Tag: Cheryl Ann Smith

Guest Review: A Convenient Bride by Cheryl Ann Smith

Posted December 20, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of A Convenient Bride (School for Brides #4) by Cheryl Ann Smith

On the hunt for his runaway sister, Lord Richard Ellerby stops a suspicious carriage at gunpoint and is shocked to be mistaken for a thieving highwayman. When the attractive woman inside makes him an offer to court her for pay, Richard refuses and sends her on her way. But the determined lady soon finds him again and proposes an even more outrageous offer: wedding her in a marriage of convenience.

Desperate to find love with a man of her own choosing, Lady Brenna Harrington will do anything to hold on to her freedom, even if it means propositioning a dangerous highwayman. If she can distract her father with a prospective husband who only wants to marry her for her fortune, Brenna will have time to do things her way. While her plan may be just crazy enough to work, her unsuitable suitor has other more pleasurable strategies in mind.

For generations that have come and gone and for eras long past, the lives of women have never been easy and societies have long sought to keep them bound by rules and regulations that go all the way from how they hold their forks to how they dress, who they can associate with, how they bear their children and to whom to they belong.  Seldom have women belonged to themselves.  That was certainly not the case in 19th century England and it was especially true among the aristocracy.  The heroine of this story is a case in point.  Scheduled to marry a man she loathed and one her father was bent on shackling her with, Benna Harrington was desperate to employ desperate measures.  Hard to be believe she would even proposition an highwayman.  Little did she realize that he was only masquerading as one.  In truth he was seeking his sister who he knew had been led astray by an unprincipled and gold-digging aristocrat.

This is truly what one would call a historical romantic romp–full of craziness and repartee that simmers sometimes and sizzles at others.  It is filled with fun people and those who make one’s hair stand on end.  It is a classic clash between the independent spirit of a beautiful, intelligent, repressed woman and the norms of society which are threatening to upend her life completely.  Yet in the midst of all this is a man whose attraction to her is unwanted and sometimes resented, yet that is indeed the core of the historical romance genre.  Needless to say, those who have read other books by this author will recognize that she handles this genre with a deft hand and has written a really delightful novel.  There’s a good deal of craziness here, plots and counter-plots, people whose idea of life is inflexible and intractable.  But cast against them is the free spirit as represented by Brenna and her determination to find her own way and ultimately marry a man who will love her for who she is and not for her money.

Historical romance fans will really like this book and find it a pleasurable reading experience.  It is light-hearted while being filled with the nooks and crannies of inventive thinking on the part of the heroine, and because she is determined to never give up, it means that the reader will have a great time figuring out how it’s all going to come out.

I happily give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

The Series:

 Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

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

book is available from Berkley. 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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Guest Review: The Scarlet Bride by Cheryl Ann Smith

Posted June 11, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Judith’s review of The Scarlet Bride  (School for Brides #3) by Cheryl Ann Smith

Notorious bad boy Simon Harrington, third in line for his uncle’s title, has finally conceded to settling down and finding a noble wife. Then he stumbles across a courtesan in peril on a dark London street, and his life takes an unexpected turn. Fearing for her safety, he brings the mysterious beauty to his cousin’s School for Brides, where compromised women are taught how to be suitable wives. But he finds it impossible to simply walk away.

A poor country squire’s daughter, Laura Precott was promised in marriage to the shadowy Earl of Westwick. Instead of making her his wife, however, he betrayed her and forced her to become his mistress. When she learned of his plan to sell her at auction, she fled for her life. Simon knows he must forget his feelings for such an unsuitable woman or risk disgracing his family.

But when Laura’s former lover turns out to have been murdered the very night of her escape, suspicion falls squarely on Laura. Now it is up to Simon to prove her innocence—even if it leads to his downfall.

The hidden and shadowy world of the courtesan has been a part of human history for as far back as the beginnings of the race.  Even as societies and traditions made marriage the norm and even when there were multiple spouses, there still existed the world of women to satisfy the urges of men outside those traditional relationships.  Whether by choice, inherited role (as was sometimes the case when a mother was a famous courtesan of her day), by necessity to survive, or as in the case of this heroine, through the machinations of an unscrupulous aristocrat who lied and deceived in order to claim a woman he craved, the outcome for the woman in question was that she was forever considered a “fallen woman” by those in proper society.  Laura Prescott to please her dying father in agreeing to marry the Earl of Westwick, little knew that she was entering into a relationship with a man who would misuse and abuse her and would ultimately sell her as a commodity to other men of ill repute when she continued to refuse to cooperate with his advances.  Beaten and confined, Laura knew that her fourteen months of imprisonment would end in her death is she did not escape, and it was only through the unexpected gallantry of Simon Harrington that she was able to be free of her captor.
Yet Simon was a man on a mission–to provide a high society marriage for his sister.  The only way to do so, as far as he could see, was to marry well himself and establish their family firmly in the embrace of the ton.  Thus, there was no place in his future for Laura Prescott, no matter how strong her attraction to him and he to her, no matter how sad her story may be and how wrong her fall from grace had been at the hands of a wicked rake.  He may enjoy her charms and they may grow to have a strong affection for one another, but Simon needed a bride who was totally acceptable to society for the sake of his sister and her future.  As a man of honor and head of his family, he could do nothing less.
This is a story of great sadness on some levels as it deals with the sad fallout to women who have been lured into the life of a courtesan and then been abandoned, whose future is of little concern to men who sought their company and companionship only to leave them high and dry when the attraction faded.  Simon’s cousins were women of social prominence who were also closet social actionists and who took it upon themselves to rebuild the future for good women who had been misused and discarded–giving them education and home skills and eventually providing husbands for them.  Laura was taken in by Simon’s cousins and give sanctuary, as it were, but she knew that she must eventually find employment and move on to her own future.  I really appreciated Simon’s cousins–women of fortitude whose husbands supported their efforts and who were not loathe to put considerable personal resources toward the rehabilitation of good women.  I grew impatient with Simon–his willingness to do well by Laura, to work to free her from suspicion as the murderess of her captor, his willingness to see to her safety and protection, to even spend his own wealth to find the real killer were all good and  much appreciated–but he still held on to the plan to marry a socially accepted woman so that he could make a good marriage for his sister to a man she hated and didn’t want to marry.  Get a clue here, Simon, my may.  You sister is trying to tell you something.  
This story is also a fine mystery wrapped up in a love story that appears to be hopeless.  The ending is certainly a surprise on several levels, and I think the reader will appreciate that the situation with Simon and Laura–once thought so hopeless, will indeed right itself in a surprising way.  It is a very well-written novel and one that is full of the realities of life in that time period, one that speaks plainly of the efforts of many to assist women caught in the aftermath of being a mistress to men who really only used them, and one that is both a very good love story as well as a well-written mystery.  It certainly held my interest from beginning to end.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

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

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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