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The Order of the MUSE #1

The Curse of Lord Stanstead

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London, 1819

When only seduction will do...

Wherever Cassandra Darkin goes, fire is sure to follow. It's not until she's swept into the arms of a handsome, infuriating stranger that she learns she's responsible for the fires. As it turns out, Cassandra is a fire mage...and with her gift comes a blazing desire for sins of the flesh.

With his pretenatural ability to influence the thoughts of others, Garrett Sterling is sent to gather Cassandra for the Order of the M.U.SE. He's entirely unprepared for his immediate attraction to the comely little firestarter. But it's an attraction that he must quell, even as his body craves her touch and her fiery, sensual hunger.

For Garrett's gift has a dark side...and the moment he begins to care too much for Cassandra, he knows he will doom her to an inescapable fate.

274 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 28, 2015

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About the author

Mia Marlowe

34 books384 followers
Mia's work has been featured in PEOPLE magazine's Best of 2010 edition. One of her books is on display at the Museum of London Docklands next to Johnny Depp memorabilia. Her books have been tapped for numerous awards including RomCon's Reader's Crown, RT Reviewers Choice and Publishers' Weekly named her Touch of a Rogue one of their 10 Best Romances!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 134 reviews
Profile Image for Caz.
2,757 reviews1,033 followers
September 16, 2016
I've given this a D at AAR. At least it was short and I had a laugh - when writing the review.

I know I tend to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to the sub-genres I read, so I occasionally try to branch out a bit. I’ve enjoyed a few Historical Paranormals lately, so when I came across The Curse of Lord Stanstead, I thought I’d give it a go, even though I wasn’t all that impressed with the last book I read by this author. I thought that perhaps the change of direction might work better for me.

The first thing that struck me about the book, (the first in Ms Marlowe’s new Order of the M.U.S.E series ), is that it opens with a cast list. We’re given the names of the principal characters and told what their particular gifts are – and I felt cheated because I wasn’t going to be able to get to know these people and make those discoveries for myself. And as I continued to read, I felt as though I was reading a TV episode; there’s a lot of plot for a category length novel and the action jumps swiftly from one thing to the next without much by way of explanation. Not enough time is spent on any of the key elements of the story so that the plot is little more than a series of convenient coincidences, the characterisation is extremely shallow and the romance is practically non-existent.

The “order” feels like a nineteenth century version of a superhero team, or - for those of us old enough to remember it! - The Champions, a British TV show from the 1960s which features a group of people with advanced psychic and telepathic abilities; and the cast list at the beginning felt like a set of opening credits.

The story starts with the introduction into the Order of a new member, a fire mage by the name of Cassandra Darkin, who has absolutely no idea what she is or why, over the last couple of days, she’s been in close proximity to a number of incendiary accidents. The head of the Order is the Duke of Camden, whose gift is… er… I’m not sure exactly, but he seems to be able to feel all the other supernaturals in the world by doing things like this:

”The duke closed his eyes and reached out with his mind, trying to discern the identity of the new mage.” And he can sense when ”More psychic energy had radiated into the universe.”

Now, I’m not a regular reader of paranormals, so perhaps such incredibly vague, simplistic language is normal.

When Cassie is located and brought into the bosom of the Order, she is assigned one of the team as her *ahem* “helper”. Garrett Stirling is the heir to the Earl of Stansted and is the team’s resident rebel. He’s a bit of a jack-the-lad, has the devil of a reputation with the ladies and his gift is to be able to out-Kenobi Obi-Wan by convincing all and sundry that those really aren’t the droids they’re looking for, with his ability to plant suggestions in people’s minds. His curse, however, is that whenever he has a nightmare, his dreams come true, and until he met Camden, he spent as much of his life as he could in a drunken or drug-induced stupor in an attempt to make sure he didn’t dream. And now, he doesn’t let himself get close to anyone in case he dreams about them and they then die a horrible death.

The thing is, that when a fire mage is “born” (which, in females, is when they lose their virginity), they’re horny as all hell, and need constant sexual gratification if they’re to retain control of their gift and not incinerate everything within a five-mile-radius. Naturally, Garrett is assigned to be Cassie’s personal orgasmatron. And equally naturally, they are drawn to each other for more than just sex and fall in love.

The purpose of the Order is to protect the British crown from attack by any and all arcane psychic weapons. The duke has heard of something called an ASP which has just arrived on English shores, which he has been informed could present a significant threat; the snag is that nobody has so far been able to find out exactly what it is. While he is working on this, Cassie receives training in how to control her gift (and receives plenty of orgasms!) and eventually, she and Garrett are sent on their first mission, to retrieve an item called the Infinitum, something which can be used to extend a lifespan. This turns out to be an incredibly useful device when the nature of the ASP is discovered and Cassie’s very existence is threatened. Incredibly, coincidentally useful. *wink*

Honestly, I ended up making it to the end of The Curse of Lord Stanstead simply because it was so silly and I couldn’t help wondering what daft, improbable coincidence was coming next. It moves along at a lightning pace, which might suit you if you want something completely superficial, but there is no character development, no romance, no chemistry between the leads and the plot is weak and just plain silly. I suppose not everyone can write Historical Paranormals like Kristen Callihan – and for that reason, I’m going to stick to her books in future when I want something a bit different.

Maybe I need a new shelf - Read for the LOLz.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,064 reviews1,908 followers
April 21, 2016
He had always thought that women were like horses. Yes, there were a few outstanding examples of horseflesh, but without fail, they all served the same purpose - traveling from here to there. For all intents, women were also interchangeable.

But not Cassie.


This book was a big disappointment.

Cassie is a fire mage unaware of her powers, which were awakened when she lost her virginity to Roderick, a careless lord who is marrying a richer woman. Garret is dispatched by Professor X Duke Camden to 'bring her in' to the fold.


1.) Most horrible problem: the sex. It's icky. On so many levels. So... Garret meets Cassie at a ball and they have some kissing. I was like, "Yay, kissing!"

Then, for some reason, we have this concept of "she has to be fucked regularly to siphon off her extra power." Instead of choosing who she fucks and how, she is assigned Garret by her pimp mentor, a fire mage named Vesta. Vesta orders Garret to sexually satisfy Cassie, but he's not allowed to kiss her or actually do any sex that involves his penis.

It's horrible.

One, I would be rabid if some lady I didn't know and just met felt like she could dictate my sex life. But Cassie and Garret don't even fight/question this. If it's true that Cassie needs sex in order to keep everyone safe from her enormous fire-powers, then I fail to see why she can't have sex with whomever she wants and on her terms. She could even masturbate! This man is not needed.

She wants to have kissing with him, that's not allowed. He TIES HER UP, without even telling her that is what he's going to do or making sure it was okay with her - because Vesta told him to. Then he informs her that he's been ordered to make her come by stimulating her breasts only.

This sounds weird as hell.

This woman, Cassie, has only had sex one time - rushed, in a closet, with a jackass. Now, she's in a position to have all her sexual fantasies fulfilled and INSTEAD, her and Garret's sex life is being dictated by this older prostitute.

It would be one thing if Marlowe was portraying Vesta as some sort of sexual creeper who gets off on controlling other people's sex lives, or gets off on controlling Cassie's sexuality in some way, or is trying to vicariously fuck Cassie through Garret, but instead this is all treated as if it's some sort of rule or law. And it's rude, and it doesn't make any bit of sense.

So they have weird, very limited 'sex' in which he isn't allowed to orgasm, she can't have any kissing, and it's a horrible weird sick-experiment-type set up. For weeks and months this goes on. It's very unsexy. And NONE of them revolt or tell Vesta to go fuck herself or take matters into their own hands, deciding they will have kissing and also mutual pleasure. No, they just shrug and accept her barbaric, sick "rules."

This set-up COULD have been very sexy. Marlowe could have made this intensely erotic. Cassie is a sexual person by nature (because she's a fire mage). She's been "assigned" an attractive, powerful man to pleasure her. How could Marlowe screw this great idea up so badly? Especially after having some kissing at the ball?

Cassie resists letting Garret in her room for a long time. He comes every night to pleasure her and she keeps turning him away. Finally, after an "accident" involving her fire powers, she realizes she needs the sexual release in order to keep a hold on herself. So she finally grants him access to her room.

"Finally, we'll get some great sex!" I thought, excitedly. But NO. That's when we find out no kissing, no stimulation of the male at all, and bizarre ideas like "I'm going to tie you up without even clearing it with you first" and "I'm going to make you come solely by sucking on your nipples." And other bizarre shit.

They could have slowly, sweetly figured out what they enjoyed doing in bed together. He could have taken her to bed and they could have done some gentle exploring with lots of kissing. They could mutually find out what each other likes in bed and have some great sex that brings them closer emotionally, their feelings for each other gradually growing, their 'assignment' turning into love. But did this happen? NO. Complete fail.

When they finally DO decide to have sex... I mean, sex in which both parties are reaching a climax, he fucks her That's rape. And first he's all like, "Oh, I can't take advantage of her like this," but then two seconds later he's got his penis inside her. I was highly disturbed. I also found the Marlowe constructed to be very unsexy. I thought that's where she was going with this. Cassie and Garret walk into a party, given by and are shocked to find they've been invited to an Great, that's just great. This whole scenario was a huge turn-off to me.

Also on the topic of sex, they can't just have one of the villains, Roderick, be a scumbag who has sex with a virgin (horribly and with no skill or tenderness) and then throws her over for a prettier, richer lady. No, they have to make him a wannabe murdering-rapist. You know, to really NAIL HOME the point that he's no good. Romance novels, listen up - you do NOT have to make a man a rapist to make him slime. There are plenty of slimes out there who aren't rapists, and there's plenty of shitty things they can do to cement their villain status without you resorting to a gratuitous rape/near-rape scene. He was bad enough taking a virgin's entire worth (this is a historical), 'ruining' her and then throwing her over for another woman, insulting offering Cassie the "privilege" of being his mistress. You don't have to make him a rapist to show us how horrible this guy is, he's already horrible!

Okay, getting off the sex topic, Carmen, how was the book? You know, the actual storyline?

Weak. The characters are underdeveloped. Also, even though this is the first book in a trilogy, I feel like I was coming in on Book 4 or something. Marlowe acts as if we all know this weird backstory and this world. She doesn't work on worldbuilding or character building at all, instead somehow expecting that we've got a feeling for the world and characters without her having to do any work.

It's well-edited and the spelling and grammar are fine.

The supervillain, was fine, I liked his backstory and subplot and how they resolved things with him.

Garret is a pig.

Garret, the hero, is a pig and I had to tell him to go fuck himself multiple times. He doesn't like women, seeing them as only holes to use, except for Cassie 'who is special.'

And the 'sex talk' is very bad.

Garret has this habit of playing professor in bed. I don't mean literally, with roleplay, I mean he's always saying shit like, "There is a special spot, hidden in your secret folds that tightens and rises just like your nipples." No shit, Sherlock, she's not an idiot!!!! He condescendingly explains EXTREMELY simple and obvious sexual concepts to her all the time in bed. Like, "These are your nipples. It will feel good when I suck them." WTF, dude? I find this whole thing highly insulting.

I also don't like that he feels he has ABSOLUTE knowledge of what she will and won't enjoy, and orders her to do sexual stuff 'for her own good' because 'he (or Vesta, I guess) know best' and she should just accept their orders and commands.

Her eyelids fluttered closed as he drew her chemise apart to expose her breasts.

"No, don't close your eyes. I want you to watch me. I want you to see how the sight of you affects me."

You're a jackass and an idiot. One, plenty of women (and men) close their eyes during peak times in sex in order to concentrate on and intensify their feelings. Sometimes visual input is a huge distraction. Two, don't fucking tell me whether I can close my eyes or not in bed. Who the fuck are you!?!?!?

I REALLY wanted Cassie's 'fire mage' abilities to manifest in a fiery personality in which she was feisty and rebellious and fought Vesta's control of her sex life or fought Garret's idea of having complete control over her sexuality, BUT NO. :(

This book could have been extremely sexy if Garret was a.) kind and b.) slowly helped Cassie discover her sexuality and they found out what each other liked in bed in a sweet, erotic way. But no.

Tl;dr - There's so many ways in which this book was horrible.

The only good things I can say about it is that the villain aspect of the plot was good IMO and that it was well-edited and had perfectly acceptable spelling and grammar. Often when downloading free books I worry.

FRIEND READ WITH Nenia Campbell, sraxe, Jess J-Rex, Kyraryker, Suzana, Daniella, Eric Plume, Sarah, and Ligia. (If I forgot anyone, I'm sorry... please leave a comment and I'll add you.)
Profile Image for WhiskeyintheJar.
1,317 reviews539 followers
April 23, 2016
1.5 stars

Very interesting concepts and building blocks for a historical paranormal story but the emotional glue was missing. Characters were kind of planted but not given fertile enough soil to grow roots. The insta-love between our leads didn't allow for any emotional connection to be felt and when they say their "I love yous" it felt completely out of left field.
The last 10% was engaging and there was an anti-hero developed that has me intrigued for his story but I'm afraid, that like with this one, the idea will be better than the execution.
September 1, 2016
3.5 stars

“It’s the knee britches,” Garret said with a chuckle. “Sets a woman’s fancy aflutter.”

I picked this up on a whim because the covers for this series are just gorgeous and I’ve been on the look out for new authors to try. I confess, I didn’t really pay much attention to the blurb as I tend not to. So imagine my surprise when I started reading this and realized this isn’t just your ordinary historical romance. This has a paranormal element to it! Think of this as a regency X-Men. What a fun concept. I couldn’t wait to find out more.

The heroine, Cassie, is a fire mage newly awakened to her powers and not having a clue what they are or how to control them until the Duke of Camden and his MUSE group finds her and brings her in. While she’s being trained on how to control her powers, she’s also a key player in protecting the heir to the throne from an assassination attack. Ultimately, that’s what the MUSE is all about.

Among these men is Lord Stanstead, who possesses the mental power of sending thoughts into others’ heads and making them think it was their own. But he’s most afraid of sending his dreams and seeing them manifested into reality as he’s done before. Because of that, he doesn’t really want any attachments where his feelings might get involved.

So… the premise of this book? Awesome! I really enjoyed it. Execution could’ve been better. There were certain things that I felt the author was just beating us over the head with. Yes, I get he can’t get close to her because he’s going to find her in his nightmares, I don’t need a reminder every two minutes. Among other things that were a bit over-described and explained. The writing could’ve been a little tighter on this one but the overall main concept was still one I enjoyed very much. And even though the characters are not stand outs in my head, I enjoyed reading about them and was still interested in a happy outcome for them all. I’m also left interested in the supporting cast enough to explore the next few books anxiously and find out more about the world they move in.

THE CURSE OF LORD STANSTEAD was a refreshing breeze to read with a different new concept that I couldn’t help but fall for. I’m hoping each book in this series gets better and I can’t wait to explore.
Profile Image for Suzana Thompson.
Author 30 books93 followers
April 27, 2016
The description of this book mentions a blazing desire for sins of the flesh, but that was never conveyed in this story at all. It was stated, but it wasn't shown. I don't mind insta lust, but I never felt it between these characters at all. When I read romance, I'm either looking for sexual chemistry or a deep emotional connection. Very few books have both, but this one had neither. There is a scene in this book that is similar to what I recently read in another book. This one presented it in the most cursory fashion. The other book made it erotic, and it was a YA novel!

I felt like the characters in this book were better as partners on their missions, and that sexual tension could have developed between them over time. I think this author is good at writing historical details and dialogue, and that she would be better at writing regency romances without sex.

This story started off exciting, and the reveal of the real villain at the end was interesting. Unfortunately, the bulk of the book didn't match its intriguing description. I didn't even shelve this as paranormal, since it made no impact on me as a paranormal book. It wasn't seeped in the atmosphere of a paranormal book. A good paranormal can withstand a weak romance, but this one just seemed to skim the surface of the paranormal world.

I might take a chance on another book by this author, because she has writing ability. She just needs to learn to write mood and convey in depth what the characters are feeling.
Profile Image for Stacy Reid.
Author 72 books2,912 followers
April 21, 2016
I really liked the hint of paranormal with this historical regency romance. The mystical elements were blended nicely with the happenings of the ton, and made for a compelling read.

Cassie, a fire mage who needed help controlling her element was introduced to the Order of the Muse. Our hero Garrett was assigned to bring her into the folds, and he offered to help Cassie with the more sensual side of her power as fire mages were pretty passionate. Their relationship developed quickly, but it felt believable and I enjoyed their journey to learning each other. Their intimate moments were sweet, sensual and quiet enjoyable. Both Garrett and Cassie were good characters who were both willing to make sacrifices at great expense to love and be with each other.The secondary characters added intrigue and they did not overshadow the story at all. In fact I am very eager to read the rest of the series, especially Meg’s book.

This was a good romance, and I enjoyed the overall plot.
Profile Image for Tin.
340 reviews108 followers
August 1, 2015
While I had some reservations the first Mia Marlowe book I read, I have to say I had none with The Curse of Lord Stanstead. This new book was a page-turner from beginning to end. And it has to do with the amazing cast of characters that Marlowe has created.

The Sensory Extraordinaires are part of an organization headed by the Duke of Camden -- the members all come from different walks to life and levels of society: one is a viscount, one a former maid, one an heir to an earldom, and one a courtesan -- but what they all have in common is the gifts they possess.

The Duke of Camden is like a regency Professor Charles Xavier, who has the gift to detect others who have a unique ability. His latest discovery is Cassandra Darkin, a fire mage who has recently come into her power. The Duke assigns Vesta LaMotte, another fire mage, and Garret Sterling, to oversee Cassandra's training.

I really enjoyed the world that Marlowe has created for her characters. It's still London, but it's a London that is filled with people with special gifts -- it reminded me a bit of the London in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell -- the contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary just brought out the best in one another. While Clarke's characters have very personal motivations, what drives Marlowe's characters is their sense of responsibility to use their powers for the good of the many.

"The life you conceived for yourself is over. Oh, there will still be routs and balls and all the trimmings of a Season. ... But you will never be the same debutante running hot in the husband hunt again."

Cassie frowned at her. "You make my life sound so frivolous."

"That's because it is. It was. You may safely give up plans to wed some lord and preside over a proper household. it is never going to happen. You're not meant for that life."
- loc 588

We see the world through Cassandra's eyes -- and we understand her bewilderment and reservation -- entering this new world would mean turning her back on her life and dreams, but it's also impossible not to be attracted to her fellow "muses" and their talents. Especially Garret Sterling. Like Cassandra, I became fascinated with all the members -- and Marlowe does a good job of dropping hints to each one's backstory and history.

Part of the fire mage personality is passion, and, in Marlowe's world, this passion needs to be ... *ahem* extinguished from time to time, or else it would consume the mage. Garret has volunteered to help Cassie with her predicament, and it's fascinating to read about their early encounters: all business, but also all pleasure. We're often wary of lust in romance novels, but Marlowe's take of it is assuring: she shows how it is impossible to separate one's heart and one's body -- and, eventually, Garret and Cassie succumb to feelings beyond lust and passion.

Falling in love and creating a relationship is just part of Marlowe's story -- the greater story is how the agents of M.U.S.E. use their abilities to help protect their country. Garret and Cassie are the active agents in this story and they had two assignments: first, to recover the Infinitum, and, second, to subdue the ASP. I was a bit concerned with the waxing/waning excitement caused by the resolution of the first case and the beginning of the second case -- there was a brief moment when I felt the story could've ended at the end of the Infinitum case, but I trusted that the author had a point to the ASP plot --

And it was amazing! Garret has psychic abilities, but he also has the curse of "dreaming" of his loved ones' deaths -- ever since his fiancee's death, Garret has closed himself off to the possibility of a deeper connection -- but Cassie knocks down Garret's defences. It's very subtle, but Marlowe quietly tackles the idea of pre-determination -- are we truly powerless to change the course of our lives or do we have a say in our future? (Short answer is no. The longer answer is the reason why Marlowe pursued the ASP storyline.)

There are some really beautiful exchanges between Cassie and Garret, highlighting emotion and drama. Here's my favourite:

"Does that mean --"

"That I love you." He smiled down at her. "With all my heart."

And then he was done with words.
- Loc 1880

When I finished reading this book, I felt a great sense of satisfaction and enjoyment -- and now I find that I am stalking Mia Marlowe's website, waiting for an announcement for the next instalment of this series.
Profile Image for Under the Covers Book Blog.
2,818 reviews1,359 followers
August 22, 2016

“It’s the knee britches,” Garret said with a chuckle. “Sets a woman’s fancy aflutter."

I picked this up on a whim because the covers for this series are just gorgeous and I've been on the look out for new authors to try. I confess, I didn't really pay much attention to the blurb as I tend not to. So imagine my surprise when I started reading this and realized this isn't just your ordinary historical romance. This has a paranormal element to it! Think of this as a regency X-Men. What a fun concept. I couldn't wait to find out more.

The heroine, Cassie, is a fire mage newly awakened to her powers and not having a clue what they are or how to control them until the Duke of Camden and his MUSE group finds her and brings her in. While she's being trained on how to control her powers, she's also a key player in protecting the heir to the throne from an assassination attack. Ultimately, that's what the MUSE is all about.

Among these men is Lord Stanstead, who possesses the mental power of sending thoughts into others' heads and making them think it was their own. But he's most afraid of sending his dreams and seeing them manifested into reality as he's done before. Because of that, he doesn't really want any attachments where his feelings might get involved.

So... the premise of this book? Awesome! I really enjoyed it. Execution could've been better. There were certain things that I felt the author was just beating us over the head with. Yes, I get he can't get close to her because he's going to find her in his nightmares, I don't need a reminder every two minutes. Among other things that were a bit over-described and explained. The writing could've been a little tighter on this one but the overall main concept was still one I enjoyed very much. And even though the characters are not stand outs in my head, I enjoyed reading about them and was still interested in a happy outcome for them all. I'm also left interested in the supporting cast enough to explore the next few books anxiously and find out more about the world they move in.

THE CURSE OF LORD STANSTEAD was a refreshing breeze to read with a different new concept that I couldn't help but fall for. I'm hoping each book in this series gets better and I can't wait to explore.

Reviewed by Francesca

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Profile Image for Merissa (Archaeolibrarian).
3,592 reviews103 followers
April 14, 2023
This is one of Entangled's Select Historical novels and my first introduction to both them and this author. I have to say that I am in no way disappointed!

The Order of the M.U.S.E. is a secret society that you learn about as you go on. They have various members who are capable in various ways. The latest 'recruit' is Cassie, an emergent fire mage who needs help controlling her element. But this is also during the time of the 'mad King George' and it is the Order's job to protect royalty against any who would harm them. Where there is yin, there is yang and although it is only mentioned in passing, you are left with the impression that there is another Order there who seeks to harm, not help.

This is very well written and gives you a good insight on the ton and the rules and regulations that would need to be followed to be part of Polite Society. The plot is smoothly written and moves along at a fair pace, never slumping.

A warm-hearted story with a hint of mystery, a dash of the paranormal and more than a tinge of hot romance. Definitely recommended.

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book; the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Jul 28, 2015
Profile Image for Irène Wadowski uliasz.
535 reviews21 followers
July 21, 2016
une intrigue originale et bien ficelée malgré des invraisemblances. on ne peut que être ému par l'amour quasi fusionnelle des principaux personnages de cette aventure paranormale.
Profile Image for sraxe.
394 reviews393 followers
April 25, 2016
Oh, talk about squandered potential and wasted opportunities. How do you take an interesting foundation like the X-Men, with such an interesting ensemble of characters (and by that, I mean everyone but Cassie because she's basic as fuck and useless as hell) and make it boring?

I took so many long, unplanned breaks between readings because I had literally zero interest in any of these characters or their story. It felt like when I had to read a textbook in school for a subject I cared nothing for and only chose in order to fill a degree requirement. But hey, I needed to write that essay and get that final grade, so I ended up completing it, but only because I had to, not because I cared.

Like many have noticed, the idea is pretty much lifted from X-Men, with Duke Camden being the Professor X of this group, The Order of the M.U.S.E. (which, btw, I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a secret or not because the world-building is terrible). However, he's not as cool as Xavier, nor does he have his abilities. Instead, Camden simply seems to be a walking, talking Cerebro (or just Marlowe's human version of Cerebro Prime, I guess), being able to sense "extraordinaires" (aka mutants) and "relics" (magical items). Then there's Garret Sterling (later Lord Stanstead), who has a mind control-like ability which allows him to telepathically Send thoughts. However, his ability is less mind control and more suggestibility. (Think Marvel telepathic mind controllers, but less charismatic, less cool, and at least a thousand times less powerful.)

Then there's Cassandra Darkin. Cassie is a fire mage. That's it. She also seems to have a psychic shield, shielding her from Sterling's suggestibility, but only him and that one power (yes, she's the Bella to his Edward). Literally every single other extraordinaire's abilities work on her, so I guess her psychic shielding is pretty useless otherwise. It's not explained why it only protects against that one power, but I have a theory, which I'll mention later. There are other characters like Westfall (telepathy), Meg Anthony (ability to find objects), and Vesta (fire mage), but they're not really part of the story. (There's also a life force-stealing Selene-type villain, but he's literally . I ain't kidding.)

Like I said, the idea is pretty much lifted from X-Men, which wouldn't have been a problem if the author had made it her own, but she didn't. Instead, she just took the idea, downscaled it, and then just shoved it into the background in order to propel the love story forward. Their abilities are an excuse for the love story (like the fire mage-sex thing), but we don't see the progression of their abilities. Cassie somehow goes from a newly-minted fire mage who's barely able to light a candle by will at first, to being able to . And Sterling's dreams

Anyway, I had many issues with this book, but let's start with the most glaring one: VIRGINITY. In Marlowe's Regency world, virginity, or the lack thereof, is what causes a fire mage's abilities to manifest. This doesn't make sense. Why? Because the concept of virginity is a social construct, not a real thing. There is no such thing as "virginity." There's not some "freshness guaranteed" seal of approval on women that is suddenly popped upon first use. VIRGINITY IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT. IT DOES NOT EXIST.

However, for argument's sake, let's say it does. How does the virginity bit work with the manifestation of powers, then? Is it that once her "cherry is popped," then she suddenly gets powers? Virginity is generally connected to the hymen, so what happens if the woman's hymen doesn't break? Because a lot of women who have sex don't lose their hymens. Some women even have it repair itself to its original condition if it does. So does the female fire mage not get her powers if she has sex and her hymen isn't torn asunder by an inexperienced and wholly untalented sex partner? What about if it repairs itself? Will her powers seal back up? What about if she takes care of business herself...does that count? And what happens if she's doing some strenuousness activities and her hymen happens to break (as is the case with some active women)? Or does a penis have to be involved in all of this? (There could also be a case made for virginity being linked to sexual awakening or an orgasm, but that's not the case here because Cassie had a bad first time.)

And that brings to mind another part of this. What about men? The author wrote that female fire mages are rare, meaning that the male ones are very common (which is funny because we literally get no information on them). So, what about men? Is it virginity with them? There's no hymen there, so what causes the manifestation of powers in them? How about if they masturbate? Anal sex? Or participate in any other type of sex other than vaginal penetration? A lot of people count that as a loss of virginity. If any type of sex counts for men, what about women? It's only fair, after all. (Because why would magical abilities have gender-specific rulesets, right? Gender and sex, which is another conversation on its own.)

That's the problem with choosing something as arbitrary as virginity. There's more to it than just penis+vagina=SUPERPOWERS! There are too many issues and factors with it because it's not a thing that exists. It also ignores things like sexuality, because if the loss of virginity is only counted for penile-vaginal intercourse, then that's too bad, so sad for certain LGBT+ dormant mages, right? They're shit outta luck then, it seems.

The reason I call this out is because it seems to be such an important part of the powers (at least for the fire mages). So why not do some research into it? A quick wiki search will tell you that virginity is a concept and not a real thing, so it's clear that the author didn't bother with even the most basic research. To me, it seems lazy because it feels like the author just went with whatever she recalls from antiquated sex ed and false sexist BS notions that continue to be perpetuated. While HRs can generally be forgiven for this, I don't feel this one can. If it's such an important part of your book, you need to do your research.

Anyway. Moving on. I also had an issue with Cassie and Sterling. First off, Cassie is fucking useless. Everyone is more suited for the Order's jobs than she is. Oh, so her fire can hurt the baddies? Yeah, well Vesta is probably 100x stronger and more talented. Cassie literally brought nothing to the table at all. Any mission that she went on would've been better done and more efficiently handled had any other member of M.U.S.E. been sent. She was of no use to it or the cause. That all-important ASP mission that, if failed, might result in the death of the prince? And Camden thinks it's a swell idea to send the novice and the obstinate rebel, both of whom will probably leave the organization soon and have no loyalty to you or your cause, to complete the mission? Your ENTIRE organization is there to PROTECT the royal family, and you send THESE TWO to do the job??? Okay. Because that's smart. (And how lame is it that OF COURSE the first relic they recover would be needed for the second mission. I would've liked it better if it were saved for a later book.)

Cassie is also pretty dumb when it comes to figuring out what the ASP is. Did this idiot listen to a fucking word Camden said?? He legit told Sterling (which he would've relayed to Cassie because they're the only two doing this mission together...unless he's a fucking idiot, too): “It’s old and it doesn’t relish being touched. Wear gloves.” (And another thing to be noted here is that Camden senses extraordinaires and relics, ) Even near the end when it seemed she might be of some use and said she wouldn't be a damsel,

The only thing of use she might have had is a psychic shield, but that's pretty useless for the most part because it doesn't block against any other extraordinaire's powers other than Sterling's Sending. My theory behind its inclusion is that I feel that Marlowe did this simply to remove the potential dub-con element that comes hand-in-hand with something like Sterling's coercion ability. I still side-eye the fuck out of him for this ability because he's promiscuous and says that he used his ability to make women feel good about themselves. If he hadn't been promiscuous, I might be able to look past it, but with how quickly he tried to use his powers on Cassie in the beginning (only to be thwarted by her shield), how do I know he wasn't doing that with every other woman he saw who was hesitant? I don't know that because he never made me believe otherwise. (And that might just be a result of the shallow character development.) Anyway, I can only assume that the psychic shield is only there to make their coupling more palatable because there's no elaboration provided otherwise. And that's bullshit, imo; I need a better reason.

And then comes Sterling. I already mentioned the issue I had with his suggestibility, which seems to change depending on what the author wants. Marlowe mentions that Sterling's ability allows him to provide suggestions, but that he can't push anyone to do wouldn't otherwise do. Buuut...

His other power was no better, imo. His nightmares which become a reality are the greatest obstacle in his life. My original assumption on this was that they're premonitions rather than dreams come to life, which I still stand by despite what the author said in the book, which I can do because

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by that because a lot of the other issues in the book had dissatisfying results. When Marlowe brings up an issue, she doesn't do anything with it. When Cassie finds out that Sterling's been mentally coercing people to like her, she feels hurt because she thought she'd accomplished it all on her own. She's upset for like two seconds before it's resolved and doesn't make a reappearance. Later, when they finally consummate their relationship , she feels hurt. And then, later that night, she sneaks into his bedroom and has sex with him again. These conflicts felt halfhearted, like the author felt as though she needed relationship conflict but didn't actually want it. It seemed they were included for the sake of conflict and then quickly forgotten soon after. Even the dub-con scene later on, , is a complete nonissue. Even Sterling acknowledges the very dubious consent, but it's nbd to both of them.

Moving on. Like most everyone else has noted, the instalust in this book is STRONG. They meet and are immediately kissing. Even though the author tells you time has passed, they were already falling into instalust with one another well before then. So when they started confessing their love for the other, I was just...

She loved Garret Sterling. ...

He loved Cassandra. He worshipped her. He didn’t want to keep breathing in a world where she did not.

He says at one point that she's given his life "purpose," and I'm sitting here wondering WHEN. HOW. All they have between one another is instalust (). There's no relationship development, barely any feelings other than sexual. Sterling even seems to get a personality transplant partway through. (Because, hey! OF COURSE you can change a person so completely!)

The whole fire-mages-require-sex is bullshit, btw. When Sterling distances himself from Cassie at one point, it's noted that she takes care of business herself. So why couldn't she just have done that all along? Why does she even need Sterling? Because she needs a better release? NOPE, because that doesn't go with what the author put in there despite what we're told. When Cassie takes care of things herself, she notes that it's less emotionally satisfying. When Vesta gives Sterling instructions, she tells him that if she doesn't have a powerful release, she could set him on fire. So if her release on her own was dissatisfying, why didn't she set anything on fire? And even if it's not the same thing as being emotionally dissatisfied, it doesn't address why Sterling ever needs to be part of the equation if she can do it herself. Besides, at one point, it's mentioned that "She loosed a bit of power at the lamp on the corner to siphon off her pent-up fire." So why can't that be her form of release to get rid of her power instead of sex? Consistency is an issue, clearly.

And that brings me to the mention of Sterling being a manwhore. At first I was okay with it because I felt the author was using it as part of the story. Of course a talented individual would be able to help her with her sexual needs better than an inexperienced one. Except what we find out is that Vesta gives him instructions on how to go about sexing Cassie, giving him a step-by-step guide on what to do and when. So why did he need to be a promiscuous hero? The book says he's promiscuous because he fell into debauchery after the death of his fiancee five years ago. This is such a cliche when it comes to the hero losing someone special, because of course he goes and sleeps around. And non-virginal Cassie? Her one and only time was a painful, dissatisfying experience with a two pump chump in a broom closet. Yaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy...so original. Because that's never been done before in romance. (I hate labelling books like this "non-virginal heroine" because of how BS it is...)

And a final thing I had an issue with was their past loves. Sterling had a fiancee that he loved who died. Cassie loved Roderick and gave him her virginity. By the end of the book, Cassie said her love for Roderick was "calf-love," unlike what she feels for Sterling. Sterling says nothing of the sort about his past love. I don't have an issue with that, but I have an issue with how the author decided to delegitimize Cassie's love but not Sterling's. I've seen plenty of books that use this sexist trope, showing that the heroine's one and only love is forever and ever the hero, but the hero can have had past loves. I hate how it presents women as being fickle, but not men. It's a small aspect, sure, but it's something that really bothered me here because of how important the concept of virginity was at that time, and she gave it to Roderick, but then she's all too quick to disavow having ever really loved him? Why did the author feel the need to do that with only her love and not Sterling's? It might not bother some people, or it might bother some for other reasons, but this was something that really annoyed me for this reason.

(This was read as a buddy-read with the Unapologetic Romance Readers group.)
Profile Image for Sarah (is clearing her shelves).
1,025 reviews146 followers
April 22, 2016
Reading this as part of the Unapologetic Romance Readers group buddy read.

19/4 - Not particularly impressed so far - somewhere between 'okay' and 'like it'. There have been a few punctuation weirdnesses, but mostly the fault lies with the way Marlowe handled the plot. The plot could be good - X-Men with sex - but she fumbled all that potential. The main characters leave me cold, individually and as a couple. The justification for Garrett's continued presence in the story is more than a little stupid and contrived and I think that's the reason for my lack of belief in any connection between Garrett and Cassie. To be continued...

21/4 - I have noticed some grammatical errors (not too many though, compared to the usual Kindle freebie) throughout the book.

Page 34
'...you miserable Cretin!'
Why is cretin capitalised?

Page 57
'His soft palate ached to press a string of baby kisses...'
Really?! His soft palate ached? Are you unaware of where the soft palate actually is? It's the 'soft' part of the roof of the mouth, right near the back. I can't imagine how Garret's soft palate is going to do anything other than sit there, pretty inertly.

Same page
'...refused his sensual attention for the past week.'
Umm, no. Less than a page earlier, at the start of chapter five, it was stated that '...two days later, Garret was squiring her and the duke's sister...'. She can't have been 'refusing his sensual attention' for any longer because they haven't known each other any longer. She met him in the last chapter, he rescued her from the ballroom she was about to set on fire, Camden offered her his protection and she accepted, she did three hours' training with Vesta and then declared that Garret "would find her door locked". It is now two days later and two days don't make a week in anyone's calendar.

Page 77
'...like the male of the Black Widow species...'
Why is that capitalised?

Page 109
'What kind of Cretin...'
Capitalised again, still not correctly.

Page 145
'...joined in "making the beast with two backs"...'
Really? How weird to use that term. Why not something more commonly used, like 'rutting like animals', equally as descriptive but much less strange.

Page 160
'...Garret Sent to him. Damme...'
Unless you're trying to bring a Belgian town into the conversation, I think you've got the wrong 'damn'.

Page 190
'Cassie wished she had Meg Anthony's ability to sense objects.'
Why do we need Meg's full name this far into the book? Does Marlowe think we might've forgotten who she is?

There are also many plot inconsistencies.
Why does Garret refuse to tell Cassie about the dream he had of her? He didn't say anything to the previous fiancé and now he regrets that decision, so why doesn't he do things differently this time? At least that way she could do her best to avoid getting into a situation that resembled his dream. Makes no sense.

Why was Cassie so strongly affected by the 'lust mist' at Roderick's party but Garret's so unaffected that he's able to carry her around without staggering or tripping.

Garret must be completely blinded by jealousy. When Cassie threatens to go to Roderick if Garret won't 'see to her needs' in the butler's pantry it actually works. After all she's said about her virginity-taker, how can Garret actually fall for a ruse so thin you could spit through it? Maybe the 'lust mist' is working on him more than I thought.

Why is Cassie described as '...calmly walking through the fire.' on page 171, but Garret can't read between the lines of his own dream and realise that obviously, if she's calm she's not afraid and there's likely a good reason she's not afraid, possibly because she knows there's nothing to be afraid of.

What does Cassie and Garret having completed their first M.U.S.E. mission together have to do with whether or not they can advance their relationship towards something more closely resembling a normal affair? That makes no sense unless Marlowe is still trying to drag their sexual relationship out, make it stretch through the whole book.

On page 174 Cassie comes out with this winning theory '"Suppose ASP is an acronym. If we can figure out what the letters stand for, we might have a better chance of locating it."'
Well, DUH! The fact that it's an acronym has been clear to the reader from the very beginning, due to the fact that it's written in all caps. If Marlowe wanted to make that a 'big reveal' she should have written it in lower case, as it is there's no reveal because it was never a secret. *shakes head in resignation*
Cassie and Garret then go on to have the stupidest discussion about what ASP might stand for. Their guesses are all ridiculous, but not a single one of them are in the least bit funny - A Secret Package, A Silly Pudding, Assorted Sour Pickles *head meet desk*.

On the same page
'Garret rose, since it wouldn't be proper for him to remain seated while she stood...'
But it is proper for you to cross your legs knowing full well she can see up your dressing gown/banyan? I feel like I can't get to know Garret because his character is always changing, unlike the average real person he can't seem to stick with one personality.

On page 189
'Emanations of power spilled from all the members of the Order in residence - the bright, hot sparks that indicated Miss Darkin's presence, Lord Westfall's cool green competence and the soft tendrils of Miss Anthony's shy, yet formidable, questing spirit.'
That's very Professor Xish.

On predictions for the reveal of the mystery, I wonder whether Really want to finish this tonight, so hopefully I'll be back with answers (for those of you reading under the spoiler tags) tomorrow. To be continued...

22/4 - I KNEW was the big baddie! The only problem was that Marlowe gave us way too many clues as to real identity.

During the picnic Paschal drinks buttermilk. Am I the only person who's tried (by 'tried' I mean a tiny sip) this? If I'm not, am I the only one who thinks it tastes like runny sour cream and went "Blergh!" at the thought of drinking it as if it's normal milk?

Page 244
'"Some brothers from a nearby a monastery..."'
The second 'a' shouldn't be there.

When Garret's riding to save Cassie there's this little gem
'He almost didn't care if he killed the beast beneath him if only he arrived in Brighton in time.'
Isn't that just bloody lovely? He's a creep who ties women up without their consent, purposefully flashed Cassie his nether regions and didn't care if that made her uncomfortable, and he's happy to sacrifice an animal who's doing everything it can to get him where he's going ASAP.

Page 252
'Voices murmured above her. Disembodied. Bloodless.'
Bloodless battles and bloodless hands or faces? Yes. Bloodless voices? Nope, never heard of that and I don't understand how that would work.

I actually almost enjoyed the ending, it was almost purely fantasy and I think the book would have worked much better that way. Cut out all the ridiculous romance that didn't know if it wanted to be romance or erotica or something else entirely and just focus on the X-men part of the plot and I might have been able to muster up three stars for this. As it was enjoying 21 pages out of 274 isn't going to get you anything better than a 2. It could have been a one but I try to reserve those for the books with the truly inexcusable grammar/punctuation errors to go along with the stupid plot. There were a few problems I picked up here and there, as noted above, but I've seen much worse. I could be convinced to read the next book in the series, but only if I was joining my URR friends in another buddy read, otherwise I think it'll be more of the same - lots of potential squandered.
Profile Image for Hollie Smurthwaite.
Author 2 books33 followers
December 15, 2021
A fun introduction to an historical magical story filled with people possessing various powers. The main protagonist, Cassandra, is a fire mage--but didn't know it. Soon, she's ensconced in the Order of the Muse and being trained.

I liked the way the fire power translated into sexual need (nice way to up the steam factor), and her sexual helpmate, Garrett makes a great partner for her.

The pace could have been faster, the characters could have figured things out faster

Things took a bad turn at the end, and I liked the way they were resolved. I had a good time with this one.
Profile Image for Pattricia Mesa.
119 reviews32 followers
April 12, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen, I may present to you the X-men generation of 1819.

Edward St. James, the Duke of Camden (aka Professor X), gifted psychic, and creator of the Order of the MUSE, has been recruiting individuals with prenatural abilities to help him fight for the cause and spare the future king of London from possible treason to the crown. His newly recruit is gifted with the fire element. And if it's not stopped soon, it may cause the incineration of London.

Cassandra Darkin did not anticipate that the loss of her innocence to turn her into a fire mage. Now she not only has to learn how to control this new aspect of her life, but she also has to resort to pleasures of the flesh to calm her flammable desire.

Garrett Sterling has recluse himself to a life of loneliness to protect those he cares about from the grim side of his gift. Nevertheless, since he laid eyes on Cassandra, the powerful magnetism between them has made it difficult for him not to become enamored with her; especially since he volunteered to be the one to bring her sensual pleasures.
She was like a clever pickpocket who had stolen his heart instead of his wallet.”
I read so many reviews about how boring the book was, and how poorly written and uninteresting, and so many other bad things, that I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish it. I am pleased I did. The story may not worth five stars, but it had my attention all the way until the ending. The concept was incredibly original; it was a combination of the x-men and your favorite historical romance novel. This combination should be the next big thing.

There is a massive amount of sensual content through the book, and it gets boring towards the end. Even so, the amount of action makes up for the time wasted reading the silly scenes.

All I can say is that if you want a light historical fiction romance with a dash of paranormal fantasy don't pay attention to the many negative reviews, the story is worth reading, and the ending will let you want to continue with the next installment.
Profile Image for Carole.
1,358 reviews14 followers
May 19, 2016
It was not perfect, but there was enough in the plot and the characters to keep me interested throughout the whole story, and to have me want to read the next book in the series. Here are some thoughts:

I really enjoyed the wit and the snark and clever writing in parts of the book. I was most engaged in the first half of the book as she was coming into her gifts, but found the last third less enjoyable - the plot felt forced and a bit rushed to me.

Some of the plot twists were far fetched and one had to suspend disbelief to just move on with the story. Cassie's TSTL moment at the end of the story that was the lead up to the final plot twist was my least favourite part of the book.

Loved the Cast of Secondary Characters and looking forward to getting to know them better in future books, especially Vesta and Meg. but found some of the Villains were a bit too one dimensional.

There were major editing and writing errors that at times slowed my reading and took away from my overall impression of the book. For example, using the word cassock when I think the author meant hassock was a major oops and there were several phrases that felt jarring because I don't think they were appropriate for that time period such as 'tripping the light fantastic' and the use and meaning of the word tabloid. The wrong person's name was used in a description, so overall needed a much better edit to create a clean copy that flowed.

I was disappointed in how little the story showed the MUSE group working on the Hero Garret's gift vs Cassie's gift and how little they understood it, although they had been working with Camden for a couple of years. I would have enjoyed more text around everyone's training and coming to understand their gifts. There was also no examination of why the Heroine was immune to the Hero's gift - will watch in future books and see if this perhaps a hallmark of finding the Beloved when one's gifts can not be used against them.

I did not have a problem with the sex as a release for her Fire Energies - sort of a Tantric Exercise that allowed them to get to know each other intimately and led to a great contrast in steamy scene later in the story when they made love because they were in love.

While Cassie was being taught about her gift I was pleased to see the author was steeped in some metaphysical background and explained the Universal Law of Manifestation and Attraction, whereby we create our reality based on what we think, feel and intend.

So good start, some interesting points, but execution not top notch and there were gaps and questions that if answered could have made the read more fulfilling. Final Rating 3.5 Stars

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bambi Unbridled.
1,283 reviews139 followers
July 21, 2015
I don't read many paranormal historical romances, other than those involving time travel. I'm not sure why - but I don't like the mixing of the genres as much. That being said, this a nice little quick read. It kind of made me think of a historical X-Men or A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. You have the Order of the M.U.S.E. - a group of individuals with psychic or "sensual" abilities. These individuals served to protect the monarch, or I imagine the public in general as the series progresses.

The time period of this book is Regency England, and it felt like the book was more historically detailed than supernatural (if that makes sense). We got to experience the Bon Ton, Almack's, period dress, Prinny, and a bit of scandal and suspense. The supernatural element was limited to lesser details of the MUSE's abilities - it was a light touch, not overwhelmingly paranormal.

One aspect of the book that was a little outside of the historical norm was the sensuality element. Our heroine, Cassandra, has come into her powers as a fire mage. This has some interesting side effects... mainly that Cassie's passion burns as hot and fast as her fire power. As Garret, Lord Stanstead, is paired up with Cassie to help her, er, release some tension, a sweet romance between the two unfolds. The relationship felt a tad superficial sometimes, but I liked both characters well enough and enjoyed reading about their blossoming romance.

There were no really bad villains in the story - not like we are accustomed to seeing in the standard paranormal where the main characters are going up against the big bad of the story. But there are some interesting secondary characters, all with some sort of ability, that I think will be paired up in future installments. The Duke and Vesta most likely, and maybe Meg with the bedlamite guy (can't remember his name).

The title is a bit of a misnomer as the story focused more on Cassandra than it did Lord Stanstead... and his "curse" is not resolved or explained overmuch. I look forward to reading more about the various abilities we ran across from fire mages to telepaths to finders to time thiefs. It all sounds very interesting, and I will continue on with the series.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Entangled in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars / 3 flames.
Profile Image for Melody  May (What I'm Reading).
1,485 reviews23 followers
October 4, 2015
Posted on What I'm Reading

When I started Mia Marlowe's The Curse of Lord Stanstead, I thought it started a little slow. Then again we are building this world where we have people that have extraordinary powers among normal people. Actually, the characters reminded me of another group of extraordinary people know as the X-Men. Yep, this would be the regency version of the X-Men. So, if you love romance and X-Men you have met your match.

Anyway, we have Duke of Camden (kind of like Professor Xavier) who searches out this people with extra abilities, brings them in, and helps them harness their powers. He notices that there is someone with powers in the Darkin home, but he's not sure who. He sends Garret Sterling to find the person and bring them back. Garret finds Cassandra and is about to cause fire Almacks. Basically Garret and Cassandra begin their relationship shortly after meeting. It's not because of love, but out of necessity of controlling Cassie's powers.

So, the first part of The Curse of Lord Stanstead is helping Cassie to control her powers and she has to release some of her energy through relations with a person. I don't know how that all works, so I'm going to let that go. However, each assignment leads up to what happens to at the end. Yep, going vague here. Things start to speed up towards the end and something terrible happens to Cassie. What happens to Cassie breaks my heart, because she finds someone she could love and it's taken away. I have to say that I do love how Garret was willing to sacrifice himself to be with Cassie.

Overall, The Curse of Lord Stanstead is pretty good once you get passed the halfway point. First half they are building a working relationship and once they enter the field together things start to change between them. We also have Garret trying to shield himself away from Cassie, because he doesn't want the same fate to happen to her as his last girl. So, if you like the X-Men and romance novels you might checkout The Curse of Lord Stanstead out.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,188 reviews
July 28, 2015
The setting of the story is very similar to X-Men, you have a group of individuals with various powers & their leader who molds them into agents to serve their country.

Cassandra (Cassie) is a fire mage but her latent powers only come into force after her 1st (disappointing) sexual experience. Growing up together, Cassie figures herself in love with Lord Roderick Bellefonte & succumbs to his wiles only to find that he is courting the eminently well positioned Lady Sylvia whose lineage far exceeds Cassie’s.

Her awakened powers bring her to the attention of the Duke of Camden, who seeks & nurtures others with metaphysical powers & uses them for the good of the crown.

Cassie learns that part of her psyche as a fire mage is a heightened sensuality and a need for sexual release to keep her powers from exploding (somewhat literally). Garrett Sterling is a reluctant agent of the Duke's & agrees to help with this aspect of Cassie's powers (what man wouldn't!). Initially reluctant, Cassie finally succumbs in order to manage her burgeoning powers and naturally a relationship soon builds between them. I was a bit worried this would descend into just graphic sex scenes & no plot but luckily the author kept it tasteful.

A quick and easy read with likable characters. The chemistry between Garrett and Cassie is nicely written and developed & both are likable. An interesting and plausible plot makes this quite a good read.

Garrett's "curse" is not quite the focus of the story; it's an impediment to Cassie and Garrett's relationship & I thought the title a bit misleading.

Copy gifted for an honest review.
2 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2016
Well, I love Regency romance and I love Paranormal romance, so when I read the blurb for this book, I couldn't click fast enough!

With all that said, I thought this book was decent. Marlowe does a good job balancing both genres, but the book was a little forgettable for me.

What I liked:
- the main characters' powers: the Hero has cool-ass Jedi mind tricks and the Heroine can play with fire -- hella cool!
- the creepiness of the villain: I got chills when Marlowe first introduced the villain and even though it was pretty obvious who h/she was, I still got the creeps!
- the sex scenes! The connection between the two felt a little forced at the beginning. Cassandra can only control her powers if she has loads non-self-induced orgasms and Garret volunteered to help. However, once they got together, holy moly was it hot hot hot.

What I didn't like:
- Points of conflict: I felt like there wasn't a real conflict why Cassandra and Garret couldn't get together. *** Spoiler begins: Garret was the one holding back because he believed he has this power of making his nightmares come true, including nightmares featuring the ones he cares about. However, when one nightmare of his didn't come true, he was like, "oh whelp, guess I can be with Cassandra after all!" It felt like it was too neatly tied up for a character who has had this anxiety for YEARS. **** Spoiler ends
- The book was a little forgettable. Nothing struck me as amaze-balls in this book, even though it was a fun ride and enjoyable read.

I would recommend this book if you're looking for a fun, paranormal romp in history, but not if you're searching for your next fav book /book series.
April 21, 2016
This book felt really.... strange.

I found the start to be overly wordy and dense. The long descriptions of peoples titles, positions and social standing was completely unnecessary and added to my dislike.

I probably should have put the book down within the first 20%, but some of the things Garret said made me persevere. I shouldn't have bothered.

The storytelling here is lazy. The world building is nonexistent and there is little to no explanation for most of what is going on. There are also characters introduced, who seemed like they were going to be key players, only to disappear for 70% or more of the book? It makes no sense.

I started skimming this book around the 60% mark, after the first *mystery* is solved. I didn't care about the second *mystery* at all.

A few of my fellow buddy readers have voiced their dislike of Garret and the way that he used his "gift" and whether this could have been used for nefarious reasons. I didn't get that vibe from him at all, he was actually the only good part of the book for me, but even he was an idiot who didn't know what was good for him.

I wish Cassie died at the end of this. She's such a clueless idiot, especially in relation to Paschal. Actually, I wish all these characters died. That would have been the best way to end this book.

The writing was decent - especially for an amazon freebie! But the story just didn't deliver and I don't care about this book at all.

2 Stars

Thanks for the buddy read you awesome people over at Unapologetic Romance Readers!
Profile Image for Moriah.
386 reviews5 followers
July 18, 2015
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I only read historical romance, and it was refreshing to come across a historical paranormal that is not steampunk. The Duke of Camden created the Order of the M.U.S.E to collect people with gifts to help protect the Crown. Camden has detected that a new fire mage has become active in London and cannot control her abilities. After narrowing it down to one of two sisters, Garret Sterling and Pierce Langdon are dispatched to Almack's to bring back the mage so Camden and his order can help her learn control before she burns down London. Cassandra was seduced by her childhood crush and betrayed when he plans to marry for money. Sterling determines that Cassandra is the mage and forcibly brings her back to the Duke's home. Cassandra agrees to join the Order in part so she can learn to control her fiery impulses. Fire mages are very sensual so her control is achieved in part thru careful physical release - Sterling is draft into helping her with this and a relationship between the two begins to develop despite Sterling's fears that his nightmares doom people. Cassandra and Sterling face several missions together and finally are able to admit their love. I really found the end very touching when Sterling proves that his love for Cassandra has no limits. The supporting cast introduced in the book are intriguing in their own right and I am excited for the next book in the series.
Profile Image for SmartBitches.
491 reviews630 followers
January 13, 2016
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

The Curse of Lord Stanstead by Mia Marlowe is a delightful blend of romance and paranormal. It’s like a Regency X-Men with hints of Hellboy and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I know a lot of you just sat up real straight: catnip alert ahoy!

I loved that there was a lot of action in this book. The supernatural threats drive the plot forward, but also force Cassie and Garret together, so it helps the romance as well. Also having the paranormal element not be werewolves and vampires was a nice change of pace.

The Curse of Lord Stanstead is a good fit for readers who are burned out on straight Regency romances and need a dash of spice, or for paranormal readers who are sick of brooding vampires. If The Order of the Muse series follows the usual formula of the second book being stronger than the first, I will be very happy indeed. I already have The Madness of Lord Westfall downloaded on my ereader, ready to go.

- Elyse
919 reviews5 followers
December 17, 2022
Wherever Cassandra Darkin goes, fire is sure to follow. It's not until she's swept into the arms of a handsome, infuriating stranger that she learns she's responsible for the fires. As it turns out, Cassandra is a fire mage...and with her gift comes a blazing desire for sins of the flesh.
With his pretenatural ability to influence the thoughts of others, Garrett Sterling is sent to gather Cassandra for the Order of the M.U.SE. He's entirely unprepared for his immediate attraction to the comely little firestarter. But it's an attraction that he must quell, even as his body craves her touch and her fiery, sensual hunger.
For Garrett's gift has a dark side...and the moment he begins to care too much for Cassandra, he knows he will doom her to an inescapable fate.
This book was well written and kept me on the edge of my seat! Hard to put down as I wanted answers to so many questions! The interactions of the characters is well done. The way M.U.S.E. works to deal with those of supernatural powers and training them on how to use the gifts safely is a bit seductive but empowering to the ones born with these unusual gifts! The ending was incredible, and I won't give it away other than to say what a wild ride! Enjoy!
Profile Image for Janice Liedl.
Author 3 books16 followers
March 19, 2016
A supernatural/paranormal regency romance with secret society setting. There's maybe a bit too much going on in this one book to make it develop fully and neatly, especially when the supernatural elements are used to fast-forward on the sexual elements of the relationship between Cassandra Darkin, a young woman on the fringes of polite society who is also a fire elemental, and Garret Sterling, a psychic who's fearful of the destructive power of his dreams that presage horrible fates for those near and dear to him.

That said, there are some fascinating characters and episodes on the road to happily ever after for our lead characters, if the whole is still rather too predictable to make me much interested in picking up the next in the series.
823 reviews16 followers
February 7, 2017
I liked the description and the character archetypes for the second book in the series and was planning to read it when I noticed that this book (the first in the series) was readily available through my library so I figured I should read it first. Unfortunately, I didn't care for it. I like gaslight fantasy novels in general but this one was filled too many implausible and WTF scenarios and solutions - not to mention a deus ex machina at the end to round it all off.

I'll probably still try to read the next book since I already got it from the library and just hope for the best.
Profile Image for Joan.
2,196 reviews
April 21, 2016
Little things irked me. The way 'sent' was written Sent, the 'quite-dreadful-at-times' sex, the irritating quotes from random poems at the start of each chapter with the name of the poet and also the poem. It felt little intrusive, akin to 'author's notes'.

The plot rambled too much for me to retain serious interest, but I did read to the end, which is something ;)
I can't make my mind up about a rating though, so I am leaving this unrated.
Profile Image for Daniella.
256 reviews542 followers
April 20, 2016
First buddy read with the amazing Unapologetic Romance Readers.

DNF@Chapter 6. Maybe I'm just in a bitchy mood but this was boring as fuck. And oh, this? Yeah. Screw it.
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