Category: Regency Period
Review: Seducing the Duchess
Seducing the Duchess by Ashley March
May's Review: Here is the storyline: Charlotte, Duchess of Rutherford, has spent the past three years causing all kinds of scandals to force her husband, Philip, the Duke of Rutherford, to divorce her. At long last, Philip will grant the divorce but only if Charlotte agrees to help him to become a better husband to win back the woman he was suppose to marry before Charlotte. Will love strike twice for this couple?
If you want a story packed with emotional angst just oozing from the pages, then this is the book for you. Unlike in Dreyer's Barely a Lady (note: link takes you to my previous review) where the couple had this grand love affair before their estrangement, the relationship between Charlotte and Philip was already destined to failed. Within the first couple of pages, the author reveals that Philip married Charlotte to get back at her brother who ran off with Philip's fiancee--a fact that Philip cruelly reveals to Charlotte on their wedding night. Needless to say the relationship is severely strained between the two but it gets more complicated when Philip realizes he is actually in love with Charlotte and hatches a plan to win her back. Despite the folly of Philip's plan, you can't help but sympathize with him as he works to regain Charlotte's love as well as her trust. What I like best about this book is that even when the full truth is finally revealed, there is still a lingering doubt whether these two will get together.
A really good read for those seeking a new Regency/Historical Romance writer.
Recommended Reading List for "C"
"C", a good friend of mine, recently asked me for a list of suggested book titles. Now normally one conducts a more formal interview to find out what she has read before, what she liked or disliked about the books, etc. However, I know "C"'s taste tends to run more towards the historical side since she did once remark that she has read and re-read a number of Georgette Heyer's books.
Hence, here are a couple of historical romance authors & titles that I think "C" might enjoy:
A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh
May's Review: Since "C" is quickly working her way through Balogh's Huxtable series, I definitely want her to check out this title. This book starts off as a typical Regency with the hero forced by his father to find himself a wife while the heroine is similarly forced by her parents to marry because she has socially disgraced herself. Needless to say, the couple has known each other for years and appear to dislike each other. Yet appearances are deceiving and Balogh throws in a twist that just proves how intelligent her heroines typically are and how noble our heroes can be.
Bride in the Bargain by Deanne Gist
May's Review: Although this book could be classified as Historical-Inspirational, I found myself drawn into the story of a lumberjack living in 1860s Washington State who desperately needs to find himself a wife so he can retain his land. However, nobody told his intended bride-to-be who thinks she is coming to be his cook and housekeeper! Based on an actual historical event, this book was simply delightful with wonderful written characters and a setting that just seems to jump off the pages.
It Happened One Autumn and Devil In Winter by Lisa Kleypas
May's Review: Although Kleypas just recently finished her Hathaway series, my all-time favorite is still the Wallflower series and while I wasn't a huge fan of the first & fourth books, I simply adore books two (It Happened One Autumn) and three (Devil in Winter). Both books follow a similar formula: take a very handsome but extremely arrogant man and have him cross paths with a uncommonly beautiful, intelligent and highly stubborn female. Throw in societal pressures, less than desirable in-laws and/or relatives and mad-cap adventures that include kidnapping & an assassination attempt, you got a terrific pair of books that are simply two of my all-time favorite romance books.
Barely a Bride and Merely the Groom by Rebecca Hagan Lee
May's Review: I am currently reading this series which centers around a Free Fellows League--a band of rich and highly educated lords who decide to risk everything for king and country but not their hearts. One by one, the men realize their folly and succumbs to cupid's arrow. Book one (Barely a Bride) deals with war and marriage while book two (Merely the Groom) deals with a forced marriage thanks to an impostor.
Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn
May's Review: Julia Quinn is another must read Regency author and while there any number of books I can recommend, the main reason I'm recommending this book to "C" has a lot to do with the fact that we both watched the movie Red this past weekend. Remembered how we were secretly thrilled that Bruce Willis was reading romance novels? Well what do you think would happen if the hero wrote them? Throw in witty dialogue, a disdardly uncle, and a spunky heroine, you end up with yet another terrific Quinn novel.
Tempting Fate by Alissa Johnson
May's Review: A RITA nominee for best Regency romance, Tempting Fate tells the story of childhood rivals, Whittaker Cole (Earl of Thurston) and Mirabelle Browning, who fall in love as adults. From the very start, all of the females in Whittaker's household have taken a likening to Mirabelle and already regard her as a "daughter" and "sister". Unfortunately, the head of the household, Whittaker, still sees her as a "annoyance" but his opinion of her gradually changes when he realizes how important she has become in his life, especially after she tumbles down a hill and is somehow implicated in a somewhat ridiculous sub-plot involving counterfeit bills and a brutish uncle.
Personally, I think Johnson could have skipped the subplot involving spies and an assassin which I found to be the weakest element, and solely focused on Whittaker's and Mirabelle's romance instead. Still this was a good story with strong romantic elements with totally likable characters. A good choice for those Regency romance fans seeking a new author.
Note: Tempting Fate is the second book in Johnson's Providence series. The books in the series include:
* As Luck Would Have It (book 1)
* McAlistair's Fortune (book 3)
Barely a Lady by Eileen Dreyer
May's Review: Our spunky English heroine, Olivia, finds herself in the midst of Napoleon battlefields and is forced to rescue her ex-husband, Jack, who years earlier, had divorced her and left her penniless. Unfortunately, Jack has amnesia and doesn't remember the past few years and thinks he is still married to Olivia. To make matters worse, he is found wearing a French uniform. Is he a traitor?
To be perfectly blunt, I found this romance so-so. In some ways, it was barely a romance for me. The main problem is that the author spends quite more time developing Olivia's character to the point where she is a martyr-like figure. Meanwhile, Jack for the most part is largely portrayed as a "jerk" who is easily manipulated into thinking the worst of Olivia. Their romance is told through brief flashbacks that seem forced and does not help to explain their love other than the usual strong physical attraction to one another. I just could not care one way or another if these two got together again. Frankly, I think it would have made a much more interesting romance novel if the author had introduced a new love interest for Olivia instead of re-introducing her ex-husband. Still, this book sets up a more intriguing couple for the sequel which I hope will be more "romantic" than this title.
JC's Review: A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh is the fifth book in the Huxtables series, so if you haven’t read any before, start with First Comes Marriage. In A Secret Affair we get to find out about all the secrets that Balogh has hinted at in the previous books as the story follows Constantine, the cousin who missed out on the Huxtable inheritance by being born two days before his parents’ marriage.
In my opinion, all of the books in this series are good, but the first and last are the best. Constantine is an interesting hero, and his love interest, the Duchess of Dunbarton is fascinating. This book looks at image versus identity, rumour versus reality, and the two main characters have to come to terms with the public personas that they play and the vulnerability that comes with letting another person in on their personal secrets.
One thing I love about Mary Balogh is that she excels at character development. I grow very tired of romance novels that make ridiculous generalizations about characters and expect the reader to just accept them as character development. I have set aside so many romance novels where the hero notices something about the colour of the heroine’s dress or the way she holds her spoon, and essentially says "this means she is independent" or some other character trait. Balogh would never insult her reader this way, and instead lets the personalities of her characters slowly unfold and even evolve. So, if you are looking for quality writing and intriguing storylines, Mary Balogh is the writer for you.
Sabrina Jeffries' new series
Sabrina Jeffries' Hellions of Halstead Hall series starts strong with the debut book The Truth About Lord Stoneville. Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville, has embraced being a hellion after a childhood tragedy brands him as a bit of a social outcast, and the rest of his siblings aren't much better. When his grandmother gives the family an ultimatum (they all must marry within a year or they will all be disinherited), Oliver comes up with the idea to hire a prostitute to pretend to be his fiancé in order to make his grandmother back down.
New title by Meredith Duran
My hold for Meredith Duran's Wicked Becomes You has finally come in to the library, and I cannot wait to start it. For those of you new to Duran, she writes exquisite Regency romance novels, where the characters have real depth and the action of the story often takes place over various locales. Her writing is captivating, and I am confident that her newest title will not disappoint.
Book Description: She’s been burned not once but twice by London’s so-called gentlemen . . . Gwen Maudsley is pretty enough to be popular, and plenty wealthy, too. But what she’s best known and loved for is being so very, very nice. When a cad jilts her at the altar — again — the scandal has her outraged friends calling for blood. Only Gwen has a different plan. If nice no longer works for her, then it’s time to learn to be naughty. Happily, she knows the perfect tutor — Alexander Ramsey, her late brother’s best friend and a notorious rogue. So why won’t a confirmed scoundrel let her be as bad as she wants to be? Unbeknownst to Gwen, Alex’s aloof demeanor veils his deepest unspoken desire. He has no wish to see her change, nor to tempt himself with her presence when his own secrets make any future between them impossible. But on a wild romp from Paris to the Riviera, their friendship gives way to something hotter, darker, and altogether more dangerous. With Alex’s past and Gwen’s newly unleashed wildness on a collision course, Gwen must convince Alex that his wickedest intentions are exactly what she needs.
New Spin on Pride and Prejudice
Impulse and Initiative by Abigail Reynolds
Book Description: We all know that Darcy abandoned hope of winning Elizabeth Bennett after she rejected his ham-handed proposal, but what if he hadn't taken no for an answer? What if, instead, he'd swallowed his famous pride and pursued her? This compulsively readable novel, an entry in Reynolds's "A Pride & Prejudice Variation" series, treats readers to an oh-so-spicy alternative story line. While there may be a little too much heat for proper Austenites, it's sure to appeal to fans of lusty historical romance.
Check out this new title by Nicole Jordan:
To Tame a Dangerous Lord
Book Description: Dangerously sexy nobleman and former spymaster Rayne Kenyon, Earl of Haviland, has no interest in love. He merely desires an heir to carry on his title and therefore must have a wife. Rayne makes a surprising choice of brides by settling on the plain spinster daughter of a fellow spy who once saved his life. But the spirited and witty Madeline Ellis proves much more than Rayne bargained for.
Dazed by Rayne’s smoldering kisses, Madeline knows that she’s at last found love—with a man determined to avoid it. Once wedded, she decides to take fate into her own hands. Maybe, just maybe, she can kindle the fires in Rayne’s heart by turning her plain, ordinary self into a dazzling temptress. With a little help from the Loring sisters, the earl’s artless new wife becomes a beautiful, bold seductress in their marriage bed. But who could imagine that a simple marriage of convenience can suddenly be flooded with danger, desire, and unexpected love?
Check out this new title:
To Sin with a Scoundrel by Cara Elliott
Book Description: A reclusive widow known for her scientific scholarship, Lady Ciara Sheffield is shadowed by rumors that she poisoned her husband . . . A rakehell rogue notorious for his devil-may-care antics, Lucas Bingham--the Earl of Hadley--is not accused of murdering anything--save for the rules of Polite Society. The only thing they have in common is seeing their names featured in the lurid gossip columns of London's newspapers. Until an ancient manuscript draws them together.
Ciara needs a titled fiancé to quell the slanderous speculations which may send her to the gallows. Lucas needs brilliant scholar to help his elderly uncle decipher the secrets of the mysterious manuscript. So when her friends urge her to accept the earl's proposal of a temporary alliance, Ciara decides that she has no choice but to make a deal with the Devil. And so begins a seductive dance of sinful pleasures and hidden desires as the two of them waltz through the mansions of Mayfair. Lies, intrigue, treachery, sex. They find themselves facing slanderous whispers, unscrupulous relatives-not to speak of their own simmering passions, which quickly ignite into dangerous flames. It's a potent mix and the result may be explosive-and perhaps deadly-if they don't watch their step.
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