Owning Arabella by Shirl Anders

Publisher: Allure Books (January 31, 2010) ASIN B0036OSBZ8

Owning ArabellaAgainst her will, Arabella is gambled by her stepfather in a card game and won by the fiercely scarred Lord Darth Peregrine. A man who believes that no woman could desire him.

Lord Peregrine holds Arabella captive to his sexual desires. He is the lord and master and she is naked to his control. In the end Lord Peregrine saves Arabella’s young brother … and he saves himself. This story is an erotic regency romance with Gothic appeal and a happily-ever-after. 
Another erotica story.  I discovered Shirl Anders when I purchased her “My Lady” series, and enjoyed them very much.
Arabella stepfather uses her as collateral and he loses.  He takes Arabella back to the dark Lord Peregrine and gives her to him.  The Lord Peregrine looks at this pathetic excuse for a girl and decides that perhaps she is just what he needs.
He didn’t expect to actually want her.  But when she eventually falls for him, it takes him a while to realise that it is because of his personality, and has nothing to do with his looks.
Arabella is a lovely character, soft, gentle and terrified of this man who has blindfolded her and then uses her body.  She is innocent and naive and when she does discover what he looks like, she isn’t terrified.  She is fascinated by this man.
Lord Peregrine is a man who thinks he doesn’t deserve love.  He thinks that he can only get sexual gratification through taking it, yet he cannot take Arabella as he would like, her innocence has affected him.  And when he finally works out that she loves him, he stands up for her and protects her against the one man that could destroy them all.
A lovely whimsical gothic erotic story.

The Shifting Fog – Kate Morton

Allen & Unwin 2006 – ISBN 978 1 74114 800 8

Summer 1924:

On the eve of a glittering Society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life.  The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.

 Winter 1999:

Grace Bradley, 98, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet’s suicide.  Ghosts awaken and memories, long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace’s mind, begin to sneak back through the cracks.  A shocking secret threatens to emerge; something history has forgotten but Grace never could.

It took me a little while to get into this story, but once I did, I enjoyed it.  The story revolves around two sisters, Hannah and Emmeline and a young maid who unwittingly becomes their friend.  We meet the girls while they are still young, before the events of World War One tore the family apart.

Grace has her own secrets which her mother won’t tell her about, and it is only upon her mother’s death that Grace manages to work it out.

Entwined in the story is a love story involving Grace and a footman from Riverton Manor, and a love triangle involving the two sisters and the Poet, Robert Hunter.

The story flicks from Grace as a 98 year old recording her memoirs for her grandson, and her own memories of the events that led up to that fateful night in 1924.

The characters were well developed and likeable.  I found myself feeling sorry for the two sisters who both led such different and separate lives, yet had once been so close.  There are dark moments in the story and a hint of suspicion on every page.  It took me a while to work out that this was a modern Gothic novel, but it fitted in with the morbid themes very well.

The setting was well written and well researched too, it was nice to read a story involving the interaction of the upper class with their serving staff.  If you like Downtown Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, you will enjoy this story.