This trio of books is set in an alternate version of history where Wellington lost the battle of Waterloo and Britain became part of Napoleon’s empire.
1817 Cornwall and London
Heir to an aristocratic family scorched by scandal and scarred by war, the Earl of Lamorna (known to friends as Crow) is as dangerous as he is self-destructive. As a spy, he treads a fine line between loyalty and treachery, with a haunting secret in his past that threatens to destroy not only Crow himself, but those he loves. It’s only going to take a single spark to set his world aflame. So when Crow’s wild and impetuous young brother catches him in flagrante with their widowed stepmother, a lethal chain of events is set in motion.
Heiress Hester Harewood has problems of her own, on the run from the men who shot her father. The last thing she needs is to get involved with a complicated aristocrat, even if he does offer her his unconditional protection. But who is more dangerous? Those she is running from? Or Crow himself: charismatic, unpredictable, and yet with the capacity for such tenderness that Hester’s heart is in just as much danger as her life.
Game of Hearts was previously published as False Lights by K.J. Whittaker and on Kindle as Hester and Crow by Katy Moran
In high society England, gossip and scandal are traded over afternoon tea and the country is awash with rumour.
In Lady Hester’s opinion, it’s just typical that the wickedest gossip of all focuses on her beautiful, impossible husband Crow. Damaged aristocrat, soldier, spy, Crow loves Hester fiercely, but he has a wild past and rumours of a child with his black hair and grey eyes wound Hester more deeply than she is willing to admit. And yet London blazes with a far more lethal whispering campaign that threatens the safety of their own little daughter, Morwenna. Crow’s enemies want him tried for treason and soon Morwenna herself is in mortal danger. Hester may love Crow as much as he loves her, but now their baby’s life is at risk. There’s nothing she won’t do to protect their child. So when clever, worldly-wise Countess Lieven drops her guard and says, ‘Run… take your baby, Hester, and run,’ Hester does exactly that.
Accused of high treason, Crow will do anything to save Hester and Morwenna, even if that means accepting a final mission that might just end in losing them both for good.
Clemency Arwenack never dreamed she would be appointed lady-in-waiting to the notorious Princess Royal. A soldier’s daughter, Clemency has aristocratic connections that she could quite frankly do without, and catering to the whims of an impetuous heir to the throne is the last thing she wants. Even so, Clemency’s ambitious godmother forces her to accept the position. Always a keeper of other people’s confidences, Clemency has a secret of her own, and Georgiana, Lady Boscobel, is only too ready to use it against her.
Worse still, the Honourable Lieutenant Colonel Kit Helford is now captain of the royal guard – and so Clemency can’t avoid the one childhood friend who might just see through her dangerous web of deceit. Kit Helford is just as wild and handsome as he’s always been. And Clemency knows only too well that he’s just as much trouble.
My thoughts: I loved this trilogy, I want more Hester and Crow and Kit and Clemency. I have questions – where on earth did Arkwright disappear to? Does Kitto retire his commission and rear horses instead? Is Clemency still running a book bindery? What happened to Nadezdha – did she become queen? There’s too many loose threads, book 4 please!
Alternate history novels are a lot of fun – all the what ifs, completely flipping things on their head. With Wellington a prisoner in the first book (Game of Hearts), all looks lost, but Crow, dashing, handsome, dangerous Crow is tasked with rescuing him and increasing his own infamy in the process. Hester provides some balance but those wild Cornish Lamorna men are tricky to tame.
I have a great love for Cornwall, my grandmother came from the West Country, and I’ve been to several of the places mentioned – I even own Lamorna pottery with its distinctive blue colouring. So I enjoyed going “been there!” as various locations enter the story. I’ve also been to France and Russia, I could easily picture St Petersburg (Wicked by Design) and the Neva River, frozen over and glittering. I think this added an extra dimension for me, but even if you haven’t a clue what any of these places might look like, Katy Moran brings the courts of Europe in all their gossiping, back stabbing delight to full life.
A big thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me these lovely books.