"Refreshingly honest and passionate."—Publishers Weekly on How to Tame a Willful Wife
How to Become London's Most Notorious Widow:
1. Vow to NEVER remarry
2. Own a ship and become fabulously wealthy
3. Wear the latest risqué fashions in your signature color
4. Do NOT have a liaison at the Prince Regent's palace with a naval captain whose broad shoulders and green eyes make you forget Rule #1
Angelique Beauchamp, the widowed Countess of Devonshire, has been twice burned by love, and she is certain that no man will ever touch her heart again. But that doesn't mean she can't indulge a little—and it would be hard to find a more perfect dalliance than one with the dashing Captain James Montgomery.
After a brief torrid affair, James tries to forget Angelique and his undeniable thirst for more. The luscious lady was quite clear that their liaison was temporary. But for the first time, the lure of the sea isn't powerful enough to keep him away...
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London, May 1818
Angelique Beauchamp, Countess of Devonshire, found a hulking Scot standing on the deck of her ship.
Her kid leather slippers whispered against the damp oak planks as they would have on a ballroom floor. She glided across the deck strewn with vats of tar, coiled rope, and unattended brushes.
The crew was supposed to be preparing her ship to go back out to sea, but she could only see Willy, the ten-year-old boy she had taken on last year, perched in the rigging high above. He waved to her, and she waved back, but after that, she kept her eyes on the man in front of her.
The Scot was as tall as a Viking. His broad shoulders were barely contained in a coat of black worsted, hard worn but well mended. He wore his auburn hair long, tied in a queue at the back of his neck.
Angelique was tall for a woman, but beside him, she felt delicate, like one of the china doll beauties so popular that season on the Marriage Mart.
"Good day, sir," she said. "May I ask what you're doing skulking about my ship?"
He smiled, and she caught the light of genuine humor in his eyes. He was a man who did not take himself too seriously, then. In spite of his military bearing, she might be able to deal with him.
"Good day, madam. I have come to speak with Captain Farvel."
"You won't find him. He deserted yesterday."
She spoke with confidence, as if she had not come down to the docks to speak with the erstwhile captain herself. She simply assumed that Farvel had deserted, from the state of the ship and from the absence of her crew. If she got her hands around her captain's neck, she would throttle him. Farvel had better stay hidden away, wherever he was.
The Scot's blue eyes did not take on a gleam of avarice to hear of her misfortune, as some men's might have done. He did not give the appearance of looking upon her staffing problems as an opportunity. He frowned, seeming almost concerned for her. "And the rest of the crew?"
"I assume they are in the stews of Southwark."
He laughed then, and she was tempted to laugh with him. For the first time since her man of business, George Smythe, had told her of the cargo of rotting cotton that Farvel had brought back from Charleston, her temper ebbed a bit, and she felt almost human.
Like all things, her good humor did not last.
"I understand this ship is for sale," the Scot said.
Angelique felt the dark of her temper rising like a summer storm, and she clamped it down. "You heard wrong."
She could count on the fingers of both hands the number of men angling to get the Diane away from her. It was a good ship, her only ship, and would make a charming addition to any fleet. And if she sold it, the West India Company would no longer have to deal with her. In spite of their drawing room manners and open courtesy, they did not like doing business with a woman.
"Well," he said, "perhaps I might speak with the owner about that."
"I am the owner. And I can assure you, the Diane will never be for sale."
The deck lurched beneath them in the wake of a passing barge, and he reached for her, catching her arm.
Angelique had spent her childhood on this vessel. She had kept to her feet in storms off the coast of Africa, in the gales that blew north of Scotland. She could keep her footing without help in the midst of the Thames. She felt her mask of glacial calm come down as she drew her arm out of his grasp.
"I would thank you not to touch me," she said. "I would also thank you to let it be known among your acquaintances that the Diane belongs to me."
"Does it indeed?" He seemed not at all offended by her ire, but amused. The blue of his eyes reminded her of the sky on a clear summer day: guileless, open, hiding nothing. But she knew better than anyone how quickly such a sky could change. Beauty and serenity like that was an illusion, the kind of deception she would never be taken in by again.
"She is a beautiful ship," he said. For the first time, she heard a hint of his brogue, a shade of Aberdeen thickening his voice as his eyes ran not over the deck beneath their feet, or the furled sails above their heads, but over her.
Angelique felt the old telltale heat of desire rising from the center of her belly. She had not felt the lick of a flame like that, nor even smelled the smoke of lust, since Anthony Carrington had left her over a year before. She had taken one or two lovers since, of course, but with neither had she felt this warm beginning, this caress of craving.
She clenched her stomach against the onslaught, against the traitorous heat that rose to consume her. She tamped it down, just as she had tamped down her temper. When she raised her eyes to meet his, the man facing her smiled as if he knew her struggle and welcomed it. As if he knew that he had already won.
She meant to leave the insolent man standing where he was. Since Farvel was nowhere to be found, she would have Smythe start looking for a new captain at once. But before she could take another step, the ship lurched again, and this time her choice of shoes betrayed her and she lost her footing.
Her slippers slid out from beneath her, and she flailed, trying to catch hold of the rigging behind her where it was tied to the mast. Her hands touched not well-oiled rope but a burly, masculine arm. The man laid his hand over hers and drew her close.
His hands were strong and calloused. He no doubt spent a great deal of time on a ship at sea, for in spite of the rocking of the deck beneath their feet, he did not sway, but held himself and her as steady as if he stood on dry land.
As Angelique stood close to him, her cheek pressed against his chest, she caught the scent of leather and spiced rum. The scent of that man brought the peace of her childhood back to her, layered over with the heat of lust.
Angelique closed her eyes and took in his scent, relishing the strength of his arms around her and the illusion of safety they gave her. The ship rocked again, and she came to her senses. Dear God, had she lost her mind?
She stepped away from the man as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, straightening her gown and pelisse, smoothing her skirts. Two curls had escaped the prison of her bonnet and had fallen across her breast. The man reached for them, gathering them at her throat, lingering over their softness.
She jerked back reflexively, and he released those curls. The tendrils of her hair clung to his fingers like limpets, as if they would tether him to her. Her hands shook as she slid them back beneath her bonnet.
The blue of his gaze was no longer amused. The planes of his face were hard with naked desire. His need called to her own, a siren song that would draw her onto the rocks. The ship of her reason would splinter, and she would be left to drown.
"Good day," she said again, turning to flee from her own ship. She crossed the swaying deck to the narrow gangplank, certain that she had escaped, but when she raised her gloved hand to steady herself against the railing, he laid his hand over hers, capturing her so that she could not move.
"What is your name?" he asked.
The wind was strong, and a piece of his auburn hair had come loose from the queue at the nape of his neck. Angelique felt an almost overwhelming need to reach for that strand and to draw it back from his face just as he had touched her errant curls. She held herself very still until the longing passed.
"Angelique Beauchamp, Countess of Devonshire."
If she had thought that her title might discourage his advances, she was mistaken. She saw the definite light of challenge in his eyes, as if by running away from him, she had thrown down a gauntlet at his feet. He smiled as if he had taken it up.
She had not been conscious of issuing a challenge. Her battlefield was a ballroom-her adversaries, mincing gentlemen of the ton who would inevitably bow to her will. This man was not one of those. She found herself grateful that she would never see him again.
Forcing herself to rally, Angelique walked down the plank from her ship without faltering. She allowed her footman to assist her into the carriage that bore her crest, a phoenix rising from the ashes, flames falling from its wings. William's gloved, indifferent hand felt nothing like the hand of the stranger.
She did not allow herself to look back. She could still feel the heat of the man's gaze on her skin, coupled with the overwhelming rise of her own long-banked need. She shook with that desire still, pressing her hands together, forcing them to lie docile in her lap.
She had skirted danger, but she had avoided it in the end. That man's touch would steal her reason; lust like that would take over her life, as Geoffrey had when she was a girl, as Anthony once had done. She would never allow any man such power over her again.
Fortunate then that a nameless ship captain would never be allowed entrée into the world she had built for herself so carefully.
She laid her head back on the soft velvet squab of her well-sprung carriage, not noticing the jolt of the cobbled streets as her driver took her home.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very riveting. Interesting to read about the troubles of single women in that time periof.
Christy English has written wonderfully inspiring book. This is the story of Angelique, a widowed Countess, who lives her life on her own terms after being let down by love twice and Captain James Montgomery who is instantly taken and will stop at nothing to have her. While Angelique is rescuing her deceased husband's natural daughter and protecting her bestfriend from an evil Duke, James is pursuing her. What they think is a brief affair turns into a love for the ages.
Christy English continues her Shakespeare in Love series, with her latest book, Much Ado About Jack. A historical romance series with a nod to one of the greats is reason enough to read this book, but English also gives readers an adventurous love story between a Widow who has no wish to wed and a sea captain who wants to find something or someone that has a greater pull than the sea. Fans of the series know that English, once a Shakespearean actress, uses her experience with the work of the bard to temper her stories. She has a knack for taking Shakespeare and making it her own! What I liked: Angelique was a heroine with some spunk. She was a confident woman, who knew what she wanted out of life and what she didn't want and in this case that was another husband. Being a widow in the ton provided her with the independence she craved, the wealth to do as she pleased and the opportunity to engage in romance without entanglements. Giving that up was not in the plan. I loved her. She was snarky and sassy and knew how to put a man in his place. She understood the rules of the ton and how to play the game well. She didn't mind being the one they all talked about, she reveled in it. My kind of girl. James was a wonderful hero as well. A sea captain by trade, is not often known to stay long on the shore. The lure of the sea was often to great to keep them bound to the land and you could see that in his character. He had a sense of restlessness about him and an air of command that was undeniable. When he met Angelique he had certainly met his match. It would take a strong man to love a woman like that, and James fit the bill. I loved the banter between these two characters and the struggle for control which ensued. She was use to being in command and so was he. I think she treated him with disdain and aloofness partly because she knew he could be her downfall. I loved the way that English allows the reader to be spectator in this battle of wills. The ending was perfect for the two of them and I thought English was able to make everything flow naturally, no one had to give up anything they didn't want to and it felt like a win-win all the way around for characters and readers alike. This one has spicy moments to be sure and I think it was important that those times be organic and not forced. English knows how to bring the heat without overwhelming the reader. She proves that good love scenes don't have to be raunchy to grab the reader and not let go. I appreciated her use of language and description throughout the book, but it really was showcased in the interactions between Angelique and James whether in the bedroom or out. What I didn't like: Angelique was really mean to James in the beginning. I understood the reasons for that, but still thought perhaps the author could have lightened up a bit on him. James was a great character and took it all in stride. it probably even made him want her more. Bottom Line: This is an excellent series and great nod to one of literature's most celebrated authors. English does justice to Shakespeare and provides readers with a captivating love story between two very strong personalities. I look forward to English's next offering.
This was a great read and thoroughly enjoyable! First time reading Christy English, but not the last! Angelique Beauchamp was a fantastic heroine! She was her own woman! She was ahead of her time and she protected both her independence and her power very carefully. It was exciting to see a heroine who was in charge of herself and who had such confidence. Captain James Montgomery presents the best challenge to Angelique. He sees her as a challenge and won’t be swayed or deterred. James was a fun character and it was interesting to see a woman in power and a man try to gain control instead of having it. Angeligue and James had excellent chemistry and they were a perfect match for each other. Only a strong and deserving man would be able to conquer Angelique’s heart. Reading about a woman and her handling of a ship was also very impressive and it tied in perfectly with Angeliques personality. I plan to read more of Ms English’s novels and will go back and read the previous books in the “Shakespeare in Love” series. Great fun and adventure with James and Angelique!
Great story!! OMG! I have to get the others in this series! I started wrong as far as the order but I really enjoyed Angelique and James! I love her spirit and his humor. The banter between these two will keep you smiling and talk about passion....these two have it in spades! There are quite a few secondary characters who steal my heart and one who I want to bash in the head, repeatedly. Christy has won me over again with her writing!
A sweet romance, Much Ado About Jack was a lovely read. An independent heroine, a persistent hero, and a few secrets to make things more interesting. What's not to like? Angelique was a good heroine. She was strong and determined. And, even though she tried to hide it, she had a truly kind heart. But, she came off as shrewish at times. Particularly in the way she acted toward James, who was nothing but kind to her. I didn't understand why she took such offense to him for seemingly no reason. I understood why she was wary of men, but she didn't act that mean to any other man and James didn't do anything to deserve it. That bothered me and detracted from the book. But, overall, I was okay with her. James, on the other hand, I totally adored. He was absolutely sweet and completely determined to win over the woman he loved, even if he had to keep chasing after her. He was perfect and I adored him. The romance was good. Angelique and James were very sweet together, particularly with how James was so determined to win her over. And, of course, there was some spice laced in there as well. The chemistry between these two was intense from the moment they met. I thought they were lovely together. The plot was okay. I wasn't completely hooked, but I was kept interested. There were a few surprises in store, particularly for Angelique. I really enjoyed the story and the ending was very sweet. Much Ado About Jack was a lovely historical romance. I really enjoyed reading it. Romance lovers, this is a book worth the read. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK by Christy English is an exciting Regency Historical Romance 1818 England. #3 in the "Shakespeare in Love" series, but can be read as a stand alone. From the author's note: *"Much Ado About Jack" begins one month prior to "Love on a Midsummer Night"* Than the excitement begins......similar to Shakespeare's play: "Much Ado About Nothing", but with added fun, more danger, and passion. Follow Angelique Beauchamp, widowed Countess of Devonshire, and Captain James Montgomery on a journey of re-kindled passion, unexpected love, a bit of danger, and the lure of the sea. Can a temporary liaison turn into true love? One loves the sea the other was burned by love and determined no man will NEVER touch her heart again, nor will she be betrayed by a man again. But things change after Angelique has a dalliance with Captain James, who Prinny calls Captain Jack. A fun read with lots of passion and danger thrown into the mix. If you enjoy historical romance, sea adventures,lots of passion and a bit of mystery, than you will enjoy "Much Ado About Jack". Oh, did I mention a dysfunctional family, a mean-spirited brother, and a wounded lover? The characters are engaging as well as realistic. The storyline was intriguing as well as interesting. An enjoyable read. Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: HOT REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Courtesy of My Book Addiction and Mor
The third book in Christy English's playfully sexy Shakespeare in Love series; this is my second favorite after How to Tame a Willful Wife. This story features an admirable heroine with backbone, as ruthless as any man. Angelique Beauchamp, the Countess of Devonshire and a French sea captain’s daughter, is a notorious woman, independent of any man’s power, with very profitable business interests. Married young but left heartbroken by both her promiscuous late husband and then Anthony, the Duke of Ravensbrook, her long-term protector, she has vowed to never fall in love or marry again. Until an arrogant Scottish sea captain captures her heart desiring nothing more than to take care of her and love her, Angelique has pushed love away. But not pleasure; as a widow, she discreetly takes lovers. “Angelique rarely thought kindly of marriage, for any institution that stripped a woman of all her worldly possessions and left her at the mercy of a virtual stranger bore more of a resemblance to highway robbery than a sacrament.” (p221) Angelique loves the country; it’s where she sheds her tough veneer and relaxes, and this comes through in the beautifully descriptive passages of her beloved house, Aeronwynn’s Gate, in Shropshire and later, the quaint cottage in Devonshire. I love how she rebuffs James’ presumptuous overtures at every turn, leaving him wanting. He admires her ability to stand up to him, as fearless as any man, despite her diminutive size. She knows James wants her and she wants him, too, but on her terms; merely as a lover, nothing more. But, of course, his unfailing tenderness and kindness melt her defenses. He discovers that her austerity covers great pain and he becomes both her lover and her friend. Captain James Montgomery is a dashing Scottish sea captain, considering making a life on land, when he meets and falls hard for Angelique. When I read these lines, I fell in love with him: “‘Some women are complicated. Angelique is one of them.’ ‘Maybe I like complicated,’ James said.” (p12) Bravo to all men who enjoy a complicated woman who keeps him on his toes! James is a mere mister, with no title. He has no patience or tolerance for ton society but holds his own in the face of their snobbery. “Neither looked at him, and James remembered what his brief moments among the ton had always felt like when he was in Town after Trafalgar: a cold winter that never saw sunlight.” (p75) I liked James Montgomery so much I was a little sad to see him disappear for a bit toward the end of the book when he leaves on an assignment for his father; but he returns for Angelique. The descriptions of him are delicious: “He wore no scent, but smelled only of the salt of the sea and of the cedar his clothes had been pressed in.” (p69) This book is closely linked with the events from book two, Love on a Midsummer Night, and I highly recommend reading this series in order. Angelique is Arabella’s best friend and will do anything to protect her, even if it means turning nasty gossip toward herself to save her sweet friend’s reputation. Angelique is unfailingly kind to everyone, even her ex-lover, Anthony, his young wife, Caroline, and their son. She even takes in Sara, the twelve-year-old bastard daughter of her late husband to raise her as her own. And all her servants were rescued from lives of hardship. Her exterior shell is hard as nails but she has a soft heart, like an alpha male hero. Angelique’s ward, Sara, becomes a loving friend and a comfort to Angelique. Indeed, Sara needs Angelique as much as Angelique needs Sara. The little details are lovely: how Angelique likes to untie James’ queue when she kisses him and interesting period details like letters from his sisters: “But they wrote him letters perfumed with scent, written on expensive parchment so that the ink would not run if the pages got wet.” (p95) The first book in the series, How to Tame a Willful Wife, is Anthony’s story with Caroline. Angelique’s appearance in that book is rather unflattering but she is a woman scorned. After ten years as Anthony’s mistress, any woman would be cranky at being tossed over. There are some wonderfully humorous moments as well: “The silk was wrinkled but repairable. Lisette would be annoyed, but would understand that when lustful Scots came to tea, these things happened.” (p104) “James waited for an army of footmen to descend on him and drag him down to the cellar, or wherever these posh Englishmen stashed violent Scots.” (p109) “He knew that he was being ridiculous, or at the very least, ridiculously romantic, but after their long, almost one-sided conversation over how their relationship was going to develop, and for what short duration, he found that he had to assert himself as a man or leave his ballocks in a jar at her bedside.” (p144) A fun and fitting conclusion to a sexy series.
I love a nice historical romance so I was eager to read Much Ado About Jack. I found this one started off with a bag, but started to fizzle a bit for me halfway through. Countess Angelique Beauchamp is a wealthy widow who enjoys her freedom. She's been burned by love in the past and she promises herself that will never happen again. Enter Captain James Montgomery, a retired Naval captain. As soon as he sees Angelique he knows he has to have her. When some trouble arises concerning Angelique's best friend and a villain from their past returns, Angelique heads off to save her friend. In the process, she also adopts her late ex-husbands daughter. I liked Captain Montgomery straight away and Angelique as well. She is no damsel in distress, she's feisty and has a mind of her own. The ton of course all talk about Angelique and her lovers since it's all scandalous. Montgomery is the perfect hero, he's a bit cocky, brave, handsome as the devil and vows to get his lady. Plus he's a friggin' Scottish naval captain with beautiful hair and a six-pack, what more could you want from a hero in a fluffy historical romance? Through a twist of fate, Angelique becomes guardian to her late husbands now orphaned daughter. She decides to take the young girl in and give her a good life. Also in the plot is her quest to save her best friend Arabella's reputation and save her own fortune from the Duke of Hawthorne. Angelique and James have great chemistry and I had a smile on my face during some of their interactions. They've got the whole, "I want you, but we can't be together, it will never work, yes I will have you" thing down pact. I liked the power struggle between the two. I also liked that these two have flawed pasts and don't care what people think of them. This is the third installment in the Shakespeare in Love Series by Christy English. ("Much Ado About Jack", "Much Ado About Nothing") Although this can be read as a stand alone novel, I wish I had read the other two installments first. I think this is why the book fizzled for me. Characters from the previous installments are in this one, and I would have liked to have known more about them by reading the other books. Also, Count Hawthorne, the villain, was just too villainous for me. As the plot thickens, and more twists and turns arise, I found myself not really caring about the supporting cast of characters too much. This is not my first time reading Christy English's work. I read The Queen's Pawn and very much enjoyed it. I like her style of writing, and Much Ado About Jack had some great lines: ...The sea Captain's lips were soft, sheathing his strength in silken pleasure. They moved over hers in lazy contemplation, not as if he would devour her, but as if he had all the time in the world to savor the taste of her, to feel her body warm beneath his hands... p.30, Much Ado About Jack by Christy English I also enjoyed how the author weaves in Shakespeare throughout the storyline. Lastly, the cover. I like it. disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, such as this one, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free review copy of this nook via Sourcebooks.
Angelique Beauchamp, the widowed Countess of Devereaux, is determined that she will never again give her heart away or give up her freedom. Her deceased husband and former lover broke her heart and she is determined never to put herself in that position again. Captain James Montgomery is looking for a ship to purchase and is directed to the one owned by Angelique. Unfortunately for James, Angelique is not selling her ship. Since he couldn't get her ship, he turns his attention to getting her! Angelique is determined that any affair they engage in, will be very brief. James has other plans for their relationship. As he spends more time with Angelique, he is more or more determined to keep her in his life. Will Angelique open her heart to what could be the best thing to happen to her? I really enjoyed this novel. After reading book one in the series (How to Tame a Willful Wife), I was not sure I wanted to read a story about the "other" woman. But in book 2 (Love on a Midsummer Night), we see more of Angelique and learn that she acted the way she did because she was heartbroken. By the time I got to her story, I was ready for her to get the HEA that she deserved. I fell in love with James almost instantly. I link when a hero sees what it is he wants and goes after it. There were times when he was a bit cocky, but I think you need a little bit of that to be the go getter type. I also loved the way that Angelique stood up for herself and didn't always allow James to get what he wanted. The banter between the two of them had me laughing out loud. They were the perfect match for each other. Thanks go out to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.