Book Review: "A Note of Scandal" by Nicky Penttila

Set in post-Napoleonic England, the lives of William Marsh and Olivia Delancey intertwine in unforeseen circumstances between newspaper reels, music sheets and political speeches. With 246 juicy- pages, it is another must-read for this hot-summer season to make your hearts race!
A Note of Scandal is based on the events of Summer of 1814 in England, when Napoleon has just been defeated for the second time is and he surrendered to the British. When the British economy is coming to terms with the war expenses and thousands and British men, have returned home either in coffins, decorated with a medal or broken. The future of the middle-class men seems rather bleak and many are those seeking reforms in the wake of industrialisation.
Whilst the Lords are still thinking about the Emperor or have left the city to visit their summer country houses, a newspaper battle ensues between The Register and The Beacon.
It is in the light of this scenario that Nicky Penttila succeeds to weave an interesting and consuming novel between two people with different backgrounds and different passions in life.
William Marsh is a late-twenty-something publisher of the newspaper The Beacon. His only purpose in life is to follow in his father’s footsteps whilst side-stepping his mistakes – to tell the truth at all costs. A true journalist he is always seeking a scoop and does not rely on common sources for his articles. His management of the newspaper made him successful and is highly regarded even by Lords. William Marsh knew the power of words and of the publishing industry.
Olivia Delancey on the other hand is a 24 year-old maiden lady. Her father has no male heirs and his political career has ruined the family treasures. With an almost barren house, her passion is music and her prospect to marry her cousin Richard who is bound to inherit her family’s estate. Olivia though is very intelligent and kind-hearted. She never backs away from a challenge and is always scheming. When two of her friends find themselves in trouble, she is the one that comes to their rescue with a seemingly brilliant plan.
Women at the time were considered as beautiful and were regarded enchanting enough to make small talk with; however they were not reputed ‘creative’ and the possibility of a woman writing a book or composing a piece of music was almost blasphemous. Our heroine Olivia Delancey; challenges this stoic post-Napoleonic, male-dominated society and makes her musical tunes famous by publishing them under a friend’s name. Her life becomes tangled up with the future of her friends and her new indirect boss and love interest.
However, enough with the plot as I don’t want to provide any spoilers; this book is enchanting and gripping from the very first page. Beautifully written, the reader is engulfed with the plight of the returned soldiers and their futures but also with the struggle that women face when they are continuously considered ‘less’ than men.
It is a passion driven novel that has a rather fast paced plot with various twists and array of characters and detailed descriptions. Nicky Penttila vividly portrays England of the early 18th century not so much in a ‘Dickens’ way with a focus on the poor but more on the rise of the middle class and the learnt men with no title. Immediately the discourse in the Ale House is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel and in a similar fashion, the women of this novel are strong, yet tender and compassionate who do not aspire the impossible but work within their limits (given the social limits) to better their futures.
It is a novel of hope with three-dimensional characters that one immediately takes a likening to from the early pages. With no real villain and no specific heroes; the novel offers a variety of surprises maybe not so much in the development of the plot itself but rather in the character’s growth. In fact whilst I personally loved the story and I was also particularly captured and interested in the character developments. I was also pleased that secondary characters were given ample space to talk and to develop as well. This novel is as much about the historical context as it is about the romance. In fact I was pleased to find a manner of courtship between characters that whilst true to its time it was also very human and down to earth. The relationship between the men and women is all about passion and love with enough romanticism as there is realism both in their physical gestures as well in the speech.
If it wasn’t clear from my review yet, I given this book a 5 Crowns – Sovereign Queen of Historical Love rating as it was surprisingly interesting and I couldn’t put it down easily. It is long enough to provide you with a good amount of pleasurable reading and it is engaging instantly. I wish Nicky Penttila the best of luck and I hope to see this book on the silver screen in the future as I do think a ‘live’ rendition would be appreciated by many. 
(Reviewed by Countess Samantha)

Available Now:   
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Accepting Books for Review

We are now accepting books for review.  You are welcome to submit your title, but I cannot guarantee we’ll be able to accommodate every request.  
However, if you have a book you’d like reviewed, please submit through the link below, and I’ll offer to our reviewers for consideration.  Traditional and independent authors are welcome. 

Our rating guidelines are below:

5 Crowns – Sovereign Queen of Historical Love

4 Crowns – Princess of a Charming Story

3 Crowns – Duchess of a Good Read

2 Crowns – Baroness of a Feudal Romance

1 Crown – A Lady in Waiting

Our staff is looking forward to reviewing your stories!  Also, if you’d like to be a reviewer, let me know and we can discuss.

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Happy Writing and Reading!


Book Review: “The Courting Campaign” by Regina Scott

“The Courting Campaign” by Regina Scott came to me from Net Galley for review. It is a Love Inspired Historical from Harlequin due to be released August 6, 2013, so put it on your squeaky-clean shelf if you’re only looking for a few kisses. Set in the Regency era, it’s an interesting read with all the right elements of historical romance.

Miss Emma Pyrmont has been hired as a nanny to a precocious four-year old girl in the household of Sir Nicholas Rotherford, run by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Dunworthy.  Emma is a sweet lady, with a sad childhood, who is happy to begin a new chapter in her life. She reminds me of another Emma – outspoken, a mind of her own, and scheming to bring two people together.  She’s a matchmaker in another sense.

Upon early observation in her position, she discovers that Sir Nicholas is unable to connect with his daughter.  He’s a philosopher and scientist driven by a mission to invent a lamp for coal miners that is safe and useful.  His mind is set upon a singular path, and the world spins around him unnoticed while he hides away working.  Emma, of course, finds his behavior unacceptable. She doesn’t want to see Alice, her charge, growing up feeling neglected and unloved as she once did.  Her mission is one of the same, only on an emotional level. Emma’s task isn’t easy, as she also deals with  the difficult Mrs. Dunworthy and a past that won’t seem to let her go.

The setting is 1815 near the Peak District, Derbyshire, England. The book is a good read.  Regina Scott is a talented writer that keeps the interest of her readers. With a background in real life as a technical writer for scientists, she apparently used her knowledge to build Sir Nicholas’ character. He’s a complex man who analyzes everything around him, with a habit of tapping his finger on his thigh.  At times I wanted to grab his hand and hold it still. The author goes into great length building his character and does an equally fine job with Emma.  There is quite a bit of text, however, about Sir Nicholas’ quest to build a lamp that is safe for workers in the mines. Be prepared not only for his male mindset but his inventive one as well.  Depending on your level of 19th century scientific interest in this area, you may find it a bit tedious.

“The Courting Campaign” has its usual plot twists that you may or may not see coming.  They are there, of course, to add the conflict needed to push the story along to its intended end.  Emma and Sir Nicholas’ relationship as a romantic pair develops slowly. Emma believes she wouldn’t want to marry a man like Nicholas because of his neglect of family, and Nicholas believes he would make a terrible husband because of past mistakes in a previous marriage.  In the end, like all romances, they come to realize they love one another.

Though my past two books have been on the squeaky-clean side, I still hoped for a bit more.  Since this is a Love Inspired Historical, it is once again sprinkled with Christian values and silent prayers uttered throughout the book. Emotional intimacy rather than sexual are the guidelines for this genre on the publisher’s submission page.

In my opinion, though, men and women who fall in love still have an attraction that goes beyond those confines. In this genre, those emotions are never expressed, which I find making the “falling-in-love” part somewhat bland. Attraction begins at many levels and not with just a meeting of the minds. You can keep a story clean, but be honest about the deep human emotions, yearnings, and temptations we all experience – even as Christians.  As Marianne Dashwood declared in the movie version of Sense & Sensibility:

“To love is to burn – to be on fire, like Juliet or Guinevere or Eloise.”

“The Courting Campaign” is a slow burn rather than a story of blazing adoration. Over all, I’d give it 4 Crowns – Princess of a Charming Story for the writing, character development, and plot.

One last comment, the formatting on Kindle was terribly inconsistent.  Not sure what happened but the font size changed to extremely big on some pages and then back to normal on others.  The basic paragraph formatting was inconsistent throughout, as well as an obvious area of “hard” returns (not good in eBooks) that screwed a few pages up entirely.  Hopefully, they will correct before release. (Reviewed by Countess Victoria)



Speak to Me of Love

I’m happy to report that we are registered with six book tour sites.  It is disappointing to see the lack of historical romances being promoted.  :wipes away tear:  I have put in for one novel for promo for the end of July. Of course, we have authors contacting us directly as well. Our reviewers are going to begin picking up titles on their own. If I can squeeze it in, I’m curious to read The Heiress of Winterwood.

I’ve been working on our Goodreads page, too, and visiting groups, collecting friends, and telling authors about our site.  While I was clicking from here to there, I glanced at my one lonely quote I had tagged on my page spoken by Marianne in the movie Sense and Sensibility:

 “Can he love her? Can the soul really be satisfied with such polite affections? To love is to burn – to be on fire, like Juliet or Guinevere or Eloise…”

Hmm…I pondered.  I know that there are many more quotes that move my heart, so I flipped over to the quote section and starting tagging all sorts of wonderful words. Goodreads has a nifty widget that I added to the sidebar that will rotate all sorts of great lines and quotes.

Of course, I favored Jane Austen’s work, only because her lines are so memorable and moving.  I think it might be fun as we start reviewing books if we take our favorite words of love and post them from the books we read.  I’ll have to put up that idea to my team.

Nevertheless, here are the quotes I so love from Austen’s work.  I hope you enjoy and feel free to comment with a few of your own memorable quotes from books!  Now, if we could only get the men in our lives to whisper such glorious words to melt our hearts.

 “Dare not say that man forgets sooner than a woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.”  (Captain Wentworth – Persuasion)

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.” (Captain Wentworth – Persuasion)
  “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed.  You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”  (Mr. Darcy – Pride & Prejudice)
“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
(Mr. Knightly – Emma)
“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be yours.”
(Edward Ferrars – Sense & Sensibility)