The Dueling Duchess (Wicked Women of Whitechapel, #2) by Minerva Spencer – Review


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Review of The Dueling Duchess

The title character, Cecile Tremblay, runs a circus that features women as the main entertainers including boxing (see The Boxing Baroness), knife throwing, and Cecile’s act – sharpshooting.   She has a mysterious past, but has found her home with her circus family in London. 

Gaius Darlington’s previous adventure with the circus endeared him to Cecile but when it was over, Guy made a terrible mistake, offending Cecile to the point where she wished never to see him again.  But Guy has had a gigantic reversal of fortune.  He needs a job and he really wants Cecile back in his life. 

It is clear Cecile and Guy have a thing for each other.  They also have an unfortunate history.  Their friends help/hinder where they can.  A young street girl and her dog join the family which really serves as the needed buffer between the two.  But, they have a lot to work through. 

Part of this story overlaps The Boxing Baroness.  Good news for anyone who has not read that story – you get the background.  I did read that book and while new viewpoints were presented, I always find rehashing a scene a bit tedious. 

Once the story catches up to a new timeline, it takes off and at that point, I found The Dueling Duchess to be bundles of fun!  Witty conversations and humor can be found on every page.  There is chemistry between Cecile and Guy whether they are arguing or kissing.  The original take on feminism in a male-dominated society will appeal to many readers.  The historical setting, post Napoleonic wars, is enhanced with gossip papers, the London ton, imposters, ex-patriots, a raven, and plenty of romance!

Through NetGalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book.  My review is my honest opinion.


About The Dueling Duchess by Minerva Spencer

When Cecile Tremblay lost everyone and everything in the French Revolution, she never imagined that she’d earn her living as a markswoman in a London circus. But Farnham’s Fantastical Female Fayre has become her home, her family, and her future. Another thing Cecile never imagined was becoming entangled with the man gossip columns call The Darling of the Ton. But mere weeks after her rejection of his insulting carte blanche—and his infuriating engagement to an heiress—Darlington is back, this time to beg Cecile for help. And help him she will, by teaching him about honest work—and the right way to treat a woman.

Gaius Darlington has always led a charmed life. Until now. Suddenly, a long-lost heir has appeared to claim his title, possessions, and property, Not only that, but Guy’s fiancée has jilted him to marry the usurper! Yet there is a silver lining: it’s no longer Guy’s duty to marry an heiress to save the dukedom. He’s free to wed the woman he loves—if only he can earn her forgiveness.

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But fury is just a step away from passion, and Guy knows just how to arouse Cecile’s. . .



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The Poisoner’s Ring (A Rip Through Time, #2) by Kelley Armstrong – Review


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Review of The Poisoner’s Ring

The Poisoner’s Ring continues the story of detective Mallory Atkinson as she is trying to adjust to her life in a previous century.  Her trip to 1869 Edinburgh is still mysterious and, as yet, irreversible.

Adjustment is a challenge to a 21st century woman who was accustomed to living life on her own terms, as opposed to being a female servant in a Doctor’s household.  Dr. Duncan Grey, and his sister Isla both know who she really is and allow her to help out in more substantial ways than a typical maid would.  In this book, Mallory will be helping to find the culprits behind several poisonings.  Duncan’s oldest sister, Annis, is a prime suspect, making the Grey household involvement in the investigation a bit problematic. 

Mallory’s character is growing nicely, as is Duncan and his sister.  And yet, Mallory is always thinking about getting home even as she grows closer to Duncan and Isla.  

It is still challenging for Mallory to ‘blend’ in.  She doesn’t act like a maid – at all.  Always going where women don’t go, asserting herself, speaking informally with her ‘betters’.  Her use of 21st century colloquialisms tends to confuse the locals.  This adds humor in some instances, and tension in others.  Still, she is appreciated for her brain and problem-solving skills.  While 19th century crime solving leaves much to be desired, Mallory is lucky to be working with the Duncan and Isla, who have both embraced scientific techniques and integrity.

The term ‘poisoner’s ring’ refers to ring of women who murder their loved ones, possibly with the help of another person.  The multiple deaths by poison lead the police, newspapers, and public to suspect such a ring.  However, before this convoluted, complicated killer scheme will be resolved, there will be many twists, turns, and surprises.  This book is full of lots of little mysteries and one great big plot.  There are many suspects and even though Annis is not really a very nice person, as the reader, I did not cheer against her, lest the Grey family, and by extension, Mallory, come out the worse for wear.

Both books in this series can be read as standalone.  Reading them in order will give insight to Mallory’s circumstance in Edinburgh’s past.  The Poisoner’s Ring is for readers who enjoy humor, drama, mystery, police procedurals, and mixing modern day logic with historical crime-solving mayhem. 

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Poisoner’s Ring by Kelley Armstrong

Edinburgh, 1869: Modern-day homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is adjusting to her new life in Victorian Scotland. Her employers know she’s not housemaid Catriona Mitchell―even though Mallory is in Catriona’s body―and Mallory is now officially an undertaker’s assistant. Dr. Duncan Gray moonlights as a medical examiner, and their latest case hits close to home. Men are dropping dead from a powerful poison, and all signs point to the grieving widows… the latest of which is Gray’s oldest sister.

Poison is said to be a woman’s weapon, though Mallory has to wonder if it’s as simple as that. But she must tread carefully. Every move the household makes is being watched, and who knows where the investigation will lead.


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The Bond (The Secret Tales, #1) by Sanna Brand – Review


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Review of The Bond

Rose has stubbornly refused to marry.  There are many reasons, including a secret from her past.  But perhaps the best reason is to maintain control of the property and money she inherited from her mother, thereby remaining independent.  The problem is, her father, the earl, covets that property and will do anything to get it, including forcing Rose to marry against her will.  The despicable man uses leverage that Rose cannot ignore. 

Rose has loved Rhys, the Marquess of Ravenscroft, since she was a child.  They have been close friends ever since.  Rhys is recently returned from the war in France, a hero, and the first thing he does is seek out Rose with the purpose of courting her.  The Earl’s choice for Rose happens to be an adversary of Rhys.  You can probably see that there will be all sorts of trouble for Rose and Rhys.

Rose is an intelligent young woman who is not afraid to express her opinion.  Which, of course, offends the insecure men around her.  She is also very protective of the family she loves and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.  Rhys is likewise protective of Rose and of his own family.  He suffers from the occasional bout of PTSD, (though that is now what is was called in those days).

The story is considerably more complex that you might think from the synopsis.  You will find horses, horse breeding, and horse acrobats. Kalari (Indian martial arts), attempted kidnapping, false engagement, England’s war with France, as well as some unsavory aspects such as attempted forced marriage, blackmail, and rape. 

There are some things not explained well, mostly pertaining to Rhys’s family. I hope future stories will give more details, especially about the enigmatic Thomasina.  I am guessing the series is going to be about the Ravenscroft siblings and promises to be full of intrigue and adventure!

Sanna Brand is the alter ego of Vicki Stiefel, author of the fantasy series, The Made Ones Saga. It was a no-brainer to read The Bond since I am a fan of Ms. Stiefel. The Bond will appeal to fans of historical fiction who enjoy romance and intrigue.  The twists and turns in this plot will keep the pages turning! 

Thanks to the author who provided a copy of her book. My review is my honest opinion.

About The Bond by Sanna Brand

Rosamund is at a dangerous crossroads… Lady Rosamund Fielding hides a secret so terrible it could ruin her, her family, and Major General Lord Rhys Lansdowne, the man she loves.

Rose and Rhys were inseparable in childhood—their friendship was the one shining light in Rose’s dark upbringing. Yet when Rhys proposes, Rose refuses, for he can never know her shameful truth.

Returned from the Napoleonic wars and now the Marquess of Ravenscroft, Rhys is determined to uncover the reason behind Rose’s rejection and win her hand and her heart once and for all.

Yet Rose’s father, Earl Fielding, is demanding Rose accept Brigadier Viscount Pennworth’s marriage proposal, threatening dire consequences if she does not obey. Time is of the essence as Rose faces this difficult crossroad, where she is forced to confront past demons and choose a path. Should she marry Rhys, deceiving him, and forever be branded a liar in his eyes? She cannot. Wed Pennworth? Never. Or flee? Away from Rhys, away from her father, and away from all she holds dear. Rose has faced many dangerous choices in her life. Will this final one destroy her?


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