Tag: Grace Callaway

Guest Review: Abigail Jones by Grace Callaway

Posted April 15, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Abigail Jones by Grace Callaway

A Maid with a Secret. . . Beneath her shy, bookish exterior, Abigail Jones hides a terrible affliction: shocking and licentious visions possess her, threatening her very sanity. When she is suddenly left alone in the world, Abby must seek a position at Hope End, a gothic English estate. She hopes to find refuge there, but instead she discovers pieces of a mystery: a portrait of a haunting beauty, a housekeeper who knows too much, and a powerful lord torn between revenge and seduction …

A Lord with a Past . . . Enigmatic and handsome as sin, Earl Huxton is surrounded by rumors about the unexplained death of his first wife and his boldly rakish behavior. Beneath Hux’s debonair façade, however, lies hidden torment—and a secret burning quest for vengeance. Nothing compromises his pursuit of justice until he meets Abby, a maid who seems to see into the dark corners of his soul and whose touch entices him to relinquish the past for an infinitely sweeter obsession …

A Love for All Time . . . Hux and Abby’s adventures take them from the gothic countryside to the erotic underworld of Victorian London. As passion flares between them, dangerous secrets begin to unravel. With the final battle against evil looming, a startling connection between his past and her secret comes to light. Will the demons of the past destroy their future … or will their love vanquish the darkness?

Psychic phenomena were not readily received as anything other than mental illness until just a few decades ago.  How like human beings to simply lock away anything and anyone they either can’t or won’t understand.  So it was with Abigail’s mother, a woman “afflicted” with the dark visions that also seem to be an inescapable part of Abby’s life from her earliest years.  Under the tutelage of her Aunt Agnes, Abigail gained some knowledge of how to deal with the visions when they came upon her–a phenomenon over which she had no control as when it might happen.  Abigail was also very young and because of her lack of social connections or at least the security of knowing that she was legitimate, she was shy, prone to keep out of harm’s way by keeping out of sight of her “betters.”  When the earl first noticed her, she was frightened and hoping that their encounter would pass from his conscious memory.  
This is a story about the real war between good and evil, the evil represented by Lilith and her place as Queen of the Dark Spirits and the mythic “first wife” of Adam.  The Archangel Michael shows up briefly, but mostly this is a story about the earl’s war on the offspring of Lilith in order to give eternal peach to the soul of his deceased brother, James.  There are lots of twists and turns in this novel, surprising developments between the earl and Abigail, and a romance between these two unlikely lovers.  Throughout the early pages of the story I was fearful that it would go as did many in that time:  the earl would set his sights on Abigail, misuse her sexually, and then move on, leaving her to deal with the physical and social fall-out.  This is not the case here, but there is a lot going on with the earl and Abigail respectively that slowly emerges and all of which complicates their relationship as well as the outcome of this tale.
I’m not as “into” paranormals involving Lilith et al as are many readers, but I have to admit that I was quite riveted to the pages while reading this book and found it to be vastly entertaining.  Beautifully written with characters who are clear and concise, evidence that the author has done some substantive historical research, and a writing style that is easy to read and which moves the story along without dead spots or unnecessary explanatory sections.  The story is well-edited and free from the grammatical junk that plagues so many ebooks.  It was a splendid read from that stand point.   I was also gratified by the overall slant to the story–the whole matter of what it means to be different and the dirth of acceptance people offer to those they don’t understand or who live/act outside the accepted social boundaries.  For the earl who was far more deeply involved in the “darkness” than Abigail, his proclivities and eccentricities were simply dismissed as his being a “rogue” or a man who cared little for society’s opinion of him.  But for Abigail, any slight thing out of the ordinary  easily served to brand her as unacceptable.  This, as much as anything, burdened Abigail–not that she cared all that much, but it certainly influenced her ability to find shelter or potential employment.  It is these and other social issues that make historical romances really valuable as reading for me.  Ultimately, it is really all about people, how they think and live and how they order their own environment and society that attracts me to stories.  I think we are all about story anyway–our own and others as well.
This is the second book by this author that I have read and I was delighted to do so.  It was unlike most of the historicals I usually read but I think it was especially satisfying for just that very reason.  I really enjoyed it and recommend it especially to those who like the paranormal slant in their historical romances and simply want to read a really good book.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

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

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

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Guest Review: Her Husband’s Harlot by Grace Callaway

Posted April 7, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Her Husband’s Harlot by Grace Callaway.

Not Quite a Wife . . . After a disastrous wedding night, proper Lady Helena Harteford fears for the fate of her new marriage. Disguised as a doxy, she tracks her husband down at a bawdy house to reason with him . . . and instead discovers the thrill of forbidden passion. An innocent ruse turns into a risky deception; how far will this once-wallflower go to win her husband’s love?

Unfit to be a Husband . . . Orphaned at an early age, Nicholas Morgan escapes his violent beginnings to become a successful merchant–only to discover that he is the legitimate heir of the Marquess of Harteford. His transition to the ton is rocky and made rockier when he marries above him. Torn between guilt and lust, he tries to protect his sweet, innocent wife from the demons of his past. But can he safeguard her from his own raging desires?

Caught between Past and Present . . . When a dangerous nemesis rises from Nicholas’ past, husband and wife must work together in order to survive. From the drawing rooms to the stews of Regency London, they find themselves caught in a game of passion and seduction. Will true love prevail? Or is Helena destined to remain . . . Her Husband’s Harlot?

Romance and mystery, simpering wife and emotionally unavailable titled husband — it’s all here in one very readable and entertaining historical romance from an author new to me. I agreed to review the book because it really sounded intriguing and so it turned out to be. I love surprises, especially the ones that come in the form of a heroine who has been raised to be the “good girl” or in Regency terms, “the true lady” but who has come to love her husband and isn’t willing to let him go without a fight. Yes, Helena was completely unprepared for her wedding night and her initiation into her “wifely duties” as sex was often termed, was anything but enjoyable. Nicolas was so upset at having hurt Helena that he refused to come near her from that night on, and when she discovered an invitation to a masque ball at a well-known house of ill repute, she determined to chase him down. That’s when the story gets really interesting and the “games” begin, not only the marital intrigue, but the connected mystery to Nicolas’ early life as it begins to impact his possible future with Helena.
These two main characters are such classic icons of Regency England–a woman raised to be a willing and attractive addition to the “stable” of marriageable maidens in the ton and a man who has experienced every “hell” that poverty stricken citizens of London could possible survive. Now Nicolas finds out that he is not only a properous/wealthy merchant, but he is legitimate and the only heir to a rake of a father without any other sons and to whom has been left a substantial fortune. Thus, Nicolas is one of the wealthiest aristocrats and certainly a good choice for a young lady whose family is in dire need of his money. But as luck would have it, Nicolas has seen Helena at a ball and had been smitten from day one. Yet his insecurities about his early life and the continuing disdain of the aristocracy to his merchant activities convince him that he is unfit to be Helena’s husband. In his thought she “deserves” to be married to a man of greater social worth than he. Both of these characters stand out against a cast of background characters as being people of strong will and determination. This is especially true of Helena who, though she is distressed at the possibility that her husband is seeking his comfort apart from her, is willing to do just about anything to gain his love and his presence in her bedroom.
There is no doubt that aristocratic marriages of convenience or in order to secure the succession have been a source of great unhappiness for untold numbers of people. Certainly that is the scenario that is played out in many romance novels. But this one seems to have found a bit of a twist on an old theme and given us a story that goes beyond the well-known format for Regency romance. With Helena’s gutsy attempts to seduce her own husband and Nicolas’ attempts to protect her from himself the reader can enjoy the foundations of a good story. Add in the attempted blackmail of Nicolas over an event he thought long buried in his past, attempts on his life, and Helena’s curious journey into the world of erotic love and you have a story that is lifted out of the ordinary into that level of interest that can indeed hold a readers attention without fail. There is certainly a fair amount of eroticism in this novel–Nicolas’ two encounters with a lightskirt who is really is his wife is a case in point–yet here the story is the thing. The author has managed to write in such a way that I had no difficulty being deeply affected by Helena’s distress over Nicolas’ abandonment of her as well as feeling her joy when, on several occasions, it seemed as if the wall between them was being dismantled.
Really erotic historical romance isn’t as plentiful as many would think, but here you have a very well-written example of this genre. It’s entertaining and fun and a darn good read.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

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

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

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