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on 23 January 2014
After reading Beau Crosoe a few years ago I kept Ms Kelly on my 'authors to read again' list. I purchased this on my kindle but had to return it. To say I was disappointed is an understatement!

Others have written about the plot that seem liked a contemporary disguised as an historical (yes it does) but, I'm just going to say it - !!!!!! here in the England, UK - fanny is slang for vagina! We also call cookies biscuits - always have and probably always will. There were just too many 'americanism' and the H&h names where silly. If this book had been written by a novice I would feel more forgiving but - nah - this a weak american 'historical' that I don't recommend.

Lastly, I just want to say - do American, supposedly 'historical' authors have to 'dumb it down' for Americans? Would it really be hard for American readers to know & understand the cultural differences between England & America?
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on 23 February 1999
Definitely not a standard Regency: if you're looking for blushing debutantes, dashing heroes and glittery balls, you won't find them here. What you will find is an earthy and very realistic story of an unlikely friendship between a courageous but despairing vicar's widow with two young daughters and a cynical, rough-and-ready marquess. Winn is no ballroom dandy; he is a disgraced divorced man with no intention of ever marrying again. Then he meets Roxanna Drew and, without even realising it at first, is drawn to her.
The story contains a number of unexpected twists, but the underlying theme is of two people betrayed by love, who find it difficult to trust, and yet learn that they need to trust each other. Kelly pulls no punches, and at times the book is earthy, shocking and tear-inducing.
I loved it, and will be re-reading it very soon.
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on 15 September 2013
Americanisms! Seriously! The occasional reference to a "block" and the other things I ignore, but to talk of patting "her on the fanny". Too funny.
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on 23 November 2014
I've been re-reading my Carla Kelly books and although "Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand" isn't one of my top ten most memorable books in my Kelly collection - to me, it's still five star worthy.

If you're a long time fan of Ms. Kelly's writing, you already know she often writes about down-and-out ladies and this book follows that storyline. Additionally, one of her more common themes is a cool hero type - not a perfect hero - but generally a good, hard working man, who is protective of his lady, more often than not a gent who's served time on behalf of his country, in some of type of military occupation.

Before I proceed with my review, I will give you an idea of some common themes that run through Ms. Kelly's books:

One common theme within the storyline of her books that I've noticed is just when things seem to be moving right along toward a marvelous Happily Ever After, then lo and behold, the hero makes the choice to remove himself from the game temporarily for some reason that frustrates me to no end. Examples are: The Admiral's Penniless Bride (Mills & Boon Historical) - the hero becomes angry and acts like a total jerk, in Mrs. McVinnie's London Season - after proposing to our heroine, the naval captain hero withdraws his proposal because he can't bring himself to leave the navy and to make matters worse, he was planning to return a beautiful little girl named Clare to Portugal because he determined he wasn't the father. This after Clare had lived with his family for months and he seemed truly fond of her - she was an orphan, no less??? The deal with Clare very nearly ruined the book for me. In The Wedding Ring Quest (Mills & Boon Historical), the hero has a serious case of PTSD which causes him to respond to the heroine in a horrid fashion. Needless to say, on some occasions, the main guys in her books have not been written in a manner that gave me a lot of satisfaction.

But, here's the deal, there really isn't another writer who can come close to what Carla Kelly offers in writing style, so if you're a fan, you willingly accept your dislikes to go along with your likes. I'm a huge fan and I purchase her books as soon as they come out.

In this book, we have the common theme of a young woman, Roxanna Drew, whose former vicar husband was sick for four years before he passed away. She has two beautiful little girls, Helen and Leticia and is shortly going to have to give up the parsonage to the new vicar. Her brother-in-law, Lord Whitcomb, holds the living and he has a most wonderful proposition for the lovely Roxanna - she and the girls are welcome to come and live in his home, but there is a price to pay. Roxanna will warm his bed. Roxanna is scared and sick at the thought, but he is a powerful man and also has the ability to restrict her stipend if she refuses him.

While out walking, she comes across a broken down dower house on a neighboring property and makes a deal with the kindly bailiff to allow her to live there - the owner, Fletcher Rand, Lord Winn - has long been absent from his many properties serving in the war and has a very sorry reputation. It seems his wife was not only unfaithful, she was unfaithful with a slew of men, even friends and Lord Winn had the gall to seek a very public divorce which involved her former lovers being brought into the mess and paraded as it were, before the House of Lords. He's not considered good ton, he's not marriage material and even if he were, he has no real desire to get married.

But, Lord Winn is checking out his properties and when he comes across his Moreland Park property, who does he find in the dower house on a cold and wintry night? Yep, Roxanna and her little ones. From here on out, we have a lovely romance, Roxanna needs a protector and she has one in Winn. Even though her brother-in-law continues in his nastiness, Winn and Roxanna formulate a plan which involves a horseback ride in freezing weather to the Scotland border resulting in a marriage of convenience. However, Winn didn't count on Roxanna being starved for the marriage bed, so that certainly adds some spice to the game.

But... and here we go again, Winn isn't sure what Roxanna wants out of the marriage - after all she loved her previous husband which results in Winn leaving Roxanna, Helen and Leticia - the little sweet daughters he's become attached to, departing Moreland Park to continue checking out his holdings. Then, a letter goes astray, and there's a big misunderstanding which goes on for a few months until the last few pages of the book. This stuff I hate. Still, it's a beautiful love story and it is Carla Kelly, so there you have it.
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on 3 October 2012
I have never been drawn to writing a review before but this book really meant something to me. I couldn't put it down and it left me thinking about the story of Roxanna and Lord Winn for several days after. I cannot recommend it enough, a perfect read in every way.
I have only just discovered Carla Kelly and have read 'Beau Crusoe', 'Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career' (a wonderful read), 'Reforming Lord Ragsdale', 'Marians Christmas Wish' (highly recommended), 'In Love and War', seems I am getting quite and addict and can't wait for another fine story from this wonderful writer.
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on 7 March 2014
I have enjoyed all the Carla Kelly novels I've read so far and this was no exception. Her characterisation is good - as is the relationship between the protagonists.
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on 25 February 2011
I have read a LOT of Regency Romances and this has to be in my top three. If you can get hold of a copy, read it! Carla Kelly is a genius author. Her work makes you feel fantastic and really deserves proper literary merit. I can't recommend this highly enough! :-)
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on 21 February 2013
I enjoyed this story so much that some weeks later I re read it. A lovely story that leaves you feeling warm inside. Highly recommended.
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on 16 April 2013
This is a delightful and well written book. It holds allthe beswt of a|Carla Kelly novel. Roxanne and her family will make you feel that Winn ,the hero, is just that a real hero. I loved every momnt of reading this and did not want it to end. Maria Probst
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on 15 February 2013
A really enjoyable book. A pleasant surprise as I find so many of the Regency novels bore me. First I've read by this author. I hope her others are as good.
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