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.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Abe Books

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Review: Beyond Sunrise by Candice Proctor

Format: E-bookbesu
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Hero: Jack Ryder
Heroine: India McKnight
Sensuality: 2.5
Date of Publication: June 2003
Started On: August 9, 2010
Finished On: August 11, 2010

India McKnight, the daughter of a Reverend, a spinster, Scotswoman and a travel writer of some renown is a woman who thrives on the adventure her travels bring. Being a lone traveler during a time period when women were considered useful for one thing only, India defies all convention and traverse around the world, excited by her discoveries and always content with what she is. That is until she meets Jack Ryder.

Jack, a man from Queensland, Australia lives on the island Neu Brenen in the South Pacific. Having once served in the British navy, Jack ended up on the island with another one of his shipmates during a huge storm when they were set adrift near the islands. There Jack had resided for two whole years, half of which he spent restlessly looking towards the vast ocean for any sign of a ship that could take him away back to life as he knew it. That was until Titana took away his breath and heart and he took her as his wife.

When the British navy came looking for their lost men, it was to find Jack happily settled down with Titana with no intention of returning back to life as a navy officer. And then tragedy struck when 3 sailors from Lady Juliana (the ship that had come searching for Jack and his shipmate) raped an island woman so viciously that she died. The Rakaians (Rakaia being the island Jack resided in), exacted their own form of justice and killed the 3 sailors who were responsible. The British navy retaliated by opening fire on the helpless islanders, never giving a thought to the fact that they were butchering innocent civilians in the process.

Titana died with their daughter Ulani in her arms with their second child still in her womb. Jack goes berserk with anger and grief and he has no choice but to hand over his daughter Ulani to his wife’s family and head back to his old life aboard Lady Juliana. When Lady Juliana crashes and most of its crew die, the blame is laid on Jack’s shoulder and for the past ten years Jack has been on the run for his life from the British navy who wants to exact their brand of justice for the families who lost their loved ones on that tragic day.

Jack is used to his life of answering to no one and living life as he wants it. Drinking long into the night to escape the dreams that come in so swiftly, all his hackles rise to the occasion when the prim and proper India McKnight come looking for his service. Having read her previous book and thinking that the author was someone he would like to meet seems to be an understatement when Jack can barely keep from throttling the delectable India who seems to be testing all his patience.

When India unknowingly becomes the bait with which the British hunt down Jack, Jack has no choice but to take India as his hostage and travel through the cannibal infested jungles of the island. It is during this time that India comes to appreciate, respect and finally fall in lust and love with the mass of contradictions that Jack is and learn his side of the story of how he has become a man who has been on the run.

The story of India and Jack is not just a romance, but rather an adventure that keeps the pages turning. Candice Proctor has surely woven a tale of unforgettable romance and adventure with this one.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: Midnight Confessions by Candice Proctor

Format: E-bookmidconf
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Hero: Marshal Zachary Xavier Cooper
Heroine: Emmanuelle de Beauvais
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication:  June 2002
Started On: August 1, 2010
Finished On: August 2, 2010

Emmanuelle, the widow of Philippe de Beauvais who died no longer than 3 months ago is devastated when her friend and mentor Henri Santerre is murdered right in front of her with a crossbow bolt tipped with silver alloy, the kind that Emmanuelle’s dead husband Philippe had used for recreational hunting. Emmanuelle is more than shocked by the events that take place that night and she can’t help but think that the bolt had actually been meant for her.

The Yankee Marshal Zachary X. Cooper embodies everything that Emmanuelle has come to detest in the confederates war that was ongoing. When Zachary hears about the unusual murder that took place in a cemetery and that also with the most unusual of weapons, he is more than intrigued to find out who is responsible for the murder. The beautifully exotic French woman who is the only witness to the crime and possibly looking as the best viable suspect for the murder stirs something deep within the soldier’s soul right from the very beginning.

Zachary is determined to uncover the secrets that shrouds this woman he is tempted beyond reason to make his, even when the fact that he is a Yankee soldier clearly irks the woman he wants. Emmanuelle is not your typical romance novel heroine. A woman who has a deep passion for practicing medicine during a time when all doors leading to the profession were closed off for her gender,  Emmanuelle continues to serve at the Hospital de Santerre, a hospital that had been opened up by the joint efforts of her father, her husband and Henri Santerre, who had all been doctors. Though heavily mortgaged Emmanuelle refuses to give up and close down the hospital, even after the death of Henri which meant that the only doctor certified to treat patients at the hospital was Dr. Charles Yardley who himself meets an untimely demise later on.

One by one, the people who play vital roles in Emmanuelle’s life are killed off and Emmanuelle herself barely escapes death at the hands of a hired Irishman before being rescued. Though Emmanuelle refuses to give into the fear that threatens to consume her of what would happen to her son Dominic if she were to be killed, Emmanuelle refuses to truthfully tell Zachary anything about her life which might provide vital clues in solving the senseless murders that seemed to be taking place.

Although Emmanuelle would like nothing better than to bury her head in the sand and refuse to face the truth about the intensity of her feelings towards the Yankee soldier who had somehow managed to find a niche for himself in her life, it is with explosive passion that these two finally come together. Zachary is determined to uncover the truth hidden in the layers of half truths that is fed to him one way or the other, and he is more than driven to save the woman he loves more than anything else in this life from the death that awaits her with certainty if the killer is not caught.

This is a splendid story set in the steamy New Orleans, a place where explosive passion, murder and half truths take the center stage. As the truth is uncovered, one painful inch at a time, I continually found myself surprised and at times ready to take Emmanuelle by the shoulders and give her a good shake so that she would tell the complete truth, just the one time. Touching highly provocative subjects, this book is not just a romance, but an intrinsically woven tale of family drama, murder and the destructive power of lies. Highly recommended for those who love a story that would intrigue you and make you ponder about what you have read long after the book is over.

I especially loved the unusual epilogue in the book, told in the viewpoint of a grandchild of Zachary and Emmanuelle, long after they are dead to a great granddaughter of theirs named Emmanuelle. All the characters in this book would definitely weave their magic on the reader that would continue to linger long afterwards. And this is one of those romances where the hero is younger than the heroine; Zachary being five years younger than Emmanuelle.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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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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Review: Night In Eden by Candice Proctor

Format: E-booknight in eden
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ivy Books
Hero: Captain Hayden St. John
Heroine: Bryony Wentworth
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 28, 1997
Started On: July 30, 2010
Finished On: July 31, 2010

I just love it when a book ends up being a real treasure worth savoring. This book was suggested on one of the discussion forums on Amazon and from the synopsis itself, it sounded like a book that I would love. And from the first page itself, this book captivated me by its wonderful charm and didn’t let go long after I finished the book.

Bryony Wentworth is unjustly  sentenced to spend her life in servitude in New South Wales for the murder of her husband Oliver Wentworth. With her daughter Madeline snatched right out of her arms screaming for her mama, the only thing that keeps Bryony going is the unborn babe inside of her. But life and its cruelty took Philip her son away in death and it nearly drives Bryony mad with grief and anger.

Captain Hayden St. John visits the Parramatta prison to find a nursemaid for his son Simon whose mother had died soon after prematurely delivering Simon. Hayden’s wife Laura was a beautiful delicate woman and her death had changed Hayden into a man colder and harder than he was before. The spirited woman who stands before him who undoubtedly was still grieving for her son stirs something deep within Hayden that he doesn’t want to recognize.

Bryony can’t believe it when she is sold to the tall bronze man who stands before her with a wicked looking knife strapped to his thigh. There is a wildness about him that called out to the woman inside of her, a call Bryony refuses to pay heed to because Bryony was a woman who vowed to uphold the values she had been taught as a child.

Hayden at first refuses to believe that his body is clamoring for the attention of the convict woman who now looks after his son. But when he sees the answering fire that smolders within Bryony’s eyes, Hayden requests Bryony to become his mistress. The attraction that simmers between Bryony and Hayden is so hot that I found myself captivated by the heady magic of it. The final showdown when it all comes to head is a scene not to be missed as it answers every craving the previous pages invoke in the reader.

Its when Hayden makes Bryony his lawfully wedded wife and brings back Madeline from England that stirs up the trouble. Madeline refuses to connect with Bryony accusing her of abandoning her and vehemently hates Hayden for the position he holds in her mother’s life. And the final twist in the story comes when Oliver returns from the dead, wanting to take his wife and child back to England with him.

This is a wonderful story set in the rough Australian terrain that is beautiful and wild at the same time like the love that is described so vividly between two characters that are definitely made for one another. Hayden is a hero that would stir any woman’s dreams and Bryony is a heroine who would win the affection and admiration of the reader. The side characters are well developed, the story a moving one which had me up all night to finish the book.

This book is very highly recommended for all romance lovers out there. If you haven’t already read this story, get a copy and indulge yourself in one of the finest love stories out there.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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