Reviews – Lucinda Brant’s Roxton Family Saga

As I have added two new reviews to my thoughts on the Roxton Family Saga by Lucinda Brant, I decided to post them all again. If you haven’t read this great series, combining sweeping historical romance with the traditional historical family saga, please pick it up soon.


Mari’s Reviews of The Roxton Family Saga

(In reverse order, starting with the most recent release.)


Satyr’s Son

London, 1786. Lord Henri-Antoine has returned from the Grand Tour to a life of privilege and excess. A vast inheritance allows him every indulgence, free from responsibility. Yet, Henri-Antoine maintains a well-ordered existence, going to great lengths to conceal an affliction few understand and many fear.

Miss Lisa Crisp is a penniless orphan who relies on the charity of relatives to keep her from the poorhouse. Intelligent and unflappable, Lisa will not allow poverty to define her. She leads a useful life working among the sick poor.

Under startling circumstances, Henri-Antoine and Lisa meet. There is instant attraction. When they find themselves attending the same wedding in the country, Henri-Antoine offers Lisa a scandalous proposition, one she should refuse but yearns to accept. Following her heart could ruin them both.

Review

In Satyr’s Son, the two most vibrant and visible children of the entire series, Teddy and Jack, find their happy-ever-after. (A match I predicted a few books ago, if anyone is counting). Teddy, daughter of Lady Mary Cavendish (Proud Mary), and Jack, brother of Deb, Duchess of Roxton (Midnight Marriage), each only had secondary or tertiary billing in past books, but nevertheless stole the scenes in their much-younger years.

However, they are not the central HEA, even though most of this book plays out at their wedding. (As such, I put forth the notion that Teddy and Jack were, in fact, robbed of their own book. I am hopeful these two will appear in the Roxton Family Letters, Volume Two, and would urge Brant to fill in the outlines of their story in a future bonus novella or short.)

Now, as to the actual hero and heroine of Satyr’s Son: Henri-Antoine (Harry), second son of Monseigneur, the former Duke of Roxton (Noble Satyr)—the great love of matriarch Antonia’s life—and brother to Julian, the current duke, is thumped in the head sideways by love of another commoner (following Christopher Bryce from Proud Mary), Miss Lisa Crisp, bosom friend of Teddy, niece to Antonia’s former lady’s maid, and beneficiary of the Duchess of Kinross’s quiet patronage.

The two main characters meet in the throes of the hero’s deepest vulnerability, and she manages to help him mask it from the rest of the world, which sets the stage for as many displays of ducal emotional armor as we ever saw with his father. Harry has been able to manage ill health his entire life with the help and support of enormous wealth, a loving, if intrusive, family, and the innate dignity instilled by Monsiegneur. His noble upset is handled with a different sort of grace than Monseigneur (and Antonia) always displayed, but grace nonetheless. His core fragility, however, is the perfect complement to his heroine’s core competencies.

Also complementary are their plans for each other—at first. As she is not of noble blood, he sees her as a mistress, and she agrees; how else will she spend time with a nobleman she is falling in love with, when he will surely have to marry in his own class? But Teddy, Jack, Antonia, and the rest of the family will not have it.

As his father did before him, he comes to what is left of his senses after Cupid’s assault, but requiring a similar sort of brick to the head as Monseigneur did when Antonia captivated him. Harry is not his father—he is more serious (by necessity), less frivolous, more intellectual, more goal-driven.

But he is similar enough. The haughtiness, the charm, the gloriously handsome physique, the seemingly blithe pursuit of pleasure, force a look backward: if the son invokes the “ducal defense” to cover up his great vulnerability, what then, was the father’s weakness? And in what ways did his heroine help him overcome it? Perhaps Monseigneur himself will be revealed in the next volume of the Roxton Letters.

As this has been billed as the last book in the Roxton Family Saga (barring the forthcoming epistolary Volume Two of the Roxton Letters), we can now bring some things full circle, and review the arc of the saga. There were many, many characters’ stories left unexplored in this series, among the most obvious, Teddy and Jack, and Estée and Vallentine. (Evelyn warrants a spin-off mystery series.) Since this is a specialty of Brant’s—tugging at threads of stories to create new books—one hopes for a “Next Generation” series, or more shorts, or some similar device to keep the Roxtons on the shelves for many years to come.

However, overall, from Noble Satyr to Satyr’s Son, she expertly weaves two genres into a comfortable whole: historical romance, of course, of the most glorious and sweeping sort; but also the traditional historical family saga, leading three generations through trials and tribulations equal to their great wealth and privilege.

Buy Satyr’s Son Here


Proud Mary

1770s Gloucestershire and Hampshire.

Widowed and destitute, Lady Mary Cavendish is left with only her pride. Daughter of an earl and great-granddaughter to a Stuart King, expectations demand she remarry. But not just any man will do; her husband must rank among the nobility. As always, Mary will do her duty and ignore her heart.

Country squire Christopher Bryce has secretly loved his neighbor Mary for many years. Yet, he is resigned to the cruel reality they are not social equals and thus can never share a future together. Never mind that his scandalous past and a heartbreaking secret make him thoroughly unworthy of such a proud beauty.

But with the help of a family ghost, and the never ordinary members of the Roxton family, Mary and Christopher realize that a happily ever after might just be possible.

Review

One thing Lucinda Brant does particularly well in The Roxton Family Saga, a perennial favorite of mine, is tugging at the strings of stories left hanging to be woven into later books. So, in this case, we get to know Lady Mary Cavendish, whom we have met ever-so-briefly in prior books: the ill-used wife of the obnoxious Gerald Cavendish. Now, however, Mary is a sensible widow in reduced circumstances, ready to do her duty by the Roxtons and her daughter, Teddy, marrying well to meet the demands of her family’s position.

Both Mary and her hero, country squire Christopher Bryce, are a healthy distance from the loftiest heights of the Roxton inner circle (as far away as Antonia ever allows any family member), and provide an earthy, almost-but-not-quite populist balance to earlier books (and, one hopes, new, more rigorous blood—and political philosophy—to the family tree). Mary is the most practical and pragmatic of Brant’s heroines thus far, and Christopher is almost too steady and comfortable to be a hero in a sweeping romantic novel, with an unremitting sense of duty similar to the Duke of Roxton.

The Roxton series is exceptionally good at showcasing the extravagant, over-the-top surroundings of a families of enormous wealth and aristocratic breeding. While characters do appear who are of more limited means or lesser class status (not usually both), the overwhelming majority of characters and settings highlight and glorify the opulence of the Georgian period. In this book, however, we are given a heroine who is of noble blood, but gentry spirit, and a hero with some money, but limited status.

As important as meeting the heroine of this book, we meet her daughter Teddy, whom we have also seen in brief flashes in prior books, but who has intrigued from her first appearance. She is central to her mother’s life, and so must be central to the reader’s attentions. The contrast between the irrepressible, headstrong Teddy and [all but one of] the other children in Brant’s books has always been especially marked, even if brief. Brant includes children—one cannot populate a multi-generational family saga without them. However, with two notable exceptions (I made a prediction months ago about them, which I shall reveal in due course), they are loved deeply by the central characters in the books, but to some degree sidelined in the narrative. This is, in part, the nature of children who have less life experience to draw from; in part, the “arms’ length” Georgian child-rearing system; and in part, the authorial privilege of backgrounding different parts of the story. But because of this shunting aside, when the compelling and arresting Teddy—who will never, ever allow herself to be shunted anywhere—walks onto the stage in Proud Mary, she is in full-color, larger than life. When she is in the proscenium, you will not be able to look away.

While Mary dithers, and Christopher quietly and competently ensures the safety of her family, each of these characters must come to terms in their own way with the fact that Christopher provides a sort of security to Mary and Teddy that cannot be bestowed by a title or instilled by great wealth.

Buy Proud Mary Here


DD-ecover-0180Dair Devil

1770s London and Hampshire.

Alisdair ‘Dair’ Fitzstuart, hero of the American Revolutionary war and heir to an earldom, known by all as a self-centered womanizing rogue. But his dashing and rugged façade hides a vulnerable man with a traumatic past. He will gamble with his life, but never his heart, which remains his own.

Aurora ‘Rory’ Talbot, is a spinster and pineapple fancier who lives on the periphery of Polite Society. An observer but never observed, her fragile beauty hides conviction and a keen intelligence. Ever optimistic, she will not be defined by disability.

One fateful night Dair and Rory collide—the attraction is immediate, the consequences profound. Both will risk everything for love.

Review

Once again, Dair Fitzstuart is a hero I’m not inclined to like. He starts the book as a buffoon, more than anything else, thoughtless, indiscreet. But oh, so very handsome while he does it. My primary problem with Dair is that he too quickly throws off that bad boy image, and shows himself all that is decent and honorable. He lacks the darkness that imbued both Dukes of Roxton, and to a lesser extent, the Duke of Kinross, and that change in tone is a noticeable departure for the series. Dair is an unquestionable good guy. (And I admit, I like my heroes with a dash of villain.)

Rory, while his match in goodness, continues Brant’s tradition of heroines I can adore. She lives with a disability, but the limitations it presents are, in the main, self-imposed, and certainly not a barrier to her happy ending (if the hero has anything to say about it, and he does). She is a gentler, quieter personality than Brant’s other heroines, and is more a bluestocking, but no less opinionated or forceful or engaging.

Both hero and heroine, though, come to the first meeting with baggage, One thing I love about the Roxtons is that Brant never stints on the trials and tribulations, in this case, spying and political intrigue. She is very good at tying her books together by overarching story arcs and by intertwining characters in each other’s stories, so it is highly recommended her series be read in order, but it is by no means required.

Buy Dair Devil Here


EY-ecover-0180Eternally Yours: Roxton Letters Volume One

Previously unpublished letters from the private correspondence of the Roxton family, spanning 1743–1777, with extracts from the diaries of Antonia, 5thDuchess of Roxton and 7th Duchess of Kinross. Includes Roxton’s last letter to Antonia. Volume One complements the early chronology of the award-winning Roxton Family Saga: Noble Satyr, Midnight Marriage, and Autumn Duchess. With a foreword by a late-Victorian descendant, Alice-Victoria, 10th Duchess of Roxton.

Review

I have an inherent bias toward epistolary fiction, as it is among my favorite forms to write, including a forthcoming novel that is about a third correspondence and written commentary. However, because it is an area of particular literary interest, I am very picky about it.

Writing in a character’s written voice is a special skill, especially placed in a different era, where not only the tone was inherently different, but also the rhythms, the conventions, the level of formality. When a letter has to stand in place of hearing a voice or seeing a face, and must span time and distance, how do characters manage the emotional events of lives spent separated from loved ones in a way we, of Skype and email and international airlines, cannot fathom? Done poorly, it can destroy a book. Done well, with a deep understanding of the characters, the situations, and the times, it can add a layer of detail and depth that cannot be found in narrative and dialogue. How a man writes a letter is as distinct as his speech.

Now, consider writing letters not only for one character, but several. Not just an emotional event, but THE emotional events alluded to in the first three Roxton books. Brant is able to bring characters back who have left the Roxton family for one reason or another, and explain the genesis, or end result, of stories left untold in the series.

Brant’s book have made me laugh and cry; I would not read the entire catalog of an author who doesn’t. This book, though, was in a class by itself, emotionally speaking. In this volume, we say goodbye to some series favorites, finally learning the details of their fates, and are given hope for the future. (And there is a future planned for this series!) I am not a weeper, in the main, and am rather cynical, even (some days, especially) about romance novels, but this was a box-of-tissues-by-the-bedside book.

Buy Eternally Yours Here


AD-ecover-0180Autumn Duchess ***SPOILER ALERT***

1770s England: Treat, the ancestral home of the dukes of Roxton.

Antonia, Dowager Duchess of Roxton, has mourned the loss of her duke for three long years. Her grief is all-consuming. Then into her life steps a most unconventional man.

Jonathon Strang, East India merchant and widower, lets nothing stand in the way of success, in business or in pleasure.

On spying Antonia, Jonathon is immediately smitten. He sees a beautiful woman who has not only lost the love of her life, and her exalted position in society, but is bullied, badgered, and totally misunderstood. She needs someone to talk to and a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.

Antonia’s opinion of Jonathon is less charitable. Insufferably arrogant. Overbearing. Dangerous. She must keep her distance. Better still, she will ignore him and pretend they had never been introduced.

Review

This book represented a radical change in the series, and as such, I could not review without spoilers. You can go see it on Goodreads at your discretion. 🙂

Buy Autumn Duchess Here


MM-ecover-0180Midnight Marriage

1760s England and France: Based on real events, a hasty midnight marriage establishes a dynasty.

Just twelve years old, and drugged with laudanum to make her compliant, Deborah Cavendish is woken in the middle of the night and married off to a distraught boy not much older than herself.

Years later, Deb stumbles across a wounded duelist in the forest, and it is love at first sight. Deb has no idea the wounded duelist is in truth her noble husband Julian Hesham, Marquess of Alston, returned to England after years in exile to claim his wife.

Remaining incognito, Julian is determined Deb will fall in love with him, not his title, and sets out to woo her before she can be seduced by a persistent suitor with ulterior motives. Their marriage, and the future of the Roxton dukedom depend upon it.

Review

This was the first Roxton book I read, which I count a good thing. Had I been comparing Julian with his father, the Noble Satyr himself, I might not have liked him as a hero. Roxton he is not (yet).

He is another hero who begins as less than attractive. Julian at the age of fifteen is drunken, petulant, and mean, and a few years later, returns from years abroad as a careless, entitled, sometimes-whiny youth, who shows signs of his father’s arrogance and disregard for emotional consequence to others. He is handsome and charming, to be sure, and with a wide streak of kindness, more in the manner of his mother than father, but he does not demonstrate empathy in any great quantity, or at least, he does not value it highly.

Deb is a heroine after Antonia’s heart. Gutsy, snappish, and more concerned with the people she loves than propriety. She is an unlikely heroine for Julian. She seems too spirited for him, too grounded, too honest, for a man who is too young to be jaded. That she has her own mind seems, at times, to be some sort of divine karmic retribution. She is not a lady willing to accept her lot, but who will fight for her happy ending. And win.

Midnight Marriage features another cast of lovable secondary characters, including some young enough to appear in later books in the series, and the return of the duke and duchess, now parents, with different priorities, but the same palpable love that places them always in the center of each other’s world.

Julian could have grown to be a different, much less pleasant, man, without Deb’s influence, and I might have then liked the later books in the series far less. Thankfully, however, she tempers him, humbles him, and reminds him of the depth of his honor.

Buy Midnight Marriage Here


NS-ecover-0180Noble Satyr

1740s France and England—the age of hedonism and enlightenment.

Renard, Duke of Roxton, head of an ancient noble family, is wealthy beyond measure. Arrogant, and self assured, this noble satyr is renowned throughout Europe as the consummate lover of other men’s wives, but Roxton’s heart remains his own.

Beautiful, optimistic, and headstrong, Antonia Moran is determined to flee the Court of Versailles and escape the lascivious attentions of the predatory Comte de Salvan.

Antonia orchestrates her escape with the unwitting assistance of the Duke of Roxton, a man she has been warned against as too dangerous for her to know. Roxton is an unlikely savior—arrogant, promiscuous, and sinister. Antonia’s unquestioning belief in him may just be his salvation, and her undoing.

Review

I admit to a certain bias: I claim the Duke of Roxton as my forevermore book boyfriend. Of course, I mean the man who existed directly before the start of this series, who hadn’t yet fallen in love with his Mignonne, because after that, frankly, he is useless to me (or any other woman). And if there was ever a woman with whom I have no wish to compete, it is Antonia.

Roxton is hard to get to know, both by his author’s design and his own. He is not a simple hero with a pure love for an angelic heroine. He is hardened and arrogant and callous, a jaded courtier who wields his power with as much force and precision as his rapier. One cannot tell, in the earliest stages of the book if we are meeting hero or villain. (I contend the character himself isn’t quite certain.)

By contrast, for all the book is named for him, Antonia immediately takes center stage as the heroine around whom his world will eventually turn. She is a bright light that shines on every page, exactly the kind of heroine I love: smart, spirited, fearless, genuine, with no love for rules or social constraints. When she sets herself on a course, she will not stop until the race is run… rather like her hero, though sweeter and kinder when confronting an obstacle.

There is a significant age difference between the young and sprightly Antonia and the aging roué, though not so much as to frame him as lecherous, and by the way he is written, there is no doubt of his appeal to her, to a wide variety of beauties in the French Court, and to any woman with a pulse who has a penchant for rakish dukes. He is old enough to sleep alone when it suits him, and young, handsome, rich, and virile enough to never need to. She is young enough to romanticize him, but wise enough, after some time in the decadent and permissive French court, to know what she will find in his bedchamber when she goes looking.

Both hero and heroine are charming and intriguing, for exactly opposite reasons. He because he is enigmatic; she because she is forthright. He because he tries so hard to follow the rules (where she is concerned); she because she tries so hard to ignore the fact rules exist. He because he thinks himself unworthy; she because she never doubts his worth, and never loses sight of her own. She is the only person for whom he will change any detail of his life, and she never once asks him to.

Because I am a sucker for a good villain, it must be said that along with wonderful secondary characters, Brant brings us three villains, all working at mutual or cross purposes at different points in the book. Between them, Brant covers nearly all of the seven deadly sins (and more): le comte de Salvan is a villian by greed and lust; le viscomte d’Ambert by cowardice and sloth; and the Countess Strathsay by carelessness and envy. And none of these have such weak teeth that they can be overcome by a show of ducal force. They attack and fall back in turn, nipping at the heels of the hero and heroine even to the bitter end of the book.

Set in the lush locale of Louis XV’s Versailles and the England of George II and III, Brant brings us into the 18th century by grasping our senses—the smell of the streets of Paris, the sound of carriage wheels in the courtyard of a noble hôtel, the taste of brandy choked down to deaden pain, and of course, rich descriptions of the rooms, the clothes, the sumptuous life lived in (arguably) the historical cradle of Western hedonism. With an equally deft hand, we are placed in the center of tense political intrigues endemic to royal courts through history, with players particularly suited to survive that cutthroat world.

Throughout the Roxton series, Lucinda, again and again, shows the highest levels to which historical romance can be taken. These are not “pulp” books, but smart literature in the vein of earlier generations of female novelists, who no one would now call “romance writers,” because they are studied in the canon, but who offered the same fictional escape to her female readers in the Georgian era as Brant does now.

Lucinda Brant’s books exemplify the historical romance genre for me. As a writer, I hope to emulate her excellent prose, as a reader, I just want her to write more books, so I can move on from reading these again and again.

Buy Noble Satyr Here


About the Author
Lucinda-Brant-Author-picLucinda Brant is a NY Times & USA Today Bestselling author of Georgian historical romances & mysteries. “Quizzing glass & quill, into my sedan chair & away! The 1700s rock!”

Buy Lucinda’s Books Here

Connect with Lucinda:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

 

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Lucinda Brant’s Salt Hendon Series – Review

Salt-Bride-LR-ecover-0180 Salt Bride

5 stars: There is no question that, for me, this book exemplifies the Historical Romance genre in a way no other has before or since. The richness of the language, the depth of the historical detail, and the skill with which the story is woven, all combine to place this among the best historical novels I have ever read, and at the top of the list in historical romance. I cannot speak highly enough of it. The characters are excellent, with the Earl of Salt Hendon a sharp, arrogant hero, set off and tempered in a truly lovely way by his more even-handed, sweet-natured bride, Jane. The two of them are my favorite of Brant’s pairings, though individually, the Roxtons (of Noble Satyr and the Roxton Family Saga) are my favorite hero and heroine. Likewise, Roxton is my Forevermore Book Boyfriend, but Salt Bride, I judge the better book.

The plot is intricate, at times raw, and emotion is ripped, bleeding, from the hearts of these characters. An enormous amount of growth is required of all characters to reach the satisfying conclusion, and the changes wrought by bitter circumstance make them real, human, in a way that transcends any historical era. The depths to which the villain sinks, and the terrible, terrible harms perpetrated against innocents give weight to the idea of classifying this book as classic historical literary fiction—literature, not “just” romance, even as the romantic themes, the HEA, the hero and heroine, and their supporting cast will satisfy any discerning HistRom reader.


Salt-Redux-LR-ecover-0180Salt Redux

4.5 stars: A very important comeuppance for one of modern HistRom’s best villains, and both redemption and reward for a deserving, long-suffering secondary pair from the world of the Salt Hendons.

I am a sucker for a good villain (which is why I love Roxton and the Earl of Salt Hendon as heroes so well), and if I were the writer, I don’t know if I would have been able to put away Diana St. John for good, even after the merciful justice required at the end of the first book. Her actions and motivations were so reprehensible throughout the first book, her personality so delightfully creepy and her plans so insidious, that I imagine Brant might have been manipulated into writing the sequel by the anti-heroine herself. She was truly the absolute joy of the entire second book. It has been said every villain is the hero of his own story. This was Diana’s story, even more than Antony’s or Caroline’s.

The hero of Salt Redux, Sir Antony, Diana’s brother, and the heroine, Lady Caroline, sister of the hero of the first book, are both sadder but wiser than they were when we left them, better people for it, and better prepared to have an adult relationship. I often write characters who start Chapter One with a broken heart, mostly because I find human beings most interesting after they’ve been bumped around by life a bit. I greatly appreciate seeing “grown-up” HEAs skillfully done.

The plot wasn’t quite as intricate as the first book, nor was the emotion quite as raw in Salt Redux. Still, it is a necessary book I didn’t know I needed. I would have been happy for Salt Bride to forever stand alone in a class by itself, and I do mark the original a cut above Salt Redux, but I am grateful, if only for Antony and Caroline, that Brant created a duology.

Buy The Salt Hendon Series here

Lucinda Brant’s Alec Halsey Mystery Series – Review

Deadly Engagement_ A Georgian Historical Mystery - Lucinda Brant  Deadly Affair_ A Georgian Historical Mystery - Lucinda Brant  Deadly-Peril-ecover-0180

I love Lucinda Brant’s historical romance books with a fiery passion. She exemplifies the very best of what the genre can and should be. So, it is exceedingly painful to give her “Alec Halsey Mystery Series” 4 stars, even if for an entirely personal reason that will not affect all readers: I’m not a big fan of beta heroes, and Alec is as beta as they come.

He grows as a man and a character over the course of three books—Deadly Engagement, Deadly Affair, and Deadly Peril—but he never really rises to the same level as Roxton or the Earl of Salt Hendon in my esteem, mostly because I wouldn’t ever be able to fall madly in love with him. (He would, undoubtedly be a better relationship choice, realistically, than either; I will give him that, which says plenty about my taste in men.)

In the main, he is cerebral and erudite, more likely to use brain than brawn, without the typical arrogance of the aristo, and able to quietly lead from behind, but initially seemed an unlikely solver of the mysteries that plague him. The questions and clues are solid and plentiful and keep one guessing, but by the end of the third book, I wished I had known a bit more of his ambassadorial backstory while reading the first two (though clearly not the very important secrets he was keeping), as it made more sense of things. Also, every so often, he comes off priggish or cold, and so I wasn’t always certain of the depth of his passion for his heroine. Her passion is never in question, though often skillfully banked, and I did think her an excellent complement to him.

The third book, Deadly Peril, rates 4.5 stars, because Alec is forced by circumstance to play the alpha hero to protect and finally claim his true love, and we see him as he once was, a rash and hot-headed youth, which I found more appealing than the measured, thoughtful intellectual. I find myself nursing a tremendous fondness for him, and I was truly touched when he was finally joined with Selina. Their love was hard-won and deep, and a lovely subplot spanning the series, though not as timeless as other of Brant’s heroes and heroines. I was happy for them both when I read their HEA, but was jealous of neither.

As with her other books, the secondary characters are wonderful, and she does a very good job of representing various shades of the nobility. I love the populist bent of this cast (even if it naturally bred out of the hero the innate arrogance I love so much in several of Brant’s other heroes; this is a much humbler man than my Forevermore Book Boyfriend, Roxton). I also enjoyed he international nature of the various characters’ interests and adventures and the contextual commentary on the events of the day. The use of a fictional nation was a fascinating device, and the world-building quite well done.

Buy The Halsey Series here

(A special) New Title Tuesday! Lucinda Brant

Today, dear readers, is my birthday! 🙂 Because I consider this is the most important holiday of the year, I’ve arranged a special New Title Tuesday with my absolute favorite Historical Romance writer ever, Lucinda Brant.

So, I’ve left the regular NTT stuff up front, but keep reading. I’ve included my reviews of all of the books in her Roxton Family Saga.


Eternally Yours: Roxton Letters Volume One. A Companion to the Roxton Family Saga Books 1-3, Lucinda Brant
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 5, 2015

EY-ecover-0180Previously unpublished letters from the private correspondence of the Roxton family, spanning 1743–1777, with extracts from the diaries of Antonia, 5th Duchess of Roxton and 7th Duchess of Kinross. Includes Roxton’s last letter to Antonia. Volume One complements the first three books of the award-winning Roxton Family Saga: Noble Satyr, Midnight Marriage, and Autumn Duchess. With a foreword by a late-Victorian descendant, Alice-Victoria, 10th Duchess of Roxton.

Buy Eternally Yours


Who first encouraged you to write?
No one encouraged me. I wrote from a young age, and to escape my suburban existence. It worked! 18th Century aristocratic France and England are about as far removed, culturally, socially, and politically, from my hometown as the earth is from the moon! Later in life, it was my husband (the love of my life) who encouraged me to continue to write, and to publish.

What inspired you to write this book?
My wonderful readers! Over the years I’ve received lots of emails and FB questions about particular letters that were mentioned in the Roxton Family Saga books, but which were not elaborated on, such as Antonia’s letters to the Duke that were withheld from him by Antonia’s grandmother. And there are events mentioned by my characters that are never shown, such as Antonia and Roxton’s visit to Constantinople with little Lord Henri-Antoine to visit Julian and his godfather. I also wanted to include Roxton’s last letters—to his son, and of course, to Antonia. They were the most emotionally difficult (and draining) for me to write. But I really wanted to write them, to show the depth of Roxton’s feelings for his family, and most importantly for Antonia, and how their marriage led him to experience a great deal of personal growth.

What do you think is the most important quality to cultivate to be a successful writer?
Persistence—Never Give Up! Never Surrender!


About the Author
Lucinda-Brant-Author-picLucinda Brant is a NY Times & USA Today Bestselling author of Georgian historical romances & mysteries. “Quizzing glass & quill, into my sedan chair & away! The 1700s rock!”

Connect with Lucinda: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest (Editorial note: Lucinda’s Pinterest pages for her time period are incredible!!!)


MARI’S REVIEWS of The Roxton Family Saga

Buy Lucinda’s Books Here

NS-ecover-0180Noble Satyr

I admit to a certain bias: I claim the Duke of Roxton as my forevermore book boyfriend. Of course, I mean the man who existed directly before the start of this series, who hadn’t yet fallen in love with his Mignonne, because after that, frankly, he is useless to me (or any other woman). And if there was ever a woman with whom I have no wish to compete, it is Antonia.

Roxton is hard to get to know, both by his author’s design and his own. He is not a simple hero with a pure love for an angelic heroine. He is hardened and arrogant and callous, a jaded courtier who wields his power with as much force and precision as his rapier. One cannot tell, in the earliest stages of the book if we are meeting hero or villain. (I contend the character himself isn’t quite certain.)

By contrast, for all the book is named for him, Antonia immediately takes center stage as the heroine around whom his world will eventually turn. She is a bright light that shines on every page, exactly the kind of heroine I love: smart, spirited, fearless, genuine, with no love for rules or social constraints. When she sets herself on a course, she will not stop until the race is run… rather like her hero, though sweeter and kinder when confronting an obstacle.

There is a significant age difference between the young and sprightly Antonia and the aging roué, though not so much as to frame him as lecherous, and by the way he is written, there is no doubt of his appeal to her, to a wide variety of beauties in the French Court, and to any woman with a pulse who has a penchant for rakish dukes. He is old enough to sleep alone when it suits him, and young, handsome, rich, and virile enough to never need to. She is young enough to romanticize him, but wise enough, after some time in the decadent and permissive French court, to know what she will find in his bedchamber when she goes looking.

Both hero and heroine are charming and intriguing, for exactly opposite reasons. He because he is enigmatic; she because she is forthright. He because he tries so hard to follow the rules (where she is concerned); she because she tries so hard to ignore the fact rules exist. He because he thinks himself unworthy; she because she never doubts his worth, and never loses sight of her own. She is the only person for whom he will change any detail of his life, and she never once asks him to.

Because I am a sucker for a good villain, it must be said that along with wonderful secondary characters, Brant brings us three villains, all working at mutual or cross purposes at different points in the book. Between them, Brant covers nearly all of the seven deadly sins (and more): le comte de Salvan is a villian by greed and lust; le viscomte d’Ambert by cowardice and sloth; and the Countess Strathsay by carelessness and envy. And none of these have such weak teeth that they can be overcome by a show of ducal force. They attack and fall back in turn, nipping at the heels of the hero and heroine even to the bitter end of the book.

Set in the lush locale of Louis XV’s Versailles and the England of George II and III, Brant brings us into the 18th century by grasping our senses—the smell of the streets of Paris, the sound of carriage wheels in the courtyard of a noble hôtel, the taste of brandy choked down to deaden pain, and of course, rich descriptions of the rooms, the clothes, the sumptuous life lived in (arguably) the historical cradle of Western hedonism. With an equally deft hand, we are placed in the center of tense political intrigues endemic to royal courts through history, with players particularly suited to survive that cutthroat world.

Throughout the Roxton series, Lucinda, again and again, shows the highest levels to which historical romance can be taken. These are not “pulp” books, but smart literature in the vein of earlier generations of female novelists, who no one would now call “romance writers,” because they are studied in the canon, but who offered the same fictional escape to her female readers in the Georgian era as Brant does now.

Lucinda Brant’s books exemplify the historical romance genre for me. As a writer, I hope to emulate her excellent prose, as a reader, I just want her to write more books, so I can move on from reading these again and again.

MM-ecover-0180Midnight Marriage

This was the first Roxton book I read, which I count a good thing. Had I been comparing Julian with his father, the Noble Satyr himself, I might not have liked him as a hero. Roxton he is not (yet).

He is another hero who begins as less than attractive. Julian at the age of fifteen is drunken, petulant, and mean, and a few years later, returns from years abroad as a careless, entitled, sometimes-whiny youth, who shows signs of his father’s arrogance and disregard for emotional consequence to others. He is handsome and charming, to be sure, and with a wide streak of kindness, more in the manner of his mother than father, but he does not demonstrate empathy in any great quantity, or at least, he does not value it highly.

Deb is a heroine after Antonia’s heart. Gutsy, snappish, and more concerned with the people she loves than propriety. She is an unlikely heroine for Julian. She seems too spirited for him, too grounded, too honest, for a man who is too young to be jaded. That she has her own mind seems, at times, to be some sort of divine karmic retribution. She is not a lady willing to accept her lot, but who will fight for her happy ending. And win.

Midnight Marriage features another cast of lovable secondary characters, including some young enough to appear in later books in the series, and the return of the duke and duchess, now parents, with different priorities, but the same palpable love that places them always in the center of each other’s world.

Julian could have grown to be a different, much less pleasant, man, without Deb’s influence, and I might have then liked the later books in the series far less. Thankfully, however, she tempers him, humbles him, and reminds him of the depth of his honor.

AD-ecover-0180Autumn Duchess ***SPOILER ALERT***

This book represented a radical change in the series, and as such, I could not review without spoilers. You can go see it on Goodreads at your discretion. 🙂

 

DD-ecover-0180Dair Devil

Once again, Dair Fitzstuart is a hero I’m not inclined to like. He starts the book as a buffoon, more than anything else, thoughtless, indiscreet. But oh, so very handsome while he does it. My primary problem with Dair is that he too quickly throws off that bad boy image, and shows himself all that is decent and honorable. He lacks the darkness that imbued both Dukes of Roxton, and to a lesser extent, the Duke of Kinross, and that change in tone is a noticeable departure for the series. Dair is an unquestionable good guy. (And I admit, I like my heroes with a dash of villain.)

Rory, while his match in goodness, continues Brant’s tradition of heroines I can adore. She lives with a disability, but the limitations it presents are, in the main, self-imposed, and certainly not a barrier to her happy ending (if the hero has anything to say about it, and he does). She is a gentler, quieter personality than Brant’s other heroines, and is more a bluestocking, but no less opinionated or forceful or engaging.

Both hero and heroine, though, come to the first meeting with baggage, One thing I love about the Roxtons is that Brant never stints on the trials and tribulations, in this case, spying and political intrigue. She is very good at tying her books together by overarching story arcs and by intertwining characters in each other’s stories, so it is highly recommended her series be read in order, but it is by no means required.

There are more love stories planned in the series, as well as a second volume of family letters, to augment the most recent Roxton book:

EY-ecover-0180Eternally Yours: Roxton Letters Volume One

I have an inherent bias toward epistolary fiction, as it is among my favorite forms to write, including a forthcoming novel that is about a third correspondence and written commentary. However, because it is an area of particular literary interest, I am very picky about it.

Writing in a character’s written voice is a special skill, especially placed in a different era, where not only the tone was inherently different, but also the rhythms, the conventions, the level of formality. When a letter has to stand in place of hearing a voice or seeing a face, and must span time and distance, how do characters manage the emotional events of lives spent separated from loved ones in a way we, of Skype and email and international airlines, cannot fathom? Done poorly, it can destroy a book. Done well, with a deep understanding of the characters, the situations, and the times, it can add a layer of detail and depth that cannot be found in narrative and dialogue. How a man writes a letter is as distinct as his speech.

Now, consider writing letters not only for one character, but several. Not just an emotional event, but THE emotional events alluded to in the first three Roxton books. Brant is able to bring characters back who have left the Roxton family for one reason or another, and explain the genesis, or end result, of stories left untold in the series.

Brant’s book have made me laugh and cry; I would not read the entire catalog of an author who doesn’t. This book, though, was in a class by itself, emotionally speaking. In this volume, we say goodbye to some series favorites, finally learning the details of their fates, and are given hope for the future. (And there is a future planned for this series!) I am not a weeper, in the main, and am rather cynical, even (some days, especially) about romance novels, but this was a box-of-tissues-by-the-bedside book.

Buy Lucinda’s Books Here

Early reviews are coming in…

La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess hasn’t even been released, but early readers are already loving it! Five five-star ratings and three great reviews so far! 🙂


Jennifer Senhaji‘s review
FIVE STARS

Captivating Exotic Regency Romance

More than a romance, this is the epic tale of a woman who uses the ways of a skilled tawaif, a courtesan trained in the seduction of the senses, to rise to power amongst some of the most influential men in England. She is not ruthless or power hungry. No. She uses dance, music, scents, and her beauty to survive in this world where politicians rule.

This story combined the exotic culture of India I gobbled up in other stories like the Taj Mahal Trilogy by Indu Sundaresan, and everything I love about Jane Austen’s classic regency romance novels. The author weaves beautiful prose to drag you smack dab in the center of Kali’s world.

Colorful. Inspiring. Romantic. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys classic literature.

Jude Knight‘s review
FIVE STARS

La Déesse Noire is one of those novels you keep thinking about long after you put it down. To me, the crux of the story is how the four main characters are defined and directed by the choices they make.

Kali Matai was born and raised a tawaif; one of the women entertainers who served those of the highest rank in the Murghal Empire of India. Her life was shaped by the choices made by her tawaif mother and the English peer to whom her mother was given. In England, she is the pawn of powerful men, but when all she loves is at risk, her choices give her a future she believed could never be.

Lord Birchbright once loved a tawaif and gave her two daughters. Given a choice between his forbidden family and the wealth and power waiting for him if he returns to England without them, he abandons them. His choice is to pursue power at all costs.

The book unusually has two male protagonists: Fitz and Rook. They, too, must choose between love and position. One chooses a lonely life and ultimately self-centered life. The other is prepared to abandon everything he knows for the woman he loves. I loved them both.

Kali is one of the most engaging heroines I’ve read. I loved her dignity, her self-respect, her quiet humour, and her sharp intelligence. And I loved how hard it was for her to let her armour down; to become vulnerable; so that she could reach for her dreams. Her happy ending gave me goosebumps. I also very much enjoyed the interesting and believable secondary characters, both the villains and the friends and allies of the heroine.

Mariana Gabrielle has written a book about people on the edges; people discriminated against and even persecuted because they are different. She has done so with skill, sensitivity, and wit. She left me wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed her Royal Regard and gave it 5 stars. La Déesse Noire is better. I wish I could give it seven.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the same writer’s group as Mariana Gabrielle, and was proof-reader for La Déesse Noire. This did not influence my enjoyment of my book. But don’t believe me. Read it for yourself.

Kali is a famed Indian dancer and courtesan who finds herself controlled by vile men who seek political gain. Will she find a protector who will love her enough to help her and her family out of their clutches?

I have been excited to read this book since I had read the author’s other book Royal Regard and just loved her characters and writing. I can say that this book didn’t disappoint at all. I believe it is even better! Mari Christie’s writing is like poetry flowing over you, consuming your soul. She sparks your imagination and controls your heart as she takes you along with Kali in her journey.

Kali is so strong, I couldn’t even imagine facing her life as she lives for the whims of others. All of the secondary characters are complex and brought to life ,there are many that you will love, hate, and mourn.

Although this book is about a courtesan it is not heavy on the sex scenes.There is only one that goes into detail and Ohhh my it is steamy! You will also be totally seduced by Kali when she dances in the theater, the author makes you feel like you are right there with the audience filling with up with excitement waiting for every move.

I just can’t recommend this book enough! I will have this book in my physical library because I love it so much.

Lucinda Brant wows me again! (Not to mention, puts my book to shame!!)

Review of Autumn Duchess, by one of my favorite historical romance authors, Lucinda Brant.

***SPOILER ALERT***

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I admit it: I am a sucker for a dastardly duke, and I was more than half in love with the Duke of Roxton in Noble Satyr. I’ve been putting off reading Autumn Duchess, because I feared for his life, and didn’t know how the Roxtons (or I) could go on without him.

Indeed, he is sorely missed in this volume, even if ever-present. However, his bride, the intriguing, playful, headstrong Antonia, has grown up! She is now a sadder-but-wiser, still playful, still fascinating woman–maybe more so, depending on whether one prefers debutantes or characters with considerably more depth. (I fall in the latter camp. There is only so much depth an 18-year-old can manage, no matter how many obstacles are placed in her way, or how skilled the author.)

Antonia does not, in Autumn Duchess, manage to replace the duke, for speaking as one who counts him a book boyfriend, no one ever can or will. However, the younger man with whom she becomes aligned is more than a match, and will, I think, prove as devoted as her first husband ever was. (He won’t ever be my book boyfriend, but he will for hundreds of other women, without a doubt, and I would easily count him a friend.)

Lucinda Brant’s books are intelligent and interesting, and unlike some historical fiction authors, she never talks down to the reader or leaves out unpleasant details in the interest of our sensibilities. Her ability to integrate action and character development with historical fact and a “feel for the times” is really unparalleled, even going so far as to interconnect her books in small ways. In this case, she reminds me in passing of the Earl of Salt Hendon, protagonist in the first book of hers I read, Salt Bride (and, indeed, still my favorite).

Lucinda Brant is a historical fiction author who I will follow as long as she is writing, and will read again and again.

http://www.amazon.com/review/RW304AY32FYNT

Review of “Warwick: The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses,” by Tony Riches

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As an erstwhile pacifist, I am not a lover of wartime fiction set in any era, and by necessity, any book related to the Earl of Warwick must be centered on The War of the Roses in fifteenth century England. However, in Warwick: The Man Behind The Wars of the Roses, Tony Riches manages to create an excellent balance between the battles at the core of the epoch and the humanity of the man himself. While loyalty—or the lack thereof—is a theme masterly woven throughout the book (and through the entirety of Western history), more important to the narrative is the conflict inherent in choosing the course most advantageous to the man and his family.

The most difficult, and most often poorly executed, area of historical fiction is the equilibrium between story and setting. As another historical fiction author, I was inspired not only by the level of detail, the accuracy of the medieval historical context, and the enormous amount of research that must have been required, but also at the humanity of the characters and the use of the wartime setting as context for highly emotional character development. Additionally, the plot itself is a complex blend of the intrigues that exemplified this historical time period, the vagaries that, by nature, exist in a setting where allegiance is constantly tested, and the obligations these place on anyone who would hope to advance his own purpose, as well as the interests of his country.

Warwick was a superlative historical effort, well worth the time and attention of any historical fiction reader.