Thursday, June 14, 2012

Widowed, penniless Sabrina Whitcomb isn't looking for romance. What she needs is a husband, and she knows well enough that romance and matrimony aren't always compatible. While providing for her twins and the child she now carries is paramount, wedding a virtual stranger--even a wealthy one, like Gideon St. Goddard, Duke of Stanthorpe--is no light matter. Sabrina knows the friend who arranged the union would not promise her to a true scoundrel, but one look at her future husband convinces her that he is a shameless rogue. A shockingly handsome and desirable one, at that. Why has he agreed to marry her? When Gideon flashes that wicked, seductive smile, the reason hardly matters, but the chance that he'll steal her heart becomes all too real.

This is a novel, first in a series, that was first published in 2002 and has now been re-released to the delight of historical romance fans and those who are especially fans of stories set in the post-Napoleonic era.  Six English officers, facing death before the battle of Waterloo, determined that they would enter into a pact together--not truly an original plot line--yet these men agreed that they would not only care for one another but they would also accept responsibility for looking out for any families who were left behind if one of them were to be killed.  And so began the saga of The Rogues' Club and the stories of four of these six British officers.

Sabrina had lived through circumstances that most of modern women can't even conceive of as being possible.  Yet for her--a woman who had literally been "sold" into marriage by her father in exchange for money and who was again "sold" by her husband because he couldn't pay his gambling debts--finding herself betrothed to the Duke of Stanthorpe didn't sound all that bad.  It was a marriage arranged by her brother-in-law--half-brother to her now-deceased husband--and upon whose assurances she relied that the Duke was a man of honor who would keep his word and provide for her and her children, regardless of how well they ultimately rubbed along.  But this is a story that once again reminds readers that secrets don't make for good relationship foundations and for both Sabrina and Gideon, it is a lesson that can cost them both dearly.

Ms Blair is an author with an impressive string of published stories and novels, whose books have received awards and award nominations and whose fans keep on loving her books.  For those of us who are only now discovering her work through the medium of e-publishing, it is a new and wonderful gift and one that just keeps on giving.  It is the kind of story that worms its way into your mind and emotions, whose word pictures enliven the imagination and tickle the funny bone, whose characters are stalwart and picturesque and sometimes scary.  Yet in the midst of real life and real living and real relationship emerges a genuine and winsome love story between two people of honor and deep sensitivity, passion and joy, whose capacity to love just keeps on growing.  And even amid the sexual heat and tension, there is the discovery of great joy and a kind of cutting edge pleasing of one another that comes when people are more concerned with giving than they are with taking.  

I have to confess that I was absolutely "hooked" on this author and this series.  I went right to the internet and bought all the remaining books in the series, some of which I will share as time goes on.  None were a disappointment.  I loved Sabrina--a mother of deep care and commitment to her children, whose twin sons spent time taking care of her in so many little and delightful ways.   But my favorite was Gideon--a many who came home to a wife he didn't know, a man of honor who was willing to do right by his dead compatriot's sister-in-law, and found the joy of his heart and the light of his future days.  It's a marvelous love story and one that will vastly entertain historical romance fiction lovers.  It really shouldn't be missed and right now it's also a great bargain.  I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

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