This is a well-written Regency historical romance that doesn't really break new ground, but it's a pleasant read. I'm most interested in Dominic's sto...moreThis is a well-written Regency historical romance that doesn't really break new ground, but it's a pleasant read. I'm most interested in Dominic's story at this point, but might take a while to get to him.
Proper young lady, Celine Fairweather is summoned to stay with her pregnant sister, Penelope, Duchess of Blackthorne, keep her company, and he...moreSynopsis
Proper young lady, Celine Fairweather is summoned to stay with her pregnant sister, Penelope, Duchess of Blackthorne, keep her company, and help run her household through her final month of pregnancy. Shortly after her arrival, the dashing Lord Adair asks the ducal couple if his second cousin, the roguish George Rodrick Irvin, Viscount Elmer, who is apparently hiding from pirates can stay with them since he's going out of the country. Celine is nursing an affection for a very bad poet by the name of Philbert Woodbead, and the bored Viscount is eager to help her reconnect with him to keep his mind off his own situation of being Public Enemy Number One with a vicious group of pirates. With his checkered past and happy-go-lucky personality, Viscount Elmer brings life and chaos into Celine's ordered existence. He makes her realize the difference between a temporary affection and true love, but is Viscount Elmer here to stay or is this just a temporary diversion while he's in hiding from his enemies?
Seeking Philbert Woodbead has the slapstick humor tone of its predecessor, Penelope, but unfortunately, it lacks its charm and the cohesiveness. Celine doesn't have the presence and doesn't captivate (and bewilder) the reader as thoroughly as her sister Penelope. That was a shame, since I really loved Penelope, her personality and her antics. I perceive that the author wanted to flip the page with this book, and have a serious heroine with a silly hero, but George isn't as funny or as lively a main character as this book needed.
While there are some humorous moments, they didn't feel organic. The silly tone felt contrived, as if the author was trying a little too hard. The biggest issue was this book doesn't have the energy and spirit a story of this kind needs. When a story is played for laughs, it needs to own its absurdity, and I didn't feel that needed sense of abandon to silliness that makes Penelope such a delightful read.
Overall, Celine is likable, although a bit bland. I didn't connect with her as much as I liked, and I hardly felt any connection with George. For a hero who supposedly had his sense of joie de vivre, I didn't feel it. The pirate storyline could have been a bit more prominent and better integrated into the storyline, because a lot of the humorous potential within this plot was left undeveloped.
It was great to catch up with Penelope and her duke again, and their scenes were some of my favorite parts. Penelope is now a married woman who is heavily pregnant, and seeing her and the duke deal with some of the aspects of pregnancy and marriage was a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Seeking Philbert Woodbead after being so captivated with Penelope. This is a decent book, and if I hadn't loved the first Fairweather series book so much, I would have enjoyed it more than I did. It just doesn't hold up as well in comparison. I'm still looking forward to continuing this series, because I do enjoy Anya Wylde's writing and her desire to make the reader laugh with sweet, fun Regency romance.
Approximately twenty-eight years ago, a young girl picked up a book from her mother's box of books out of boredom. Her life was changed. Ever since th...moreApproximately twenty-eight years ago, a young girl picked up a book from her mother's box of books out of boredom. Her life was changed. Ever since then, her favorite type of book has been historical romance. She has read a lot of it. There have been many that she has enjoyed. But some books just stand out. This is one of them.
Because of how much I liked this book, this is a very long review. I apologize if you don't like long reviews. The short of it is I loved this book very much. If you want to know why, keep reading.
Laura Kinsale just doesn't write enough books for me. If you asked me if I want more from her, obviously yes! But do I want less quality but more books? No. A book like Flowers from the Storm is worth thirty lesser books.
This book begins with a hero who is doing something immoral and reprehensible (although to some degree socially acceptable). A reader has to decide if they can get past that. While I really dislike what he did, I wanted to know more about Jervaulx and explore his story. I wasn’t going to write him off just yet.
With Laura Kinsale, you don’t just get an entertaining romance. She gives you a complex, textured novel that has characters that are not just archetypes, but are realistic and multi-faceted like a jewel (and like a jewel, they may have noticeable flaws). Maddy is at times the bully, at times the victim. Sometimes I liked her, sometimes I didn’t like her very much at all. I felt some identification with her as a person of faith, but at the same time, I felt that she gives people of faith a bad name because of her legalistic and judgmental way of life. It also challenged me to consider how I interact with people. Am I sending out the right message about my faith walk, the loving God and all-welcoming God I love? When she gets the epiphany about why she is with Jervaulx, I was thinking all along I knew why they had been brought together. I felt that Jervaulx and Maddy could learn from each other, could complement each other. Could they love each other despite society’s notions of propriety or station? It was hurtful how she denied the love she felt for Jervaulx, as if it was an ugly thing. It hurt me to read because I could see deep down that Jervaulx needed her so much, and she needed him, and loving someone can be intense and powerful (and yes, inconvenient) without being an obsession or leading to doom and destruction. While people shouldn’t be projects, something we can ‘fix’, we come into peoples’ lives to learn something ourselves and to help them learn something. Love that is selfish cannot be mutual, and for me, their love definitely wasn’t a selfish one.
Jervaulx is a very complicated man. It was interesting to see him at the beginning of the story and see his selfish actions and his determination to live a hedonistic life, although deep down, his was a builder and a thinker and a contributor. Those parts of his psyche obviously warred with each other. I don’t doubt that his mother’s cold demonstration of religious faith pushed him to go in the opposite direction. In his own way, he did believe in God, but seeing faith in such an ugly way pushed him further away from God and into a life that didn’t have much meaning outside of his scientific pursuits.
I hurt for him. A person of the mind, an intellectual can have an experience almost like dying when that part of their persona fails. It’s like being caged away, and in the case of Christian, his mouth couldn’t say what he wanted it to say, and sometimes the words just wouldn’t come to him. Also, going from a place of having power and authority over your life and losing that is another kind of death. That process was understandably devastating to a man who was one of the most powerful men in England.
His family was shameful. They all saw him as a thing to be used or manipulated: as a resource, a pawn, or a liability. That made me very angry on his behalf. And afraid. For most of the book, I felt Jervaulx’s fear tangibly. That’s part of why Maddy’s acts at times grated on me. She didn’t seem to get what it was like to be him, to know that he was one step away from being locked in an asylum for the rest of his life. Even though she does have momentary breakthroughs of understanding and a sense of responsibility to him, her hardheaded beliefs about what she should be doing (that being with him long-term is wrong) seemed to try to get in the way more than it should have.
This book feels so realistic, but also beautiful, entrancing, hypnotically romantic. The scenes between Maddy and Jervaulx where their feelings are budding, blooming and coming to full life were the essence of romance. Their passion inexorable, special and inescapable. It’s what makes my heart beat fast when I read romance books. People think writing romance is easy and low-brow. That any hack can write a romance story. How wrong you are. It takes talent and care to craft such a rich story that fulfills both intellectually and emotionally. Especially when you write characters that aren’t just appealing stand-ins for the reader and her dream man. No, they are real people with real lives and struggles. While love doesn’t necessarily solve all our everyday problems, it does get us through the rough spots in life, and gives us hope for the future. Walking through life with a beloved one at our side empowers us to fight for what we need, what we want, what is rightfully ours. While Jervaulx and Maddy didn’t make sense to someone on the outside looking in, who lacked insight, it makes perfect sense to me.
I put this book off for a long time, but it was a case of reading it at exactly the right time. I have been going through a horrible book slump, feeling apathetic about reading. That’s horrible for an avid booklover like myself. A book like this is just the medicine to reinvigorate a reader’s flagging interest. Thank you, Ms. Kinsale!
This was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginn...moreThis was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginning. I miss that in romances. Constant is a wonderful heroine, and it was great for Kameron to realize how much he didn't deserve her, despite the fact she loved him dearly. The story is quite interesting, but a twisty-turny path to happy ever after. I recommend it.
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background....more Synopsis
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background. Tredway Lorent is not exactly a seasoned cowboy. Instead, he is a town-bred fellow with an eye for detail and organization, but he's interested in exploring his possible career options, including working on a horse ranch. She brings him back to Wells Double Bar, her brother and sister-in-law's ranch, and convinces her brother to give him a job, because she feels drawn to him and doesn't want him to walk out of her life just like he walked into it.
Tredway brings Laurel out of her shell, encouraging her art, and supporting her efforts to help others. In return, Laurel sparks this too-serious, too-thoughtful young man to enjoy life and accept that everything doesn't have to be so meticulously controlled, as well as going after his dreams. She finds her way into this heart, but fears of past failure still haunt him. Laurel knows that Tredway is the only man in her heart, but will she and her Perfect Tenderfoot ever make the move towards happily ever after as man and wife?
Perfect Tenderfoot is a sweet love story with two leads that are admirable and kind-hearted. Their interactions speak of deep friendship and admiration, with love growing slowly but surely. Beggs evokes images that take the reader back to life in in late 19th Century New Mexico. A strong sense of community is a highlight of this novel, as Laurel and Tredway continually help others in need, and expand their growing circle of friends and acquaintances.
I appreciated their good-heartedness, and their desire to live meaningful lives, as well as Laurel and Tredway's determination to conquer past fears and insecurities. However, the story was slow-moving at times, lacking sufficient romantic tension. While I could see that the love developing between Laurel and Tredway was genuine, I felt like it seemed to take a backseat to their continual efforts to help others and their personal emotional turmoil. Because of that lack of prominent romantic development, I didn't enjoy this novel quite as much as the first two in the series. However, the likable characters, the sense of community and the historical feel still make it more than an average read.
Perfect Tenderfoot is a novel for aficionados of sweet historical westerns who don't mind a lack of strong romantic tension. Laurel and Tredway are distinctive characters rendered with heartfelt sincerity by Beggs. That and the sense of strong community ties and a motivation to help others do make this book a worthwhile read, although not as successful on the romantic front.
Mistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistr...moreMistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistress, who comes from very humble origins and has a very scandalous past. Initially Razelby embarked on his mistress arrangement with Alice as a sort of 'last hurrah' before he married and had his heir to meet a 30th birthday deadline that is proven to have a very pivotal effect in his psyche. He is slow to admit how deeply he loves Alice, even though on a heart level, he doesn't want to terminate their arrangement. He does so out of duty. It is time to marry. And he will just have to move on and forget her. But that proves difficult, even impossible in the end. On Alice's side, her feelings are not something she has the agency to dwell on. She doesn't have the power to demand anything more from Razelby, so when he ends it, she has to find a way to be happy in the future without him.
There are things I really appreciate about this book. I am not fond of the trivializing of sexual relationships in romance novels (or the media for that matter). I know that in real life that is how many view sex. However, sex is never as 'no strings' or as 'casual' as we try to make it. Both Alice and Razelby find this out the hard way. I liked that a great deal of this book is about the emotional consequences of ending their affair. While mentally, they have both agreed to move on, their hearts have not agreed, and are in fact in rebellion against their minds.
I was happy with the execution in this book. I appreciate that McPhee makes this book about something more than just illicit passion, which is what you might expect with the subject matter. Instead, she uses the page time to show more than just numerous sexual encounters between the couple that was supposed to be broken up. Instead, McPhee shows how their everyday lives have become intertwined and seeing each other is obligatory. I've always wondered how two people in the same circle who were sexually involved and then break up manage to get past that when they see each other every single day and can't rearrange their lives to not be around each other. That is the case with Alice and Razelby. It's difficult to be around each other without the emotions and the memories impressing on their minds. They both come to realize how important they were to each other in many ways. How their time together wasn't just sexual, but also a deep friendship that blossomed into a profound love affair. It's not so easy to erase that experience. They both come to realize that ignoring what the heart wants is not always possible.
I also appreciated how dimensional the characters were. Instead of Razelby coming off as a heartless rake who enjoys his pleasures without considering the consequences, he is actually a man of consideration, a good man. I mean, he didn't have to end his mistress arrangement, but could have gone ahead and got married. Many did that in reality. But something in him knew that wasn't fair to either his future wife or his mistress. Perhaps in the past he wasn't so considerate, but through his relationship with Alice, he really starts to see her not as a commodity, a piece of pretty flesh for his exclusive and convenient use, or someone that he can use and throw away. Razelby is forced to consider the ethics of the titled gentleman's debaucheries. One of his cronies makes a suggestion to visit a bawdy house and he cringes internally at the thought of how Alice was forced to pursue this profession for her survival. I don't think Razelby could ever see houses of prostitution the same way in the future. This reader can't abide prostitution and particularly hates when it's trivialized as a mere harmless thing. This false conception the idea of a man paying a woman (or vice versa) has no inherent ills associated with it. At the same time, Alice is viewed as a whole and lovable person, despite the fact that she has a past as a prostitute. Many women end up in that life, and there is nothing inherently bad or worthless about them just because they had to make that choice. Razelby is well aware of this past and doesn't think any less of her. It's fortunate that Alice was able to move on from her past and hope for a better future, which is not always the case with women who end up in prostitution, either in the past or now.
I also liked how McPhee shows the the daily life of a woman in the demimondaine. It was interesting to see the rules that they live by and how some of them actually travel in the same circles as the ton, even though they aren't accepted in some places.
At first, I didn't like that Razelby didn't consider marriage to her a viable option. But later, it's revealed that his reasons are as much about her well-being, knowing how hypocritical and cruel the ton particularly the women could be towards a woman with her past, even if she is married to a titled gentleman), as his own status in society.
Frankly, I hate the hypocrisy of this system in which men can act like complete dogs and women are held to a different standard. Women are forced into the sex trade and their world and options shrink and doors close to them because of that, but the men who pay for their services are free to do pretty much whatever they want. It was awkward for both Razelby and Alice to encounter acquaintances who knew them as a couple and now consider Alice fair game or not suitable to be acquainted with. In effect, while Razelby has the option to carry on as usual, Alice is put in the situation of dealing with the fallout of their separation and its effects on her own reputation and future prospects.
I have rambled on big time. I guess that's a good thing when a book gets you thinking so much. I found Mistress to a Marquis that kind of read--involving me in the story, enthralling me with a really good love story, and giving me a lot of issues to ponder. While this is not my favorite theme in romance, it was handled very well in this book, and it definitely a higher rating for that.
After reading this entire book, I would say the comparison to Julie Garwood's Highland romance books is apt. Yet, it's good to have a new author who w...moreAfter reading this entire book, I would say the comparison to Julie Garwood's Highland romance books is apt. Yet, it's good to have a new author who writes Highland romance with a lovable heroine and a fierce hero who is not quite tamed, but definitely gives his heart to her. If it works, why not do it?
Favorite aspects of this novel:
*Hands down, I really like Mairin. Who doesn't like a heroine who is genuinely kind and good-hearted? One who is also tough and determined but sweet and innocent as well. *A hero who does truly love her and shows it, despite the fact that it goes against his well-earned, tough-guy reputation to be a marshmallow for his woman. Ewan happily said I love you, which is awesome! (view spoiler)[Even though he married her for her dowry and heritage, in the end, he was more than willing to sacrifice that just to have her safe and sound with him. (hide spoiler)] *The suspense was good. The book starts with a bang, and the tension is well-sustained throughout with threats on Mairin's life. My heart was beating very fast towards the end. I literally wondered if I would get the happy ending I expected. Of course, I was not disappointed. *The bonding between Mairin and Crispen. Too cute how he would sleep in the bed with her and truly adored her. But then, she risked personal injury for his safety. Crispen was a cute kid period. *I felt like the period was well-represented without going too stereotypical "Highland romance." While I don't mind brogue, it was nice that Banks didn't feel the need to pepper the dialogue with Highlander accents. And the hero didn't wear a kilt. He wore trews. A Highland book but I didn't have to constantly be reminded of that in an in-your-face way.
*I think Mairin took more lickings than Harry Dresden from the series by Jim Butcher, and boy does he get hurt a lot! If this was a Charmed episode, she'd be rendered infertile by all the injuries she received (for those who watched, you know I'm talking about Piper). *Evil, evil villain. I did feel cheated that (view spoiler)[ I didn't get to see him get his arse kicked by Ewan, Mairin, or at least someone. My hope is that this is rectified in future books. (hide spoiler)]. *Really like that Rhionna promises to be a bonafide kickbutt heroine. Looking forward to her book. *The love scenes are nicely steamy! (view spoiler)[ I loved how after their first time is abbreviated by a threat, and Mairin does not have much confidence in Ewan's loving skills, he proves her wrong! (hide spoiler)]
Overall, this is a very good book. I am glad to find some newer Highland historical romance novels to read, since I enjoy them. While it wasn't mind-blowing, it was entertaining and had a novel feel to it so that I didn't feel like I was reading the same book again. The characters were well-developed and the humor touches were good. While Ewan and Mairin both have some miss-steps in their interactions with each other, it was clear that they were meant for each other, and I could feel the love. I also loved how Mairin won over the clan's loyalty.
I recommend this book to historical romance readers, especially those who enjoy medieval, Highlander books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is the...moreSynopsis
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is the most awkward of ducklings. She is a disaster magnet, with no polish, a penchant for saying whatever comes to her mind, and a best friend (Lady Bathsheba) who is a goat. So the dowager Duchess of Blackthorne and her daughter, Anne, Lady Radclyff, have their work cut out for them. It doesn't help that Charles, the present duke, despises Penelope, and wants to send her back to Finnshire. What they don't know is that Penelope has no home to go back to, since her stepmother hates her. Penelope has one chance to have a home, and that's to succeed at finding a husband. If only she could do something right and temper her incautious, enthusiastic ways, so she can have a chance at a home and a family of her own.
The Radclyff women recruit Madame Bellafraunde, a dynamo at styling women of the ton, who just happens to be a man dressed as a woman, to turn Penelope into a stylish young lady who can catch a husband. What ensues is moment after moment of zany scenes, as Penelope struggles to find her feet in a new world. The Duke of Blackthorne slowly finds his feelings change for Penelope, her sweet spirit and generous, authentic nature finding the key to his frozen heart. Now if he could only convince Penelope that he doesn't hate her. There's also the matter of his mean-spirited fianceé, Lady Lydia Snowly.
Penelope is a laugh riot. This is a book for romance readers who really want to enjoy themselves with lots of slapstick-style comedic scenes and absurdity. Penelope is absolutely adorable. Her sweetness and honest spirit makes her a heroine that readers will love. At times, I wondered how she could constantly stumble from disaster to disaster, but it's all in fun. Mixed with the hilarious moments is pathos for Penelope's situation. She lost her true mother at birth, and was never loved by her stepmother. She never felt accepted in her own home. She hasn't had the same opportunities as many, but that doesn't stop her from being a young woman of courage and strength.
Charles, Duke Blackthorne is not very likable for most of the book. He says the most horrible things to Penelope, which makes him seem like a puppy-kicker. I loved that Penelope stood up to him, and demanded his respect. She didn't try to fit into his narrow boxes and narrow world, and over time, he realizes that he loves her for who she is, despite her lack of a verbal filter and penchant for disaster. While I didn't much care for Charles initially, he does come around and redeem himself, and he and Penelope have great chemistry. I wanted him to fall in love with her, just because that would be the last possible thing a lofty duke like himself would ever consider doing.
This novel is populated with quirky characters that kept me laughing and engaged in the story. I love to laugh, and Anya Wylde definitely had me laughing with this book. I couldn't wait to see what zany disaster would occur next. I liked the crazy twist on "My Fair Lady", with a little cross-dressing thrown in.
Penelope is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. It's unashamedly goofy, but it's done so well, this book is infectiously readable as a result. I would recommend this novel to readers who love funny romance stories. Penelope is a heroine that you can't help but love. Charles isn't quite as likable, which is why this isn't a five star read, but I did like how he comes to realize that he can't resist falling in love with Penelope. And it's great to see her get the happy ending she deserves. Definitely recommended!
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can...moreChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
Another very pleasant read by Manda Collins. She writes Regency with a light, enjoyable tough. Nicely sensual, and very steeped in the period. Good ro...moreAnother very pleasant read by Manda Collins. She writes Regency with a light, enjoyable tough. Nicely sensual, and very steeped in the period. Good romance.
Spending Christmas with three generations of the same family written by Carla Kelly was an enriching experience. Ms. Kelly explored the way that war a...moreSpending Christmas with three generations of the same family written by Carla Kelly was an enriching experience. Ms. Kelly explored the way that war affects families during wartimes. In the case of the Wilkie-Warton family, all three generations of the family have met during a war and married. I liked how Ms. Kelly took the very depressing concept of war and loss and used it as a backdrop to romances in development, and in a way that felt realistic and involved me emotionally. I especially appreciated how each story read differently, but was no less enthralling.
My thoughts on each story:
1812: A Christmas in Paradise: This story resonated personally with me because I lived in San Diego for six years, and it did feel a bit like being in paradise, although there were also some less desirable aspects about it. No, I wasn't shipwrecked there, a Scot in a strange land of perpetual warm weather, fish galore, and lots of Spanish/Mexican culture. But I think that I can identify with most of those things I listed. What I loved the most about this story was the earnest good-heartedness of the hero, Thomas. He is a Navy surgeon who genuinely cares about people. While human, that caring part of him motivated him to do the right thing and offer marriage to Laura Ortiz, who was truly in desperate straits. That marriage works out very well for them both, as they find true love. I admit one part made me cry like a baby. I'm sappy like that.
1855: O Christmas Tree : I don't have the pleasure of reading too many books set during the Crimean War, but this is one of them. That alone was one more advantage of this story. Added to this was the beautiful friends-to-lovers story between widowed Lilian, the daughter of Laura and Thomas from the first story, and an American Army Corps of Engineers officer, Trey Wharton. I loved how shy Trey was. He was constantly blushing, although he had a good sense of humor and a warm way about him. I wanted to give him a hug. I was glad that these two people found each other in a war-torn landscape where they saw too many bad things that weighed on their souls. I also like the unique way that they were able to bring and celebrate Christmas with the wounded soldiers and the Sisters who worked in the hospital. It had a bit of the "Gift of the Magi" by O Henry vibe to it. This one made me tear up as well. Yes, sap here!
1877: No Crib for a Bed: Ms. Kelly takes the reader and Captain Wilkie Wharton, Lilian's son to the Old West, where this Army surgeon sees the aftermath of the Indian Wars in a very personal way. He's asked to escort a regained Indian captive white woman back to her people in Iowa. Only Nora doesn't want to go, because she has to leave her children behind, since their father was Indian. His heart hurts for her, but he doesn't have a choice otherwise. Along with Wilkie is Frannie Coughlin, a cheerful teacher in Fort Laramie, who is also traveling back East. They find a companionship together that is problematic, considering that Wilkie has a fiancee' waiting for him back home. When Wilkie delivers a baby from a dying mother with Frannie's assistance, both realize there is no going back when that strong a bond forms between two people. Yes, again this one made me cry. I felt so bad for Nora. To think that they were forcibly separating her from her own children because they were half-Indian and she wasn't. I couldn't imagine the pain she was in. Also the newborn baby was so cute. Yes, my sap quotient goes up even more. The romance part was good too.
Overall Thoughts: Carla Kelly successfully writes a trio of books that are interconnected in an ingenious way, all around the theme of wartime, medicine and Christmas away from home. Each one touched me in different ways, and I just plain like and respect her characters. They are all grounded and realistic people in the best of ways. While I didn't finish this one before or during Christmas, but in fact, three days afterwards, I still love immersing myself in the Christmas spirit, and this book provides that feeling in spades, along with a great romance.
Emma, daughter of Lord Grey, and Richard, Lord Hamilton are kindred souls, with the same robust appreciation for life and wicked sense of humo...moreSynopsis
Emma, daughter of Lord Grey, and Richard, Lord Hamilton are kindred souls, with the same robust appreciation for life and wicked sense of humor. They fall in love and are engaged to marry, but they have to convince Emma's uncle, the powerful Duke of Arden that they shouldn't have to wait a year to marry. When the Duke orders Emma to spend time at his country estate, Richard hatches a plan to masquerade as the new head gardener for the Duke of Arden so he can be near Emma. He also intends to romance Emma as the gardener so that the Duke will look more favorably on him as Lord Hamilton and Emma's true suitor. His plan turns out to be more complicated than he thinks when he has to take on all the head gardener's work for real, deal with the teasing of the other servants, spend time with Emma, and avoid Lady Babbage, the Duke's controlling sister's machinations. He calls in his friend, Lord Raikes to pretend to be him when the Duke invites Lord Hamilton (his true identity) to visit. The plot thickens when Lord Raikes, who is pretending to be him, develops a reciprocated strong attraction to Lady Catherine, the Duke's daughter and Emma's cousin. Lady Babbage turns out to be a blackmailer with lots of enemies among the house party attendees, which will have its own consequences. Richard's little wager with Emma to see if he could get her uncle to agree to a quicker marriage within a month's time, and the ensuing complications, makes for a caper of a read.
The Wicked Wager is a light historical romance with a dash of mystery that makes for an entertaining read. I appreciated the humor, light and sly, with some hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments. While I liked Emma and Richard, I connected more with Lord Raikes and Catherine. They had great chemistry, and while they fought a lot, you could see the tension sizzle between them, as they realize that they weren't supposed to like each other that way. The mystery plays a bigger role towards the end, which made me feel that it should have been more evenly integrated into the story.
The Wicked Wager was a fast-paced, enjoyable novel with some funny comedy of errors moments and engaging characters. Its strength lies in the humorous interactions between the characters, and the romantic tension between Lord Raikes and Catherine. Unfortunately, I didn't feel quite as much chemistry between Emma and Richard, compared to the secondary couple. Additionally, the mystery aspect felt uneven in its execution. It could have been stronger and more consistently integrated throughout the entire novel. Overall, The Wicked Wager is a story that readers who enjoy the Regency period would probably appreciate.
I really enjoyed Lie by Moonlight, and I think a huge part of its charm was listening to it on audio. The narrator has a great voice, she speaks with...moreI really enjoyed Lie by Moonlight, and I think a huge part of its charm was listening to it on audio. The narrator has a great voice, she speaks with an English accent, and she modified her voice for the various characters, based on class, gender, and personality. I like how she captured the Victorian feel--both a mystery vibe and a romantic in a classic way vibe. She showed the chemistry that Concordia and Ambrose shared, and also she conveys the sense of family between Concordia and the girls, Edwina, Phoebe, Hannah, and Theodora. How they become a big family along with Ambrose, Mr. Stoner, and Mrs. and Mr. Oates.
The storyline was good. I liked that although Concordia is a woman who carries herself with respect and maturity, she does own up to her rather unconventional upbringing without letting it define her as a person. I really appreciate heroines who are independent, but also rational and thoughtful in their decision-making. Concordia never goes off like a loose cannon, which always seems to invalidate a heroine's intelligence and self-sufficiency to me when I read that in a book. Concordia also showed a lot of heart and integrity in how she protected the young girls in her care. I personally like heroines who believe in doing the right thing and helping those who have been oppressed, disenfranchised, or who are disadvantaged. Although Quick doesn't beat the reader over the head with the history of the Victorian times and how women were treated, especially orphans with no money or status, I could see that as the background for this story. I respected that although Concordia's parents shared one set of values, she didn't feel like she had to adopt their own values for herself when they obviously weren't valid or healthy to her.
Ambrose was a man of mystery and I liked that about him. I liked seeing how his background shaped his future and how he uses his skills to help people, even though he gets a personal high out of shadowy feats of espionage. It was clear that he fell for Concordia fast, but it was also organic how his feelings evolved with each moment he spent with her. I was rooting for Concordia to ask him to marry him, and I loved how he put that ball in her court because he knew she needed to have that sense of authority in her life.
The suspense and mystery elements were good. I didn't truly guess what was going on until the end. I thought things would go in one direction, but with the excellent plotting, Ms. Quick was able to bring the story to a resolution that made sense for the story.
This is my second read by Amanda Quick, Second Sight being the first. I liked Second Sight, but I really liked this one. I am glad I have several other books by Ms. Quick in my collection to read, and I will definitely avail myself of the Quick books on audio at the library when I can.
I do recommend this one on audio. The narrator adds so much to the charm and appeal of this book. Thumbs up from this reader.
Devil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intri...moreDevil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intriguing storyline that will keep me coming back to this series.
I loved how immersive this story was. I felt like I was in the Georgian period, where anything goes, if you have the money, power and status to make your own rules. With this background, the character have validity and their choices and motivations make sense. Whit is a hero that really sucked me in. He is not a good man, but he is a man that you want to be good, to make the right decisions in the end. I have to say that force of his personality pulled me right into this story. I found Whit very magnetic. Ms. Archer does an excellent joy of portraying the tug of war that Whit has between his good nature and his darker one. I don't think gambling was his vice in itself, but the desire to control fate and have power to manipulate fate and circumstances. Losing his family so young and becoming an Earl so early in his life gave him this vacuum inside, this feeling that he is being buffeted by fate, so that living on the knife's edge became the only valid lifestyle for himself. It's probable that he might have been a thrill-seeker, explorer or adventurer if he hadn't inherited his title. I found him quite fascinating as a character. I could see why Zora found him so irresistible and fell in love with him even though he's not a good man by any stretch. This aspect of the story, as well as the manner in which Archer establishes her story in the Georgian period reminds me of Anne Stuart, and that's always a good thing.
Zora was a great character. I loved her strong personality, her determination, her independent spirit, and that she doesn't give up on what is important to her. She always felt strange and disjointed in her Romani family and life, although she does value it. When the giorgo men show up in her camp, her eyes are drawn to Whit, and she can't look away. He compels her in a way no other man has. His obsession with her isn't one-sided at all. And she becomes the only means through which he can regain his soul back from the devil. Zora is a good woman, but she's also a vital, primal woman, not a plaster saint. It means that much more when she stands up for what is right when it is so easy to choose self and do what is wrong in the process.
When I read romance, I want the bond and the relationship between the characters to be meaningful, real, and deeply emotional. I felt all that with Whit and Zora. Although they share a very primal sexual attraction, there is also an intellectual connection, and an emotional bond. Zora could have walked away and left Whit to his fate, but she cared for him and wanted to help him get free from his devil's bargain; or she could have destroyed him when she realized that his actions might bring on the end of the world. But love kept her with him. As for Whit, although his actions towards Zora weren't honorable initially, he shows that she is very important to him, her love and her light keeps him grounded and gives him the strength to fight for his soul and to do the right thing. The love scenes are very sensual and well-written, and they fit very well into this intense story about dark passions and desires.
This series has gotten me hooked, probably from the first page. Ms. Archer promises to deliver forthcoming books that avoid being predictable, and where the main character could perhaps be the worst villain of all, if he chooses wrongly. I like that kind of risk-taking when I read a story, especially when it's well-written as Devil's Kiss is.
For this very enjoyable, well-written book, I have to give a rating of 4.5/5.0.
Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hopi...moreSynopsis
Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hoping that she might end up the wife of Alistair McKenna, a man she has been in love with most of her life. With the congenital malformation of her foot and her subsequent limp, she knows she's not the best choice for a bride, but her trust is in God to work everything out. To her surprise, her Uncle Henry arrives with news that her intended has turned her down as a bride and instead wishes to hire her as a governess for his orphaned niece, Erin Elyse. When Alistair arrives, she makes it clear that she has no desire to marry him anyway, especially with the hurt of his rejection and the fact that his brothers made her life miserable with their teasing when she was younger. Although hurt about the rejection, Geraldine clings to her faith in God, and trusts that this was his plan for her to be there to help this young girl, and to cherish any time she can spend near Alistair.
Alistair feels profound regret for hurting Geraldine with his rejection, when the truth is, he's been in love with her as well for many years. His reluctance to marry is not because of her, but because he doesn't think he'd be a good husband. He wants to make amends for hurting her, and seeks to draw closer to the God he has distanced himself from lately. Forces inside the McKenna home are working together to unite the two sweethearts in marriage, while at the same time a veiled threat lurks in the household with other plans for Alistair McKenna's future.
That Impossible Dream is a historical romance with an intrinsic Christian faith message. Geraldine is a young woman who has faced some significant obstacles, but relies on her faith in God to keep her strong and to keep her moving in the face of heartbreaking circumstances. I liked her character a lot. I found her encouraging, and her anguish at life's disappointments and her faith in the Lord helped to draw me into the story. Unfortunately, she was the only character who had a noteworthy impact on me as I read this book. Alistair was introduced too late in the story to grow attached to him, and the romance wasn't sufficiently developed for me to find it credible. I needed to see Geraldine and Alistair spend more time together in this story to become emotionally engaged in the love story between them.
Another issue was the heavy reliance on narrative, which didn't serve to advance the story. More dialogue and character interactions, particularly between the two leads, would have given this story much more impact. I actually felt like some less important characters got more screen time than the most pivotal ones. And characters who play a crucial role seemed not to have enough dialogue.
Lastly, there was a major pacing issue. It was as though the last fifteen pages included most of the action and wrap-up in this story. The suspense element felt like an afterthought because there was no buildup or gradual progression over the course of the story. The resolution occurred so quickly that it wasn't believable.
Overall, I was disappointed with That Impossible Dream. Although I liked Geraldine's character and I rooted for her happiness, I didn't find much more appealing about this novel. With more dialogue, better pacing, and more focus on the interactions between Geraldine and Alistair, I think this would have been a more satisfactory read.
This was a pleasant historical romance novel. I didn't have that spark of an unputdownable book, but certainly it was a nice way to spend a few hours....moreThis was a pleasant historical romance novel. I didn't have that spark of an unputdownable book, but certainly it was a nice way to spend a few hours.
This book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-no...moreThis book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-nonsense demeanor but still getting under his skin. I have to say I was very satisfied by this book. Deb Marlowe is going on my reading list now for sure. Her sense of time and place is excellent, but so much life and feeling in her writing, her characters.
Chloe found her way into my heart. I liked everything about her. I can see a little of myself in her, that determination to fix herself so that she could handle anything that comes her way. Her situation in this book called to me deeply. Her fear and loneliness. Her loving heart, and her keen mind to match. Her struggle to face and defeat her fears and climb out of that box she had created for safety, but had grown too big for, so that it was just constricting her overall growth as a person. I really loved her, cheering her strengths and feeling for her vulnerabilities. I wanted her to get her man, and I love that her strategy did exactly that. Not only did she get her man, she let him realize for himself that she was the right woman for him. What a savvy, lovable heroine!
I found Braedon absolutely lickable, warts and all. Big, vital, strong-minded, wounded, afraid to love. What a complex mix that made for a hero I fell head over heels for. Even when he frustrated me with his stubborn determination to cling to old thought patterns that no longer would keep him safe and certainly didn't bring happiness. I felt for him and understood why. His family would make anyone afraid to love and open one's heart. Deep down though, he was a man truly worthy of loving. Even if he didn't think so. Like us all, he faced some real challenges that he had to overcome in his relationships with others, including a young boy who enters his life and raises some old demons. But like a well-made sword, he comes out of the fire even stronger as the impurities are burned away.
As I said earlier, I loved the main storylines, but also the plot threads about Braedon being a collecter of ancient weaponry. It made sense on a deep, symbolic level that a man with his emotional wounds would build himself a citadel of safety full of sharp, protective weapons. In the process, he realizes that when a man walls himself in, he builds a prison as well as a fortress. Whereas, if he allows himself to trust and to love those who prove worthy, he is much more safe in the long run, even if that requires a step of faith and going out into the danger zone of the unknown frontiers of emotion. What a beautiful, meaning-filled message. I am trying to be more strict about five star reviews, but when a book touches me this way, I have to give it the highest rating.
People regularly put down Harlequin books. To each their own. For myself, some of the best and most meaningful books I have read have been written by authors in the Harlequin imprints. They might not be long or have the dubious honor of freedom from the "Harlequin title stigma", but they are hidden treasures all the same. This is one of those books. Definitely recommend it!(less)