~ BLOG TOUR STOP ~
-- 'THE EARL'S WINNING WAGER' --
AUTHOR JEN GEIGLE JOHNSON
~Post Includes: Book Spotlight, Author Bio,
Snippet, Review & Giveaway~
ABOUT THE BOOK
Miss Standish in none too pleased to have become the responsibility of yet another Lord, even if he is full of charm and goodness. Her responsibilities are to her sisters first.
With the repairs on the castle moving forward nicely and concerted efforts in a season in Bath made to find suitors for them all, Miss Standish and Lord Morley must determine where duty stops and matters of the heart take over.
Read this warm tale of family, sisters, loyalty and love to get a huge dose of the best part of a regency romance fans of Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer would enjoy.
Morley stared at his best friend, waiting for the man to look up from his cards. Gerald was losing terribly. And Morley wasn’t sure if he should feel guilty or victorious. His friend had just thrown most of a new inheritance from his distant cousin on the table, almost as if he wished to give it away.
Despite Gerald being the Duke of Granbury with significant holdings to his name, Morley wasn’t comfortable taking so much—even in something as unbiased as a card game. But his friend smiled so large it looked like his cheeks hurt. Morley’s hurt just looking at him.
“How can you smile when you’re losing abominably?” Lord Morley frowned at him.
“I have leave to be happy so soon after my own wedding.”
“But you don’t have leave to gamble away your living, even to your best friend.”
“I’m hardly close to losing a living.”
Lord Morley raised his eyebrows. The other lords at the table stared greedily at the back of Gerald’s cards. But even though Lord Morley shook his head, none too subtly, Gerald pushed all the remaining chips and his slips of paper into the center.
“Included in this are some holdings in the south.”
Lord Morley narrowed his eyes.
Gerald fanned out his cards. “Good, but”—he smiled even broader—“not good enough.” Then each of the men laid out their cards. Gerald beat Lord Oxley soundly, as Morley suspected he knew he would. Then Lords Harrington and Parmenter threw their cards down. That left Morley’s cards. Morley had won. Gerald knew he’d won. He eyed him above his cards. “What is this about?”
“Lay out your cards, man. On with it.” Gerald’s smile couldn’t grow any larger, and even though Morley had just grown significantly more wealthy, he didn’t trust his oldest friend.
Morley fanned out his cards and narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing?”
Gerald tipped his glass back and drained its contents. “Losing to my best friend. Come now. It’s time for us to return home. Her Grace wants me home early.”
“How is she feeling?”
Gerald’s face clouded, and Morley regretted the question. Since the man had lost his first wife during childbirth, the prospect of doing it all over again loomed in his mind at all hours. Morley talked to him of it often enough. “She seems in the very prime of health. No one has looked healthier.”
“No need to speak optimism in my ear. I know she is well, but then, so was Camilla. All we can do is wait and see. Amelia so wanted a child, and I love my wife too much to leave her alone. So there we have it.”
Morley clapped him on the back as they stepped out of White’s. “Do you ever consider it odd that when youth, we used each other’s titles in preparation for the moment the great weight would fall on our shoulders? And now. You still call me Morley, but I … don’t call you anything but Gerald.” He laughed trying to lighten the mood.
“You will always be Morley. Even your mother calls you Morley.” He laughed. “Why is that?”
“I couldn’t guess. Maybe she loves the title?” He shrugged. “Now, enough mystery. Tell me, what did I just win? What’s this all about? These holdings in the south?”
“Remember our visit to Sussex?”
Morley half nodded, and then he stopped dead in the street. “When we went to save you from Lady Rochester? And we paid a visit to a family of ladies?” His eyes narrowed. Unbidden, Miss Standish’s face came into his mind. “What did you do?”
“I inherited their castle, if you recall.”
“I recall a heap of rubble with a few standing rooms.”
“Well, we’ve been fixing it up, and the ladies are just about ready to move in. Five women, all of age. June, the eldest, is not quite twenty three, the youngest sixteen. You won the whole lot of them, with some other holdings besides. The winnings should cover the remaining repairs and upkeep for a time as well.”
“I won’t take it.”
“You have no choice. There were witnesses.”
Morley was silent for so long he hoped Gerald began to half suspect he’d truly overstepped his generosity at long last. Then he shook his head. “I know what you’re doing, and she doesn’t want anything to do with me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“And she will want even less to do with me if she thinks she is in any way beholden to me, so whatever plans you have going, you can just take back your properties and your pesky family of women and leave me in peace.”
“Morley, you’re my oldest and best friend. Would I really foist these women on you if I didn’t think it would make you the happiest of men? They’re from the Northumberland line. Excellent family heritage. The Queen herself takes an interest in their well-being.”
“I care not for any of such nonsense, and you know it. You are not to be a matchmaker. It doesn’t suit you. And you’re terrible at it.”
“How would you know, since I’ve never attempted such a roll until now?”
“So you admit it?”
~ * ~ * ~
This is the first book I have read written by this talented author. I have not read a lot of Regency romances, but I love historical fiction and historical romances. When I read the blurb for this book, I knew I wanted to give it a try. I'm so glad I did!
This is the second book in the author's 'Lords for the Sisters of Sussex' Series. I did not read Book 1, but references to the previous story were slipped in at opportune times so I felt this installment of the series could be read as a standalone.
The characters in this book are multi-dimensional and unique. The setting is well-defined and interesting. I found the insights into this historical period and wealthy society in Regency era England to be fascinating. Protocol, manners, dress and appearance, deference to those above one in class and social stature, and family heritage are of the utmost importance it appears.
The five Standish sisters -- June, Charity, Lucy, Kate, and Grace -- are unique individuals who I felt were fiercely independent. Their deep bond with each other and their dedication to their family name was admirable. They suffered some serious losses at a young age, but they remained devoted to making the best of their circumstances. I liked the clever manner in which the author answered some questions about the Standish sisters' heritage in the story.
The personalities and actions of the male characters in the story were varied and engaging. At some points I did not know whose side these men were on and what exactly they were after. I enjoy when an author keeps me guessing until the end of a book!
Another highlight of the book were the many social events presented in the course of the story. Picnics, promenades, assemblies, 'calling' on others at their homes, etc. The author has a knack for describing settings, and many times I felt as if I were actually in the scene.
My favorite character, for many reasons, was Morley. He is a kind, gentle, thoughtful man with a fun sense of humor.
I highly recommend this book for fans of clean romance, historical romance, Regency romance, and British romance.
- Disclosure from Blogger: I received a paperback copy of this book from the author through Singing Librarian Tours in exchange for an honest review to be posted on my blog and on retailer sites and Goodreads. I received no compensation for my review or posts here or on any other site. The views contained in this review are solely my own.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
An award winning author, including the GOLD in Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, Jen Geigle Johnson discovered her passion for England while kayaking on the Thames near London as a young teenager.
She once greeted an ancient turtle under the water by grabbing her fin. She knows all about the sound a water-ski makes on glassy water and how to fall down steep moguls with grace. During a study break date in college, she sat on top of a jeep's roll bars up in the mountains and fell in love.
Now, she loves to share bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten. Whether in Regency England, the French Revolution, or Colonial America, her romance novels are much like life is supposed to be: full of adventure.
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