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Thunder and Roses (Signet Historical…

Thunder and Roses (Signet Historical Romance)

by Mary Jo Putney

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Thunder and Roses – along with several other Mary Jo Putney books – has been on my TBR pile for quite some time. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. I had a feeling I would like Ms. Putney’s work, and this book didn’t disappoint. Her writing style reminds me somewhat of Mary Balogh’s and the book itself reminded me of one of Ms. Balogh’s books, Longing. Both it and Thunder and Roses are set primarily in Wales, and both contain plot elements relating to mining and music, pursuits that I gather are wholly representative of that area of Great Britain. Also both books have aristocratic heroes paired with commoner heroines and a strong emphasis on historical details. However, the two books are hardly carbon copies of one another. In Thunder and Roses, the hero is part Gypsy in addition to his aristocratic Welsh heritage. There’s also a touch of intrigue surrounding scandalous events that happened four years earlier which led to both his grandfather’s and his wife’s deaths, as well as the heroine making an equally scandalous bargain with him to gain his cooperation in investing in the local village economy and working to make conditions safer for the miners. All the elements came together to create a very pleasant reading experience that, while perhaps not quite perfect, was still enjoyable.

When he was just a boy, Nicholas’s mother took him to his Gorgio (non-Gypsy) aristocratic grandfather, and he believes she sold him to the man for a mere one hundred guineas. His grandfather was not happy about his only grandson and heir being half-Gypsy, so he treated Nicholas with nothing but disdain. The only person who was genuinely nice to him was the village Methodist preacher, whom his grandfather hired to tutor him until he was ready for Eton. There Nicholas met his three best friends in the world, and the four of them together earned themselves the nickname The Fallen Angels. Once grown, he eventually married, but the union was fraught with difficulties until both his grandfather and his wife died on the same night. Village gossips believe that Nicholas had an affair with his step-grandmother (a very young woman), which broke his grandfather’s heart and sent his wife fleeing the estate, only to die in a carriage accident. After that, Nicholas left the country for four years and has only recently returned to his family’s estate, which he is thinking of trying to sell because of all the bad memories it holds. All that changes when the feisty young local schoolmistress, who also happens to be the preacher’s now-grown daughter, comes calling, demanding that he do something about the mine safety and the flagging economy of the village. Despite her ordinariness and pedestrian background, she stirs his interest in a way that nothing else has in a long time. Nicholas decides he’d like to seduce her into becoming his mistress, so he strikes a devil’s bargain with her: he’ll do all that she asks if she stays at the mansion with him for three months and allows him to kiss her once each day.

It seems that Thunder and Roses reminded me of more than one book, as Nicholas’s character was very reminiscent of the hero of another historical romance I recently read. Both characters begin the story as dissolute, selfish rakes, who have every intention of making the heroine his mistress. However, the hero of that other story went down in flames for me when he forced himself on the heroine. This is where Mary Jo Putney earned my eternal gratitude and major kudos with Nicholas. Yes, he begins the story with no real interest in actually helping people. His bargain with Clare is little more than a game at first, but he grows and changes as he sees first-hand how difficult it is for the miners and the other people of the village. He also treats Clare with the utmost respect, always allowing her to say when their kisses are over and never once forcing her to do anything that she didn’t want to. In so doing, he gradually earns her trust and respect in return, as well as her desire for more intimacies. Being with Clare ultimately makes Nicholas a better man. Except for those few selfish moments, I really liked him. His Romany background makes him unique, as the first hero with Gypsy heritage I can recall reading. He additionally has a talent for music and a live-in-the-moment attitude. He’s a loyal friend to his fellow Fallen Angels and he bears respect for some of the village residents whom he remembers from childhood. While he perhaps didn’t stand out quite enough to rank highly on my favorite heroes list, he nonetheless was a good one.

After the death of her father and mother, Clare lives alone and works as the local schoolmistress. She takes her responsibilities to her fellow villagers as well as her Christian duty to help them very seriously. As the teacher, she knows of all their hardships, so she goes to the Demon Earl in hopes of persuading him to help. Of course, he won’t lift a finger unless she agrees to his proposition, which will likely ruin her in the eyes of the villagers, who would never allow her near their children again. But knowing how desperately they need Nicholas’s help, she impetuously agrees, hoping that maybe she can salvage her reputation by being honest with a few of her closest Methodist friends and painting the situation as her acting as his housekeeper to everyone else. Of course, things don’t exactly go as planned, earning her censure from some of her fellow churchgoers, but she gradually makes progress in getting Nicholas to see the error of his ways and spurs him to get involved in making changes that benefit everyone. Clare is a feisty, take-charge kind of heroine who still has a softer, more compassionate side. She grows to care for Nicholas very quickly as she sees the man underneath the rakish exterior and the scandalous past. She never pressures him for details of what actually happened that night and he doesn’t give them until the very end, but instead she trusts that the man she’s come to know and love would never do something so terrible. As a person of faith, one of the things that I appreciated most about Clare’s character is her crisis of faith, how despite going through the motions every Sunday and having a preacher father, she doesn’t feel particularly close to God until Nicholas teaches her how to open herself up and truly love another human being.

With Thunder and Roses being a seven-book series, we’re introduced to a few secondary characters who play key roles in future books, Nicholas’s three best friends in particular. Lucien (Dancing on the Wind) is a smooth and perceptive spy-master, while Rafe (Petals in the Storm) is a duke who seems almost as bored with life, if not more so, than Nicholas. I’ll be interested to see what type of woman these men need to keep them in line. Then there’s Michael, who’s harboring a huge grudge against Nicholas that seems to be rooted in that scandalous night. I had my suspicions as to why but for the most part I was somewhat surprised by how this part of the story played out. Michael is a former soldier who appears to be suffering from PTSD and can be rather harsh, but he has a good side, too. Again, I’ll be very interested in reading more about him in Shattered Rainbows. Then there are some memorable characters from among the villagers, most notably Clare’s friends, Owen and Marged, and their large brood of children. They’re still in love after several years of marriage and Owen is a truly good man who takes great care of everyone.

Overall Thunder and Roses was a very good introduction to Mary Jo Putney’s work. The only reason I marked off a half-star is because the story is a little slow in places and I found my mind wandering just a bit, but it didn’t usually last long before the next exciting or intriguing this was happening. I also give the author kudos for her attention to historical details. When I read her author’s note at the end of the book, I was impressed with all the little things she included, which of course added to the authenticity of time and place. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Nicholas’s penguins absolutely enchanted me. They were definitely the first penguins I’ve read in a romance novel, so they completely took me by surprise.:-) I very much enjoyed the book and look forward to continuing the series soon to see all the Fallen Angels get their HEAs. ( )
  mom2lnb | Jun 7, 2018 |
I really loved the story and fell in love with both the h/h's. ( )
  tiffsaddictiontobook | Jul 18, 2017 |
Before I let you to read my Audible review, let me just say that the system of reviewing the Audiobooks there, leaves a lot to be desired. Because their system is vastly limited to their own questions [which vary from one reviewer to the next], I thought to write one up here.

First, I just loved this story. Everything in it worked for me. I’m a huge fan of a ‘tortured hero’ and while Nicholas was hurt as a child by everyone that was close to him, he wasn’t physically abused. Thank God for small favors! Never the less, he went through years and years of suffering, by keeping a family secret while letting rumors fly about his ‘immoral character’ and rakish reputation, for which he didn’t give a damn.

Claire on the other hand was someone who valued her reputation above all else, and yet waswilling to risk it when it came down to loosing it to help community she loved and thought of as her only family.

Second, I adored the voice of the narrator, Peter Bishop. I think narration is extremely important when it comes to ‘reading’ and ‘listening’ to a book. For example, the voice of Davina Porter from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is truly amazing and I enjoy it a lot. She’s doing all of DG’s books in O/series because it’s told from first person’s POV and it works great for that series. She also has a deep enough voice to ‘read’ male parts as well. That is rare, trust me! I passed up a lot of books only because the narration put me off.

Third, as I listened to the story, I had a clear vision of Clare and Nicholas as if I was watching a movie. Awhile ago I saw ‘A Hazard of Hearts’, a 1987 romantic film that was based on a novel by Barbara Cartland. It had Helena Bonham Carter and Marcus Gilbert playing Serena Staverley and Lord Justin Vulcan, and they were my perfect casting of Clare and Nicholas.

By the way, if you’ve never seen it, it’s on You Tube and when you have the time, I hope you give it a chance. I liked it.

In the end, I loved everything about this story which was fast paced, had plenty of twists and turns and interesting secondary characters, but what I loved the most was the friendship between the Fallen Angels and passion between Clare and Nicholas.

And here is what I left on Audible site as my review…

Enter a headline for your review:

Great start to a series!

If you could sum up Thunder and Roses in three words, what would they be?

Well-told / Poignant / Entertaining

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the characterization of every character in the book.

Which scene was your favorite?

The scene in which the heroine meets the hero for the first time is very memorable. I loved the way they conversed in that scene and how they went after one another.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely, but as always what we want and what we can do is sometimes not one and the same. I managed to listen to it within three days.

Any additional comments?

I liked the narration a lot. I was actually glad that the narrator had only slight nuances between male and female voices. I hate when a male/female narrators butcher the dialogue by sounding ‘cartoonish’ as they try to sound male/female. Job well done by Peter Bishop!

Melanie for b2b

*Book purchased from Amazon. ( )
  bookworm2bookworm | Mar 30, 2017 |
Great set-up for the Fallen Angels series. This is Nicholas' story as he returns to Penreith in Wales determined not to get involved with village life but Clare does not allow that to happen. She challenges him to make the mine there better though he owns the land but not the mine. Clare challenges him throughout the story on many levels.

I loved Clare and Nicholas. They were a strong match. Each gave as good as he/she got. Neither got away with much. I loved watching them trying to outmaneuver one another in their game of wits. The build-up of the sexual tension was fantastic. It made the book.

The story line and the secondary lines were well done and believable. The duel scene, the two big mine scenes, the escape scene, and the last scene had me on the edge of my seat. I felt like I was there living through these scenes. I figured out why Michael (one of the Fallen Angels) hated and was trying to kill Nicholas before the end of the book but I wondered how long it would take to get the reason out of Michael.

Thunder and Roses is so well done, I look forward to the rest of the series. ( )
  Sheila1957 | Sep 26, 2015 |
Claire is the daughter of a minister and needs help for the people in her welsh village so she goes to Nicholas, the half gypsy earl. Is this a mistake as Claire's reputation is at stake.

My Thoughts:

I have been reading a lot of crime recently and felt I needed a change. I found this book in a little bookshop and for me the appeal was that the love interest is half gypsy.

This book for me was totally out of my comfort zone and dare I say bordering on Mills and Boon. The story was ok but was over taken with all the slush. There was quite a build up to the full bodice ripping and then more slush. So ok then this is what this book is, a regency romance with lots of sugar.

There were elements of this book that I did enjoy. I enjoyed the parts of the book that pinpointed I was in regency times such as the duel. I also enjoyed the gypsy elements too especially when Nicholas and Claire spend time with the 'Rom'.

My little niggle is that when the couple visit Westminster Abbey I doubt very much they would have walked over the bones of Henry VIII as he is buried at Windsor.

However the book was ok but too slushy for me and would have enjoyed it slightly more with a little less sugar. ( )
  tina1969 | May 26, 2014 |
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To Marianne and Karen, two of my favorite females.
First words
Winter mists swirled about as they scaled the wall that enclosed the estate.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Thunder and Roses (1993) (reissued in Great Britain as Fallen Angel (2009))
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Book description
They called him the Demon Earl. They said he could do anything. Son of a rogue and a gypsy, Nicholas Davies was a notorious rake until a shattering betrayal left him alone and embittered in the Welsh countryside.

Desperation drives quiet schoolteacher Clare Morgan to ask the Demon Earl to help save her village. Unwilling to involve himself in the problems of others, Nicholas sets an impossible price on his aid --- only if Clare agrees to live with him for three months, letting the world think the worst, will he intervene.

Furiously, Clare accepts his outrageous challenge, and finds herself drawn into a glittering Regency world of danger and desire. As allies, she and Nicholas fight to save her community. As adversaries, they explore the hazardous terrain of power and sensuality. And as lovers, they surrender to passion that threatens the very foundations of their lives....
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451205154, Mass Market Paperback)

To save her village, quiet schoolteacher Clare Morgan stikes a deal with Nicholas Davies-known as the Demon Earl.

"Ms. Putney just gets better and better." (Nora Roberts)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:05 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A Welsh Methodist minister's daughter changes her life when she appeals for help to Nicholas Davies, a half-Gypsy earl... They called him the Demon Earl. They said he could do anything. Son of a rogue and a Gypsy, Nicholas Davies was a notorious rake until a shattering betrayal left him alone and embittered in the Welsh countryside. Desperation drives quiet schoolteacher Clare Morgan to ask the Demon Earl to help save her village. Unwilling to involve himself in the problems of others, Nicholas sets an impossible price on his aid?only if Clare agrees to live with him for three months, letting the world think the worst, will he intervene. Furiously Clare accepts his outrageous challenge, and the two are swept into an intoxicating Regency world of danger and desire. As allies, Clare and Nicholas fight to save her community. As adversaries, they explore the hazardous terrain of power and sensuality. And as lovers, they surrender to a passion that threatens the very foundations of their lives. RITA Award and Golden Choice finalist. "Both sublimely romantic and scorchingly sensual, Thunder and Roses is and extraordinary romance from an extraordinary author." Melinda Helfer, Romantic Times "Ms. Putney has powerfully conveyed the healing power of love and deftly woven in humorous elements for a wonderful read." Gigi Rounds, Affaire de Coeur… (more)

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