Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review & Author Interview: Athena's Ordeal (The Haberdashers #2) by Sue London

Sabrina "Sabre" Bittlesworth is easily the leader of The Haberdashers trio. She may be petite and beautiful, but she is also extremely outspoken and can wield a sword better than most men. Quincy "Quince" Telford, Duke of Beloin, a fairly level headed man who is not driven by his baser desires. But when his eyes fall on the lovely Sabrina while visiting her older brother, he mistakes her for something she is not and impulsively asks that she be his mistress. Now on top of dealing with someone black mailing him, this insult sets in motion a force that Quince has absolutely no chance of fighting off. A force named Sabre.

We briefly met both main characters in book one as Sabre is Jack's best friend and Quince is Gideon's. I didn't see enough of Sabre for me t form an opinion of her before now, but I absolutely loved her in Athena's Ordeal. She is not afraid to go after what she wants. Sabre has her sights set on Quincy and she will not stop until she gets him. And she will get him, of that she has no doubts. I loved that her form of seduction was to plant herself into his daily life and basically take over running his household.

In Trials of Artemis it was quite clear that Gideon and Quincy had a strong difference of opinions in regards to politics. However now we see just how completely opposite they are which is actually quite amusing. Physically Quincy is handsome and blonde with perfectly coiffed hair while Gideon is dark and brooding. Gideon has a reputation as "Lord Lucifer" due to how he spent many years indulging in drink and women whereas Quincy always prided himself on not using women and was usually the person pulling Gideon from the gutter.
I was actually surprised how much I liked Quincy and my own feelings for him grew as the story went on. Normally, the dark rake is my preference but there was a laid back innocence about him that was just irresistible. While he tries his darnedest to resist Sabrina, it is only a matter of time that he gives in. And not just with his body but with his heart and soul as well. Both characters grow so much personally in this story which to me made their love even better.

His fairy queen was rumpled, hair fallen from pins. Her voice was scratchy from sleep. He had never seen anything more beautiful. "Good morning," he whispered, cupping her cheek. She leaned into his touch, closing her eyes. He couldn't stop himself from kissing her again. She giggled in surprise but enthusiastically returned his kiss. She twined her fingers into his hair. Shortly, what had started as a morning greeting changed to exploration. Changed to seduction. He moved his hands to her hips, anchoring her against himself. Wanting so desperately to remove the clothes that separated them. He felt something that was beyond desire. Beyond seduction. He wanted to push her down on the floor and raise her skirts. Wanted to drive into her relentlessly and hear her screaming his name.

There is also the threat of Quincy's mystery blackmailer hanging over there heads throughout. This adds a layer of mystery and suspense to the story and brings new characters, like Sabrina's older brothers Robert and Charles, into the series. It was impossible for me to tell on which side of the coin Robert fell and it really kept me on my toes.

While it ends with a happily ever after for our couple, there are a few questions at the end which set us up nicely for book three. Which, by the way, I cannot wait for. Make sure you read my interview with author Sue London down below for details on what's next for these ladies. If you enjoy Regency Era romance novels, The Haberdashers series is a must read for you.

Marianna's Rating:

**I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Title: Athena's Ordeal
Author: Sue London
Series: The Haberdashers #2
Genre: Historical Romance
Twitter: @cmdrsue

Book Blurb
The Duke of Beloin mistakes a Viscount’s daughter for a fallen woman, an error he can hardly afford while trying to divine which of his enemies is blackmailing him.

Sabrina “Sabre” Bittlesworth has practiced the sword since she was eight years old. When a mysterious visitor in her brother’s house offers to make her his mistress, she challenges him to a duel, even after she finds out he’s a duke.

Quincy Telford, Duke of Beloin, has hated Viscount Bittlesworth as long as he can remember. Now the man’s daughter is constantly in his path. Can he escape her temptation and avoid peril in the increasingly dangerous game of cat and mouse he is playing with his blackmailer?


Interview with Author Sue London

When/how did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Wow, not sure I can remember back that far. Some of my earliest memories are of telling stories with my friend while lying on the grass in the front yard when we were maybe three years old, the neighborhood moms chatting among themselves in the background. And every kid has a list of things they want to be when they grow up, right? For me that list was veterinarian and writer. Finally realized that what I really wanted was a bunch of pets and plenty of time to tell (and read) stories. Having my first published book (Trials of Artemis) be so popular has been a dream come true. An "overnight" success about 35 years after I started writing.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a writer?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. There is plenty of advice that people can pass along about publishing and marketing, but writing? A lot of that you need to learn on your own. Read the good stuff, and then write. Write some more. Write, write, write, and write. Then, when you think it's good? Share it and get feedback. The important thing is to learn how to tell stories, your stories, in an engaging way. Grammar, sentence structure, and spelling are all important - but they don't make a story. Learn how to tell your stories, and then learn how to tell them well.

How do you deal with writer's block?

What makes a great romance story?
Every reader probably has a different answer for that. For me as a reader, the key for romance is evoking an emotional reaction. I'll forgive a LOT if a romance author can make me feel what the characters are feeling. Other than that I'm pretty flexible. It could be adventurous, humorous, sexy, a mystery… But what makes it a great romance for me is that sense of the experiencing deep feelings.

What do you think is the greatest romance novel of all time?
I don't feel qualified to answer this question. Have I read hundreds (let's admit it, probably thousands) of romance books? Yes I have. But not with the intention of finding the very best one. My favorite so far has been The Fortune Hunter by Diane Farr. The hero was so complicated and intense. But there is undoubtedly a list of classics (Gone with the Wind, for instance) that I should read before trying to answer this question in earnest.

What drew you to writing about the Regency Era?
I just love the stories and the tendency towards a "comedy of errors" or "comedy of manners."

Where did you come up with the idea of the Haberdashers - 3 headstrong women more interested in weapons play than attending balls?
It's hard to say exactly how the idea came to me, but based on the way my mind works it does seem somewhat inevitable. I remember that when I first considered writing one of the Regency historical romances that I enjoy so much, my ideas were fairly typical. But being me, as I continued to think about the characters and situations they developed into what you see now. Some of that is because I was a tomboy growing up and I'm sure that we have always been around. The rest is my love of the stories I read and watched growing up. Haberdashers is one part Trixie Belden and two parts Charlie's Angels.

How has love changed from the historical past to today?
One of my basic beliefs is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That's how some of my best friends and advisors are from hundreds of years ago and other countries. Social mores or norms change from time to time and place to place, but in many ways the underlying motivations and desires that people have are consistent.

If you could have lunch with 3 historical figures, who would they be?
That's a tough one. Oscar Wilde is always on the invite list. Certainly you know Oscar, but if you don't he was a writer in the late 19th century. Aphra Behn, a spy who supported herself with her writing in the late 17th century and was known as one of the "fair triumvirate of wit." And Thomas Jefferson. Yeah, that would be an awesome lunch.

Can you tell us what to expect for the future of The Haberdashers series? Who will be the focus of book 3 and is there an anticipated release date?
There will be at least twelve Haberdashers novels (there is an underlying plot that ties them together), plus some extra novellas and short stories. You can see the list and expected release dates on the welcome page for my website  Book Three, Fates for Apate, will focus on our third and final Haberdasher George Lockhart. It chronicles her first assignment as a spy for England at the Congress of Vienna, and how she accidentally falls in love with someone from the Prussian delegation. If everything goes perfectly it could be out by Christmas, but I think it will be closer to a Valentine's release. All of the primary novels will include at least one of the three Haberdashers in the plot.

Thanks for having me on A Lust for Reading!

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  1. Great review, great interview! Lots of fun to get to know you better, Sue. I especially liked your answer about the greatest romance ever written. [grin]

  2. I always love a giveaway :)


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