London, 1819. Wherever Cassandra Darkin goes, fire is sure to follow. It's not until she's swept into the arms of a handsome, infuriating stranger that she learns she's responsible for the fires. As it turns out, Cassandra is a fire mage...and with her gift comes a blazing desire for sins of the flesh.
With his pretenatural ability to influence the thoughts of others, Garrett Sterling is sent to gather Cassandra for the Order of the M.U.SE. He's entirely unprepared for his immediate attraction to the comely little firestarter. But it's an attraction that he must quell, even as his body craves her touch and her fiery, sensual hunger.
For Garrett's gift has a dark side...and the moment he begins to care too much for Cassandra, he knows he will doom her to an inescapable fate.
The Order of the M.U.S.E. series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 The Curse of Lord Stanstead
Book #2 The Madness of Lord Westfall
Book #3 The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn
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The Curse of Lord Stanstead
The Order Of The M.U.S.E Book One
By Mia Marlowe, Erin Molta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Diana Groe
All rights reserved.
If once to Almack's you belong,
Like monarchs you can do no wrong;
But banished thence on Wednesday night,
By Jove, you can do nothing right.
— Cornelius Luttrell, illegitimate son of an earl who nevertheless possessed an Almack's voucher by virtue of his wit
"I am not responsible for that fire." Cassandra Darkin was certain of it.
"Of course you're not responsible, dearest."
Cassandra startled guiltily when her older sister Daphne patted her forearm. She hadn't meant to speak her fear aloud.
"What a silly notion," Daphne continued. "You weren't even particularly close when the candle flame leaped from the wall sconce to the ostrich plume on Lady Waldgren's turban."
"Make that the ridiculous ostrich plume on the odious Lady Waldgren's turban," Cassie amended. Her sister cast a warning glance, but didn't disagree. No one who'd felt the sting of Lady Waldgren's waspish tongue would argue the point.
However, they'd probably take care to express it less publicly.
Daphne was right about the rest, though. Cassandra hadn't been near when the feather had burst into flames, but she had passed by the wretched gossip prior to the incident and had heard her name in whispered conversation. The hissed tone had been enough to tell Cassie that Lady Waldgren's comments had not been meant kindly.
Still, no one wished to see the gossip's head aflame. Fortunately, Lord Waldgren's quick action and obvious glee at being able to rip off his wife's outlandish headgear and stomp it into oblivion had averted a tragedy. After that, the evening at Almack's had progressed with hardly a hiccup.
If Lady Waldgren's small conflagration had been the only one in recent memory, Cassandra wouldn't have given the matter a second thought. But only that week, there had been three unexplained fires at the Darkin's fashionably situated town house. One flame had ignited in the breakfast room when Cassandra's father had announced he'd heard talk at Brooks that the son of Lord Bellefonte, their country neighbor, was courting the daughter of an earl.
The other fires had erupted in Cassandra's bedchamber on two separate occasions after that — once when she was trying to decide which gown to wear to a soiree that Roderick Bellefonte was expected to attend, and then again when Cassandra had returned home that evening. An unexplained blaze had flared up when she'd told her abigail to burn the peach silk moiré because she'd never wear it again.
If Cassandra hadn't been speaking of burning when the candle on her dressing table toppled over of its own accord, she might never have wondered if the frequent fires were somehow her fault. She'd been present each time, but that did not mean she was responsible.
Still, to err on the side of caution, Cassandra stationed herself in a dark corner of the assembly room, far from any sources of flame.
"For heaven's sake, Cassie, sit up straight," Daphne said as they watched the dancers move through the prescribed steps of the quadrille. "You look like a wilted lily."
Cassandra felt like one, too. Her bodice was cut low enough to keep her shoulders rounded. "I wish I'd insisted on that fichu."
"Nonsense. Your décolletage is perfectly appropriate for evening. Look at Lady Cowper. She's not a bit dismayed over baring her shoulders and a good bit more." Daphne arched her spine, her own pert mounds shown to good effect by the Empire style. Since Daphne had already accepted the suit of the son of a baron in Kent, she had no need to preen so. "There are plenty of bosoms on display this night."
"Yet the only bosom I'm concerned with is mine." Cassie was aware she sounded like a hopeless bluestocking, but she couldn't help herself. In truth, she wished she could hide all of her, not just her bosom, until the Season was over. Or better yet, convince her father to return to Wiltshire without waiting to see if his youngest daughter would catch the interest of a suitable beau or if she'd be placed firmly on the shelf.
Sir Orlando Mayne passed by with a dance partner on his arm. He sent Cassandra a quick appraising glance and a wink. Heat crept up her neck. Sir Orlando was Roderick's closest friend.
What did Roddy tell him?
"How do you expect to attract an eligible gentleman if you don't present yourself with confidence?" Daphne whispered.
"You're quite right," Cassie snapped. "Perhaps I should hire a tradesman's window and put myself on display."
"Now you're being vulgar. We are not in trade."
"Not anymore, you mean."
Their father had returned from India when Cassandra was ten years old with plenty of wealth to show for his stint in the Gorgeous East. He was subsequently dubbed Sir Cornelius for his service to the Crown, but even with a baronetcy, the Darkins were too nouveau riche for full inclusion by the ton. It was only because Countess Esterhazy's cousin owed their father an astronomical gambling debt, which he'd been willing to forgive, that they'd been given the opportunity to purchase a coveted Almack's voucher that admitted them to the weekly assemblies.
Daphne had explained that it would take another two generations before their family would be fully considered "good ton."
"I don't make the rules," she said airily. "But I'm certainly glad my fiancé is light enough in the pockets not to mind that my blood isn't as blue as his. In any case, it'll be ever so nice to be Lady Mooreland someday."
Unfortunately, Roderick Bellefonte's father was not in dun territory. Along with thousands of acres, he had plenty of coin. What the viscount needed was a politically and socially advantageous match for his son and heir in order to increase the family's standing and range of influence. Against such requirements, the second daughter of a recently made baronet did not signify.
Cassandra understood that. Certainly she did. If she truly loved Roderick, she'd want what was best for him. It would be selfish of her to try to hold him back.
But she wished with all her heart that she'd held herself back.
Does it show?
Another of Roderick's friends smiled at her. Perhaps the mark of sensual experience was perfectly visible to those who knew to look for it. Her gaze dropped to the dance-worn floor.
A pair of spit-shined shoes with silver buckles appeared on the hardwood in her line of vision.
"Will you do me the honor of this dance, Miss Cassandra?"
She looked up the sleek stockings, past the correct knee britches, starched white shirtfront, and cutaway jacket. Sir Orlando's boyishly round face was attached to the request.
A lady was always supposed to accept a dance with a gentleman to whom she'd been properly introduced. She'd known Orlando for years. They'd played together as children when he'd visited Roderick's family. The boys had snuck over the rambling rock wall that separated the viscount's land from her father's. She and Daphne had excelled at being fair maidens in need of rescue from imaginary dragons lurking in the haymow. Roderick and Orlando had been their worthy champions, subduing menacing hay bales with a single blow.
Cassandra wondered what sort of game Orlando wanted to play with her now.
No, I'm imagining things. There's no slyness in his gaze.
Even so, she almost pleaded a headache to avoid dancing with him. Then across the room, Roderick entered with Lady Sylvia on his arm. In another moment, Cassandra's heart would cease beating and she'd have the perfect excuse not to join Sir Orlando in the gavotte.
Lady Sylvia was slim, but not lacking in curves in the proper places. Blessed with fashionably blond curls, she also boasted a flawless pale complexion. The earl's daughter floated across the room as if her kid-soled slippers didn't deign to touch the floor. A being of such loveliness ought to have been winged.
Even if Lady Sylvia hadn't possessed overwhelming social advantages, Cassie couldn't compete with that brand of ethereal charm.
How could I have been so monumentally stupid?
Roderick leaned down and whispered in the lady's ear. Lady Sylvia laughed, a silvery sort of laugh that lifted the hearts of everyone near her by virtue of its otherworldly cheer.
Sir Orlando cleared his throat.
Cassie had no excuse to refuse him. Despite expectations to the contrary, her heart continued to pump in her chest. However, something unnamable smoldered in the space around it.
The burning malevolence wasn't directed at Lady Sylvia. She couldn't help being beautiful and wellborn. And Cassie couldn't fault Roderick for choosing to woo her. Two such pretty people deserved each other.
No, Cassandra's ire was reserved for herself. Every candle in the room flared for the space of two blinks.
"Of course I'll dance with you, Sir Orlando." Cassandra rose and made a correct curtsy. She forced a smile. "The honor is mine."
* * *
"A secret panel in the room reserved for séances does suggest skullduggery." Edward St. James, His Grace, the Duke of Camden, prowled the perimeter of his sumptuously appointed parlor. He considered himself a man of moderate temperament and would have been surprised to learn that his intensity made even his friends liken him to a wolf stalking a weakling to cull from the flock. "Then it is your opinion that the medium in Cornwall is a fraud?"
"As much a fraud as the notion of Cornish society," said Garret Sterling. He didn't count himself Camden's friend and lounged with one knee hitched over the arm of the leather wing chair as if he weren't in the presence of one of the most powerful peers in the realm.
If Camden was the lead wolf, Sterling was the wary stray on the fringe of the pack who hadn't made up his mind whether to join the group or challenge the ruling authority.
Camden glared at Sterling's booted foot. Camden House wasn't a courtesan's salon, after all, but he resisted the urge to order Sterling to conduct himself with more decorum. Though the duke would have no qualms about dressing down a member of the House of Lords who quarreled with him, Garret Sterling required special handling. Camden had high hopes for him and his considerable gifts.
Besides, a reprimand to Sterling would have all the effect of waving a red flag before a bull.
Sterling had come to Camden's attention one night at a dinner party. From out of nowhere, the outlandish idea of stripping off all his clothing and going for a swim in Lord Fairbank's deep fountain had lodged itself in Camden's brain. Since the duke had sensed a release of psychic energy nearby, he realized the thought was not his own. He had traced it immediately to the gentleman seated at the far end of the long table and knew he'd found another soul to add to the Order of the M.U.S.E, the Metaphysical Union of Sensory Extraordinaires.
Not that Sterling had come willingly. He had been quite content to invade the secret core of others and imprint them with his own brand of mischief. However, once Camden had offered to help him harness his other, more unwieldy gift, Sterling had sullenly been brought to heel.
"Make a note regarding the Cornish medium, Bernard," Camden said as he continued his circuit of the room. Walking helped him think and now that yet another medium had proved to be a fake, he needed to boil away some frustration as well.
"Very good, Your Grace." His steward's sagging jowls and bushy white brows always put Camden in mind of the breed of mountain dog whose name Bernard shared. However, his trusted servant was far too dignified for Camden to share this observation with him. Bernard scratched notes of the Order's meeting at the small escritoire that sat beneath a bank of Palladian windows.
"Next time you decide to send me to the hinterlands, Your Grace," Garret said with considerably less deference in his tone than Bernard, "I beg you to lace my port with arsenic instead."
"Poison is a woman's weapon." The small voice came from the far corner. The girl it belonged to took a handkerchief from her sleeve and dusted the side table. "His Grace would never stoop to such methods."
"Thank you, Miss Anthony. Your support is roundly appreciated." Then Camden frowned at her. "Confound it. Will you cease your infernal cleaning?"
"Yes, Your Grace, of course." Stricken, she shoved the cloth back into her sleeve and dropped a stiff curtsy. "I'm ever so sorry, I'm sure."
If Sterling took Camden's rank too lightly, Meg Anthony was all but undone by it. The duke forced what he hoped was a welcoming smile to his lips. "Please have a seat, my dear."
Her pale eyebrows shot skyward. "Oh, I couldn't. T'wouldn't be proper."
"Nonsense," Camden said. "If I order you to be seated, you may be assured that makes it proper, but I'd rather not give that order. I want you to realize your own worth and take your seat by right."
"An order within the Order isn't the 'done' thing, you know," Sterling drawled. "However, if His Grace asks us all to stand on our heads, you'd be correct in assuming he expects us to do it posthaste and with a smile on our faces, Meg."
"She is Miss Anthony to you, Sterling," said Camden. "You may not address her so informally while the pair of you bide here."
Garret shrugged and looked away. The younger man made a virtue out of seeming not to care about anyone or anything, though Camden knew better. Garret was afraid to care and as long as that attitude continued, Camden feared he couldn't help him. The duke stifled the urge to swear.
He'd persuaded Meg Anthony that with enough tutelage, she might adopt a lady's persona so she could move smoothly in the circles he planned for her. If he ever hoped to convince her that her special gift made her fit to be considered a lady, Camden had to act the gentleman in her presence. And see that the rest of his household did, too.
"If you please, Miss Anthony." Camden indicated the wing chair opposite Garret Sterling. To his relief, she crossed the room and perched on the edge of the chair. Her knuckles whitened when she laced her fingers on her lap, but at least she was seated. "Now then, Bernard, where are we on the matter of the ASP?"
"Nothing more has been discovered about how those holding the item intend to smuggle it into the country." His steward leafed through the weekly reports from other members of the far-flung Order. "Our Watcher at Brighton thought he had a lead, but it turned out to be a false alarm."
"Are we certain this ASP even exists?" Sterling asked.
"It does," Camden said. "My French counterpart assures me of it."
Bonaparte languished on the Isle of Elba, but that didn't mean there still weren't those on the Continent who wished the English Crown ill. Now that military measures had failed, Britain's enemies had turned to other, less easily defended methods, specifically, arcane weapons of a psychic bent. Camden and his Order had already intercepted three such objects en route to the court of their mad king. The duke still wondered if perhaps one had sneaked in beneath their notice and was responsible for George III's periodic descents into lunacy.
"If only we knew what the ASP is, perhaps I could find it for you," Miss Anthony said.
"No doubt you could, but the one thing we do know is that it is not an actual snake. You'd have found it otherwise. No, ASP is code for something we may safely assume is quite lethal. And according to all the intelligence we've gathered, the next metaphysical attack is going to be directed at the Prince Regent, not His Majesty."
Camden stopped pacing for a moment, his gaze caught by the portrait of his wife above the mantel. Mercedes had sat for it during the weeks when she first discovered she was increasing with their child. The artist had captured the glow of impending motherhood as it softened her already lovely features. At night in his solitary bed, Camden fancied he could still feel her silken skin under his fingertips. A shadow passed over his heart and he jerked his gaze away from the painting.
"Oh, and Miss Anthony," he went on, hoping no one had noticed his momentary distraction. "His Royal Highness wishes me to convey his thanks to you for discovering the whereabouts of his diamond studs. They were exactly where you said they'd be."
Meg ducked her head in shy acknowledgement.
The door to the parlor burst open and Vesta LaMotte swept in. Bedecked with ropes of matched pearls and swathed in a red velvet wrap trimmed with ermine, she was a glittering feast on neatly shod feet.
"So sorry to be late," Vesta said as she breezed around the room. "It's deucedly difficult to pry myself away from the theater."
Though she was a good ten years his senior, Garret Sterling leaped to his feet to give her gloved hand the homage that was beauty's due. Vesta granted him a voluptuous smile. When Meg Anthony rose respectfully, she was astonished when Vesta clasped her hands and kissed the air by both her cheeks.
When Vesta finally turned to Camden, he saw that her artfully rouged lips were poised to call him "Edward," but she changed her mind at the last moment. Instead, she sank in a curtsy worthy of an operatic diva and rose slowly, allowing her gaze to travel the length of his body with possessive boldness. He roused to her, despite himself.
Excerpted from The Curse of Lord Stanstead by Mia Marlowe, Erin Molta. Copyright © 2015 Diana Groe. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
Please take a chance on this one, page turner!
The story was good, How ever we as readers are not stupid. Really do you think a time piece like a watch was part of an Egyptian find! Come on even in a fiction book you need to make it believable. I would have enjoyed the book more and wanted to buy some of her books but after a big mistake like that I don't think so.
Hard to put down. Twists and turns and definitely not predictable.
This series is worth the read! I need more!
Great story ideas. Enough steam to keep it interesting. Would def read more.
This is book 1 in the Order of the MUSE series. Everywhere she goes lately, Cassandra Darkin sees fires being started. What she doesn't know is that she is causing them. Garrett Sterling has been sent to fetch Cassandra for the Order of the MUSE, a group of paranormals trying to save the country from supernatural powers. Cassandra soon learns that she is a fire mage (she can tame fire). Garrett has been assigned as Cassandra's partner. As fire mages get built up energy, they need to have it released. Hence why Garrett steps up to the plate... Cassandra ignores Garrett's nightly knock to relieve her tension not wanting to relive the one experience she has had with a man. But as she gets to know Garrett and spend time with him, she decides to let him help her. As they try to foil a plot to harm the Prince Regent, they become closer to each other. Can two "special" people find a love that neither of them was looking for? Let me start this with the fact that it is a paranormal historical romance. I picked it up having liked Marlowe's previous work and not knowing it was a paranormal. I'm not normally a fan of paranormal, but I did enjoy this book and look forward to reading more of the series. On top of the plot to save the country, we have a story of a bad boy being tamed by the right woman which is always a good read. Garrett was happy to help Cassandra with her "problem" as he was attracted to her. But it soon became much more than that. He needed to be close to her in body and mind. After one disastrous encounter with the opposite sex, Cassandra was not looking for a physical relationship. But she didn't count on the feelings that being around Garrett evoked and soon gave in to their nightly sessions. I loved the secondary characters of this book and can't wait to read Lord Westfall's story which comes out at the end of the month. Thanks go out to Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
**I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review** The Order of The M.U.S.E. noticed a weird rash of fires around London that could only be attributed to someone with special fire abilities. They send Garret, a man whose powers include placing thoughts into others' minds. When Garret finds the unwitting pyro, he kidnaps her and brings her to the Order to teach her about her gift. This wasn't a typical historical romance. There's not many out there that include paranormal elements and other key elements to the story. At first it seemed a pretty straight-forward story, but towards the end, the author put in some very interesting twists into the plot. I highly recommend to anyone that likes this genre.
When I read the synopsis of the book it had me intrigued enough to read the book. The whole idea of the MUSE and people with different psychic abilities. Cassandra's fire mage ability is awakened and now Lord Camden wants to recruit her for his MUSE society. With their help Cassandra will learn to control her ability. The MUSE help protect the Prince Regent. Garrett who can send thoughts to people to make them believe they are thinking them is a loner for a good reason. He is set with the task of helping Cassandra. Cassandra awakens up one part of Garrett he thought was forever closed off, his heart. Now with the unknown threat and his growing feelings for Cassandra Garrett is torn in several different directions. He feels like he can't keep her safe, but he will do anything to make sure she is. But with the unknown threat will he be too late? I liked Cassandra and Garrett's relationship. You could see two people blossoming and the love they have for one another is beautiful. There were a few twists in this one that had me on the edge of my seat to see what was coming next.
The setting of the story is very similar to X-Men, you have a group of individuals with various powers & their leader who molds them into agents to serve their country. Cassandra (Cassie) is a fire mage but her latent powers only come into force after her 1st (disappointing) sexual experience. Growing up together, Cassie figures herself in love with Lord Roderick Bellefonte & succumbs to his wiles only to find that he is courting the eminently well positioned Lady Sylvia whose lineage far exceeds Cassie’s. Her awakened powers bring her to the attention of the Duke of Camden, who seeks & nurtures others with metaphysical powers & uses them for the good of the crown. Cassie learns that part of her psyche as a fire mage is a heightened sensuality and a need for sexual release to keep her powers from exploding (somewhat literally). Garrett Sterling is a reluctant agent of the Duke's & agrees to help with this aspect of Cassie's powers (what man wouldn't!). Initially reluctant, Cassie finally succumbs in order to manage her burgeoning powers and naturally a relationship soon builds between them. I was a bit worried this would descend into just graphic sex scenes & no plot but luckily the author kept it tasteful. A quick and easy read with likable characters. The chemistry between Garrett and Cassie is nicely written and developed & both are likable. An interesting and plausible plot makes this quite a good read. Garrett's "curse" is not quite the focus of the story; it's an impediment to Cassie and Garrett's relationship & I thought the title a bit misleading. Copy gifted for an honest review.
The order of the M.U.S.E is the Metaphysical Union of Sensory Extraordinaires, they are a group with the purpose of protecting the royal family from psychic attacks by utilising their own innate skills, talents and cunning. Cassandra Darkin is a fire mage but initially she has no idea how she is starting the fires or how to control her affinity for the fire element. Gareth Sterling is sent to bring her to the MUSE. He is able to influence the thoughts of others and it is assumed he’ll be able to use this to get her to come with him, but the best laid plans often go wrong – and they do so now! He can’t influence Cassie but he is seriously attracted to her and that’s dangerous for both of them. Read the book to find out how Cassie learns to control her fire affinity and the life threatening events as she works with Gareth to protect the Prince of Wales from an unknown psychic threat known as ASP. Set in the times of King George III, this is a period romance with a difference, involving psychic talents and threats – something akin to a Georgian/Regency version of X-men! This paranormal twist and the difficulties experienced by those with the talents make this an unusual story. With the peerage, differences in acceptable behaviour in polite society, the role of Almanacs and the ton in all of this are also explored. This is filled with mysteries to be solved, romance to experience and treason to prevented, making it a very original and entertaining read. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley too, for letting me read an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A hot new Historical Romance with a bit of intrigue, mystery, suspense, bit of paranormal and lots of passion. Fast paced this is a bit usual as it includes a mage, a heroine who can control fire, or she tries. A hero determined to tame and help the heroine with her talent. Some political intrigue and a secret society makes this an interesting and intriguing story. Well written with vivid descriptions , engaging characters and a unique storyline. I enjoy Ms. Marlowe 's adventures and one was no different. Definitely a keeper and we'll worth the time to read. Strongly recommended to fans of Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance , as well as mystery and suspense lovers. Well done. I personally look forward to the next exciting installment. * Received for an honest review from the publisher via Net Galley * **Cross -posted on My Book Addiction and More * Rating: 4.5 Heat rating : Mild Reviewed by : AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
This book was amazing! I haven't ever read anything quite like it before. I loved the mix of mythology and historical romance. It was very entertaining and I hope to see more of this series in the future. I encourage all of you to read this one, as I don't believe you will be disappointed.
London, 1819 When only seduction will do... Wherever Cassandra Darkin goes, fire is sure to follow. It's not until she's swept into the arms of a handsome, infuriating stranger that she learnsshe's responsible for the fires. As it turns out, Cassandra is a fire mage...and with her gift comes a blazing desire for sins of the flesh. With his pretenatural ability to influence the thoughts of others, Garrett Sterling is sent to gather Cassandra for the Order of the M.U.SE. He's entirely unprepared for his immediate attraction to the comely little firestarter. But it's an attraction that he must quell, even as his body craves her touch and her fiery, sensual hunger. For Garrett's gift has a dark side...and the moment he begins to care too much for Cassandra, he knows he will doom her to an inescapable fate. Review: Interesting twist on a historical romance. In a time when super-hero movies and TV shows are all the rage, why not transfer this into a romance story set in Georgian England with the cast of characters having special powers? I picked it up from that description and I liked it. It is the first book in a new series and with any new series, there is a lot of set-up to build the world and draw-in the readers. I thought the Author did a good job. Intrigued by the story and I was quickly engrossed in it, it was a quick read also. The heat between Garrett and Cassandra was well-done, there was a chemistry, but at first it was more about helping Cassandra and built until they both started falling for each other. Loved the part where Garrett is ready to sacrifice some of himself to be with Cassandra, yes I was vague on purpose to not spoil it for others. Another element I enjoyed was they are basically crime fighters, in that they track down people or items with special powers and try to keep the country safe (think The Librarians TV show, though in a different time period). Oh, and I can't forget if you like action there is that in here too. I liked it, thought it was different and unique, I cannot wait to see what the next story brings. I think if you like historical romances and X-Men, you would like this book. 3.5Stars *Received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
I received this book from Entangled Published in return for a fair and honest review. This is one of Entangled's Select Historical novels and my first introduction to both them and this author. I have to say that I am in no way disappointed! The Order of the M.U.S.E. is a secret society that you learn about as you go on. They have various members who are capable in various ways. The latest 'recruit' is Cassie, an emergent fire mage who needs help controlling her element. But this is also during the time of the 'mad King George' and it is the Order's job to protect royalty against any who would harm them. Where there is yin, there is yang and although it is only mentioned in passing, you are left with the impression that there is another Order there who seeks to harm, not help. This is very well written and gives you a good insight on the ton and their rules and regulations that would need to be followed to be part of Polite Society. The plot is smoothly written and moves along at a fair pace, never slumping. A warm-hearted story with a hint of mystery, a dash of the paranormal and more than a tinge of hot romance. Definitely recommended. Merissa Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Mia Marlowe writes a fast-paced and sensual romance and, though I didn’t care for her recent Somerton Park series, she’s back on track with this one. The first in her new Order of the M.U.S.E. series, I read early chapters of this as a work-in-progress on the author’s blog and felt it had great promise then. I have also enjoyed her previous paranormal Regency era Touch of Seduction series (Touch of a Thief, Touch of a Rogue, etc) and this is similar to those quirky, sexy books. This story is a nice combination of paranormal, historical and romance with some exciting extras. There’s espionage, a group of smart men and women fighting for the common good of God and country, and a heroine finding self confidence and true love. Cassandra Darkin is the younger daughter of a newly minted baronet who made his fortune in trade. She is a vulnerable and insecure young woman who gave her virtue to Roderick, an undeserving sycophant who had no intention of marrying her. In her silent rage, she unknowingly sets fires in her home and all around London. At a ball in the first chapter, she sets yet another unexplained fire when she realizes that not only is Roderick going to marry another but that he has also bragged about her to his friends who now think she’s an easy mark. The illustrious Duke of Camden works for the Crown but his specialty is sensory intelligence. Hence, he collects “Extraordinaires,” people with unique gifts and talents. He helps them come to terms with and control their gifts so that they can find some semblance of peace and happiness in their lives. They are known as the M.U.S.E. (The Metaphysical Union of Sensory Extraordinaires) and they work to divert unexplained phenomena plots against the king. There is Westfall, a viscount who hears thoughts in people’s heads (and who was recently released from Bedlam into Camden’s care), Meg Anthony, a former maid who can find lost objects, and Vesta LaMotte, a femme fatale fire mage and courtesan with whom Camden once had a short-lived affair, and Garrett Sterling, Camden’s newest and unruliest acquisition. Garrett can send thoughts into people’s heads.Think Jedi mind trick. But all of the Extraordinaires’gifts also have a downside (or curse). For example, Garrett dreams horrific nightmares of those closest to him…and they always come to fruition. This terrifies him and so he has made it a point to never get close to or care about anyone. When it comes to Camden’s attention that there is a new fire mage on the loose in London, he sends Garrett and Westfall to locate her and bring her to him so that he can help her as well as use her talents to help stop the threats against the Crown. And when Garrett learns the beautiful and young Cassandra is the fire mage, he is assigned the delightful task of helping her control her fire in more ways than one. He will help her release her sexual energy and frustration so that Vesta can help her control her fire making abilities. This is an amusing allusion of fire and passion as Cassandra is a passionate and sexual woman who must learn to temper not only her lusts but also her anger. When she gets agitated, she sets fires and only sexual release can help her to control her uncontrollable heat. For the rest of my review on my blog: http://bit.ly/1lnSoGe