Here’s a new author I’ve just found and read a few of her books. M.A. Nichols. The first one in her Regency set is my favorite. Flame and Ember. But I’ve really enjoyed her whole set (I’m almost done with it. I have one more book to read). The characters all interrelate, but each book could be read stand-alone if needed, and you’d be fine.
So, without further adieu, I will get on with the review of her first three books.
Flame and Ember – Book 1
A most inconvenient marriage of convenience.
This book was amazing! It’s a Regency marriage of convenience story that evolves into love and a happy ending, of course (it’s romance!). But oh what a lovely heart-tugging ride to get there. Seriously, I couldn’t put this book down. It captivated me completely. Mina (Wilhelmina) is a 30ish-aged spinster who longs to live on her own and not be under her brother’s thumb (and his annoying bride who has usurped her authority in the house, although she’s 11 years younger). Mina knows with her pudgy build and lackluster looks she won’t attract a man to marry her, even though, like most women, she longs for a love story. When she overhears Simon and his friend talking about her at an event where she is the lonely wallflower again, she is humiliated, since she has always thought him handsome and honorable. He has never even noticed her before, but his friend’s words about her sting. When he runs into her later and apologizes, a tentative friendship blooms between the two.
Simon needs to marry to have a helpmeet to help him run his estate. His heart has been forever broken by Susanna, who married another. He knows he can never love another, and even after 2 years, still pines for the impossible. But as he gets to know Mina, he thinks it possible to have a cordial friendship and partnership with her. So they marry, with him content with friendship, and Mina longing for more. I won’t spoil the rest, but it’s riveting. One of the best marriage of convenience turning into love I’ve ever read. The characterization and romance between the two is super deep, which made it so fulfilling in the end. This is one I will reread in the future. I’m supremely impressed and plan to look up more by this author.
“Not all love starts off as a roaring flame. Many are more like embers, which take time to build but end up being all the warmer for it.” (Frederick to Simon)
A True Gentleman – Book 2
They say reformed rakes make the best husbands. They were wrong.
This features Tabby and Graham. Graham is Mina’s naval captain brother from book 1 that she wrote to over the years. He has been severely wounded in the Napoleonic wars and is living with Mina and Simon as he tries to recover and heal, so he can head back out to sea—the only life he wants. He undergoes many surgeries, striving for the impossible—a totally healed body. Each surgery just leaves him more infirm and depressed.
Tabby married the man of her dreams against her father’s wishes 11 years ago. At first, she felt her reformed rake truly changed. But when life threw hardships their way, her husband returned to drink and gambling, whittling away at her dowry and his other assets until they are at the mercy of charitable relations. And still her husband refuses to go into trade, thinking that beneath him (though receiving charity isn’t). Tabby, needing an income and stability for her son, lowers herself from lady to servant to work for Mina and Simon. She is given the arduous task of caring for Graham, who is surly and mean to all those who help him.
So begins a lovely tale of forbidden romance as they get to know each other and she realizes not all men are fickle and deceitful as her husband. This author creates powerful stories that make you want to ignore the present and get lost in imagination. The characters are deep and strong, and the twists and heart-tugging moments are awesome. The romance is always clean, but delicious. I loved this book, as I did the first one.
“Little in my life has unfolded as planned. So many of my hopes and dreams have rotted away, but I know allowing that heartache to define me would be my true downfall.” Tabby
The Shameless Flirt – Book 3
A rogue with a silver tongue. A spinster with an iron heart.
This is Ambrose’s story, the youngest brother to Nicolas, Graham and Mina. He is the card-playing, lazy flirt of the brother that never seems to take anything seriously. When a baby is left on his doorstep, he realizes the baby girl is a forever flirt. He tries to take her to her true father, but he is willing to chuck her to the street. Ambrose tries to find her a home in a foundling home unsuccessfully and is told he might have better luck out in the country, so he sets out to his sister Mina’s home and meets Mary Hayward, the spinster daughter that is a neighbor to Mina and Simon, on the carriage ride there.
Mary has met the charming fake flirt before, although he doesn’t remember. She has seen him work that smile and laughter on other ladies and she won’t be hoodwinked by him. Her heart was broken years ago when she was deceived by her best friend who played with her affections and then proposed to her other best friend, who had also used her badly. Never again will she put her heart on the line. But when Mr. Ashbrook can’t calm his baby, she steps in to help him, unwittingly putting herself in for a twisty journey to get home, full of mishaps and a lovely crucible setting that puts them in more contact with each other than they both want.
It was a fun Regency romance, showing the damage that can be done to someone when no one believes in them, or expects very little of them, and talks badly about them at every turn. Both Ambrose and Mary have built up walls to protect their hearts over the years, and it’s awesome seeing them learn more about each other and get to know the true person behind the mask so those walls can be torn down, allowing them to learn about true love. These have been super fun books. Not the conventional stuffy Regency romances (which may tick some ultra-Regency readers off), but I enjoyed the story and characters a lot.
“I am too effusive in my praise and too loose with the truth, and I know that gives you cause to doubt my sincerity, so I am giving you the one thing I have never given anyone else. My true self.” (Ambrose)
Anyway, if you’re between books and like Regency, try out one of M.A. Nichols books. They were super enjoyable.