Adeline Hays is on the verge of marriage to an odious man; this marriage is not something that she wants buOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Adeline Hays is on the verge of marriage to an odious man; this marriage is not something that she wants but something her father has arranged. To escape this unwanted marriage, Adel decides a compromising is in order, only she compromises herself with the wrong man! Instead of finding her way into the room of her preferred suitor, Adel finds herself in the arms of Edmond Rochester, the duke of Wolverton. I do love a "compromised" theme in my historical romance and Accidentally Compromising the Duke delivers just that.
While neither Adel nor Edmond thought to marry each other, after all they didn't even know each other, they both decide to make the best of the situation. For Adel, this is because her former suitor is scandalized by Adel's actions, and for Edmond, he'll take any wife since he simply needs a mother for his daughters. Unbeknownst to Adel, Edmond has no intention of making Adel his wife in truth, instead wanting theirs to be a white marriage. Sadly for Edmond, Adel has absolutely no intention of letting him off the hook, especially as she learns more about her intriguing and attraction new husband.
Accidentally Compromising the Duke is a fun historical romance featuring one of my favourite tropes. I loved the fact that Adel is initially reluctant to accept Edmond's marriage proposal because, you know, she just met the man. From there, the author spends a good deal of time allowing for Adel to get to know her new husband, which leads to a more realistic romance between them. Edmond in particular has a lot of issues with his new marriage, and it's his past with his deceased wife that adds drama to their budding romance. Edmond's first wife died in childbirth and it's not something that Edmond wants to go through again.
While Edmond's inner turmoil about his first wife's death and his attraction towards his new wife brings tension to the romance, Edmond's insistence on maintaining a specific marriage dynamic of his choosing was a little over the top. I felt that Edmond held on to his notions about what his new marriage should be like for too long. When the unexpected happens, Edmond takes off leaving Adel when she needs him most. I'm not opposed to the action, but I would have a liked a deeper exploration of the ultimate resolution between Edmond and Adel. Edmond had his reasons for maintaining his distance from Adel and it felt to me that these reasons were overcome a little too quickly and continued to be a problem for a little too long.
If you too enjoy a good old fashioned compromised tale, Accidentally Compromising the Duke is sure to appeal. The characters are appealing and the drama between the couple will keep you engaged until the very end....more
Elizabeth Sloane is a well-bred socialite; however, as readers soon discover, there's more to Elizabeth th Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Elizabeth Sloane is a well-bred socialite; however, as readers soon discover, there's more to Elizabeth than fashion, gossip, and social calls. Elizabeth is looking for more out of life than her station offers. Instead, Elizabeth wants to open her own stock trading company, in part, due to the fact that her brother's company appears to be in trouble, and also because she wants to put her brain to work. When her brother denies her wish to open shop, Elizabeth approaches Emmett Cavanaugh, a rich and powerful figure that rose from the slums of Five Points to Fifth Avenue. Little does Elizabeth know that Emmett is no friend of her brothers and decides to help her open her company for reasons of his own.
Initially, Elizabeth and Emmett conspire to create a business partnership; however, private dinners and conspiring family members soon transform this arrangement into a compromising situation. One hasty wedding later, Elizabeth and Emmett are unhappily wed. There is an attraction between them, but multiple misunderstanding on the part of both parties work against the couple. At least, until a snow storm rolls into town...As an avid reader of the historical romance genre, it's refreshing to change the setting every once in awhile. In Magnate, readers are taken to New York in 1887 and immersed in the doings of high society. Since the bulk of my historical romance reading tends to be across the pond, Magnate was a refreshing read based on the setting alone. And the author does a really good job at using this setting to it's full advantage. Shupe includes tons of details about life in the Gilded Age New York, and this worked to create a heightened sense of place that isn't always present in the historical romance genre.
Apart from the setting, the characters were also compelling. I'm a sucker for the whole "compromised" trope and the author uses to complicate the relationship between Elizabeth and Emmett. There's a lot of turmoil on the part of both Elizabeth and Emmett after they've been forced to marry. Each questions the other's true thoughts about the marriage, which leads to a lot of misunderstanding between them. At times, I found the reliance on misunderstandings to be a touch tedious, but on the whole, it developed the relationship between Emmett and Elizabeth quite nicely.
Magnate marks the start of a great new series from this author. The characters are interested and developed and the sense of time and place are used as more than window dressing. If you're a fan of the "compromised" trope at all, Magnate is a must read....more
Luck is No Lady is a historical romance that I was looking forward to because, hey, gambling den!
Emma Chadwick is a woman in dire straights. She's threatened by a moneylender that her father was in debt to when he died. Due to this financially stressed circumstances (it cost a lot to launch your sisters in society) Emma needs to find employment. Fast.
A gently bred woman finding respectable employment is no easy thing in the Regency era. Hence, Emma's eventual employment as a bookkeeper at a scandalous gambling hell. The owner of the club is Roderick Bentley, bastard son of an Earl, who hires Emma in order to discover how his previous bookkeeper was fleecing him out of his money. Emma is up to the mathematical challenge, but is less prepared for her attraction to the handsome owner of the club. The first half of Luck is No Lady is really, really good. The tentative attraction Emma feels towards Roderick is done very well. As is Emma's conflicted feelings about her attraction towards Roderick. As the primary caregiver of her two younger sisters, Emma shoulders a lot of responsibility, despite the fact that her sisters are of an age when they could help and support her. Due to her responsibility, Emma has led a rather sheltered live and is unprepared for her reaction to Roderick. That tension between the two main characters was beautifully done in the first half of the book and I was captivated.
For me, the momentum in the first half of the book did not carry on to the second half of the book and I think a lot of that had to do with the hero himself. I'm sorry to say that Roderick Bentley became a bit of a bore. Don't get me wrong, there's a place for the upstanding hero in the romance genre. However, when you have two rather upstanding and responsible characters like Roderick and Emma there romance can be a bit, well, dull. Both Roderick and Emma were so wrapped up in their responsibilities that their romance kind of lost steam. The romantic tension that started so strong between the two of them faded a bit when the obstacle to their relationship was nothing more than their upstanding natures.
Another element that I found frustrating was Emma's reluctance to share the burdens of her father's debts with her sisters. I could have understood Emma's lone wolf mentality if her sisters were significantly younger than her, but both of them were old enough to be married. Old enough to marry but not old enough to solve a very real financial problem? Emma's insistence on marrying of her sisters and not asking them for help didn't really make sense. Combine Emma's determination to go it alone with Roderick's determination that he wasn't good enough for Emma and you have a duo that lost it's magic.
Luck is No Lady had a lot of potential. The first half was great, filled with great tension between two intriguing main characters. Unfortunately, Emma and Roderick became flat characters that changed little throughout the narrative. While disappointed, I enjoyed the writing style and will check out the author's next book in the series....more
The Bride Behind the Curtain is the first in what appears to be a three-part series. After reading the firs Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
The Bride Behind the Curtain is the first in what appears to be a three-part series. After reading the first part, I believe that each part is novella length and features a different romantic couple. Considering the open ending to Bride Behind the Curtain, I think it's safe to assume that all three novellas are going to be strongly tied to one another.
Bride Behind the Curtain started out really strong. Awkward wallflower meets devilishly handsome Frenchman and an unexpected romance ensues. Adele Edmundson is that wallflower and James Beauclaire the French expatriate. After a happenstance meeting, the pair can't stop thinking about each other. For Adele's part, she doesn't believe that such a dashing and handsome man could be attracted to her. And for James' part, he should be on the lookout for a malleable heiress to support his impoverished family. Of course, neither gets what they bargained for. I really liked the beginning of Bride Behind the Curtain. Adele and James were great characters and the romantic tension that the author created between the two of them was perfection. The setup was great, and I also liked the fact that Adele started to develop her own confidence separate from James. They were worried about a scandal if they were "together" in public too soon and that reasoning worked in Adele's favour, allowing her time to develop her own confidence. I appreciate the fact that the romance doesn't solve either Adele or James' problems.
At about the halfway mark, I felt that the novella lost it's steam. Adele and James are quick to declare their love for each other, which is always a little suspect in the novella format. However, what I found most troublesome was the fact that in the later half the two didn't really spend that much time together. The fell in love quickly. Fine. But there was nothing to substantiate those feelings. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder?
I also wasn't expecting Bride Behind the Curtain to end so inconclusively. When I learned of the author's three novellas, I simply assumed that they were three interconnected novellas: short, but complete. However, the Regency Makeover trilogy reads more like a serial novel in three parts than three separate novellas. I am not a fan of the serial format, so I wasn't thrilled about the way Bride Behind the Curtain ended.
Would I read the next two installments? That's a tricky question. I really liked the characters that the author created and I'm curious to learn more about the other ladies the author is going to focus on. However, the format overall is a real turn off for me. Perhaps if I could read the entire collection at once...
At any rate, I enjoyed the writing style of the author and that alone make me interested in other titles by Darcie Wilde. Since I also have an advance copy of Wilde's historical mystery, A Useful Woman, I am suddenly wanting to shuffle my to-read list to move that one closer to the top....more
London Gambit is Tracy Grant’s latest Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch historical adventure. In this outing, Suz Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
London Gambit is Tracy Grant’s latest Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch historical adventure. In this outing, Suzanne and Malcolm are investigating a number of things. First, Malcolm is called to the scene of the murder, only to discover that the man found dead is a former military man and found in a warehouse connected with a previous investigation. Second, Suzanne learns of potential plot to free Napoleon, which could put her and her family at risk, considering that she is a former French spy. And if that wasn’t enough, it seems that the murder just might hit closer to home than Malcolm originally thought when a personal friend seems to be keeping secrets. Luckily, Malcolm and Suzanne have their trusted (and unofficial) band of investigators to help them discover the truth.
Since reading Vienna Waltz, I have been a huge fan of Grant’s series. I love the intersection of character driven drama and the integration of historical fact. While all of that is present in London Gambit, it is clear that this latest addition marks a shift in the series. I think the shift will prove to be a good one. It’s been a long time since Malcolm and Suzanne have left London, so I am inclined to be interested where their investigations will take them considering the ending of London Gambit. I think the shift in the series will also breath some fresh air into the series. As much as I have enjoyed the previous books, it seems that Malcolm and Suzanne have been struggling with the same issues over and over again. This is the second time that I have noticed a significant shift, the first being when Malcolm discovered that Suzanne was a spy for his country’s enemy. That first shift created some tension in the Rannoch’s marriage and I think this latest change will also challenge the characters as well as interest readers of the series.
London Gambit also offers a closer look at some of the characters that Grant has introduced over the course of the series, most notably Malcolm best friend David and his lover Simon. The inclusion of secondary characters’ perspectives is something that I have long enjoyed about Grant’s writing style, and her latest book is no exception. While some could claim that the multitude of narrative points of view hamper the plot, I actually think it helps to develop the characters of Malcolm and Suzanne. Through these other characters, readers get to learn how Malcolm and Suzanne are viewed, giving readers additional information. Not to mention that these are characters that readers have come to love in their own right (Harry and Cordelia, anyone?). Over the course of this series this list of characters has grown, but if you're a longtime fan of the series, this is something that you will enjoy.
If you’re a reader of Grant’s series you wont want to miss out on the latest adventure featuring former spies, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. If you’re a historical mystery fan, I suggest that you don’t jump into the series wherever. At this point in the series, there is so much that is dependent on the previous books that it’s a must to start at the beginning. Luckily the author has a handy guide to her series on her website to help you get started....more
To Lure a Proper Lady is the first of a new series from historical romance author Ashlyn Macnamara. This bo Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
To Lure a Proper Lady is the first of a new series from historical romance author Ashlyn Macnamara. This book had me as soon as it was revealed that the hero would be a Bow Street Runner. Class conflict? Count me in!
Lady Elizabeth Wilde has sought out the assistance of the famed Bow Street Runners when she suspects that her father is being poisoned. Unfortunately, her first meeting of Dysart doesn't exactly demonstrate his competence. Despite her first impression, Elizabeth agrees with Dysart's plan to discover the poisoner. And Elizabeth learns that there's much more going on below the surface of Dysart's rough facade. The majority of Lure a Proper Lady takes place at Elizabeth's home during a house party her ill father demands be held. Elizabeth's father, convinced of his imminent death, would love to see his daughters settled before he shuffles off to his mortal coil. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, she is none too fond of her father's choice and much too intrigued by the mysterious Dysart and his unexpected knowledge of the ways of the upper echelon. And when, through the course of their investigation, they're thrown together again and again, it's all too clear that both are willing to cast aside their very different social statuses and act on their attraction.
For the most part, I enjoyed To Lure a Proper Lady. The premise was good and the romance between the two main characters was done well. The mystery of the poisoner didn't overwhelm the plot, nor did I expect it to in a romance. The romance was definitely the main focus of the story, as were the hang ups of the characters. In particular, it was Dysart's attitude that I found somewhat tiring. Throughout the majority of the book Dysart continually laments the fact that he's not good enough for Elizabeth. He's not of the same class; hence, they have no future together. Yeah that makes sense, but I personally felt that this concern got old. Dysart needed to get some self confidence and trust that Elizabeth knew what she was doing by getting involved with him. For me, the conflict of the classes dragged out far too long, especially when it didn't seem like all that much of an obstacle by the end of the book.
Other than wanting more meat to the class difference in the romance, I enjoyed To Lure a Proper Lady. I really enjoyed the stark differences in the seemingly proper Lady Elizabeth and the brash Dysart. They're interactions with one another were done very well and the author shows a great talent in creating romantic chemistry between her two leads. To Lure a Proper Lady is a nice, romantic read with just a hint of mystery....more
A Gift for Guile is the second in Johnson’s Thief Takers series. As much as I enjoyed the first one, I think I have to admit that I liked A Gift for Guile just a tad bit more. Intrigued by the character of Esther Walker Bales in A Talent for Trickery, I was curious to see how the author would pull off a romance between a cunning woman and a private investigator. Let me tell you, it really, really worked.
Esther Walker has come to London to make amends. However, London is the last place she should be because of her and her family’s disreputable past. Esther’s father was a con artist and unbelievably as it sounds, Esther was his muscle. Despite her small stature, Esther is a wizard with knives and that was all it took for her father to put her to work as an accomplice. Now that her father is dead, Esther can move forward and away from her past, which means that she wants to meet her biological father. The problem is that Esther is all too recognizable in London and if she’s discovered she could be in big trouble especially with her father’s enemies.
Sir Samuel Brass is a private investigator and years ago he and his business partners allowed the Walker family to inform for the police. Now that Esther’s sister has married one of Samuel’s business partners his concern for Esther is a little more personal. Tracking down Esther in London when she goes missing, Samuel insists on assisting her in her mission despite the fact that he would much rather her be safe and sound in the country. Naturally, Esther refuses to put up with Samuel’s protective instincts and feels queer in his presence, after all, she’s a former criminal and he's a former police officer. How could he possibly accept her more fluid approach to the law?
As a romance, I really, really enjoyed A Gift for Guile. It features a woman struggling to find herself and reconcile who she is today with who she was in the past. She’s frightened of being judged and not accepted for who she is, and her clumsy suitor doesn’t help matters when he can’t quite explain that he does, in fact, like her for who she is. Esther’s path of discovery was a highlight in A Gift for Guile. There was something about her struggle for who she is on her own when she’s not responding to other’s expectations that just seems so authentic. Esther’s desire for affection from her father and others has led her to believe that she can’t be considered a priority:
Esther was second-best. She was a filler, a stand-in until something better came along, or came back. She wasn’t good enough to keep. She wasn’t worth fighting for. And whatever approval and acceptance she might garner were undeserved, and temporary.
She could and would be replaced at the earliest opportunity (p. 249).
The fact that Esther truly believes that she will never be the most important thing to anyone is tough. But, what I liked about the novel is the path that Esther takes to realize that she does deserve to be a priority. While a large part of this has to do with her relationship with Samuel, it also has a lot to do with her own introspection and consideration of her past actions. When Esther accepts her past, even those parts that she’s ashamed of, she can finally see herself as someone worthwhile. It was a great journey for a reader to be part of.
While Esther is by far the more complex character in A Gift for Guile Samuel Bass was a perfect foil for her. There’s a lot to like about this clumsy, bearish, over protective private investigator, most especially his willingness to let Esther do things on her own terms. Samuel doesn’t always say the right thing, he doesn’t exactly have a way with words, but eventually he gets where he needs to go as it concerns Esther. Ultimately, what I liked about their romance was that it was about each of them just making the effort for one another. All too often the romance genre skips over real issues and that wasn’t the case in A Gift for Guile. Instead Samuel and Esther actually talk about their problems and how it impacts their relationship. It doesn’t always go well, but they keep trying, which is appealing in a genre that is often flooded with the grand gesture. A big, dramatic scene between the couple is all well and good (and there is lots of drama in A Gift for Guile), but the presence of a real dialogue between the hero and heroine goes a long way in cementing the romance element of the book.
Strong characters aside, there is also a fabulous sense of humour prevalent throughout the book. Samuel and Esther do not initially start out liking each other; there’s a lot of animosity between them when Esther discovers that Samuel has followed her to London and would like to dictate her investigation. That tension fuels a lot of witty barbs between these two, a particular favourite is when Samuel tries to lecture Esther on the risk she takes in coming to London:
“Heavens, I’d quite forgotten,” she drawled in a voice that could only be described as sweetly caustic. “Thank goodness you are here to remind me of all the little details of my life.”
God, she was infuriating. “Esther -“
“You’re rather like my very own talking diary” (p. 10).
Sarcasm and Esther get along really well.
If you enjoy your historical romance filled with strong characters and more of an emphasis on the relationship building part of the romance, A Gift for Guile will not disappoint. Bring on more from Alissa Johnson!...more
Miss Juliana Telford is on the verge of taking her debut in society. However, Juliana is no ordinary young Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Miss Juliana Telford is on the verge of taking her debut in society. However, Juliana is no ordinary young lady. Rather than anticipating her debut, Juliana is heading off to London with an alternative purpose: publication. You see, Juliana is a budding scientist and along with her father has been researching the lady beetle. Now, Juliana wants to get her and her father's research published, all under the guise of her societal debut. Therefore, its unfortunate that she becomes entangled with Mr. Spencer Northam.
Spencer, like Juliana, is not whom he appears to be. Rather than carousing with the other young men of his age and station, Spencer is investigating a smuggling operation as a spy for the War Office. When Spencer realizes that Juliana will be living with the family he is investigating during the Season, he cultivates a friendship with the young lady, which only becomes complicated when he develops real feelings for her. In all honesty, Love, Lies and Spies was a whirlwind of a book. There was a lot of stuff going on and a lot of secrets between the main characters. At times, the plot was bogged down by all the details. For me, there was just way too much going on. Juliana was hunting for a publisher, trying to help Spencer's friend woo another young lady, faking a supposed "romantic" relationship with Spencer, fending off the advances of a persistent young man, and attending her own events of the Season. Equally, Spencer had just as much going on what with spying on a family that could be smuggling state secrets to the French. The amount of stuff that was happening here and it was overwhelming, especially since it hampered the full development of the romance between Spencer and Juliana.
The fact that romance seemed to be the basis of Love, Lies and Spies was precisely what made me pick up the book in the first place. I was disappointed by the rather tame romance. Perhaps I'm reading too many grown up historical romances, but I didn't think there was a lot of basis for undying love between Spencer and Juliana. The author stuck with the expected conventional norms of the era and Spencer and Juliana rarely spent any time together without a chaperone. Due to these circumstances, I didn't feel that Spencer and Juliana really got to know one another and their feelings were developed based on an insta-attraction. I wanted more in the romance department from this one.
Despite my disappointment in the tepid romance, I really liked the bubbly narrative style of the author. There was something so charming about how Love, Lies and Spies was written. The author mimicked the style of the classics (think Austen) to an effective degree and imbued that style with her own sense of wit and hilarity. This charming combination created such as sense of fun in Love, Lies and Spies that you couldn't help but be won over.
So, while I do have some misgivings when it comes to the romance of Love, Lies and Spies, I did enjoy the wit and overall tone of the book. The lively writing charmed me and I certainly would read another book by the author. And, it appears I'll get my wish with Duels and Deception, which had me at kidnapping....more
"The Reluctant Duchess" was a nice historical romance featuring a mystery/suspense element. For the most part, I was impressed with how Cullen combine"The Reluctant Duchess" was a nice historical romance featuring a mystery/suspense element. For the most part, I was impressed with how Cullen combined suspense and romance; this is something that I've really enjoyed about her romances in the past. I really enjoyed the romance between Gabriel and Sara, yet I couldn't help but feel that there was something missing. There wasn't a lot of conflict in Sara and Gabriel's road to their happily ever after, at least when it came to their feelings. Personally, I think there could have been a little bit more passion in their relationship. That said, overall I thought this was a nice read featuring nice characters. If you like your historical romance with a dash of intrigue, Sharon Cullen is the author for you. ...more