The Duke's Tattoo
by Miranda Davis
Published by Smashwords
First comes revenge then comes love and marriage in The Duke’s Tattoo, a historical romance set in Regency England. This is Book One of ‘The Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ series.
Miss Prudence Haversham, Bath’s first and only female apothecary, knows she'll have a significant problem if the tenth Duke of Ainsworth ever discovers she is to blame for the mocking tattoo she had tattooed on his august person in revenge. Unfortunately, the duke she tattooed is not the Duke of Ainsworth who disgraced her with his lies. Worse, he is one of four infamously implacable cavalry officers known as ‘The Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’
After being grievously wounded at Waterloo, Jeremy Maubrey returns to London as the tenth Duke of Ainsworth and finds his new life painful, dull and full of obligations. That is, until he wakes to find himself indelibly decorated in a mortifying manner.
Though he cannot recall much of the abduction and tattooing, he does remember the waif-like villainess and her arresting eyes. Ducal duties must wait while he finds the culprit and takes his revenge.
Hero and heroine meet as adversaries in Bath. Prudence Haversham overturns the duke’s every expectation and intention. In turn, the duke proves himself a surprisingly forgiving man who earns her love.
I picked this one up because I liked the idea of a female apothecary and tattooist, although it turned out that the tattooing was done by someone else. Equally disappointingly, we don't find out what the tattoo design is until the very end of the book, and even then the description is not very detailed. The characters shine some of the time, but the plot is rather disappointing and relies on misunderstandings without madcap incidents to negate their silliness. Not a series that I'll be following, although I get why it might appeal to others.
Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, 1446-1503
by Christine Weightman
Published by Sutton Publishing Ltd
This is the first full biography in English of Margaret and vividly demonstrates the role of women in the dynastic struggles of the period. Reared in a dangerous and unpredictable world Margaret of York, sister of Richard III, would become the standard bearer of the House of York and 'The menace of the Tudors'. This alluring and resourceful woman was Henry VII's 'diabolical duchess'. Safe across the Channel in modern-day Belgium and supported by the Emperor she sent Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck with thousands of troops to England to avenge the destruction of her brother and of the House of York. Both rebellions shook the new Tudor dynasty to the core. As the duchess and wife of the wealthiest ruler in Western Europe, Margaret was at the centre of a glittering court and became the patron of William Caxton. It was at her command that he printed the first book in English. Her marriage to Charles, the dour, war-mad Duke of Burgundy, had been the talk of Europe. John Paston, who was among the awe struck guests, reported in the famous Paston Letters that there had been nothing like it since King Arthur's court. Yet within a decade Charles was dead, his corpse frozen on the battlefield and within another decade her own family had been destroyed in England. Childless and in a foreign land Margaret showed the same energetic and cautious spirit as her great-grand-niece Elizabeth I, surviving riots, rebellions and plots. In spite of all her efforts, the Tudors were still on the throne but Margaret, unlike the Yorkist kings, was a great survivor.
A dense, and highly detailed story of a powerful woman who mostly appears in other people's histories. The book also gives a superb account of how the Burgundians thrived at the height of their power, and hints at how it went wrong. Wonderfully illustrated too.
The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst
by Louise Allen
Publisher: Mills & Boon
We hear the notorious Mr R– while searching for a stolen artefact, has had his attention caught by the unlikeliest of treasures... Stumbling upon his dowdy cousin Elinor on the Continent, Theo Ravenhurst hardly believes his luck. His dangerous lifestyle appears to have finally caught up with him, and her family connections could be put to excellent use... Theo is convinced Elinor’s drab exterior disguises a fiery, passionate nature. He gives her the adventure she’s been yearning for -- and along the way discovers his new-found accomplice has talents beyond his wildest imagination...
An intensely entertaining romp, in which the heroine not only rescues herself from deadly peril, but also manages to rescue the hero from various scrapes with the minimum of fuss. The artefact behind the overarching plot is sparsely described, but enough clues are given that the reader picks up on just how depraved a piece of artwork it is. I also love Elinor's highly practical solutions to finding out what love is all about and how one should combine having a family with adventuring all over Europe.
by J.L. Merrow
Published by Samhain Publishing
Jude Biggerstaff is all the way out and loving it—mostly. The Anglo-Japanese university graduate is a carnivore working in a vegan café, an amateur poet with only one man in his life. His dog, Bubbles.
Then there’s “Karate Crumpet”, a man who regularly runs past the café with a martial arts class. Jude can only yearn from afar, until the object of his affection rescues him from muggers. And he learns that not only does this calm, competent hunk of muscle have a name—David—but that he’s gay.
Jude should have known the universe wouldn’t simply let love fall into place. First, David has only one foot out of the closet. Then there’s Jude’s mother, who lies about her age to the point Jude could be mistaken for jailbait.
With a maze of stories to keep straight, a potential stepfather in the picture, ex-boyfriends who keep spoiling his dates with David, and a friend with a dangerous secret, Jude is beginning to wonder if his and David’s lives will ever start to rhyme.
This was an absolue delight. A whole host of entertaining and distinctive characters interact, and stumble through the problems life throws at them. Some splendid poems are scattered through the story, on a diverse range of subjects, not to mention the highly effective humour we expect from Jamie Merrow. A good sprinkling of secondary romances too, not to mention that the dogs are great.
by Owen Sheers
Published by Faber and Faber
1944. After the fall of Russia and the failed D-Day landings, a German counter - attack lands on British soil. Within a month, half of Britain is occupied. Sarah Lewis, a 26-year-old farmer's wife, wakes to find her husband Tom has disappeared. She is not alone, as all the other women in the Welsh border valley of Olchon wake to find their husbands gone. With this sudden and unexplained absence, the women regroup as an isolated, all-female community and wait, hoping for news. A German patrol arrives in the valley, the purpose of their mission a mystery. When a severe winter forces the two groups together, a fragile mutual dependency develops. Sarah begins a faltering acquaintance with the patrol's commanding officer, Albrecht Wolfram, and it is to her that he reveals the purpose of his mission - to claim an extraordinary medieval art treasure that lies hidden in the valley. But as the pressure of the war beyond presses in on this isolated community, this fragile state of harmony is increasingly threatened.
Having seen the film, I had to catch up with the book too. The plots are very closely aligned, although in the book we learn far more about what has been happening in the world outside the valley. Amazingly well-researched in terms of what had been planned in case of invasion, how that invasion might have come about, and what the weather conditions were like in that terrible winter when the conditions for the sheep and their farmers were similar to those seen in parts of the UK again recently.