Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Review: The Lady Who Lived Again by Thomasine Rappold (Debut Novel)

Click here to buy the book on Amazon
Click here to buy the paperback at The Book Depository

This week, I had started and stopped reading three novels -- making it to 25%, and then giving up on them. I was about to call it a bad week of reading for me, and then I started reading Thomasine Rappold's debut novel, The Lady Who Lived Again, finished it, and loved it.

It's New York in the Gilded Age, but Thomasine Rappold has chosen to set her story in the gray and bleak, and appropriately named town of Misty Lake. I like the idea of "mist" -- that not-quite middke ground between clear and hazy -- not as solid-looking as clouds, but not a shapeless notion as fog -- it's perfect for the world where Madeline lives in: where her gift of healing lives alongside modern science.

Madeline Sutter was, perhaps, the fairest of the Fair Five. The leader of a group of the most beautiful and sought-after girls in Misty Lake. The world was their oyster, and everyone adored them. Life was good, and the future for all four girls was bright. Then the world turned upside down, when a birthday picnic in the mountains of Misty Lake ends in the tragic death of Madeline and her friends, but, strangely, Madeline returns from the dead a day after -- coincidentally on Friday the 13th.

Now Madeline bears the scars of the accident, the hostility of the families of her friends, the directed enmity of the town's pastor, and the suspicion of the rest of the town.

For three years, Madeline has accepted her lot as outcast, but, when her only friend, Amelia, one of the Fair Five (who was on holiday at the time of the accident), decides to return to Misty Lake for her wedding, and asks her the be part of the wedding party, Madeline's first instinct is to refuse, but, then, she realizes that Amelia might be right -- that this might be her chance to regain her place in society.

Jace Merrick is the new town Doctor: young, fresh from the Big City -- armed with skills and modern ideas. Jace is looks my for a fresh start after serving in the emergency rooms of Pittsburgh. He is weary and wary, and he is hoping that Misty Lake might restore a little bit of his faith in the world.

This is Thomasine Rappold's mesmerizing and compelling story of two people seeking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Both of them have handled themselves very well and survived on their own, but they discover that life, and the world becomes more bearable when they are together. What keeps you reading Rappold's debut novel is following Madeline's arduous journey, and how she bears the unbearable burden of being the only survivor of the town's worst tragedy. Her only allies are her grandfather, who is too sick and frail, and is confined to the house, her friend Amelia, whose family moved away from Misty Lake, and Jace Merrick, a new addition to the town.

You can't help but admire Madeline, who possesses a quiet dignity, and an overwhelming grace in the face of open hostility, but she is not perfect. You can see Madeline struggle, stumble, and fall -- but you also see a different Madeline, remnants of the old Madeline, one who charms and teases her way to getting what she wants. And I love that Madeline does not wallow in being a martyr -- she keeps herself active and proactive, despite all opposition.

Jace is a modern man who now lives in a town that hasn't moved forward: they've had the same pastor, they've had the same doctor, the same mercantile store owner, etc. -- it's a town that is alive, and bustling, but not quite at the same pace as the rest of the country. When Jace first meets Madeline, he is intrigued by her beauty -- and when he finds out Madeline's story, the scientist in him is intrigued even more.

Love and logic are at opposing poles for Jace, who struggles to maintain a professional distance from Madeline -- and with good reason: if he is to help Madeline regain the town's good opinion, she must preserve her reputation, and, if Jace is to be Madeline's greatest defender, he must show that he is an unbiased opinion. Madeline knows that her gifts are counter Jace's medical background, and the last thing she wants to do is expose herself to more scrutiny and judgment -- but the temptation to experience desire, to be admired for herself and not for her past -- it is irresistible.

Our hero and heroine represent opposite ends of the spectrum: Madeline relies on her emotions and feelings, and Jace is very analytical -- but, they compliment each other very well. Both are able to provide a unique perspective for the other -- I really love how well they worked together in Jace's clinic. ^_^

The Lady Who Lived Again, is, at it's core, a story of "you and me, against the world" -- and Thomasine Rappold could have easily created flat one-dimensional villains, but, the author does the fair thing, and provides the town with an honest, legitimate reason: someone's daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, or friend, died that day -- and they can't help but resent and be angry at Madeline, who survived, despite being the one driving the wagon. The town pastor, and the town doctor, could have, as moral pillars, called for calm, and order, but, they, too -- lost that day, and would stand to lose even more if they had stood by Madeline.

How the author resolves all is just as wonderful, and, for me, seals the deal -- making this a true 5-star read for me.

The Lady Who Lived Again is book 1 in Thomasine Rappold's Sole Survivor series, and her debut novel. To find out more about Thomasine Rappold and her books, click below:
Sunday, July 17, 2016

99-cent Historical Romance Novels

Avon is offering 7 novels for FREE in celebration of the RWA weekend. Click here!

The Bluestocking and The Rake by Norma Darcy
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

411 pages, 210 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.1 stars)

2014 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Romance

The Earl of Marcham has decided to put the excesses of his colorful youth firmly behind him so that he may find a wife and beget himself an heir. But a straitlaced spinster may stand in his way after she releases a morality pamphlet exposing some of his most private misdemeanors. Determined to have his revenge and teach her a much-needed lesson, the earl decides that his best course of action is to seduce her ...

Miss Georgiana Blakelow has long given up the hope of marriage. Instead, she’s resigned to serving as governess to her siblings and saving the family estate from ruin. She might succeed, if only the wretch of an earl who won the estate at the gaming table would be reasonable.

As the sparks fly, and as Lord Marcham finds himself unexpectedly attracted to Miss Blakelow, she becomes even more determined to keep him at a safe distance. The closer he gets, the more likely he is to discover that his bluestocking isn’t all that she seems.

The Seducer by Madeline Hunter (The Seducers Book 1)
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

448 pages, 62 reviews (Average customer rating: 3.9 stars)

She has captivated fans with unforgettable romance novels filled with suspense, seduction, mystery, and passionate love. Now bestselling author Madeline Hunter introduces “the Seducer” in a dazzling tale of a powerfully sensual man, a headstrong young innocent, and a scandalously perilous affair as forbidden as it is irresistible ...


From the moment he arrived to rescue her, Diane Albret saw more in the darkly handsome, charismatic gentleman than just a guardian. Over the years that have passed since she first laid eyes on Daniel St. John, he had become, quite simply, the most dangerously irresistible man she could ever have imagined. Diane herself has changed from a bewildered schoolgirl, tragically orphaned, into a determined young woman of alluring charm and beauty. Now, leaving the cloistered life of her school, she has been brought to Daniel’s home with dreams of her own amid rumors and hints of scandal. But the legendary seducer seems to have other plans for Diane -- and he possesses a secret about her lost past that he will do everything to keep: a secret that will put both their lives in jeopardy, even as the passion they have denied for so long threatens to break out of all control.

A Lady's Guide to Kiss a Rake by Tanya Wilde (Misadventures of the Heart Book 2)
$0.99 on Amazon
About the book:

219 pages, 9 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.6 stars)


When Lady Josephine accepts a wager to lure a kiss from the most scandalous and depraved rake in England, she thought it an easy enough task. But one glimpse at the man in question and she foresees her reputation going up in glorious flames. It will not stop her from winning the wager, however, not even the vexing Marquis of St. Aldwyn, who is determined to stay firmly planted in her path to victory.


The Fifth Marquis of St. Aldwyn, Damien Grenville, has come to the conclusion that he has lost his mind. Why else would he be drawn to the reckless Lady Josephine? And when he begins to realize she is up to no good, will he do everything in his power to ensure her reputation remains intact or will he decide to seduce her himself? But danger lurks in the shadows and when Lady Josephine is taken, Damien will stop at nothing to get her back.

Unlaced by the Outlaw by Michelle Willingham (Secrets in Silk Book 4)
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

354 pages, 93 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.5)

A lady and an outlaw ...

When straitlaced spinster Margaret Andrews tries to stop her headstrong younger sister Amelia from eloping with the wrong man, the last thing she expects is to be caught in a coach accident. Stranded in Scotland with a dangerously handsome Highlander, she must put aside her genteel sensibilities and learn to survive.

Cain Sinclair rescues the prim and proper Margaret, but he knows she’ll never want a man like him. As a self-proclaimed sinner, he lives his life from one day to the next. He unravels every thread of decorum she possesses, tempting her to throw away propriety.

Margaret sees a man worth saving, but Cain fights her efforts to reform him. When Cain risks everything to save his brother from the hangman's noose, Margaret must break all the rules to get him back…or lose him forever.

***The rest of the books in the series are also on sale for $0.99:
Book 1: Undone by the Duke
Book 2: Unraveled by the Rebel
Book 3: Undressed by the Earl

A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

338 pages, 187 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.3 stars)

Bestselling author Brenda Novak unearths love in the darkest of places.

When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline -- and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful -- until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review: The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels

Click here to buy the book on Amazon
Click here to buy the paperback at The Book Depository

Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh is everything his father is not -- and he is taken great pains to ensure that he avoids any comparisons with his father, who was, in Bryson's opinion, and to put it politely, the worst version of a human being to walk the earth. Now Bryson needs a wife to gain further acceptance in society -- and he has a criteria: she must be pure and pristine in body and reputation -- a woman above reproach. Bryson believed he had met such a lady when he is introduced to Elizabeth, the niece of the Countess of Banning.

What Bryson doesn't know is that this isn't his first time to meet Lady Elizabeth. Fifteen years ago, Bryson actually rescued Elizabeth from a brothel, where she had been forcibly brought after her parents were murdered in a roadside robbery. It was a moment that changed the course of Elizabeth's life for good: she has devoted her life to saving women and helping them to find new, more respectable work -- and she has devoted her heart to loving (from afar) the man who rescued her, Bryson Courtland.

Elizabeth never thought she would meet Bryson -- she has never made an appearance in society, nor attended any of her aunt's events. And she wasn't in attendance when she met Bryson at her aunt's dinner party -- Bryson had accidentally overheard a conversation Elizabeth had with Stoker, her most-trusted ally in her rescue work. Then Elizabeth's aunt uses the opportunity to force Elizabeth's hand in attending dinner, where Lady Frinfrock proceeds to grill Bryson on his notorious parents.

Bryson isn't a stranger to that sort of scrutiny, and was preparing to politely end the conversation, when Elizabeth stands up and defends him so spectacularly. I have to say, I loved what Elizabeth said at that dinner party -- it's everything that anyone placed in such an awkward situation has thought to say, but never had to courage to do so. But Elizabeth dared -- and showed spine and mettle. And, at that moment, Bryson knew he had found the one he would marry.

Our hero is meticulous and rigid -- a perfectionist to the core. I found myself identifying with Bryson and his obsessive need to plan and schedule everything, including his courtship and marriage. Bryson had envisioned marrying a particular kind of female, and believed that Elizabeth fit the criteria -- but, when Elizabeth revealed her work with the ladies of ill-repute, you could see Bryson struggling to adjust to this unplanned, unforeseen hitches.

But Elizabeth hadn't even revealed her biggest secret -- and the one that would effectively disqualify her from being Bryson's wife. Except, Elizabeth doesn't know what she wants: she has loved and admired Bryson since that night fifteen years ago, and, meeting him and talking to him is a dream-come-true for her. But she understands that her past experience, and her current work aren't considered acceptable in society, and knows that Bryson needs a woman who could help him gain society's acceptance and respect -- and she knows she isn't that lady.

Charis Michaels presents two characters who are so beautifully human -- despite Elizabeth's selfless and passionate work with her charity, she displays a slight hint of personal selfishness when she allows herself to enjoy the fantasy of having Bryson's attentions and affections. Despite Bryson's perfectly-timed, perfectly-calculated life, he hasn't anticipated that the woman he wants doesn't fit the mold of the woman he thinks he needs.

Elizabeth understands what drives Bryson to seek out a purpose: when she lost her parents, she lost her direction in life, and she lost the future that was meant for her. But she carved out a new path for herself, which is, perhaps, more meaningful and worthwhile. Though, sadly, it came at the terrible cost of the loss of her innocence. And, of all people, Bryson should understand what it feels like to be forced into a situation not of your doing -- to be a victim of circumstances. His parents were selfish, hedonistic, thoughtless, and cold -- and Bryson really made sure he would be the exact opposite of his father. What's interesting to see is how well our hero and heroine love each other -- there's so much acceptance and understanding -- and passion. But there's also a sense that they're both holding back: Bryson is constantly worried that he is one social misstep away from being the disgrace his father was, and Elizabeth is afraid to reveal her secret to Bryson -- because she knows how he would react to it.

While there are out-and-out villain in Charis Michaels' debut novel, The Earl Next Door, the greatest enemy of Bryson and Elizabeth are themselves. Bryson needs to make peace with his past -- and realize that society has already accepted him. That The Viscount Immaculate can survive and be a little bit tarnished. And Elizabeth needs to finally share her story with someone -- she has never told the full story to anyone -- not to her aunt, not to Stoker -- and, maybe Bryson may be the person who could help her finally move past the experience of that terrible night.

There's a final bombshell that the author drops in the latter part of the book, and it's something that upends life as Bryson has known it. It's interesting how he deals with it, and equally interesting to see Elizabeth's role as this is revealed.

Charis Michaels is an amazing storyteller, and this is an amazing follow-up to The Earl Next Door.

The Virgin and the Viscount is Book 2 in Charis Michaels' The Bachelor Lords of London series. To find out more about Charis Michaels and her books, click below:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Happy Release Day! An Affair in Winter by Jess Michaels

Congratulations to Jess Michaels and her latest book, An Affair in Winter -- the first book in her new Seasons series!

Widow Rosalinde Wilde is on her way to her beloved sister’s wedding when an unexpected storm waylays her at an overcrowded inn. There she meets a tempting stranger who sweeps her into a night of unforgettable passion.

Grayson Danford never expected a night with the irresistible Mrs. Wilde, but she was a welcome distraction from the unpleasant duty of breaking up his brother’s impending nuptials. He’s shocked when he discovers his passionate lover is none other than the sister of his brother’s intended.

Now Rosalinde and Gray will butt heads, even as their simmering desire for each other threatens to boil over. Who will win? And who might lose it all?

Buy the book at:

Kobo: Link coming coon!

About Jess Michaels --

USA Today Bestselling Author Jess Michaels began writing full-time in 1999 after being encouraged by her husband to follow her dream. In 2003, she sold her first novella. Since then she has published over 50 novels and novellas under three different pen names with several major publishers, small presses and via self-publishing. Her erotic historical romances have won awards from booksellers and readers.

She and her awesome husband live in Tucson where she enjoys playing video games, exploring the beautiful desert, reading and petting her cat.

Jess Michaels always loves to hear from readers! You can email me or send me snail mail:

Jess Michaels
PO Box 814
Cortaro, AZ

In addition, I’m very active on both Facebook and, so be sure to follow me on one or both from the links provided here! And sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know when I have a new release out.

Find out more about Jess Michaels and her books at her website:

Jess Michaels is about to turn the big 4-0 and she's celebrating with all her readers! Click here for details on her 40 days of 40 celebration.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

$1.99 Historical Romance Novels (Discover a new series!)

This week, I'm featuring books that I've read and loved.

They're all really great first books in a series -- and they're all $1.99 right now.

The Bride by Julie Garwood (Lairds' Fiancees Book 1)
$1.99 on Amazon
About the book:

388 pages, 641 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.5 stars)

An arranged marriage leads to passionate love in this classic Scottish historical romance from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice is Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison -- a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec aches to touch her, to tame her, to possess her ... forever. But Jamie has vowed never to surrender to a man she considers a highland barbarian.

Alec is everything Jamie’s heart has warned her against -- an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks speak of savage pleasures. While Kincaid’s scorching kisses set fire to her blood, she is determined to resist him ... until one rapturous moment quells their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatens to conquer her senses ...

The Earl Next Door by Charis Michaels (The Bachelor Lords of London Book 1)
$1.99 on Amazon
About the book:

480 pages, 81 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.1 stars)

American heiress Piety Grey is on the run. Suddenly in London and facing the renovation of a crumbling townhouse, she’s determined to make a new life for herself -- anything is better than returning to New York City where a cruel mother and horrid betrothal await her. The last thing she needs is a dark, tempting earl inciting her at every turn ...

Trevor Rheese, the Earl of Falcondale, isn’t interested in being a good neighbor. After fifteen years of familial obligation, he’s finally free. But when the disarmingly beautiful Piety bursts through his wall -- and into his life -- his newfound freedom is threatened ... even as his curiosity is piqued.

Once Piety’s family arrives in London, Falcondale suddenly finds himself in the midst of a mock courtship to protect the seductive woman who’s turned his world upside down. It’s all for show -- or at least it should be. But if Falcondale isn’t careful, he may find a very real happily ever after with the woman of his dreams ...

Much Ado About You by Eloisa James (The Essex Sisters Book 1)
$1.99 on Amazon

About the book:

400 pages, 99 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.1 stars)

When you're the oldest daughter, you don't get to have any fun!

Witty, orphaned Tess Essex faces her duty: marry well and marry quickly, so she can arrange matches for her three sisters -- beautiful Annabel, romantic Imogen and practical Josie. After all, right now they're under the rather awkward guardianship of the perpetually tipsy Duke of Holbrook. But just when she begins to think that all might end well, one of her sisters bolts with a horse-mad young lord, and her own fiancé just plain runs away.

Which leaves Tess contemplating marriage to the sort of man she wishes to avoid -- one of London's most infamous rakes. Lucius Felton is a rogue whose own mother considers him irredeemable! He's delicious, Annabel points out. And he's rich, Josie notes. But although Tess finally consents to marry him, it may be for the worst reason of all. Absurd as she knows it to be, she may have fallen utterly in love ...

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series Book 1)
$1.99 on Amazon

About the book:

338 pages, 372 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.5 stars)

A woman is drawn to a dangerously intruiging man in this unique historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley.

It was whispered all through London Society that Ian Mackenzie was mad, that he’d spent his youth in an asylum, and was not to be trusted -- especially with a lady. For the reputation of any woman caught in his presence was instantly ruined.

Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish lord whose hint of a brogue wrapped around her like silk and whose touch could draw her into a world of ecstasy. Despite his decadence and his intimidating intelligence, she could see that he needed help. Her help. Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was ... The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare (Castles Ever After Book 1)
$1.99 on Amazon

About the book:

417 pages, 351 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.4 stars)

In the first in Tessa Dare's captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love ...

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and ... Heh.

Now Izzy's given up yearning for romance. She'll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who's never even been kissed?

This one.

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs Book 1)
$1.99 on Amazon

About the book:

418 pages, 382 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.6 stars)

Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of romance and romantic suspense has captivated readers with her steamy Scottish historical novels, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood. Never Seduce a Scot features a remarkable woman whose rare gift teaches a gruff Scottish warrior how to listen with his heart.

Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty -- unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.

Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition (Featuring: The Rake by Suzanne Enoch)

Thank you to Shabby Blogs ( for the free frame!

Happy Throwback Thursday, everyone!

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Rake by Suzanne Enoch, published March 2009

Three determined young ladies vow to give three of London's worst rakes their comeuppance ― but when these rogues turn the tables, who truly learns a lesson in love?

Once upon a time, the notorious Viscount Dare charmed Lady Georgiana Halley out of her innocence ― to win a wager, no less! ― and now he must pay dearly. The plan is simple: She will use every seductive wile she knows to win Dare's heart...and then break it. But his smoldering gaze once again tempts Georgiana to give in to desire ― and when he astonishes her with a marriage proposal, she wonders: Is he playing yet another game...or could it truly be love this time?

From the Goodreads page of the book

To find out more about Suzanne Enoch and her books, click below:

Book Review: The Earl Next Door by Charis Michaels

Click here to buy the book on Amazon
Click here to buy the paperback at The Book Depository

Charis Michaels' debut novel, The Earl Next Door unfolds in three acts: the first act establishes the quiet neighborhood of Henrietta Place, which is a character in itself, and is staunchly protected by Lady Stroud, the Marchioness of Frinfrock, who is my favorite character in the book.

We first see our hero and heroine through Lady Frinfrock's eyes, as she observes from the window of her own home the arrivals of Trevor Rheese, and then the arrival of Piety Grey -- who, coincidentally, moved to houses beside each other on the block across from Lady Frinfrock's.

Trevor Rheese is the new Earl of Falcondale, and he doesn't have time to celebrate, at leisure, his newly-given status in society because he is busy trying to repay all of the previous Earl's debts. He has sold all the furniture, and has let go of all the staff at his new home, and now resides there with only one young man in his employ. He has spent his entire childhood and early adulthood living abroad, caring for his fragile mother. They knew they were connected to the aristocracy, but it was a connection that hadn't helped either Trevor or his mother. Trevor had to survive on his own, and ended up working for disreputable men while he was in Greece. When he inherited the title from his uncle, his first instinct is to sell off everything, and leaving.

I understand why Trevor is hesitant to form relationships -- he is tired of depending on people and having people depend on him. He is tired of being responsible for the welfare of others, and he is tired of having little or no control over his life. Trevor is tired, and, he thought the earldom would finally free him from his current situation, but, it turns out to be yet another ball to which Trevor finds himself chained to.

He is in the process of selling off the London townhouse located on Henrietta Place, and he hopes that it will fund his travels to elsewhere -- to anywhere. But he meets Piety Grey, who moved in next door -- and whose house is oddly connected to his house through a secret tunnel.

Piety had intended to move in quietly, repair the house quietly, install a staff quietly, and settle in quietly in her new home on Henrietta Place, but, it seems the dilapidation that her solicitors informed her were sadly understated. She needs to access the second floor of her house through Trevor's house, and she had been told that the Earl would not be at home while she was constructing. But Trevor, the new Earl, is at home, and very unhappy with the interruptions to his anti-social life.

Charis Michaels hooks you with main characters whose initial actions and perceived motivations are curious, and makes you want to know more about them. Then there's the cranky, but lovable old lady who possesses a razor-sharp mind and keen observation. When the author later reveals the very complicated histories of her characters, it just makes this book an even more compelling read. The first part of the book does a great job of establishing the personalities and hang-ups of the characters.

The Earl Next Door becomes more interesting in the second act of the book, when Trevor and Piety get to know each other better. It's with grudging reluctance that Trevor opens his door (and a bit of his heart) to Piety, who charms you with her guilelessness and convinces you with her relentlessness. I love the mix of strength and fragility in Piety. I love her resolve, but I also love that she falters sometimes.

The second act also introduces Piety's mother and her stepbrothers -- the reason for her escape to England. I would credit the author for writing Piety's mother so well -- Idelle Grey-Limpett is really a dangerous mix of veiled insults and open antagonism -- and she frames it all as motherly concern for Piety's well-being and reputation. The author's decision to portray the brothers as a herd -- just giving them names, and making them move and react as a single entity just adds to what Piety has said of them -- that they are oafs, but that they are dangerous oafs with a dangerous pack leader in the form of Eli Limpett.

I wondered at Lady Frinfrock's decision to move the story to her country estate in Berkshire, and opening her doors to Piety's "family" -- but it did provide a lot of entertainment for the old lady, and emphasized the terrible situation that Piety was in when she was in New York -- and added to the urgency of why Piety needed to get away from them.

What I couldn't understand, though, is why her mother and her stepbrothers continue to pursue her despite Piety's willingness to already give them money. In this I could see that, at the core of Piety's mother, is not a heart, but a hollow space of terrible, hurtful intentions. It isn't just money that she is after, but also revenge. But, for what reason?

The author could have ended her story with Trevor arriving at the Marchioness's estate, offering marriage to Piety, and telling her American family to all go to the devil, and it would make for an excellent ending. But Charis Michaels does one better, by writing a third act, where she integrates everything she's presented so far in the first two acts: things happen that challenge Trevor's dreams of living an unfettered life, and the same things happen that challenge Piety's desire to finally be free from her family, and to live an independent life. Our hero and heroine's worlds are agitated, and nothing is going according to the well-laid plans they both made. So now they must sort through their thoughts and feelings, and decide on a new plan -- a new life, one that, hopefully, allows them to live happily together.

I truly, truly enjoyed this story -- this is the sort of book you can't leave behind, but would want to take with you, because you want to read the next chapter, and then the next. I'm so glad that the second book, The Virgin and the Viscount, is finally out, Viscount Rainsleigh was introduced in the latter part of The Earl Next Door, and he has a very interesting backstory.

The Earl Next Door is the stunning debut novel of Charis Michaels and the first book in her The Bachelor Lords of London series. To find out more about Charis Michaels and her books, click below:


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