Thursday, February 11, 2016

Aloha to Laura Trentham and A BRAZEN BARGAIN (Spies and Lovers Book 2) - Book Review


Love soothes the deepest of scars. 

Minerva Bellingham is at her wits' end. Her younger brother, Simon, will have them penniless and on the streets if his extravagant gambling habit isn't curtailed. An enormous debt to Lord Rafe Drummond is the final indignity. Signing over her dowry is their only choice. Until Lord Drummond suggests something much more scandalous. She can keep her dowry-in exchange for the Bellinghams working three months as a housemaid and stable boy. 

Scarred from his service to the Crown, Rafe recognizes the young Simon Bellingham has the makings of a good duke. Minerva is a different story. Her pure, delicate beauty only underscores Rafe's tarnished, bleak soul. Yet he delights in cracking Minerva's icy reserve to reveal a fiery, stubborn woman. And Minerva discovers the gruff master of Wintermarsh has the heart of a poet. But before they can find a future safe in each other's arms, a menace from Simon's licentious past slithers back into their lives, forcing Rafe to plan the most important rescue mission of his life.

Warning: Contains a paragon of the beau monde who gets the hang of polishing silver, and a master of the house who'd like her to make his bed-preferably with him in it. Also passion unleashed with the mere touch of a finger. Readers are encouraged to swoon.

Saltram House
National Trust (link)

The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated. - B. C. Forbes

I dove into A BRAZEN BARGAIN after reading a contemporary novel of an Army veteran's struggle with PTSD. It put me in the mindset to recognize that veterans of the past, including those from the Napoleonic Wars, also suffered from PTSD.  But it was something not discussed by polite society. Enter Lord Rafe Drummond, the hero in A BRAZEN BARGAIN.  He stands on the edge of society, knowing the ton would turn away from his gruesome scar.  Rafe retreats to his family's estate, Wintermarsh, where he seeks solace.  By day, he works the land alongside the tenants.  At night, he slips into alcoholic haze to chase away the nightmares from combat. Rafe was a secondary character in AN INDECENT INVITATION, Book 1 in the Spies and Lovers series. He watched his sister fall in love with his fellow soldier, Gray Masterson, as the couple solved the mystery of his missing father.

Now it's time for Rafe find what is missing in his life - love. From the shadows of London, he spies the drunken Simon Bellingham, a young man coming into his title as a Duke, on the verge of loosing his inheritance at a gaming hell.  Rafe joins the game, outmaneuvers those seeking to manipulate Simon, and wins a voucher from the young Duke. The following morning, Rafe prepares to release Simon from the debut until his older sister, Minerva, appears on his behalf.  It is clear she has managed Simon's life (and their family's estate) since the untimely passing of their parents.  Known as the Ice Princess among the ton, Minerva strikes a nerve with Rafe.  In turn, he proposes a brazen bargain - both Minerva and Simon will work off the debt for the next three months on his estate.

Trentham delivers a compelling novel with hints of Gothic romance and Austen wit.  No doubt Minerva is the beauty and Rafe is the beast.  But not all is rosy in the beauty's life.  Aside from her gambling brother, she is a woman before her time in Regency England.  Minerva has become the Ice Princess to protect herself from disappointment.  Her icy demeanor thaws as she interacts with Jenny, a cheery chamber maid from the village.  In fact, she realizes her own privilege as a lady and rethinks how she treats her servants back in London.  Minerva still frets about the harsh work which Simon must face under Rafe's tutelage.  As Simon begins to mature, Minerva recognizes that Rafe's actions are not coldhearted revenge, but the thoughtful effort of an older brother to instill discipline. Rest assured, Rafe does not see Minerva as a sister, but rather a passionate woman who would not be a appreciated by London's dandies.

I appreciate that Trentham allows the characters to be imperfect. She doesn't wave her magic author wand and cure Rafe of his PTSD. Instead, he learns to manage it with the loving support of his family. For me, A BRAZEN BARGAIN was more than a Regency romance novel. It was a reading journey which offered hope and demonstrated acceptance.

I received a print copy from the author for an honest review.

Check out my review of AN INDECENT INVITATION, Book 1 in the series, at this link.

Learn more about Laura and her books at


I am giving away Regency swag to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about a job from your youth.  Like many teens, I babysat in high school.  In college, I was a waitress at a pizza restaurant - it was hard work during the dinner hour. But it was rewarding with tips!

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, February

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Knole House
National Trust (link)


  1. My mother used to pay me to wash the windows. They were very high & there were a lot of them. I lived in the middle of no-where so no jobs around, but lots of unpaid chores.

  2. Watering plants and looking after the pets of a neighbour that was on a long holiday. I enjoyed it, the cat was lovely!

  3. I lived in a small town and as kids we earned money by weeding gardens.

  4. I was a baby sitter for awhile!

    I just read this book......loved it!

  5. Worked in a bakery in high school, waited tables in college and taught 101 Geology Lab for 2 years.

  6. I worked as a camp counselor during the summer and for some of the professors during the year.

  7. I worked at a daycare through highschool and babysat as well.
    I also worked at a convenient\gas station in college and I also worked concerts that come to the college gymnasium to play.

  8. I worked at a supermarket in the evenings after school and at weekends.

  9. I was a babysitter, a camp counselor, and a waitress at a summer resort in the Catskills.

  10. My first job was in high school working for the school counselors for $1.10 an hour :)

  11. When I was a teen I baby sat 2 different kids and cleaned one house.

  12. babysitting, balloon delivery (very short-lived), worked in a grocery store (paid college tuition, graduated debt-free)


    1. I did clean for a lady for one year while in college.

  13. I once worked in a little office putting stickers together.

  14. Thanks so much for reading/reviewing, Kim!!

  15. I worked two jobs at the same time my senior year. Pizza place and day care. Then babysat at night on weekends for my sister.

  16. My high school had a business relationship with an electronics company. The electronics company hired high school students for part time jobs during the school year, full time in the summer. I got my first job there and it was a great experience.

  17. I babysat during high school, and one summer during college I worked in a Wilkenson Sword packaging plant - once in a while we'd put a note in a pack of razor blades that said 'Help - I'm being held captive in a razor blade factory!'

  18. Work at. Cousins donut shop so much fun

  19. I babysat my way through college except for the summers. I worked at a lodge in Lake Placid, NY one year. Worse job ever. People stayed for the week and were served 3 meals a day. They were assigned a table and we had the same people for their stay. We were "given" room and board at the inn. We ate breakfast at 6AM, set up and served breakfast, cleaned up from breakfast and set up for lunch, served lunch, cleaned up and set up for dinner. If we were lucky we might have an hour free before serving dinner. We cleaned up from supper and usually finished about 8 or so. During the peak season, we worked 4 weeks straight with no time off, and usually didn't finish cleaning up until 9 or 9:30 at night. On weekends, we had to provide entertainment, and put together a show that lasted about an hour. My feet bled the first few weeks until they callused over. For pay we cleared $20 a wee and were lucky to get that much in tips. One group I had was two couples, 5 children and the grandparents. They would change their meal orders as I was serving and were never satisfied. I served them 3 meals a day for 7 days and they left a $10 for the entire week. The owners didn't listen to complaints or worry about anyone quitting. There were many college students looking for summer work.

  20. I love the imperfect characters. This sounds good! I had a job with my mom at a tanning booth. It was so much fun! We loved meeting people and had so many stories to tell about it all.

  21. I used to help my mom at a dance studio!