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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Books for Adults - Fiction

Duke by Day, Rogue by Night                    The Rogue's Prize                    The Rogue's Surrender

The Pirate's Duchess                            The Pirate's Debt                    The Pirate's Duty

Cover Art: Duke by Day, Rogue
        by Night
Duke by Day, Rogue by Night
By Katherine Bone
esKape Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1940695181, $7.99
e-Book ISBN 978-1940695112, $ .99


Trust a one-eyed brigand? Never! But what choice does Lady Constance have, especially once she discovers the pirate’s captain is the same fiend who made her watch as he murdered her mother when she was a young child? If only her father didn’t face financial ruin, forcing him to arrange for her to marry Lord Montgomery Burton in exchange for £30,000 to satisfy her father’s creditors.

Burton might be a member of the ton, but his gentlemanly façade hides a cruel and ravenous streak. He craves a young woman of noble birth and Lady Constance fits the bill. To that end he goes to extreme lengths to get what he wants, even if he must destroy her father in the process. Rather than accept the situation, she flees to Spain where her aunt lives – until pirates board the ship on which she sails.

Four years ago, Percival Avery, the Marquess of Stanton, joined a select group of patriots known as Nelson’s Tea, a secret cadre of men who help Admiral Nelson protect England from her enemies. As such, Percy lives two very different lives. The ton know him as the foppish, frivolous popinjay who is heir to the Duke of Blendingham. Criminals and cutthroats know him as Thomas Sexton, the boatswain of the Striker, the pirate ship that has attacked the ship on which Lady Constance is a passenger. He recognizes the niece of the director of Nelson’s Tea, but dares not reveal his true identity. Since there’s also no way he will subject her to his insane captain’s tortuous brutality, the only option is for him and his men to launch their mutiny earlier than planned. Doing so could result in losing the only lead he has in tracking down those responsible for his sister’s rape and murder and  the identity of the man behind the pirates’ marauding.

Although neither Thomas nor Constance can deny the growing attraction they feel for each other as they journey back to England, there can never be a future for them together. Once home, with her reputation tarnished, Constance must make a marriage of convenience to prevent a scandal. But with only one week before the party to announce her engagement to Lord Burton, how will she find someone else willing to marry her?

Aside from the occasional repetition of characters’ backstories, thoughts, and feelings, this historical romance vividly transports readers back to the early nineteenth century. Reminiscent of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Bone’s tale is an intricate web of murder, intrigue, and romance in which pirates, smugglers, and traitors abound. Her research of Regency England and maritime piracy shines through, and her portrayal of the pirates is never romantic. Not even the hero comes out unscathed by his descent into the brutal, evil world of cutthroats.
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Review Copyrighted ©2014 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: The Rogue's Prize
The Rogue’s Prize
By Katherine Bone
esKape Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1940695600, $7.99
e-Book ISBN 978-1940695112, $ .99

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Nineteen and impulsive, Lady Adele Seaton craves her father’s approval and support, but oftentimes ends up disobeying him in an effort to achieve that goal. This is why she’s shackled in the hold of HMS Dragon. Now it’s time to put phase two of her plan into action. She must succeed in this endeavor, for without possession of the British warship, she will not be able to rescue her brother Garrick, who’s currently the prisoner of a brutal Spaniard. Failure to rescue him means he’ll be executed for piracy. It also means she will be forced to marry a widower with two children, which will forever crimp her most ardent desire – freedom. Her plan is sound, in spite of her father’s refusal to implement it, but what she doesn’t calculate on is a Royal Navy captain who detests pirates and has no intention of allowing anyone, especially a female, to interfere with his mission. Nor does she ever dream of what her father plans for her if her plan goes awry.

At twenty-nine, Captain Henry Guffald faces ruin and dishonor. Admiral Nelson has provided him one chance to remain a trusted member of Nelson’s Tea, a clandestine group of men who assist the admiral in preventing Napoleon from controlling all of Europe. His current assignment is to put into Abbydon Cove in Cornwall, pick up the ransom from Garrick Seaton’s father, the Earl of Pendrim, and secure the release of his friend. Under the guise of being a smuggler and pirate, Garrick is actually another member of Nelson’s Tea, and Henry feels responsible for his friend’s current predicament since Garrick stood in for him after he was injured. Now, with a maimed leg and war looming, Henry must gain his friend’s freedom so that Nelson receives vital information about the French fleet before it’s too late. Only problem? A female pirate has captured his ship. But he and his men, who have hunted pirates for some time, are more than capable of dealing with her and her men. He just doesn’t expect the vixen’s father to give him an ultimatum he dare not refuse. Not after he places Lady Seaton, alias Captain Belle, in a compromising situation.

The Rogue’s Prize is the second book in the Nelson Tea series, and Bone provides a wonderful example of what happens when a person is kept outside of the loop. At times serious, at times humorous, this historical romance is rife with swashbuckling adventure and unexpected twists that compel the reader to turn the page.
Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: The Rogue's
The Rogue’s Surrender
By Katherine Bone
esKape Press, 2016, e-Book ISBN 978-1940695921, US $3.99
ISBN 978-1536897111, US$14.99

Garrick Seaton has but to look into a mirror to relive those tortuous weeks when a Spanish captain killed a woman and took one of Garrick’s eyes. Even though a year has passed since his rescue, nightmares plague his sleep as well as those waking moments when something triggers a hellish memory. He vowed never to return to Spain. Yet he once again stands in the shadows of San Sebastian’s docks, preferring to die fighting the enemy than allow another woman to die.

Before a rendezvous with her English contact, Mercedes Vasquez Claremont boards her brother’s ship. Eduardo fights for their country, which is now under Napoleon’s control, and has orders to sail to Calais. Although she fears he may not return, she’s been too long a spy and is curious about his mission. While Eduardo goes topside to find out why his vessel is no longer docked, her search of his cabin uncovers a letter from Admiral Roche: Eduardo is to meet the Frenchman off the coast of France.

Once Garrick retakes his ship, he confronts Mercy and reveals that an assassin awaited her at the rendezvous. Shocked to learn of the betrayal, she is equally disturbed by Garrick’s failure to produce her brother and the realization that her disappearance from San Sebastian could endanger her parents. Since she carries needed evidence to prove the innocence of a high-ranking English lord, Garrick realizes it’s paramount that he gets her safely to England.

But Garrick and Mercy have been spies long enough to know nothing ever goes as planned. A French warship pursues them. A traitor is among them. And Mercy’s discovery of a hidden cargo endangers them from without and within.

The third title in the Nelson’s Tea series, The Rogue’s Surrender takes place in 1806. This clandestine society continues to fight against Napoleon even though its founder, Admiral Horatio Nelson, is dead. Overall, I enjoyed this story, but I also have some reservations. After the French warship fires on Garrick’s ship, the chapter ends and the next one begins eight days later; this leaves the reader wondering what happened. When all the members of Nelson’s Tea gather to plan the demise of their enemies, the point of view becomes lost and there are so many names, it’s difficult to keep track of who’s who. During the scene where the plan is put into effect, a secondary character overshadows the hero and heroine. This lessens the tension, making the scene less exciting and dramatic. There’s also a tad too much repetition of important plot points from previous tales, which sometimes intrude into the flow of this story.

In spite of these flaws, The Rogue’s Surrender is a sweet romance with characters who must vanquish visible and emotional scars to find love. I chuckled throughout the scene where Garrick gives an order, which Mercy misconstrues, and his men take advantage of that misunderstanding. I also liked how Mercy subtly gets Garrick to face his past.

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Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: The Pirate's Duchess
The Pirate’s Duchess
By Katherine Bone
Seas the Day Publishing, 2016, e-book $2.99
CreateSpace, 2016, ISBN 978-1539499138, print $6.99

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A suicide in 1806, a vow to his father, and an assassin’s attempt on his own life in 1807 compel Tobias Denzell, the sixth Duke of Blackmoor, to abandon his beloved wife Prudence and assume a false identity. The Black Regent, a notorious smuggler and pirate, allows him to protect his wife, assist those who have suffered devastating losses at the hands of a greedy swindler, and help out-of-work miners in Exeter, England. His sole aim is to bring about the downfall of the Marquess of Underwood, a curmudgeon obsessed with wealth who will do whatever is necessary to acquire others’ inheritances.
For two years Tobias attacks Underwood’s ships until he is on the verge of bankruptcy. But then his wife decides to marry Underwood’s son and shows her future father-in-law a survey map of the Blackmoor estate. It shows the location of a rich vein of copper – a fact that puts Prudence in grave danger. Once Underwood gets his hands on her dowry, her worth will be nil. The only way to save her life is for Tobias to come back from the dead, but she may never forgive him for betraying their love. Not to mention that his sudden reappearance will endanger his life since Underwood will assuredly attempt to murder him again, and someone may connect him to the Black Regent, which will earn him the hangman’s noose. The lynchpin in his plan to finally bring about his nemesis’s downfall and keep Prudence safe requires the help of Underwood’s son, but Tobias is no longer certain he can trust his longtime friend.

It’s taken two long years for Prudence Blackmore to shelve the memories of the horrible night when her husband died, but with the Earl of Marwick’s help, she is finally ready to move on with her life. She’s no longer the timid widow, but a strong woman who can stand on her own feet and take whatever life brings. Although still in love with Tobias, a dead man can’t give her the companionship and family she desires, so she accepts the earl’s proposal. Standing at the church altar, she’s unprepared for her husband’s resurrection. Anger and hurt play tug of war with her heart, and the winner is by no means a certainty.

This historical romance novella is the first volume in a new series, Regent’s Revenge. Bone’s imagery is vivid and readily transports readers back to the 19th century, and her characters are memorably drawn. It’s a short, fast-paced read with only a small portion of it taking place on a ship, but it adeptly sets the stage for future adventures.

Review Copyrighted ©2017 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: The Pirate's Debt
The Pirate’s Debt
By Katherine Bone
Seas the Day Publishing, 2016, e-book $3.99
CreateSpace, 2016, ISBN 978-1539498735, print $12.99

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The guise of the Black Regent offers Basil Halford, Earl of Markwick, a chance to right his father’s wrongs and restore the reputations and incomes of the dead marquess’s victims. But prowling the seas around the coast of South West England as the masked smuggler and pirate necessitates that he separate himself from his few remaining friends. One of those men is Pierce Walsingham, a revenue agent who has vowed to hunt down and destroy this so-called “Robin Hood.”
Reality weighs on Markwick like an anchor around his neck. The hangman’s noose awaits him if he’s caught, and even a lifetime spent redressing the destructive deeds of his father may never pay for that man’s sins. Nor is he as adept in this role as his predecessor, the Duke of Blackmoor. But in July 1809, news arrives that Lady Chloe Walsingham has gone missing. He must rescue his friend’s sister before her curiosity ruins her reputation or puts her in harm’s way. Doing so, though, puts him in danger. She could well see through his disguise and, inevitably, he will cross paths with her brother who also searches for her.

Constant reading of her favorite novel convinces Chloe Walsingham that she must find the man she loves, but locating Markwick proves challenging. Only her love can redeem him from the depths of his despair over his father’s scandalous greed. When whispers of Markwick’s whereabouts surface, she and her maid board the Mohegan bound for Penzance. Besides, her brother has taught her how to defend herself, so what trouble can she get into?

Rough seas force the captain to head for safer waters, and lights on the shore seem to indicate a refuge. Then rocks are sighted and a black ship looms behind, preventing the Mohegan from collision. With insufficient boats for all the crew, the captain orders some sailors to swim for shore. Chloe watches in horror as those who reach the safety of the shore encounter wreckers who bludgeon the sailors to death. Nothing in her books has prepared her for such malevolence. Then cannon fire erupts and a second ship, farther out, is spotted. Which evil poses the greatest danger? Her only salvation is the Black Regent, but where is he when she needs him most?

The Pirate’s Debt is the second book in The Regent’s Revenge series. Sufficient background information from the first book, a novella, is included within The Pirate’s Debt, that readers new to this series will readily understand the events leading up to Markwick’s assumption of his alter ego. The only flaw in this otherwise gripping historical romance is a tendency to repeat character motivations and feelings, which at times dissolves the tension. The scenes involving the wreckers, Chloe’s rescue, the sea battle, and the confrontation with the black ship’s captain are nail-biting, riveting pages. Bone is adept at snaring the reader’s attention and not releasing it until the story concludes. Her well-drawn characters easily come to life. Even the villain – Captain Carnage, a man whose mantra is “Dead men tell no tales” – is depraved yet stirs the reader’s sympathy. Those who dare to venture within the covers of this book won’t be disappointed.

Review Copyrighted ©2017 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: The Pirate's Duty
The Pirate’s Duty
By Katherine Bone
Seas the Day, 2017, e-book ISBN 978-1-907147-42-5, US $3.99
CreateSpace, 2017, paperback ISBN 9781974475490, US $14.99

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It’s only a matter of time. Sooner or later he will come and his price will be high. But Oriana Thorpe doesn’t regret her betrayal. What she regrets is that her dreams won’t come true.

Oriana owns the Marauder’s Roost, an inn that’s been in her family for years. At twenty-three, she has seen more violence and bloodshed than she cares to remember, but she and her brother are the last living members of a smuggling family, who plied their trade with ruthless abandon, off the coast of Cornwall. Her brother, Charles – perhaps the most depraved – will never forgive her for choosing strangers over blood, but she could not allow him to kill two innocent women. She did so to save him, but as far as he’s concerned, Oriana betrayed him and therefore must pay. Until then, his spies watch and wait for his return.

The day Captain Carnage – the alias of Charles Thorpe – kidnapped his sister, Captain Pierce Walsingham’s life changed in ways he never dreamed. It’s 1809 and he is no longer a decorated revenue officer. In fact, he died when his ship sank during a battle with Carnage – at least the majority of Cornwall and his parents believe this to be so. Now, he is the infamous pirate known as the Black Regent, assisting the downtrodden of the local villages. He, too, waits for Carnage’s return. Until that nefarious fiend dies, Pierce’s sister will never be safe – she witnessed his crimes and lived to tell about it. Nor is Oriana safe, and Pierce promised to protect her as well. Two of his men are with her, and once his plan is put bears fruit, he will don another disguise and stay close to her. What he doesn’t know is whether he can trust her. After all, her family operated a successful and brutal smuggling business and he still has not located the gold her brother left at the Roost. While his mind distrusts her, his heart betrays him. No good can come from this mutual attraction. She values honesty above all things, and he’s been telling lies since the day they met.

This third tale in the Regent’s Revenge series focuses on consequences of one’s actions and how the past very much shapes a person. It’s a classical struggle of good versus evil, and Bone pulls no punches in either her description of life in isolated Cornwall when times are tough or its brutality. There are poignant moments that will bring heartache and tears. There are also passionate episodes where hope and the desire for dreams fulfilled never dies. She imbues each character with a mix of good and bad traits, making them human and alive. The Pirate’s Duty shines like sunlight sparkling on a gemstone and is perhaps the best so far in this pirate series.

Review Copyrighted ©2018 Cindy Vallar

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