Arabella's Assistant

Book 1 of the Raised All Wrong series

Romance - Historical
340 Pages
Reviewed on 09/14/2022
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Judy is a (fingers crossed) retired litigation attorney and flower shop owner living her best life in the wilds of NC. She loves tea and art, dogs and cats (perish the thought of such nondenominational thinking!), her imaginative son, and her French husband. When not writing or reading (and yes, occasionally one might find her without a book or computer in hand), she enjoys long walks on the beach and time with her friends. She is grateful for each soul who has chosen to stay in her life and for the wisdom and light they each bring to this chaotic world.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Teresa Syms for Readers' Favorite

Arabella’s Assistant: Book 1 of the Raised All Wrong series, by Judy Lynn Ichkhanian is a historical romance novel that tells the tale of Lady Arabella Warwick. She is beautiful and refined but is a bluestocking. She is impoverished and must find money quickly to save her mother’s health from the smog-filled air of London. Arabella has two loves and passions. Her cat is one and her second obsession is with Assyriology, involving her lifelong study of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Arabella has two suitors vying for her hand. Viscount Justin Manning is a man more concerned with his appearance, combined with his own desperate need for money. To be in line for the three titles he wants, he has lied, stolen, and cheated. Now he is after something very precious that Arabella possesses. Justin believes this item holds the key to the House of Lords. In his attempts to win, Justin is willing to crush his cousin Gabriel, Baron Brynley. Gabriel believes he is the rightful heir to the titles and is missing the one piece of evidence that will seal the titles. He also understands that Arabella possesses this item. Gabriel uses his need, desires, and drive around his study of Assyriology to meet with Arabella. What he does not expect is what happens between them. However, Justin grows ever more dangerous. He and his father will stop at nothing to get what they want, even contemplating kidnapping, drugging, false marriage, and theft. Will it work out in his favor, or will Gabriel assume his right to the three family titles?

Arabella’s Assistant by Judy Lynn Ichkhanian is an outstanding book I did not want to put down until I had finished. The author has created characters that leap off the pages in their period clothing, in their beautiful ballrooms and sitting rooms of Victorian England. As the scenes unfold with well-ordered precision, the reader will feel they are in the story watching the characters act out their roles. Ichkhanian’s plot development and storyline are exceptionally well planned and nurtured. The story flows well, but every once in a while, a little twist of fate or turn of the dice is thrown in and puts the reader in a place they didn’t expect. Each of the main characters has been developed and written so well that the reader will understand their strengths, passions, and drive. I was completely captivated by this book, the characters created, and the storyline. Expertly written. Congratulations to Ichkhanian for writing such an exceptional story. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Grant Leishman

Arabella’s Assistant: Book 1 of the Raised All Wrong series by Judy Lynn Ichkhanian is a light-hearted romantic romp through the early Victorian era of aristocratic England. Lady Arabella Warwick is a young woman fascinated by the subject of Assyriology and the translation of ancient texts, especially the stories of Gilgamesh. Like many aristocratic families of those times, they were living on the knife edge of financial ruin. Her father had been an inveterate gambler and drinker and had left Arabella and her ailing mother virtually penniless. Despite her desire not to marry, Arabella knows if she is to afford to move her mother to a better climate and prolong her life they must move to the continent, and therefore she must not only marry but must also marry money. Cousins Baron Gabriel Brynley and Viscount Justin Manning despise each other, but both have their eyes on the lovely Arabella for differing reasons. Whereas Gabriel is entranced by her beauty, her intelligence, and a similar passion for Assyriology, Justin wants Arabella for much more nefarious and devious purposes. The Warwicks had something Justin and his father desperately needed to save their flagging fortunes but who would finally win Arabella’s hand?

Arabella’s Assistant is sweet and funny but, in true Victorian melodramatic fashion, is also a sinister story of love and murder that captivated me. Judy Lynn Ichkhanian created caricatures of Victorian aristocracy that tended toward the extremes of social behavior of the time. Justin is an archetypal sinister, evil, plotting villain with Gabriel the slightly eccentric, wealthy, and scholarly man who struggles to perform socially and has little understanding of love and emotions. This works perfectly with the nature of the story and allows for the ultimate face-off between good and evil. Arabella was a fascinating character in her own right, ahead of her time in many ways as a strong, intelligent, and learned woman, unlike her contemporaries interested only in gossip and scandal and in snaring a rich and titled husband to move up in the social pecking order. Arabella was above all that. Yet, in the ways of love and social graces she was also severely lacking. Her inability to see the true love in Gabriel’s actions would prove disastrous to her. What I particularly enjoyed was the author’s subtle mocking of the English class system of the time and the almost random sets of circumstances that could elevate people to titles and power, whether deserving of such status or not. I did enjoy this story as a gentle escape into a world that has long passed. This is a genuinely fun read and one I can highly recommend to lovers of true romance and Victorian melodrama.

Trevor Otieno

The only person who shares Lady Arabella Warwick’s love of cuneiform and interest in Assyriology is Gabriel Darkwood, Baron Brynley, who helps her translate an old manuscript. Arabella’s father abandoned her and her mother, leaving them in a desperate financial situation, so she was compelled to wed a wealthy man to cover her mother’s high medical expenses. Viscount Manning, who appears to be the heir to an earldom, pursues her. Despite his apparent wealth, Arabella prefers Gabriel’s allure. Gabriel and Arabella’s mutual attraction grows stronger, along with the threat posed by people who are hostile to them. Only after Arabella has been deflowered, kidnapped, had official documents fabricated, and been married in a fictitious ceremony will she find love. To follow the unfolding events, read Arabella’s Assistant: Book 1 of the Raised All Wrong series by Judy Lynn Ichkhanian.

Arabella's Assistant by Judy Lynn Ichkhanian is a must-read since it’s exciting and touches on important issues of history. The action heats up in the second half of the book. Arabella is a powerful, intelligent, and funny woman who understands how to function in a society that wasn’t created for someone like her. The best part is that she meets Gabriel, who loves and accepts her. Their relationship made me feel very emotional. Readers who enjoy love stories should read this book immediately. The talented Ichkhanian has produced some excellent work, and I look forward to reading the follow-up. I applaud the effort she invested in producing such high-quality content.

Peggy Jo Wipf

Arabella's Assistant (Raised All Wrong) by Judy Lynn Ichkhanian keeps you entertained and mesmerized while Lady Arabella Warwick is baffled as to why suddenly two cousins are fighting for her attention. She wished for solitude to study her beloved ancient cuneiform. Both men appear to have a passion for deciphering this writing, but only Gabriel, Baron Brynly, truly understands its beauty. Viscount Justin Manning has the higher title and the means to move her mother to a place that will allow her health to improve, but Gabriel has her heart. Gabriel's indifference to her love pushes Arabella toward Justin's affections. She can't help but feel she is a pawn being played against each man. Her mother's welfare is her main concern, but she realizes she may have sacrificed her own life to secure her mother's life.

The first couple of chapters of Arabella's Assistant drew me in wholeheartedly. I knew this would be a compelling historical romance. With an edgy dilemma, Judy Lynn Ichkhanian applies all the elements of a good romance: intriguing characters, a mysterious plot, hidden dangers, and excellent writing. The author skillfully unfolds layers of deceit and emotion that tie the characters together. With a twist, new events change the fate of Arabella. I found the characters well-developed and lively. I liked how the author kept me questioning which man would end up with Arabella. I highly recommend this novel for its spirited characters and romantic elegance. I am looking forward to reading more in the Raised All Wrong series.

Cecelia Hopkins

Arabella’s Assistant by Judy Ichkhanian follows the interaction between Gabriel Darkwood, Baron Brynley, and Lady Arabella Warwick. Arabella has accepted she must marry to ensure her mother receives care for her illness, and Justin Thauley appears to be a suitable candidate. However, Gabriel knows better because he is the legitimate heir to the Kildare title. In the process of investigating Justin, Gabriel encounters the well-read Arabella. He discovers the lady shares his interest in Akkadian antiquities, and may even be his soulmate! However, Justin is prepared to kidnap Arabella, marry her by force, and even murder her in order to achieve his means. Can Gabriel foil his nefarious schemes and win the lady’s heart?

Arabella’s Assistant by Judy Ichkhanian combines the genres of romance and thriller. There were no explicit scenes, but the heat level of the romance sizzled with unresolved tension and longing. The contrast between Arabella’s independent spirit and dutiful dedication to her parent made her a remarkable heroine. Gabriel’s position as the rightful heir evoked my sympathy and made me hope he would succeed. I liked the way the author shrouded Arabella’s connection to the Kildare conspiracy in mystery, maintaining the suspense for as long as possible. I shivered with dread as the evidence piled up against the villain, and yet the heroine was still urged to accept his hand in marriage! The narrative plunged from drama to drama as the trap closed around Arabella and well-meaning attempts to protect her were adroitly foiled. Arabella’s Assistant by Judy Ichkhanian was an exciting and entertaining historical tale I would be happy to read again and again.