Review: The Lady & the Highwayman

Author: Charlotte Davila

Genre: Historical erotic romance

Length: 28 page novella

Publisher: Entranced Publishing

Released: 1 April 2013

Price: $2.99 on Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The last time I read historical romance I was in my teen's. Trust me, that was a damned long time ago. I had glandular fever at the time and devoured Jane Austin and Georgette Heyer with a gusto saved only for the confined and the restless.

My time of historical romance over indulgence had a similar effect on me to that of my first massive drinking session involving Tequila - too much of a good thing can leave one with a hangover that lasts a lifetime. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this little historical treat. As it turns out one can recover from a lifetime hangover and once again enjoy the delights of that which once seemed like poison.

From the first page Charlotte (aka Ashley M Christman - erotic paranormal author extraordinaire) had me reminiscing about Liz and Mr Darcy and how terribly eloquent and refined people used to be. It was a pleasant change to read something without the f-word in it. There was no fisting of hair, no ramming of shafts, no half-hearted consent against the board room table. Just healthy, old-fashioned romance with a touch of eroticism (for folk like me who need a sex scene to make the experience feel complete) all topped off with lots of nice manners.

Charlotte (aka Ashley) writes well. I liked that she went easy on the purple phrases that often litter historical romance. I liked that her characters were masters of their own destiny, going beyond the social mores of the day for the sake of love. The dialogue was generally strong and believable, with only a couple of barely discernible slips into modern vernacular ('Come again?'), which remains one of my favourite peeves of any historical fiction.

The story felt a little rushed at times, but what can you expect in 28 pages? It was nice to sit and finish something in an hour, given I'm averaging a month to finish a book these days. The ending had a nice, romantic twist, even though it was revealed a tad too early I felt. I especially liked the character of the masked Highwayman. Ever since Antonio Banderas in Zoro I've been a hell of a sucker for a masked man, especially one that wants to carry me away on his horse. (Where are those guys these days?)

What I really liked was finding out more about the author. She's a nurse who usually writes paranormal erotica based on mythology (fascinating), is a paranormal investigator (even more fascinating) and is into roller derby (absolutely riveting). What a woman!

So, if you fancy the romance of ladies in long dresses with marriage prospects, and men with handsome inheritances and glorious manners with a dash of swash-buckle about them, you'll probably enjoy this quick, spicy read.

Synopsis:

Lady Elizabeth Bennington has the perfect life: she's the daughter of an earl and betrothed to her childhood friend, William Hartley, the second son of a duke. But, when her sister's indiscretion leads to an unplanned pregnancy, and the subsequent disgrace of Elizabeth's entire family, her idyllic life is thrown into disarray.

First, her fiance is prohibited from marrying her. Then she receives word that William has been killed by thieves. To top it all off, she gets abducted by a highwayman. Can Elizabeth find love again, and with the most unlikely of people?

Author: Charlotte Davila (Ashely M. Christman)

As a child, Ashley M. Christman spent many hours in imaginary worlds, exploring the depths of mythology and immersing herself in a breadth of classics. After spending so much time reading, she decided to try her hand at writing.

An avid fan of film noir, she combines fantasy, noir style heroes and heroines, and the paranormal in a modern day setting in a way that hopefully would make even Bogie proud.

When not writing, she can be found in the wilds of Minnesota enjoying great cuisine, avoiding the gym, and being walked by the dog with her partner, Tom. Find her here:

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Excerpt from The Lady and the Highwayman

Every morning, at exactly half past noon, Lady Bennington began her traverse of the entire

length of Rathbonne, the Bennington family estate. She did this at the insistence of her Mama, who recommended that she do so in order to have a desirable marriage. It was advice that she took very seriously — that is to say she took only half of it very seriously. She refused to refrain from pastries and pies, both of which satisfied her demanding sweet tooth.

The estate did not make for an easy walk. It spanned over twenty acres and took her the better part of half an hour to complete, if she moved at a leisurely pace. She always moved at a leisurely pace, getting lost in her thoughts and fantasies of faraway lands and foreign cultures.

Sometimes, rather than walk back to the house, she would bring a book and stay in the high field amongst the shepherds and their grazing sheep, and read. 

This morning she decided that rather than reading in the high field, she’d go to the brook behind the property that divided Rathbonne from the neighboring Highborne estate. Highborne was the country home of the Duke of Staffordshire and his family, with whom the Benningtons were well acquainted. She removed the blanket from under her arm and smoothed it out on the grass beneath the tall oak, making herself cozy enough to lose herself in Paradise Lost.

“Lady Elizabeth, I bid you good afternoon,” a familiar voice yelled in the distance.

Elizabeth looked up from her book. Lord William Hartley, her childhood friend and the second son of the Duke, was approaching on horseback. Will, like herself, was a younger child and the two of them had been raised closely. Unlike Elizabeth, he would inherit property in his own right, and his father’s title if something should cause the death of his brother. Elizabeth’s fortunes relied entirely on her marrying well.

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