Top Pick - All TIme Keeper Shelf
again Lucinda Brant provides the reader with an extraordinary look into
polite society of years gone by. No lack for adventure and suspense in
her latest foray into London’s society. Autumn Duchess definitely moves
up the ranks to one of my historical romance favorites.
—SWurman Night Owl Reviews
I have always enjoyed reading Lucinda Brant's Georgian romances, and her newest release AUTUMN DUCHESS was no exception! Brant's books are filled with complex, unique characters that jump off the pages and which readers fall in love with. Her plots are fun, vibrant, filled with humor, and sensuality. As always, Ms. Brant has done her research and it shows. She brings polite society to life—and throws it on its rear too! I love how different these characters were and how they thwarted convention. A great read, you won't want to put down!!!
—Eliza Knight History Undressed
As many people who will read this already know, I am a history geek with a singular fascination with the Georgian era. This also makes me a pretty harsh critic of any book set in this period. Autumn Duchess makes the fourth book I have read by author Lucinda Brant and I now declared myself a true blue fan. In her Georgian set romances Ms. Brant recreates the lives of the Georgian nobility, allowing us to venture beyond the closed doors and hear the whispers behind painted fans, to walk as equals amongst the uppermost elite. With an impeccable eye for detail she colors the aristocratic world, from their diamond shoe buckles to their white marble mausoleums, yet still manages to portray the privileged as real people. This is another highly recommended title from Lucinda Brant and an addition to my "keeper" shelf.
—Author Emery Lee
Facebook (Lucinda Brant Georgian Historical Romances and Crimances Facebook page)
I have read all 3 of the Roxton
books. They have all kept me mesmerized as I read them in 3 days. I just
finished AUTUMN DUCHESS. I didn't realize how much I became attached to the
love affair between Monseigneur and Antonia. I couldn't imagine them not being
together but Jonathan was the only person that could have brought back
Antonia's happiness. Thank you and I cannot wait for book 4.
This book is not only outstanding, exceptional, unique and spectacular it holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. It was like I was watching it happen before my very eyes. The detail that Lucinda adds to each and every page is everything you should be experiencing from a tremendous, magnificent and superb book. Wow Lucinda Brant has exceeded my expectations again, I fell in love with this courageous, bold, brave, robust, ruggedly tall handsome, brown eyed man. You will cry, laugh, smile and feel everything the characters are going through. Lucinda has a way of tugging at your heart before you know it is starting to happen. Let your worries of the world subside while you escape to the world of Autumn Duchess.
Another 5 Star Brant Classic: I've waited forever for this new Lucinda Brant book (well, OK 8 months) but it was worth it! I am very attached to the heroine Antonia and the thought of her losing her cherished husband was frightening. How on Earth was Lucinda Brant going to make that work? Well I cried (I get so emotional reading a Brant book) and I miss the Duke. All I can say is I love Antonia even more now and her new hero is wonderful (he needs to be!). Ms Brant has yet again surpassed all my expectations. I cherish the Roxton books and cannot wait for the next one. My recommendation? Just buy it!!
Treat: The Roxton ducal seat He saw her from across the ballroom.
A striking beauty was staring straight at him.
Jonathon brought himself up short and stared back.
He couldn’t help himself.
He could count on three fingers
the occasions he had crossed paths with exquisite feminine beauty that
it stopped the breath in his throat; twice on the Indian subcontinent,
once in the East Indies, and now here, this very minute, in this
ballroom, on this green wet island. So it was only natural he should
give himself the leisure to drink her in. His admiring gaze wandered
from her honey-blonde hair that fell in heavy ringlets over one bare
shoulder, to the porcelain skin of her décolletage glowing
flawless against the bottomless black of her gown. He would not have
been male had his gaze not lingered on her ample breasts, barely
contained in a square cut bodice. He tried to find fault with her
heart-shaped face, with the small straight nose and determined chin,
and with her unusually oblique eyes, but what was there to fault?
Smiling to himself, he fancied everything he saw, and everything he could not he was sure was just as alluring.
He wondered at her age. Not
that it mattered. It was a game he played to pass the time at social
functions such as this. Dressed all in black and wearing no jewelry
about her slender throat or wrists he supposed she was a widow, and
thus not in the first flush of youth.
What was a widow doing here?
His fascination increased tenfold.
For all his limited experience
of the London social scene, Jonathon knew well enough that widows did
not attend social gatherings of this sort, particularly not such a
renowned event at the height of the Season. Perhaps her mourning was
almost at an end and she was chaperoning one of the young things here
tonight? Surely, she was not old enough to have a daughter of
marriageable age? Jonathon pulled a face. For some unfathomable reason
he did not like the idea that she may have been a child-bride.
Why was she staring at him?
She stood so still, with her
hands clasped in front of her, as if she was a statue carved of
alabaster draped in black cloth; as much a fixture of the ballroom as a
blazing chandelier or the enormous, richly woven tapestry hanging
behind her. And so it seemed when dancers began pairing up and passed
her as if she was indeed no more than part of the furniture. Why?
Perhaps she was so well known in Society that her incredible beauty was
taken for granted? In a ballroom awash with beautiful young things
draped in silks of soft creams, pinks, and blues, she was a real head
Jonathon found it impossible not to stare.
He watched as some of the
guests even went so far as to go out of their way not to look at her,
passing in a wide arc, eyes fixed forward or down to the polished
floorboards. The one or two young ladies who did cast a curious,
furtive glance in the beauty’s direction were instantly
reprimanded in furious undertones by parents and guardians alike and
quickly cast their gaze away, heads hung, as if in shame at having
committed a grave transgression.
Why was she being deliberately avoided?
Why did no one acknowledge her?
Why did no one stop and talk to her?
Why was she being neglected?
It burned him up to see her alone and forsaken.
It was unlikely the beauty had
a sordid past or lived openly as some lucky nobleman’s
mistress for she wouldn’t have been invited amongst this
august company. The Duke of Roxton was an incorruptible prude and
devoted family man, a rare bird amongst his preening peers. The King
couldn’t praise the Duke’s example highly enough; a
compliment that was so much sniggered about in Society drawing rooms
that even Jonathon, just six months in the capital, had heard it
repeated often enough. Whatever the reason for her social ostracism, it
was of supreme indifference to him. He was determined to make her
acquaintance, curiosity and allure compelled him.
A burst of wild laughter close
by brought him out of his reverie. Tommy would know the
beauty’s identity and her story. He always had the latest
gossip. Collecting social minutiae about Society that families
desperately tried to suppress was Tommy Cavendish’s favorite
pastime, second only to eating. And so with no regard for the two
turbaned dowagers who were filling Lord Cavendish’s
insatiable appetite for scandal with the latest wicked crumbs, Jonathon
caught at the stiff skirts of the nobleman’s frockcoat and
unceremoniously pulled him backwards to stand at his side.
“Tommy! Tommy, attend
me!” he demanded without taking his gaze from the beauty.
“She’s in widow’s drapery and
she’s being ignored. Why? What is she doing here?”
don’t tell me one of the fairer sex has finally piqued your
interest? Bravo! Who, old dear?” asked his lordship, a wave
of his lace handkerchief to the departing dowagers who flounced off in
disgust at being so rudely interrupted by a tanned colossus of
undetermined social consequence. He hurriedly plastered his quizzing
glass to a watery eye and swept an eager roving stare out across the
ballroom, the first minuet of the evening underway, before running his
eye down to Jonathon’s large feet, then up to his head of
thick, shoulder-length hair. “Are you truly six feet four inches?”
Jonathon pulled the quizzing
glass out of Lord Cavendish’s chubby fingers and let it drop
loose on its riband. “Have done with that silly affectation,
Tommy. And that hideous black patch, if that’s what it is, is
also beyond enough. A wart at best.”
Lord Cavendish responded without offence as he touched the corner of
his mouth with a fat pinkie to reassure himself the heart-shaped mouche
remained in place. “Those of us who can’t be
Samsons must attract Delilahs in other ways.”
“Patch and paint doesn’t do it for you, Tommy. Trust me. What would Kitty say?”
Lord Cavendish shrugged and patted his portly belly, very snug in its tight-fitting Chinoiserie silk waistcoat. “M’wife?
Told me to wear a half-moon rather than a heart, and at the temple not
the mouth. But what would dearest Kitty know about patches and paint?
And, I’m not the one who needs a wife—”
“Tommy, don’t start.”
Lord Cavendish pretended
ignorance and swept a silken arm out towards the crowd gathered on the
edge of the dance floor. “Start? My dear friend, the bridal
campaign started in earnest months back, if you hadn’t
noticed. And where better to find a nice little wife than at this
esteemed gathering. Pick of the grapes, this bunch. No one with a
relative below the rank of Viscount and it’s not as if you
have to marry money. There’s a few dainty dishes with a
pedigree as long as your arm and no funds to match. Kitty thinks—”
“No, Tommy! No.”
there are at least five delicious puddings for you to choose from; all
in their early twenties and in their second Season. Although, I
wouldn’t discount the Porter-Lewisham pikelet, even if she is
Jonathon was revolted. His daughter was just nineteen years old. He
turned his portly friend’s shoulder towards the dance floor.
“Attend, Tommy! The beauty over there. Who is she?”
Lord Cavendish fumbled for his quizzing glass.
“Where is this vision of loveliness, this delectable éclair that has whet your manly appetite?”
“Not over there. Over here,” Jonathon said impatiently. “To my left. The tapestry. She’s staring straight at me.”
Lord Cavendish made another
sweep of the ballroom with his magnified eye, careful not to linger on
any particular pretty face for more than a few seconds, but if there
was an eligible beauty amongst the press of silk petticoats and
fluttering fans, he could not discover her; pretty, yes, but no female
so striking as to cause his tall friend to get steamed up under his
cravat, unless... No! His smile remained fixed but his brow furrowed.
He glanced up at Jonathon and followed his unblinking gaze... Oh God. No.
He mentally gulped and let drop the quizzing glass, mouth at half cock,
and mumbled something unintelligible. It was a few moments before he
found his voice, long enough for Jonathon to witness two dour faced
creatures, both dressed in dove-grey silk and with all the charisma of
strong-armed jailers, approach the beauty from behind to stand two
paces back on either side of her. They reminded him of a couple of
gargoyles. The almost imperceptible way in which the beauty squared her
snowy white shoulders told him she was aware of their presence and that
they were an unwarranted intrusion. But she did not speak, nor did she
look at them.
His assessment of these women
was justified when a gentleman carrying two glasses of champagne
staggered out of the refreshment room, skirted the dance floor ringed
with onlookers, and headed straight for the beauty. He lifted both
glasses in the air as he twirled this way and that to avoid spilling a
precious drop of bubbly, and came face to face with one of the
humorless gargoyles who stepped forward and waylaid him before he could
get within ten feet of their mistress. He was quietly taken in hand by
two liveried footmen, who appeared from the crowd as if from thin air,
and was marched away, the champagne soaking the front of his
demanded of Lord Cavendish as the Countess of Strathsay curtsied low
before the beauty and then rose up to speak a few words. “Who
is she that such a sanctimonious stickler for breeding and rank as the
Lady Strathsay curtseys until her long nose scrapes the
mouth was still forming words but then it fixed itself in a tight smile
and he tapped Jonathon’s arm with the edge of his quizzing
glass. “Strang! You cunning steak and kidney pie. For a
moment you had me believing you. You can’t bamboozle me that
I’ve never seen her before tonight and I want to know who she
is so I don’t make a fool of myself upon first introduction.
Your contribution would be much appreciated but I will do without it if
usual bonhomie evaporated. He wished Kitty with him. His wife would
know how to explain matters much better than he.
Yes… Should’ve realized. She doesn’t go
out in society any more. Damn shame, if you ask me. Damn waste of a
Jonathon repeated rudely. He watched Lady Strathsay take her leave,
shuffling backwards a few feet before turning and abandoning the beauty
to the watchful eye of the two gargoyles. “Come on, Tommy. If
she’s a recluse she could up and leave this claustrophobic
social get-together at any moment. So out with it before I lose
patience and take the plunge and ask her to dance without the benefit
of your assistance.”
Lord Cavendish shook his powdered head.
“No, Strang. You do
not want to go over there. It will be very bad for you if you do.
Believe me, by going over there you’ll certainly make a fool
of yourself. You’ll be boiled mutton for broth before you can
be minced for steak tartar.” When Jonathon gave a huff of
disbelief, his lordship sighed and dropped his quizzing glass to say
without artifice, “Strang. Trust me in this. Deb Roxton has
favored your dearest Sarah-Jane with her patronage. The Duchess
doesn’t favor all her Cavendish relatives. Such noble
benefaction is not to be scorned. If your daughter is to bag a baronet
at the very least, you want to avoid incurring the Duke’s
displeasure at all costs. Believe me, you, like the rest of us
red-blooded males, must admire that divine beauty from afar.”
Jonathon was unimpressed. He
stared out across the noble bewigged and powdered heads gathering in
the vast ballroom and caught sight of the very nobleman whom they were
discussing. He watched the Duke make his way through the crowd to come
stand beside the beauty. She reached no higher than His
Grace’s shoulder and, Jonathon suspected, this in heels. The
Duke inclined his head, took out his snuffbox and said a few words to
which the beauty did not respond. Finally, she turned and tilted her
chin up at him, gave a response, and flicked open her fan of black
feathers with a quick agitated movement. After an exchange that lasted
a few minutes she dared to turn her bare shoulder on the Duke to look
the other way. His Grace remained at her side, watching the dancers
with an enigmatic smile, and by the inclination of his head he was
continuing to talk to her under his breath despite being deliberately
ignored. It was Jonathon’s opinion that one would have to be
blind not to see the impenetrable wall of ice bricks that separated
“If the man who
offers for Sarah-Jane is spineless enough to put his Grace of
Roxton’s good opinion of him before his love for my daughter,
then I do not wish Sarah-Jane to be so favored.”
Lord Cavendish threw up a lace-ruffled hand in defeat.
“You always were an
unashamed romantic.” He sighed. “And the family had
to wonder why Emily ran off with a penniless second son of a second son
who worked for the India Company. Ha!”
“The name of the beauty at Roxton’s elbow, Tommy.”
“What about your
quest to have the Strang-Leven inheritance returned? Put the Duke
offside and you can throw the ancient ancestral pile and
Sarah-Jane’s marriage prospects out with the
Jonathon gave a grunt, annoyed.
He hadn’t spent twenty years sweating it out on the
subcontinent making a fortune for his plans to slip out of from under
him now before he’d had a chance to fully persuade the Duke
of his moral obligations to return what rightfully belonged to the
Strang-Levens. So he wasn’t about to tread lightly on the off
chance he might offend the Duke and thus ruin his daughter’s
chances of marrying into the nobility.
“Sarah-Jane can find
herself a titled husband in Edinburgh just as easily as she can
scuffing her silk mules on these noble floorboards.”
Lord Cavendish was shocked. “Strang! A Scottish lord? One might as well say Macbeth to an actor!”
“Do stop the French cook theatrics, Tommy, and tell me the beauty’s name.”
Lord Cavendish avoided the
question. “Kitty is a remarkable woman,” he said
and touched his eyeglass to his nose knowingly. “Has the ear
of the Duchess. But that’s between you, me and the saucepan,
Jonathon cocked an eyebrow. “Well, old dear, the saucepan knows more than I, so out with it!”
“It should please you
to know that Roxton is rather ambivalent about your long-lost
inheritance, particularly the Hanover Square residence. He’s
bought a larger, more palatial house on the edge of Hyde Park which
better suits his growing brood and, so say the cynics, puts more
distance between his dukedom and the nefarious past of previous
title-holders. As for Crecy Hall... It’s said he’s
in a dilemma about the Elizabethan turreted terror; his words not mine.
As you know, the house was let go to ruin and unfit for habitation,
that is until five years ago, when the old Duke, breathing his last,
decided to restore Crecy to its former glory.”
Jonathon was surprised enough
to take his gaze from the beauty to look down at Tommy Cavendish.
“For God’s sake, why?”
“Hold on to the cream in your éclair,” Lord Cavendish ordered and continued sotto voce.
“This Duke of Roxton sees himself as a morally upright
nobleman and thus once the true nature of the acquisition of the
Strang-Leven inheritance was made known to him by your lawyers, holding
on to Hanover Square and the Elizabethan manor does not sit well with
our Duke’s high principles.”
Jonathan was surprised.
“Is that so? The clouds part yet again and the sun shines
through. And? There’s more to tell. Your painted lips are
Lord Cavendish rocked on his
heels. “But what the Duke feels and thinks is here nor there
to your cause, I’m afraid. It is the Duke’s French
mamma who will be your undoing because it was for her the old Duke
restored Crecy, as a dower house in her widowhood. And that is where
she took up residence on his death three years ago. And so it is Antonia, Duchess of Roxton you must not only persuade Crecy should be returned to the Strang-Levens but also whom you must evict.”
Jonathon rolled his eyes to the ornate ceiling, muttering, “A
cantankerous old widow to contend with, and French into the bargain! Fabuleux. Un malheur n'arrive jamais seul! The
weather is ever cold in this country and now it turns
frigid.” He let out a sigh and squared his shoulders, giving
Tommy Cavendish a nudge as he returned his gaze to the beauty, who said
something to the Duke over a bare shoulder that made the nobleman
clench his snuffbox and shut his mouth hard. That they were arguing
couldn’t be more obvious had they been shouting insults at
each other from opposite sides of the ballroom. “So who is
she, Tommy, that Roxton dares let off steam in public?”
Lord Cavendish made a noise in
his throat that greatly resembled the sound of a startled pheasant. He
coughed into his fist politely to find his voice.
who has aroused your lust is the Duke’s—Lord! I
can’t believe the first female to heat your blood since your return to England is the Duke’s—”
“—cousin? Sister, distant third cousin, poor relation—”
“Antonia, Duchess of Roxton. The cantankerous old widow as you so amusingly put it.”
Jonathon swallowed hard.
“I’ll be damned,” he muttered in utter disbelief.
“And so you will be if you go near her.”
Jonathon cleared his raw throat.
“She’s not old enough, Tommy. Roxton must be my vintage if he’s a day.”
“We were at Eton
together. He’s turned thirty. His grizzled locks and the fact
his mother is cursed with being absurdly youthful for her years
Jonathon frowned his distaste. “Child-bride?”
“Do you doubt it? She
was snatched from the schoolroom. The fifth Duke was a notorious rake
who reformed for her. They were devoted to one another until his death.
Enough said.” Lord Cavendish waved to a gentleman across the
room who was making exaggerated head movements in direction of the
refreshment room. “Time to move on, Strang. Cards,
conversation and comfits await us through those archways, and I for one
intend to enjoy what’s on offer.”
Jonathon stayed him; gaze still
very much riveted to the Duchess. “Tell me you’re
hoodwinking me, Tommy. Tell me the truth. Tell me that such an
extraordinarily beautiful woman has no blood connection to Roxton. Tell
Lord Cavendish let out a heavy sigh. “I wish I could. I cannot.”
“Then tell me what you do know.”
“Will you have done
staring openly at her,” Lord Cavendish hissed, pulling at
Jonathon’s velvet cuff. “Roxton’s glanced
at us twice already, and no wonder with your eyes glued covetously to
his mother. He’s damned protective of her, and who can blame
him? The old Duke’s death signaled open season on his much
younger wife. Her incredible beauty is matched only by her personal
wealth, an inheritance left her by the old Duke to do with as she sees
fit; the Strang-Leven inheritance amongst those riches, old dear.
Roxton’s hands are tied while she is alive. So you see why he
keeps her in a gilded cage. Well, that’s the
“And the unauthorized
version?” When this was met with silence, Jonathon forced
himself to look away from the Duchess, down at Lord
Cavendish’s frowning countenance. “Oh, come on,
Tommy! Tell me and then you’re free to stuff yourself from
the buffet tables with abandon.”
His lordship sighed. “You’re doggedly persistent.”
He again took up his quizzing
glass to pretend an interest in the dancing, for not only was the Duke
regarding them under heavy brows but those who milled about on the edge
of the dance floor were beginning to turn heads in their direction and
whisper behind fluttering fans and perfumed lace handkerchiefs.
“The old Duke died
almost three years ago. He was three score years and eight and had been
ill for a number of years, so his death was not unexpected. Except,
that is, by his Duchess, who still mourns his passing as if it was
yesterday. She is a divinely beautiful, sweet-natured creature who is
to be pitied. Rumor has it sorrow has unhinged her. Sir Titus Foley, a
dandified physician who’s made a name for himself in the
study and treatment of female melancholia,
has been summonsed to Treat by the Duke, and for the second time in as
many years. It begs the question about the balance of Her
Grace’s mind, does it not? And you didn’t hear this
from me, old dear, for Kitty would surely have me trussed and
Jonathon pulled a face of disgust.
“The poor woman has
lost her husband, who was the love of her life, her home and her
exalted position in society, and her son keeps her under lock and key?
Is it any wonder she’s suffering from melancholia?
She has no life at all; bullied and badgered and totally misunderstood
is my guess. She don’t need the peculiar attentions of a
supercilious quack. What she needs is someone to talk to and a
sympathetic shoulder to cry on.”
Lord Cavendish’s burst of high-pitched incredulous laughter was heard across the ballroom.
“T-T-Talk to? Oh, S-S-Strang!
You are my bowl of chicken broth; so necessary to my comfort. Your
remedy? So appealingly uncomplicated that you have me almost convinced.
I take it you’re going to do the manly thing and offer
Antonia Roxton your own broad shoulder to cry on?” He wiped
his watery eye on the lace ruffles covering the back of a shaking hand.
“And for your efforts she’ll be eternally grateful
and not only sign over the Strang-Leven inheritance to you, but vacate
Crecy Hall forthwith, for you to do with as you wish?” He
shook his powdered head in disbelief. “May I live to see the
Jonathon grinned. “Just watch me.”