Friday, January 22, 2016

The Markham Hall Series by Sierra Simone


The Awakening of Ivy Leavold

Yorkshire, 1879

I am alone...

When Ivy Leavold is left destitute by her brother’s death, she is taken in by her cousin’s brooding, tortured widower—Julian Markham. Handsome and possessive, it’s not long before Ivy falls for him. But Mr. Markham has dark secrets, secrets that may put Ivy in danger...

I am afraid...

As Ivy unravels the mystery surrounding her cousin’s death, she falls deeper and deeper in love with Julian, who opens her body and her mind to his indomitable will. But even as he draws pleasure and desire from her night after night, Ivy can’t shake the feeling that their passionate affair may end in violence…

And I'm completely his.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Angela☆☆☆☆☆
Oh my stars that was a great read! I loved Ivy. As a fan of historical romances, I’m used to either the naïve virgin, the headstrong and independent virgin, or the thoroughly debauched widow. So Ivy’s wild virgin persona is an original one for me and I loved her. Equally as entrancing is the dark and brooding Julian Markham – he is most definitely sinfully sexy.

When Ivy’s brother dies, she is left homeless and penniless when she is forced to sale the family home to settle his gambling debts. Fortunately, Ivy’s solicitor tracks down her cousin’s husband and convinces him to take her in. As Mr. Markham is frequently away on business, Ivy’s welcome to his home is quite frosty by the head housekeeper, Ms. Brightmore, making an already dark and dreary home even more uninviting. But being as she has nowhere else to go, Ivy is determined to make the most of it. Once she meets Mr. Markham she’s not sure which will be the most difficult task – avoiding the temptation that is Mr. Markham or giving in to the temptation that is Mr. Markham. And the chemistry between the two is so intense that it was amazing to me that they held out as long as they did before physical intimacies occurred. Julian’s inadvertent seduction of Ivy as he fights his desire to have her makes for several titillating foreplay scenes.

Rather than the suggestions of sex that most historical romances contain, The Awakening of Ivy Leavold is quite graphic in some scenes – which makes for an extremely erotic read. As much as I enjoy the suggestive nature of most regency romances, I found this to be a refreshing change. I cannot wait to see how Ivy and Julian’s relationship progresses and what secrets will be (hopefully) revealed about Violet’s death in The Education of Ivy Leavold. Ms. Simone I do hope you’re writing quickly.
***NOTE: This review originally appeared on Crystal’s Many Reviewers.***




The Education of Ivy Leavold

I knew I was taking a risk loving a man like Julian Markham. But I thought that love was enough to cover over his darkness.

I thought wrong.


Ivy Leavold came to Markham Hall looking for a home and a new start, and instead she found the enigmatic Julian Markham--along with a love that threatened to consume them both.  Now Mr. Markham is offering her a new life as his bride, as the mistress of Markham Hall, and Ivy wants nothing more than to say yes.

But Ivy knows that the closer she binds herself to Mr. Markham, the closer she binds herself to danger.  And the deeper their love grows, the closer she gets to discovering the truth surrounding her cousin's death.  Once she does, the explosive secret will rip them apart... possibly forever.

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Book 2
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Angela☆☆☆☆☆
Because it has been about three months since I read The Awakening of Ivy Leavold I reread the last chapter to jog my memory of events. This was a good move on my part because I had forgotten the proposition that Julian made to Ivy at the end of book one. While it is true that the beginning of The Education of Ivy Leavold picks up as a continuation of that scene, the reread helped me get back into the proper frame of mind to be able to understand the panic that Ivy feels – our wildcat cannot abide being caged and it doesn’t matter if it is literally or figuratively.

***IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK ONE, DO NOT READ ON AS SPOILERS FOR THAT BOOK MAY BE REVEALED.***

Yes, Julian’s proposal of marriage sent Ivy into a panic for many reasons, from social propriety to fear for her safety because she still did not know his level of involvement in the death of her cousin, Violet. She finds herself vacillating between Julian making her feel safe and fearing that one day he will get rid of her should she disappoint him. Because she lets the seeds of doubt sown by the gossips, the investigator, and even Julian himself take shape, her fear causes her to act out in a reckless manner that nearly destroys their relationship. Fortunately for Ivy, her borderline obsessive need to be with Julian is matched by his need to be with her. The resulting encounter reveals a side of Julian’s dominant nature that she had not encountered before and the punishment scene pushed her boundaries nearly to her breaking point. At first appearing brutal, Julian demonstrated just how well he understood Ivy’s needs and she finds herself relishing both the punishment and the knowledge that they are so well matched.

As this is the second book in the trilogy, one with a serious romantic suspense element to it, there are quite a few questions answered, but even more left unanswered. Although we still do not know who is physically responsible for Violet’s death, we do learn more about the night and I must say that I was quite shocked with what was revealed. I am impressed with how well Simone weaves the romantic suspense elements, the highly erotic sex scenes, and the romance within a historical setting. The storyline flows smoothly and it never feels as though a scene has been introduced merely as a vehicle for another bout of sex; even the ménage scene with Ivy, Julian, and Silas felt natural. I absolutely loved this installment and I cannot wait to read book three, The Punishment of Ivy Leavold. I have to find out who the murdering party was and how Ivy and Julian will fare once everything comes to light.




The Punishment of Ivy Leavold

I ran as far as I could, but I knew he would find me. In fact, I counted on it.

I counted on him punishing me too.

Once Ivy Leavold learned the truth behind the night of her cousin's death, she knew should couldn't stay with Julian Markham any longer and fled to London on what was supposed to be the day of their wedding. But Julian Markham is not the kind of man who takes running away lightly, especially when he finds out that Ivy still wants him...

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Book 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Angela☆☆☆☆☆
***IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOKS ONE & TWO, DO NOT READ ON AS SPOILERS FOR THOSE BOOKS WILL BE REVEALED.***

The Punishment of Ivy Leavold is the final installment in the Markham Hall series and picks up with Julian reeling from Ivy’s departure. Upon learning that she had a living relative who was anxious to take her in, Ivy was surprised. But it was the sense of betrayal that Julian had actively hid this information from her that caused her to leave at the end of The Education of Ivy Leavold.

Considering the passionate nature of their relationship, it was not surprising that Ivy’s decision to leave was bittersweet. It is obvious from the previous installments that Ivy loves Julian and having learned the disturbing yet exonerating events that led up to Violet’s death, her love knew no bounds…except for societal dictates, which led her to question whether or not she and Julian were good for each other. By leaving, Ivy felt confident that she would be able to come to a decision about her future with Julian. Although not emphasized, I like that it also gave her the opportunity to choose to be with Julian rather than her being in a position of having no other options. Not surprisingly, Julian follows her to London within a couple of days. What is surprising is that he does not seek her out immediately, giving her the space she needs while insuring that he is close to her. Nor was it surprising to see that Ivy was not flourishing in London. Between the rules, the parties, the crowds, and the fact that her heart was torn in two, out wildcat was not doing well at all. Fortunately for both Ivy and Julian, Silas proves to be far more concerned of a friend than I expected and he intervenes to insure that Julian and Ivy’s paths cross and sets Julian off on a course to woo Ivy back to him.

What I really enjoyed about The Punishment of Ivy Leavold is that Ms. Simone stayed true to her characters and the previous books in the series. Even as Julian began to “court” Ivy, he did so while walking the fine line of propriety. He skirts acceptable societal behaviors by using their private yet chaperoned outings to remind Ivy of the passion they share – “accidental” caresses, heated looks, and that filthy, filthy mouth of his. It is obvious that Julian is intimately acquainted with Ivy’s buttons and has no problem pushing them while courting her. In the same vein, Ivy’s untamed nature shines through in her interactions with others; more importantly, she does not capitulate immediately to Julian. The Baron’s party was decidedly decadent and the perfect vehicle for Ivy and Julian’s reunion, as well as her punishment. The author brings even more of eroticism to this installment and the resulting sex scenes were intense. AND YES, we do finally learn who murdered Ivy’s cousin Violet, but not without a good bit of intrigue and far more nail-biting suspense than I expected. I was absolutely shocked once the facts were revealed because I did not see that coming. I absolutely loved the ending and was tickled pink to learn that the author has released a novelette that gives us a glimpse into Ivy and Julian’s life a year later. I will be reading The Reclaiming of Ivy Leavold as soon as I can.




The Reclaiming of Ivy Leavold

Ivy Leavold knew that when she married Julian Markham almost everything would change, even more so after she gave him a son. What she didn't count on was motherhood and marriage changing her. After the all-consuming demands of parenting threaten to fracture the bond between her and Julian, Julian becomes determined to show his wife that she can be both a mother and his wildcat.

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Book 4
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Angela☆☆☆☆☆
Normally I wouldn’t use my monthly Prime borrow on a novelette, but as I have loved every installment in the Markham Hall series and really didn’t have the time to read a full-length novel, I “splurged” and borrowed The Reclaiming of Ivy Leavold. First thing you should know is that you absolutely should not read this book without reading the previous three installments. In order to get the full effect of this novelette and appreciate just how much story Ms. Simone has managed to put into 36 pages, you need to know who Ivy and Julian are and what they have overcome to get to this point. So if you haven’t read books one through three, stop now and rectify that oversight.

For fans of the series, The Reclaiming of Ivy Leavold is an absolute must-read as it is exactly what the title suggests. Picking up after the birth of their child, we find that Ivy has thrown herself fully into motherhood…to the point of losing the wildcat that Julian loved so much. Acting as a new father grateful to the mother of his child rather than as the Mr. Markham who held us enthralled over the course of the series, Julian is handling Ivy with kid gloves. This seems to be making the situation worse as the divide between them grows with each day and it was disturbing to witness two people who have been so strong, assertive, and self-assured continue to flounder. Because of that, seeing Mr. Markham emerge and take control of Ivy was both a relief and reading aphrodisiac. Witnessing Mr. Markham coax his wildcat back out and riling her up to the point that I half expected her to knock him down and take her pleasure from him was perfection for this couple. Simone did an excellent job in keeping her characters true to themselves…once they found themselves again and I loved it. I plan to buy the Markham Hall Series Bundle as soon as I have time to read it in its entirety so that I can experience the journey through Markham Hall again.




Books 1 - 4
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Sierra Simone is a former librarian who spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk. She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City.

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Angela reviewed copies of The Education of Ivy Leavold, The Punishment of Ivy Leavold, and The Reclaiming of Ivy Leavold by Sierra Simone borrowed via the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library for this post. She has purchased the Markham Hall Series Bundle since writing these reviews.

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