Tag: Renee Bernard

Guest Review: Ecstasy Wears Emeralds by Renee Bernard

Posted September 29, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Ecstasy Wears Emeralds by Renee Bernard.

Like all the Jaded Gentleman, Dr. Rowan West may have his secrets, but he’s done his best to forgive the ghosts of his past. Until the beautiful Miss Gayle Renshaw appears on his doorstep, jeopardizing his medical practice, his reputation, and, worst of all, his heart.

Having read and reviewed the first two books in this series, I was delighted to be able to read and review this newest addition to the “Jaded Gentlemen” series.

It is a well-established historical fact that women have seldom been allowed to be the pioneers in any scientific field. Madame Curie, of course, is one notable exception, but even her life was overshadowed by the disapproval and professional blocking of her scientific education or carrying out any scientific project. Certainly we all know that women had to wait decades before being given the vote here in the United States, but it was even longer for women to have to wait before being allowed to enter the medical profession as doctors. Even Florence Nightingale, famous for her own “war horse” kinds of efforts to improve the nursing of wounded soldiers, didn’t approve of women as doctors. Only after the Civil War were women allowed to pursue a medical education and even then, many individuals would rather be dead than searching out the services of a doctor who happened to be a woman.

This novel takes up the issue of women as doctors. Dr. Rowan West, one of the “Jaded Gentlemen” who survived imprisonment in India, has come home to London and become one of that city’s most reknown physicians, mainly because he insists on treating the poor, no matter how poor or how sick, and a doctor who thinks it is OK to inquire of the patient about his/her condition, how they are feeling, what are their symptoms, etc. Strange as it may seem, such empathizing with patients was thought to be silly by the medical establishment.

Now into Dr. West’s life comes a woman, previously unknown to him, and one who is not prepared to accept any response to her request in the negative. She wants to be a doctor. As a physician known for his open mind and rather radical way of treating the sick, she plans for him to take her on as an apprentice–the accept method of introducing a person to the practice of medicine. Rowan is understandably reluctant as he knows the response she will encounter when trying to enter the university as a medical student. Gayle Renshaw is one beautiful lady but all that social polish hides a very determined woman, with financial resources, a plan, and some rather distressing personal facts about Rowan’s life she is more than willing to use to blackmail him into taking her on as an apprentice. Suffice it to say, Rowan caved as Gayle expected, but what she didn’t expect was his efforts to load her down with books and assignments and learning projects designed to get her to become discouraged and drop her whole plan. She didn’t. Rowan’s anger at being forced into this relationship gradually turns to respect and admiration. It doesn’t hurt that she is gorgeous and sexy. What does give him pause is that she is planning never to marry even though their love affair lights up the London sky.

As in the two previous novels in this series, each of the Jaded Gentlemen has to deal with the efforts of an enemy seeking to hurt and destroy this small circle of friends by any means. Those efforts continue and not knowing who will be the next target of the anonymous enemy keeps ramping up the tension, the sense of danger and mystery, and not only keeps the story’s characters on edge, but the reader as well. And as I have found to be true throughout this series, Ms Bernard’s writing, her crafting of the story, the action and interaction of the characters continues to be consistent, free of those irritating dead spots or seemingly useless pages and pages of introspection, with effective use of descriptive language. Even when the wife of one of the Gentlemen is poisoned and her life hanging by a thread, the expression of the characters’ emotions were kept in control so that there was a sense of the tension that most certainly would exist in any such situation.

Part of my reading enjoyment is a story that is well-told, one that is expressed in excellent English, with good use of verbs, adverbs, adjectives, a balanced presence of phrases, sentences that are neither too long or two short. In other words, I appreciate a writer who truly commands the language. Such a writer is Ms Bernard and her novels have been a joy to read from that linguistic standpoint. Yet she also has demonstrated the knack for allowing the language to serve the story, letting the plot and story line to shine through. I am sorry to say that there are good stories which suffer because the writer does not use good writing skills, command of the language, or a sense of good rhetorical expression to make the story come alive.

This story is also about the old wounds that some people carry around, moving on with their lives, but still bearing that hurting at the center of their hearts. Certainly that was the case with Rowan and, I think to some extent, Gayle. For Rowan it was the mysterious death of his fiance while he was in India, a death her mother continued to believe was Rowan’s doing. For Gayle, her growing hurt was rooted in her dream of being a doctor. The attitude toward gifted women that was prevalent in Victorian England was like wearing a hair shirt for those who knew they had been given talents and abilities that could benefit people positively. But it was considered improper for gently bred women. Living with those kinds of prohibitions couldn’t help but be wounding. And in the case of those wishing to enter the medical profession, the hardcore resistance was generations long. I remember my hubby’s response when we were considering going to a woman as our family doctor. I had to remind him that all during my pregnancies it was considered perfectly alright for me to be examined, rather intimately, by a man who wasn’t my husband. Why was it any more improper for a man to be examined by a woman?

I found the relationship between Rowan and Gayle to be a bit of challenge for me–I understood her as a hell-raiser and one having the guts to challenge the status quo, but I found her to be just a bit immature in her responses sometimes. Rowan was patient, giving, kind, caring, willing to run himself ragged to help just about anyone, including Gayle. He had put his reputation on the line to do as she asked in taking her on as an apprentice. Yet from time to time she attributed less than noble attitudes and actions to him, mostly because she was prone to “run” with half the story. Not the mindset of a mature person. That being said, I had the sense that throughout the course of the book she “grew up” in many ways, backed away from her impulse thinking, and became far more adept at thinking before she spoke.

While this is a stand alone novel, it is a continuation of the saga of the Jaded Gentlemen and their on-going quest to be finally free of the evil that has followed them from India. It is truly Rowan and Gayle’s story even though the other Gentlemen waft in and out of the story from time to time. It is a very good look at the “temper” of the times regarding women and medicine, and it is, as always, a well-researched historical romance that, while it is fiction, could easily be real life. For my money, those are the best kinds of historical novels!

I give this book a 4.25 out of 5

The series:

Revenge Wears Rubies (Jaded Gentleman)Seduction Wears Sapphires (Jaded Gentleman)Ecstasy Wears Emeralds (Jaded Gentleman)

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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Guest Review: Seduction Wears Sapphires by Renee Bernard

Posted August 3, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith‘s review of Seduction Wears Sapphires (Jaded Gentlemen, Book 2) by Renee Bernard

Ashe Blackwell has enjoyed the life of an unrepentant rakehell ever since his return from India. But when his beloved grandfather challenges him to reform for a single social Season in London–or forfeit his inheritance–Ashe agrees to the ultimate wager.
Fearless when it comes to a dare, Ashe fails to anticipate the ace up his grandfather’s sleeve. He will be assigned an unconventional chaperone–Miss Caroline Townsend, a young, independent, well-educated American woman with beautiful eyes and no patience for rogues.
The sparks fly from their first meeting as the pair squares off in a duel of wills. When passion and desire are added to the mix, they both battle to keep control as a dangerous seduction begins to unravel their lives and threatens their futures.

Let’s hear it for the those American coloniel ladies from Boston who knew the social score, were aware of their limited options when left penniless by a weird-thinking relative, and who were not afraid to take a chance that could backfire in any number of mind, heart, soul, and body-destroying ways. After all, the entire idea of a democratic republic ruled by the people and their representatives in something called a Congress, was in and of itself a great risk. In truth, all Americans, from the very first, were some of the most outspoken and unrepentent risk takers ever on this planet. Thus is it not a surprise when Miss Townsend accepts the proposition made to her by Ashe’s grandfather: chaperone/keep an eye on my grandson, make regular reports, stand up to his efforts to derail you as his watch-dog, and in return I will give you 20,000 English pounds. Living on the reluctant charity of her aunt, there was no hesitancy on Caroline’s part. With the money she could open a ladies educational institution. If she failed she would not be in anymore dire straits.
And so we meet Miss Caroline Townsend, clothed in the somber and dull gowns deemed appropriate by Boston’s seamstresses, woefully out of date, and sparking the tag “Miss Quaker” almost from the beginning. Yet her evident lack of fear of the haut ton and her enthusiasm for her project cause the hostesses of London to clamor for her presence at their events, and keep Ashe on his toes. He has bedded more women than he can even remember since his return from an Indian prison dungeon, hiding a secret that keeps him always reaching for some sort of forgetfulness, while becoming more and more aware of Caroline’s unique view of life and the world and herself. He is completely enthralled when Caroline sleep-walks into his chamber night after night in her see-through nightgown, all her reluctance to be on a personal level with him missing. If his mind cannot accept her presence in his life, his body certainly is willing to welcome her.

As one of the Jaded, –Englishmen who were taken prisoner by the revolutionary forces in India–Ashe is reluctant if not downright insistent that his experiences in India not be known by his grandfather. Yet Caroline continually surprises him with her honor, integrity, willingness to accept and be accepted. This novel is quite “up front” in dealing with the prejudice harbored by the ton toward the United States and its citizens while being fascinated with them at the same time. There is also a firm conviction that all Americans will automatically fall short of fashion and social standards of all kinds. That Caroline succeeds where so many others have failed leads to some very funny scenes and some energetic clashes with both friends and foes.

Renee Bernard has proven that it is not necessarily easy to write a second, highly prized, second novel in a series. Lots and lots of authors try it but not nearly so many are truly good at it. The novel could easily stand alone and is a worthy literary work without its connection to the other books in the series. The story is not necessarily simple–in fact the basis for the primary romantic relationship in the story is somewhat unusual. The characters are each unique and strong, carrying their place in the story with ease. The plot is well developed and there are some surprises throughout, a quality that I am beginning to truly prize as absolutely necessary in a very good novel. All in all, this is a fine book, well crafted, well-researched, and an entertaining romantic novel. Bernard has included some sexual encounters that are very well placed in the story so as to give spice and not to overwhelm the original tale.

I highly recommend this novel as a wonderful sequel to the first novel in this series, Revenge Wears Rubies. Historical romance fans will be delighted, I have no doubt.

I give this novel a 4.75 out of 5 rating.

The series:
Revenge Wears Rubies (Jaded Gentleman)Seduction Wears Sapphires (Jaded Gentleman)

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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Guest Review: Revenge Wears Rubies by Renee Bernard

Posted February 25, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Judith‘s review of Revenge Wears Rubies (A Jaded Gentlemen novel) by Renee Bernard

Galen Hawke desired nothing but revenge against the woman who betrayed his dearly departed friend. Instead of mourning the loss of her fiance, Miss Haley Moreland is merrily celebrating her upcoming nuptials to another man. Now, Galen has one mission: to seduce Miss Moreland and enslave her heart. And when she is completely his, he will destroy her.

With her family on the brink of financial ruin, Haley knows she should be grateful for her providential betrothal. But then she meets the dangerously handsome Galen, whose wicked touch makes her long to abandon all logic. If Galen’s promises are sincere, the match to a family of noble blood and strong financial accounts could be the remedy her family desperately needs. And if he isn’t sincere, one last chance to taste the passion he ignites before settling into a life of convention is equally alluring.

This novel is the first in the Jaded Gentleman Series built on a group of Englishmen who have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and in some cases, killed by a mad shah in India during the Victorian Era. When the survivors return to England, Galen Hawke is bound by his promise to one of his compatriots who died in his arms, that he would watch out for the fiance in question, one Haley Moreland. His anger and desire for revenge grows out of his belief that Miss Moreland has not mourned her supposed fiance in an appropriate manner, rushing into another betrothal for obvious financial reasons. Thus his plan to ruin her physically and savage her reputation for all time, thus making an advantageous marriage impossible. In giving a brief introductory description of the imprisonment, torture, and bare survival of these Englishmen, a very solid foundation is established for this story as well as novels to come. Each of these survivors has his own individual style of re-entry into London/English society, but Galen’s preoccupation with his revenge against Haley Moreland takes his mind off of any other issue in his life.

I found this book to be very readable and if the reader is seeking sensuality, then it is to be found in bags and gobs in the accounts of the torrid affair between the two main characters. It is so torrid, in fact, that this book is best read in a cold room! The underlying conflict in the story is between the Jaded Gentlemen and the East India Company, and add to that the conflict within Galen as he seeks to maintain his loathing of his intended target while realizing that he has become addicted to his lover. Intertwined are Haley’s issues with her father’s alcoholism and the impending financial ruin facing their family if she does not marry well. Yet her heart is engaged and her decision to indulge her own desires until such time as she must marry leads her into unknown depths of passion. She is finding it harder and harder to extracate herself and she is not sure she wants to. There’s lots and lots of “stuff” going on in this book. It is so very well-written. There is humor and passion, suspense and intrigue, grace and love in the midst of betrayal throughout these pages. I really couldn’t put it down. I am looking forward to reading much more of these Jaded Gentlemen.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 rating!
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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