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Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Companion's Secret by Susanna Craig - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Gabriel is a lord with a terrible reputation. He's the Marquess of Ashborough and many people fear him. He's rich, handsome and much disliked. Someone is after what he has and he needs to take action before he'll lose it all. What he requires to save his name and his estate is a devout wife. Lady Felicity seems to be the ideal candidate. She's lovely and well mannered, she has a flawless reputation and her father needs money, so getting a lucrative offer from Gabriel would be well received. However, Felicity has a cousin Gabriel can't get out of his mind. Camellia is everything he's ever wanted in a woman, but she can't be his future.

Camellia is in London because her demanding aunt needs a companion, but she has an ulterior motive. She wants to sell her novel. Writing is her passion and she's found a publisher who's interested in her story. However, she should make her male main character more realistic. Lord Ash would be the ideal example, he's a rake and Camellia feels she should protect Felicity from such a man. When she gets to know Gabriel though, she finds out he isn't the man people are making him out to be at all. Camellia comes from a family with many secrets and going home would put her at risk. Gabriel isn't willing to let anything compromise her safety, but what about his own future? Will these two troubled people find a way out of their difficult situations?

The Companion's Secret is a terrific fascinating story. It's clear from the beginning that Camellia and Gabriel have a beautiful connection. When they are together sparks fly, their dialogue is witty and intelligent and they seem to perfectly understand each other. I loved how well suited they are. Unfortunately Gabriel is looking for a certain kind of wife and Felicity is exactly the woman he should marry, but there isn't any chemistry between them. I was curious to find out if they'd be able to get themselves out of the unfortunate situation they're in and couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to absorb every possible detail. Susanna Craig has written a captivating story with fabulous intriguing main characters. I was glued to the pages of The Companion's Secret from beginning to end.

Susanna Craig has a fantastic compelling writing style. I loved the complex love story she's managed to come up with. I admired the idea behind it and loved the execution, the complex relationships between the main characters are working incredibly well. There's plenty of tension, there's some great suspense and there are many unexpected twists and turns. I love it when a story comes together in such a splendid manner. The Companion's Secret is wonderfully romantic and there are many interesting layers that totally enchanted me. I highly recommend this gorgeous charming book.


If you love historical romance The Companion's Secret would be a perfect choice.

About Susanna Craig

A love affair with historical romances led Susanna Craig to a degree (okay, three degrees) in literature and a career as an English professor. When she’s not teaching or writing academic essays about Jane Austen and her contemporaries, she enjoys putting her fascination with words and knowledge of the period to better use: writing Regency-era romances she hopes readers will find both smart and sexy. She makes her home among the rolling hills of Kentucky horse country, along with her historian husband, their unstoppable little girl, and a genuinely grumpy cat.


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1) Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? 

Hi everyone! I’m excited to be here. In addition to writing historical romance, I’m an English professor. My husband of 20 years is a history professor, so I like to tell people I have a live-in research assistant. He is also my biggest fan! We have an eight year old daughter who loves to help me with my stories. In my books you’ll find lots of details that reflect my life: pets, family, and a lifelong fascination with British culture and history.

2) Ash and Cami don’t have perfect reputations; what’s so interesting about writing about characters with flaws? 

Every romance has a fantasy element, but the characters need to be real, and real people have flaws. As a writer, I think of characters’ flaws as ways to create tension, deepen emotion, and move the plot forward. As readers, we relate to characters who’ve made mistakes because we have too.

3) What should a good intriguing secret look like? 

I think it has to be something meaningful, a secret worth keeping, not just because there might be consequences for revealing it, but because a character thinks of that secret as a part of who they are. If the secret comes out, things won’t be the same. That person won’t be the same. When the hero (for example) is ready to reveal that secret to the heroine, or it is revealed by someone else and we see the heroine’s reaction, we should understand the significance of that revelation. It should show how the characters have grown, how perfect they are for one another.

4) What does true love mean to you? 

Sometimes, we seem to confuse romance for true love. Romance is wonderful, but true love is messy and hard. It’s accepting another person, flaws and all. It’s feeling safe enough to be your true self. It’s supporting someone and being supported in return.

5) How did you get the idea for the Rogues & Rebels series? 

So, my birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day, and I’ve always been interested in Ireland (although I’m not Irish). In my academic life, I’ve done a lot of research on the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland and the Act of Union with Great Britain in 1800, which is when the series is set. At the time, novelists like Sydney Owenson and Maria Edgeworth were writing what we might think of as “romance novels” between Irish and English characters, using it as a metaphor for Anglo-Irish relations and trying to reshape public opinion about Ireland.

I thought it would be fun to echo those stories, so I created a set of siblings who are proud to be Irish, but who meet and fall in love with Englishmen/women. It’s an instant source of conflict, and it introduces readers to a historical moment that hasn’t been done a lot in Regency-era romance.

6) What are the key characteristics of a good rogue? 

Ooh…well, he has to be a risk taker, someone who is willing to break the rules. Smart. Sometimes witty (“sardonic” comes to mind). And of course, he has to have a good heart hidden deep inside that roguish exterior, which the heroine discovers along the way.

7) How did your passion for historical romance start? 

Victoria Holt was my gateway to historical romance when I was a teenager, and from there, I went to the classics, like Jane Eyre. All those romances, mostly set in nineteenth-century England, led me to focus on British literature in college and graduate school, and today I’m a specialist in Jane Austen. I started writing historical romance soon after I started reading it, but I didn’t get serious about it until I came back to reading romance about ten years ago.

8) What should a good happy ending look like? 

The best happy endings come after a couple has met and overcome a significant challenge. We need to know that they will be able to face whatever comes, so we can close the book believing in their future happiness. Because my books tend to be angsty, I try to make those closing scenes more light-hearted, so readers have a glimpse of those little moments that make a relationship work.

9) You are an English professor; what do you do when one of your student shows potential when it comes to writing? 

Students today do so much writing: blogs, social media, essays, creative work. I want to help all of them maximize their ability to communicate effectively in whatever medium they choose. I don’t teach creative writing, but because most of my students know I write fiction, they sometimes come to me for advice. I try to encourage them, explain some of the challenges of the publishing world, and remind them that the most important thing is to keep writing (and reading!).

10) How do you combine the busy life of being a scholar with writing stories?

Right now, I don’t do much scholarly writing; there simply isn’t enough time. But I still go to academic conferences and try to keep up with what’s being said and written about the literature I teach. Last year, I got to combine my scholarly and creative lives by teaching a course on popular romance fiction; we read about 10 novels (starting with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) and talked about attitudes toward romance novels and their cultural value. Students finished the semester with either a traditional research paper or a creative project. That course was so much fun! I hope I get to teach it again soon.

11) What are your plans for the future?

The next book in the Rogues & Rebels series, The Duke’s Suspicion, releases in December. Right now, I’m at work on the third book, The Lady’s Deception, which will be published in 2019. And I always have a few more story ideas floating around in the back of my mind!


One very Lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of The Companion's Secret by Susanna Craig

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. The Companion's Secret sounds like a wonderful blend of fact and fiction woven into a complicated and emotional tale and a promising start to the Rogues & Rebels series.

  2. definitely looks like a book I wanna read - love the cover!

  3. I love the beautiful artwork on the cover and the gorgeous dress.

  4. The Companion's Secret does sound so romantic and a real page turner. A story I'd love!

  5. what a wonderful interview. the book reminds of the unexpected duchess by valeria bowman

  6. Love me some historical romance!
    Quite excited about this book!
    Thank you for the great review and wonderful interview :)

  7. Thank you so much for the lovely review, Suze, as well as the chance to share this story with your readers. Good luck in the contest, everyone!

  8. I love romantic stories. I would like to read it.

  9. I would so love to read this book!!!!

  10. What a beautiful dress! Hope this does really well for you Susanna!