A MelanieM Review: Saving Crofton Hall (Stately Passions #1) by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Saving Crofton Hall400x600Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has enjoyed his life of wealth and leisure.  And he had every intention of continuing that lifestyle until a frantic phone call from sister interrupts his idylls in New York City.  His widowed mother’s secret gambling debts lead her to forgery, putting up Crofton Hall as collateral. Now the family faces the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, and Benjamin is forced into opening their beloved estate to the public.  But he must act fast and he has no idea how to accomplish turning her into a historical venue.

Enter Ashley Niven.  A friend of Benjamin’s sister, Ashley has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Ashley is also in need of a job when his current employer cuts back in the staff. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true, one he has held from the moment he saw the estate.   But its not just the charms of Crofton Hall that Ashley finds himself drawn to but to the dashing Earl of Crofton as well.

Much like Crofton Hall herself, there are layers to be discovered under the charming fascade of Benjamin Redbourne, if only Ashley can lower his barriers of self defense enough to undercover them.

Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.

Picking up Saving Crofton Hall was a true delight.  First I was returning to a setting made familiar with The Crofton Chronicles, a trio of stories set in the mid 1500’s that revolved around the lives and relationship of Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, and actor Sebastian Hewell.  I adored those stories and this author’s ability to bring those times and her characters vividly to life.   Secondly, I hoped to have more insight into Crofton Hall’s history to discover any additional details of Anthony and Sebastian’s life together.  Did I get it?  Hmmmm, yes in a totally unexpected and wonderful way, something I will let the readers discover for themselves.

Saving Crofton Hall brings that grand old estate into modern times, along with the Redbourn family.  Benjamin Redbourn is the 16th Earl of Crofton, his father having recently passed.  The oldest son and heir, Benjamin has been blithely yet determinedly pursuing the wild life since an earlier breakup left him devastated.  His search of the fast life and faster men have taken him far aboard, leaving Crofton Hall in the hands of his mother unequipped to handle it with a younger brother and sister unable to deal with their mother and the situation.  Once more, Rebecca Cohen delivers us into the middle of this historic and charming estate but this time to a family facing ruin and the loss of everything that has been in family for hundreds of years, including Crofton Hall.

Crofton Hall continues to act as an important character in this story.  Objects found along her halls or in the gardens, will instantly bring up fond recollections of those earlier stories, much like visiting an old friend will make older shared events and joint memories fresh once more.  The hall also serves as an intimate and immediate frame of reference for Benjamin Redbourn.  As the 16th Earl of Crofton he faces challenges to his family and estate the previous owners would never have thought of while retaining those responsibilities and duties that come with the title.  Benjamin remains a combination of the old and the new,  history and honor,  with a sense of entitlement that gets an adjustment in face of an unthinkable loss.  I liked Benjamin immediately.  He’s a good person hit with a series of personal and emotional shocks, the first of which is a mother with a hidden gambling problem.  He’s believable, relatable, and sexy.  I adored him.

Next up is Ashley Niven, another character who makes this story and romance both real and endearing.  Like some of those drawing room comedies, Ashley’s drawn towards Benjamin and spends an inordinate amount of time fighting his own impulses…much to our delight.   Lively dialog ushers in two men in flux.  Each has qualities that mesh with the other and how they find their balance makes their romance and relationship sweet, sexy, and as charming as Crofton Hall herself. And the scenes with Ashley, Benjamin, and the people who come to “rent out” Crofton Hall are some of the most poignant and humorous scenes described.  When the members of the local UFO society have their meeting at the Hall, its as  funny as you would expect, then its followed by a wedding so moving that sniffling is sure to occur.  But the character of Ashley also has quite the unusual pedigree and that surprising background just adds more spice to an already delicious dish of a story!

There’s Mrs. Weather, Billins, Kitty, and so many others that give Saving Crofton Hall the feeling of a close-knit community pulling together to save home and hearth.   None feel extraneous to the estate or the story, more a needed ingredient that gives a depth that would be missed without them.

Here is a story rich in history and appreciation for family and tradition.  Saving Crofton Hall is the first in a new series, Stately Passions,  by Rebecca Cohen that features various estates in the UK.  I can’t wait to see where this terrific author takes us next.  While Saving Crofton Hall can certainly be read as a stand alone, for the wealth of history and romance lurking in the halls and foundation, pick up the three stories that make up The Crofton Chronicles.  I have listed them all for you at the bottom of this review.

I highly recommend Saving Crofton Hall by Rebecca Cohen, an author with an ability to make history feel alive, and give modern times a rich patina of culture and tradition that sets her narratives on strong foundations from which they can grow and become memorable.

Cover artist:  Reese Dante.  Terrific  cover, and that estate looks exactly the way I pictured Crofton Hall.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner ebook & Paperback     All Romance (ARe)   amazon    Saving Crofton Hall

Book Details:

Published November 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632165084
edition languageEnglish
series Stately Passions #1

The Crofton Chronicles in the order they were written and should be read:

The Actor and the Earl (The Crofton Chronicles #1)
Duty to the Crown (The Crofton Chronicles #2)
Forever Hold His Peace (The Crofton Chronicles #3)

Journey Into The Paranormal with Rick R. Reed’s Third Eye (book tour and contest)

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Journey into the paranormal world with Third Eye, the latest story from Rick R. Reed!

Check out the blurb and excerpt and don’t forget to enter the contest at the end of the blog!

Book Name: Third Eye
Goodreads Link
Author Name: Rick R. Reed

Author Bio & Contact:

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.” 

Web: http://www.rickrreed.com 
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks 
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rickrreed. 
E-mail: jimmyfels@gmail.com

Third_Eye_Final_FlatPublisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Sales Links:    amazon

Third Eye Blurb:

Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn’t sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl. 

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls’ parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the “third eye.” 
  
Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

Categories: Crime Fiction, Gay Fiction, Horror, M/M Romance, Mystery, Thriller

Third Eye Excerpt:

Cayce was just about to put the paper aside when another article—and a familiar name in the byline—caught his eye. “Teenager Reported Missing,” by Dave Newton. It wasn’t so much the headline that got his attention but the picture of the young girl beneath it. Pretty. Long blonde hair. And disturbingly familiar.

Even though Fawcettville was a small town, the girl’s name, Lucy Plant, didn’t ring any bells. Perhaps Cayce had waited on her at the Elite, the diner where he worked. But still, no specific recollection came back. Cayce couldn’t visualize the girl sitting at the counter, nor at one of the booths.

And yet she looked so familiar, as if she were someone Cayce was friends with, or even a relative.

Cayce scanned the story. The girl had been reported missing by her mother yesterday afternoon, just before the storm that had caused such a turn in Cayce’s own life.

There were no clues. The girl, at least according to her mother, could not possibly have been a runaway. “Lucy’s a good girl,” Amy Plant had told Fawcettville police detective JT Simmons. “She wouldn’t even go down the block to visit a friend without telling us first.”

The last time anyone had seen Lucy Plant was when her mother looked outside the living room window. Lucy had been playing with her Barbie dolls on the front lawn.

Cayce closed his eyes. He remembered, suddenly, the storm coming, and not knowing where Luke was. He sympathized with the girl’s mother and the panic she must have felt when she couldn’t locate her daughter.

A ceiling fan. Beneath his closed lids, Cayce saw a ceiling fan. He didn’t know why. He didn’t own one himself, and the one in his parents’ living room was an entirely different model from this one, which was white, with a plain globe. His parents’ fan had four frosted-glass light fixtures and faux wood blades.

Cayce kept his eyes closed, watching the ceiling fan whirl, its blades blurring and becoming singular. There was something wrong with the fan. It didn’t work quite right.

Cayce felt nauseated and opened his eyes. His face was glazed with sweat. His stomach churned, and he was afraid he would vomit. Why was seeing a ceiling fan so disturbing? Or was this some sort of aftershock, an effect of his accident?

Cayce didn’t think so.

He glanced down at the face of Lucy Plant and sucked in some air. “Oh my God,” he whispered, “she’s dead.”

Pages:

2ThirdBadgeTour Dates: November 18, 2014

 

 

Tour Stops:

Parker Williams

Decadent Delights

Full Moon Dreaming

BFD Book Blog

Andrew Q. Gordon

Regular Guys, Hot Romance

My Fiction Nook

Emotion in Motion

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

Velvet Panic

Inked Rainbow Reads

Queer Town Abbey

Elin Gregory

Jade Crystal

Love Bytes

Amanda C. Stone

Fallen Angel Reviews

Molly Lolly

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

Cate Ashwood

Sinfully Sexy

MM Good Book Reviews

3 Chicks After Dark

Wake Up Your Wild Side

Book Reviews and More by Kathy

The Novel Approach

Michael Mandrake

Havan Fellows

Iyana Jenna

 

 

Contest:  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-book of Rick R. Reed’s thriller novella, ‘How I Met My Man’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Use the Rafflecopter link below for the entry form and for all additional contest details.
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It’s Back to Crofton Hall with Rebecca Cohen’s Saving Crofton Hall Book Tour (contest)

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One of my favorite authors and series is back!  Today Rebecca Cohen, author of The Crofton Chronicles series, is here with the blurb and excerpt of her latest story in the Crofton Chronicles  series, Saving Crofton Hall.   I have an interview with her and a contest for all of you to enter.  Check it all out below!

Book Name: Saving Crofton Hall
Goodreads Link
Author Name: Rebecca Cohen

Up Close with Rebecca Cohen and all Things Crofton Chronicles…

Q. Rebecca, I loved the Crofton Chronicles and was so happy to see this book come up.  Why continue this series, what about this place and people wouldn’t let go of you?

RC:  I’m so glad you enjoyed the series, I loved writing them. Sometimes it is easy to move on from characters and a setting, and sometimes isn’t. And I knew once I finished The Crofton Chronicles that there were more stories to be told about the Redbourn family and their home. I did think about writing in another historical period, but once I had the idea of a modern Crofton, I thought I could sneak in references to the earls that came in between. The idea of an old family with an interesting history was too much fun to pass up, and Crofton Hall is just as intriguing in her own right.

Q.  How far are we in the timeline from the original story?

RC: Saving Crofton Hall is set in modern-day England, with Benjamin Redbourn as the 16th Earl of Crofton. Making it just over 400 years after the original series.

Q.  At the end of the third story, we saw how it all worked out for our original lovers, Sebastian and Anthony, where do these relatives come into the story?

RC: I don’t want to spoil the plot, but let’s just say it wasn’t just Crofton Hall I couldn’t let go of completely.

Q.  Historical romance can be a tricky genre to write in, especially when the author is setting her stories in several different eras.  Do you have a favorite time period to write in?  Or several?  What about those eras pulls to you set your stories and character within their cultural framework?

RC:  I love the Tudor and Stuart periods, so it’s unsurprising I set The Crofton Chronicles during the Elizabethan era. The political intrigue of the Elizabethan court and the Golden Age have always fascinated me, and characters of the time are so vibrant. The Tudors were utter bastards as monarchs, and Elizabeth I’s courtiers had to walk a fine line to keep in her good books. The gap between rich and poor was even wider than now, and social hierarchy was strict and unbending. Add in William Shakespeare, and there is no other period of history that can compare for me.

Q.  Will there be more Crofton stories  ahead?  Are you thinking of doing more modern times stories?

RC:  Saving Crofton Hall is the first in the Stately Passions series, where Crofton Hall will be the backdrop to a number of different couples and their romances. There’s still plenty to learn about the Redbourn family, and Ben and Ashley will be about in the background, but will see a different side to Crofton Hall, including below stairs.

Q.  From Manderly to Pemberly, there are many famous estates in literature. I loved  Anthony and Sebastian, and Crofton Hall, so much a third character in their stories.  Is there a Hall or Manor you have visited in England that acts as a  standin for Crofton Halls and is it open to the public?

 RC:   Crofton Hall is based on three different stately homes all open to the public: Harvington Hall, Sudbury House, and Hatfield house. Of these only Harvington Hall was built during the period of The Crofton Chronicles but Hatfield House is the basis for the Crofton Hall of today, with it gorgeous state rooms and beautiful grounds. It’s even in Hertfordshire, where Saving Crofton Hall is set.

Q.  Favorite story from your childhood that has impacted you as an adult and as a writer?  Or perhaps it’s an author as well?

RC:  I loved the Chronicles of Narnia, Paddington Bear and I had a lovely book of Eastern European fairy tales. Basically I had a real passion for reading and I still do. I think my love of books in general inspired me to write, all the new worlds and fantastic tales ignited my imagination. It’s something I hope to pass on to my son, and I’m discovering so many new children’s books through him. The Gruffalo anyone?

Q.  What would be your favorite romantic hero from literature?  Or how about romantic poet?

RC:  Although not the lead ‘hero’ I adore Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing and I also loved Dartanian from The Three Musketeers. I love the poem Fire and Ice by Edmund Spenser (so much I used in The Actor and the Earl).

Q. What’s next for Rebecca Cohen?

RC:  I’ve a Sci Fi novel about a novice planet builder who is reunited with his lost love going through submission, so keeping my fingers crossed for that. On the WIP front, I’m currently working on a novella series based around an amateur dramatics group in London.

STRW:  That’s both surprising and wonderful.  I can’t wait for it to come out.  Now for all the readers out there, a closer look at Crofton Hall and all those who love that dignified lady in Saving Crofton Hall!

Author Bio:
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Author Contact: Facebook , Twitter

Publisher: Dreamspinner PressSaving Crofton Hall400x600
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Sales Links:  DSP ebook,  DSP paperback   amazon  amazon UK   All Romance

 

Saving Crofton Hall Blurb:

Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has no intention of giving up his beloved ancestral home without a fight. Faced with his mother’s gambling debts, forgery, and the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, Ben vows to make Crofton Hall pay for herself. But opening an Elizabethan manor house to the public isn’t a one man job. With time running out, Ben needs help—and fast.

Ashley Niven has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true. As he works with Ben to prepare the house as a venue for lavish weddings and receptions, Ashley finds himself drawn not just to the charm of the house but to the dashing Earl of Crofton. Even if Ashley can look past Ben’s playboy reputation, he fears an affair could prove too much of a distraction.

But Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Saving Crofton Hall Excerpt:

“How much?”

She wouldn’t meet his eye.

“Mum!”

“Just short of five million to the bank.”

Ben lost his balance and landed heavily on his arse in a nearby chair.

“How the hell did you manage that? I only agreed to borrow five hundred thousand, and that was for essential repairs, and the estate could easily repay the loan in ten years.”

“I approached the bank with a business case for a visitor attraction.

They were very enthusiastic.”

“What gave you the right?”

“Your father left us both in charge of Crofton Hall, Benjamin,” she said sharply.

He glowered at her and she deflated.

“I needed the money, and the only way I could get it was to tell the bank I wanted to open Crofton Hall to the public.”

“And they agreed to lend the money without my permission?” he asked carefully, hardly believing his mother’s audacity, but getting the feeling he knew what she was going to say next.

“They might have been under the impression that you’d agreed to it, and I was acting on both our behalves.”

“Really. And how would they have thought that?”

“Your signature isn’t exactly hard to copy.”

Ben covered his face with his hands, understanding what his mother had done.

“I know I shouldn’t have, not without your permission, but I was desperate. And the bank thought our business plan was excellent.”

He looked up at her. Elena’s eyes were red from crying, but there was still an edge of defiance in her face. “How much is left?”

She shrugged. “A few thousand, maybe.”

“And you used Crofton Hall as security?”

“Yes.”

The anger flashed through him, burning through his usual amicable nature. “How could you have been so stupid? Were you even thinking past your own selfishness?”

Elena cowered in her seat.

“You’ve ruined us, destroyed this family!”

“I didn’t mean—”

Ben didn’t want to hear her feeble excuses. “Oh, that’s all right, then. We’ll tell the bank, you didn’t mean it, and they’ll forget all about it.”

Ben reined in his anger. Taking deep, slow breaths, he clenched and unclenched his fists as he regained his calm. He watched Catlin pace up and down. Harry stood slumped against the fireplace, shell-shocked. Now was not the time to panic. He needed to know exactly how much trouble they were in and deal with it.

“Get me the paperwork.”

Without argument, Elena jumped to her feet and scurried over to the writing bureau in the corner. From the folds of frills and ruffles of her blouse, she fished out a key on a chain and unlocked the bureau. She drew out a sheaf of paper.

“It’s all here.”

“Right, let’s hope my economics degree wasn’t for nothing.” Ben snatched the papers. “I suggest you all keep your distance until I’ve finished reading.”

He sank into a chair by the unlit fireplace, blocking out the angry thoughts as he scanned sheet after sheet. The figures danced before his eyes, and he saw the terms and conditions his mother had agreed to. The interest, compound interest, and payback terms were listed and categorized in black and white with no way of denying the facts. They were in deep shit, the bank would be at the door within weeks, and Ben seethed internally at his mother’s gall.The effort she’d put into defrauding the bank was amazing, the business case had been full of fine details and promised an excellent return, but little help would that do them now.

Unless….

Ben stared around the sitting room; generations of Redbourns had sat in here. Men who’d fought at Blenheim, Waterloo, and El Alamein —they would never have given in and surrendered Crofton Hall in the face of adversity. And it wasn’t about to happen while Ben was Earl of Crofton either. As much as he wanted to rail against it, their only hope was to
convince the bank they were following through with the idea of opening the house to the public.

“We can probably sell the London apartment. That’ll raise around two million. Our trust funds are protected, so we can’t release the equity from those. If we’ve any hope of holding on to her, Crofton Hall is going have to earn her keep.”

SCHBadgeTour Date/Stops:

November 17: Amanda C. Stone, Hearts on Fire
November 18: My Fiction Nook, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Multitasking Mommas
November 19: Inked Rainbow Reads, Velvet Panic, Fallen Angel Reviews
November 20: 3 Chicks After Dark, Cathy Brockman Romances
November 21: Prism Book Alliance, Love Bytes
November 24: MM Good Book Reviews, Cate Ashwood
November 25: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Michael Mandrake
November 26: Nephylim, BFD Book Blog
November 27: The Novel Approach, Queer Town Abbey
November 28: Parker Williams, Full Moon Dreaming , Crystal’s Many Reviewers

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