TBR&R: Victorian Rebels (series)

The latest offering of Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series dropped this week with The Scot Beds His Wife.

The Victorian Rebels series has had a hallmark of men built in the deepest, darkest parts of the Newgate prison and underworlds of London exacting revenge for the harms done to themselves and those they love. Their methods can be violent, brutal and they don’t take no for an answer. In the pursuit of righting the wrongs done by the powerful, they have become the power in the back alleys and the Highlands.

This is a series that began dark with the forging of an anti-hero in the accidental murder of a priest while protecting his sworn love. In trying to keep her safe, he is sent to the hell that is Newgate and left there to rot by his biological father. (The Highwayman) In this hell, he makes aligns himself with the deadliest assassin for hire (The Hunter) and these two later rule London with an iron grip. These men are strong enough to withstand the society that shapes them. Lucky for the reader, these men also meet their match in the women they are determined to protect.

These books are dark. They fit the times, and the darkness in these heroes. To give you an idea, here’s how it breaks down:

The Highwayman: murder an entire family except for the girl who will be your forced bride, child molestation by a priest and a complicit (?) nun

The Hunter: borrowing Herod’s approach to dealing with unwanted children by stealing all of the male children of a certain age after viciously killing the mothers

The Highlander: beating a bride and keeping her strictly for her dowry, committing a bride to an insane asylum where she is beaten and tortured daily before threatened with rape and has to hide away in the country to get away from her husband and his family, the genocide in India under the efforts of the East India Tea Company and Britain

The Duke: women being sold to cover their father’s debts, male chauvanistic disbelief that a woman might know a subject better than he does, a young woman might only marry an older man for money, sex workers and their offspring are worth less than other people

These are not pretty walks in the park and sweet nothings. We have kidnappings, rape, and mental illness being disguised as demonic possession. If you are looking for something light in contrast to hurricanes, deportations, earthquakes and genocide, this is not the series to pick up right now. However, if you are after some gritty realism with your romance, these are a well told tale. In reviewing the earlier books for this release, I was able to see how early on the references to characters in previous books or discover the next books heroine. Lovely Farah, who is a match for Blackwell in The Highwayman lived above a cafe that is a preferred luncheon spot for Millie in The Hunter. Millie in turn is protected by a secret told by the auburn-haired Mena. This causes her incarceration and subsequent rescue by the ladies and their men, who then send her off to hide under the watchful gaze of The Highlander. These ladies protect young Imogen from The Duke. The men are all interconnected as well, by blood instead of circumstances.

This bring us to Gavin St. James. In an effort to declare his independence from his half-brother and laird, he wants the land that he once roamed freely to be his in right. He tries to buy it first, and when that fails bids that it is forfeit and can be his by right of tending and asking nicely. Instead, he gets Sam. Sam is on the run from her past in America and granted sanctuary on the lands Gavin hopes to possess…as long as she poses as the rightful owner of the land, with the option of eventually being the owner in truth.

With these two we have an interesting dichotomy — Samantha is posing as Alison Ross and a legitimate land owner and cattle owner trying to make a name for herself, while Gavin St. James is the legitimate second son of the previous, unlamented Mackenzie laird who wants to make a name for himself separate from his legacy. Over and over I wanted to lock these two into a room and smack their heads together. He makes no qualms about the fact that he wants the land, but he stops short of explaining why he wants the land repeatedly when it would solve problems Sam has with him. Conversely, if Sam would explain who she really is to anyone it would help avoid the troubles that have come hunting her from the Wild West. And let’s not discuss how many times if they’d just actually admitted their feelings to themselves they’d be able to start to trust each other with these secrets….

What happens is that these two would have to be locked in a room to get a declaration from either, because they’ve been hurt so many times by everyone that it makes it hard for them to trust anyone. The back story for both is very well developed and layered, which makes your heart ache as the two work their way through the pitfalls of falling in love.

Looking to learn more or buy for yourself?

The Highwayman

The Hunter

The Highlander

The Duke

The Scot Beds His Wife

Advertisements

The Bad Luck Bride (5/2 release)

All were shocked at the announcement of the “cursed” Lady Claire Cavensham to Lord Alexander Hallworth, the Marquess of Pembrooke, especially since she is already engaged to another unfortunate Lord. Perhaps she will make it to the altar this time with one of these fine gentlemen! —Midnight Cryer

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…

Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper…

We’re kicking off a new series and a debut for Janna MacGregor. Cavensham Brides begins with two gentlemen ready to battle.  Alex, Marquess of Pembrooke, faces off with his once-friend Lord Paul. It is easy to instantly dislike Lord Paul, as he evades every question and seems to show no remorse. The problem is that Alex does not seem to be much better a speciman of humanity, as he holds himself accountable for his sister’s actions and take the blame for them out on another. Luckily both are saved by the timely arrival of our third gentleman, one Lord Somerton. Somerton seems to be the voice of reason and common sense and I’m hopeful we’ll see more of him soon.

Alex has claimed for himself, as justice for his sister, everything that was once Lord Paul’s – which includes his rather wealthy fiancee. Lady Claire is on the verge of finally having something go her way as the letter is delivered, breaking the news of her engagement. What I enjoy most about this scene is not the meeting between Alex & Claire but the contrast between their experience of what a marriage between peers should be. Alex tells Somerton

Neither of us witnessed sterling examples of happy marriages growing up…My father was miserable after my birth when my mother died, and he never remarried.

…you need to come to terms with this betrayl, or your grief will never heal. You’ll continue to live in isolation. That doesn’t bode well for a happy life or a contented wife.

Here, he’s the voice of reason. He doesn’t like what Alex has done to exact his revenge, but believes firmly that Alex can be redeemed. Alex makes a great start at this by sheltering and protecting Claire from the brief storm that introduces them to each other. He then protects her again from the impending scandal of yet another broken engagement.

There is much in the middle as Alex slowly wins over his wife’s affection and her love, but not enough for her to trust him completely with her heart. This causes further complications as Alex fails in trusting her. To be fair, I wanted repeatedly to smack both of them upside the back of the head, tie them to chairs in the sitting room and tell them to talk to each other. He failed to tell her why he initially married her, he failed to tell her he fell in love with her and he failed to explain why he was so driven. Conversely, Claire failed to open up about her superstious reasoning she was to blame for everything bad her life, failed to tell him when she was starting to trust him and failed to properly warn her cousin of her concerns about Lord Paul.

On the grovelling index, I’m not even sure where I’d put Alex at a single puppy level — not the adorable dogs gifted in Hardly a Husband nor the puppy cannon of Suffragette Scandal. He himself might qualify as a lovesick puppy with the way he shadows Claire. He does manage to be in the right place in the right time, and does confess his sins most admirably.  It just takes him a while to get there.

I’m looking forward to the next book, given my guess at who is going to be our pair.

 

Buy it?

AmazonB&NGoogle PlayiBooksIndieboundKobo