The Shopgirl’s Forbidden Love by Jenni Fletcher – A Belles of Bath Regency novel with some memorable characters!

The Shopgirl’s Forbidden Love by Jenni Fletcher

Fans of historical romance set in the Regency period may have already encountered the “Regency Belles of Bath” series by this talented author, as it tells the stories of three young women who all at some point work in a biscuit shop in the lovely city. This fourth tale is of Nancy, a girl who comes to work in the shop as an escape from a difficult life in the city, and finds true friends. This book could be read as a standalone novel, but obviously it refers back to the previous books in the series. Nancy MacQueen is a young woman who has encountered the shop owner James Redbourne several times over the years, and each meeting has been memorable for many reasons. Their feelings for each other have never been allowed to flourish, however, because of Nancy’s concern for the social differences between them, and the timing of their meetings. What begins as instinctive concern for another desperate child has developed for James into a life changing attraction, but can he ever be allowed to finally express it? This is a lovely story of challenging romance in an historical setting that seems familiar, and I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review it.  

Nancy first appears as a fourteen year old who has been ordered by her feckless stepfather to steal an orange for her mother. Nancy’s objection is a very real one; in 1799 a girl could be transported for theft. She denies angrily that she would ever want a husband, but will nevertheless make something of herself. When the attempt occurs she fails, but is rescued by the quick and instinctive wits of young James, who covers her attempted crime. She is surprised – “surely anyone this nice had to be a figment of her imagination? Especially a man!” James or Jem offers her oranges, but she refuses, wanting to be independent and “Man- free”. While Jem is instantly attracted by this strange red headed girl, she cannot stand the implication that he pites her, and it makes her all the more determined to escape her family situation. A year later Jem is complaining to his great friend Sebastian who himself will become connected with Belles shop about how his parents are running his life, insisting that he take on their shop as the only child, and probably picking out a suitable wife for him. James knows that he will want to marry someone else, with more spirit. As he encounters Nancy once more in somewhat painful, if innocent, circumstances, he becomes more attracted to her, while she still wants her complete independence. It will take more meetings for mistakes to be made and realisations to be dealt with before the deeply honourable Jem realises what will really be best for both of them. 

This book works so well because of the characters that Fletcher creates. Nancy is anything but a straightforward character, as she is determined and forthright. Emily Robinson is a classically challenging character, and I imagine she was enormous fun to create and maintain. There is a warm reunion with characters from the previous novels that I greatly enjoyed, especially when they realise what is truly going on. The atmosphere of the period is as always carefully evoked, as the settings range from a relatively poor house to a grand mansion, and the clothes worn are always suitable to the characters and the time period. 

This is a very enjoyable read and I recommend it and indeed the whole series to those who enjoy novels set in this time with vivid and memorable characters.   

Snow – kissed Proposals – The Christmas Runaway by Jenni Fletcher and Their Snowbound Reunion by Elisabeth Hobbes – two romantic historic romances

Snow – Kissed Proposals – The Christmas Runaway by Jenni Fletcher and Their Snowbound Reunion by Elisabeth Hobbes

Two novellas of love at the festive season, romance in difficult circumstances sparkle with the hope of attraction and the possibility of expressing that love. Both set in the Victorian era, they feature life in large houses but not necessarily among the wealthy, those who have faced hard times and now are challenged by the elements. They share humour and a spark of realism, well written characters and lively dialogue. The settings are well drawn and the backgrounds of homes, grounds and homes evoke imaginative pictures. The clothes are well described for both genders, giving support to characteristics and signifying much about the occasion and state of mind. Both authors have truly grasped the importance of satisfying plots and realistic characters, and I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to read and review this delightful book of two short novels. 

In The Christmas Runaway, the impetuous Miss Fiona MacKay is introduced as she finds herself stranded in appalling weather trying to reach her friends house. She has run away from her comfortable home and father; she has the reputation for being adventurous and curious. Happily she is rescued by a man who she at first takes for a rural worker with a cart, as his untidy working clothes and general appearance seem to suggest. She is pretty dishevelled herself after all, and wearing bright and unsuitable clothing for the place in which she is walking. She soon discovers her mistake as to the identity of the large and good looking rescuer, but is not discomposed for long. When she reaches territory she sets about renewing an old and strong friendship, and giving her honest opinion to those who need to hear it. Gradually being trapped with Angus Drummond does not seem so bad after a while, and indeed they seem well matched in terms of being headstrong and determined, even when they clash.Can the approaching festive season bring them together, or push them apart forever. 

Their Snowbound Reunion deals with slightly older people who meet after a gap of some fifteen years. The story begins with the young Amy rushing to meet Anthony at a favourite spot in the village where she lived and he was visiting his aunt. When he does not turn up she is told that he left the area in the morning in the hope of a job with a newspaper. Several years later Amy has returned to the house in which Anthony’s aunt once lived to apply for a job as a housekeeper, learning that Anthony has inherited the house but does not intend to visit at any point. Keen to get a job, she agrees to work there and compile an inventory of the house contents.After all, she has moved on, married and been widowed, and knows the area well. However, it suddenly appears that Anthony is going to make a short visit to the house, and in the run up to Christmas he will return to the house he has not seen for many years. Amy and the household have been preparing for a very quiet Christmas, but it now seems that things will be very different. 

This is a lovely read, especially in the build up to Christmas. Both authors are well versed in creating escapism in historical fiction, and their two couples are vibrant and vivid creations. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romantic historical fiction, especially at Christmas.         

The Duke’s Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher – a special romantic Regency Belles of Bath novel

The Duke’s Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher

When a Duke’s new bride runs away on her wedding day, it makes for a tricky start to any marriage. The Bride has turned up in a biscuit shop in Bath, and those who have read the other books in Jenni Fletcher’s series about the “Regency Belles of Bath” will know that surely romance will be in the air. Not that it is necessary to read the other books in this series to enjoy this book; it is a book very much about Beatrix, Duchess of Howden and her relationship with her new husband, Quinton Roxbury. Not that he comes unencumbered; he has a family who in their various ways are almost as challenging as his concerns about his absent wife. This is a book of romance, but also some memorable characters whose reactions to Beatrix are very entertaining, as well as a heroine whose newly found independence challenges every assumption. With humour and a keen understanding of the power of scandal in a world of secrets, this book revels in the setting of a large if shabby house for the discovery of a genuine relationship that could change lives, if both Beatrix and Quinton can understand it. Will the lure of her friends in a fashionable bakery and the attractions of being truly independent for the first time in her life triumph over her relationship with the husband she has barely met? I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this special, well written book.

As the book begins, Quinton is struggling to cope with his difficult family. His mother is an angry woman, unforgiving of her late husband who she hated. His sister Antigone is almost as disagreeable, his two brothers unreachable and his youngest sister silent and hiding. Into the middle of his problems appears a letter from his missing wife. She is living as Belinda Carr, who lives and works with her friend Nancy running Belles in Bath. The fierce Nancy MacQueen is rather anti-men, so when Quinton turns up, wanting to talk to Beatrix, she does not encourage a speedy reconciliation. When the married couple do discuss matters, they reveal some of the reasons why their wedding day ended so badly. Beatrix knows that he only proposed marriage on their first meeting because he wanted her money as she is an orphaned heiress, and her uncle had negotiated for her hand as he wanted the connection with his title. Quinton explains that he had been estranged from his late father and had until recently been in France: “But there was a war!” exclaims Beatrix. “That probably explains why they gave me a sword and a pistol” replies Quinton “I was a Major”. Partly as a result of the revelations, they agree to give their marriage a chance, and Beatrix is to return to Howden, his family house, and live at there as Duchess for six weeks, but she is convinced that at the end of the time she will still want a divorce. The story of those six weeks takes up the bulk of the novel, as they both discover much more about exactly who they have married.

I really enjoyed this novel, especially the developing relationship between Beatrix and Quinton. The family that she encounters is so well described, and a surprising character acts as the catalyst for change. Dealing with Quinton’s mother is especially challenging, as the older woman is stubborn and difficult. Beatrix’s progress is well described, as is Quinton’s emotional revelations. This is a very special book that I recommend to anyone who enjoys romantic historical fiction.  

Unexpectedly Wed to the Officer by Jenni Fletcher – a Regency escapist treat with family and romance

Unexpectedly Wed to the Officer: A Historical Romance Award Winning Author  (Regency Belles of Bath, 2): Fletcher, Jenni: 9781335505958:  Books

Unexpectedly Wed to the Officer by Jenni Fletcher

Scandal, romance and more feature in this delightful Regency novel full of humour, realistic dialogue and biscuits. Featuring an independent heroine who is trying to do her best as a businesswoman, aunt and defender of her shop, this book also introduces a naval officer who makes several discoveries about a woman who hates compliments. When Henrietta attacks a mysterious intruder, she little suspects that he knows a lot about Belles, the biscuit shop she manages with the redoubtable Nancy. Sebastian is a hero who admits he has a lot to learn about people, especially a woman who is sensitive about her past. The responsibility for three boys is a sudden burden in this novel which looks at the complications of families in a different world, but one which has familiar echoes for many of us. This book is actually part of a series that tells the story of those women who work in Belles Biscuit shop, but there is no need to have read the previous book to enjoy this one; there are many references to characters in the previous novel, which are sufficient. This book is very much Henrietta and Sebastian’s story, full of the doubts, challenges and twists which make it truly entertaining throughout. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book.

The book opens with Sebastian, brother of Anna, the absent shop owner, discovering that during his absence at sea over several years much has changed in the shop that used to be run by his family. After nearly breaking his nose, Henrietta allows him to camp in the downstairs room, only to be woken by her assistant Nancy conducting a similar attack on him, not knowing of his existence. He notices Henrietta’s extreme attractiveness, despite her attempts to dress down and her coldness, and he thinks about hurrying to see his family. However, his attention is taken by Henrietta’s three nephews, who soon claim him as an important figure in their lives, as their father is struggling with grief for his late wife. Almost despite herself, Henrietta begins to relax in the company of such a thoughtful and helpful man, but has such overwhelmingly bad memories of previous relationships and the gossip that they attracted that she resolves to pull back from any further involvement. It is perhaps when other people get involved, and a mysterious stranger appears to need help, that they discover that significant action must be taken.

This book is truly a joy to read, especially as Regency stories hold a particular attraction at the moment. It is delightful escapism, and has some genuinely very funny elements, including Nancy who frequently lets fly with her observations and opinions concerning everything. The family theme works well, and there is much more to this book than a straightforward romance. It is well paced and flows well, as it represents many of the responses and actions of the two main characters. The dialogue is lively and well written, and strikes a contemporary tone, though it is never anachronistic. This is a lovely book for anyone who enjoys a gentle escapist read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys romantic historical fiction.

Redeeming Her Viking Warrior by Jenni Fletcher – a Scottish island as the setting for an unusual relationship

Redeeming Her Viking Warrior (Mills & Boon Historical) (Sons of Sigurd,  Book 4) eBook: Fletcher, Jenni: Kindle Store

Redeeming Her Viking Warrior by Jenni Fletcher


This is a slightly unusual historical romance, in that it is set in the time of frequent invasions of the Scottish islands, and the ninth century was a time of turmoil on the Isle of Skye where much of this exciting novel is set. Not that much historical knowledge is required to enjoy this book; as with other novels by Jenni Fletcher the characters and their relationship with each other is far more important. It features a neat reversal of roles, where the physically huge Danr is physically dependent on a slight woman who has the knowledge to save him. He is talkative, busy and dramatic, whereas Sissa is reluctant to speak, and even more reluctant to reveal her name to this man who disturbs her peaceful way of life. Both have suffered trauma that will take time to recover from, if ever, and neither are eager to find a new relationship. 


The setting is lyrically described, as the weather challenges even the prepared with much rain and dropping temperatures. This is an enjoyable novel with lively writing, some humour and fascinating dialogue. While technically part of a collection featuring some slight overlapping of characters and situation, as this is Fletcher’s only contribution to it, this novel is definitely one that can be read as a standalone. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review it.


The novel opens with a badly injured Danr lying amongst the roots of a large oak tree, unable to move owing to severe loss of blood. In the haze of his pain he believes he sees a young woman, armed with a spear, accompanied by two wolves and considers his past obsession with the attractiveness of women. Hints of his oath to his brothers, and that Hilda was involved in what will probably be his fatal injuries, flash through his mind. Many things about Hilda are soon revealed, including her possible involvement in his father’s death and his anger at her longer term dislike of himself and his twin brother. Sissa meanwhile prepares to help the strange man who she has discovered apparently on the point of death, as she is a silent healer whose own experience of death has overwhelmed her in the past. She cleverly constructs a shelter from the elements which threaten them both, and as he gradually recovers he begins to talk, and does not really stop. 


This is a book which goes into a little of the way that politics was personal at the time; that survival and ability would guarantee a place of power rather than legal inheritance. Danr is influenced by his family background and more. Sissa has been well taught but bases her survival on her own skills and understanding of the natural world. Her relationship with Tove is special as she has little or no experience of human relationships, leaving her with some innocent confusion. Altogether it is a sometimes surprising, always fascinating and well written novel, depicting the relationship between Danr and Sissa with all its ups and downs, misunderstanding and stubbornness. This is a lovely read which comes from a keen imagination and a real talent for constructing a story around a relationship which defies expectations and is really enjoyable. 


  So this is September, and there has been a lot of fuss about the number of books being published this month, some of which were delayed from earlier in the year. I have certainly got a lot of books to review in the coming weeks, so I hope the variety will be interesting- they are certainly keeping me busy! Have you got exciting reading plans? 

Reclaimed by her Rebel Knight by Jenni Fletcher – an enthralling historical romance


This is a novel that manages to combine big historical questions of politics and royal personalities with the intimate beginnings of  a marriage actually contracted years before the novel begins. It shows a world of inheritance, arranged marriages and secrets in castles. Romance is a slow built thing, just as a more normal relationship may begin, even though it technically began with a wedding ceremony five years before. Constance is a straightforward young woman, who was married at fourteen when she suddenly inherited a sizable estate and her relatives worried that one of her many suitors would force her into an unsuitable match. Even worse, as King John had a history of taking into wardship rich underage heirs, she may have disappeared completely. The husband selected was thought to be strong enough to guard her, but he disappeared immediately after the ceremony. Matthew Wintour had returned to the battlefield for reasons unspecified, and Constance has been waiting to meet her husband for five years. This is a historical romance in which Constance must find out about her husband who she has barely met, yet he has so many secrets.  His family, his motive for fighting, his loyalty or otherwise to the king. With a frank attitude to the attraction Matthew feels for his wife, whether they truly fall in love as they discover each other remains the question. This intense novel written with a sure eye for detail of rooms, clothes and human feelings is an involving read, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book.


The book begins in 1214 with Constance and her cousins trying to pick out her newly returned husband from a group of young men gathered in the hall below. It is obvious that there is some great secret between them, and this is the first stirrings of a plot that will come to importance later in the novel. Even when the self conscious Constance is formally reunited with her husband, it is obvious that he has many secrets. Though on one level he is frank and friendly, they are both aware of the slight absurdity of their situation. Constance’s desire is to return to her childhood home of Lacelby, and it is travelling there that they discover many secrets about themselves and the family which Matthew seemingly abandoned. A building which of itself holds secrets proves to be an even more powerful obsession for Sir Ralph Wintour, and Constance soon discovers that her affection for her own house is small in comparison. As passion, long held grief and other emotions develop, even luxurious accommodation cannot compensate for the challenges Constance and Matthew must face.


As an absorbing historical novel, this is an enjoyable read with enough excitement and passion to maintain the reader’s interest throughout. As a keen reader of historical fiction, I know there is a lot of research which goes into a novel where politics is not the main story, as even the clothes, rooms and food must be correct not to jar. I was convinced that the author definitely “knew her stuff” and I was kept enthralled not only by a story of two people exploring their relationship, but also how Constance as a woman asserted herself as more than her appearance and legal role would suggest. A confidently written novel, this book offers a lot of enjoyment.