I'm always surprised and delighted to be able to add another HR author to my list of "likes." Joanna Shupe managed to take one of my least favorite roI'm always surprised and delighted to be able to add another HR author to my list of "likes." Joanna Shupe managed to take one of my least favorite romance premises (lovers torn apart for years by a stupid misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a 5-minute conversation) and use it to craft a romance that I enjoyed despite myself.
Ladies in Regency romances are always going on about the potential for scandal and ruination, but despite all the sexy shenanigans that happen on-page, the much-feared social consequences rarely appear, at least not in a way that has much meaning for the characters. That's not the case for Maggie, a.k.a. "the Half-Irish Harlot"--she was seen fleeing the scene of an attempted sexual assault the year of her debut, and Society was happy to condemn her as a loose woman. Despite her hasty marriage to a man old enough to be her father, whispers and rumors have followed her ever since. Now, a decade later, her husband is dead and Maggie is still the "Half-Irish Harlot," delighting in shocking the Ton with scandalous parties...and secretly holding a grudge against her former BFF and crush, Simon Barrett, Earl of Winchester.
A rising star in the House of Lords, there are whispers that Simon will be prime minister one day...if only he can get the reclusive artist Lemarc to stop lampooning him as "Lord Winejester" with popular satirical cartoons. His hunt for Lemarc leads him to Maggie, the woman he wanted to marry before her perfidious nature was revealed. Despite their misgivings, the two find themselves drawn to one another as strongly as ever, and they must find a way to forgive each other's past sins if they want to live happily ever after.
Despite a few flaws (is it just me or do HR heroes always manage to side-step the issue of making actual, sincere apologies to the women they hurt?), this book was a steamy page-turner that I couldn't put down, and I'm excited to read more from Joanna Shupe.
Thanks to Kensington and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy....more
I read this a month and a half ago and remember nothing about it except that Jane waited a really long time for this dude to get his shit together andI read this a month and a half ago and remember nothing about it except that Jane waited a really long time for this dude to get his shit together and ask her to marry him, and he was an idiot about it from beginning to end. Many eye rolls were committed before he finally saw reason. The end....more
Usually I find Eileen Dreyer's heroines wonderful and her heroes abysmal. This time, she seems to have split the difference and I just kind of shruggeUsually I find Eileen Dreyer's heroines wonderful and her heroes abysmal. This time, she seems to have split the difference and I just kind of shrugged my shoulders at them both. Meh. Chuffy and Mairead were ADORABLE though; I kind of wish the book had been focused on them.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Forever for providing me with a review copy....more
This book sucked me in and I found myself weirdly fascinated. I didn't really like the characters much, but their situation and interactions3.5 stars.
This book sucked me in and I found myself weirdly fascinated. I didn't really like the characters much, but their situation and interactions were so bizarre that I just kept on flipping pages through to the end.
When the book opens, the Duke of Marwick has ensconced himself in his rooms following the death of a wife who, he discovered after the funeral, had betrayed him time and again. He hasn't emerged for months. His servants are terrified of him and don't dare to do more than bring him meals, but they're enjoying having the run of the house and slacking on the job since the man never emerges from his bedroom. Enter Olivia Mather, who finagles her way into a housekeeper position in the duke's home in order to steal valuable intelligence in an attempt to rid herself of a man who seems to want her dead. She didn't expect to find a household in such dire need of a strong hand at the reins, and she certainly didn't expect to find herself liking the volatile, reclusive duke.
They fight, they banter, they bicker. Things are thrown. Bookcases are erected and overturned. Olivia finds herself falling for the duke, but with her own betrayal all but inevitable as soon as she finds the documents she's looking for, she knows she can't let anything happen between them.
Considering that most of this book takes place inside the duke's home, it was pretty entertaining. Marwick/Olivia was like a train wreck I couldn't look away from. Their interactions were supremely entertaining, and I loved how incredulous and exasperated they both were at the behavior of the other. Marwick: Doesn't this woman understand that I AM A DUKE and must be obeyed? Olivia: Doesn't this man understand that he needs to freaking LEAVE HIS ROOMS so I can search them for blackmail material and leave this bizarro house ASAP?
Not as much plot as I prefer in my fiction, but the character dynamics weren't ones you see every day, and that helped make up for it....more
Gretchen's father died when she was young, taking bullets meant for his old friend from the war, Adolf Hitler. Ever since, Gretchen has been the "littGretchen's father died when she was young, taking bullets meant for his old friend from the war, Adolf Hitler. Ever since, Gretchen has been the "little sunshine" of her "Uncle Dolf," a frequent guest of Herr Hitler and the well-known darling of the National Socialist Party. But when a mysterious young journalist--a Jewish journalist--appears claiming that her father's death wasn't as straightforward as she has been told, Gretchen soon finds herself doubting Uncle Dolf, his past, and his plans for Germany's future.
When I saw the description for this book, I was so, so hoping that it would have the same sort of depth and emotional resonance as Code Name Verity. Alas, this book fell flat for me.
What I hoped for was a girl struggling to cope with the idea that the propaganda she's been fed at Hitler's knee for her whole life might not be truthful, that Jewish people might be actual humans deserving of respect and equal treatment, that maybe, just maybe the National Socialist Party isn't the best thing for Germany. I hoped for a historical thriller full of danger and daring. I hoped for a mistrustful, tentative, slowly growing romance between the Aryan darling Gretchen and the outspoken-but-afraid Jewish boy Daniel.
What I got was Daniel telling Gretchen that "you're different from the others" because he saw her stop her brother from beating a helpless Jewish man to death. (Which she did, mind you, because Hitler frowned on street fighting because he thought it made the Party look bad, and also because she had never seen violence--or a Jewish dude--up close. Not because she fancied herself a defender of innocent Jews.) I saw Daniel immediately trusting and freaking inviting into the home he shared with two younger cousins one of Hitler's closest companions whom he had no reason to trust. I saw Gretchen shedding her beliefs as easily as she chopped off her hair.
I got an author making clumsy comparisons between Gretchen's Evil with a capital "E" sociopath brother and Hitler, a veritable SS and SA name-drop-fest, and friendships with Eva Braun and Geli Raubal that could have been meaningful but were instead just more historical figure cameo fun times.
I got a protagonist who was overall reactive instead of proactive, and who just kind of went with the flow. I got stakes that managed to feel really freaking low in pre-WWII Germany surrounded by Hitler and his cronies WTF how is that even possible?
In short, I got nothing that I hoped for and a lot of things I actively do not like in my fiction. It could have been worse--there was nothing I was truly offended by here--but I wanted it to be so, so much better....more