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VINE VOICEon 7 March 2010
Nineteen years ago, Oliver Sharpe, the future Marquess of Stoneville's life changed when his parents died in mysterious circumstances. To survive the resulting scandal, Oliver resigned to live his life as an unrepentant rakehell. That was until his grandmother threatened to cut him off unless he settled down and wed.

In an effort to thwart his Gran's plans, Oliver aims to bring home a fake fiancé fresh from a brothel. His plans go awry when he instead finds Maria Butterworth, a spirited young American who has come to England to search for her own errant fiancé. She's far from the perfect fiancé but Oliver soon begins to realise she might be perfect for him.

This is the first in Jeffries new Hellions of Halstead Hall series focussing on five hell-raising brothers and sisters with a terrible scandal hanging over their heads. This first book focuses on the eldest brother and heir, Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville who has appeared as a bit character in a few of Jeffries' previous novels.

I really enjoyed this story and the interactions between Oliver and Maria. Oliver is my favourite type of hero - tortured, brooding and in desperate need of the love of a good woman. I also really liked Maria who was spirited and naïve without ever becoming a stereotype. Their interactions were typical of Jeffries - full of wit and spirit. I could have done with a bit more emotion in the story but I'm willing to admit that I might have set my expectations too high as I really enjoy Sabrina Jeffries' books and was very much looking forward to this one.

The story was interesting, engaging and never did the underlying plot of the tragedy (a plotline I'm sure will run through the whole series) overshadow the romance.

Overall, if you're looking for a well-written romance with endearing characters and a good, sound plot then you can't go wrong with this engaging story. 4 stars. The next book in the series is A Hellion in Her Bed which features Oliver's brother Jarret.
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on 14 July 2010
I just love how the author described Halstead Hall! Other reviewers have cited the plot already so I won't do so anymore.

I have to say since Stoneville was a recurring character in the "School for Heiresses" series I thought it was a good idea to write a "spin off" in a new series. And in this one Oliver Sharpe's(Stoneville)character is developed. I was never sure in the heiresses books if this guy was good or bad and I'm glad this book refers to that as well and answers the all important question: "why?". It's a mark of a good author when the characters stay true to who they are through the entire book and the reader understands why they say or do certain things and how the relationship benefits them to become better people.

I thought Maria was a good character and definitely had a personality that was strong enough to handle a man like Oliver. The development of the story is believable and the love scenes are awesome -- in fact, I think this is one of the few romances where the love scenes actually reflect the stage in the relationship. There is definitely a difference when the couple have fully committed themselves to each other. Of course, heroes from the heiresses series Lord Kirkwood and Foxmoor also make an appearance and Norcourt is also referenced (well I guess they are all Stoneville's friends after all)There are some new characters too who I am sure we will all get to know a little bit better through the series.

This is a good book, and the interactions between Oliver and Maria were so sweet they made me ache sometimes! I think if a romance is to be considered good then the reader should be able to also "fall in love" with the hero and, man, how I wish I was Maria! Looking forward to reading the next book in the series! If you like Sabrina Jeffries then this one will not disappoint!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 January 2011
This entertaining if less than rigorously accurate georgian romantic farce is the first in a series of five romances featuring the five brothers and sisters of the Sharpe family of Halstead Hall. The hero of this one is Lord Oliver Sharpe, Marquis of Stoneville, who has been a very ambiguous character in some of this author's other series such as the "School for Heiresses" books.

I would strongly recommend that if you are going to read this series you do so in sequence, which is:

1) "The Truth About Lord Stoneville" (Oliver's story)
2) "A Hellion in Her Bed (Hellions of Halstead Hall)" (Jarret)
3) "How to Woo A Reluctant Lady (The Hellions of Halstead Hall)" (Minerva)
4) "To Wed a Wild Lord (The Hellions of Halstead Hall)" (Gabe)
5) "A Lady Never Surrenders (The Hellions of Halstead Hall)."

The scene for this series, was set twenty years before the main action of the story, on the day in 1806 when the disastrous marriage, and the lives, of Oliver's parents came to a tragic end. The prologue of each of the first four books of the series is also set on that day, showing how it affected the central character of the story.

Lord Gabriel's father, the Marquis of Stoneville, had married Prudence Plumtree, daughter of a wealthy brewer, for her money. He hoped to use the dowry she brought from the Plumtree brewery to keep up his vast but expensive house and estate at Halstead Hall, while continuing to live the life of a dissolute noble rake.

Bad mistake. The Plumtree family may be in trade but judging by Hetty Plumtree, the grandmother of the five Sharpe siblings and a major character in the series, they are sharp as a whip, stubborn as a mule, and nearly as proud as the noble Sharpes. They really, really don't make good doormats.

Prudence did not have the complaisant attitude to her husband's infidelity which is found in some parts of the aristocracy: when he cheated on her, she went ballistic. The elder Sharpe siblings' memories of their parents, particularly those of Oliver the firstborn, were of a series of cataclysmic rows - the prologue of a later book makes clear that even seven-year old Gabe was upset by the frequent occasions when his mother yelled at his father.

And then the Marquis and his wife were found shot dead. At the start of this first book the reader is given the impression that there was a murder-suicide in which the Sharpe siblings' mother shot first her husband and then herself. Exactly what really happened is a major plot element in all the books, including this one, so I don't want to give anything further away beyond saying that the tragedy will haunt all the characters throughout the series.

The main action of all three books begins in 1825: the Sharpe siblings have grown up and each has become notorious in his or her own way. Oliver, the present Marquis of Stoneville, now 35, has become an infamous rake. Jarret, now aged 32, has become possibly the most notorious and skilled gambler in the country. Their sister Minerva, aged 28, writes gothic novels under her real name.

Gabe the third brother, aged 26, is another rake and is nicknamed "The Angel of Death" for his skill at dangerous carriage races, while the youngest sibling, Celia, is fascinated by guns and has become a crack shot - and she in turn is notorious for challenging her friends' brothers to shooting competitions and wiping the floor with them. The family as a group are known by the same name as this series of books: the Hellions of Halstead Hall.

The purse-strings of the family are still held by their maternal grandmother, and at the start of "The Truth about Lord Stoneville," Hetty Plumtree's patience with the five Hellions of Halstead Hall finally snaps when Gabe breaks his arm during yet another dangerous race. So she gives all five of them an ultimatum: settle down and marry within a year, or she'll cut them off without a penny and leave the brewery to their cousin Desmond.

That's the background to all the books in the series, and each volume covers how one of the five brothers or sisters responds to Hetty's ultimatum.

Oliver's reaction to his grandmother's ultimatum is to try to find the most outrageous possible means of complying with her request, by bringing home a prospective bride from a brothel. But in the process he finds himself rescuing an innocent but lion-hearted American girl who had rashly entered the brothel looking for her lost fiance. This soon leads to a farcical series of events ...

This series is nonsense, but it is entertaining nonsense, and I loved most of the characters. I've enjoyed each book more than the previous one. There are some flaws in the background research, mostly pretty minor, one or two a little annoying.

The five "Hellions of Halstead Hall" books are a genuine series: each book adds additional parts to the jigsaw as the brothers and sisters try to reconstruct the true story behind the deaths of their parents, and with character development in each of the first four books setting the scene for the following ones.

If you like historical romantic farces set during or slightly later than the Regency period, and are not too bothered about meticulous historical accuracy, you will probably enjoy this series.
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on 3 June 2011
This is the first book in the Hellions series where we meet the notorious rakehell Oliver Sharpe, otherwise known as Lord Stoneville. Facing the prospect of being disinherited should he and his siblings not marry before years end, Oliver decides to thwart his grandmother's plans. And who better to play his pretend fiancée than the hard-headed heiress Maria Butterfield. But what starts as a clever deception soon becomes something more.

All the while, Maria's original plans to find her American fiancée start to seem less pressing as she succumbs to Oliver's heady kisses. And Oliver soon discovers that Maria may be unlike anyone else - someone who can see past the torment he suffers over his parent's death and the blame he feels. Love might just be the medicine Oliver needed all along.

For exisiting SJ fans, this is a great read if you're looking for your next book. I would also recommend Sabrina's next book in this series, `A Hellion in Her Bed'.
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on 15 April 2016
I've read many regency books recently, but none have captivated me, held my attention like this one (the standard of writing here is top quality and you pay for quality, good entertainment and escapism). This book is well written, the characters are colourful, the women are plain talkers and gutsy. The men strong, flawed, vulnerable and very likeable. Looking forward to more in the series.
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on 26 January 2012
The only thing 'historical' about this book is the year written on the first page in the Prologue! Honestly! What was the author thinking? Surely she must know that you couldn't buy dresses from a charity shop at that point in time? When I read this I was in need of a good book to read, so I was able to ignore some of the more stupider elements of this book.

Overall it was alright.
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on 6 April 2014
Part of the hellions of halstead hall . Very well written and enjoyable series . Good storyline that keeps you turning the pages.
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on 15 July 2011
Because I am a huge fan of Regency Romance novels, I decided to give this author a try and I am upset I have spent any money on this book!

The characters are flat, seem no more than a collection of cliches wrapped in the thinnest of descriptions. The vividness I have come to expect from other authors is not in evidence. To be quite honest, it just seems that the author has taken characters and situations from a second rate modern romance and transported it to the Georgian period without any historical considerations at all or considerations to period settings and behaviours.

Not to say anything about the dire predictability of it all. I know the boy invariably gets the girl after the required trials of tribulations, but when I only have to read a sentence a paragraph to know the whole I consider this a waste of my hard earned cash. I found "The Truth about Lord Stoneville" to be almost an insult to my intelligence...

I can't recommend this book to anyone...
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on 17 February 2015
Excellent
Series
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on 30 January 2016
Excellent book
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