Author: Sophie Barnes

Guest Review: His Scandalous Kiss by Sophie Barnes

Posted September 7, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: His Scandalous Kiss by Sophie BarnesReviewer: Tracy
His Scandalous Kiss (Secrets at Thorncliff Manor #3) by Sophie Barnes
Series: Secrets at Thorncliff Manor #3
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Format: eARC
Genres: Historical Romance
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Series Rating: four-stars

Thorncliff Manor is the perfect setting for a masquerade ball... where the heart’s secret desires are about to be uncovered in this scintillating Regency romance from Sophie Barnes...

Richard Heartly has exiled himself from society since the war, plotting his revenge for a terrible betrayal. A masked ball at Thorncliff Manor is intended to be a brief diversion. Instead, he encounters a fascinating young woman as entranced by the music as he is. He can’t reveal his identity to Lady Mary. But her siren song keeps drawing him back, and their clandestine meetings could be hazardous to his plan—and to her virtue.

Avoiding an unwanted marriage was easy when Lady Mary was ignored by the ton. Thanks to her dazzling appearance at the masquerade, she’s a wallflower no longer. Eligible suitors abound, yet the only man she wants is the brooding, seductive companion who keeps his face hidden. A man who tempts her to disclose her own shocking secret, one that could divide them forever.

Richard was injured while fighting for his country during the Battle of Waterloo.  He had been sent on a mission and had been captured and tortured.  He was disfigured so when he returned home he let people think he was still MIA – even dead.  It was easier than explaining what had happened to him time and again. He’s horrified by his scars and refuses to even see his mother and sisters – only talking to his brother and father.  He’s also determined to ruin the man who he feels was responsible for his capture and torture and will stop at nothing until that is done.

Richard’s family is spending the summer at Thorncliff Manor and the hostess there has a masquerade.  She talks Richard into attending which he does with a cloak and full mask on.  While there he meets Mary.  She at first tells him that her name is Eleanor and he tells her that he is Signor Antonio.  Not knowing who the other is doesn’t deter them from finding a connection with each other through their talk of music and books.  When Richard refuses to identify himself to Mary’s aunt after he dances with her the aunt refuses to let them see each other.

Mary has a huge secret that she keeps from everyone – she sings (there’s more to it than that but I’ll keep that a secret as well) – and in order to practice she goes to a cave that she found on the Thorncliff property.  After Richard had saved Mary from a lecher by the name of Lord Rotridge, Richard is concerned for her safety.  When he spies her from his window heading off into the dark he follows her.  Not only do they end up spending time together (he is still masked) but they find something intriguing under the foundation of Thorncliff.  They continue to meet each other in secret despite her aunts demand otherwise.  Mary eventually gets Richard to take off the mask but when he finds out who she really is and all their secrets come out they may not be able to stay together.

When I first started this book I’m not sure if I just wasn’t into reading a historical romance at the time or not but didn’t get too far into the first chapter and put it down.  It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I picked it up again and started it from page one.  I’m SO happy I did!  This was a very sweet romance with a scarred hero and the woman that brings him out of his self-imposed protective shell.

The romance story between Richard and Mary is one that I very much enjoyed.  It consisted of talking between the characters and finding common ground.  It was long glances and shared touches and was just so perfect for the two of them. Mary was almost on the shelf and had decided not to get married.  He, of course, never thought he would leave his room much less meet a woman and fall in love.  He never thought he would reveal himself to anyone but when he finally admits his love for Mary he has to admit to himself that his life is lonely and he hates it as it is.  I loved the dynamic between the H/h and wanted them to work out from the first time they met.

The part of the story where Mary and Richard find this intriguing part of the cave system that she sings in and of course the information they find there was a decent part of the story but I think it was part of the overall series arc.  That said, I hadn’t read the first two books in the series so I was a little lost about why it all mattered, etc.  It was interesting but I didn’t find any entertainment from it as I didn’t have a clue what was going on.

Overall this was a sweet romance.  I loved the characters and the writing and definitely recommend the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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Guest Review: The Trouble With Being a Duke by Sophie Barnes

Posted June 26, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review:  The Trouble With Being a Duke by Sophie BarnesReviewer: Judith
The Trouble With Being a Duke (At the Kingsborough Ball, #1) by Sophie Barnes
Series: At the Kingsborough Ball #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 27th 2013
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 371
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Series Rating: four-stars

Sometimes happily ever after…

Anthony Hurst, Duke of Kingsborough knows the time has come for him to produce an heir. But first he must find a bride. When he meets the most exquisite woman at his masquerade ball, he thinks his search is over…until the breathtaking beauty runs off. With few clues other than her figure, her scent, and the memory of her kiss, Anthony must find his mystery lady.

…needs a little bit of help.

Isabella Chilcott can scarcely believe it: she is finally at the Kingsborough Ball. As a child, she dreamed of dancing a waltz here and now, thanks to a gorgeous gown she’s found in the attic, Isabella is living her fairytale fantasy. And she’s waltzing with the Duke of Kingsborough himself! But she must escape before he discovers her secrets…for she is not who she pretends to be, and falling in love with Prince Charming is the last thing she can allow herself to do…

The Spirit of Cinderella lives in this delightful and engaging historical romance, not withstanding the fact that there is a back story that is not readily apparent and one that complicates matters far more than the main characters realize at first.  It that greater depth that doesn’t emerge until later in the story and until then, it can be a rather disappointing tale for some readers.  I was fascinated with the heroine, a woman who was determined that she would please her family and felt it her bounden duty to secure their social and financial future.  She was willing to go through with a vastly boring and singularly unpleasant betrothal arranged by her parents to her father’s superior in order to see this through.  Yet within her maidenly breast beat the heart of a rebel and it is that rebellious spirit that peaks out repeatedly throughout the story.

The hero is a pedantic and predictable aristocrat who has come to the time in his life when a wife is needed for sons to secure the lineage of his title.  (yawn) Anthony seemed like a very nice man and wanted to please his family as well.  He was especially concerned about the lingering depression of his widowed mother, and who cannot love a man who really cares about his mother?!  Yet he was not a risk taker by any means except at the Kingsborough Ball, an event that he resurrected in order to bring his mom out of her persistent funk.  It worked so well that all of their community wanted to be there, including Isabella.  However, Bella’s mother, a woman born into the aristocracy, would have none of it.  So Isabella did the next best thing:  she sneaked out, wearing a gown she discovered surreptitiously in the attic, and went to the ball.  No pumpkin coach and no miracle footmen or horses.  Just walking quietly and in the shadows of the night until she simply appeared.  And there before his eyes, is the woman who claims his interest, seduces his libido, and begins the slow but sure abduction of his heart.   One small problem, however.  No name, no clues as to her identity, and no way to find out.  Only the fact that her gown is recognized by an older couple as having once belonged to their daughter who had been missing and presumed dead for decades.  NOW the story is heating up.

This is a delicious romp through the society of Britain that is not necessarily lodged in London and whose social functions don’t revolve around Almack’s and the royal palaces.  Here you have a distant aristocracy, just as hide-bound but definitely bringing a different sense about it into the story.  You also have a fiance that is narcissistic and whose only concern with Isabella is as a trophy who can add to his social and financial sheen.  As all the players take their places and the story unfolds, there are moments of real fun and some very definite sizzle;  there are also moments when the reader would really like to wham some of the characters upside their heads with a dough roller.  Suffice it so say that this is a far more complicated novel than it first appears.  It is one of those stories that keeps on gaining depth and breadth as it moves along.  I know I was certainly loathe to put it down.

I have not read much from this author but I was impressed with her ability to put a very good story together.  I think the story stalled in places and I found that surprising as I have the impression that the author could have found a way–I don’t personally know how–to prevent the story from lagging.  Yet all in all I found the book to be entertaining and enjoyed the experience.

I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


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