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1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop 1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients. When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell's cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia's world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia's courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . . From the multi-award-winning author of The Apothecary's Daughter, The House in Quill Court is a gorgeously evocative Regency novel bursting with historical flavour and characters you won't forget. If you love Philippa Gregory and Joanne Harris, you will adore Charlotte Betts.


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1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop 1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients. When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell's cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia's world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia's courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . . From the multi-award-winning author of The Apothecary's Daughter, The House in Quill Court is a gorgeously evocative Regency novel bursting with historical flavour and characters you won't forget. If you love Philippa Gregory and Joanne Harris, you will adore Charlotte Betts.

30 review for The House in Quill Court

  1. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    I read the wonderful The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Brett last year, so when I got the question if I wanted to participate in The House in Quill Court blog tour didn't I hesitate to say yes! Venita Lovell has lived her whole life in Kent with her family. Her father is often away working in London. When tragedy strikes the family and a dark secret is revealed must the whole family relocate to London. This new start is hard on them all, but also offer a new promising future. But, first, must I read the wonderful The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Brett last year, so when I got the question if I wanted to participate in The House in Quill Court blog tour didn't I hesitate to say yes! Venita Lovell has lived her whole life in Kent with her family. Her father is often away working in London. When tragedy strikes the family and a dark secret is revealed must the whole family relocate to London. This new start is hard on them all, but also offer a new promising future. But, first, must the whole family unit against injustice... I quite liked Venita, she is a strong character, with a great passion for art and she will not bow down before them that threatens the new life she is trying to rebuild in London with her family. We also have young Kitty, the maid, who traveled with them to London for a new life. Kitty doesn't want to end up like her mother with a lot of children and a hard life. She wants a better life. London may offer up a new chance for her, but it's also a city that can take away happiness in a heartbeat. I like that we both get to follow Venita and Kitty as they settle in the new city. The difference in their positions is great, but both yearn for a good life. Kitty soon finds happiness when she falls in love and Venita together with her family decides to fulfill a longtime dream of starting up a shop where they can display furniture, art, and fabrics. However, soon dark clouds descend over both Kitty and Venita's life. And, the darkness that Bett adds to the story is the thing that makes reading this book so excruciating. Bett doesn't shy away from that life is tough in the 1900-century. That especially women have a tough life. To be honest, I did not expect that Bett would turn the story so dark. Especially Kitty gets to face how hard life is for a woman with no prospects when life turns sour. Still, despite that the story is interesting is it also a bit predictable. Sure, not everything was predictable, I was surprised that Kitty's life seemed to turn out quite good (until of course, the harsh reality intervened). But, the big twist, in the end, did I see quite early on. And, despite, having a strong beginning and a good ending did I struggle now and then with the middle of the book and especially everything concerning Venita's brother Raffie who I felt needed to wise up and it was frustrating seeing how blind everyone was when it came to his actions. Nevertheless, essentially did I like the book and I recommend it if you like historical fiction with a darker edge. I want to thank Piatkus for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    Charlotte Betts is an author I have been aware of for some time, but only recently have I begun to read her books. I thoroughly enjoyedThe Spice Merchant's Wife, which is set in Restoration London and in which Ms. Betts impressed me with her ability to imbue her story with a strong sense of time and place and to depict the trials and tribulations of the day-to-day lives of the characters. In her latest novel, The House in Quill Court, the setting is Regency London, and the author has once again Charlotte Betts is an author I have been aware of for some time, but only recently have I begun to read her books. I thoroughly enjoyedThe Spice Merchant's Wife, which is set in Restoration London and in which Ms. Betts impressed me with her ability to imbue her story with a strong sense of time and place and to depict the trials and tribulations of the day-to-day lives of the characters. In her latest novel, The House in Quill Court, the setting is Regency London, and the author has once again made use of meticulous research in order to bring the city and its denizens to life and to craft an entertaining story featuring engaging – and not so engaging – characters. Venetia Lovell has lived her entire life on the Kent coast, where she and her brother have grown up secure in the love of both their parents. Life isn’t always easy, but she is happy; her mother and father are devoted to each other, even though Theo Lovell spends a lot of time travelling around the country as part of his job as what we would today call an interior designer. Venetia has inherited her father’s talent for creating attractive patterns and colour schemes, and even though it will be rather unorthodox, she hopes she will soon join him in his work. She has already come up with a few designs for paper hangings which are being produced for use in selected homes, and together, they dream of opening an elegant showroom to showcase the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to their clients But when Mr. Lovell dies suddenly, Venetia’s world is turned upside down and inside out. Not only does she have to cope with the death of a beloved parent, she is confronted by the completely unexpected news that her father had been living a double life for the last two decades or so, travelling between his family in Kent and another family he maintained elsewhere. Venetia is shocked and betrayed – but there is more devastation to come. Her father’s step-son, Major John (Jack) Chamberlaine delivers the final blow; Mr. Lovell’s last wish was that both his families should unite under the same roof and work together to earn the income to necessary to support themselves. Bewildered and hurt, both families relocate to Quill Court in the City of London. The Major is severely disapproving and not at all inclined to be conciliatory, but appears discomfited when Venetia tells him about her father’s plans to take her into his business. Jack then takes her to a busy commercial street in Cheapside where he shows her a shop laid out just as she and her father used to imagine, and which she realises must have been his plan for providing for his two families. Unfortunately, however, the interior is in a bad way. Many of the fabrics have been destroyed, ornaments smashed, paint smeared; Jack reveals that Mr. Lovell had happened upon some ruffians while they were intent upon the damage and that that it was the shock of discovering it that killed him. After absorbing that sad news, Venetia determines then and there that she is going to carry out her father’s intentions. Her ambition takes flight; the family will make a living by supplying a bespoke interior design service to the upper and newly emerging middle classes. Jack is sceptical at first, but Venetia’s enthusiasm and her obvious talent and belief in their ability to succeed eventually win him over and Lovell and Chamberlaine is born. The story is told from the viewpoints of Venetia and her maid, Kitty, in alternating chapters, and the author carefully intertwines their stories, showing two very different lifestyles and two different sides of London through their contrasting experiences. Both young women have to work for a living, but there the similarities end; Kitty’s work is hard manual labour while Venetia’s is creative and fulfilling. Ms. Betts also does an excellent job with her portrait of the darker, seamier side of Regency London, a place where law enforcement was patchy to say the least (the Metropolitan Police Force was not formed until 1829) and where elegant, newly built townhouses co-existed with squalid slums, rookeries and brothels. Most of the latter half of the book is taken up with Venetia’s determination to unite the local shopkeepers to fight the underworld boss who runs most of the criminal activity in London and wider afield, and who has all the local shops tied into his protection racket. Some of the decisions she makes are rather naïve but Ms. Betts doesn’t shy away from showing that what she wants to achieve isn’t going to be easy and that in a war, innocent people can be hurt. The story is well-paced and builds to an exciting dénouement that kept me eagerly turning the pages, although I found the writing simplistic in places and the plot turns on perhaps one too many coincidences. The alternating storylines work well, although there were times when it was a little frustrating to end a chapter wanting to know what happened to that character next and having to switch to the other story – but the chapters themselves are fairly short, so that wasn’t too much of a problem. The romantic elements in the book are fairly low-key; Venetia and Jack move slowly from antagonism to uneasy friendship and then to more, and while Kitty also finds love, her happiness is short-lived. Taken as a whole, I enjoyed The House in Quill Court in spite of those reservations about the plotting and the writing. The characters are well-drawn and there’s no doubt that the author’s research into the London of the period – complete with its gin palaces, street-hawkers, grand houses and grander ladies – has been extensive. That rich backdrop permeates the novel, putting readers squarely in the stinking, muck-strewn streets and alleyways of the East End, and then enabling us to enter Venetia’s showroom and see and feel the colours, designs and fabrics that she stocks there. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to enjoy a well-written, intricately researched piece of historical fiction.

  3. 5 out of 5

    poppie

    What a great read this was. The book wasn't at all what I expected making it one of my better choices of fiction. Unexpected happenings, intrigue and sad in parts but well worth 5 stars. Sorry when I came to the end. What a great read this was. The book wasn't at all what I expected making it one of my better choices of fiction. Unexpected happenings, intrigue and sad in parts but well worth 5 stars. Sorry when I came to the end.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Sunderland

    1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell's cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia's world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to Lo 1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell's cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia's world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. The opening of this story reminded me of aspects of "Beauty and the Beast" - a father, travelling away with work often at the compromise of his family, and his attractive, creative daughter with whom he shares a dream of owning a shop full of gorgeous fabrics and furniture until his untimely death under tragic and suspicious circumstances.....Or perhaps, more conventionally, "Sense and Sensibility" where the beloved daughters are usurped by distant relatives due to the sexist laws regarding inheritance. Albeit slightly contrived, the Lovell's move to London establishes a pleasing start to a novel about family, money, dreams and love and gives Betts the perfect setting to show off her knowledge of the Regency era and life in London for both the wealthy classes and the underclasses. Bett's is quick to establish characters and again, in keeping with the romantic genre of the book, they are enjoyably predictable. Venetia is clearly a woman before her time; she has a good understanding of finance, business and design, with the feel of a very competent, self assured young lady who takes the responsibility of looking out for her mother and brother in her stride. Like Elinor Dashwood in "Sense and Sensibility" she is the 'sense' and copes more readily with the sudden upheaval and revelation that there is no money, no income and no more house run by several servants now her father is dead. Unlike her mother....... "'Your late husband invested heavily in a business venture and there are no savings left for you to draw upon. .......' 'Live together? Support ourselves!' Mama clapped one hand to her breast, 'We can't, it's monstrous!'" Major Jack Chamberlaine is a brooding character who casts a shadow on their lives and continues to challenge their attempts to settle in London. Unsupportive and derisory, the tension between him and Venetia is actually quite delicious. Betts excels in creating handsome heroes, loveable rouges and intimidating, dastardly villains. King Midas is one such unpleasant character whose reign of power and hold over Kent and London makes him as feared as the Krays. "Kitty stared back at the man, an ice-cold shiver running down her back, just as if she'd turned over a stone and found a poisonous snake underneath. She recognised his hooded eyes and the bullyboys at his side, and broke out into a cold sweat. The last time she'd him it had been by moonlight on a windswept beach as he watched the guineas for Napoleon being loaded into the galleys, King Midas." Once the family move to London, the story splits into two threads. Venetia and her ambitious attempts to reclaim her father's shop and turn it into a viable business venture, and then the plight of Kitty, her maid, who leaves everything she knows behind her in Kent to stay with the Lovells, then quickly falls in love, marries and witnesses a very different kind of side of London. Both girls are strong, resilient, clever, kind and likeable. It did take me a while to warm to them but once the story picked up pace I found that I was more involved in their story lines than I realised! I think I did enjoy Kitty's story more than Veneita's and preferred her a little more as a character too. The characters are firmly planted in the Regency era and the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars adds more tension and excitement. Any necessary historical information is deftly explained through dialogue or imagery; the descriptions of the more slum like areas are evoked effectively creating a dark, dank, dirty atmosphere that contrasts with the more luxurious houses of the more wealthy. I liked the sense of Kitty and Nat actually living in a "rat run" in which she literally could not find her way around without a guide. I also liked the detail about the fabrics, furniture, wall paper hangings and ornaments Venetia sourced for the shop. Nat, Kitty's beau, is a very helpful source of historical detail and often fills us in with any necessary details about the Napoleonic Wars, politics or crime. Betts has clearly done her homework and adds authenticity with the use of regency slang which flows through the dialogue with fluency and conviction. While reading Betts's novel, I was reminded of other historical fictions which probably reflects her ability to create a strong sense of historical setting and identifiable characters with set roles rather than a weakness of any sort. I felt Nat's involvement with pickpockets and young orphaned children was reminiscent of "Oliver Twist" (although an exceptionally more gentle and kind version of Fagin and Sikes!) and the burglary was very like a scene from the novel. "'Hold up your glum,' whispered Lennie. Nat opened the lantern and held it up while Lennie forced a small window. 'Up you go, Benny,' said Nat. He slid the boy's feet through the casement, gripping him by the waist. '....the key's hanging in the larder....stand on the chair to reach the top bolt.'" Venetia reminded me of Denise from the BBC's "The Paradise" and Kitty perhaps a more diluted version of a character from a Wilkie Collins or Sarah Waters novel. This book certainly had the feel of an ITV Sunday night drama and it would be great to see it on the screen. The second half of the novel gathers speed and the relationships between the characters become more compelling. There is plenty of tension, romance, heartache, violence and recriminations. It is quite melodramatic but actually, I found I was rather more caught up in it all than I had realised and was quite gripped by all the different dynamics between the characters. Betts cleverly pulls all the various characters - however small or large their role has been- plot lines and themes together in a way where no detail is left unaccounted. It is dramatic, fast paced, exciting and, although perhaps just a little contrived or cliched, it certainly made for a very satisfying read. I was quite interested in the further reading list Betts acknowledged at the end of the book and one title -"Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England" by Roy and Lesley Adkins - sounded like a good book to seek out a later stage - especially for anyone interested in this particular era. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a light, romantic, historical read, or for fans of a very watchable ITV-weekend-style costume drama. I did enjoy this book more than I thought I would as it is not necessarily my usual choice and I have already perused Betts back catalogue on Amazon with interest! My thanks to Little, Brown Book Group for a copy of the novel in return for an honest review. The book will be released by Little, Brown on 25th August 2016.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Also posted on: http://bindedreads.wixsite.com/blog/s... 3.5/5 Could have been better; I like it; quite a high chance I would read it again. Would have given it 4 stars were it not for how unlikeable the characters could be sometimes. Read it till the end to find out why! Once again, a historical fiction led me to thinking why I hadn't liked it at all last time. I'm so glad that I picked up A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack, because it started my interest on historical fiction, leading me to expl Also posted on: http://bindedreads.wixsite.com/blog/s... 3.5/5 Could have been better; I like it; quite a high chance I would read it again. Would have given it 4 stars were it not for how unlikeable the characters could be sometimes. Read it till the end to find out why! Once again, a historical fiction led me to thinking why I hadn't liked it at all last time. I'm so glad that I picked up A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack, because it started my interest on historical fiction, leading me to explore on this genre more willingly. Truthfully, I didn't know if this would be good. I picked it off the shelf in one of the local bookstores after failing, yet again, to find A Heart Revealed. Hoping to read another historical fiction, and after spending quite a lot of time deciding which one to buy, I decided to get this, but only after adding several others to my reading list. I hope the others will be as good. This is a rather thought-provoking story. It showed two sides of London, the rich and the poor. Charlotte Betts was definitely able to describe them to the point that readers were able to differentiate between them so distinctly. It's a little like our current world, really, having the rich and poor living together in a country, but with living conditions so disparate. I really like the strong characters in here. There are two main characters, really: Venetia and Kitty. Venetia is headstrong, smart, and an artist. Yes, an artist! This was one of the reasons I got attracted to this book. A historical fiction with characters who do interior designing? So fascinating! I enjoyed all the little descriptions Charlotte Betts added into this story, and am sure that if I were to read this again, I will definitely search them all up on Google to get a better picture. I did learn quite a few about Regency-period furniture though, along the way, like brocades. :) I liked it that she had the faith she would be able to repair the shop her father left her, and was glad she continued to do so despite Jack's lack of encouragement and a bountiful amount of pessimism. On the other hand, Kitty takes us to another part of London, a part where the poor struggle for their lives. I wasn't really taken by her story, constantly hoping that it would revert back to Venetia's side of the story, but her character was realistic. Even though I found her wants of expensive things (yes, even though she was poor) annoying, I could bring myself to understand her circumstance. And oh, this book allowed me to appreciate the availability of a reliable police force in my country. Goodness, the police in 1813 barely did anything to keep crimes at bay! What was the use of their existence, really? Thank God there were people like Venetia who knew how to fight for a good cause relentlessly. Overall, the story was good. There were nice twists, although I did have my suspicions beforehand. You know, a little bit of foreshadowing here and there. Reading the author's note at the back, I knew Charlotte Betts did a lot of research for this book, and I'd say, good on her. A passionate writer who took steps to make her story as close to the real thing as possible. That's really awesome. Definitely going to try out her earlier books! That being said... I just feel a little sad that although Venetia cared for Kitty... I couldn't really feel it at the end, and that... well... that didn't really sit well with me. And I'm even more sad that the rest of Venetia's family barely even thought of her circumstance... that poor girl. But I think that was just the way it was in the 1800s. If it weren't for this, I would have given this book a 4 stars, because the characters weren't THAT likeable.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jo Pollard

    Set in the Regency Period of the early 19th Century, the book opens on the Kent coast where Venetia Lovell lives with her family. Her father Theo is an interior designer and his work means he has to travel a lot and Venetia is left in charge of her family. She is an artistic young women who uses her skills to design wallpapers for her father. While he is away on one of his work trips, the Lovell family receive a visit from a stranger. Jack Chamberlain brings them the news that Theo Lovell lead t Set in the Regency Period of the early 19th Century, the book opens on the Kent coast where Venetia Lovell lives with her family. Her father Theo is an interior designer and his work means he has to travel a lot and Venetia is left in charge of her family. She is an artistic young women who uses her skills to design wallpapers for her father. While he is away on one of his work trips, the Lovell family receive a visit from a stranger. Jack Chamberlain brings them the news that Theo Lovell lead two lives and had a second family in London. After the shock has settled in, Venetia and her family move to Quill Court. She is shocked to find that her father had already been running the shop that they had planned together. However, the new life isn't as easy as she thought it might be. Charlotte Betts is a master at creating strong female characters, and Venetia Lovell is no different. She develops throughout the book, as does her maid Kitty. Two strong women help to make this an extremely enjoyable read, along with unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommended X

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ailish Fitzgerald

    Wow! Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's the first book I have read by Charlotte Bett's and I must read her earlier books. Picked it up in the library yesterday and after have a quick peek while having another book on the go I couldn't put it down! It is absolutely stunning. Set in the Regency period of 1813. The plot is exciting and unpredictable with a very clever twist. The story begins in Kent where Venetia Lovell lives with her family. Her father Theo is an interior designer and travels quite Wow! Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's the first book I have read by Charlotte Bett's and I must read her earlier books. Picked it up in the library yesterday and after have a quick peek while having another book on the go I couldn't put it down! It is absolutely stunning. Set in the Regency period of 1813. The plot is exciting and unpredictable with a very clever twist. The story begins in Kent where Venetia Lovell lives with her family. Her father Theo is an interior designer and travels quite a bit. Venetia is an artistic young woman who designs wallpapers while he is away. During one of her father's trips the Lovell family receives a visit from a stranger - Major Jack Chamberlaine bringing with him terrible news that will affect the whole family. The story interestingly flips between Venetia and her maid Kitty from arriving in London. I don't want to give too much away but it is a page turner and a must read! Enjoy!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I absolutely loved this book as the author has a way of subtly drawing the reader into a different world. Once there, you are hooked! The setting and the characters are, as always, superbly drawn. From the start the reader can empathise with Venetia's sudden change of fortune. What happens next, however, is totally unforeseen. As an avid reader it is fabulous to come across a story where the ending isn't glaringly obvious from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey and the ups and downs th I absolutely loved this book as the author has a way of subtly drawing the reader into a different world. Once there, you are hooked! The setting and the characters are, as always, superbly drawn. From the start the reader can empathise with Venetia's sudden change of fortune. What happens next, however, is totally unforeseen. As an avid reader it is fabulous to come across a story where the ending isn't glaringly obvious from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey and the ups and downs that the characters encountered. Historical fiction at its best!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Excellent - what I have come to expect from Charlotte Betts. I can't wait for her next book! Excellent - what I have come to expect from Charlotte Betts. I can't wait for her next book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    For my written review, please check out the link below: Debra's Book Cafe Debs :-) For my written review, please check out the link below: Debra's Book Cafe Debs :-)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emma Crowley

    The House in Quill Court is the fifth novel from Charlotte Betts, a historical fiction author whose books I always enjoy. You can be guaranteed to be taken back to points in history that you may know very little about but by the end you have a wealth of knowledge and insight into that given time period. Charlotte's books are rich in detail of time and place so much so that you literally feel you are a character in the story experiencing all the hustle and bustle and living and breathing the past The House in Quill Court is the fifth novel from Charlotte Betts, a historical fiction author whose books I always enjoy. You can be guaranteed to be taken back to points in history that you may know very little about but by the end you have a wealth of knowledge and insight into that given time period. Charlotte's books are rich in detail of time and place so much so that you literally feel you are a character in the story experiencing all the hustle and bustle and living and breathing the past. I had never read anything set during the Regency period even though I know love stories set in this era prove very popular. But this book is totally different to that and although it is a minor element of romance that is not the sole focus. Instead we have a story packed full of adventure and change for a family who experience innumerable highs and lows and will stop at nothing to claw back independence from a ruthless, evil person who is determined to expand his power and wealth through the cruellest of means. What I really like about the writing of Charlotte Betts is that she never sticks to writing about the same time period. Each of her books have been vastly different from the other apart from The Painter's Apprentice which had a link to her début book The Apothecary's Daughter. I think moving time periods keeps your readers interested and engaged and also stops the author from becoming complacent. You can sense Charlotte gets great enjoyment from her writing and her research is impeccable. If the finer details are in place in the book it helps the story to come alive and grow full of vibrancy and characters that you are rooting for a successful outcome for. This book was vibrant not in a colourful sense although the descriptions of the interior decorating shop were rich and sumptuous but rather in the fact it showed all aspects of society at the time and served to highlight for me just how much the world and the way we live in it has changed so drastically in just over 200 years. Our main female protagonist is Venetia Lovell, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood in 1813. She is living happily with her family in a beautiful cottage in the narrow cobbled streets of a coastal village in Kent. She loves nothing more than walking on the beach and enjoying the sea air but she also has a fondness for interior decoration and designing wall hangings. Venetia has a younger brother called Raffie and a lovable pug called Nero. Although her father spends a lot of time away from home travelling to further his business interests Venetia can see he is doing his best for his family and she accepts that she is left alone with her mother and brother. Life had been moving along smoothly for Venetia and her family until one evening comes a knock on the door that will change everything leaving their lives turned upside down. Major Jack Chamberlaine brings the news no one wishes to hear Theo has died in London following an attack which led to his heart giving out. Of course the family are devastated but that is not to be the greatest shock of all, the life Venetia had known was all a lie. This comes out of nowhere and leaves everyone reeling but there is little time for mourning or contemplation as the Lovell's are forced to leave behind their cosy, homely cottage and move to London to Quill Court to be exact. Here they find the truth as to what Theo had been up to. I admired how Venetia handled such news and that blame was not heaped on her father, she had held him in such great respect and awe. Of course there was upset but she came to an understanding that many would find hard to do. Veneita steps into the role of leader of the family, she had long held a dream with her father of opening an interior design shop where the rich would come to purchase items for their lavish homes. Can she make this ideal a reality in spite of danger lurking at every turn? Veneita was a character who had guts and determination aplenty and I suppose she was a woman way ahead of her times. She wasn't under any man's thumb - kept to the house and left to deal with child rearing, instead she had a vision and would stop at nothing and let no obstacle hinder her path until she had achieved her goal which would leave her family safe and secure. Right from the moment her family arrived in London to a whole new world of hustle and bustle which was in sharp contrast to the quiet, quaint life they had left Venetia was on a mission and wanted to see her dream become a reality. She was eager to see her plans come to fruition and make a go of the design shop. A shop which had not been seen before by many of the upper classes but if it took off Venetia and her family would be made for life. But the path to success never does run smooth and there are challenges and opposition aplenty. I felt Charlotte Betts knew her time and place very well and had done endless research into all aspects of this book. The finer details were indepth and helped create an overall sense of the time and what the characters experienced. The London of 1814 was very different to the city that exists now and I felt through reading this story I learned so much. The street on which the shop is located had a real community feel about it and with persuasion they could pull together as a shadow did hang over the shopkeepers. I won't mention exactly what it is but I did think it helped bring the story even more to life. If the story had just a sole focus of Venetia setting up the shop it would have been boring but having barriers and danger seemingly lurking at every corner added that extra bit of spice and complexity to the story which made it that extra special. All the historical aspects were riveting and I found it fascinating to learn of all the different shops as everything can often be found under one roof these days. People had to go various shops to get what they wanted and Venetia hoped her shop would add something unique and different to what was already there. Unfortunately other forces were at work and there was a sinister undertone to the story which I believe was necessary as life in the big city at that time was tough for everybody. Charlotte Betts highlighted to brilliant effect the differences between the upper and lower classes of that time. Those at the top had a good life with servants at their beck and call and money appeared to be no object when it came to decorating their homes. If they didn't have that desire to keep up appearances Venetia wouldn't have had any business. But it was the inclusion of Venetia's servant Kitty that was a real bonus to this story as she gave us an insight into the more seedier aspects of life in a big city. How things weren't all a bed of roses for everybody and how there was an underworld thriving with hands in every pie. Kitty herself was naive when leaving Kent, she believed the streets of London were paved with gold and it would be easy to make one's fortune. But she soon realised that couldn't be further from the truth as she experienced the highest of highs but also the most harrowing of lows. I did enjoy Kitty as a character and as the story developed she played a vital role. I'd love to say she was fiercely independent but I did feel she hung onto the coat tails of others until she was forced through circumstances to grow up and face realities and use her initiative to resolve a hideous situation. In a way I understood Kitty more so than Venetia and enjoyed her story more but that's not to say I disliked Venetia as she had so many admirable qualities. The book was moving along at a steady pace but things were really ramped up towards the end and you needed to keep your wits about you to keep track of everything going on but I loved every minute of it. There was real adventure and a sense of working together, sort of like good overcoming evil and triumphing in the face of adversity. No one one was going to let terror, danger, sheer grid and evilness rule in any circumstances no matter what hurt and destruction had to be undertaken first. The House in Quill Court is not my favourite novel from Charlotte Betts but I still thought it was a really good read. The pace was frantic towards the end and almost became like an action adventure novel. I liked how the focus of this book wasn't all about love and romance and finding the ideal man and going through courtships etc. Other Regency books have dealt with that time and time again. Yes we have a smidgen of romance thrown in that is obvious but it wasn't the entire focus for the novel as it would have been too routine and formulaic. Instead Charlotte Betts concentrated on bringing the period to life in an easy yet exciting way that would keep her readers keen to discover the truth in more ways than one. There were twists and turns aplenty in the final chapters and I had a niggling suspicion surrounding one thing but was left open mouthed when the final outcome was revealed but in a real good way as I love the wool being pulled over my eyes. There is a short story called Christmas at Quill Court and although it doesn't follow the same characters I would be interested to read it as I believe Charlotte has done an excellent job with this story and as always has left me looking forward to what time and place we shall visit next.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Agi

    Last year I read and absolutely loved - so much that the book made it to my top reads of 2015 - "The Chateau on the Lake" by Charlotte Betts. It's also not a wonder that I was excitingly waiting for her new release, and in the meantime I've ordered all of her previous books that I'm hoping to read in my... ekhm, free time. I love a good historical fiction and I was sure that with Ms Betts' new release I am again for a real treat. This was a very compelling and descriptive novel. I loved the writi Last year I read and absolutely loved - so much that the book made it to my top reads of 2015 - "The Chateau on the Lake" by Charlotte Betts. It's also not a wonder that I was excitingly waiting for her new release, and in the meantime I've ordered all of her previous books that I'm hoping to read in my... ekhm, free time. I love a good historical fiction and I was sure that with Ms Betts' new release I am again for a real treat. This was a very compelling and descriptive novel. I loved the writing style and the descriptions, no matter if they were of clothes, decorations, Venetia's work or Kitty's life. The author's knowledge of the Regency era is great and I had a feeling that she feels comfortable in those times and writes about them with a great dose of certainty. She can brilliantly create the atmosphere of the upper class' life, with beautiful warm houses with the tables full, and the other side, the much worse areas, full of darkness, danger and dirt. The language used by the characters rang so true and suited those times. One of the biggest Charlotte Betts's strength is her talent to create incredible, unforgettable heroines. Venetia was one of them - I loved that she stood her ground and that Jack Chamberlain found a right opponent in her - she was not afraid to say what she thinks. She was artistic and she believed in herself and her talent and she used her skills to start afresh after the big announcement - she was great with finances, she designed patterns for wall - paper and pillow - cases and she had a great feeling of business, what's in and what's out and how to bring customers to the shop that she was planning to open. Even though she had a brother, she was the one to take responsibility for her family. However, one thing that didn't sit with me so much was the fact that she was for me like a Robin Hood in a dress, and her actions were just this bit unrealistic to me. I really appreciate what the author wanted to do with Venetia, and I also appreciate when historical heroines are ahead of their own times but this time I just had a feeling she's a little too far ahead... I could understand she wanted to be independent and wanted to work but some of her - really brave - actions just seemed too unrealistic too me. I mean, organizing a militia, going to save her half - sister under cover... I just thought it is a little too much for a young woman in 1813. Please, don't get me wrong, I admired Venetia and kept my fingers crossed for her, but for me reading about her was more like a fairy tale than historical fiction... There is also a parallel story to this of Venetia, and it's the one of Kitty, Venetia's maid. Kitty is the one leaving everything behind her, hoping for a new and better life in London. And at the beginning fortune is on her side, she quickly falls in love, marries and is finally happy. Unfortunately, her life changes dramatically and it really broke my heart seeing what's happening, as I also adored Kitty, she was exactly as strong and independent as Venetia was, there was only the "little" difference of them being born in rich and poor family. Charlotte Betts can really create larger than life, strong female characters that reader immediately fall in love with but she can also create handsome, annoying male characters, such as Major Jack Chamberlaine, ah... Yes, about Major. At the beginning I wanted to slap him once or twice to be honest. Broody and moody, the Major. With the emphasis on moody. And she can make the villains not only annoying but incredibly interesting and intimidating - there was something incredibly drawing in King Midas, he was awful but he was fascinating in some ways as well. The story was predictable yet not too predictable, although I started to guess who is King Midas rather quickly, after a sentence or two too much told by a character. The end was like a whirlwind of action and while the pace of the whole book was quick, the end was über - quick, it was like watching the events in the kaleidoscope, though on the other hand it reminded me of action film and I was waiting for someone to shout camera! action! at any moment. The book is full of twists and turns and making it follow two main characters, both from different worlds, has made it even more intriguing and thrilling. The contrast between the two lives is great, even though both girls want the same in their lives: love and independence. The twist at the end was a big one, although, as I've already mentioned it, it was my suspicion that it's going to end in this way. There is plenty of passion, tension, romance, broken hearts and violence in this story. The second part of it, in comparison to the first, feels like a ride on a speedboat, and sometimes it was too melodramatic, too costume drama for my liking, but nevertheless I found this book incredibly vivid and entertaining. There is also - of course! - a romance element in this story and I really liked that it wasn't the main focus in this story, yet it was there and added a lot of colour to the whole novel. Altogether, I devoured this book, to be honest and I enjoyed every single moment of it - recommended! Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Multi award-winning author Charlotte Betts seamlessly blends danger, deception and desire in her mesmerizing new novel set in Regency England, The House in Quill Court. Venetia Lovell’s life on the Kent coast is simply idyllic. With a Papa who indulges her passion for style and her flair for interior design, Venetia spends her days lost in her daydreams about the shop she will one day open where she will display beautiful furniture, exquisite furnishings and breath-taking objets d’arts for a disc Multi award-winning author Charlotte Betts seamlessly blends danger, deception and desire in her mesmerizing new novel set in Regency England, The House in Quill Court. Venetia Lovell’s life on the Kent coast is simply idyllic. With a Papa who indulges her passion for style and her flair for interior design, Venetia spends her days lost in her daydreams about the shop she will one day open where she will display beautiful furniture, exquisite furnishings and breath-taking objets d’arts for a discerning clientele. With her father, Theo, frequently away on business, it is up to Venetia to look after the family home, her eccentric and rather frivolous mother and her feckless and irresponsible brother. Venetia had never even contemplating leading a different kind of life, but her idyll comes to a sudden and earth-shattering end when her beloved Papa is killed and Venetia and her family are forced to give up their home and move to London where they discover some of Theo Lovell’s shocking secrets. Even though Venetia is still reeling from the outrageous revelations about her father’s secret life, she simply cannot afford to go to pieces. With a household to run, a family to look after and the desperate need to keep the wolf from the door and food on the table, the burden of responsibility lies heavily on Venetia’s shoulders and she simply has no other choice but to step up to the plate and make her dream of opening up her own shop a reality.With plenty of hard work and determination, Venetia’s business quickly becomes a raging success and society’s most prominent families begin to fall over themselves to have their house styled and decorated by her. With so much going on in her life, Venetia has got neither the time nor the inclination for romance, however, she soon finds herself drawn to Jack Chamberlaine, the handsome but distant stranger who had come to their cottage in Kent to inform Venetia and her family of Theo Lovell’s demise. Although fate had thrown the two of them into close proximity, Jack seems determined to keep Venetia at arm’s length. However, when a dangerous enemy threatens to jeopardise everything which they hold dear to their hearts, the two of them find themselves having to work together to vanquish the evil foe who is intent on destruction. Will Venetia manage to keep her family safe and her business from ruin? Is Jack willing to let down his guard and allow Venetia to breach the wall which he had built around himself? Or will happiness continue to elude the two of them? Charlotte Betts is a terrific storyteller with a marvellous gift for bringing the past to vivid and colourful life and she effortlessly and elegantly sweeps the reader back to Regency England and cleverly juxtaposes the sophistication and style of high society with the vicious and dangerous underbelly of the criminal underworld. An evocative, thrilling, romantic and captivating tale of powerful secrets, illicit passion and scandalous lies, The House in Quill Court is a gripping historical tale with a courageous heroine, a dashing and charismatic hero, meticulously rendered descriptions of the past, dramatic twists and turns and plenty of nail-biting drama to keep readers turning the pages late into the night. A splendid novel from an outstanding writer of historical fiction, The House in Quill should not be missed!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Rondeau

    In 1813, Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her lovely, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia’s father Theo is an interior designer with whom Venetia shares his passion and talent for design. While he is away traveling for new and exciting items and accoutrements for his wealthy clients, Venetia and her family are always excited waiting for him to come home. In the meantime Venetia daydreams of one day having an interior design shop where she and her father can display onl In 1813, Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her lovely, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia’s father Theo is an interior designer with whom Venetia shares his passion and talent for design. While he is away traveling for new and exciting items and accoutrements for his wealthy clients, Venetia and her family are always excited waiting for him to come home. In the meantime Venetia daydreams of one day having an interior design shop where she and her father can display only five finest in home furnishings. Just before Christmas a handsome but fairly hostile stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage to deliver terrible and life-changing news. Venetia’s beloved father is dead, her life turned topsy-turvey, and with no other options available to them Jack has come to escort the family to their new home in London -to the house in Quill Court. Consequently, Venetia’s creativity, courage, and strength will be stretched to the limit, and the impossibility of discovering a love far greater than she ever could have imagined could be hers if only she can stay alive long enough to claim it! *** I was totally immersed in this book from page one. I loved Venetia right from the beginning, for her kindness in dealing with her frivolous and anxiety ridden mother and a little less for her catering to her lazy spoiled brother. She was smart and her passionate artistic nature was a delight where I could almost feel her creativity flowing right through me. I also felt her pain and disappointment in discovering her father’s ‘other’ family. Unfortunately, Jack Chamberlaine, her father’s ward, was a little more difficult to warm up to having grown up with the ‘other’ family, he naturally felt that Venetia and her family were the upstarts and wouldn’t treat her step-sister kindly. These were Jack’s assumptions without ever even trying to get to know Venetia. The story was filled with great depth and very detailed scenarios. All of which touched upon several of the secondary characters who all played really great parts in the overall story including, of course, some of the nasty villain(s) and their loathsome cohorts. As I listened, the story and the all the characters seemed to find themselves up against the wall so many times and sometimes they were saved and other times, not so much. As mentioned before the scenario’s and the villain were very well put together and trying to discover how the villain always seemed a step ahead of every plan will keep the reader on edge. Bottom Line: I loved this book, the story itself, the fast-pacing and the wonderful narration by Anne Dover. This is highly recommended and I urge you to give this new author (at least for me) a try. Highly enjoyable. Marilyn Rondeau

  15. 5 out of 5

    Celia Moontown

    The beginning got the plot cogs churning nicely. Its 1813, imagine a young, noticeably handsome but hostile, man strolling in to inform your family that your father has been murdered. Not only this, but he secretly had another family in the city which he hopes for you to live with, to which this young man’s a part of. Shock and horror for Venetia, a young, ambitious woman as she experiences her whole privileged world smash against their elegant wall. We follow her family as they uproot themselve The beginning got the plot cogs churning nicely. Its 1813, imagine a young, noticeably handsome but hostile, man strolling in to inform your family that your father has been murdered. Not only this, but he secretly had another family in the city which he hopes for you to live with, to which this young man’s a part of. Shock and horror for Venetia, a young, ambitious woman as she experiences her whole privileged world smash against their elegant wall. We follow her family as they uproot themselves to London, meet the ‘others’ and overcome all the shame buzzing around. They also have to find a way to support themselves, so Venetia busies herself with re-opening her father’s furniture business. Jack Chamberlaine, the guy who broke the news, reluctantly helps her. He’s war-wearied, initially suspicious, but soon softens, and conveniently not a blood-relation. Together, they try to gather up the mess while something blossoms between them. We also get POV chapters from Kitty, their maid, who accompanies them. Kitty is sweet and lively. She was bored with the village life she had, where the end point was to be married in a tiny shack with a bundle of babies. When she arrives, she runs into Nat, a good-looking street rat who is as fascinating as the city. He introduces her to a whole new world of women wrestlers, dangerous alley-ways and professional house burgling. So it was refreshing to get a change of story now and then. I grew to like Venetia and Kitty as pleasant characters. The main vein that connects to two is a mysterious mafia called King Midas that controls the neighbourhood and begins terrorizing their lives. He is also connected to the death of Venetia’s father. So the book gradually gets darker almost to the point of echoing Les Miserables. As Kitty and Venetia begin to clash with King Midas and his cronies, the book unfortunately reaches a bit plateau 40-70% through. The pacing slows down and you’re basically living with the characters during their daily activities. I found this slightly mundane, but it suits those who enjoy soothing sagas. Those like me, who prefer heart-constricting romances and thrilling paces, will feel a little held back during this stage. Things pick up towards the end. There is a sneaky little twist which I didn’t see coming, and a good old fight scene. Kitty’s ending saddened me because seemed a direct result of class. Despite it being a fairly realistic portrayal, it seemed a bit typical of Victorian yarns and gives off the wrong attitudes if it intends for readers to be OK and accept it as a happy ending. Many thanks to Piatkus for my review copy xxx

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Foxley

    I really enjoyed The Palace of Lost Dreams and thought I would enjoy other books by Charlotte Betts just as much. This one was ok but a touch too melodramatic for my tastes. Probably more a 3.5 rather than a 5.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    I've not read a lot of historical fiction but when I have I've always loved the descriptions of the past, of places that are familiar to us but at the same time completely different from things are now. The blurb of this book had enough intrigue in it to pique my interest that I was willing to give it a chance despite never having read anything by this author before. It's a very well written book with a lot of description, perhaps a little too much at times, but certainly enough that makes for v I've not read a lot of historical fiction but when I have I've always loved the descriptions of the past, of places that are familiar to us but at the same time completely different from things are now. The blurb of this book had enough intrigue in it to pique my interest that I was willing to give it a chance despite never having read anything by this author before. It's a very well written book with a lot of description, perhaps a little too much at times, but certainly enough that makes for vivid imagery of what you are reading about, the locations, characters, sights and sounds. While the main characters mentioned in the blurb are Venetia and Jack, the female characters of Venetia and Kitty are far stronger in the book than the other characters, including the men. It's almost as if there are two interlinked but separate stories as we watch the stories of both women unfold as they deal with the changes of moving from Kent to London, meeting new people and having new experiences. For reasons which i can't clearly explain Kitty comes across as a stronger person to me, even though Venetia is certainly no wilting flower. Perhaps Kitty's story is more relatable for me as I know had I lived then I would certainly have been a maid or some other type of servant. Although these two characters are by far the strongest the others have their own strengths and their own stories which are developed enough to give them depth and make them as realistic as everyone else. The book has a good story, it's one that could easily happen now nevermind in 1813 so it's easy to understand why feelings run so high in Quill Court and why the characters behave the way they do. I think this is partly why the book is so good, you don't spend time reading it and finding it hard to follow or disbelieving of everything that happens. In fact, I spent a fair amount of time reading it and completely missing what anyone else was saying to me because I was so caught up in what was happening. There is a big scene near the end that I found a little confusing because so much was happening at the same time but other than that this book is easy to follow and certainly a good choice for a first foray into historical fiction. Many thanks to Clara Diaz at Little Brown, UK for letting me having a copy of this book, and to the author for writing such an intriguing story. This is my honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Venessa

    In Charlotte Betts latest tale, the reader is dropped into the 19th century straight into the heart of a merchant class family living comfortably by the sea. Mrs Lovell is waiting for her husband to come home – his business is in rich goods; silk, wallpaper and fine ornaments. Her daughter Venetia has the eye and eagerness for interior decoration just like her father Theo, by contrast her son Rafael is losing his way. The trajectory of this family takes an unexpected sharp turn, and we are taken In Charlotte Betts latest tale, the reader is dropped into the 19th century straight into the heart of a merchant class family living comfortably by the sea. Mrs Lovell is waiting for her husband to come home – his business is in rich goods; silk, wallpaper and fine ornaments. Her daughter Venetia has the eye and eagerness for interior decoration just like her father Theo, by contrast her son Rafael is losing his way. The trajectory of this family takes an unexpected sharp turn, and we are taken to Quill Court in London. The unusual circumstances that are presented at the beginning of this story capture the reader’s imagination and heart, and the reader is left with an appetent to find out how things will turn out for this unusual family. Written in easy descriptive prose, at first I found the descriptions of the lives of Kitty and Nat much more colourful than the upholstery of the decoration that Venetia is compelled to provide. This is my fourth Charlotte Betts novel, and I am never disappointed with how the author brings the century to life by evoking the senses of the era. In this novel I found the olfactory descriptions provoking and immersive, whilst the tensions and choices of servitude, crime and moral direction were tormenting and vexatious. Betts gives us the dual protagonists in Venetia and Kitty. Venetia is a determined young woman, well-mannered and ambitious, her creativity her motivation to succeed – something young women in 2016 can identify with. Venetia’s change of lifestyle from being waited on by maids to serving her customers is mirrored in her maid Kitty’s move from servitude to crime. Kitty is also determined to do well, by liberating herself from employment and diving into the shadowy world of Nat Griggs. However, the girls are more alike than their circumstances belie; both find themselves in unplanned territory by foolish or whimsical choices. Both heroines in a difficult era where crime was rife and mostly unchecked, where society was comprised of the stark juxtaposition of wealth and poverty within streets of each other, Venetia and Kitty are bound together in this historical tale of not only love, but friendship, loyalty and justice. The House in Quill Court will have you plumping your cushions and giving you a hankering for custard tarts by which to enjoy this beautiful book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte (Escapades of a Bookworm)

    Reviews can also be found on my blog Escapades of a Bookworm I loved that the story was split between Kitty and Venetia. Both from very different backgrounds but both determined and strong to prove that they are capable and unwilling to give in. Life isn’t easy, and everyone has their ups and downs. But The House in Quill Court shows that through resourcefulness and support you can succeed. I did prefer Kitty’s story and wish that we had got a bit more about her. While she had a story line, for me Reviews can also be found on my blog Escapades of a Bookworm I loved that the story was split between Kitty and Venetia. Both from very different backgrounds but both determined and strong to prove that they are capable and unwilling to give in. Life isn’t easy, and everyone has their ups and downs. But The House in Quill Court shows that through resourcefulness and support you can succeed. I did prefer Kitty’s story and wish that we had got a bit more about her. While she had a story line, for me she felt like a secondary character and only had a small role to play in the story. Historical London felt very real to me. And it felt quite frightening to think how there was no real police force at the time. I really liked the slang that was used in Kitty’s story. It set the story and helped with the historical approach. This was a compelling, addictive and beautifully written book that had me hooked. So hooked in fact that I actually read it in one sitting. And there are some shocking, unexpected moments in this book. There are also some predicable ones. But everything is what makes this book so great. It keeps you on your toes and give you the required satisfaction. This is a book for the historical romance fans with a twist of drama.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anne Harvey

    Although this novel is set in the Regency period, I wouldn’t class this as being a typical Regency romance. It has a much darker heart and is all the better for being so. Venetia Lovell leads what she thinks is an idyllic life by the sea but as her father travels around the country with his interior design business, she is the one the family depends on. Her idyll comes to an end when Major Jack Chamberlaine arrives at their home, not only with tragic news but that the family must move to London. Although this novel is set in the Regency period, I wouldn’t class this as being a typical Regency romance. It has a much darker heart and is all the better for being so. Venetia Lovell leads what she thinks is an idyllic life by the sea but as her father travels around the country with his interior design business, she is the one the family depends on. Her idyll comes to an end when Major Jack Chamberlaine arrives at their home, not only with tragic news but that the family must move to London. There she and Jack, despite initial antagonism, must strive to make a living for the whole family by opening a shop where interior design services, led by artistic Venetia, are offered. In this, the pair are thwarted by the local extortion gang. Resolving to organise a resistance movement with other local shopkeepers, Venetia risks not only her own life but those nearest and dearest to her. At a time when there was no police force, this was a dangerous thing to do. Charlotte Betts has brought the dark criminal underbelly of London to life in a way that does her much credit. Several times I was reminded of the Hogarth cartoons of the time. A wonderfully evocative novel portraying a different aspect of Regency life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Good story, set in 1813 Regency London. Prior to the police force being set up, London was rife with criminal activity with gangs demanding protection money from shopkeepers. The author describes well the contrast between the poorest people, existing in the squalid rookeries and those living in the elegant and well to do parts of London. Venetia arrives in London with her family and tries to restore her father's business of selling and designing beautiful interiors for the wealthy. She is determ Good story, set in 1813 Regency London. Prior to the police force being set up, London was rife with criminal activity with gangs demanding protection money from shopkeepers. The author describes well the contrast between the poorest people, existing in the squalid rookeries and those living in the elegant and well to do parts of London. Venetia arrives in London with her family and tries to restore her father's business of selling and designing beautiful interiors for the wealthy. She is determined to fight against the criminals demanding the protection money from her and the neighbouring shopkeepers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emma Young

    I thought I would indulge myself with a saga set in the early 19th century. And I was right to indulge because the characters in this story I came to know and love. The main character Venetia Lovelle (very romantic name I must say) I think from my point of view is an independent, creative and head-strong. I like how she represents women and I love her stand to fight for injustice as well as running a business which is a unique quality. I had a feeling that Venetia and her stepbrother would event I thought I would indulge myself with a saga set in the early 19th century. And I was right to indulge because the characters in this story I came to know and love. The main character Venetia Lovelle (very romantic name I must say) I think from my point of view is an independent, creative and head-strong. I like how she represents women and I love her stand to fight for injustice as well as running a business which is a unique quality. I had a feeling that Venetia and her stepbrother would eventually fall in love over time despite the predicament that they were in. Overall I found it enjoyable and I would love to read even more from that era.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Pretty dreadful. Implausible set up (siblings from both of deceased father’s bigamous marriages living together with only 1 voice of dissent), no real chemistry between hero and heroine, and callous ending for loyal maid (barely any time spent on her death).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Louise Mullins

    I didn't enjoy this as much as Betts' previous titles. It wasn't as suspenseful, but still beautifully written. I didn't enjoy this as much as Betts' previous titles. It wasn't as suspenseful, but still beautifully written.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lilania Kershaw

    This has a couple of very frustrating characters who eventually win you over. However have the tissues on hand as much of this book is very sad.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ree

    A really good book which kept my interest from start to finish. I enjoyed the writing and the story itself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin Forson

    Wow did I learn a lot about the fashions of the period; how much research went into that? Solid, enjoyable read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    A nice historical saga

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christine Mitchell

    I just loved this book by Charlotte Betts and I couldn't put it down. It keeps you on the edge of your seat all the time, absolutely brilliant! I just loved this book by Charlotte Betts and I couldn't put it down. It keeps you on the edge of your seat all the time, absolutely brilliant!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    Slightly darker subject matter than I was expecting, but still always carried a thread of hope. Took me a bit to get into, but ended up being not a bad read at all.

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