Dual Review – The Spinster’s Secret and The Baronet’s Bride by Emily Larkin

This spinster is more than she seems . . . 

Matilda Chapple is penniless, orphaned, and dependent on her uncle’s grim charity—but she’s finally found a way to escape: she’ll write her way to financial freedom.

When Mattie pens a series of titillating short stories, she starts earning money . . . and notoriety. Her secret is safe—until Waterloo veteran, Edward Kane, agrees to uncover the anonymous author’s identity.

Can Mattie conceal the secret of her scandalous writings, or will Edward discover that the virginal spinster and the risqué authoress are one and the same person?

A Regency romance with a battle-scarred hero, an enterprising heroine, some provocative tales, and a darkly gothic backdrop.

A lesson in love… 

Sir Gareth Locke lost an arm at Waterloo. He’s in love with his new bride—but he’s dreading their wedding night. He knows it will be an ordeal: clumsy, awkward, and mortifying.

Cecily Locke knows what to expect in the marriage bed—after all, she’s been married once before. It will be uncomfortable and a little messy, but over quickly enough.

But Cecily and Gareth are about to have a wedding night that neither of them expects…    (The sequel to The Spinster’s Secret)

The above stories may be purchased separately, or as part of Midnight Quill Trio (which includes a third story.)  Click on titles below for direct Amazon buy links:
The Spinster’s Secret (Midnight Quill Book 2)
The Baronet’s Bride (Midnight Quill Book 3)
Midnight Quill Trio

My Review:           

I received a complimentary copy of these books.

These two stories are very closely related.  In fact, Gareth’s story begins in Edward’s.  I strongly recommend reading Edward’s story first.  Edward, Gareth, and Tobias have been best friends since their school days.  They even chose to become soldiers together.  Tragically, the battle of Waterloo left Edward and Gareth badly injured, while Tobias never made it home.  After recovering sufficiently to make the journey, both Edward and Gareth travel to Tobias’ home.  Though love is the last thing on their minds, they unexpectedly find it in their deceased friend’s household.


THE SPINSTER’S SECRET – Edward “Ned” Kane lost some fingers, most of one ear, and bears some vivid scars from the infamous battle of Waterloo.  But those physical scars are nothing compared to the emotional pain and guilt he feels.  Edward feels responsible for his friend, Tobias’ death, as he died while saving Edward’s own life.  He journeys to Tobias’ home, in order to pay his respects to Toby’s father, and to give him Toby’s remaining personal effects.  He finds his host to be a joyless, miserly man, who is nothing at all like his jolly friend, and can’t wait until he can leave.  In a weak moment, he promises his host that he will find out which person in the village is the anonymous, scandalous author known as “Cherie.”

Matilda “Mattie” Chapple is Toby’s cousin, and has been living on her uncle’s charity since her parents died ten years ago.  She longs for a home of her own, and has been secretly penning the popular publications by Cherie – not that she has any experience of her own to draw on.  Mattie writes her fictitious, steamy encounters based on the explicit diary she found, as well as some shocking novels.  Soon, she’ll have enough money to finance her dream.  Her publisher, however, makes an unexpected request, one that has Mattie wondering if Ned may be willing to further her physical education.

While Ned doesn’t initially find Mattie attractive, he comes to like her and appreciate her humor.  Her request for physical intimacy brings his long dormant libido to life, and he agrees to become her lover.  While Mattie’s feelings soon become involved, Ned only feels guilt, though he greatly enjoys their relationship.  Soon their situation becomes very tangled as misunderstandings and lack of communication causes them to become suspicious of, and feeling used by the other.  The chance of their finding a happy ever after is looking very bleak.

I found it easy to understand how Mattie and Ned could feel insecure.  Mattie is described as too tall, large, and plain, while Ned is severely scarred and injured.  I liked both of them, but I admit to wanting to shake Ned a little bit for his slowness in realizing his love.  THE SPINSTER’S SECRET is written in such a way as to take you to the battlefield of Waterloo, and then to the dreary home of Tobias’ father.  (I was clamoring to leave that house myself!)  Mattie and Ned are two imperfect people, who are each trapped in their own way, and manage to find their peace and happiness with each other.


THE BARONET’S BRIDE – Gareth Locke did not come back from the war unscathed, having lost his left arm.  His friend, Edward, has requested that he send him some papers, but Gareth decides to deliver them in person to Ned.  Gareth is advised by Ned not to stay at Tobias’ home, if invited, due to the awful food and the dour disposition of its host.  Normally Gareth would heed this advice until he spies Cecy Dunn, the beautiful companion to Tobias’ aunt.

Cecy was married at sixteen years of age, and only for a period of two weeks until her young husband was killed.  She was left penniless, and had to support herself.  Her determination to never again marry a man who couldn’t support her leads to a breach in the fledgling relationship developing with Gareth.  This couple overcomes this hurdle, and marry quickly.

Happy Ever After?  Not so fast.  Though Cecy and Gareth fell quickly in love, Gareth is horrified at his upcoming wedding night.  He’s determined that Cecy never see what remains of his severed arm, and he doesn’t know how he’ll be able to adequately perform his husbandly duties.  Meanwhile, Cecy only has her brief marriage on which to base her opinion of marital intimacy, and that opinion is that women must endure and they never enjoy.

THE BARONET’S BRIDE is a very short, steamy, yet sweet novella, which takes you through the beautiful process of a young lady learning to experience pleasure, while she builds up her very insecure husband.  I enjoyed both Cecy and Gareth, and it was particularly satisfying to watch Gareth regain confidence in himself as a man as they begin their life’s journey together.

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