The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

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The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Delicious romantic fiction featuring 1813 Regency England mixed with the crime and uncertainty of gang-ridden London. Definitely a book to snuggle down with.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: August 2016
Publisher: Piatkus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349404530

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England 1813: When Venetia's father dies suddenly, Venetia receives a bigger shock than is customary on such occasions. The wonderful rural idyll and family life for Venetia, her mother and brother has been based on a lie. This means Venetia's family has to go to London to live with a half-sister and adopted brother she didn't know existed. No one is happy about it and now Venetia has to learn to live on her wits and her father's lessons in a position that not even her father had envisaged for her. Venetia's brother becomes more unruly among the temptations of the city while Captain Jack Chamberlaine, her father's step son, makes his annoyance at having Venetia around all too clear. But these will become the least of her worries…

British author Charlotte Betts came late to writing but she's since made her mark on the world of romantic historical fiction. The tone was set with Charlotte's first novel: The Apothecary's Daughter won the YouWriteOn Adult Book of the Year Award 2010, the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award 2011 and the RoNA’s Historical Category award for 2013. That was just the start; the rest, as they say, is history!

At Quill Court, we meet some unforgettable people. Venetia herself is feisty and resourceful despite having the grumps of Captain Jack to circumnavigate. It didn't irk me too much though as the Captain is somewhat swoon-worthy.

Indeed, recently wounded and home from the Napoleonic Wars, Chamberlaine is a classic dark, swarthy hero in Poldarkish mode. This is a chap, who having learnt a dirty truth about the guy he felt was a father figure, now has an understandable chip on his shoulder the size of his limp. From the moment he meets Venetia and mutual dislike tinges the atmosphere, we can guess where Charlotte is going with this. Yet it's written in a way that gives us a tingle of anticipation rather than a spoiler because we don't quite know how or when.

Back in the lower orders, Venetia's vulnerable maid, Kitty is mesmerised by the mysterious Nat. He's a streetwise bloke who keeps popping up in the weirdest of places. What are his intentions and, even though the word 'stalking' hasn't been invented, should we worry?

One of the things I admire about Charlotte's writing is that she doesn't abandon history for romantic story furtherance. In the lives of our Quill Court family/families we're shown a problem that crops up throughout British history: unemployment facing war heroes once the war is over.

We also witness the underbelly of London at the time when the police force is in its unrecognisable embryonic stages. Villains like Charlotte's sinister, brutal and downright creepy King Midas could do whatever they wanted to whomever they wanted, including the law enforcers.

This is suspense filled, romantic fiction with a tear or two along the way. Indeed, as the near-autumn days shorten and lighter, comfort reads are brought out to dispel the growing chill, The House at Quills Court is a safe bet to dispel the autumn blues.

(Thank you so much Piatkus for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you haven't caught up with it yet, do try the aforementioned The Apothecary's Daughter. If you're already a fan, we just as heartily recommend Pengelly's Daughter by Nicola Pryce.

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