Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Captain Rockford's Reckoning by Susan Lodge
Release Date: 4th April 2018
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Genres:  Historical Romance / Suspense

Esmie Elstone is thrown into panic when she hears of Captain Rockford’s return. But she is determined that the days of him interfering with her life are over. Destroying her chances of a happy future during his last visit had resulted in her being foisted on her aunt for a third pointless season in London.
To alleviate the boredom of society life, Esmie helps run a discreet betting enterprise under the guise of a sewing club. But there are some things you just shouldn’t wager on, and Esmie’s integrity is soon put to a dangerous test.
Richard Rockford had known Esmie almost all her life. As neighbours, her father, Admiral Elstone, had depended on Richard to keep an eye on his daughter when he was away at sea – a responsibility he had always taken on willingly. But her cruel and thoughtless actions, from the day he had left four years earlier, had shaken him. Now, he was back, and he wanted answers.
But when Esmie tumbles into a treacherous conspiracy, can he really turn his back on her? 


 “Lady Danby, good evening.”
Esmie jerked bolt upright as Rockford’s unmistakably smooth voice floated down. He was standing in front of her aunt. How on earth did he get there without her knowledge? Had he climbed through a window, or lowered himself from a chandelier? He certainly had not entered through the main double doors. Dash it, the man had never been straightforward.
“Ah, Captain Rockford, I see you are back from your travels,” her aunt replied, squinting at him through her pince-nez, with only slightly hidden delight. He had always been a favourite of hers, but especially since he had been elevated in society and wealth by his uncle’s death.
“Indeed, Lady Danby. I hope you are well. You are looking radiant tonight. The shade of your turban is especially becoming.”
Her aunt beamed, and her hand went up to pat her elaborate head-piece.
Oh no. Esmie froze. He had been in her presence for seconds and already causing her misdemeanour with the giant feather to be revealed. But her aunt’s hand was deftly collected in Rockford’s as he bent down, raised it to his lips, and kissed her glove. Esmie thought she detected a malignant smirk on his lips. She lowered her eyes to study the highly-polished buckles of his shoes. The underhanded fiend must have been secretly observing her for several minutes.
“And, Miss Elstone. It has been far too long.”
Reluctantly, she levelled her gaze. Stormy green eyes devoured her whilst his face remained set in a mask of polite indifference. He gave her a short bow, but thankfully made no move to take her hand or compliment on her appearance. His eyes were an even darker shade than she remembered, and Esmie was sure the look of disgust that he had left her with still lurked behind that deadpan expression. Lady Danby, however, continued to prattle amiably to him, not at all aware of the invisible wall of ice that lurked between them.
“I wonder, Lady Danby, if I might engage Miss Elstone in a dance.”
Dance. Esmie tried to swallow the lump of terror in her throat. “Actually, I am feeling quite unwell at the moment, and was about to retire.”
“Nonsense! Esmie, what sort of welcome home is that for the Captain? Of course, she will dance with you, Rockford. I am sure she has spaces on her card.”
Esmie gritted her teeth. Here we go again: poor Rockford; jolly good Rockford; thank heavens for Rockford. Surely he must appear to sprout a halo and wings to her peers.
She handed him her card as if it was the executioner’s axe, and watched him enter his name against the supper dance. “I will count the minutes,” he said softly, to reach only her ears, before he returned the card and walked away.
She watched him head towards the sugar-coated Julia Grant. Well, she was welcome to him; in fact, maybe he would become so infatuated with her beauty that he would completely forget the terrifying appointment now documented and hanging on Esmie’s wrist. Unease stirred in her belly.
He had not forgotten or forgiven.


The book opens with a very immature and over privileged Esmie Elstone doing something that deep down she has her reservations about. But, she must help her lover Andrew exact his revenge on the over bearing Captain Rockford, even if that means doing something potentially illegal. Caught in the act by Captain Rockford himself Esmie is both horrified and dismayed by not only what she has done but also the consequences of her actions. Will Rockford shame her and tell her father? Will her lover Andrew keep true to his word? Or, will Esmie continue to let her naivety  draw her into a world she has no place being. 

Fast forward four years and maturity it appears hasn't taught Esmie much about Captain Rockford's intentions and has not dampened her fear that he could expose her at any moment. However, it seems that Esmie is hell bent on getting herself into further trouble and Rockford may be the only person able to help her. If only she'd let him!

I loved this book! The writing style was absolutely beautiful and totally conveyed the Regency era. I was transported there through the wonderful language of the time and totally captivated by the love / hate relationship between Esmie and Captain Rockford. They do say there is a fine line between love and hate and this pair at times were unsure as to which side they were on. Susan Lodge has produced a really great character in Esmie. Fiercely independent and fighting against society norms, Esmie wants to do her own thing. She doesn't want to be tied to a husband, particularly one she doesn't love. In her heart she is still waiting for Andrew to return to her. Rockford himself is a complex character and one who has seen more of the world than young Esmie has. A little bit older than Esmie, Rockford has been tasked with looking after her interests since he was a boy and Esmie has been resentful of this all her life. But Rockford is an honourable man and determined to keep his promise to Esmie's father. He is moody, sullen and downright rude at times and I thought had a particularly wicked sense of humour at times. I loved him!

Captain Rockford's Reckoning is a fantastic book with intrigue, romance and a heroine who fights against being saved by a handsome naval officer. Esmie wants to save herself and isn't the stereotypical woman of the time. With some colourful characters and a gripping story-line, I'd highly recommend this book. Superbly written and perfectly paced its a must for those who love historical fiction.

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Susan Lodge was brought up with five brothers in the West of England and spent her formative years climbing trees and watching westerns. Leaving home, she headed for London and embarked on a career in the Civils Service, gaining a science degree along the way.
 Over the years she has worked in several historic cities, where the streets still resonate with the Georgian period, providing a wealth of inspiration for her stories. Her romantic novels are often set against the backdrop of Nelson’s navy, and she always manages to inject a fair dose of humour into the plot.
Susan’s always wanted to be an astronaut but would now settle for a flight into space. She loves tinkering on her piano, perfecting her swing dance routines and discovering new destinations for her characters. 
Married, with two children Susan now lives in Hampshire. You can find more of Susan and all her books by vising her website at   http://susanlodge.com/

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