28 November 2014

Saving Crofton Hall Tour Stop!

Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has no intention of giving up his beloved ancestral home without a fight. Faced with his mother’s gambling debts, forgery, and the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, Ben vows to make Crofton Hall pay for herself. But opening an Elizabethan manor house to the public isn’t a one man job. With time running out, Ben needs help—and fast.

Ashley Niven has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true. As he works with Ben to prepare the house as a venue for lavish weddings and receptions, Ashley finds himself drawn not just to the charm of the house but to the dashing Earl of Crofton. Even if Ashley can look past Ben’s playboy reputation, he fears an affair could prove too much of a distraction.

But Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.
Somehow I thought this was a historical, because there is also the Crofton Chronicles series by Cohen that’s set in the 16th Century. I should probably pay closer attention to blurbs! (Good advice for all of you out there in general) Anywho – I wasn’t disappointed at all, because this was a fresh, funny, breezy romantic romp that I really enjoyed.

Based on the ancestors of the aforementioned series (now I want to go back and read that!), it’s the tale of Benjamin Redbourn, the current Earl of Crofton Hall. Unfortunately, mummy has gambled away the family fortune and the bank is about to repossess Ben’s beloved Crofton Hall – the only home he’s ever known. He’s a bit of a playboy, so having to come and save the day really cramps his style. But he’s also smart and no nonsense, so he sets about getting the Hall readied for the paying public. Weddings, parties, conventions – all those events will definite help pay the bills. Too bad charming Ben doesn’t know the first thing about event planning.

Fortunately, Ashley Niven – a former university chum of his sister’s – knows all about that and more. Pressed for time, as the bank is running out of patience, Ben capitulates to his sister’s wishes, and hires Ashley for the job. This involves Ashley living on site, as well as working *ahem* closely with Ben. A wonderful slow burn of “I want you – oh no, I musn’t” ensues. I just wished things could’ve started heating up sooner.

That was the only drawback of this story for me. I was completely fine with it being obvious that they would get together. I mean, it’s a romance, so we all know the boys have a happy ending, right? But I felt as if the author made it drag on too long to get to the part where Ashley is finally hired – let alone anything else - which was almost at the 25% point of the book. If all the boring interviews with lame candidates prior to the hiring of Ashley had been edited down, there could’ve been more book saved for naughty times at the end. Rawr.

Head’s up – and I personally lurved this part – this is written in very British English. The author has kindly added a list of Brit terms at the back (charmingly written as if Ben himself had made the list). So don’t let that scare you off. It had that enchanting quality that I love so much when I watch shows on the BBC.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and I love Cohen’s style. If you like a dash of pomp and circumstance with a side of drama, sexy and witty men, plus fun romance – then you will adore the hell out of this book. I give it 4 enthusiastic lizard claws.
“How much?”
She wouldn’t meet his eye.
“Just short of five million to the bank.”
Ben lost his balance and landed heavily on his arse in a nearby chair.
“How the hell did you manage that? I only agreed to borrow five hundred thousand, and that was for essential repairs, and the estate could easily repay the loan in ten years.”
“I approached the bank with a business case for a visitor attraction. They were very enthusiastic.”
“What gave you the right?”
“Your father left us both in charge of Crofton Hall, Benjamin,” she said sharply.
He glowered at her and she deflated.
“I needed the money, and the only way I could get it was to tell the bank I wanted to open Crofton Hall to the public.”
“And they agreed to lend the money without my permission?” he asked carefully, hardly believing his mother’s audacity, but getting the feeling he knew what she was going to say next.
“They might have been under the impression that you’d agreed to it, and I was acting on both our behalves.”
“Really. And how would they have thought that?”
“Your signature isn’t exactly hard to copy.”
Ben covered his face with his hands, understanding what his mother had done.
“I know I shouldn’t have, not without your permission, but I was desperate. And the bank thought our business plan was excellent.”
He looked up at her. Elena’s eyes were red from crying, but there was still an edge of defiance in her face. “How much is left?”
She shrugged. “A few thousand, maybe.”
“And you used Crofton Hall as security?”
The anger flashed through him, burning through his usual amicable nature. “How could you have been so stupid? Were you even thinking past your own selfishness?”
Elena cowered in her seat.
“You’ve ruined us, destroyed this family!”
“I didn’t mean—”
Ben didn’t want to hear her feeble excuses. “Oh, that’s all right, then. We’ll tell the bank, you didn’t mean it, and they’ll forget all about it.”
Ben reined in his anger. Taking deep, slow breaths, he clenched and unclenched his fists as he regained his calm. He watched Catlin pace up and down. Harry stood slumped against the fireplace, shell-shocked. Now was not the time to panic. He needed to know exactly how much trouble they were in and deal with it. “Get me the paperwork.”
Without argument, Elena jumped to her feet and scurried over to the writing bureau in the corner. From the folds of frills and ruffles of her blouse, she fished out a key on a chain and unlocked the bureau. She drew out a sheaf of paper. “It’s all here.”
“Right, let’s hope my economics degree wasn’t for nothing.” Ben snatched the papers. “I suggest you all keep your distance until I’ve finished reading.”
He sank into a chair by the unlit fireplace, blocking out the angry thoughts as he scanned sheet after sheet. The figures danced before his eyes, and he saw the terms and conditions his mother had agreed to. The interest, compound interest, and payback terms were listed and categorized in black and white with no way of denying the facts. They were in deep shit, the bank would be at the door within weeks, and Ben seethed internally at his mother’s gall.
The effort she’d put into defrauding the bank was amazing, the business case had been full of fine details and promised an excellent return, but little help would that do them now.
Ben stared around the sitting room; generations of Redbourns had sat in here. Men who’d fought at Blenheim, Waterloo, and El Alamein —they would never have given in and surrendered Crofton Hall in the face of adversity. And it wasn’t about to happen while Ben was Earl of Crofton either. As much as he wanted to rail against it, their only hope was to convince the bank they were following through with the idea of opening the house to the public.
“We can probably sell the London apartment. That’ll raise around two million. Our trust funds are protected, so we can’t release the equity from those. If we’ve any hope of holding on to her, Crofton Hall is going have to earn her keep.”
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment: