WHO WILL WRITE THE BOOK OF LOVE?
When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s one of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library, she packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady Celeste’s nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is determined to interrupt her studies one way or another...
Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockingsno matter how lovely they are to look atis a travesty, and Quill simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes to solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s help. Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This rogue believes he’s finally met his matchbut can Quill convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no fiction?
Don't miss Ready Set Rogue, the first in Manda Collins' new series set in Regency England!
About the Author
Manda Collins is the author of several books, including Good Earl Gone Bad and A Good Rake is Hard to Find. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.
Read an Excerpt
Ready Set Rogue
By Manda Collins
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Manda Collins
All rights reserved.
The Marquess of Kerr was having a very bad day.
As if breaking an axle on his ancient family traveling carriage on the most deserted portion of the drive from London to the south coast hadn't been inconvenience enough, there was also the fact that his favorite horse was miles back, tied behind the coach carrying his baggage and valet. To compound his situation, after instructing the coachman and outriders to wait for help, he'd set out on foot for the coaching inn some three miles up the road only for the skies to open up and release a deluge not felt on Earth since the Great Flood, he was convinced.
If it hadn't been for a chance meeting with his cousin the day before, he'd not have been traveling to the downs at all. But the news that his late aunt Celeste had done what she'd always threatened — left her estate to a bevy of blue stockings — had meant beating a hasty path to her manor house near the village of Little Seaford before any of her hangers-on arrived. At least that had been the plan when he set out. At this rate all four harpies would have descended upon Beauchamp House before he had a chance to so much as hide the silver.
Thus it was that when he reached the Fox and Pheasant he was not only wet, muddy, and exhausted, he was hungry. Which, as his old nanny could attest, made for a very grouchy Torquil, indeed.
Despite the rain, the inn yard was bustling with activity, as the bright yellow mail coach, which had just arrived, released its passengers into the already crowded doorway of the hostelry.
Cursing beneath his breath, Quill elbowed his way through the crowd until the quality of his garments seemed to register with them and, despite their own fatigue, the passengers began to defer to him. All save one.
Had he been in a better mood, he might have noticed the auburn-haired lady's curvy figure or her warm brown eyes behind her spectacles. But he was too annoyed by her blatant disregard for him as she shoved in front of him carrying a small, but obviously heavy, trunk. And as if that weren't enough, she had the bad manners to drop the aforementioned trunk directly onto his booted foot as he attempted to slip around her.
"Hell and the devil!" he cursed as the weighty box landed. Despite the thickness of his boots, they were no match for whatever it was she traveled with.
"Oh dear," the woman said, crouching at once to clutch the handles of the offending thing. "I am so sorry. I should have waited for the coachman, but I was so afraid to leave them, you see. They're quite valuable."
But when she heaved on the trunk, it was obvious that she'd need a bit of help lifting it. Wordlessly, Quill pushed away her hand that gripped the handle and took both sides in his own grasp and lifted it.
"What are you carrying in this, madam?" he asked as he jostled it up close to his chest. "It feels as if you've weighted it with gold bars."
It was only then that he took a moment to really look at her. And was intrigued despite his annoyance. She really was quite pretty despite the spectacles and the obviously dated gown.
Before she could respond to his question, however, the innkeeper rushed over. "My lord, I am so sorry you were accosted by this" — he waved his hand in the direction of the lady, as if unable to come up with a suitable description for her, finally settling upon — "person. I'll have our finest room made up for you at once. Be gone with you, madam. His lordship has no wish to be bothered by the likes of you."
Wordlessly he gestured to a footman, who stepped forward to take the trunk from Quill, wincing as he did so.
"There's no need for rudeness, Stepney," Quill chastised the innkeeper. "It was an accident, nothing more. Please have your man carry the lady's trunk wherever she has need to take it."
"Oh that is too kind of you, my lord," the young woman said with a bright smile. "I would have left them in the coach, but one hears such tales about the mail coach and the thievery that takes place even amongst the passengers. I simply could not risk them. My books are so necessary to my work, you understand."
As she spoke, Quill noticed that her eyes were a clear green. And at her confession, something clicked into place. Of course. She was a governess. That would explain the spectacles and the books. She was likely on her way to a new position.
Before he could respond, however, Stepney bowed deeply and ignored the governess. "Very good, my lord. I'll see to it at once. Now, if you'll follow me I'll see you to your room."
And since the young woman was already directing the footman into the taproom where she was doubtless going to have a meal before she joined the rest of the passengers on the mail coach again, he gave her one last look, then followed Stepney up the stairs.
Grateful he'd thought to bring a small bag with him when he left the traveling chaise, Quill was soon bathed and wearing a fresh change of clothes. If his cravat wasn't as skillfully tied as his valet might have managed, then the clientele of the Fox and Pheasant would simply have to make do. Deciding to dine downstairs in the taproom rather than alone in his room, he was nearly at the bottom of the stairs when he heard a feminine shout. A premonition had him racing the rest of the way down and hurrying into the dining room, which took up the entire width of the building. Though it was still daylight, the lack of windows made for a dimly lit room, the only light source coming from the lamps on the tables and in sconces on the walls.
But it wasn't too dark for him to see the little governess standing defiantly before a great lummox of a man who clutched a hand against his cheek. "I'll no' take tha' from the likes o'ye," the man growled, launching himself forward and gripping the lady by her upper arms. "Who d'ye think y'are?"
In the tradition of all bystanders everywhere, the rest of the taproom seemed to settle in for a spectacle. At least that's how it seemed to Quill, who pushed his way forward, and snapped, "Unhand the lady at once, sir."
* * *
If there was one thing Quill could not abide, it was a man who laid hands on a woman. And there was something about seeing this particular lady in the other man's grip that made him particularly angry.
Not pausing to consider the wisdom of his actions, and not waiting for the fellow to obey his orders, Quill pulled her away from the ruffian and stepped between them, watching as her attacker lost his balance in his surprise and fell backward into the table behind him.
Standing over the man, lying in angry shock on the floor, Quill scowled. "Let that be a lesson to you that there are consequences for the mistreatment of ladies traveling alone. I don't know how things are done in the dark hole from whence you hail, but in the civilized world, men treat women with decency and respect. Especially when they are not noticeably under someone's protection."
Turning away from where the man sat stunned, he turned his attention to the governess, who was gaping at him with suspiciously bright eyes.
"I ... I don't know how to thank you, my lord," she said, her voice shaking. "If you hadn't arrived when you did, I fear things would have gone very badly indeed."
Handing her his handkerchief, Quill led her to a booth on the far side of the room, where he gestured for her to take a seat.
"Why are you still here?" he demanded tersely, his residual anger making him short. "The mail coach should have departed by now." And as he quickly scanned the room, he saw that the others who had crowded into the inn with her were missing.
Wincing, she looked down. "The driver took on more passengers here, and he claimed there was no room for my trunks. When I refused to leave them behind, he left without me." As she finished this disclosure, she lifted her chin and glared defiantly at him, her eyes bright with anger. "They are necessary for my studies and I saw no reason why I should be the one to give up my trunks when there were plenty of others with far larger ones. It was grossly unfair."
"Surely you could have had them sent after you," Quill pointed out with a raised brow. From his time at university he knew that books were essential for study, but it was hardly practical for her to give up her seat for them. Any employer of merit would see the necessity of paying to have them delivered once he was informed of her situation. Which brought up another question. "Why didn't your employer make arrangements for your travel? Surely governesses are not required to travel on the common stage. I know my father always sent the traveling carriage for my sister's teachers. Or at the very least a hired carriage."
At this, she raised a brow in annoyance. "I know my gown is not of the first stare of fashion, but I hardly think I'm so drab as to be mistaken for a governess." She pursed her lips. "Not that there is anything wrong with governessing, you understand. It is a respectable profession — and one of the only ones available for a single lady of gentle birth."
Quill surveyed her appearance, taking care not to be seen doing so — a skill every young gentleman perfected in his teens lest he be forever receiving raps on the knuckles from his mama. On closer inspection, her gown, while dark gray in color, was well made. And her modest bonnet was constructed of if not the finest silk, then at the very least not the meanest. Even the trunk of books that she had lowered to the taproom floor beside her was not cheaply made. In short, he'd judged her wrongly from the start. What he'd concluded to be a lady in reduced circumstances was actually just a lady of modest tastes.
He felt his brow furrow. "If you are not a governess then, who are you?"
It was a highly inappropriate question considering they'd never been properly introduced, he knew. And it would be highly unusual for him to do the honors himself. Was she an actual governess, she'd likely read him a scold that would blister his ears. But, she didn't seem to take offense at the inquiry. "I am independent scholar," she informed him, her pride in it evident in her squared shoulders and elevated chin. And to his surprise, she offered him her gloved hand. "Miss Aphrodite Wareham, Ivy to my friends."
His hand was already clasping hers when the name registered, and it was all Quill could do to stop himself from dropping the offending extremity and turning his back on her. But good manners had been instilled in him almost from birth, and he had been taught not to be rude to a lady. No matter how grasping or conniving that lady proved to be.
He gave a quick, mirthless laugh. "I might have known we'd meet on the road to Beauchamp House. Since it is, after all, the family estate you and your cohorts wish to steal out from under my family's nose. Well, I beg leave to inform you, madam, that while my late aunt was eccentric, she was not without family protection. And we will not stand for this scheme you've concocted. No matter how you might protest your friendship with my aunt."
Her nose wrinkled in confusion. "I don't know what you mean, sir," she said with a little shake of her head. "I never met Lady Celeste while she was living. Indeed, I wish I had for I'd have offered up my sincere thanks for her generous bequest."
She frowned, tilting her head as she scanned his face. She was quite skilled at playing the puzzled innocent, he thought bitterly.
"I assume from your accusation that you are Lady Celeste's relation?"
As if she didn't know it already. Hell, he'd not be surprised if she'd arranged for her little contretemps with the man earlier to gain his sympathy.
He sketched a mocking bow. "Torquil Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, at your service." Rising to see her still maintaining her air of bewilderment, he continued with a disgusted shake of his head. "But you doubtless knew that already. Tell me, how long did it take you and your friends to choose my aunt as your target? For I have little doubt she proved a ripe pigeon for plucking given her generous nature and genuine interest in scholarship. I know there must not be much opportunity for fortune in the arts for ladies. You must have been beside yourselves with glee when you found her."
But rather than let his derision break her, she seemed to gain strength from it. "I'm not sure where you get your information, my lord, but I have never met your aunt before in my life. Nor am I acquainted with the ladies you refer to as my cohorts. As far as our scheming to somehow steal your family estate out from under you, I was given to understand that Lady Celeste owned Beauchamp House outright and that it was not included with the rest of the Beauchamp estates, which is what made it possible for her to bequeath it to us in the first place."
Her color was up and she was bristling with anger now, which Quill had no doubt was genuine. Well it might be, given that her plans were being challenged instead of what she'd likely thought would be smooth sailing on her trip to take possession of her new home.
Let her be angry, he thought with a pang of self-mockery at how quickly he'd fallen prey to her wounded-innocent act. She was probably as mean as a snake and twice as venomous.
The Beauchamps were not known for their pacifism. And as the head of the family, Quill didn't mean to let a passel of scheming harpies lure him onto a rocky shore in hopes they could take an estate that had been in the Beauchamp family for hundreds of years.
"Then, my dear Miss Wareham," he said coldly, not believing her protests for a moment, "you were sadly misinformed. And I will do my utmost to ensure that you and the other ladies who tricked my aunt are not only prevented from taking ownership, but are prosecuted for your fraud."CHAPTER 2
"I might have known it was too much to ask that you were simply a kind stranger," Ivy fumed, angry with herself as much as at Lord Kerr. No man with that much polish could fail to be a scoundrel beneath his burnished exterior. She'd been a fool to let his championship against the taproom bully sway her to let down her guard. Even a little.
She'd been around enough of her father's noble pupils to recognize aristocratic good manners when she saw them. She'd seen any number of lordlings and gentlemen bow politely to her one moment, then pinch the maid on the bottom as soon as they thought they were out of sight. Lord Kerr was no different, only his grasping had been of a less crude variety.
If she was less certain of the validity of her claim upon Lady Celeste's estate, Ivy might have been more frightened by the marquess's threat to stop her and the other heirs from claiming their inheritance. But as soon as the letter from Lady Celeste had arrived, along with another from her solicitor, Ivy had asked for her father's assistance in determining whether it was legal.
Though Lord Alton Wareham, a former Oxford don who'd left the university upon his marriage, hadn't spoken to his family in some years thanks to their less-than-welcoming attitude toward his wife — Ivy's mother — he'd kept in touch with his cousin, a solicitor with clientele in the aristocracy. And upon consultation, the cousin had assured both Lord Alton and Ivy that the bequest was not only valid, but that if Ivy did not wish to risk losing her inheritance, she should travel at once to Beauchamp House and stake her claim.
As the eldest in a family of seven daughters, Ivy had been more than eager to embark on the journey. Not only because she looked forward to making use of the impressive library mentioned in Lady Celeste's letter, which was said to contain any number of Greek transcriptions that had never been made available to the academic community, but also because she was desperate to escape the mayhem of her family home.
She'd spent most of her life caring for her siblings and when that lady was subjected to yet another confinement, to her mother. Though her father had been born the younger son of the Duke of Ware, his unsupported marriage had cut off any financial assistance he might have expected from his family. And so, it had been in a modest house on the outskirts of Oxford where Ivy and her siblings had grown up. It wasn't an unhappy family. But Ivy was more than ready to strike out on her own scholarly path — to get out from under the influence of her father's tutelage and to establish herself in her own right. And if it let her also escape the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings, so much the better.
In short, she was looking forward to taking up her shared tenancy of Beauchamp House, and no amount of bullying from the Marquess of Kerr would persuade her otherwise.
Excerpted from Ready Set Rogue by Manda Collins. Copyright © 2017 Manda Collins. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I enjoyed reading Ready Set Rogue. The pacing of the story kept me reading. If the author had thrown in a couple of clues and included just a little more intrigue, the story would have been stellar.
It's not every day you read a romance about a bunch of female scholars. Ready Set Rogue is the first in a series following four "bluestockings" as they inherit a home of a notable scholarly woman they've never met. Lots of mystery wrapped up in that little tidbit alone. This first story follows Ivy, an expert in the classics and self-made detective on the trail to discover the murderer of her late benefactress. Of course she has to have the help of the lady's nephew, Quill. The whole set-up was quite predictable as was the romance, but I found the story fun to read nonetheless. Collins has created four remarkable women, each with a different area of expertise trying to make it in her field against the odds. I loved Ivy's sheer willpower to get the job done, how her work takes precedence even in the face of a blossoming romance. It's not that I disliked Quill as a love interest. This was your typical enemies-to-lovers scenario which I always love. I guess I was more annoyed with the romance itself. The entire murder seemed to just be the plot device to bring the two of them together as they happened to be in compromising situations, one after the next. Now, the writing was a little... well I had some issues. Inconsistencies with the passing of time seemed to be a big one. I also never felt like the emotions between the two leads was developed and explained. Some problems with the technical side of things, grammar and whatnot. And just a general plot that wasn't really a plot. I mean the story was there but didn't really move the book along, if that makes sense. It was a fun read. Not the best book out there and I had hoped for more, especially with the unusual bluestocking characters (woo, female scholars!), but I look forward to the next book featuring the... honest Daphne (you'll see what I mean if you read this one).
What a cute idea for a series! Four bluestockings, each with a different talent, inherit an estate from Lady Celeste Beauchamp, also a bluestocking. Lady Celeste’s nephew, Quill Beauchamp is not happy with that arrangement. Miss Ivy Wareham is an ancient language expert. She meets Quill at an inn near the estate when the coachman refuses to take her trunk of books. Quill steps in and escorts her as he is travelling there to find out about this inheritance. Upon arrival at the estate she finds a letter from Lady Celeste asking her to find the person she believes is poisoning her. The letter asks that the information be shared with Quill. Ivy and Quill are determined to solve this mystery, at some peril to themselves. Of course they are attracted to each other and there is a HEA. Cute idea and a good story.
The Marquess of Kerr Quill was having a very bad day. An axle had broken on his ancient family traveling carriage on the most deserted part of the drive from London.Also his favorite horse is back with the carriage with his baggage and valet. Quill had instructed his outriders to wait for help while he started out on foot for the coaching inn some three miles away. Then it started to pour. Finally the Marquess reached the inn The Fox and Peasant. Then Quill was finally noticed for who he was and passengers deferred to him but an auburn haired lady had blatant disregard for him and ended up dropping her her heavy trunk on her foot. One thing Quill couldn’t stand was a man who laid hands on a woman. A man had grabbed the woman and her trunk. Quill grabbed the woman away and then told the man that in the civilized world men treat women with decency and respect. The woman said she didn’t know how to thank him. Then Quill asked why she was still at the inn when the mail carriage had already left and she said the mail carriage had taken on more travelers and didn’t have room for her trunks. She also said the trunks were necessary for her studies. She said she was an independent scholar and said her name was Miss Aphrodite Wareham. Ivy to her friends. Then Quill said he might have known they would meet on the road to Beauchamp House. The family estate that her and her cohorts wish to steal out from under Quill’s family’s nose. Quill also said his family would not stand for this scheme they had concocted. Ivy admitted she had never met Lady Celeste but but she would have liked to so she could thank her for her generous bequest. Ivy had spent most of her life caring for her siblings. Her father had been the son of the Duke of Ware, his unsupported marriage had cut off any financial assistance he would have expected. Ivy was more than ready to to strike out on her own scholarly path- and to establish herself in her own right. There are four ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste’s estate. Then Quill finds out Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it had seemed and Quill needed Ivy’s help to solve the mystery behind her death. Then Ivy finds a letter from Lady Celeste that she believed she was being poisoned and wanted Ivy and Quill to solve the mystery. Then Quill and Ivy kiss and more and Quill can’t believe he did that when he had known Ivy less than twenty four hours. I had mixed feelings on this story there was things i liked and things I didn’t like. There was no heavy drama and was an easy read and I liked that. I didn’t really believe Quill and Ivy as a couple and in love I just didn’t connect with that. Also this was fairly predictable at times at least for me. This is fast paced and I did like the characters. So as you can see there was things I liked and then things I didn’t.
Ready Set Rogue by Manda Collins A Studies in Scandal Novel #1 Quill, Marquess of Kerr, believes his recently deceased aunt was duped by four females into bequeathing her estate to them. Quill sets off to make things “right” and in so doing steps on a few toes, including those of Ivy the heroine of this story. The other three bluestockings are introduced along with the cousin and sister of Quill, a murderer provides a mystery to be solved and of course there is the romance between Quill and Ivy that takes place. From me this gets a three. It was okay but did not wow me. The meet-cute was so-so, I did not feel a true connection between Quill & Ivy or how he so easily and quickly compromised her, the conversations were a bit stilted between the couple and perhaps it was a wee bit predictable. That said, I did enjoy the story and am very curious about Daphne the mathematician. She intrigued me more than any of the other bluestockings. This is the first book I have ready by this author and I would be willing to read another since so many have rated her books highly. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the copy of this boo. This is my honest review. 3 Stars
The Marquess of Kerr is convinced that Ivy Wareham and the other bluestockings took advantage of his aunt and convinced her to give them her estate. Ivy is outraged that this dandy is so inflexible and stubborn. He won't believe that they are innocent. When they arrive at Beauchamp House, Ivy finds a letter from Lady Celeste informing her that she was murdered and asking her and her nephew, Quill, to find who did it. Can they work together? Ivy is an interesting character. I liked that she's intelligent, feisty and innocent. The Marquess of Kerr is drawn to her. Their chemistry is amazing. When they're together sparks fly. I loved seeing them together. They light up the page with their flirty dialogue. The other bluestockings are charming and quirky. I can see that Quill's friend will have his hands full with Lady Daphne. Manda Collins has written a compelling story that combines a suspenseful mystery with a sweet romance. The setting is perfect. It adds to the story. I was captivated by Ivy and Quill's relationship. I loved the romance and the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat. I can't wait to see what happens in the next Studies In Scandal story. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Received an ARC for voluntary review for netgalley. This was a good regency romance. We have murder, mystery and of course the romance. Ivy and Quill meet, and start off with a rocky relationship and they do not like each other, but that changes as they spend time with each other discovering who killed Quinn's Aunt. Ivy is not the detested blue stocking he started out thinking of her as. There are four other blue stocking as they are referred to, and each have their own special traits. Good start to new series.
I absolutely adore Manda and her stories! And this one is yet another one that I'll have on my shelf. I love that it's a Regency romance but with a touch of humor (which Manda is great at) and a pinch of murder mystery, which is one of my favorites in romances. From the blurb, you know that Quill is definitely not happy about a bunch of ladies (four of them) laying siege on a manor house belonging to his aunt. Who, of course, would never give as an inheritance to with a blinds eye, like never having met or known them. That's literally preposterous! So Quill is on his way to Beauchamp House, to stop whatever it is those ladies think they're getting away with. And what's worse, or is it a blessing, that he would run into one of these thieving ladies, Miss Wareham before she gets to the house. Sure she's bookish with her spectacles and gorgeous green eyes, and those plain clothing that reminds him of a governess, she is still not to be trusted. Ivy on the other is there to claim her inheritance and no handsome gentleman like Quill is going to get in her way. Gratefully, he has a bad temper and awfully rude, yet she did glimpse a kindness in him before he knew who she was. But she has a mission to achieve and that's doing her scholarly work without the havoc of having to care and watch over her many siblings. This was her chance to be independent and free. When they arrive at the house three of the ladies were already settled in along with Quill's cousin Serena whom welcomed these ladies with opened arms. That didn't necessary infuriate him because he knew she would have known what Aunt Celeste would have wanted for the house, but he wasn't all too happy either of the circumstances. To their surprise the other three ladies were scholars too, all in different areas of research and they were tasked to complete a mission within a year to be named the sole hire to Beauchamp House. But when Ivy finds a letter from Lady Celeste, it questions everything that they know of her death. And what's even more troubling is that Quill and Ivy will have to work together to find out what happened and who the killer is without getting themselves in to trouble or being killed themselves. There are lots of secrets to be found on why Lady Celeste was murdered and why she would give her house to these bluestockings ladies. She herself is also a scholar and feminist, way before her time so it's truly empowering. I love mysteries and going on the adventures of finding the clues and searching for the answers with Quill and Ivy. It was so much fun seeing them having to work together even though the trust wasn't fully there between them. They were always butting head but they let their differences slide when things got had to get done. I liked that Ivy listened to Quill and didn't argue argue with him like many other heroines would have but at the same time she also let herself be heard when Quill needed to see her point of view. And I liked Quill when he thought more of Ivy than just a bluestocking and thieving schemer. He truly cared for Beauchamp House and the happiness he remembered there so it was understandable that he wanted to keep it. It was also fun meeting the other three ladies occupying the house with them. It'll be absolutely fun seeing who else will come by to stay at the house and how romances will come from it. And Lord Maitland and little Jeremy. Awww ~ eARC was provided by the publisher for honest review.
This is an entertaining historical read with plenty of suspense and drama, Ivy and Quill work together to discover who murdered Lady Celeste and as they do so, there chemistry grows. I love the interaction between Quill and Ivy, fun and sweet. The story is good and am looking forward to more in the series.
Rating 3.5/5 This is the first in a new series and is a delightful Regency era mystery with a side dish of romance. Lady Celeste Beauchamp leaves her estate and its contents to four young ladies she has never actually met. The young ladies are all regarded as bluestockings, specialising in different areas of study but unlikely to be able to move forward in their studies as easily without her bequest to them. One of the young ladies is Miss Aphrodite/Ivy Wareham and, after carefully ascertaining that this isn’t a joke and is true, she travels to the estate, as required under the terms of the bequest. En route she meets the Marquess of Kerr, Quill Beauchamp, the nephew of the late Lady Celeste and someone who is determined to overturn the bequest of the estate, wishing to keep it in his family. However, when he meets Ivy he is something of a boor, until she reveals the contents of his aunt’s letter to her in which Celeste expresses her belief that she is being murdered… As the two attempt to ascertain the truth concerning his aunt’s demise they find themselves discovering a growing attraction to each other whilst they, too, are in mortal danger from the murderer! This is a great murder mystery, with humour, romance and an intriguing plot. The clues to identify the perpetrator are scattered throughout the novel, but it is only as the reader approaches the finale that things start to point the finger of guilt towards them. The contrast between the bluestockings, their upbringings, attitudes and interests add greatly to the intrigue and there are some laugh out loud incidents at many points in the investigation. It is a great first novel in this series and will certainly try to read future releases - I really want to know more about what happens to the other bluestockings and hope there will also be a happy ending for their chaperone, Quill’s cousin, Lady Serena. Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for gifting me an ARC of this novel with no obligation. This is my honest review.
I'm going to be blunt, I'm giving this three stars because I feel like it was a good idea but could have been done better. It's called Ready Set Rogue right?...So you would think that the main guy would be rakish and a player or something...but he's not, he's a gentleman and that in itself dissapointed me simply because it didn't match the title and that's kind of important. Also, the cover...she doesn't match the girl in the story either.Ivy wears glasses and is curvy so I would like to know how the cover is supposed to make me connect with her. Moving on from those points, the romance felt rushed and more insta-lust to insta-love than I care for and the mystery was what was keeping me intrigued, until the characters came out made themselves known before even being discovered and gave it all up. So yeah... I'm pretty sure this story could be WAY better if given more thought, hence the three stars. I didn't love it, but I didn't absolutely hate it either. *I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book from Netgalley. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.*
I am in love with this series because the woman are so smart. Not only are they smart but each of them is gifted in different areas and their differences keep this story extremely fascinating and fast paced. With the addition of humor via Daphne's character the reader will find this an amusing and fun read. Quill and Ivy's interaction are like a tug of war over who will be in control. Quill the poor man doesn't know what to make of Ivy's intelligence and he spends much of his time trying to staying out of trouble with her by saying the wrong thing. But honestly he is very quick to learn his lesson and soon those two have the reader going around in circles as they chase clues to his aunt's death. There are numerous secondary characters that add lots of drama and spice to the story. Each of them could have an interesting story and I can't wait to see if the author takes these other characters further in other books to this new series. This book is like a mystery murder story with very intelligent women, two hot men and lots of fun along the way. Don't get me wrong this is not a frivolous read but a brilliantly executed story leading into more books to this series. I can't wait for the next book and it looks like it may involve Daphne and the Duke. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Upon learning of the recent death of his Aunt Celeste, Torquil Beauchamp hastens to the small village of Little Seaford. He is livid at the thought that Lady Celeste bequeathed her home to bluestockings, and all sorts of problems befall him on his way, so that he has to stop at an inn. He is not in a good mood, and to top it all, how dare this bespectacled miss not defer to him, the marquess of Kerr, as does everyone else! Still, he was raised a gentleman, and when the young lady struggles with her huge trunk, he helps her. That’s when Torquil – Quill – notices that she is indeed very pretty in a governess sort of way. Miss Aphrodite Wareham, Ivy to her friends, is grateful for Lord Kerr’s help, and when a drunken lout accosts her, Quill again comes to her rescue, and that’s when he learns that Ivy is one of the detested bluestockings who will invade his childhood haven. Ivy has missed her coach, but Quill asks her to ride with him to the estate, as to keep an eye on who he perceives as a liar and a fraud. However, just as she is about to go to bed, Ivy notices an envelope on her pillow, it’s a posthumous note from Lady Celeste asking Ivy to look into her untimely demise, as Celeste suspects she will not have died of natural causes… READY SET ROGUE is the first book in the new Studies in Scandal by Manda Collins, and a smashing introduction it is! While Quill first comes off as a pompous aristocrat, he has his reasons for not wanting the Beauchamp estate being taken away from the family, but he his no match for the four bluestockings he is stuck with. Ivy is an ancient language scholar, sisters Gemma and Sophia Hastings, respectively an archaeologist and an artist, and Lady Daphne Forsythe a mathematician; Quill’s cousin Lady Serena Fanning is acting as some sort of chaperon, and Quill is no match for any of those formidable ladies. While Quill and Ivy are attracted to each other, Quill is so determined to get rid of the women as soon as he can, that he makes it very difficult for Ivy to enquire into the death of Lady Celeste until she puts him in his place, and Quill begins to realise that his stubbornness is a hindrance in finding his Aunt’s killer. Those scenes are fantastic, as we cheer for Ivy while she defends her position, and the author makes us see how trying it was for a woman to use her abilities in Regency England. Manda Collins’s prose is stellar, so smooth and lovely, always in tune with the tone of the era, the dialogues are word-perfect and very witty, and the mystery is well constructed. The romance progresses nicely when Quill finally admits that he’s overreacted, even though he is not pleased; Ivy and Quill’s rapport feels very natural, and the sex scenes are beautiful. I must admit that there was a moment where I was a tad worried that a momentary lapse of reason due to lust would have dire consequences on the story, but I should not have underestimated Ms. Collins’ cleverness as she handled the matter spectacularly well, as it led to better things. All the characters are truly splendidly defined, with very distinct personalities and voices. I completely fell in love with the dashing, charming duke of Maitland, I desperately wanted more of him, and it seems my wish will come true when I saw the title of the next book. What a great series this will be! I am ready for the next instalment right this minute! I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.
Torquil (Quill) Beauchamp, the Marquess of Kerr is traveling from London to the southern coast to keep some women from taking everything from his late Aunt Celeste’s home, Beauchamp House. During his journey, his coach breaks down and he gets caught in a deluge of rain on his way to an Inn. At the Inn, a pretty lady drops a trunk full of books at his feet. While she is obviously impoverished, he assumes she is a governess traveling to her job But when she is accosted by a ruffian, he steps in and defends her. He soon finds she is not a governess but a scholar. Miss Aphrodite (Ivy) Wareham introduces herself and Quill soon learns she is one of the women heading to Beauchamp House. It appears that Aunt Celeste had always been interested in learning about many things and admired young women who were scholars in different areas. When Celeste died, she left her home to 4 young women scholars. The plan is a competition among the 4 women scholars who much complete a project within a year that is significant to the work of female scholars and artists. The winner will inherit Beauchamp House. Quill is quite angry about this and lets Ivy know that he thinks it is wrong and he won’t allow it. He plans to do all he can to keep Ivy and the other young women out of the House. Upon arrival at the House, Quill is surprised to find Ivy welcomed by Miss Sophia Hastings and her sister, Miss emma Hastings, along with Lady Daphne Forsythe. All of the women are scholars and believe they are heirs of Celeste. Quill’s cousin, Lady Serena Fanning, will stay at the House during that time. Arguably, Serena has spent more time sigh Celeste than Quill has and she feels she knows what her aunt would have wanted for the House. Thus, Quill finds he has no legal say in the matter. When Ivy settles in for her first night in the House, she discovers a letter to her from the late Aunt Celeste saying she fears someone is trying to kill her and she trusts Ivy to find out who her murderer is. Soon, Ivy and Quill form a sort of truce so both of them can discover how his aunt died. As they work together, they become attracted to one another which soon turns to love. But danger lurks as they discover that actually two people have been murdered. Whom will be next? I admit that I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. Some of the story was good, although a bit far-fetched at times, and I found I was left with some unanswered questions. However, I feel that the book is meant to be a bit light-hearted so I decided to be kind in my rating. Manda Collins is a new-to-me author and I am looking forward to trying more of her novels. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.