Book review: The Secrets of a Scoundrel by Gaelen Foley, Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James and The Escape by Mary Balogh

The late Georgette Heyer’s much-loved novels may now be just a distant memory but Regency romance has never been more popular.
The Secrets of a Scoundrel by Gaelen Foley, Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James and The Escape by Mary BaloghThe Secrets of a Scoundrel by Gaelen Foley, Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James and The Escape by Mary Balogh
The Secrets of a Scoundrel by Gaelen Foley, Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James and The Escape by Mary Balogh

Across the Atlantic, writers like Mary Balogh, Eloisa James, Gaelen Foley, Stephanie Laurens and Julia Quinn have made this period of history their own with luscious, passion-filled tales of love and intrigue in the highest echelons of England’s misbehaving aristocratic society.

And on both sides of the pond, readers are lapping up the devilish antics of dastardly dukes and the heart-rending dilemmas of damsels in distress.

The Secrets of a Scoundrel by Gaelen Foley

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Award-winning author Gaelen Foley returns with the seventh novel in her sexy, sparkling Inferno Club series.

A native of Pennsylvania, Foley first fell in love with the Regency period while studying the Romantic poets for her degree in English literature.

The Inferno Club series features a scandalous London gathering of wealthy libertines and rakes devoted to their wicked pleasures. But little does the world suspect that the true purpose of the Inferno Club is to secretly fight the danger that looms over England.

Recruited from noble families, trained in an array of deadly arts and sent into various countries throughout Europe to hunt down and destroy their targets, they are the operatives of an agency so secret that few beyond the Crown and a handful of top officials even know it exists.

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In The Secrets of a Scoundrel, we meet Nick, Lord Forrester, whose reputation is legendary both as a lethal warrior and a wicked lover. But when his rule-breaking ways land him in a Scottish dungeon, he is left there to rot until a mysterious woman visits his cell and offers him a way out.

All he must do is risk his neck on the mission she proposes and obey her every command. One look at the luscious beauty has Nick ready to promise her anything, but he must resist his desire, or she could send him straight back to prison.

Virginia, Lady Burke, is well aware that the powerful former spy will try to take command of their quest but it’s her job to keep him under control.

Yet how can she keep this handsome scoundrel under her thumb when all she really wants is to unleash the smouldering passion between them?

Mystery, passion and danger prove an irresistible mix…

(Piatkus, paperback, £8.99)

Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James

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Surprisingly for a Shakespeare professor, New Yorker Eloisa James has made a reputation for herself as a writer of escapist Regency romps… with the emphasis very much on love, laughter and lust.

Potent Pleasures, the first book in her new and seductive Pleasures trilogy, has all those traditional ingredients of romance, adventure and heroics but with some soulful twists to add potency to the compelling mix.

Reckless desire sends Charlotte Daicheston into the garden with a dashing masked stranger. He’s powerful, unforgettable, a devastatingly handsome footman who lures her – not against her will – into a grand indiscretion at a masquerade ball. Then he vanishes.

Several years later, after Charlotte has made her dazzling debut in London society, they meet again but the rogue is no longer a footman. He’s rich, titled and he doesn’t remember her.

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What’s even worse is that he is the subject of some scandalous gossip, and the rumourmongers claim the earl’s virility is in question.

Charlotte, who knows all too intimately the power of his passion, is stunned by the gossip which has set society ablaze. Can there can be a storybook ending for the two of them, or has Charlotte’s one, mad indiscretion put paid to her happiness?

Fresh, witty and high-spirited, James’s enjoyable and entertaining Regency romance is a marvellous merry-go-round of misunderstandings, scandals, love and high drama.

Sex and the City with a 19th century twist…

(Piatkus, paperback, £8.99)

The Escape by Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh, a former teacher who grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada, has over 20 novels under her belt and, to use a very English phrase, is currently knocking her readers for six with the poignant and piquant Survivors’ Club series.

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The novels feature a group of young men, all injured in the long-running, early 19th century Napoleonic Wars and all helping each other to return to some sort of normal life.

In The Escape, a delicious tale of longing and salvation, a hopeful widow and a resilient war hero discover the promise of love’s magic and new beginnings.

After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict (Ben) Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch.

Little does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws… until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited.

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Ever the gentleman, Ben insists that he escort Samantha on the long and hazardous journey. Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is understandably cautious. What can a wounded man offer any woman?

Samantha, restless and frustrated with her life as it stands, is ready to go where ever fate takes her, to leave behind polite society – and even propriety – in her desire for this handsome, honourable soldier.

But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place… in each other’s arms.

Balogh turns up the heat in this captivating story which centres on the sizzling romance between beautiful Samantha, with her dark hair and gypsy blood, and the irrepressible Ben whose personal chemistry sets the story on fire.

Add an eclectic cast of supporting characters and you have a wistful, enchanting tale that is perfect for all true romantics.

(Piatkus, paperback, £8.99)