Virginia Henley is a genius. Her plots are
always unique, refreshing and exciting.
From the moment her protagonists step on
stage, her readers are in awe.
RAVISHED is another gem in her literary tiara.
- Rendezvous

Virginia Henley delivers just what her readers
expect; a fast-paced, sensual read.
This time she goes one step further by giving us
two roguish men and one utterly delightful heroine.
The pages sizzle as we're swept up in a tale
brimming over with wit, mayhem and a great deal
of poignancy. (A Top Pick!)
- Kathe Robin, Romantic Times

Ravished Review

I'm always quite proud of the reviews that I get, and thought I'd pass them along for you to read. All my best -- Always. Virginia.

Undone Review
Romantic Times Review - Kathe Robin
UNDONE Virginia Henley
Setting: 1751, England
4-1/2 Stars - Top Pick!
With her striking beauty, wit and poise, it is no wonder that Irish society believes Elizabeth Gunning to be of noble birth. Her mother expects her to take London by storm and make a spectacular marriage, but Elizabeth has already found her dream man, John Campbell, the Duke of Argyll. John is enchanted by the golden-haired girl but cannot make her his wife, because he knows she is a commoner. Driven apart by society's rules and her mother's ruthless ambition, Elizabeth marries the less-scrupulous Duke of Hamilton, who hides his brutal nature until after they are wed. Elizabeth survives his possessiveness and cruelty because of her inner strength and undying love for Campbell. It's a passion that begins to consume them both and endanger their lives should Hamilton ever discover their love. As always, Henley brings a time and place to life with extraordinary characters, rich historical details and a romance that sets the pages on fire. Henley's novels always feature empowered women, and that tradition continues with this bawdy, luscious new novel. A must! VERY SENSUAL.
Reviewer Comments: Setting Ė Nottingham Castle, 1644 -- At the age of thirteen, Robert Greysteel Montgomery was not at all enamored by the seven year Elizabeth Cavendish he was being betrothed to. Though he did think she had the face of an angel he would also, on that day vow, she was the imp of Satan as he observed firsthand her precocious-ness and later as she announced she was changing her name to Velvet and would no longer respond to the name Elizabeth. Velvet, at age seven, wanted only to marry Robertís best friend Charles, who would one day be King of England, but her mother was able to convince her to behave at the betrothal and vowed that Robert would protect and always keep her safe. That seemed to placate her and the betrothal was signed and sealed. Thirteen long and tumultuous years later, Greysteel has been operating as a double agent working to restore King Charles II to the throne. Velvet and her family had been living abroad having lost their properties, as had most Royalists loyal to the King Charles. When Velvet returns to England they are reunited and Greysteel is immediately ready to marry Velvet. Though Velvet is definitely attracted to the handsome cavalier, she isnít quite so ardent in her affections Ė still holding a special place in her heart for Charles. Greysteel, on the other hand, a master strategist, approaches the courting of Velvet as another battle to win Ė but though Velvet may allow herself to be caught, her heart would be another matter. *** I am once again in awe at the brilliant way that this author can weave fiction into and around the rich historical background that she sets her characters into. Greysteel and Velvet are both crafted as headstrong individuals portrayed bigger than life and their story is filled with love and a powerful passion. Make no mistake Ė Velvet the precocious child who needed her arse tanned grew to a be force to be reckoned with and it would be Greysteel alone who had the insight to realize that behind Velvetís precocious behavior and willful defiance masked the delicate and fragile vulnerability that he came to love. The author depicts that while their passions were all consuming, it wasnít enough as she gives us that one glorious defining moment where both are willing to risk it all to prove their love for one another in this marvelous romantic epic. Henley once again does a masterful job in transporting the reader smack dab in the middle of the time period, enfolding all the drama and all the passion in her characters that only this true master of the historical genre can create. Once again, Henley strikes pure gold in UNMASKED
Undone Review
Title: Undone Category: Historical
Reviewer: Dorine Linnen Reviewer Email:
Author: Virginia Henley Publisher: Signet Release Date: December 2003 ISBN Number: 0451210646
Blue Ribbon Rating: 5
Elizabeth Gunning is a beauty that no man can resist. Is her innocence real or just an act? She has bewitched the Duke of Argyll, John Campbell, and heís determined to learn all her secrets. Can two people with such different pasts find a way to be together? UNDONE will take you on a journey from Ireland to London Society and then to the beautiful land of Scotland, in one of the best historical books Iíve read. Elizabethís sister, Maria, has always been the favored one, the most beautiful daughter and the child her mother has always doted upon. Elizabeth never resents her sister, but is satisfied with her place in their family and accepts it as her fate. Her childhood and early teens in Ireland are carefree and full of dreams of becoming an actress, like her mother. Her motherís vision becomes much bolder, as she decides to unleash her beautiful daughters into London society, creating a false background to enhance their chances. The secrets and lies that follow, take Elizabeth from a young naive girl to becoming a woman, who realizes her fate is her own and not someone elseís. John Campbellís mother wants him to continue the family name and is anxious for him to marry. He will require a wife who can match his stature in society and Elizabeth Gunning does not meet those standards. Will she become his mistress just so he doesnít have to give her up, while he finds a more suitable wife? Torn between what is expected of him and what he desires - coupled with his responsibilities, John struggles to find a way to make Elizabeth his own. He never expects the journey to be so difficult and so many secrets to be revealed. I became so wrapped up in this magnificent story that I cried at the raw emotion revealed toward the end. Rarely does an author evoke this kind of emotion from me and I highly recommend UNDONE for itís ingenious plot and well-created characters, including the many secondary characters with stories of their own. VIRGINA HENLEY has a true gift of creating characters that pop off the page as if they are real and keeps you reading straight through to the end. Although this book has Regency flavor, donít expect the norm when you read this rich, sensual book. With itís sweet beginnings to itís passionate ending,
UNDONE will captivate you all the way through.
All the best, Dorine -- Dorine Linnen Romance Junkies Book Reviewer, Interviewer & Chat Co-Coordinator/Moderator

Notorious Review:

"No one sets fire to the page like Virginia Henley," raves Christina Skye. In NOTORIOUS the New York Times bestselling author returns to medieval England to tell the story of Brianna de Beauchamp, the daughter of one of the most intriguing women in all of England...

The daughter of Jory de Warenne and friend to Queen Isabelle, spirited and stunningly beautiful Brianna de Beauchamp is betrothed to distinguished Lincoln Robert, but she yearns for a deeper passion than she's yet experienced. When Brianna meets dark and dangerous Wolf Mortimer--a man who possesses the Celtic gift of second sight--she finds it impossible not to surrender her body to his fierce desire. And when Wolf's father--the queen's lover, Roger Mortimer--is imprisoned in the Tower of London, Brianna is swept on an adventure that not only puts her heart in peril, but jeopardizes the life of the man who could be her destiny...
"No one is better than Virginia Henley."
                 ----The Best Reviews
Unmasked Review
Date of Review: 07/29/05 Reviewed by: Marilyn

Book Review: The Dark Earl


The Dark Earl

by Virginia Henley

Signet Eclipse, 2011

When it comes to reading steamy historical romance novels, one of the very first hopes readers are expected to abandon is any kind of working verisimilitude. Instead, they must steel themselves for a veritable Noah’s Ark of anachronisms. Highlanders will wear tartan kilts. Regency rakes will have clean teeth and hair. Louisiana bayou ‘bad boys’ will have parents who aren’t brother and sister. Prodigies will abound, for all the world as though history – actual history – weren’t already the most fascinating place any reader could ever visit.

Knowing this and wearily accepting it (those of us who regularly read historical romances have received far too much enjoyment from the sub-genre over the years to simply drop it), readers might look at the cover of Virginia Henley’s new novel The Dark Earl and fear the worst, especially if they read the book’s back cover, which talks about the Earls of Lichfield and their ancestral home of Shugborough Hall. The first reaction is to glance back at the cover again and sigh in dismay: not only is that not Shugborough Hall in the background (the place is marvellously distinctive, after all – you’re urged to drive out and visit it, when next your in the area), but that picture of what we can presume is the title character … such a picture! It’s popular cover-model Paul Marron at his most sultry, with carefully moussed hair and lovingly tended abs, as thoroughly a creature of the 21st century as possible. Even if we’re hazy on the particulars of 1854 England, we can be confident in believing no young man anywhere in the country looked like that.

As worrying as the cover is, however, one thing no romance reader would assume is that the cover is the most inaccurate thing about the book. Usually, a catalogue of horrors far worse await inside the book.

So it’s with a great deal of pleasure that I report: There are virtually no invented characters in this book, and almost all of its history is entirely accurate. These are things that can’t even be said of most mainstream historical novels. True, Henley has played a bit fast and loose with hereditary titles (but not, as is usually the case in genre novels, through ignorance – Henley was born in England, and as Anthony Trollope tells us when discussing hereditary titles, “They who are brought up among it, learn it as children do a language”), but readers familiar with the late Georgan/early Victoria period will be very pleasantly surprised at how little else is out of place. The book is about the headstrong young heir to the impoverished Earl of Lichfield, Thomas Anson, and his high-spirited courtship with Lady Harriet “Harry” Hamilton, and both the Anson and the Hamilton clans are here in all their chatty multitudes, with nary an imaginary “Earl of Kimbalton” or “Viscount Sedgewick” in sight. Even the throw-away details are usually correct; when we’re told in one scene, for instance, that the Duchess of Buccleuch was Queen Victoria’s Mistress of Robes for five years (or that Harry’s father had been lord lieutenant of Donegal), we’re told true. Readers of Henley’s historical romances are accustomed to her higher-than-usual degree of veracity, but even so: I suspect this degree is unprecedented in the genre. It lays the whole of British aristocratic history open for lightly fictionalized rendition, and it makes Burke’s Peerage into a Holinshed hunting-ground of dramatic potential.

Inside her framework of fact, Henley tells a winsome enough story (in her evocation of these long-ago grandees’ motives and passions – let alone their dialogue – our author is of course making things up left, right, and center, with the practiced hands of an old pro): outspoken and unconventional “Harry” Hamilton and embarrassed Lichfield heir Viscount Anson meet cute when they’re both very young and then, years later, encounter each other again and fall in love. A less practiced author than Henley would be undone by the very factual accuracy she’s gone to such pains to establish, since a glance at the aforementioned Burke’s will tell any curious reader whether or not our young couple eventually find wedded bliss together. To her credit, Henley couldn’t be less worried about such things: she’s too busy filling her pages with the kind of effervescent shimmer she can often create so well. On page after page, we are eavesdropping on the privileged while they banter with each other:

Abercorn was one of the men talking to Buccleuch. She [Harry] curtsied prettily to her host and stood on tiptoe to kiss her father. “Did you hear the one about the Irishman and the Scot who walked into a tavern and -”

Walter Montagu, whose brogue was far thicker than his son’s, threw back his head and roared with laughter, while her father’s eyes twinkled at her jest.

“She’s a right saucy lassie, James. If I were ten years younger, I’d be chasin’ her.”

“And I’d let you catch me, your Grace.”

Abercorn greeted his wife. “Hello, darling. You look ravishing tonight.”

“Does that mean you’ll be coming home with me?” she asked with mock alarm.

“Would that be inconvenient?” he asked.

“Well, you know what the French say: Marriage is so difficult, it takes three to make it work.”

The tone of that excerpt is by no means misleading – despite its ominous title, The Dark Earl is a very sunlit book, full of warmth and laughter and hardly any of the brooding passions that can make so many Romance novels so crushingly dull. Thomas Anson’s worldly pursuits – recouping the losses incurred by his father’s insolvency – are always close enough to the forefront of the action to be an entirely believable axis of the plot, and the love that brings our hero and heroine together is most certainly not the fates-and-faeries kind found in so many genre novels. In one of the book’s most charming scenes, we’re treated to a deceptively simple dramatization of how two young people might go about making a Spanish omelette in a Victorian-era kitchen – and how they might top it off with some impromptu pears flambe:

“I won’t deprive you of the fun part. Set the brandy alight and jump back.”

Her eyes were bright as the flame she wielded. “Keep that bucket of sand handy!” She set the pan aflame and hopped back. When the blue flame stopped burning, she divided the concoction into two dessert bowls and anointed them with a dollop of cream.

This time Thomas sat down at the table and pulled her into his lap. “This is the way dessert a deux must be eaten.” Laughing like children, they fed each other and licked their lips between kisses.

The Dark Earl is exactly this kind of tasty, light-hearted treat – fortified with generous helpings of very conscientious historical research. Henley has been an institution for a long time (she dedicates the book to a great-granddaughter), but she’s doing her best work right now. This book should earn her free admission to Shugborough for life.