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on June 27, 2018
This is unlike any other Regency novel I have ever read. I absolute loved it. This has sadness, tragedy, danger. betrayal, kidnappings, a betrothal, a wedding, family pride, manipulation, deceit, greed, murder and a clean romance. Julia has been impersonating a man named Jules. She is an artisan and speaks out for fairness and justice. She had to go into disguise in order to support her mother and her two young sisters after her father died. One day when Jules was out talking to the crowd, a man dressed as a commoner approached her. She could see that he was not a commoner. Gregory St. Claire, the Duke of Thornton, was use to dressing as a commoner to listen and observe how to help the working class. He came across Jules talking and wanted to help in some way. He did not know Jules was a young woman. He saved Jules from being arrested. He then found out he was a she. He felt that Jules could not stay there for fear the guards would come back for her. So he arranged to keep her family safe. But he had to get the family out of London to his estate in the country. Julia agreed to his plans. Julia and her family stayed with Gregory at his townhouse. From there her mother and sisters were sent to the country. But Julia stayed behind to help find out who started the fire at the workhouse and killed many innocent children and adults. Also she wanted to help her brethren of the Guild who were arrested. Gregory had a friend who was a barrister and involved him to take up the case on behalf of the workers. But in order for Julia to stay in his home he had to set up a guise that she was his betrothed and they were to be married. In the meantime there was trouble a foot. Then the story takes a turn to danger and problems. This story is action packed. I had to read it straight through. Page after page I was totally engrossed in the story. The author did an excellent job in developing the characters. The story went at a quick pace. It took me a few hours to read. I highly recommend this book.
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on July 3, 2018
The Artisan and the Duke, by Abigail Agar.
This is one of the most exciting Regency novels I have ever read. It bounces from situation to situation with no letup.

The premise of the book is believable but for one thing. I have a hard time believing that the heroine could be taken for a boy, and that she is a mason by trade. But if you refuse to let that distract you the book unfolds like a mystery and steadily from crisis to crisis.

Jules (Julia) Kelley has been trained as an apprentice mason, and is a member of the Mason's Guild. Gregory St. Claire, the Duke of Thornton, is a man who though titled, has little sympathy for the aristocracy. From the minute he meets Jules rallying her compatriots against unjust aristocratic actions he is hooked. When he discovers the young man is really a young woman everything in his world begins to change.

He rescues her from the Guard following a suspicious fire in which many young child laborers burn to death. He convinces her that becoming engaged to him will help her to bring the perpetrators of the fire to justice. From that point on his family and hers become inevitably intertwined.

But that's really just the start of the story. The engagement is really a ruse to hide the fact that the duke is investigating not only the fire, but the justice system, and members of his own aristocratic family who have designs on his title.

First his brother, a survivor of the Napoleonic Wars is kidnapped. He himself is attacked. Jules, now his wife, is kidnapped and transferred from workhouse to workhouse so he is unable to find her.

The whole situation becomes so complicated that it is apparent some really powerful lords are working not only to thwart him, but to destroy his family.

I read through each set of difficulties thinking after each that his crisis was solved--until the next crisis occurred and he had to stickhandle his way through again. I thoroughly enjoyed the action, and followed the story breathlessly to its conclusion. As Regency Romances go, this one is better than most. Kudos to author Abigail Agar.
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on June 29, 2018
Oh my goodness gracious. This is one, over-the-top, brows drawn almost lost in the hair line. Taĺk about a spin that spurs the gossips tongue a wagging. This is one page turning, explosive bombshell that you will not be able to put down. I read straight through. The feelings are in such a tizzy you're not sure if you should run hard and fast or crawl under something to hide. The characters are intriguing and complex with a realism that doesn't go unnoticed. The two main characters were attracted to one another but tried to ignore it. When the doors finally close behind them, they realized this was just the tip of the ice burg. Things swept up in a corner, wouldn't stay hidden under the rug much longer. You have all the components to make this phenomenal read the master piece that it deserves. Action packed, fast paced, nerve racking and nailbiting all in one amazing tale. The scenes were so vividly detailed and descriptive that it gives the illusion you were right there in the middle of ground zero with them. Twists and turns abound with danger closing in. How much longer will they survive? Is the next door that opens be the last one for them. Abigail draws us deep into this world she created until nothing else exists except this adventure before us. She has a gift of bringing her imagination alive so that we, her readers enjoy the intrigue and danger with such splendor that's up close and personal. Everything appears as if it's In 3D Technicolor that hooks you from the start and reels you in for the duration. Remarkable job Abigail, thanks for sharing this awesome read with us.
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Julie is use to dressing and acting like a young man, being vocal on her views of the London elete. One day she meets Gregory, who likes to dress and act like he is a part of the London poor. Gregory notices right away the young man was not what he seemed. The next time they meet Gregory is preventing the young man from being arrested by the the guard who enjoys arresting the vocal poor of London. Gregory volunteers to help Julie and her family, to keep her from being arrested. When there is a fire at a factory, killing everyone inside, Gregory and Julie feel the need to investigate. Julie agrees to marry Gregory if he helps her fellow guild members who were arrested in addition to helping her family. After they are married, Julie is kidnapped and hidden. Frederick, Gregory's brother, disappears at the same time Julie is kidnapped. Will Gregory find Julie before it's too late? Or will he pay with his life? Who are the people betraying Julie and Gregory?

This is a very good book. The mystery has so many twists and turns, which will keep you on the edge if your seat and holding your breath when the next twist hits. If you enjoy romantic suspense you don't want to miss this exciting novel by Abigail Agar. This is a sweet and clean book. I received an ARC from the author, and the review is my honest opinion.
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on June 27, 2018
Story full of social tension, perceptions, discoveries and suspense. This story begins with two people hiding who they are for different reasons. First we find Jules who disguises herself as a male to work as an artisan (mason) to provide for her mom and two younger sisters. She also has distinct views of nobility and shares them with her peers. Secondly we have Gregory, Duke of Thornton, who dresses "down" and wanders the streets to observe the commoners and their existance. Unlike his peers, he has compassion for these commoners and relies on his observations versus the pervasive thought of the nobility. These two meet, Gregory discovers Jules' secret, and provides for her and her family's safety. She may think the way he goes about it underhanded, but with no better option reluctantly agrees. Things are not all rosey within the nobility either. There are several twists and turns, leaving the reader wondering who is really the culprit until the very end. Opinions change, lives enriched and love found. An engaging regency suspense romance.
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on June 26, 2018
Gregory, Duke of Thorton, has held the the peerage needs change for some time. He goes out in disguise to check on the welfare of all society. He tries to help right wrongs but feels it is not enough.

Julia, Jules, works for the mason guild. She was taught by her father. Not many know her secret. Those that do guard it well. She meets Gregory in his disguise one day and !earns the next her suspicions were correct.

As these two work together to fight against the injustice of the guild members and find out who set the fire and why, they are met with one stumbling block after another.

This is on thrilling, adventurous read you won't wAnt to put down. With rich characters and a great plot it is an enjoyable read.
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on July 7, 2018
Literally. Pun intended. I never write bad reviews, but... Is this really a romance novel? I just quit reading it. The couple is finally married, and the story jumps to the morning after the wedding. No mention of even a kiss at this point! Yes, I can do without all the explicit love scenes, but we buy romance novels for a little romance, not just a mystery. I wanted to give it one star, but I admire anyone that has the patience to write a book and gets published.
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on June 28, 2018
This is a nice story with decent characters. It has an unusual premise and an interesting mystery.
I enjoyed the Duke written as a kind, smart, loving individual. The supporting characters had nice interaction with the hero and heroine. The snarky banter was quite fun as well!
The heroine has potential, but written as a little too emotionally jumpy for my taste. I know that tension between characters is good, but for quite a ways into the story she just seems bi-polar.

The main issue I have with this book is poor writing technique and poor editing. Here are some of the issues I have with the novel:
Many sentences ended with prepositions.
Adverbs were not used correctly. Ex: "I know you shall do wonderful" Sarah said encouragingly to Jules.' It should be 'wonderfully'.
There was too much same word repetition. For example: "Sneered" "sneer" "sneering" was used at least 6-7 times, "dark-haired" was uses at least 9 times for 5 different people.
There is waaaay too much repetition for this to be considered a technically well written book. Just the word "softly" was used at least 73 times!!! That's about 71 too many. I quickly began to know that every time Jules spoke, 'softly' was going to be in the sentence. "Said quietly" was used 49 times, (there was 'agreed quietly' as well).
There were too many modern words used as well, when the bulk of the book has a more appropriate dialogue and idiomatic speech for the time period. For example: 'Morphed' was not a word used in that time period. I Googled it an found it was used in the 1940-50's, first known use was in 1947. 'Antsy' also did not come into use until the 20th century in America in the rural South. 'Okay' came into existence in the 1830's but I believe it was considered slang and educated people did not use it.

I could reference dangling participles and split infinitives but I honestly don't think those have quite as much pressing importance as just good, solid writing. I really do believe this could be a lovely story/mystery with some extensive polishing and a touch of tender loving care.
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on July 7, 2018
I’ve received an ARC and am leaving a voluntary and honest review.
I started out loving this story!!!
But as it progressed...I was a bit overwhelmed with all that was happening...
I loved Jules and everything she represented! Wonderful character!
The duke was amazing as well! Not you everyday lord!
But as u would think the mistery and problem of the story would soon be resolved...
U get twist after twist....
And after all of the evil things that happened to the dukes family....
The guilty party only gets his title stripped from him??!
I found it a very light punishment for so much evil scheming and doing!
Anyway still a lovely story!!!
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on July 11, 2018
The most unusual regency romance I've read. A Duke who really didn't care much for his political role as Duke finds a young man on the street who is speaking out against unfair treatment for the masons. Only the young man is the daughter of a mason who trained his daughter in his trade because he had no sons. That makes this a very unusual romance. Not only is the mason a woman the Duke is trying to help her when the Masons are being arrested. I really liked the characters and the unusual storyline. The young woman who was masquerading as a young man has to meld into London society and I did think she did that much too easily. Otherwise it made a great story.
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