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The Admiral's Penniless Bride (Harlequin Historical)

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Sally Paul is down to her last penny. As she spends it on a cup of tea—to stave off being at the mercy of the workhouse—the last thing she expects is an offer of marriage...from a complete stranger!Admiral Sir Charles Bright's seafaring days are over—and according to society, that must mean he's in need of a wife! Discovering Sally's in need of a home, he offers a solution Sally Paul is down to her last penny. As she spends it on a cup of tea—to stave off being at the mercy of the workhouse—the last thing she expects is an offer of marriage...from a complete stranger!Admiral Sir Charles Bright's seafaring days are over—and according to society, that must mean he's in need of a wife! Discovering Sally's in need of a home, he offers a solution.... They marry in haste—but will they enjoy their wedding night at leisure?


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Sally Paul is down to her last penny. As she spends it on a cup of tea—to stave off being at the mercy of the workhouse—the last thing she expects is an offer of marriage...from a complete stranger!Admiral Sir Charles Bright's seafaring days are over—and according to society, that must mean he's in need of a wife! Discovering Sally's in need of a home, he offers a solution Sally Paul is down to her last penny. As she spends it on a cup of tea—to stave off being at the mercy of the workhouse—the last thing she expects is an offer of marriage...from a complete stranger!Admiral Sir Charles Bright's seafaring days are over—and according to society, that must mean he's in need of a wife! Discovering Sally's in need of a home, he offers a solution.... They marry in haste—but will they enjoy their wedding night at leisure?

30 review for The Admiral's Penniless Bride (Harlequin Historical)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    It's marriage of convenience time in Regencyland again, but you know what? I really liked this one, and I think it's unusually good for a romance, so if you're a romance reader, read on. Carla Kelly writes thoughtful romance novels about solid, honest characters with actual problems that are often pretty heavy, and who aren't necessarily drop-dead gorgeous or part of upper-crust society. Here we have Admiral Charles Bright, home in England after 30 years of serving in the navy. He's a little at It's marriage of convenience time in Regencyland again, but you know what? I really liked this one, and I think it's unusually good for a romance, so if you're a romance reader, read on. Carla Kelly writes thoughtful romance novels about solid, honest characters with actual problems that are often pretty heavy, and who aren't necessarily drop-dead gorgeous or part of upper-crust society. Here we have Admiral Charles Bright, home in England after 30 years of serving in the navy. He's a little at loose ends, and his overbearing sisters have decided that, at age 45, it's high time for him to get married ... to a woman of their choosing. Bright just wants to make his own choice of wife, and figures a marriage of convenience is the way to go. (I know, but just roll with it.) When his first choice (whom he barely knew and didn't like much anyway) stands him up, he runs across Sally Sophia Paul, a 32 year old widow who's been working as a lady's companion after falling into deepest poverty, and is now jobless and one very small step away from the workhouse. It takes a little doing, but Admiral Bright talks Sally into his marriage of convenience idea. What Bright doesn't know, and Sally doesn't know how to confess to him, is that her first husband committed suicide because he was accused by the navy of graft and manslaughter, buying cheap, tainted food for navy ships and pocketing the difference. His superior officer was actually at fault, but he had doctored documents to make it look like Sally's husband was entirely to blame, and the superior was a nobleman whom no one would question. So: a marriage of convenience, which stays about as convenient and hands off as these things normally do in romance novels, and two older, intelligent, sympathetic main characters. And a deep, dark secret. I originally gave this 3 stars but it's stuck with me, enough to get me to reread it a couple of times. So I'm upping my rating to 4 romance novel stars. It's a cut above the typical novel in the genre, and a keeper for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Didi

    3.5 STARS This was sweet, a slow and lovely development of feelings between two people in need of something. Sally was destitute and suffering for the sins of her deceased ex-husband. Charles Bright wanted peace from meddlesome sisters. While it may have started out as a marriage of convenience, it sure didn't end that way. Charles' reaction to Sally's secret was so heartbreaking. For her! He was so angry, so sure of her deception that he didn't give her a chance to explain until there's was no mo 3.5 STARS This was sweet, a slow and lovely development of feelings between two people in need of something. Sally was destitute and suffering for the sins of her deceased ex-husband. Charles Bright wanted peace from meddlesome sisters. While it may have started out as a marriage of convenience, it sure didn't end that way. Charles' reaction to Sally's secret was so heartbreaking. For her! He was so angry, so sure of her deception that he didn't give her a chance to explain until there's was no more chances. But his repentance was perfect and well deserving. The pain he suffered as a consequence of his rash actions was lesson enough. I loved how he and Sally reunited. Sally was a wonderful heroine, so caring and selfless. Anyways, it wasn't out of this world good, kinda slow at times and not much else happening other than two people getting to know each other, and although the ending was rushed it was still satisfying.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Good story, with some heartbreak. It's a fairly clean romance set in Plymouth, England in 1816, during a postwar depression, when jobs are scarce and England does little for her wounded soldiers, handicapped by Napoleon's war machine. Kelly writes with a strong historical grounding. This book is a stand-alone, yet I've also seen it listed as part of THE CHANNEL FLEET series involving the Royal British Navy or Marines. I liked that entire series, especially Marrying The Royal Marine. This book fe Good story, with some heartbreak. It's a fairly clean romance set in Plymouth, England in 1816, during a postwar depression, when jobs are scarce and England does little for her wounded soldiers, handicapped by Napoleon's war machine. Kelly writes with a strong historical grounding. This book is a stand-alone, yet I've also seen it listed as part of THE CHANNEL FLEET series involving the Royal British Navy or Marines. I liked that entire series, especially Marrying The Royal Marine. This book features a widow (age 32-ish) and a retired admiral (about 45), a naval war hero with a hook for a hand. Sally Paul is penniless, homeless, and literally starving when she meets the lonely bachelor, Admiral (retired) Sir Charles Bright. "He didn’t know if he possessed a gentle side, but perhaps this was the time to find one, if it lurked somewhere. ‘Mrs Paul, you have a complication before you,’ he said, his voice soft but firm. ‘I am going to eat because I am hungry. Please believe me when I say I have no motive beyond hoping that you will eat, too.’ She didn’t say anything. He picked up his spoon and began with the soup, a meaty affair with broth just the way he liked it. He glanced at her, only to see tears fall into her soup. He held his breath, making no comment, as she picked up her soup spoon." Soon enough, he asks her to accept his hook in a marriage of mutual respect. The wedding quickly ensues. She brightens his lonely life, turns his newly-purchased monstrosity into a comfortable home, helps him find a new vocation, and helps some of the countless wounded soldiers. Life is promising. Paradise almost. But the serpents are swarming in paradise. The admiral's snooty sisters make mischief. Then the wretched Lords of the Admiralty pour on the spite — the corrupt, pompous, self-serving Lords of the Admiralty, an über-power. (As also described in British naval fiction by Patrick O'Brian and Naomi Novik). Charles jumps to a hasty — and ugly — conclusion. There is a terribly angsty and intense scene or two towards the end. Charles breaks Sally's heart, and mine, too. Paradise Lost. I hated him. Then I felt sorry for him. I felt she could have been more upfront. She kept an important secret from him (but I understood why it would be hard to talk about it, especially at first). Finally, the two found a happy ever after, hard-won but credible. The newly weds were nearly broken asunder on the stony shoals of the Royal Navy, but they held tightly to their love, and helped others beside. Paradise regained. As with many of CK's historical romances, the ending was abrupt. I'd have liked an epilogue, a few years in the future. As I said, it's a fairly clean romance, with most (not all) of the hanky-panky going on under the sheets and behind closed doors. I like that about CK. I doubt she'd be able to write the best love scenes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    kris

    Sally/Sophia Paul/Daviess is money-poor. Admiral Sir Charles Bright is wife-poor. They strike a bargain, get married, and develop inconvenient boners for each other. Except then the ~secret of Sally's first husband comes to light and shit hits the fan doing 98. 1. WOW PACING. The first 80% of this thing is a sleeper: everything is talked about twice, thrice, and again; the heroine isn't sure she wants sex but she wants sex; the hero wants sex but also wants sex; it's all very humanly messy. BUT Sally/Sophia Paul/Daviess is money-poor. Admiral Sir Charles Bright is wife-poor. They strike a bargain, get married, and develop inconvenient boners for each other. Except then the ~secret of Sally's first husband comes to light and shit hits the fan doing 98. 1. WOW PACING. The first 80% of this thing is a sleeper: everything is talked about twice, thrice, and again; the heroine isn't sure she wants sex but she wants sex; the hero wants sex but also wants sex; it's all very humanly messy. BUT THAT ENDING. Wow was that ending a disaster. a) Kelly doesn't split her narrative so there's no idea what Sally/Sophia is thinking after Charles nearly kills her with a glass paperweight and throws her out of his house. She writes a letter and MOVES ON WITH HER PREGNANT LIFE. b) NEARLY KILLING THE HEROINE WITH A GLASS PAPERWEIGHT and THROWING HER OUT OF THE HOUSE is a shitty thing to do. c) IT'S ALL WRAPPED UP IN LIKE 3 CHAPTERS??? HOW?? 2. I just didn't like Charles very much? He opens disparaging the woman he has engaged to be married (Prunella Batchthorpe) by calling her 'The Mouse' and grimacing at her "pop eyes". Like, jog on, Admiral Sir Asshole. I don't read romances to get a front row seat to Guys Being Jerks?? Especially when they don't get the SEVERAL CROTCH-KICKS THEY DESERVE??? (SEE: that ending.) PS: rooting for Prunella ALWAYS. 3. THE METAPHORS. WHY, KELLY, WHY? In one scene (that climaxes when the hero tries to ... climax the heroine), there are AT LEAST FOUR "like a child" similes. THIS SHIT NEEDS TO STOP IT IS SO DISGUSTING. If your heroine is meant to be a Sexual Being unto herself, STOP LIKENING HER TO A LITTLE GIRL. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S THE HERO'S POV. STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT. 4. This just came together in such a way that it rubbed me badly: the writing, the (horrible) hero, the (too-saintly-for-this-world) heroine, the horrifying plot: it left me feeling rage-y and grumpy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bithi

    I expected this book to be as good as the other books by this author. I was disappointed. But, I read it to the end, as is my habit.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vintage

    I hate being the big bummer reviewer when I simply just don't care for a well-written book. Huge case of It's me, not you here I suspect. I lost my patience with the hero for insisting on maintaining the MOC when there was no need. He was a great hero and she was a strong heroine, but I simply could notably into it as a romance. (view spoiler)[ Plus I wanted to strangle the hero's sisters and right hand man. (hide spoiler)] I hate being the big bummer reviewer when I simply just don't care for a well-written book. Huge case of It's me, not you here I suspect. I lost my patience with the hero for insisting on maintaining the MOC when there was no need. He was a great hero and she was a strong heroine, but I simply could notably into it as a romance. (view spoiler)[ Plus I wanted to strangle the hero's sisters and right hand man. (hide spoiler)]

  7. 5 out of 5

    SheLove2Read

    Not since Leo Hathaway has a hero so THOROUGHLY enchanted me from page one! I will endeavor to do this story justice in the following review, but all I can say is this: READ IT! Newly retired from the fleet, Admiral Sir Charles Bright finds himself in a quandary no man wishes to find himself in: his well meaning sisters mean to find him a wife. In a bid to circumvent what he knows will be a disaster of epic proportions, he decides to find a respectable woman and have a marriage of convenience. S Not since Leo Hathaway has a hero so THOROUGHLY enchanted me from page one! I will endeavor to do this story justice in the following review, but all I can say is this: READ IT! Newly retired from the fleet, Admiral Sir Charles Bright finds himself in a quandary no man wishes to find himself in: his well meaning sisters mean to find him a wife. In a bid to circumvent what he knows will be a disaster of epic proportions, he decides to find a respectable woman and have a marriage of convenience. Surely this will solve all his problems, providing him with companionship, a hostess for his new life on land (he's been at sea since he was 10) and will keep his sisters off his back. While he's waiting to meet his intended in a coffee shop, he spots a lovely but lonely looking woman sitting by herself. He is intrigued and watches her as he awaits "The Mouse", as he has dubbed the contracted wife of convenience. Sophia "Sally" Paul is numb. Having lost her husband and young son a few years ago to tragedy, she has worked as a ladies companion to have a roof over her head. Her newest employment has gone down in flames. Upon arrival she learns that her new mistress has passed away and the family has no need of her. Having used her last shilling to make the trip from out of town, Sally sits in a cafe, sipping her lukewarm tea and desperately searching for any position which would keep her from certain starvation or worse, the workhouse. It is while she terrifyingly contemplates her fate that the Admiral makes her acquaintance. Without giving away too much of the story, Sally agrees to marry Charles "in convenience" for them both: he to stave off his bulldog sisters and she to avoid starvation or worse, and this is where the story really turns meaty. Charles is 45. He's been at sea since he was 10. He has never had a wife or "a life" as most people would know it. He also only has one hand, having lost it in a bizarre accident aboard ship, and now wears a hook. (Let me just say right here that his hook is as much a character as he is.) He is dry of wit and utterly charming. I lost my heart to him before chapter 1 was over! He is enchanted with Sophia (he refuses to call her Sally) and realizes this marriage of convenience is not going to last very long. ;-) Sophia has led a rough life. Her first husband committed suicide and her young son died when she was unable to provide for him, dying of pneumonia in her arms. She has worked and gotten by on her wits until now. Unable to believe such as man as The Admiral would come into her life, she makes a promise to herself to make the most of the situation, not give him any reason to regret his rash decision to ask for her hand in marriage, and to be a good companion to her new husband. To say she is a survivor would be an understatement. She is a very likable person and I found myself rooting for her and Charles almost instantly. I honestly lost count of the number of times this story made me cry. I'm tearing up even now thinking back on some of the touching scenes between them, and between them and other characters. Ms. Kelly absolutely has outdone herself with this book. The dialog is witty, emotional and yet I found myself smiling through my tears. The characters are vivid and unique - I love how she gives us rich, meaty, emotion filled storyline while using "everyday" people. Of course any good book, and especially a CK involves a heart wrenching series of events from which you think the hero and heroine cannot recover from. This one is no exception. The scene in which Charles reads Sophia's goodbye letter, and his reaction, absolutely broke my heart. I won't even begin to explain as it is one of the best portions of the story, other than to say I cried my heart out. If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would in a heartbeat. A+++++

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nabilah

    Carla Kelly is a new-to-me author and I feel that this probably wasn't the best book of hers to start. It started out well enough. The meet cute was interesting, but everything fell apart after they got married because that's when the CRYING started. Every single thing seemed to set these people off. Even the hero wasn't immune to it and him being a 45 year old ex-Navy. For heaven's sake, you are an army man. I don't believe you can take the army out of a man. Did he win the war by crying? It wa Carla Kelly is a new-to-me author and I feel that this probably wasn't the best book of hers to start. It started out well enough. The meet cute was interesting, but everything fell apart after they got married because that's when the CRYING started. Every single thing seemed to set these people off. Even the hero wasn't immune to it and him being a 45 year old ex-Navy. For heaven's sake, you are an army man. I don't believe you can take the army out of a man. Did he win the war by crying? It was just ridiculous. Oh, don't even start on the heroine. She was worst. And the side characters had the same malady as well. It was unbelievable. I pretty much skimmed read after the first 40%. Thank goodness this book was a quick read. And the paperweight scene. That was just the icing on the cake. The hero threw the glass paperweight at the heroine and it could have hit her head but missed the mark. She could have been seriously hurt. He should have given her the benefit of the doubt and listened to her explanation instead of throwing a potentially hazardous object at her. Yeah, really mature. I actually read until the end because I was totally hoping for a good grovel scene. Well, lo and behold, no grovelling. The heroine just forgave him. I can see that Ms. Kelly is a talented author but I just couldn't recommend this book. I'm hoping that her other books would be better. I'll probably try another one of her books that has good reviews. If that doesn't pan out, I think Ms. Kelly and I are just not meant to be.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wollstonecrafthomegirl

    This was one of the first romances I read last year (pre-active use of goodreads account) and I've just re-read. It was every bit as lovely as the first time around. First we have Charles - injured hero but with no chip on his shoulder and over a decade older than the heroine (injured hero and slight May/December - double catnip!). I like his practicality about everything other than the impetuous decision to marry Sally. His difficulties with re-entering society after a long naval career are als This was one of the first romances I read last year (pre-active use of goodreads account) and I've just re-read. It was every bit as lovely as the first time around. First we have Charles - injured hero but with no chip on his shoulder and over a decade older than the heroine (injured hero and slight May/December - double catnip!). I like his practicality about everything other than the impetuous decision to marry Sally. His difficulties with re-entering society after a long naval career are also very nicely handled by CK. Sally was great. Very typical as CK heroines go - down on her luck, a little sad but ultimately optimistic. It's hard to dislike this kind of heroine. As ever, CK creates a gently fizzing chemistry between the h/h made up of flowing dialogue and gentle touches. I was carried away by the two of them. There's an interesting selection of secondary characters although none of them sparkled in the way you might hope with a CK novel. And there's sex! It's CK, so it's not particularly explicit or particularly realistic (by which I mean Sally orgasms really easily - twice - during their first time, but perhaps Charles is just that dreamy) but at least there is sex and it's very nicely done. The book doesn't quite get to five stars because I don't like the way it ends, the last minute drama didn't feel very in character for either Sally or Charles. And, I'm grading on a CK curve - she's written better books than this. Still wonderful though and worth the read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline J

    Nice regency somewhat spoiled by insufficient grovelling at the end. This was a nice different type of story about a 45 year old retired admiral who impulsively marries a destitute woman. Full of lovely dialog and good scenes of them getting to know each other. It was ruined for me by the ending, where the hero, who owes the heroine a massive apology gets off basically scot free. (view spoiler)[ The hero finds out something bad about the heroine, refuses to listen to her defense, throws a glass Nice regency somewhat spoiled by insufficient grovelling at the end. This was a nice different type of story about a 45 year old retired admiral who impulsively marries a destitute woman. Full of lovely dialog and good scenes of them getting to know each other. It was ruined for me by the ending, where the hero, who owes the heroine a massive apology gets off basically scot free. (view spoiler)[ The hero finds out something bad about the heroine, refuses to listen to her defense, throws a glass paperweight at her narrowly missing her head and shouts at her to get out. After all that when he finally finds her again after months she has decided to forgive him and they fall into each others arms. We read about his remorse but we see no scenes from her for 5 months while he searches for her. Whatever mental stuff she went through happened off the page and when he finds her again she just forgives him and all is hunky dory. I want to see a hero who has been such a shit do some major grovelling. Dropped the book from 4-1/2 stars down to 3 stars for me. (hide spoiler)]

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Carla Kelly's Regency romance, The Admiral's Penniless Bride, is an enthralling story. I thought it was extremely well written, and I read it whenever I had free time. I have to admit to being shocked that it wasn't what I deem a clean romance. I didn't read enough reviews to discover this, apparently. I've since learned that Carla Kelly has written OTHER Regencies that are chaste. In this book, there are scenes within marriage in which I would have preferred a fade-out approach. Sally Paul is a Carla Kelly's Regency romance, The Admiral's Penniless Bride, is an enthralling story. I thought it was extremely well written, and I read it whenever I had free time. I have to admit to being shocked that it wasn't what I deem a clean romance. I didn't read enough reviews to discover this, apparently. I've since learned that Carla Kelly has written OTHER Regencies that are chaste. In this book, there are scenes within marriage in which I would have preferred a fade-out approach. Sally Paul is an out-of-work lady's companion. While looking for a position, she becomes absolutely destitute. Retired Admiral Charles Bright, according to his sisters, is in need of a wife, and doesn't want to deal with a parade of females recommended by his sisters. He'd like to choose for himself. They meet each other while dining at an inn, and the beginnings of a marriage of convenience is born. What I liked: *The hero and heroine are both such likable characters who truly care about others. *One of my favorite plot devices - a marriage of convenience *It wasn't your typical Regency - no marriage mart to be seen *The look into the lives of military men, servants, and poverty-stricken people What I didn't like: *There was a loose end I would have liked to see wrapped up, and a couple of characters I would have liked to see again. An epilogue would've been nice. *The bedroom scenes I'd recommend The Admiral's Penniless Bride to fans of Regency fiction who don't mind bedroom scenes. I would not recommend this for young adults. (update 11/17/18): I've really gone back and forth on whether or not to read Carla Kelly books. I strongly prefer not to read books by authors who do not write exclusively chaste books for two reasons: 1) I like to feel I can read anything by one of my authors, and 2) I like to support authors who write exclusively clean reads. However, I don't feel ready to boot Carla Kelly off my "to-read" list. I will, however, hopefully remember to double check everything that has her name attached to it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shannon G

    So I'm not going to lie: I picked up this book because the male romantic hero has a hook for a hand AND he lost a tooth (while off the Barbary Coast, I think). I also had low expectations about how the author was going to pull this off without looking silly, so my motives were slightly cynical. But mostly it was the sheer novelty: usually if the main romantic lead has a physical flaw it's an old wound that gives him a bit of a limp or a rakish scar (that of course the lady in question doesn't no So I'm not going to lie: I picked up this book because the male romantic hero has a hook for a hand AND he lost a tooth (while off the Barbary Coast, I think). I also had low expectations about how the author was going to pull this off without looking silly, so my motives were slightly cynical. But mostly it was the sheer novelty: usually if the main romantic lead has a physical flaw it's an old wound that gives him a bit of a limp or a rakish scar (that of course the lady in question doesn't notice as a flaw, per se). So: HOOK FOR A HAND! MISSING TOOTH! I was crossing into a brave new world of romance here, people. I'll also freely admit I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. Sure, there are moments when the prose is a bit forced, and example being the bit telling the story about the old lady who died saying something like "I told you I was sick!" Come on, now. That was old when our great-grandparents were kids. So there are a few moments like that, but all in all, it's a pretty good read. There's a rather colourful cast of characters who drop in and out -- the house the Admiral bought is one of them, having previously belonged to a now-deceased but legendary and rather debauched member of nobility. I suppose if anything about this story made me slightly incredulous it was just how *good* these two people are supposed to be. I wasn't sure if they're over-the-top or if I'm just a bitter, bitter product of my times. But while their sheer do-goodery (in a totally non-Ned Flanders kind of way) racked up to slightly unlikely levels, it's somewhat tempered by somewhat unforgivable and jerk-ass (re)actions later on in the book when The Great Misunderstanding explodes in everyone's face. Quick read, funny moments, though you'll probably want to set some people on fire at certain points in the novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    BJ

    All the stars for a wonderful story about 2 lonely people who agree to MOC. She's desperate, he's lonely and they are very careful with each other. Still, they make mistakes and it damages their budding relationship. The story and characters had depth, their situation was complex and there were some surprisingly steamy moments. Loved it. Perhaps my favourite book by this author. All the stars for a wonderful story about 2 lonely people who agree to MOC. She's desperate, he's lonely and they are very careful with each other. Still, they make mistakes and it damages their budding relationship. The story and characters had depth, their situation was complex and there were some surprisingly steamy moments. Loved it. Perhaps my favourite book by this author.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jultri

    A hasty MOC between 2 complete strangers, 45 yo recently retired Admiral and 32 yo impoverished widow, who lost her son and husband in tragic circumstances 5 years earlier. They were sweet (a bit too saccharine at times) and I do like the slowburn of their growing affection for one another. But the constant maudlin scenes! It was most wearisome after a while. He cries, she cries, staff cry, neighbours cry, most moved by the generosity of the newly wedded couple. The author then does a complete t A hasty MOC between 2 complete strangers, 45 yo recently retired Admiral and 32 yo impoverished widow, who lost her son and husband in tragic circumstances 5 years earlier. They were sweet (a bit too saccharine at times) and I do like the slowburn of their growing affection for one another. But the constant maudlin scenes! It was most wearisome after a while. He cries, she cries, staff cry, neighbours cry, most moved by the generosity of the newly wedded couple. The author then does a complete turnabout towards the end of the book. The Admiral went from placid, wise and affectionate husband to a raging, illogical and volatile monster after finding out the truth about her background, nearly killing her in his uncharacteristic moment of madness. Where the hell did that come from? He did realise his mistake very soon after and was ready to grovel afterwards. Hell, I was ready for a real good, satisfying grovel of the highest order, but unfortunately, the heroine didn't really give him any opportunity to do so. They just fell into each other's arms with a few words of professed love and then The End. I felt cheated! " And can we just settle on one name for the heroine? The author referred to her as Sally, then Sophia, then Sally, then Sophie while the hero called her Sophia, then Sophie. (Her real name was Sophia although she adopted the name Sally after her first husband's passing. ) The hero was quite disparaging towards his sisters and his initial planned MOC bride to be (who was a no-show) - not gentleman-like conduct. He also described her physical appearance to Leaky when she went missing but the two of them have already met face to face.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    It's hard to write a review and do justice to this lovely, sweet story. The hero and heroine are both wonderful people. They both deserve happiness and contentment. Neither of them is young, which i particularly appreciate, and they are both adrift, more-or-less outcasts, granted that the hero is a relatively wealthy outcast. It would have been so easy to write a sickly sweet story, but it's so beautifully and simply written, that it just flows. Parts of it made me chuckle, parts of it made me s It's hard to write a review and do justice to this lovely, sweet story. The hero and heroine are both wonderful people. They both deserve happiness and contentment. Neither of them is young, which i particularly appreciate, and they are both adrift, more-or-less outcasts, granted that the hero is a relatively wealthy outcast. It would have been so easy to write a sickly sweet story, but it's so beautifully and simply written, that it just flows. Parts of it made me chuckle, parts of it made me sigh, parts of it even nearly made me cry a bit (that NEVER happens when I'm reading), but mainly it just made me read on The story unfolds at a measured, but not slow, pace, and, well, it's just a great book. I love Carla Kelly's books. I like the way she writes about people who have had to work for a living, and do more than sipping tea and going for dress fittings in a historical setting. I particularly like her simple writing style. 5 stars, all-time-favorites list.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shel

    I loved this one. Very simple and sweet, but there is a lot of emotion. I was in tears different places in the book. I'm usually not a fan of the older hero, but this story worked out well. I loved this one. Very simple and sweet, but there is a lot of emotion. I was in tears different places in the book. I'm usually not a fan of the older hero, but this story worked out well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This is a first read of this author for me, and what a pleasant surprise it was! This book broke out of the typical historical romance theme by giving us a slightly older (45 year old) hero who is also an upstanding Englishman, rather than the usual rake. We also see the heroine as slightly older than the norm at 32, but she was also a widow who was happily married with a child and not out looking for a man to save her although she was in desperate straits. Admiral Sir Charles Bright sees Sally This is a first read of this author for me, and what a pleasant surprise it was! This book broke out of the typical historical romance theme by giving us a slightly older (45 year old) hero who is also an upstanding Englishman, rather than the usual rake. We also see the heroine as slightly older than the norm at 32, but she was also a widow who was happily married with a child and not out looking for a man to save her although she was in desperate straits. Admiral Sir Charles Bright sees Sally Paul, aka Sophia Daviess, while sitting in a tavern/restaurant waiting for the "mouse" who is to be his wife. The "mouse" is hours late and he realizes that he is relieved that she has gotten cold feet. He does believe though that he really needs a wife to stop his meddling older sisters who are trying to find a bride for him and decorating his new home. As he watches Sally, he can see that she is broke and probably desperate. Which in fact she is. She has just been turned from her new position as companion due to the fact the the old lady had died before she arrived there. The family of the woman turned her away without funds to travel back to Bath. He finds a way to approach her and they have a nice long chat and seem to be very comfortable with each other. He is surprised that she is not repelled by his hook for his hand. He explains his situation and asks her to marry him. I won't give more of this story away, it does have some of the usual blah blah in it, with Sally keeping a big stupid secret. But I loved the way they came to get to know each other and fall in love. I just LOVED the Admiral, he was just so darn sweet. They had this CRAZY house that was previously owned by some old pervert whose lecherous old friends and acquaintances would just pop in. I loved how they handled many of the situations they found themselves in. Sally was a bit too much of a weeper for me, but I was able to overlook that as her life was just so sad before she met Charles. Defiantly a keeper, re-read worthy for me!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I enjoyed this one with a few, minor quibbles. What worked for me: 1) An H who wasn't an amazingly beautiful and handsome specimen. The H of this story was not terribly tall, and he wasn't all that handsome to begin with. 2) Slightly older MCs. The H was in his 40s, 45, I think, and the h was in her mid-30s. They were immature, silly things, but were pretty good at communicating (until the black moment, that is). 3) The h didn't say yes to the H's proposal right away. I know that sounds strange, bu I enjoyed this one with a few, minor quibbles. What worked for me: 1) An H who wasn't an amazingly beautiful and handsome specimen. The H of this story was not terribly tall, and he wasn't all that handsome to begin with. 2) Slightly older MCs. The H was in his 40s, 45, I think, and the h was in her mid-30s. They were immature, silly things, but were pretty good at communicating (until the black moment, that is). 3) The h didn't say yes to the H's proposal right away. I know that sounds strange, but I liked that she wasn't falling over herself with gratitude. 4) No OP drama. I could've done without the references to the H's shore leaves and whatnot. I had to keep in mind that he was in the Navy for over three decades. That thought doesn't make me happy, though, so I will try to avoid Carla Kelly's books that feature military/naval men. 5) The every day things that caused the MCs to fall in love slowly were lovely to read. There wasn't any insta-lust/love/attraction that made me scoff at their connection. 6) How hard the H (view spoiler)[ looked for the h after their falling out (hide spoiler)] . 7) How the MCs both tried to help out others. The people they chose to employ really warmed my heart. Now onto the things that didn't work for me: 1) This story really needed a good grovel. The h really forgave the H far too easily. 2) There was no epilogue and I wanted to have a glimpse into their HEA. Overall, I liked this book. The pacing was good and the MCs were both admirable and likable. As a general rule, I like Carla Kelly's books. I just need to scour the reviews and be a picky pooh about the ones I decide to read. :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Okay, I have to write this review in two parts. (Both parts get five stars.) The first, say, 75% of this book is just LOVELY. It's one of those marriage of conveniences, where both characters go in not really expecting it to be anything more, but are delighted to discover it IS more. Both characters are just WONDERFUL people. Caring and incredibly likable. I want to know them. I want to be like them. And then the big thing that's kind of been lurking in the background is revealed and this book bec Okay, I have to write this review in two parts. (Both parts get five stars.) The first, say, 75% of this book is just LOVELY. It's one of those marriage of conveniences, where both characters go in not really expecting it to be anything more, but are delighted to discover it IS more. Both characters are just WONDERFUL people. Caring and incredibly likable. I want to know them. I want to be like them. And then the big thing that's kind of been lurking in the background is revealed and this book becomes painful to read. One of the most painful reading experiences I've had in a long time. And this is the one part of the book that I was a little unsure of it at first. I hadn't fully understand just how and why the thing was so bad, so when it was revealed, I wasn't prepared for the characters' intense reactions. But that was just a momentary reaction because I was so drawn into what was happening, it didn't matter. And the ending was great, so, yes, a very solid five stars. You should all read this and I'm eager to read much, much more of the author. (Also, this is currently $2.99 for Kindle and, probably, the eBook retailer of your choice.) One content/trigger warning: (view spoiler)[There's a child character who's been raped. Not on the page and it isn't a huge part of the story--it probably composes about 3 pages-- but it's there. And the adults decide sadly, realistically that legal action against her rapist would be futile. (hide spoiler)]

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura (Kyahgirl)

    I can't believe there aren't more people raving about Carla Kelly; promoting her books to anyone who will listen. Since the very first Carla Kelly book I read (The Wedding Journey), I've never been disappointed. This book is no exception. I think the title is a bit hokey but I wonder if that is not the influence of the publisher. What is it about Carla Kelly's books that puts most of them in my 5 star category? I think it is the fact that her books don't have pretensions, they don't generally ha I can't believe there aren't more people raving about Carla Kelly; promoting her books to anyone who will listen. Since the very first Carla Kelly book I read (The Wedding Journey), I've never been disappointed. This book is no exception. I think the title is a bit hokey but I wonder if that is not the influence of the publisher. What is it about Carla Kelly's books that puts most of them in my 5 star category? I think it is the fact that her books don't have pretensions, they don't generally have rich, handsome, beautiful, shallow people floating around, having useless, meaningless lives. There isn't usually a manufactured mystery, no evil villains lurking around waiting to create a thrill ride. Her books are real. Her heroes are men who have lived, suffered, persevered and usually turned out to be salt of the earth, compassionate, courageous, and humble. Pretty much everything I admire. Her heroines usually steady, mature and courageous. There are no simpering virgins swooning and waiting for some man to rescue them. When I put picked the shelves for this book I included 'the human condition' because, first and foremost, what drives the story is humans and the human condition. In this story a destitute woman enters into an alliance with a retired admiral in order to save them both from, what is to each of them, a different, but equally horrible fate. The story is about their journey into love. The evil villain of the piece is really the government and corruption in the Royal Navy. At the end of the day, they are powerless to change the wrongdoings of this powerful force in their lives but they manage to save each other and quite a few others beside.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    3.5 rounded up for goodreads. Carla Kelly's writing is fun to get lost in, which is saying something since I rarely read historical romances. She has an easy, flowing style that drew me in and held my interest. Her writing has a light touch, including enough detail without getting wordy and the right amount of dry humor in her characters. Charles and Sophie weren't perfect in form or character, but were warm and believable. What holds this book back from being great is a weak plot. The outlines of 3.5 rounded up for goodreads. Carla Kelly's writing is fun to get lost in, which is saying something since I rarely read historical romances. She has an easy, flowing style that drew me in and held my interest. Her writing has a light touch, including enough detail without getting wordy and the right amount of dry humor in her characters. Charles and Sophie weren't perfect in form or character, but were warm and believable. What holds this book back from being great is a weak plot. The outlines of a conflict are there, but most of the book concerns itself with events that illuminate the characters of our hero and heroine, but don't advance the plot in any significant way. The first third of the book deals with them meeting (which is marvelous) and the last third deals with the conflict (which is emotional and well-written). In the middle third we get somewhat disjointed, albeit interesting, vignettes involving neighbors, servants, and memoirs. I'll definitely be searching for more books by this author based on the strength of her writing and her characters.

  22. 5 out of 5

    namericanwordcat

    This book is compelling in its characterization and plot but the love story is like watching a flower unfurl in slow motions--utterly stunning. Kelly, always, writes with such finesse and historical truth while never losing sight of the utter humanity of the individual lives of the smallest of characters in her book. Here we have a heroine who knows what it is to hungry, a plain hero whose soul is large and a happily ever after we can believe in. This is simply a stellar read. Heartbreaking and h This book is compelling in its characterization and plot but the love story is like watching a flower unfurl in slow motions--utterly stunning. Kelly, always, writes with such finesse and historical truth while never losing sight of the utter humanity of the individual lives of the smallest of characters in her book. Here we have a heroine who knows what it is to hungry, a plain hero whose soul is large and a happily ever after we can believe in. This is simply a stellar read. Heartbreaking and heartwarming but always clear sighted and filled with empathy. I love it and hope you will as well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mou

    I didn't dislike the book, but can't say I liked it very much... I feel Charles and Sophie both fell in love with each other very quickly. Without the paperweight scene, Overall book was ok. There are two things I didn't like about this book. Firstly, Charles was angry ok, I get it, but throwing paperweight is not a good idea. Maybe the paperweight was not meant for Sophie but it could have hurt Sophie cause it was close. Secondly, I felt bad cause the truth never came out. But I Also liked the I didn't dislike the book, but can't say I liked it very much... I feel Charles and Sophie both fell in love with each other very quickly. Without the paperweight scene, Overall book was ok. There are two things I didn't like about this book. Firstly, Charles was angry ok, I get it, but throwing paperweight is not a good idea. Maybe the paperweight was not meant for Sophie but it could have hurt Sophie cause it was close. Secondly, I felt bad cause the truth never came out. But I Also liked the fact that at the end, Sophie and Charles both didn't care about the past, truth and what society would think of themselves all that matter is they are together.

  24. 4 out of 5

    mirnatius

    rep: Disabled hero (hook arm), both hero and heroine are struggling with severe trauma. Jewish side characters. One of the really cool things about this book is that it’s a unique historical romance that doesn’t center a titled person. And the hero and heroine are neither that “beautiful”. Both of them are similar in height and there’s nothing really remarkable about their looks. They are also older than the age most authors would write them, the heroine is in her 30s while the hero is past 40! W rep: Disabled hero (hook arm), both hero and heroine are struggling with severe trauma. Jewish side characters. One of the really cool things about this book is that it’s a unique historical romance that doesn’t center a titled person. And the hero and heroine are neither that “beautiful”. Both of them are similar in height and there’s nothing really remarkable about their looks. They are also older than the age most authors would write them, the heroine is in her 30s while the hero is past 40! While the hero has acquired wealth, it’s really only due to his long career in the sea. He had to work his way up to be an admiral. The heroine is of course penniless like the title says, and this book definitely shows us the very awful realities of poverty that would show up for someone in her position. The hero did lose me a bit towards the end because of his actions, but overall, I really do think it’s something special. It’s a bit of tearjerker and the characters have really tough backstories, but there’s also many moments of comfort to be found while reading these two fall in love. I really enjoyed my time with it, though I think looking into the triggering content of this book is necessary for those that’ll need it, it will be rough. TW/CW: poverty, loss of child, a lot of grief and trauma, mention and some detail (not on page) of child sexual abuse, homelessness, mentions and details of a suicide (certain character did not do it on page but it is mentioned frequently).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    Lovely read! Sally Paul is a widow and comes to Plymouth to get a position as lady companion but her “client” dies a day before her arrival and she is let out without any money or prospects. She ends up meeting Admiral Sir Charles Bright and them both agree on a marriage of convenience as he is under siege by his matchmaker Sisters. They are both so good people, the dialogues are fun and sweet, and it is obvious that they are perfect for each other. But there are several rocks blocking the way, medd Lovely read! Sally Paul is a widow and comes to Plymouth to get a position as lady companion but her “client” dies a day before her arrival and she is let out without any money or prospects. She ends up meeting Admiral Sir Charles Bright and them both agree on a marriage of convenience as he is under siege by his matchmaker Sisters. They are both so good people, the dialogues are fun and sweet, and it is obvious that they are perfect for each other. But there are several rocks blocking the way, meddling sisters, an old such neighbor, a house that was decorated in a most unorthodox way, and a jealous employee, and some dark in the past. Wonderful book! I’ve enjoyed it immensely!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    What can I say.....this story was very emotional and I cried! 5☆ Will try to read it again without crying.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cara (Wilde Book Garden)

    3.75 stars CW: Grief, suicide (off-page), death of child, brief instance of near-domestic violence (hero throws glass near the heroine w/o intending to hit her), child rape/pedophilia (off-page), references to antisemitism

  28. 4 out of 5

    Estara

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Being on a Carla Kelly trip, I decided to finally read this book which I had bought much earlier this year (it came out in January). It's not Christmas themed but has a retired admiral as a theme - a very young one (45) who has been at sea (and rarely off it) since he was ten year old and has worked his way up. Very capable on the sea, and still very in love with the ocean, he nevertheless is utterly fed up with death and war and has the impression only life on land might offer him a release fro Being on a Carla Kelly trip, I decided to finally read this book which I had bought much earlier this year (it came out in January). It's not Christmas themed but has a retired admiral as a theme - a very young one (45) who has been at sea (and rarely off it) since he was ten year old and has worked his way up. Very capable on the sea, and still very in love with the ocean, he nevertheless is utterly fed up with death and war and has the impression only life on land might offer him a release from the constant high tension - but he is aware that his life has made him develop out of step with his contemporaries (during the war there was a stretch of six years where he did not once touch land, always remaining with the fleet). His manipulative but somewhat well-meaning older sisters, both widowed, have decided to make him their project: wanting to organise his house and especially organise him a wife. In self-defense he has cast around for a spinster who wouldn't mind deflecting his sisters and won't mind her being a wife of convenience - he has made his own fortune during the war (and has spent hardly any of it: no time). Having had to make decisions of death and survival for a very long time he is very sure of his gut instinct and his ability to react fast to problematic situations - he's pretty impulsive now. The heroine is the most at the end of her rope of any Kelly heroine I have so far read about. Her husband killed himself five years ago, having been accused (innocently as we learn) of selling bad food to the navy, which incapacitated a whole squadron. He was only middle management and had no big savings, so now his wife lost everything, even their ten year old son because she had no money to buy him medicine when he came down with a virus, nor had she money for heating a chamber or buying him good food. Since her son's death she has become an old lady's companion under her maiden name. Their paths cross when 32-year-old Sally/Sophie has just learned that her next prospective old lady has already died and the family have no intention of providing her with any money to travel back to her employment agency in Bath. Because the admiral has a fairly kind heart (which is also a reason why he has nightmares) and because the spinster he thought might accept his suit does not show up, he manages her into eating a meal and impulsively ,interested in her conversation and dignity, offers her his hand in marriage. I liked that Sophie didn't accept right away, only after she checked all usual employment venues and only could afford to sleep inside a church and knew the workhouse would be next AND the admiral, Charles Bright, had discovered her in the church, does she accept his offer. The really good part is the slow getting to know each other, is all the side characters being well developed - again bar the villain of the piece - helping to flesh out the admiral's story as well as Sophie's background, shining a bit of a light on the double standards with regards to the treatment of Jews, and of women and of the power of the navy. I particularly loved the sensitive way the two worked around the admiral's hook hand. The plot piece of the house the admiral bought for the view of the ocean having been built by an old roue for his orgies and how they make the house liveable is especially fun. I don't know whether the reflections by Charles are spot on for a man but it surely would make me feel trusting towards such a man. How unfortunate then that the big drama had to be a big misunderstanding... As a reader I can see why Sophie did not mention her first husband's name. She does tell him he was a suicide and that her son died. But the vitriol of a trusted servant who has gone through death and fire for his admiral for decades felt overdone, as did the reaction by Charles upon hearing the truth from the Admirals House. Sophie's reaction is very realistic and Charles later remorse and search very in character - but you can see how weak the Big Mis is when a deus-ex-machina sister has to show up to save him from drinking himself to death for a month. And then he finds her and she says yes right away - for the baby that was in her belly and all is forgiven. Sorry but I don't buy that for the both of them - it cheapens the way they negotiated their roles in the marriage before. Which is why the book is only three stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Helena

    Carla Kelly continues to reign as the Regency Romance expert in the second of her novels about Admiralty in The Admiral’s Penniless Bride. This is a refreshingly different kind of read because there is innocence and depth of feeling that is so different from many romances that provide incredibly detailed love scenes giving the reader more sexual impact initially than emotional. Not so with the The Admiral’s Penniless Bride. What this provides, is great detail of emotion, internal dialogue and evo Carla Kelly continues to reign as the Regency Romance expert in the second of her novels about Admiralty in The Admiral’s Penniless Bride. This is a refreshingly different kind of read because there is innocence and depth of feeling that is so different from many romances that provide incredibly detailed love scenes giving the reader more sexual impact initially than emotional. Not so with the The Admiral’s Penniless Bride. What this provides, is great detail of emotion, internal dialogue and evolving feelings as two people battered by the sea, the Navy and fighting wars, come to find love in one another. I found it to be moving and loved that it spoke to what everyone woman hopes for: an honorable man who will be a kind partner to her and support her growth. I think readers will also relate to Sophia’s vulnerability trapped by a past and terrible loss she has had to rise above despite the constant beating of society and time. Admiral Charles Bright has retired from the Navy and is in need of a wife. Sarah Sophia Paul Daviess is destitute. A widow, who has suffered the loss of her husband and child, is now desperate. Their meeting is fortuitous as the Admiral is stood up by one prospective bride and Sophia has spent the last of her money traveling to seek employment. “You need help. I need a wife. I don’t think I can make it any plainer.” And so begins their new life together: a marriage of convenience. Eager to please but trying hard to temper his bachelor seafaring ways, Charles provides a respect and admiration for his wife that develops as her desperation to escape her past and forge a new life match the same respect for him. Transcribing his memoirs gives Sophie a new respect and understanding for the life of service her husband has led. Renovating a former den of ill repute – now their home - bridges the gap they seek to fill in this marriage. Sophie adjusts to being the lady of the manor as her husband indulges her with clothes and books – two things she has been lacking for too long. Together, they employ as many people as able to save them from the same fate Sophie suffered, with the secondary goal to get their estate into order. They establish themselves as a couple and reach out to those long neglected as they do the same for each other. I loved that this couple each took the time to understand one another and the things that shaped them into the people they come to love. Sophie’s shell is penetrated by the Admiral’s kindness and desire to be the husband he never thought to be. Charles’s dignity and grace in setting aside 30 years of Navy life to understand Sophie’s enormous heart and way of seeing the world are so compelling readers can’t help but be immersed in their story and the goal of them moving from a ‘convenient marriage.’ The couple navigates their established boundaries until the time when Sophie’s past splits them apart. Her dignity in the face of yet another calamity balances the Admiral’s outrage against the treachery that set these wheels in motion. Readers will weep for the kind-hearted Sophie beset by another tragedy and rail against the Navy for Admiral Bright while suffering with both as they work their way back to common ground and each other. Because they have invested time in each other and a friendship, the pain they suffer apart is rewarded with unexpected happiness though not easily won. A thoroughly heartwarming read that runs the gamut of emotions and brings readers to a satisfying ending that is really, a new beginning.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chumchum_88

    I think Ms. Carla Kelly has found herself a new fan in me ^^ I just loved it since the first page, I couldn't stop I practically finished it in hours and that's a new record for me. Charles was a nice adorable character, hook and all. it's true his impulsive move to propose to a total stranger wasn't common at all, but it was the first step to a great life. Even though he was self-conscious about his age, he didn't sound the 45 yrs old man, it's my first time reading or thinking of 45 yrs old man I think Ms. Carla Kelly has found herself a new fan in me ^^ I just loved it since the first page, I couldn't stop I practically finished it in hours and that's a new record for me. Charles was a nice adorable character, hook and all. it's true his impulsive move to propose to a total stranger wasn't common at all, but it was the first step to a great life. Even though he was self-conscious about his age, he didn't sound the 45 yrs old man, it's my first time reading or thinking of 45 yrs old man as not that old, with his wit and humor I started imagining him in his mid-twenties. His humorous banter with his wife was a huge part of what I loved about this book. The only think I didn't like about it was his reaction and behavior when he discovered the truth, but I realized it was the blindness created by rage, because he realized his mistake afterward. I started crying waterfalls when he first got mad at her, then when went to her and started reading the letter she left him, and his reaction afterward, how he grieved and such. I also liked the fact that he didn't hesitate to cry in front of his wife, or admit a moment of weakness. Plus I cried buckets when his sister Dora showed up and pulled him to rights, that scene sent one thought to my head that was so endearing that kept playing in my head over and over "No matter how old he was he will always be her little brother, and she his big sister" Sophie was as she and her husband described her an Angel, her whole attitude throughout the book was perfect, endearing, charming, kind and lovable. I loved how she bantered with him, both of them were s witty and humorous that I was chuckling throughout most of the book. I liked how she cared about everyone she crossed baths with, like the governess, the small girl: and it was my first time reading in a book the ugly reality of some of the penniless homeless children at the time and I'm sorry to say that there are still many sick people in this world who use innocent children and rid them of their innocence in such an early age. Even though Sophie's situation and story wasn't as dire as some I have read in other books but it left me sobbing, the author just had a way with words and emotions that left you feeling even if the feelings weren't stated in letter but in actions she described. - I have to admit I hated the butler/valet, at first I thought she would have a pirate-like friend, and at some point I actually thought he might be jealous of her because maybe he was gay or something. But anyway what he did was just over the line, it's not like he was the one marrying the women so why all the investigation. Overall, *thumbs up* A great story and definitely worth reading

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