Title: The Crofton Chronicles Bundle
Series: The Crofton Chronicles 01 – 04
Author: Rebecca Cohen
Genre: Historical, Elizabethan Era (1598/1599) (1599/1600), Contemporary
Length: 4x Novels (769 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (11th November 2016)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 4 – 4 ½ Hearts
Blurb: When his sister reneges on her engagement to Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, actor Sebastian Hewel must play his most difficult role yet: impersonating his sister in order to restore the family name and pay off his father’s debt, in The Actor and the Earl. But Anthony is shrewder than the siblings had guessed, and now Sebastian and Anthony have to decide how far they’re willing to play this part. In Duty to the Crown, Sebastian is happily playing the part of his sister Bronwyn, wife to the Earl of Redbourn, when the Queen asks Anthony to seduce Marie Valois to find out information about her father. With Marie and her brother, Lord Nicholas, both interested in seducing Sebastian, Anthony and Sebastian both have delicate roles to play if they’re to keep their secret. In Forever Hold His Peace, Sebastian’s role as “Bronwyn” becomes more precarious when she is accused of witchcraft with planted evidence. Together, Anthony and Sebastian must decide if it’s time for Bronwyn to retire her place to protect their love.
Over four centuries later, in Saving Crofton Hall, the current Earl of Crofton, Benjamin Redbourn, is not going to lose Crofton Hall without a fight. Ashley Niven is the perfect man to help make Crofton Hall pay for itself, if Benjamin and Ashley can get past their attraction to each other, and if the secrets that the house is hiding doesn’t destroy them first.
A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.
The Actor and the Earl ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts
Sebastian is an actor who is called home by his cousin to perform the role of his life time. Sebastian’s sister has eloped, but she was due to marry an Earl. Now, due to family debts, Sebastian has to fill the role of blushing bride. Anthony is far from hoodwinked and offers a solution that benefits both of them. Now, they just have to fool the nobility and maybe they will both keep their heads.
This is an interesting story of Elizabethan England and the illicit marriage of an Actor and an Earl. Sebastian loves acting, but just wishes he could get more masculine roles. Now, he is offered the role of a lifetime after his sister elopes, but it is a role that could cost him his head. But, he never suspected it would also cost him his heart. Anthony is a man, who will take his pleasure where he can, discovering his future brother-in-law will be his wife, he uses it to his advantage. But, the marriage affects him more than he thought and his scandalous days are numbered.
The characters in this book are very interesting with both Sebastian and Anthony acting like men of their times. Although, at times Sebastian had to act like a woman of their time. Anthony wasn’t a perfect husband, although he did try. Changing a way of life was hard for him and he messed up several times with Sebastian. Sebastian made for a good wife, but he was a great man and the way he tried to stick to his guns with Anthony was quite impressive. The setting and time frame were well done with some great descriptions of the theatres of the time period.
I must admit to not warming up to the characters all that much, Sebastian and Anthony seemed to have no real connection between them and I didn’t feel as though they really got emotionally involved with each other. It felt more like convenience than any real attraction especially from Anthony, and even later it still felt like there was a distance between them even after they declared their love. Their sex life was hot though and that was the only time I felt a real connection between them. The best part for me, was when Anthony starting fighting for their relationship and began to court Sebastian in earnest.
I will recommend this to those who love historicals, those who love masquerades, fighting for love and a happy ending.
Duty to the Crown. ♥♥♥♥♥ 4 ½ Hearts
Sebastian is still enjoying his role as Lady Bronwyn, the wife of Earl Anthony Crofton, but things start to become sticky when Anthony is asked by Queen Elizabeth to do his duty to the crown and seduce the whereabouts of a French noble from Marie, the nobles’ daughter. Anthony’s duty becomes difficult when Marie meets Sebastian and becomes charmed by him and then her brother, Nicholas, arrives only to fall under Bronwyn’s charm. Now, Sebastian has to charm the whereabouts from the siblings and Anthony has a taste of his own medicine. It is complicated further when Sebastian’s uncle insists that the farce ends. Just how are Sebastian and Anthony to cope with the pressure of pleasing a Queen, an interfering uncle, a suitor who becomes obsessed and bandits?
Ah an excellent second book of Elizabethan forbidden love with a dose of political intrigue. Sebastian is appalled when Anthony confides the Queen’s request (more like royal decree), that instructs Anthony to do whatever he has to in order to seduce the whereabouts of a French noble from the man’s daughter. Sebastian struggles with his jealousy and begins to doubt Anthony’s love for him, as Anthony seems to be enjoying the seduction just a bit too much. But, the tables become turned and not only does Sebastian become the focus of Marie’s attention, he also, in the guise of Bronwyn, becomes the focus of Nicholas, Marie’s brother. Anthony and Sebastian both struggle with the task that has been laid on their heads. But, they soon discover that whittling out hidden nobles is not where the danger lies.
I really enjoyed this second story of The Actor and the Earl. Picking up just over a year after the first book we see Anthony and Sebastian are still madly in love and devoted to each other. I will have to say that in this book I could see how much they care for each other and the connection between them was much stronger and more tangible. The relationship between them is something to be envied and it is, by other women in the Elizabethan Court. The storyline is really good. I enjoyed delving into the political intrigue of the Elizabethan Court and seeing the effects on those who are involved and I really liked the twist near the end, it was an added bonus. I must admit I am intrigued as to what will happen to Anthony and Sebastian, and I am really hoping that there will be more to their story in the future.
I will recommend this to those who love historicals, forbidden love, hot sex, jealousy, duels, political intrigue, bandits and a very happy ending.
Forever Hold His Peace ♥♥♥♥♥ 4 – 4½ Hearts
Sebastian and Anthony are back and Sebastian must put on the performance of a lifetime. Sebastian and Anthony are happier than they have ever been, but everything is about to change. Someone wants Bronwyn gone and they have hatched a plot that will have Bronwyn accused of witchcraft, Anthony and Sebastian have to move quickly as the sheriff begins to investigate. Before Sebastian and Anthony can move forward with their plans for the future Anthony wants revenge on the person responsible and Sebastian is more than ready for the role he will have to play.
The conclusion to Anthony and Sebastian’s story in The Crofton Chronicles sees us saying farewell to Bronwyn’s role in Anthony’s life, but the person who brought about Bronwyn’s early demise will have to pay for their treachery. Sebastian has played the role of Bronwyn for two years after being manipulated into replacing his sister for her wedding, Sebastian easily flits between being himself and Bronwyn (although he still hates the restrictive dresses) and neither Anthony and Sebastian is ready to lay her to rest but when their hand is forced their revenge uncovers a dastardly secret and any guilt that lingered for Sebastian is wiped away. But, with no role longer to play Sebastian wonders what to do next and Anthony has the perfect solution.
I really enjoyed this addition to Anthony and Sebastian’s story as we see treacherous plans come to fruition and Anthony’s retaliation, we see Sebastian having to make decisions for his future and we see Sebastian’s and Anthony’s love staying true and strong. This is a beautifully written story where action must be taken quickly and surprising twists are unearthed, we are treated to the theaters of London as Sebastian returns to his first love and the Elizabethan court as Anthony exacts his revenge. The story falls into line perfectly and we encounter Sebastian and Anthony at their most amorous, of course it doesn’t run exactly smoothly as an old flame of Anthony’s tries to stir the pot.
I have to say that I have been impressed with the detail that has been given to this series, where fact and fiction have been blended quite well to give us a good look at Elizabethan England and the risks that many faced. Anthony and Sebastian are two of my favorite fictional historical characters and I was so happy to read the epilogue and discover that they enjoyed many years together.
I recommend this to those who adore historicals, men who chance everything for love, revenge at its sweetest, a wonderful plot, a passionate couple and a great ending.
Saving Crofton Hall. ♥♥♥♥♥ 4 ½ Hearts
Ben Redbourn is the 16th Earl of Crofton something he is very proud of and uses to his advantage… in nightclubs. Ben finds himself in dire straits when his mother confesses her gambling debts has led to them facing foreclosure of Crofton Hall, and Ben swears that Croton Hall will have to start paying for herself as he has no intention of losing the old girl, and he needs help. Ashley is being laid off from his job at a castle when a plum opportunity falls into his lap, he adores Crofton Hall and its Earl and working there would be a dream. Ashley throws himself into getting Crofton Hall ready for the public but keeps his attraction to Ben close to his chest, Ben is known for being a playboy and Ashley prefers relationships but as secrets from long past are revealed Ashley will have to take a chance that Ben wants more than just a brief fling.
This is a fantastic addition to the Crofton Hall stories, we are brought into contemporary times and the struggles the current Earl faces because of his mother’s irresponsible actions. Ben is a superb character who has played the field since he got his heart broken, when he faces the loss of his beloved home he puts his private life on hold to try and pull off a miracle. Ashley is brilliant as the events manager who has some slightly shady connections, he is the perfect person to get Crofton Hall up and running and who sneaks his way into Ben’s heart. Ben’s family are wonderful as they each act their parts, Ben’s mother, Elena, as the tearful remorseful gambler, his sister, Caitlin, as the sneaky match maker and his brother Harry as the artistic dreamer.
Although there is a romance brewing between Ben and Ashley it doesn’t actually pick up till later in the story, first we are faced with the hoop jumping of getting Crofton Hall ready to open to the public, a startling discovery and secrets from the past revealed. When Ben and Ashley finally get together they are then faced with another secret Elena was keeping, one that puts them in danger. Their relationship moves fast but the build up to it has you knowing that they both know each other well and that their feelings aren’t fickle or fleeting.
I loved this story, seeing Crofton Hall brought up to date and the way that Sebastian (from The Crofton Chronicles) still managed to look after the Redbourn’s interests after so many years was amazing. The storyline was wonderful, the characters brilliant and the writing flowed smoothly with a couple of twists… I especially loved Ashley’s family’s immediate history and the way that his father’s influence helped Ben out. Rebecca Cohen delved into just what it takes to open a manor like Crofton Hall to the public, there was no glossing over the requirements and there was even a bit of dodgy dealing snuck in to keep it interesting, add in a sweet romance and you have a wonderful story.
I recommend this to those who love wonderful stories, great characters, two men who embark on a new romance, secrets and revelations, a touch of danger and a fantastic ending.