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The Bond (The Secret Tales #1) by Vicki Stiefel, writing as Sanna Brand




#Historical, #Romance, #Regency,

Rosamund is at a dangerous crossroads...

Lady Rosamund Fielding hides a secret so terrible it could ruin her, her family, and Major General Lord Rhys Lansdowne, the man she loves. Rose and Rhys were inseparable in childhood—their friendship was the one shining light in Rose’s dark upbringing.

Yet when Rhys proposes, Rose refuses, for he can never know her shameful truth.

Returned from the Napoleonic wars and now the Marquess of Ravenscroft, Rhys is determined to uncover the reason behind Rose's rejection and win her hand and her heart once and for all.

Yet Rose’s father, Earl Fielding, is demanding Rose accept Brigadier Viscount Pennworth's marriage proposal, threatening dire consequences if she does not obey.

Time is of the essence as Rose faces this difficult crossroad, where she is forced to confront past demons and choose a path.

Should she marry Rhys, deceiving him, and forever be branded a liar in his eyes? She cannot.

Wed Pennworth? Never.

Or flee? Away from Rhys, away from her father, and away from all she holds dear.

Rose has faced many dangerous choices in her life. Will this final one destroy her?

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The blacksmith’s chime of metal on metal returned Rose’s attention to the earl. “I see. Those men are quite a triumvirate, though none will succeed.”

He slapped his hands together. “One will, and within the month.”

She whirled on him, the time for playacting ended. “I will not marry, my lord.”

“Oh, you will, sweeting.” He winked, his smile widening. “Or your sisters will suffer.”

Even if she wed, her sisters could not accompany her, as Charlotte and Claire would never leave their mother. Her stepmother Beatrice was a kind woman attached to an evil man, their relationship mystifying.

His call to battle rang loud and clear, but she must be clever about this. “We have discussed this. You will never get the land, for it will belong to my husband.”

“But I will,” the earl said. “For those Scottish lands will be attached to the dower contract. Once wed, your husband will hand them over to me, you see. He will get the money, after all.”

Rhys would never accept such an arrangement, but Pennworth or Abernathy… Rose would bet he had made bargains with one or both men. “You will never gain control of my lands.”

“Think on it, and on what your sisters will experience. Just the three of us, Charlotte, Claire…and me.”

He well knew she loved her stepsisters. Curse him, she would find a way out of this newest conundrum.

4 out of 5 (very good)

THE BOND is the first book in The Secret Tales and the first secret, Rosamund's, is certainly not a nice one - to be polite!

This is a long book, with plenty of trauma and angst to keep you company. It takes you from their present, with quick flashbacks to the past, moving with them to their future as they try to have a secure life together. I did feel as though it could have been shortened just a little, as there were parts I didn't fully grasp the relevance of so, to me, they had little bearing on the story.

This is a slow burn with little physical intimacy (completely understandable) but plenty of affection between the two main characters.

A great start to the series and I can't wait for the next book! Definitely recommended by me.

** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book; the comments here are my honest opinion. *


Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Jun 2, 2023


Have you ever fallen down a rabbit hole? Virtually, of course.

The Archaeolibrarian offered me numerous ideas for this post, and the question—What show from your childhood would you love to bring back?— sent me there.

My favorite show is a child was Fury, starring a black stallion. I thrilled watching this gorgeous creature prance and dance with his boy rider atop him. Glorious! The show was on Saturday mornings in black-and-white and starred Peter Graves of Mission Impossible fame. Fury inspired my love of horses, with a little help from Roy Rogers’ Trigger.

My love for them has never wavered.

Horses infuse The Bond, and Rosamund, my indomitable heroine, has a great affinity for them. Though unconventional, Lady Rose is responsible for the cultivation and breeding of horses at Fielding Manor. She’s also a bruising rider, as is her love, Rhys, Lord of Ravenscroft and an officer during the Napoleonic wars.

Essential to Regency life, horses had numerous uses, including pulling carriages and carts, as well as fire engines, canal barges, and horse-drawn streetcars. The Cleveland Bay of that era remains one of today’s most desired carriage horses. While many rode for transportation—let’s not forget highwaymen!—horses were also used in fox hunts and races, particularly with the advent of the Thoroughbred, a breed that did not exist until the mid-1700s.

The Thoroughbred line was birthed in England of Arab stock. These three foundation stallions—The Byerley Turk (1680s), the Darley Arabian (1704), and the Godolphin Arabian (1729)—are credited with launching the breed, though some say the Byerley Turk was an Akhal-Teke from Turkmenistan. The place to buy an outstanding horse was London’s Tattersall’s Repository.

Royalty owned and raced horses, including Queen Anne, George I, and onward up to Queen Elizabeth II. Oddly, the most important female influence on Thoroughbreds was Old Bald Peg, an Arabian mare. What an undignified name!

Horses’ role in The Bond is both literal and symbolic, for they have always represented freedom. Freedom to move through the world, freedom to escape, freedom to find solitude, and freedom to fly, for at a gallop, these noble beasts feel as if they are flying.

Rose treasures and adores all animals, especially horses, and though she disdains sidesaddle, preferring to ride astride, that’s what she uses when in Town. (Along with Rose, Henry II of France’s mistress Diane de Poitiers, Marie Antoinette, and Catherine the Great rode astride, as well.) Sidesaddles—odd and perilous—force a woman’s legs to rest on the left side of the horse. A lady’s habit was equally awkward, for she rode in a flurry of skirts, corsets, and other restrictions.

Yet these Regency bells not only traversed the park and trail on horseback but in races, too!

Rhys, the man who loves Rose, is another equine lover, along with his sister Thomasina, also gifted with an affinity for the great beasts.

Their breeding farm—Woodbine—has a complex birthing scene in The Bond, a challenge for me as a writer, though I have been fortunate to participate in the birth of three foals.

It was a dark and stormy night — I couldn’t make this up — and all had left the farm but for Charles, the owner, and myself. Three mares were due to foal in the coming weeks.

Amidst thunder and lightning, all three decided to foal simultaneously. As rain pounded the farm, I followed Charles’ instructions, and in a surprisingly swift amount of time, we delivered three healthy foals—a Thoroughbred, an Appaloosa, and a quarter horse. A magical night.

In the novel, when Rosamund and Rhys deliver foals, much research went into those birthing scenes. I might have helped in a foaling, but I’m no expert.

The dogs of The Bond did not assist, but they are plentiful as well as also symbolic, for the interactions between humans and animals tell us much about a person’s character.

Back to Fury. The stallion was a saddlebred, an epic horse with many gifts, who also starred in Black Beauty,Lone Star, and Giant.

Fury’s spirit lives throughout The Bond.

If you wish to read more about Fury, real name Highland Dale or Beaut, here you go:

Award-winning author Vicki Stiefel now also writes as Sanna Brand, whose Regency Romance, THE BOND (Book 1, The Secret Tales) launches May 15. Vicki’s fantasy romance series, The Made Ones Saga, launched with ALTERED, continued with CHANGED, and climaxed with ASCENDANT.

Vicki continues work on her Afterworld Chronicles and her award-winning mystery/thrillers feature homicide counselor Tally Whyte.

Vicki tapped into her love of knitting to produce Chest of Bone The Knit Collection and co-write 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters.

After running The Writers Studio with her late husband, William G. Tapply, Vicki taught fiction and modern media writing for six years at Clark University.

She grew up in professional theater and planned to become an actress. Instead, she slung hamburgers, managed a scuba shop, and became a college professor. She is a mom to two wonderful humans and a furry pack. Her passions for scuba diving, fly fishing, knitting, and horses pop up in her novels, as do chocolate, bourbon, and lobster. Currently, she's playing with her pups, Penny and Bash, and her kitty, Sammy, while working on THE DECEPTION, the second book in The Secret Tales.

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