But Ana was never ever prepared for the kind, generous and loving man that Ian actually is, a man who would protect what is rightfully his at any cost.

The First Encounter: When Reverend John MacPherson arrives in Cleveland, the opportunistic man he is drags the successful young shipper to the inn where his family is residing in, planning on snaring Ian for his beautiful Lily, a plan which goes without a hitch when Ian marries the beautiful Lily in a matter of weeks. But it had been Ana who had first caught Ian’s eyes, with the intelligence that was shining from her eyes before Lily had stood up and stolen his very breath by her beauty.

Time period: This story takes place in Cleveland, Ohio in 1834.

Awareness between the hero and heroine: Ana had always been prickly whenever Ian had been around. With a prejudice that had been taught and hammered into her since childhood, Ana tries to label what she feels for Ian as despise for his behavior, but in reality it is her awareness of Ian as a man that makes her tongue-tied and makes her yearn for things impossible with her ex-brother-in-law. Ian is horrified when the prissy and prim Ana moves into his home to take care of his children but once he sees the magic she so effortlessly weaves on his children with her love and affection, Ian is forced to look deeper into the complex woman that Ana is and find that for the second time round he is hopelessly ensnared with a MacPherson, something he had sworn not to do when Lily had died.

The turning point: Both Ana and Ian are forced to take a deeper look into the other and reevaluate their opinions of one another once Ana moves in to take care of his children. The close proximity of caring for Ian’s children brings forth feelings that neither Ian nor Ana thought possible. And when Reverend MacPherson who goes a little mad in his head when the apple of his eye dies, tries to harm Ana, it is Ian who comes up with the most daring proposal of all – make Ana his wife and claim her as his own.

Ending: Before the story is through, Ana has to come face to face with the real version of her younger sister who had never really abided by the vows that she had promised to uphold when she had become the lawfully wedded wife of Ian and face a man who had gone mad upon the death of his sister, mad enough to harm the very foundation of Ian’s world.

Likes:

  1. Ian Patterson. He just makes my heart go pitter-patter with his patience, deep abiding love for his children and his smoldering sensuality. Perfect hero material. Sigh!!
  2. Ana for being woman enough to take the high road and change into someone worth admiring, letting go of the shackles of prejudice that had been hammered into her from childhood to embrace a man who is so worth everything else she leaves behind.

Dislikes: None.

Recommended for: Fans of historical romances and fans of stories of the theme marriages of convenience.

Favorite Quotes

Mesmerized by the warmth in his eyes and the low rustle of his voice, Ana didn’t even notice when she wrapped her arms around his waist. In a breathless voice she hardly recognized as her own, she asked, “You think my eyes are lovely?” and instantly flushed with embarrassment at such foolishness falling from her mouth.
“Very,” he said with such conviction, it erased her embarrassment. He drew one finger lightly, slowly, down her cheek, setting off a melting warmth deep in her belly and beyond. Gently, he framed her face with his palm. “You skin is so … smooth … and so is your mouth.” His eyes darkened, and he lowered his head. “And maybe neither of us is quite sane  today,” he muttered, just before he covered her mouth with his.
Her senses, already taut with a myriad of emotions, literally quaked.

He silenced her with a kiss. But what started as a whisper-soft brushing of his lips against hers quickly escalated to a full possession. “And I’m not letting you renege on your acceptance either,” he growled against her lips before taking them again.
Large hands that had been cradling her face plunged into her hair, sending her cap and hairpins flying as he freed the heavy coil at her nape. With the caress of his tongue against her lips growing even bolder and more brazen, she sank more deeply into the kiss and his embrace.

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Review: September Moon by Candice Proctor

Format: PaperbackSeptember
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Patrick O’Reilly
Heroine: Amanda Davenport
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 5, 1999
Started On: September 24, 2010
Finished On: September 25, 2010

Like the book Whispers of Heaven which I reviewed earlier, this story too is set in Australia during the 1800’s.

Amanda Davenport finds herself in the raw primitive land of Australia, left with a feeling of hopelessness when her employer dies from a bout of illness leaving her destitute with nowhere to turn to. Amanda, the daughter of a brilliant scholar back in England had been hired by Frances Blake who had been a botanist to act as his secretary, a post that few women were thought capable of handling back then. However, growing up alone with a brilliant scholar because her mother had died when she had been a mere baby, Amanda had ended up more educated than even most men, because that had been Amanda’s way of vying for the attention of a father who was more mindful of his students and the academics than his only daughter. When her father had died 5 years earlier leaving her with little means to look after herself, Amanda had been forced to seek employment and hence her current predicament where Amanda is forced to find a job in order to survive and earn enough money to return back to her beloved England.

Experiencing the fact that the post of a secretary would be hard to attain, Amanda ends up agreeing to be the governess of Patrick O’Reilly’s 3 children. The one fact that deters her is the fact that the O’Reilly’s live so far in the outback that the land was considered primitive and harsh, and for someone like Amanda who misses the gentle surroundings of England, the mere thought of roughing it out in the outback is a daunting thought in itself. But in the end, her hopeless situation has her agreeing to be the governess of Hannah, Liam and Missy aged between 11 and 6 years old for a period of 1 year after which she would have the means to return back to her home.

When Patrick O’Reilly sets eyes on the tightly buttoned up English woman his sister Hetty had once again hired as a governess for his children, all Patrick senses is a woman who forces down her emotions to the extent that she appears to have a perpetual straight line where her lips should be. But even her buttoned up figure dressed in the ugliest garbs Patrick had ever seen does little to hide her dainty figure and her impressive gray eyes which seems to stare down haughtily at him, a sign classic of the English women.

Patrick, the grandson of an Irish ex-convict had learnt the hard way that dainty women such as Miss Amanda rarely survived in the primitive land to which his heart belonged, and that they would leave sooner or later. Patrick’s mother who had been English had abandoned their family and then he had gone ahead and married Katherine, an English woman whose father had made his fortune in India and had come to invest it in Australia. A 19 year old Patrick had been helplessly ensnared with an 18 year old determined Katherine and in the end her pregnancy had ended up in their marriage. Patrick who dreams of nothing more than owning his own land and having his own flock of sheep and cattle one day couldn’t have been more different from Katherine who had wanted to return to England with her husband in tow and live her life there.

Patrick had tried so hard to please Katherine and ease her longing to be back home. But in the end, Katherine too had walked out when Missy had just been 6 months old. So it was safe to say that Patrick wants nothing to do with Amanda who sets his senses afire and when he sees an answering fire of need reflected in her eyes, it is not long before these two are forced to acknowledge the intense connection between them, reluctant though each may be to do so due to their own reasons.

Amanda had been burned once and is twice shy of letting her baser emotions take over. What Patrick manages to do to her senses with his wickedly dimpled smile that brings a twinkle to his sky-blue eyes complete with his work hardened sinewy body is incomparable to anything she had ever experienced before. Amanda doesn’t welcome the emotions that are invading her body in Patrick’s presence, feelings she has ruthlessly tamped down on for the past 10 years of her life. Propriety and genteel behavior are the two things she steadfastly holds onto, because she is afraid that she would end up surrendering her heart, body and soul to the devilishly handsome man and the primitive land which he calls home.

What I like most about Ms. Proctor’s novels is the fact that she doesn’t provide magical solutions to each problem that comes up within the story. Amanda doesn’t just one day wake up and realize that she loves her harsh surroundings, nor does Patrick’s 3 children take to her like a newborn babe does to milk. Rather Amanda has to work her way and win their affections, and she comes to love them as her own in time. Patrick, a man who is wary of trusting a woman to do right by him doesn’t blindly trust Amanda to stay with him when he knows just how much she  yearns to be back in England. In the end, a love as fierce and binding as the rough Australian outback is what helps them through the dangers and hurdles they have to cross to embrace their happily ever after.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Abe Books

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Review: Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor

Format: Paperbackwhspers
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Lucas Gallagher
Heroine: Jesmond Corbett (Jessie)
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication:  July 3, 2001
Started On: September 23, 2010
Finished On: September 24, 2010

This story is set in Tasmania in the Australian continent in the 1800’s, a time during which this picturesque island witnessed the most shudderingly brutal excesses of the British convict system according to the Author’s note at the end of the book. I have read a couple of books set in Australia during this time period some of which I have reviewed previously.

Jesmond Corbett (Jessie) returns to her beloved home known as Corbetts Castle  in Tasmania after spending two years studying Geology at the Ladies Academy of Science in London. Engaged since childhood to marry Harrison Winthrop Tate, childhood friend and the only son of their closest neighbors, Jessie is glad to come home even though the thought that her robust and energetic father who had died 3 weeks after she had left to London and wouldn’t be there to welcome her with open arms saddens her.

Anselm and Beatrice Corbett had had 6 children, 3 girls and 3 boys out of which the youngest of each were the only ones who were alive. Whilst Cecil and Reid Corbett had both died horrific deaths, one at the hands of the merciless sea that surrounds the island and the other at the hands of the rogue Aborigines, the sisters Jane and Catherine Corbett had succumbed to the effects of Scarlet fever. Beatrice who was strictly British and upheld the iron control on her emotions that the British were famous for had always let the fact be known that she had adored the 4 children who had died more than Warrick and Jessie, both of whom had always been a trifle wild and harder to bend to the rules of the society.

Jessie knows that no matter how hard she tries to please her mother by molding herself into something she is not her mother Beatrice would never be completely happy or satisfied with her efforts. And when upon her return she lays eyes on Lucas Gallagher, an Irish convict who sets her pulse racing with the danger and wildness that seems an integral part of him, Jessie instinctively knows that Lucas answers some deep calling within her that yearns to be set free.

Lucas is a man hell bent on escaping the harsh life he had had to endure as a convict up until now. Lucas is a man far too proud to ever accept the fact that he is not his own master and the thought that he would practically die as a slave in the wilderness of Tasmania makes him more determined that he would escape or die trying. But when he lays eyes on the beautiful Jesmond Corbett, a woman who is forbidden to him on so many levels within the society he was forced to live in changes everything.

No matter how hard Jessie or Lucas tries to deny the intense connection between them, they find themselves helpless in the need to be with one another. Lucas tries his damnedest to say no to what his heart clamors for when Jessie looks at him with those beautiful blue eyes of hers, but one forbidden kiss flares every need that he has ruthlessly tamped down til now.

Once Jessie had tasted passion in Lucas’s arms, she knows that there is no going back and that marriage to Harrison who was as rigid in his views on the proper behavior of genteel women in the society as Beatrice would mean a slow death for the passionate and vibrant woman that she is. But then again, there is always a heady price one has to pay for indulging in the forbidden desires of the heart and both Lucas and Jessie would have to love and trust one another beyond anything comparable in order to triumph over all obstacles in their way, to embrace a love as fierce as the wilderness that surrounds them.

A story so beautifully written that you cannot help but be ensnared by the magic it slowly weaves on you, Candice Proctor surely knows her stuff with the beautiful characters she creates. I am just sad that she doesn’t write romances of this kind anymore because she is so good at creating the most beautiful love stories and Night in Eden is a testament to her glaringly obvious talent in this regard.

Favorite Quotes

His hand moved over her breast in a rough, agonizing caress, tanned, scarred fingers against black satin that they watched together. “Do you?” he said, his hand still roving her breast, his face taut. “Do you understand that when I say I want to touch you, I mean I want to touch all of you – all those secret places where you’ve never been touched before, where you’ve probably never even dreamed of being touched. It means I want to lay you down on the grass with your skirts rucked up about your waist and your flesh bare beneath my hands.” His fingers found her nipple through the cloth of her dress, and the pleasure was so piercing, she almost cried out with it. He saw, and his lips curled into a fierce smile. “And when I say I want you, Miss Jesmond Corbett of Castle Corbett, it means I want to bury myself deep inside of you, I want to take you, hard and rough and hungry. Here. Now. Because I am a hard man, and my life is rough, and you have no idea of the hunger that burns inside me.”

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Review: The Bride of Willow Creek by Maggie Osborne

Format: E-bookbride
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Sam Holland
Heroine: Angie Bartoli
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 2, 2001
Started On: August 27, 2010
Finished On: August 28, 2010

This is certainly an unusual story, as are most of the novels by Ms. Osborne. This was the book that I chose to read right after falling in love with Ms. Osborne’s writing style after reading Silver Lining. However, for some reason I read a couple of pages and found my interest straying towards some other book and I had all but forgotten about it until my pile of to-be read Ms. Osborne novels have shrunk into 1 or 2 books. And finally after reading this book, I for the world of me cannot understand why I put this book away because yes, this book is really good.

Ten years have passed since Angie Bartolli then sixteen years old had married Sam Holland. Angie with a formidable father had not been ready to defy him and leave with her then husband for whom her father felt nothing but loathing saying right to his face that Sam would never be able to make anything for himself. Both Sam and Angie had been young, both expecting things from the other that they had not been mature enough to understand or give. Thus Angie had stayed behind, a married innocent, whilst her husband Sam made his way to the West swearing that he would make something of himself by prospecting for gold and silver.

Now Angie’s parents have passed away and left her broke with nothing to live on. Angie wants her life to start and yearns to actually live as a married woman. Practically designated the position of a wallflower after being deserted by her husband, Angie had always been on the outside looking in, until Peter De Groot shows an interest in her and wants to start a life with her. Wanting the divorce that she should have obtained long back, without any funds to achieve what she wanted, Angie makes her way to Sam hoping that he would pay all the expenses for the year long period that she would have to wait for the divorce to come through.

The Sam that she encounters is a grown up, more vital and more handsome version of the man that she fell so swiftly in love with. Old resentments that they both thought they had buried long ago come rising to the surface, both blaming the other for a marriage that never in reality began. When Sam realizes that Angie has nowhere else to go and that he is in no financial situation to pay for the divorce that the both of them wants, the only solution is for Angie to take residence at his small place.

At Sam’s place Angie encounters Lucy and Daisy, the adorable daughters of Sam, which shock Angie more than anything else. The immense feeling of betrayal she feels when she hears that Sam had been living with Laura, the mother of his daughters until she had died of pneumonia, Angie doesn’t know whether to start crying or to start screaming. The one thing Sam regrets more than anything else is the fact that he was never able to offer his name and respectability to Laura, a fact that he, Laura and her parents only knew. But the arrival of his wife, which Sam resents with everything he is, definitely stirs up the story which makes Sam’s resentment to the forced arrangement grow.

Upon meeting Daisy, the youngest of the two girls, Angie realizes why Sam has other priorities at the moment. Born with club foot, the surgery required to correct the defect cost the earth and Sam was determined that this time as soon as he got enough money Daisy would be his number 1 priority. And with the courts having sentenced Sam that if during the 1 year period he is unable to get the surgery done on Daisy he would have to give up both his daughters to their grandparents, who loathe Sam for “seducing” their daughter into an immoral life with him.

Angie who doesn’t know squat about caring for children, slowly learns what it is like to lose your heart to two beautiful girls who could try your patience until you no longer have any left. With Lucy fighting Angie and her affections every step of the way, life is a constant battle for Angie. And feelings she had never come across before start to haunt and taunt her with her alluring husband so close by. Intimacies that develop over living in a small space contribute towards the raging inferno that is ignited inside Angie, and suddenly every waking thought and dream she has is full of Sam and the way he could make her lose herself in desire she had no right feeling now.

Sam thought that anything he had felt for Angie 10 years back had long since being buried. But the woman that Angie has grown into is more alluring than he can resist. With her fiery spirit and courage, and her affection towards his two girls Sam slowly starts to fall in love with Angie all over again.

However, trust and belief in the other that has always been the problem between the two nearly breaks them apart once again. This was a heartwarming read on how Angie comes to care for the two girls who adorable and equally headstrong, how Angie tries to save and scrape whatever Sam earns so that Daisy could have the surgery she needs before custody would be awarded to their grandparents. I definitely loved Angie as the heroine and needless to say I wouldn’t mind a Sam Holland of my own! *winks*

Beautifully done, this is a marvelous read any true romantic would love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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Review: Foxfire Bride by Maggie Osborne

Format: E-bookfoxfire
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Matthew Tanner Jennings
Heroine: Eugenia Foxworth
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 23, 2004
Started On: August 25, 2010
Finished On: August 27, 2010

If you want to read about heroines who are feisty, independent and live on the fringes of the society having to make do with what they have and are all the more strong for it, Maggie Osborne is always the author to look for. Fox is a heroine as feisty and independent as they come. Born into the rich affluent society in San Francisco, her mother who has a substantial inheritance re-marries when her father dies while Fox is quite young. Her new husband Hobbs Jennings steals the inheritance that is due Fox when her mother dies, leaving Jennings as Fox’s guardian. Since Fox was quite young, around 6 years old, she has no inkling of what is going on when she is bundled up and lands at the home of an aunt who has several kids of her own to look after. Fox ends up being more of a servant at their home and it is at her aunts place that she meets Peaches, a black man who changes her life.

Peaches and Fox strike up an unusual friendship during a time period where black people were merely tolerated. Peaches helps her get educated to the extent he is able to and teaches her everything that she knows. When Fox grows up, she and Peaches run away from their aunt’s place together and make do with whatever work they can get on their way. When Fox reads about Jennings and how he came into an inheritance when his wife and daughter died, it is then Fox realizes just how immensely Fox had been cheated and betrayed. Swearing vengeance on the man who was the reason for the hardships that Fox had had to endure, Fox promises that she would kill Jennings even if it is the last thing she does.

Fox does manage to make her way to San Fransisco and Jennings. But the world Jennings resides in makes Fox wary and she flees back to Peaches and makes a life for her and him in the West. It is there that Fox builds up a reputation as one of the most sought after scout west of the Rockies where she has led numerous folks through wild unexplored terrain until a gunshot wound ends her guiding career. Resigned to living a more sedate life, it is years later that a handsome stranger comes riding through, looking for the notorious guide Fox and encounters the woman who would change his life forever.

When Matthew Tanner, who works as an engineer in the mines of Hobbs Jennings, receives word that his father has been kidnapped and the kidnappers wanted ransom delivered to Denver in less than 3 months, he has no choice but to seek out the services of the best guide in the area. When he comes across Fox, thinking Fox to be a man, he is surprised to find the willful and defiant woman who seems more than capable of leading the cargo that would hold the ransom gold. Though Fox drives a mean bargain, Tanner knows that she is the best available and hires two men who would guard the money throughout the journey.

Fox feels her stomach tighten and hot all over every time she meets Tanner’s eyes. Suddenly Fox longs to be beautiful, demure and all those things she never had a chance to be just so Tanner would want her. Fox knows that the divide between her and Tanner is far too wide. Whereas education and ingrained culture seethes from every pore of Tanner’s body, Fox knows that as Peaches points out, her manners are uncouth at the best.

Tanner cannot understand for the world why he is drawn to the woman who leads him on the dangerous journey towards Denver. What Tanner does know is that he has never wanted a woman like he wants Fox, and though he knows that he has nothing to give to Fox, except a casual affair until they reach Denver, when Fox states that she wants the affair, Tanner knows he has no choice but to give in.

As usual in Osborne novels, the tension between the hero and heroine is what makes the book so delicious. The constant awareness between Tanner and Fox kept at a simmering high makes you sigh and wish for a tall, hard man like Tanner for your own.

Fox knows that life for her would end upon reaching Denver, because she aims to finish the job which she couldn’t complete before. Fox wants to enjoy whatever life can throw her way before submitting herself to the hangman noose, which she knows would swiftly follow when she kills Jennings. Peaches, who accompany them on the journey, who is so sick that he can barely make it through, tries to sway Fox’s mind from killing Jennings.

The journey is one filled with danger, betrayals and the death of Peaches which was heartbreaking to read about. But the biggest shock of all comes when the reader finds out who Tanner’s father actually is, and when the time comes for Fox to decide whether she is going to let her hatred for a man triumph over the love she feels for another.

I felt a teeny tiny bit cheated that Jennings in the end was portrayed not as the villain that I would have wanted, but I guess forgiveness is always better than seeking revenge, since it is that much harder always to forgive someone than to go on hating them forever.

I guess I have only one or two Maggie Osborne novels left. I am going to miss reading these wonderful novels penned by a brilliant author who makes reading romance that much more enjoyable.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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Review: I Do, I Do, I Do by Maggie Osborne

Format: E-bookIdo
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero(s): Benjamin James Dare, Bernard T. Barret, Thomas John Price
Heroine(s): Juliette March, Clara Kaus, Zoe Wilder
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 31, 2011
Started On: August 23, 2010
Finished On: August 24, 2010

As I mentioned in a previous review of mine, Maggie Osborne certainly doesn’t write your conventional romances. Rather, she takes the story a step further and takes the reader on a ride that he or she would not forget anytime soon.

This story is certainly different from the rest of the books by Ms. Osborne I have read. Featuring 3 heroes and 3 heroines, at first I was in the mind that this story would not work out with the constant juggle between the characters. But I should have trusted Ms. Osborne to use the charm she so effortlessly wields to captivate us on a journey that surely did not give me even a minute to be bored.

Juliette March, a heiress who is quite wealthy on her own right who lives with her Aunt Kibble in the small county of Linda Vista is rescued from impending spinsterhood when she meets, falls in love and marries the debonair seductive smooth talker Jean Jacques Villette. When Jean claims that his money is tied up and he needs some cash in order to purchase a home for Juliette and himself in Oregon, Juliette who has misgivings about setting foot outside of the county where she grew up in, gives a chunk of her inheritance to Jean, who had rode out nine months ago, not to be heard from again. An impeccable lady through and through, Juliette who is pretty much scared of experiencing anything that is beyond her control and anything new, decides to set off on her own to find what happened to her beloved husband.

Clara Kaus is not your typical dainty heroine. Big shouldered, big breasted and big hipped with curves in all the right places, Clara longs to feel a man cherish her and treat her like a delicacy. So she is more than enthralled when Jean who stops over at her inn and claims to have fallen head over heels in love with her and treats her the way she wants to be treated. The next thing she knows, she is married to him, and has given Jean all her savings to buy them a place in Seattle so that they could settle down and start a new life for both of them. Clara was starting to get worried because she hadn’t heard from Jean since he left a couple of months ago. Since the sale of the inn was now final, Clara was determined to travel to Seattle by herself and track down her husband.

It was by chance that on the last day of Clara’s stay at her inn, she encounters Juliette who stops over at the inn in the first leg of the journey she was taking to hunt down her husband. When Juliette eyes the ring on Clara’s finger, a ring identical to the wedding ring that was on her finger, Clara and Juliette both come to realize that they have been had for real by a smooth talker. Though Clara is quick to anger and swears that she would get her money back from the good for nothing man she married, Juliette doesn’t want to believe that what took place between Jean and her could have just been about money. Jealousy is swift to rise between these two women, who are as different from another as night and day. Both wanting to find Jean equally as much, its Clara’s idea that they travel together the rest of the way.

Zoe Wilder comes from the coal mining town of Newcastle. Having grown up with six brothers, constantly struggling for privacy, the the thing that Zoe remembers most about living in Newcastle is the Owner’s Day Parade that takes place annually. Zoe had been five or six when she had realized that the elegantly dressed men and women in the carriage parade looked at the people lining the lanes of Newcastle with a mixture of superiority and contempt. Zoe had sworn that she would drag herself out of Newcastle and find something better for her when she grew up. Now living in Seattle working for an uncle, Zoe reveled in the freedom that her life had brought about. Meeting Jean Jacques Villette, right after she was awarded quite a large sum of money for rescuing the grandson of one of the affluent families in the area, seemed like a godsend. To meet a man who didn’t have a black layer of grime under his fingernails who claimed to fall head over heels in love with her and who effectively seduced her into saying yes to marriage, Zoe was happier than she had ever been. That is until, on her visit to Newcastle, her mom poses disbelief upon hearing that her newly wedded husband had left her to hunt for gold in Yukon, leaving Zoe to fend off for herself. However Zoe refuses to doubt in her husband, though she longs for any sort of news from him.

When Juliette and Clara deduce that Jean was on his way to Yukon to hunt for gold, Clara decides that the best course of action would be to confirm his departure to Yukon by checking whether he bought year long supplies to Yukon. It is inside one of these supply shops that Clara and Juliette encounter Zoe and find out that Zoe too had married Jean Jacques Villette and wore the same type of ring that Clara and Juliette wore. Three women so different from one another, each jealous of the love that Jean had showered on the other two, tempers fly and words are exchanged between the three. Zoe feels so immensely betrayed by the fact that Jean had made her feel ashamed of her roots and family back in Newcastle, swears that she would shoot the good for nothing man they all had married. Each having their own reason to hunt down Jean, the three of them decide to make their way to Yukon, knowing that it was going to be a long and arduous journey.

On their journey, Juliette meets quietly intense Benjamin James Dare who lost his wife to illness. Ben wants to feel alive again and thus the journey to Yukon as a prospector to find gold. Strongly drawn towards a woman who puts propriety above everything else, Ben is surprised by the intense emotions that Juliette evokes in him. Juliette in turn is scandalized to feel the hot rush of emotion she feels every time Ben comes to find her. Though Juliette fights everything within her to prevent herself from falling in love with the most wonderful man she had ever met whilst married to another, it is inevitable that love would follow the intense connection between two people so well suited for each other. The first time Ben and Juliette come together is intense, hot and quite a different scene of seduction from the ones you usually come across. I found myself seduced right along with these two and enjoyed every minute of their encounters.

Clara encounters larger than life Bernard T. Barret (Bear) and feels an intense tug towards the broad shouldered massive man who is a gentle giant in Clara’s opinion. Bear is captivated by Clara’s lush figure and loses the arm wrestling competition aboard the ship that sails them towards Yukon. Constantly being ridiculed after the encounter by other shipmates, Bear feels at times exasperated and more aroused than he has ever been with a woman in like forever. Growing up with a mother whose profession was whoring, Bear always felt that no proper woman would want his company once they find out his background. Equally strong personalities make for a real strong connection and in the end their encounter together nearly destroys Bear’s cabin up in the mountains. It was everything and more of what I envisioned for these two.

Zoe meets Thomas John Price (Tom), one of her brother Jake’s best friends from Newcastle. Tom has made a life for himself outside of Newcastle, building his own supply company and was comfortably well off. Zoe is surprised to encounter Tom and find that she is strangely drawn to a man from Newcastle, something she had sworn never to do. Tom had always known that Zoe would grow up to be a beauty, but the woman whom he encounters on the shores of Yukon just takes his breath away. Before long, whether Zoe wants it or likes it or not, Tom is courting her and the tender and beautiful way in these two come together is certainly a moment worth savoring in this book.

What all these three ladies have in common in the new relationships that they forge during the journey is the fact that they refuse to tell anyone that  they are married to the same man and had come to Yukon to hunt down Jean. But in the end, when the truth does come out, the new men in their lives feel so betrayed by the fact that they had been duped into bedding married women, and that they hadn’t been able to trust them ends their relationships effectively. And finding at the last minute that Jean had sailed from Yukon on the same ship that they had traveled into Yukon, Juliette, Clare and Zoe know that its the end of a journey for the three of them who have come to care for one another and consider one another as the best of friends.

The ending seemed a bit trivial for me, when these 3 ladies continue their journey to Jean’s hometown and encounter the fact that Jean had died after succumbing to illness. It was funny to realize that the three of them weren’t alone in being duped by a man who was so skilled at what he did. With three beautiful children and a wife at home, Jean had traveled all over, marrying women and collecting money from them. Letters written to the three of them, each stating individually what had drawn Jean to them, I guess was the ending that a novel of this type deserved, though I would have felt better if Jean had been alive and the three of them had got to give a piece of their minds to a man who had cheated them out of so much.

In the end, its all happily ever afters for the three of them. It was fun, deeply sensual ride with this book and I definitely recommend this book as I do for the other books by Ms. Osborne that I have read so far.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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Review: The Bequest by Candice Proctor

Format: E-bookthebew
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Jordan Hays
Heroine: Gabrielle Antoine
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 28, 1998
Started On: August 1, 2010
Finished On: August 1, 2010

When Gabrielle Antoine who was brought up in a convent since she was five years old receives word of an inheritance that a woman she has never heard of has left for her, Gabrielle decides to travel Central City, Colorado by herself and find out more about the woman and what has been left for her. Though her best friend Julia St. Etienne tries to warn her that what she may find may not be to her liking, Gabrielle who has always yearned to find out who her mother and father were and where she belonged to does not pay heed to her friend’s gentle warning.

Upon her arrival at Celeste’s Palace, Gabrielle finds out that the woman Celeste DuBois who had bequeathed her half the proceedings from the sale of Celeste’s Palace, is actually her mother and that Celeste’s Palace is a whorehouse which she had managed with her partner Jordan Hays. The shocking revelations that come one after the other definitely shatters whatever illusions that Gabrielle may have harbored about her parents.

At first, knowing that her mother had been alive all along sends a sharp punch of betrayal through her but as she starts spending time with the enigmatic and compelling Jordan who stirs all her senses something fierce, Gabrielle has to admit that her mother made the wiser choice by shielding her from the cruel ways of life in a whorehouse.

Gabrielle is at first more than ready to get rid of the whorehouse and say good riddance to what she has stumbled upon, but her sense of integrity refuses to allow her to sell a whorehouse and use the profit to start up a school for girls, a dream that as a teacher Gabrielle has always harbored within her. And when she comes to find out that her mother was killed and that everyone suspected Doug Slaughter, a man who ran all sorts of establishments through out the county who had wanted to buy Celeste’s Palace from her mother, Gabrielle decides to dig her feet in and refuse to sell the place to a man of such vile character.

Jordan wants nothing more than to be left alone with the dark memories of all that he had lost in his life. The haunting nightmares of how his wife and unborn babe died at the hands of drunken soldiers is a constant reminder to Jordan that he is a man who has nothing left to give to a woman or anyone else. But the daughter of his business partner who has taken residence at their establishment tempts him beyond reason and Jordan fights it with everything in his being, knowing that an innocent like Gabrielle would be devastated if he were to love her and leave like Jordan is used to doing.

But little by little, as Jordan and Gabrielle spend time together, it becomes a battle worth losing when all Jordan wants to do is to lose himself in the arms of the woman who bewitches him so. For Gabrielle who is determined to change the establishment into a girls school and provide the women at Celeste’s Palace with better jobs, it is an uphill battle all the way when Doug fights dirty every step of the way just so he can get his hands on the property.

The story of how the sweetly innocent and undeniably sensual Gabrielle captures the unwilling heart of the lithe and handsome Jordan who thinks of himself as the soulless one is a sweet and taut one. And the fraught danger that lurks deep within the shadows at every turn makes this book a quick page-turner.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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