23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies!
The Marquis of Darley, Hugh D'Abernon is on his way to the Russian town of Sevastopol for reconnaissance. An agent with the British Secret Service during the Crimean War, his cover is that of a Tatar and he has perfected an authentic accent to prove it. His mission is to find out troop and battery strength as well as the morale of the Russian army. Encountering a lovely...
Published on February 26, 2008 by Natalie S
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crimean non-romance
It's rather difficult to categorise this book. The publishing company Brava have billed it as a 'Historical Romance' and it's certainly not set in contemporary times - the action is taking place during the Crimean war in 1855 although a couple of chapters at the end of the book are more recent in history. However I found this a very unromantic book, in fact quite...
Published on March 15, 2008 by Helen Hancox
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies!,
This review is from: At Her Service (Paperback)The Marquis of Darley, Hugh D'Abernon is on his way to the Russian town of Sevastopol for reconnaissance. An agent with the British Secret Service during the Crimean War, his cover is that of a Tatar and he has perfected an authentic accent to prove it. His mission is to find out troop and battery strength as well as the morale of the Russian army. Encountering a lovely damsel in distress, he knows he must continue on with his important venture though his heart tells him different. Stopping and offering his aid to the beautiful woman who has caught his eye, he kindly offers her a ride into the nearest town. He reasons he can drop her off in town and then go about his merry way. Fate says otherwise.
Aurore Clement has chosen to be sensible as well as cautious when it comes to men. In this dangerous time of war, knowing that neighbor is often pitted against neighbor, she keeps her life as simple and as private as she can - especially since she is working for the French command. When a glorious looking man of seemingly Tatar descent offers her a ride into the nearest town after her wagon becomes disabled, Aurore does something she is unaccustomed to doing; she trusts him enough to get her where she needs to be never realizing that this chance encounter just might change her life.
Nobody writes about this time period better than Susan Johnson. Each time I read a book penned by this talented author, AT HER SERVICE included, I am swept away to distant shores where not only am I treated to a tremendously suspenseful historical story, but I get a truly magnificent fairy tale as well. Hugh and Aurore each have their demons and secrets. Hugh is undercover and has a role to fulfill. Aurore just wants to take care of her injured brother. While they have so many challenges to overcome, the strength of emotion and depth of passion makes their struggles worthwhile. I have yet to read such a timeless story.
AT HER SERVICE releases from Brava Kensington in March. I found it highly captivating and deliciously sensuous. A lover of historical romance since I was in high school, I count Susan Johnson as one of my favorite historical authors for reasons that are readily apparent when reading AT HER SERVICE. No one captures the heart of European suspense like Susan Johnson. Simply put, she writes delectable love stories!
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hot Hero! Spies! Hot Loves scenes!...and Animals?,
This review is from: At Her Service (Paperback)Hugh and Aurore met in The Crimea at A turbulent time. A senseless Crimean war being fought has lead Aurore to feel obligated to spy for the French secret service because her brother has enlisted to fight for France. When her brother is seriously wounded she vows to do whatever it takes to save his life, and so She excepts the offer of A safe haven from A sinfully handsome stanger named Gazi.
The deplorable conditions of the British soldiers and the incompetence of the British command, forces Hugh D'Abernon, Marquis of Darley, the world traveler, to help the troops in whatever way he can, including risking his life to spy for the British Secret Service. The last thing Hugh ,a.k.a. Gazi needs is to become seriously involved with A women. He's had A lifetime of practice avoiding entanglements and will definitely try to put that skill to good use, but faith still leads them together.
I have to start off by saying that no other author has ever come close to writing A sexier hero than Susan Johnson. She always delivers with the most handsome, wickedest bad boys. The hero in this book was no exception! Hugh was soooo hot! He never changes his bad boy persona. It was so refreshing to see A rake actually being A rake. In most of the books that are out there now, the heroes are already in love with the heroine at the blink of an eye, even though they are supposed to be rakes. Hugh was really serious that he wanted to be unattached,and his actions made it more believable, which made it so much more exciting when he finally realized that he couldn't be happy without Aurore. I also loved Aurore because she was not your average virginal miss. I am not adverse to reading about virginal misses but it was refreshing to read about A heroine who wasn't afraid to have sex with A man she desired. Susan Johnson definitely brought back her sensual love scenes. She had just the right amount to build up the sexual tension without going overboard.
If you read any of my reviews you would know that Susan Johnson reigns supreme in my eyes, so it's with great reluctance that I must say this. This book was sailing to A 5 star review until I got to page 236. Hugh's reference that he bought animals into his love play before, was such A turn off for me that I thought I would not be able to keep reading the book. I was finally able to convince myself that he must have only brought them in to watch, which was still kind of disturbing. I still recommend reading this book though because barring that one mistake it was very entertaining.
Edit- After writing this review on March 8 2008, I thought it only fair that I should come back and say, at the time, I could not have imagined involving animals into A love play without it being disgusting, but I have since read Nan Ryan's book "Burning Love", I now know, on march 13 2008, that you can make love on A horses back! Maybe that's what Hugh was referring to.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars! Darley, book 3 of 3. Historical romance series following 3 generations of Darley men. One of my all-time favorite reads,
This review is from: At Her Service (Mass Market Paperback)Susan Johnson brings us three generations of the Marquis of Darley. This is book 3. I recommend reading this series in order starting with book 1 about Hugh's grandfather, Lord Julius D'Abernon.
1. When you love someone - Julius' and Elspeth's story - year 1788
2. When someone loves you - Duff's and Annabelle's story (son of book 1) - year 1816
3. At her service - Hugh's and Aurore's story (son of book 2) - year 1855
AT HER SERVICE (Book 3)
Hero: Hugh D'Abernon, Marquis of Darley/38 years old/British Secret Service-Lord-heir to the Duke of Westerland-playboy/$$$$/dark hair/dark eyes
Heroine: Aurore Clement/undercover agent for the French allies/gold hair/blue eyes
Another amazing hero!
The year is 1855 and the Crimean War is wrecking Europe. Lord Hugh, The Marquis of Darley (son of book 2, grandson of book 1) and Aurore are both on clandestine missions in disguise. They meet and it's electric. But times are dangerous and enemies are lurking. After a brief affair and a shared mission it's just easier for Hugh to go back to his playboy ways.
The Epilogue left the door open for a book 4, year 1914.... I highly recommend this book and this series!
Hero rating: 5 stars
Heroine rating: 4.5 stars
Sex scenes rating: 5 stars
Sex scenes frequency: 5 stars
Storyline concept rating: 5 stars
Storytelling skills rating: 5 stars
Story ending rating: 5 stars
Overall rating: 5 stars
Would I recommend this series: Yes.
Would I re-read this series: Yes.
Would I read future books by this author: Yes.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars engaging historical romance,
This review is from: At Her Service (Paperback)In 1855 Aurore Clement travels to Sevastopol in the Crimea to bring her injured veteran brother back home. She is using a wounded sibling Etienne who allegedly lies in one of the filthy hospitals as a cover for her undercover spying for the French government. Meanwhile in the beleaguered city she meets British Marquis, Hugh D'Abernon, who offers a ride to her to the nearby city after he introduces himself as trader Gazi Maksound to hide his secret service work as an undercover British espionage agent.
Aurore and Hugh desire one another from the first moment they met. That wanting leads to an incredible all night tryst. However, when both are exposed as spies, they flee eventually making it to Paris where he must rely on her to keep him safe, but he also has doubts about trusting her or his feelings for her.
AT HER SERVICE is an engaging historical romance starring two courageous likable star-crossed heroes working as spies for their respective governments. The fast-paced storyline hooks fans from the first fateful February meeting in Sevastopol and never slows down until Paris. The 1914 coda is a perfect ending to a great tale as Susan Johnson provides a powerful mid nineteenth century espionage romantic suspense as only she can.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crimean non-romance,
This review is from: At Her Service (Paperback)It's rather difficult to categorise this book. The publishing company Brava have billed it as a 'Historical Romance' and it's certainly not set in contemporary times - the action is taking place during the Crimean war in 1855 although a couple of chapters at the end of the book are more recent in history. However I found this a very unromantic book, in fact quite disappointing as a romance. There was a great deal of interaction (generally of the horizontal kind) between the hero and heroine but their relationship felt throughout the book more lustful than romantic. In fact at the end of the book I had no idea whether it would actually last, what the hero and heroine saw in each other and found both characters very unconvincing.
There were some good parts to this book. The setting during the Crimean war is unusual for a historical romance and the author added some good local colour, mentioning some well-known characters such as Florence Nightingale. Hero and heroine are both spies and this added a little extra interest although the heroine, Aurora Clement, seemed a remarkably unskilled spy to me. The hero, the Marquis of Darley, is a full-time libertine who also has side interests in spying, helping wounded soldiers and rescuing female spies from potential hangings. Aurora is a rather more complex character whose love for her property in the Crimea and care for her brother cause her to spend a lot of time with Darley. They certainly don't hang about before they jump into bed, however, and I found that this began the unrealistic and unsatifying element of the story, the relationship between the main characters.
The author really needed to do some more thorough research about modes of speech in this period in history. Both main characters speak American (which is rather odd for an Englishman and a Frenchwoman) and the continual Americanisms jarred badly. Their behaviour was also rather questionable in that it appeared everyone knew what was going on and it wasn't any kind of scandal. The resolution of the book was extremely facile whereby a supposed 'happy ever after' ending is pulled out of the hat with no real convincing evidence it would be lasting or that Darley's libertine nature has been set aside.
All in all this was a disappointing book. It had some good aspects, mainly the interesting setting and the travelling from the Crimea to France by private train, but too much of the story focused on the non-romance between the main characters and there were too many errors in speech and the behaviour seemed too 21st century to make the book feel authentic.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008
3.0 out of 5 stars Come on, start writing good books again,
This review is from: At Her Service (Paperback)I have been a major fan of this author. She is one of my favorites but her recent books have all been duds for me this included. It was tolerable at best. Was certainly not as torrid as her others and that is not a good thing where this author is concerned. First of all I am not a fan of the entire Russian scene, no matter who writes it and especially the War. This author tends to get a bit crazy with history and you really have to love it to like her books. (Stay away from "Taboo" if you are new to this author and trying to catch up). Years ago after reading "Taboo" I almost gave up on her and stopped reading her books for quite a while. It was a bit ridiculous how they don't show their true feelings to the very very end. Come on. How thick can you be. I didn't care for the heroine and he was just too obstinate. Very boring at times and I did not like the heroine, once again.
Of her new recent efforts along with this book, I also hated, "Seductive as Flame," "Sexy As Hell," and "Sweet As The Devil," (good only because of the hero, the heroine was terrible, terrible)!
Out of her new one's "Gorgeous As Sin" is the best in my opinion in this series (since all the characters seem to know eachother).
Also of her newer books "When You Love Someone" which took place in a much earlier time period then this author usually writes, the 18th century was also not bad but be careful because the other "When Someone Loves You" was not good.
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At Her Service by Susan Johnson (Paperback - March 1, 2008)