Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain team up to set two Regency novellas against a backdrop of scandal, intrigue, and literary mischief inspired by the real-life spoof of Lord Byron published by Lady Caroline Lamb.
Rhapsody for Two by Theresa Romain
Rowena Fairweather, a builder of stringed instruments, is facing a difficult future. Simon Thorn is a musician fleeing his past. When a page from How to Ruin a Duke brings them together, will these two independent souls allow themselves to fall in love?
When His Grace Falls by Grace Burrowes
The very proper Duke of Emory, lampooned in How to Ruin A Duke, suspects that the author of his misfortune is Lady Edith Charbonneau. He sets out to ruin her before she can write a sequel, except... what if he's wrong, and she's not his enemy after all?
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Both these novellas are a delight and I highly recommend them
This Novella Duet includes "Rhapsody for Two" by Theresa Romain and "When His Grace Falls" by Grace Burrowes.
"Rhapsody for Two" is the charming story of luthier (repairer of stringed instruments) Rowena Fairweather, who is desperate to hold on to the family business when she finds herself in dire financial straits. Simon Thorn enters her shop with his malfunctioning horn, which Rowena politely informs him “is not a stringed instrument.” When she assists him anyway he is drawn inexplicably to her, as she is to him. When Simon loses both his jobs at the same time, he offers to assist Rowena in promoting her business. What follows is a slow, beautiful blossoming of a romance that neither expects. The obstacles come in the form of Rowena's ruthless landlord and Simon’s guilt over a horrific childhood accident. The “How to Ruin a Duke” book within the book is a humorous thread running through the story, with everyone trying to discover who wrote the naughty book all the while quoting from it, and is the impetus for the initial “meet cute” between Rowena and Simon. The journey to the eventual HEA of Rowena and Simon is filled with witty dialogue and well-rounded characters. Ms. Romain is a new-to-me author whose work I will definitely be seeking again.
"When His Grace Falls"
This novella is focused on the book within a book, “How to Ruin a Duke” when the subject of that publication, Thaddeus, Duke of Emory, attempts to ferret out who anonymously authored the unflattering tome. Lady Edith Charbonneau falls under suspicion as the elusive author when she abruptly and without explanation resigns her position as companion to Thaddeus’s mother. When Thaddeus accuses Edith, he is vexed by the contradiction she presents: if she penned a best selling book, why is she living in poverty, without even proper sustenance? When he finds that he enjoys sparring verbally with her entirely too much, he decides to enlist her help in unmasking the author. More complications threaten to destroy their newfound camaraderie but love triumphs for a satisfying and sweet HEA. Ms. Burrowes is one of my very favorite authors (and I read A LOT!) and as usual, she does not disappoint. Her characters are fleshed out, her prose is beautifully descriptive, and her dialogue is clever and, at times, hysterical in its period-appropriate formality (e.g., “We’re to undress?” “One often does, in the circumstances.”). All in all, both these novellas are a delight and I highly recommend them. I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher and am voluntarily reviewing it.
Sensual writing, densely packed story lines
From Romain’s descriptions of the parts of stringed instruments in terms of a woman’s body to Burrowes' seduction by food, these novellas carry novel length experiences. I was afraid of investing in the characters only to lose them too soon. Not a problem in the hands of these experienced storytellers.
I have to say Burrowes' hero seduced me along with the heroine with the rich descriptions of the food he brought her, paired with his vulnerability in falling in love when he obviously never expected to. I came up for air craving butter, tarts and the intense feelings evoked. You KNOW you’re sucked into a story when you’re ready to smack the hero or find yourself feeling chilled after reading a description of a cold room when there’s a record heat wave outside!
I volunteered to read an Advanced Reader Copy and I'm so glad to have the opportunity to give a resounding thumbs up of a review.