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Mixing the Profound with the Hilarious - an Editorial Review of "Offers of Atonement"

Book Blurb:

"We shall need a corpse."

When Captain James Hartcourt’s best friends ask him for an unusual favour, he doesn’t hesitate. Losing fortunes at cards, London’s shady underworld, his mother’s schemes – few things faze him. Until he meets Lady May. Destitute but determined to retrieve the family estate, Lady May arrives alone in London with a proposition he cannot refuse. She discovers that Captain Hartcourt is a cardsharp with emerald eyes and dangerous kisses, but soon she must wonder whether he is a murderer too.

Mixing the profound with the hilarious in a rare formula, Offers of Atonement, brings the early 19th century to life in vivid colours. This literary, romantic comedy comes with a gritty twist.

Inspired by writers like Austen, Wilde, and Wodehouse, this is wholly original story by Maria Yrsa Rönneus. Offers of Atonement is the fifth stand-alone novel in the Regency Tales – a series of captivating and remarkable dramas of love and jealousy, friendship and deceit.

TW: Contains profanity, mild sex, violence, attempted rape.

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Author Bio:

Hello, I'm Maria Yrsa Rönneus – authour, artist, graphic designer.

As a child, I wanted to grow up to be three things: a ballerina, a farmer, and a writer. Many years and five published novels later, I think that one out of those three isn’t bad.

Amongst my earliest memories is crayoning by the kitchen table and making up stories about the drawings, and I’ve been doing that ever since. Yet it was decades before I had enough courage to pursue it professionally; when I finally did, it was burnout from stress and childhood abuse that tipped the scale. 

At university, I studied art and philosophy mainly, but also film, literature, physics, and logic. I tried many different professions: teacher, project manager, care assistant, library assistant; I’ve been a cabbie and (briefly) a prison guard. I pursued a career in politics and was elected for public office. But, whilst many of these roles were rewarding, great privileges even, they were never a perfect fit. I treasure all of these experiences as they make me better at what I was meant to do – tell stories.

Born and raised in rural Sweden, rambles through fields and forests shaped me and continue to influence all my work; animals and plants are ever present. Whether images or words, I immerse myself wholly in my work. There’s a story behind every brush stroke, an image behind every word, although only a small fraction ever gets processed enough to share with others. The majority of my stories are written in English and, most commonly, in the genres of historical fiction, contemporary romance, or short stories inspired by Scandinavian mythology and folklore.

Being a life-long history buff, I like to fancy myself a bit of an amateur historian and digging through archives and chasing facts for my novels is precisely my idea of a good time. Luckily, I also enjoy dancing, else I might never have met my husband. We live in the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula where, in the words of Voltaire, we cultivate our garden.

My artwork and more information of her books and projects can be found at:

Graphic design:

Editorial Review:

To his face people called him lucky; behind his back 'Heartless”. It was just as well that he could not hear what else, but he harboured few illusions. Some marked money the root of all evil, but it was sooner man's avarice. Greed always lied at the bottom of men's motives; lust, fear, envy, every other base instinct and vice could be reduced to greed.

In the meandering pages of Maria Yrsa Rönneus's "Offers of Atonement," one discovers a tapestry of historical intricacies woven with meticulous care akin to navigating the delicate corridors of time itself. While navigating through this Regency tale, one is whisked away into an era replete with its own nuances, etched with the artful precision of an author devout to historical accuracy.

Rönneus's adeptness in embracing the bygone era of the Regency period is not merely a flight of fancy; it is a meticulously researched plunge into the historical abyss. With the precision of a curator arranging artifacts in a museum, each scene is a vivid tableau, a sanctuary for the imagination to revel in the richness of its setting. The author's reverent attention to detail transports the reader to an epochal feast, satiating not only the literary appetite but also offering a vivid, sensorial indulgence.

The prose is adorned with accessible opulence which presents a palette of vivid hues, painting the narrative with an exquisite finesse. The language, a symphony of phrases, echoes a time when expression was an art form, reminiscent of the Brontes and Austen, herself, which evoke the senses with unparalleled depth. Through the author's adept command of language, the narrative breathes life into every nuanced description, unveiling a world akin to stepping into a vivid painting hanging within the walls of a stately manor.

The characters, ensconced within the intricate dance of Hartcourt and May, evoke a sense of familiarity reminiscent of the timeless clash akin to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. The narrative unfolds a slow-burn, a marriage of convenience shrouded in the ambiance of enemies-to-lovers dynamics, echoing the sentiments found in Austen's beloved works. However, it is May who harbours the pride, igniting a fervour of both affection and disdain for Hartcourt, a character evoking complex emotions that the reader is inevitably drawn towards.

When the grey afternoon aged to evening, flares of light penetrated the twilight, one by one as the lamplighter made his round in the square. On the drawing-room window seat, 'Ivanhoe' rested, spine cracked and deserted, beside her. As she had vacantly been observing the comings and goings in the square, Lady May's disappointment had hardened to a core of cold steel. This was not what she had anticipated or wished for her wedding night.

Hartcourt, presented as a flawed protagonist, carries the burden of cynicism and arrogance, juxtaposed against the backdrop of a haunting past and internal struggles. Rönneus meticulously crafts a narrative where characters, akin to living entities, undergo a journey of growth and transformation, endearing themselves to readers despite their imperfections.

Moreover, the narrative's strength lies not only in its captivating characters but also in its unflinching gaze toward societal realities. The author deftly navigates uncomfortable truths with an unyielding pen, inviting readers to ponder over the echoes of these enduring issues that persist through time. But not only that, she has a way of imbuing the storyline with a sure-fire wit and humour which reflects the profound level of skill this author has with words... a love affair with words mirrored in every passage and scene.

Within the folds of this historical narrative, Rönneus skilfully interlaces a fabric of intricate details that envelop the reader entirely. The story, propelled by a character-driven momentum, offers an immersive experience, allowing readers to feel, touch, and taste the essence of the Regency period through the author's sumptuous prose.

In this tale, Rönneus deftly combines the essence of Jane Austen's finesse, captures the allure of Bridgerton's societal intricacies (which will delight fans who long for more of this kind of historical portrayals), and the whimsy of modern romantic comedies without sacrificing the classic tone. Her narrative not only entices with its historical authenticity but also captivates through its narrative twists, romantic entanglements, and familial intrigues. The one caveat is the length which might dissuade a reader from embarking on this epic-length story.

Enough of this silliness! This was the man she loved after all, what did she imagine? She was behaving like a right simpleton! Quite as bad as that goose Catherine Morland; Lady May recalled how she and Anne and Eleanor had laughed over 'Northanger Abbey;. What would they think if they saw her now? Well, this was not a novel, and people did not keep the bodies of their murder victims in sheds. It was time to start behaving like a sensible, married lady. Wrapping the shawl tighter about herself, she scurried out of the room and down the stairs before she had a chance to change her mind.

Ultimately, "Offers of Atonement" stands as a testament to Rönneus's prowess in capturing the essence of an era long past, inviting readers into a world where historical accuracy intertwines seamlessly with an engaging and propulsive plot. For lovers of the Regency era brimming with authenticity and allure, this novel proves to be an immersive, enthralling read—an opulent tapestry that offers both a glimpse into history's annals and a journey through the corridors of the human heart.


“Offers of Atonement” by M Y Rönneus receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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