Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Sophia Rose Reviews Coldharbour Gentlemen by Ann Lee

Please welcome Sophia Rose back to the blog! Today she's reviewing a historical series debut, Coldharbour Gentlemen. Get ready for some Victorian hijinks in the English countryside.

Coldharbour Gentlemen by Ann Lee

#1 Darking Hundred

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Indie

Published:  11.1.21


Pages:  304

Rating: 4.5 stars

Format: ebook

Source:  Purchased

Sellers:  Amazon

ADD TO: GoodReads  


GoodReads Blurb:

Harry Steer just wanted a little adventure.
Be careful what you wish for.

Summer 1800. England is at war with France but in rural Surrey the conflict seems far away: the people of Darking Hundred are more concerned with the harvest and the price of tea.

Young Harry Steer sits trapped at his desk, cramming with his tutor before being sent away to school. But everything changes when he crosses paths with a band of smugglers sneaking past his house. Soon he’s joined their nighttime forays and finds adventure matching wits with the forces of the law.

At first Harry couldn’t be happier with his secret life, but as the net tightens around his companions he discovers the dark side of their illicit enterprise. His summer hijinks turn deadly serious for himself and everyone he loves. Harry will need all his brains and courage if he hopes to break free and find his way back to all that matters to him—home, family, belonging.

Coldharbour Gentlemen is a gripping tale of peril and heroism sure to touch readers of all ages.


Sophia Rose's Review:

Reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson’s young David Balfour or Alexandre Dumas’ adventuresome and earnest D’Artagnan, Harry Steer longs to step out of his staid life and into some daring do of his own.  I’ve been awaiting the release of Coldharbour Gentleman and dove in with every anticipation of pleasure and adventure finding the hero and his tale engaging from the first sentence.

The early part of Coldharbour Gentlemen sets the scene of rural Georgian England.  Village life.  A farming family and their family and acquaintance.  The locale is described well and easily imagined- feeling authentic as if I was walking the village street or farm paths, riding the toll road or bumping along a woodland track.  Hare hunting, a quirky village funeral, weekly market day, seedy pubs, and the smugglers’ paths in the night all made the Darking area feel like the star of the book.

The central figure, 12-year old Harry Steer, might be young, but this book is for readers of all ages.  Harry is on the cusp of adulthood, but has been reared by a strict, conservative father and loving mother which has left him parts sheltered and all country lad resilience.  Harry is content to work the family farm and take over when his father is gone, but the older Steer has aspirations of raising his branch of the Steer family into the gentry and Harry is his vehicle to do it by attending Winchester under the auspices of a well-situated Steere cousin and returning a gentleman.  Thus, Harry’s lively boyish freedoms and simple outdoor pleasures are curtailed and he is stuck over his books with a tutor droning on for the remainder of the summer.  It was no surprise that in this frame of mind, Harry stumbles across the smugglers and is determined to join for some excitement before he is packed off to school. 

I enjoyed the way the author eased the reader into the world of the book, the characters, and built the rise of the plot.  The reader can only observe as Harry is poised for trouble and warily notes the many characters who will play a role in future events.  The villain is something of a mystery.  Early on, one gets a bad vibe, but it isn’t until subsequent events that his specific villainy is exposed.  By then, Harry is well and truly trapped in a deadly, tight spot and understands the seriousness of what he waltzed into.  However, Harry has a delightful rascally quality that works a charm on most including the smugglers though not his austere male parent, the villain, or an obnoxious local magistrate that no one likes.  Though he would be aghast at the thought, Harry is also well liked by many influential citizens and commoners alike because he already possesses an easy, polite gentlemanly manner and this bears fruit when trouble rains down hard.

All in all, the book went by swiftly for me after pulling me in from the beginning.  I was taken with the young hero and many of the colorful characters and life and then I was captivated in the latter half by the riveting action and suspense.  I am glad to know there are more tales of Darking Hundred and can definitely recommend Coldharbour Gentlemen as rousing good historical fiction.


Author’s Bio:

Ann Lee fell in love with Darking as a young woman when she discovered it while on a futile search for clues about Jane Austen’s visits to Surrey. Darking’s stories haunted her for years until she had no choice but to write them down.

To learn more about Coldharbour Gentlemen and the Darking Hundred series, visit

Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Sophia’s Social Media Links:






  1. Oh sounds so different, yet engaging. I like Harry and can see how following how he un entangles himself would be so good.

    1. He was a fun rascal, but yes, he got himself into a real mess.

  2. This one sounds interesting. At first glance, I was expecting some sort of paranormal twist (which would also be fun!), but this one sounds exciting and entertaining.

    1. LOL, it does look ominous. It had a more classic adventure tone. It would probably make a great gateway book for someone considering reading the classics.

  3. Sounds like a very interesting historical adventure! And so far, I am loving what I am reading about Harry. I'll definitely keep an eye on this book. Awesome review as always Sophia Rose!

    Vanessa @ Blushing Geek

    1. Harry was great. Yes, definitely keep an eye on this one, Vanessa. :)

  4. This sounds fun, I'm glad you liked it.

  5. This sounds like a fun read. I am intrigued by Harry.

  6. Wonderful review Sophia, I can see why this appealed to you. I think I'd enjoy this as well.

    1. I was privy to excerpts and discussions as it came along and I was really excited to get the whole story. :)

  7. This one is new to me but it sounds like a great read!

    1. Yes, it was fun to dive in and it felt like a rousing classic adventure.

  8. It sounds like an interesting one. I need a good his fic