I was first introduced to this novel during my attendance of the advanced writers’ workshop at the 2010 Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio. One of our instructors (author Mia Marlowe) continually referenced this book when explaining the key points in romance writing.
It took me two years to get around to reading Delicious by Sherry Thomas, but I have finally been able to pick it up and I have much to share about this novel.
Verity Durant is an infamous chef in both London and Paris. But her mouthwatering cuisine is not the only aspect of her life that has made her famous. Madame Durant is also well-known for her scandalous love affairs. After the passing of Bertie Somerset (master of Fairleigh Park and Verity’s former lover) she awaits the arrival of the new master, Bertie’s brother Stuart.
To Stuart, food is merely a means of survival and can in no way be enjoyed with great relish. Haunted by the night of passion he witnessed ten years ago, Stuart is unable to find zeal in anything other than his political campaign. That is, until he tastes the food prepared by Madame Durant. He soon lusts after her meals and the cook. But this lady of mystery has a secret that she wishes to remain hidden, a secret that could be the undoing of them both.
Delicious is a fun and tantalizing read. However, many aspects of this novel are downright unrealistic and just plain silly. The food and the love scenes are depicted in the most alluring way imaginable, making the reader hungry for chocolate custard and the loving of a hunky man.
If readers are able to overlook how unrealistic some of the events within this story are and the way that everything wraps up a little too neatly, this is a terrific read that will keep them on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Not to mention the incredible humor that is presented throughout the novel. There were actually moments (particularly the bath tub scene) where I actually found myself laughing heartily out loud.
Sherry Thomas nails the historic details in this novel as well as the setting, food facts, and love scenes that are so salacious that it will make your toes curl! Overall, Delicious is a unique, enthralling, convivial read that is sure to be a big hit with lovers of all romance genres....more
I can remember when I was a little girl and first read the story of Cinderella – I think most of us can. How tOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I can remember when I was a little girl and first read the story of Cinderella – I think most of us can. How the horribly treated cinder maid defeated her evil stepmother by marrying the handsome prince – *sigh* how romantic. Eloisa James has now taken this timeless classic and made it her very own with the debut in her new fairy tales series.
It all started with rats… well not exactly rats, but something similarly close. One small Maltese that turned Katherine Daltry’s world upside down and around. Though, we’ll get back to the rats… er dogs. Since Kate’s father died seven years ago, she’s been treated by her stepmother as nothing more than the help, instead of a lady of the Yarrow house that is her birth right. Marianna Daltry hasn’t exactly turned Kate into a maid, but she has moved her to the attic and fired most of the staff, making Kate pick up the slack. She also has no interest in the upkeep of what’s left of the tenants and instead uses Kate’s fathers money to buy unnecessary frivolous items. Kate can leave Yarrow house at anytime, but she fears what would become of the tenants and what’s left of the staff. So she stays and endures.
Victoria Daltry has had a slight mishap with feeding her dog, Ceasar, which couldn’t have come at a worse time. Marianna has concocted the perfect scheme (in her eyes), she needs Kate to pose as Victoria so she can marry Algernon Bennet who needs the approval of his uncle, The Prince of Marburg. It just won’t do for everyone to see Victoria in such a condition (with a reputation to uphold) and first impression is not only wanted, but needed. Now, because of the rat, Marianna forces Kate to take her sister Victoria’s place in meeting the Prince.
Prince Gabriel Augustus-Frederick William von Aschenberg of Warl-Marburg-Baalsfeld is in love with archeology and wants nothing more than to be sifting through the ruins of Carthedge. He doesn’t want to be at Pemeroy castle. He doesn’t want to be responsible for the family and staff his crazed brother, The Grand Duke, threw out of Marburg on the grounds of religious impurity. He also doesn’t want to meet Algie’s new bride or his own betrothed for that matter. He wants to be free to do as he wills, to dig in the dirt and uncover history. However, as much he doesn’t want to do all these things, honor bounds him to his responsibilities.
When Gabriel first meets Kate as Victoria, he thinks nothing much of his nephew’s new betrothed. He most certainly doesn’t see where the ton thinks of her as the seasons beauty. Kate has a similar negative reaction to the Prince. Though, while she thinks him an attractive man, it’s the air of arrogance that turn her off. Gabriel wants two things in a woman – biddable and bedable. He see’s neither in Kate, but there’s something about her that he can’t stay away from. With him knowing her as only Victoria and his future bride only a few days away from arriving, Gabriel tries his hardest to stay away from Kate, but fails miserably. Duty and honor are the only two things holding him back from the alluring Kate and Gabriel is finding it hard to live up to his position.
Kate is exactly how I always wanted my Cinderella to be – a fighter. She fights for what she believes in, what’s right and wrong. She fight’s her stepmother as much as she can in her position. She isn’t book smart, but she has made effort to be and she’s not lacking in common sense. Her sister Victoria isn’t the awful stepsister, but actually very sweet and caring. She’s never taken part in torturing Kate like Marianna does and that’s why Kate relents on going along with the crazy plan. Even the Prince is different from our perfect first. He’s arrogant, a little rude and brooding. It’s not until Kate really gets to know him that she finally understands his personality. Although his arrogance never really goes away, it becomes more playful and sexy.
A Kiss at Midnight is actually my first Eloisa James novel. The other girls at Paperback Dolls completely love her, so when we got the chance to review one of her novels, I jumped at the offer. The story is one we’ve all heard before, but the twists that Ms. James puts in are a welcomed change. Most of the novel takes place at Pemeroy, but I didn’t feel the least bit claustrophobic. Pemeroy is a very large castle, and Ms. James makes use of the grounds. My favorite character has got to be Henry, Kate’s “Godmother” This woman says exactly what’s on her mind. She’s a little vulgar for the times and completely self assured. It’s plain to see that she wants nothing but good things to come Kate’s way. She does everything in her power to make her comfortable and happy.
I took A Kiss at Midnight for exactly what it was, a fairy tale romance. I wanna say how important it is that I make it clear that this is a fairy tale and not a historical romance. Ms. James expresses this herself in the authors notes at the end. But anyone who reads this beautiful story will have no doubt about it. A Kiss at Midnight was romantic, sexy and funny and I myself am already more than ready for the next in this series, which I hear will be about Beauty and the Beast....more
In all my years of reading historical romance, I’ve never seen dyslexia addressed in any of them even though it probably existed then. I was surprised to see it surface here, but it was presented in a sympathetic manner making the character even more endearing.
Lord Blakeney (Blake) is cursed with what we now know as dyslexia, but during that particular time in history, he’s simply considered stupid. It’s hurtful to be ridiculed, but for a Duke’s son it’s even more so. How’s he supposed to command respect when people think he’s an idiot? Eventually he learns to read, but it’s a painfully slow process. He manages to get through school by paying a friend to do his homework, which leaves him susceptible to all sorts of nefarious plots.
Minerva is his complete opposite—serious and studious with no learning problems. Her parents encourage her to use her brain and form her own opinions…one of which happens to be that Blake is an idiot. She decides it’s bad enough to marry someone you don’t love, but to be saddled with an idiot is worse. Though she’s well educated, Minerva hasn’t learned much about compassion. Without taking the time to get to know Blake, she treats him like an imbecile and misses no opportunity to insult him. In return, he avoids showing any emotion around her, figuring if he doesn’t reveal weakness, there’s nothing for her to use against him.
After a while, I began to wonder if these two had any chance of making it at all, and I wanted to smack Minerva for being such a snooty, spoiled brat. I must admit, though, she did have some redeeming qualities, and I actually felt a little sorry for her when she thought Blake had a mistress.
When Blake’s father dies unexpectedly, he starts to depend on Minerva to keep the masses at bay long enough for him to mourn and take the reins of his father’s empire. Little by little, they come to realize there’s a spark between them that could flutter into a flame if given a chance. And they almost miss it.
This book had me fussing and fuming at Minerva for being an unfeeling, spoiled prima donna. Blake needed to trust someone, and in order to do so he had to let down his guard, but with her condescending attitude, it almost didn’t happen. It took some time for both of them to show character growth, but by the end of the book, I was a happy camper. ...more
I’m going to tell you right up front that I almost didn’t read this book because the ARC I had was missing chunks of the story and it was frustrating to try to piece it together. I’m so glad I gave it another shot, though, because it was so good I didn’t want it to end. Once I got past the first couple of missing sentences or paragraphs, I was able to glean enough from what I’d read to piece the rest of it together.
The cover blurb tells it all, but without the spirit and fire and emotion that’s woven throughout. Charlotte is determined to rescue her father with or without help. It’s just dumb luck that she ends up at Bryce’s feet…with a clear view of what’s under his kilt.
Thinking she’s a boy, he rescues her from getting arrested and now she’s his property. Laboring under the assumption that she is a he, Bryce is determined to make a decent man out of her. Charlotte/Charles is more than up for the task and can outdraw most men with her bow. Together, they make a formidable team, teaching each other valuable life lessons.
When she’s finally outed as a girl, Bryce is shocked then goes into macho protective mode, which is ridiculous considering she’s saved his hide more than once. She refuses to be intimidated into dropping her father’s rescue attempt, and eventually leaves Bryce behind. But like any hardheaded man in love, Bryce follows her.
A touching, funny ruse that morphs into a love story, A Warrior’s Promise will satisfy the historical and the contemporary romance reader. Plenty of action keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, and the solid bond of trust that develops between Charlotte/Charles and Bryce is the basis for the love that transpires later. I can’t wait for the next book in the series....more
Noa: I have to admit before beginning this review that I did not read the first book in the new Smythe-Smith quartet series. I do know who the Smythe-Smith’s are… I loved reading about the annual musicales in the Bridgerton series, and I always felt awful for those poor girls with their lack of musical talent, I was really looking forward to reading a series that focused on them. Sadly, I think my growing TBR pile made me miss out on Just Like Heaven. So I’m really happy I got a chance to review A Night Like This…
Kitt, I know you are a major Bridgerton fan, did you read Just Like Heaven, were you looking forward to the next installment?
Kitt: Like you, I totally missed its debut! I had no idea that Just Like Heaven even existed. I don’t know what happened, because like you mentioned, I’m a huge Bridgerton fan (you can read my review of the series here) and was really looking forward to a series from the Smythe-Smith family point-of-view.
It’s unfortunate that we both failed to read Just Like Heaven, though, because it appears we missed out on quite a bit. Apparently when A Night Like This starts, it’s in the midst of Just Like Heaven’s ending and we’re seeing a major scene from two new, different points-of-view.
Noa: True Kitt, but I do have to add, while the first chapter does involve scenes from Just Like Heaven – the rest of the book does stand on its own. Do you agree?
Kitt: Oh totally! Besides feeling a little pang of regret for not reading the first – you know how obsessive I am about reading a series in order – I had no trouble following the characters or the story.
Noa: So, what do we have in A Night Like This? One governess for the Pleinsworth cousins of the Smythe-Smith family, one prodigal son returning after years abroad, an awful musicale and almost immediate attraction… Kitt, what do you think of the book’s main characters?
Kitt: I completely adored them both! Daniel Smythe-Smith is the eldest son, Earl of Winstead, Viscount Streathermore, Baron Touchton of Stoke – my word, the names! – and he has just returned home to England after three years of forced exile do to a drunken night between friends wherein he accidentally shot a Marquess son. When we first meet him, he seems young and frivolous, but the years abroad change him. His focus has found new avenues, family means more to him, and he’s taking his responsibilities more seriously now. The way he goes about catching Miss Wynter is completely swoon worthy. From the very first moment he lays eyes on her, he has to have her and what made me the happiest is that he never strays away or falters in his determination.
Miss Anne Wynter has a huge secret that keeps her at arm’s length even more so than the average governess. Her past is truly heart-wrenching, but it’s made her stronger and more resilient for it. I like her playful and witty attitude along with how she fights instead acting like a swooning debutante. It did surprise me, though, that she wasn’t more wary of Daniel’s intentions when she finds herself once again in a similar predicament regardless of his perseverance. What did you think of the Earl of Winstead and Miss Wynter?
Noa: I really liked Ms. Wynter, like you said, she fights back and doesn’t just lie down and take things. I also like that Julia Quinn put her in a happy household rather than many books where the stories have a Cinderella feel. Though, I guess she did have her share of bad positions, both as companion and governess in previous homes she worked in.
As for Daniel, I thought he was lovely – a perfectly upstanding young man who is a good brother, a loving son and cousin and who, like you said, realizes he has responsibilities.
So, what was the problem you might ask? It did reach a point where I felt Daniel was acting less than honorable. She’s a governess…he has to realize the problems. His cousin warns him, his aunt warns him…and what does he do? Ignore them. I really found myself disliking him at one point in the book. Especially knowing what we come to learn about Ms Wynter. And like you Kitt, I felt Ms. Wynter should have been a bit more wary of Daniel. I guess what I’m saying is – I needed a bit more story in order to believe that the romance was real and not just a member of the aristocracy trying to seduce the help.
Kitt: I’m totally going to have to agree with you, I’m not the hugest fan of cross-class coupling myself. It seems highly unfair to the poor party – which is usually the woman – that the gentry has even more power over them – which is almost always the man. Not to mention, I really don’t see this as something that would have actually taken place. I will give Miss Anne Wynter some credit though. She’s a governess which holds a significant higher position than the maid.
Noa: I agree, though there have been books where I really enjoyed it, I just felt that in this case their meeting and everything that followed was a bit rushed. I needed “more” to happen between them for it to be believable. What do you think?
Kitt: Actually, I didn’t get the feeling of it being rushed at all, but yet I do still see what you mean. I think it would have helped considerably to see just a little more intimacy between the two of them in some form or another – and not just in the smexing department.
Noa: Lol! The smexing was nice ;) I think Julia Quinn excels at writing a humorous love story, and A Night Like This delivered in that department. It just needed that extra “something”.
Kitt: The smexing was nice. But it seems to me, though, that I enjoyed A Night Like This a smidgeon more than you did. Overall, I thought it was a good showing from Ms. Quinn. I like her style and the humor she adds to each of her stories. She continues to demonstrate why readers flock to her books. I ended up reading A Night Like This in one afternoon and it has me eagerly rushing to find out what I missed in Just Like Heaven.
Noa: Oh, I did enjoy it Kitt, and like you, I really wanted to find out what I missed in Just Like Heaven, but I can’t say this was my favorite Julia Quinn book. She writes such fantastic heroes (and heroines) and Daniel just had a tough act to follow. Of course, I’m now dying to know what happens next… who will the next Smythe-Smith heroine be? ;)...more
I requested Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal completely on a whim. I was looking for something light hearted and fOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I requested Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal completely on a whim. I was looking for something light hearted and fun after all the heavier reads I’ve been devouring lately. As the second in Grace Burrowes The Duke’s Daughters series (or the fifth in her long running Windham series) about the Duke of Morland’s daughters, Ms. Burrowes drew me in from the very first page.
Lady Maggie Windham is the illegitimate, but much loved eldest daughter of His Grace, Percy Windham. She’s a strong, clever, and self-reliant woman, but riddled with self-doubt due to her by-blow and marital status.
Mr. Benjamin Hazlit is in the business of secrets and shadows. An investigator of sorts for the ton finding all things lost or missed placed and ferreting out information. However, that very same skill set has him kept at arm’s length from his own clientele for fear of what he may find out about them.
Ms. Windham and Mr. Hazlit share something in common, though – they both have a secret life. Their paths cross often at Maggie’s father home, but it isn’t until something precious goes missing do these two really have more of a chance to get to know one another when Maggie seeks Ben out for his services.
Sadly, I haven’t read any of the previous books in these series and I really wish I had. There is so much back-story not told or alluded to, that I feel I missed out by not going in order. Those interested, I suggest that you start with “The Heir”. One thing that is truly fabulous – and that I absolutely love – is that Ms. Burrowes has interwoven her whole series with minor characters that will have you longing to learn more.
There was one main major hiccup for me, however, something I just couldn’t wrap my head around – the story of Ben’s secret life. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but he is more than the face he shows high society and I just don’t understand how someone of his status and station could have hidden it for very long, if at all, from the likes of the ton – people who have nothing to do, but be in each others business. Not to mention, that he has sisters. Sisters that surely had to have a come out at some point since they are both married. In fact, his sisters situations puzzled me even more. Either I missed what happened from previous books or it isn’t explained very well at all. I’m thinking more the latter than the former.
Overall, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal is a light, delightfully told unconventional love story between two passionate and family oriented characters. Both Maggie and Ben are relatable in their insecurities as well as their longings. I found it to be both an emotionally driven and humorous read that not only satisfied my craving for romance, but did it without being too sugary....more
Minerva Highwood is a geologist at a time when it’s a forbidden occupation for women. That isn’t all that’s forbidden to her…Lord Payne also falls into that category. In her mother’s estimation, he’s reserved for her much nicer, much prettier sister, Diana.
Bespectacled, intelligent, and socially inept Minerva discovers a fossil belonging to an heretofore undiscovered species of giant reptile. Determined to leave her mark on the world, she secretly enlists the aid of Lord Colin Payne to escort her to the Royal Geological Society symposium in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Lord Payne is attracted to Minerva, but he’s stuck in this Godforsaken castle until his birthday….or until he marries. Then he can claim and manage his own life. Until that time, he’s at the mercy of his cousin, Lord Rycliff. He’s also at the mercy of his personal demons.
After witnessing the brutal deaths of his parents at the age of eight, he’s haunted by nightmares and the memories of abuse by his fellow classmates.
As a child, Minerva was considered stupid until someone realized she needed glasses. To compensate for years of feeling stupid, she threw herself into books of all kinds completely shutting out the rest of the world.
How can two such emotionally crippled people possibly work together long enough to get to Scotland? It’s not easy, but bit by bit, mile by mile, they discover unknown strengths in the other that help offset their own weaknesses. They also discover a weakness for each other.
Tessa Dare is one of my favorite authors. Her characters come alive on the page, displaying all the foibles that make them live and breathe. I caught myself rooting for the unlikely couple to make it to Edinburgh, help each other, and find the love they both deserved. At turns, funny and sad, this is a tale that will have you cheering Minerva and Colin on and hissing the naysayers....more
I have a confession to make. I’m really on the fence about this book and I hate that. On one hand, it had all the right ingredients for a topnotch historical romance, but on the other, it missed the mark.
The characters were sometimes mere shadows of themselves, while the protagonist, Emily, often seemed bi-polar. I looked for more depth in the former romantic relationship as well as in Emily’s sisters, but it kept slipping away, never quite taking shape. Francis was a man tormented, yet it never seemed quite real.
The story is set in England in 1811, still a somewhat prudish time; however, at one point the author has Emily and Francis waltzing close together, which we all know simply wasn’t done. Not only that, but while she’s attending a ball, Emily’s white knuckles are mentioned…when it’s generally accepted that women didn’t appear in public at that time with bare hands. Another point that bothered me was the author’s reference to Francis turning off the light as opposed to extinguishing the lamp or candle. In my mind, I kept seeing this man in breeches flipping a light switch. Needless to say, it totally pulled me out of the story.
Emily would have been better served by eliminating half the inner dialogue and sharpening the prose. The reader is smart enough to complete some actions on their own without detailing everything. For instance, if, during a conversation about someone named Dave, I were to say, “He is the noblest man I know,” you could correctly assume I meant Dave. Such was not the case in this book. References were detailed to the point they became annoying and I wanted to shout, “Yes, I get it!” And unless the color of a ribbon has some bearing on the story, I don’t give a flip about it the first time much less the other dozen or so that it’s mentioned.
Anyone who’s read my previous reviews knows that I love books of all kinds, and I can usually find something redeeming in nearly everything I read. I’m sorry to say this was the proverbial straw for me. I truly believe Ms. Barnes has great potential as evidenced by the imaginative premise of the story, but unfortunately, she’s not there yet. Even more disturbing is the fact that the editor let the story ramble and thereby risked alienating future readers. ...more
The fact that we have been celebrating Month of Love on Paperback Dolls means that I’ve gotten to read my share of romances in February. Heroes and heroines galore! And before I get to my review of A Rogue by Any Other Name I need to mention another story I read just before A Rogue.
It too was a story of revenge, of a hero seeking justice for wrongs done to him in his youth or in his childhood, where vengeance has become the very thing that feeds his every move… The hero had every right to seek justice, could have had all my sympathy, and yet, he didn’t. I just couldn’t connect with him. And, as I mentioned to Kitt, I was really more interested in finding out what had happened to his brothers…
Then I picked up Sarah MacLean’s A Rogue by Any Other Name.
In A Rogue we meet the Marquess of Bourne – a young man who had everything and who lost it all on the turn of a card – to his guardian Viscount Langford. The public humiliation and loss of his entire fortune, including the ancestral lands, meant he could not show his face in good society.
Lady Penelope Marbury was Bourne’s childhood friend and neighbor, when he went away to school and she was left behind, they kept in touch through letters wherever he was. But after his parents died, he stopped answering her letters. (Each chapter opens with one of these letters and it was a lovely way to show the special connection these two had growing up).
Now, years later, Penelope is on the shelf (more on why in Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart) and in a desperate attempt to get her off said shelf, her father offers up something to sweeten the deal – the land around Bourne’s home as her dowry.
And Bourne? Well, he’s made his fortune from a gambling hell and while he doesn’t need Penelope’s money or dowry – he wants that land and will do anything to get it. Including marrying Penelope – by any means necessary.
See, in this story we also have a hero, who has made revenge the one goal of his life – get his land back, and crush the man who took it from him. And even though I found the reason Bourne was seeking revenge to be a bit lacking – I felt a lot of sympathy for his character and found him to be a much more interesting and multifaceted character than “the other vengeance book”. He was just that well written., the reader, even if she (being me) doesn’t agree with Bourne’s reasons can sympathize with his plight, and that made me understand why Penelope did.
In Penelope I found a heroine like those I’ve come to expect from MacLean – Smart, witty, knows what she wants and finally finding the courage to go out and get it. She was crushed by the circumstances surrounding her broken engagement and now feels that she’s not good enough in some way, that she’s unworthy. She has stood by as two of her sisters married men who aren’t exactly shining examples of what husbands should be – and she blames herself for failing her family. Penelope still has two unmarried sisters and refuses to be the one to stand in their way of a happy marriage.
Well, then she meets Bourne. Again. And yes, she does think the man (boy) she used to know is still in there somewhere but she is also actually realistic. This story could have gone both ways – it could have been a bit too soppy, another heroine who just won’t give up on a hero not really worth saving – but Penelope saved the story from going down that path.
And yes, Bourne was a bit of a so-and-so, revealed in it really, but you could see as the story progressed exactly where that attitude came from.
Moreover, whenever Bourne is being a bit of a “drama queen” – Penelope calls him out on it and refuses to back down. Which means there is plenty of what I have come to love about Sarah MacLean’s books – characters that communicate with each other and no silly misunderstandings. These romances are about the couple and their road to love and a healthy relationship. And there is plenty of that in A Rogue.
This is the first in a series about the owners of the Fallen Angel gambling hell and each of the characters introduced is extremely intriguing, so I’m very really looking forward to finding out about the next instalments…Though I have to say, I do wish A Rogue gave just a little bit more information on Bourne’s time between losing his fortune and becoming the wealthy businessman. It would have helped to better understand his character and motivations.
A Rogue by Any Other Name was a great addition to Maclean’s Historical Romance offerings and just goes to show, great writing can make you like even the biggest rogues....more
Noa gave Trouble at the Wedding 5 stars. Kitt gave Trouble at the Wedding 3 stars.
Kitt: Last Month of Love, Noa and I reviewed the first two novels in Laura Lee Guhrke’s Abandoned at the Alter series (which you can find here if you’re interested) and now we’re back to review the third, Trouble at the Wedding. This time around it should be a little more interesting though, because while I found the series latest release to be somewhat lacking, Noa really loved it.
Noa: It’s fun how the third in the series is the one we disagree on, we’ve usually agreed when it comes to romance novels. I really loved this book, I loved the heroine, the hero, and most of all, I loved how every single time I thought the book was headed for a tried and true romance cliché, Ms. Guhrke turned the tables and surprised me. But before we continue, maybe we should share the book’s premise…
Kitt: I’ve got this! Trouble at the Wedding takes place in 1904, half aboard the Atlantic and half in London. Annabel Wheaton is an American heiress looking for her way into Society through marriage. Normally, I don’t like social climber heroines, but Annabel is doing it for a slightly different and altogether altruistic reason which makes her ambitions less disingenuous in my eyes.
Noa: I’ll add that I don’t usually like the social climbers either, though I am a fan of the Buccaneers, I guess it bothers me less when you remember girls didn’t have much of a choice, and in this case, Annabel really does have some altruistic reasons.
Kitt: I remember, I remember and it is possible I’m still a teensy bit jaded by a resent read of another social climber, but that’s for another review, another time. Now let me finish! :p Where was I? Oh yes, when we meet Annabel, she’s already found the man who is going to make all her dreams happen in the Earl of Rumsford. This arrangement works both ways, because while Annabel needs a tittle, the Earl needs money. Not everyone is thrilled with this union, though. Annabel’s uncle Arthur has been doing his best to thwart the wedding to no avail, but then he gets this brilliant idea for the rakish Duke of Scarborough, Christian De Quesne, to talk Annabel out of a life he thinks she isn’t ready for.
I personally found this premise a little uninteresting compared to Ms. Guhrke's previous releases in this series. The first part of Trouble at the Wedding goes smoothly and at a steady pace, but it’s too unmatched for my taste, because on one hand it felt like it took too long for the prevention of the wedding to happen, and then on the other, it felt as if Christian and Annabel aren’t given enough time. And while the lust is pretty high, it’s after the initial buildup that the romance just turned into another one of those “I can’t marry you because you don’t love me” romances that so frustrate me. After a while everything just feels a little too forced and then events happen because they’re needed to move the characters in the right position instead of a more natural transition. But more on that later, Noa, what did you think of the plot?
Noa: Ok, so it really seems like this one is going to be complete disagreement ;) I actually thought the premise was fun, starting out in NY, the book then moves to the high seas and then on to England – Christian never expected to be the Duke of Scarborough, but with his father and big brother dead, and the family pile (and the pile of debt that comes with it) now his, he has to make some changes in his life, but due to his own past, he refuses to take the easy way out by marrying money. He has his eye on a business venture and needs to find an “in” … which is how he gets mixed up in trying to talk Annabel out of her marriage. I thought the book moved at a steady pace, I do understand where you might have felt things were a bit drawn out, but I actually liked the way things unfolded on the romance front. But Kitt, I want to know, what did you think of our hero and heroine?
Kitt: Believe it or not I actually really liked our heroine. Annabel is a rags to riches Southern Belle. Yes, she has beauty, but she also has smarts, wit and a healthy amount of stubbornness that she utilizes to her advantage whether it is in business or matrimony. She’s also one of the few heroines that I’ve come across to have her own money – not her parents or her brothers, but hers. The problem is that now she no longer belongs back home in the back waters of Mississippi, but neither does she feel like she belongs to the high society she now finds herself in. The number one thing she longs for – and something I think we all can relate to – is acceptance.
As for Christian De Quesne (it’s Du Cane, in case you wondering), he’s a notorious rake and gambler struggling to adjust to the new role he never thought to find himself in as a second son. Also, he’s been married once before… to another American heiress. His story really bothers me and his actions do very little to comfort me. He married his first wife for her money and when she was at her lowest, he was off gambling with her money in France. I find it extremely hard to find sympathy for his plight of the dukedoms dwindling funds when he was doing the exact same thing his brother did. What did it matter that his brother was the duke at the time? And saying that his youth was to blame is a weak and inexcusable excuse – that’s what is you know, an excuse. But I’m sure you saw him differently, what did you think of the roguish Duke of Scarborough?
Noa: First of all, I agree about Annabel, she was a fun gutsy heroine who wasn’t afraid to go out and get what she wanted – loved how she got her vengeance on her so called sweetheart! Yet she has this vulnerability that makes us as readers empathize. She isn’t hard the way many gutsy heroines are written.
As for Christian, I get where you’re coming from but… I disagree :p he does not justify his actions with his first wife, if anything, they are the reason he is so adamantly against marrying for money. Was he perfect? No. But that would make him a bit boring. I loved how in Annabel he saw a way to make up for some of his mistakes, he sought to make her realize she didn’t have to change, that to me is awesome.
I have to get to my favorite part of the story, I mentioned it before: the lack of clichés. This is what really made this book a fun read for me. Every time I thought the book was headed in a “not that again” direction, Ms. Guhrke swerved and surprised me.
I just had so much fun with Annabel and Christian, I think what I really wanted was more time. More time of them together, more time for him to explain his motivations to Annabel… I didn’t want it to end.
Kitt: Ah, we are in agreement, but our views of the situation are different. I, too, recognized his motives behind his not wanting to marry, not only to Annabel, but ever again regardless of wealth. The problem was that I didn’t feel Christians love towards Annabel, but instead his determination to do the right thing felt more to me like atonement for his first wives suicide. At first, yes, I could see him unknowingly falling for Annabel, but somewhere around the second half, it changed or he changed and instead, it felt more like he was trying to convince himself into love to make the new situation he found himself in easier.
I just wanted, and again like you, more – more time of them together, more time for him to explain his motives to Annabel, and more time for him to fall in love. So, while I didn’t enjoy this books story as much as the first two, I didn’t completely hate it either. Trouble at the Wedding is one I would recommend those who are interested to find out and decide for themselves.
Noa: I think this book ties for me with the second book in the Abandoned at the Alter series - Scandal of the Year. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait for the next installment in the series...wherever it takes us....more
I have a confession to make. This is my very first pirate romance novel. When I first came across Shana Galen’s The Rogue Pirate’s Bride I instantly thought of those Harlequin ‘bodice ripper’ romance novels that came out in the early 90’s with Fabio Lanzoni on the cover. And not even exactly what they are, but more along the lines of what I thought they would be like considering I haven’t read one of those either. However, it’s always a pleasure to be proven so completely wrong.
Matter of fact, I wish there were more heroines like Raeven Russell in our Regency romances. Raeven is the daughter of a British Admiral and has been living with her father on his ship since she was four years old. I suppose that living on a ship doesn’t just help her possess all the things we hope for in our heroines, but gave her the practice to own them in a society that expects the quit and demure. Never the less, Raeven is a spitfire. She’s spunky, cocky, out spoken, resourceful and smart. When she wants something, she goes out and grabs it.
She had the object raised! Damn him if she wasn't going to strike again!
But he had his hand wrapped around her wrist now, and he twisted it violently. She cried out, and he muttered, "Drop it."
The black sea was fading now, and he was able to focus on her face. It was set in a stubborn expression, those green eyes flashing like the ocean during a tempest. He tightened his grip and saw her jaw clench, but she didn't drop the candlestick she held.
Merde. The thing was brass and had to weight two pounds. She really did want to kill him. Anger shot through him as his head throbbed again, and he wrenched her arm. The little hellion held on, so he pushed her up against the door, slamming it closed in the process.
Her eyes were watering with pain now, but she still held the candlestick. "Drop it."
"No!" The word was barely a breath.
He shook his head. "Mon Dieu! Are you always this stubborn?"
"Some might call it persistence," she grit out.
This is why Captain Cutlass –also known as a privateer, rogue, and Sebastian Harcourt, marquis de Valére– is in so much trouble. Raeven is hunting him down and she doesn’t plan to stop until she kills him for his murderous pirating ways, regardless if she dies in the process. She believes he has killed her young fiancé for no other reason than the glory, but we come to find this isn't how Cutlass operates. He's far too honorable for that. An honorable pirate? Raeven can't believe it, it's not possible.
However, Sebastian has his own problems. He’s searching the seas high and low for his enemy, Jourdain, for the murder of his mentor. At first, like Bastian, I found Raeven to be a kin to a gnat that just won’t stop buzzing around. But she grows on you when you learn what she’s really all about. Bastian eventually keeps her, half by sheer circumstance and half because I believe he can’t bare to let her go. He finds her entertaining, unbelievably alluring and something of an enigma. Definitely not the kind of woman he was use to seeing. The rogue himself is smooth, charming with a broody mixture of the dark and mysterious. Did I mention that he was unbelievably good looking and French? I think I’m in love.
One of my favorite scenes for Raeven:
Something zipped past him and struck the man with enough force to cause him to drop his pistol and clutch his abdomen. Bastien had a moment to look behind him and saw his cabin girl, his beautiful cabin girl, standing there with arm out stretched. He'd known she'd be accurate with that dagger.
and one right before my favorite scene for Bastien (you'll have to read to find out how it ends):
"I-I’m not going to take off my clothes.”
Since she didn’t appear likely to take it, he set her wine on the desk. “No? Then why are you here? And don’t tell me it’s simply to retrieve your sword.”
She clamped her mouth closed.
“You could have had another sword made.”
She cocked her head to the side. “Why do you think I’m here then?”
He shrugged, drank some wine. “Me.” He looked pointedly at the large berth.
She laughed. “Oh, really? You have a rather high opinion of yourself.”
He sat down behind the desk, lifted his glass to examine the red wine in the candlelight. “You went to a lot of trouble to see me again. Perhaps my arrogance isn’t entirely misplaced.”
Over all, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride is a swashbuckling good time. There’s tension, lies, deceit, action, adventure, passion, witty dialogue, lust, love and romance – all the ingredients to keep you up until the wee hours of the night. The characters are scrumptiously refreshing, and one is sorry to see them go off to their well-deserved happily ever after. Shana Galen writes a fun, vivid story in this third installment of The Sons of the Revolution series that will keep you turning those pages. I have not read either of the two previous books in the series about Bastien's brothers: The Making of a Duchess and The Making of a Gentleman, but I had no trouble following the storyline and events. I for one am ready for the next. Right now....more