Format: Audiobook

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

Posted February 22, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite WelshReviewer: Holly
The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh
Series: Sarah Gilchrist #1
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Audible Plus
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh's medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and perhaps worst of all her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city's ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St. Giles Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah's patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patients, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh's dank alleyways, bawdy houses, and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh's most lucrative trades, and in doing so, puts her own life at risk.

An irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, a beautifully drawn setting, and fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, The Wages of Sin is a stunning debut that heralds a striking new voice in historical fiction.

I chose this audiobook because the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, is lovely. I was browsing the audiobooks she’s narrated on Audio Plus and came across this one. I thought the blurb sounded interesting, and I’ve been in the mood for gothic mysteries lately. This novel is set in the Victorian era.

Sarah Gilchrist was sexually assaulted by a peer, and therefore “compromised”. As a result, she’s been sent to Edinburgh to live with her aunt and uncle while she attends medical school. She, and a handful of other girls, are the first female students studying to become doctors. Their plight is difficult, but Sarah loves medicine and truly wishes to help those in need. She volunteers her time at a low-end clinic for prostitutes, which is where she meets Lucy. Lucy, a young proustite, is pregnant and very upset about it, but Sarah sees a lot of herself in Lucy and can’t stop thinking about her. This is why she’s shocked and upset when Lucy’s body turns up as a dissection specimen a few days later. They claim Lucy committed suicide, but things don’t add up and Sarah begins to investigate. Her main suspect is none other than one of her professors, but as she gets deeper into her investigation, the more she realizes she may be in danger as well.

I enjoyed the narration, and the story was told well, but the main character, Sarah, made a lot of questionable decisions. She was forced to spend time in a Sanatorium after her attack because she kept blaming her attacker. Plus, the novel was extremely dark and depressing. Just when I thought things couldn’t be any more bleak, we’d be hit with another sad, sorry fact about the fate of women and their lack of rights in the 1890s.

I appreciated the strength of character it took for Sarah to stay on her current path, despite (or perhaps in spite of) the misfortunes she suffered in the past. But her blithely following said path without a thought to her safety or the consequences of her actions was frustrating. I wasn’t surprised by any of the revelations, but I did enjoy Sarah’s surprise, so I guess there’s that.

Though I enjoyed parts of this, I don’t believe I’ll continue with the series. Sarah didn’t endear herself enough for me to want to read more books from her point of view.

3.25-3.5 out of 5

Sarah Gilchrist

three-half-stars


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Review: The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath

Posted January 20, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Holly
The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath
Narrator: Kate Reading
Series: Sins for All Seasons #5
Also in this series: Beyond Scandal and Desire, Beyond Scandal and Desire, When a Duke Loves a Woman, When a Duke Loves a Woman (Sins for All Seasons, #2), The Scoundrel in Her Bed (Sins for All Seasons, #3), The Duchess in His Bed, The Earl Takes a Fancy, Beauty Tempts the Beast, Beauty Tempts the Beast , The Duchess in His Bed , The Scoundrel in Her Bed
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 403
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath pens another richly satisfying romance in her Sins for all Seasons series.

She’s looking for a nobleman to wed…

Though born out of wedlock, Fancy Trewlove is determined to fulfill her mother’s wish that she marry into nobility. Fancy’s keen intellect and finishing school manners make her the perfect wife for any gentleman—if he’s willing to overlook her scandalous lineage. But Fancy’s plans are thrown into chaos when an intriguing commoner begins visiting her bookshop—and she finds herself unable to stop thinking about him.

He’s looking to escape his title…

Widowed just a year ago, the reclusive Matthew Sommersby, Earl of Rosemont, has been besieged by women hoping to become his next wife. Desperate for anonymity, he sheds Society life to search for the peace that eludes him. Fancy’s shop is his one refuge, until the night their passion erupts into a kiss that nearly leads to her ruin—and leaves both longing for much more.

Together, they discover an unlikely love…

As Fancy finds herself torn between her family’s expectations and her growing feelings for Matthew, secrets are exposed—secrets that force Fancy to question if she can trust her heart’s desire...

I was looking for a new audiobook when Tracy suggested this one. I haven’t been reading a lot of historicals lately, so I’m behind in this series. I remember enjoying Fancy in the previous books and I was happy to fall into her story.

Fancy Trewlove is about to have her come-out in society. Her siblings have all raised themselves above their station, and as the youngest they have very high expectations for her. She’d rather run her bookshop and focus on teaching reading to both children and adults, but she doesn’t wish to disappoint them. When she meets Matthew Sommersby, they have an instant rapport. This is the type of gentleman she wishes she could marry – one who sees her for who she is, and wants her for more than her dowry.

Matthew was tricked into marrying a woman once, and now he has little respect for women who chase after a title. His late wife is even tormenting him from the grave, by having a letter published a year after her death begging the ladies of the ton to help him find love again. Love. Please. They barely tolerated each other in life…she’s only ensuring he feels misery long after her death, since now he can’t show his face in public without all the marriage-minded mamas and debutantes mobbing him. Fancy seems different. She’s well read and intelligent, kind and thoughtful, and….searching for a titled husband? Of course she is. His disappointment that she’s like all the other deceitful ladies out there is crushing, but he can’t seem to stay away from her.

I loved Fancy. She was willing to sacrifice her dreams for her family, but was determined to do it on her own terms. I liked the two sides to her – independent and loyal. I liked Fancy and Matthew together. They had wonderful chemistry and their banter was well done. I really liked the care he took with her, and how sweet he was despite his frustration over her hunt for a titled husband. Naturally I was annoyed at his poor assumptions about her later in the book, but even then I couldn’t help but root for them.

Beast is up next. I cannot wait!

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Sins for All Seasons

four-stars


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Review: The Scoundrel in Her Bed by Lorraine Heath

Posted January 15, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Scoundrel in Her Bed by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Holly
The Scoundrel in Her Bed by Lorraine Heath
Narrator: Kate Reading
Series: Sins for All Seasons #3
Also in this series: Beyond Scandal and Desire, Beyond Scandal and Desire, When a Duke Loves a Woman, When a Duke Loves a Woman (Sins for All Seasons, #2), The Scoundrel in Her Bed (Sins for All Seasons, #3), The Duchess in His Bed, The Earl Takes a Fancy, Beauty Tempts the Beast, Beauty Tempts the Beast , The Duchess in His Bed , The Earl Takes a Fancy
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The bastard son of a nobleman, Finn Trewlove was a shameful secret raised by a stranger. As Finn came of age, he had secrets, too—the clandestine nights spent with an earl’s daughter. But her promise of forever ended in betrayal.

Driven by a past that haunts her, Lady Lavinia Kent seeks redemption in London’s underworld, engaged in a daring cause inspired by the young man to whom she gave her innocence, and who then proved himself a scoundrel by abandoning her.

When their paths cross again, they can’t deny the yearning and desire that still burns. As they discover the truth behind the deceptions that tore them apart, Finn and Lavinia must fight to reclaim what they’ve lost, no matter how dangerous—because love is worth the risk . . .

The early part of this novel switches back and forth between the present and 8 years prior, when Finn Trewlove and Lady Lavinia Kent met and fell in love. Something went horribly wrong between them, and we are slowly shown how events unfolded.

We were introduced to Lady Lavinia Kent in When a Duke Loves a Woman, where she left her affianced duke at the alter. She’s been hiding out in Whitechapel ever since, on a quest to rescue children from Baby Farmers – women who take in by-blows for a fee. She’s staying with the Sisters of Mercy, who are keeping the children she rescues, but they’re running out of bed space. Her ultimate dream is to find work so she can have her own foundling home, but her brother, the Earl of Collinsworth, has put out a reward for anyone who finds her and brings her home, and she isn’t able to move about freely. 8 years ago she was in love with a man, a commoner, who abandoned her. Since then her life has been pretty awful, and she’s determined to give these children better than she had. No matter the cost.

Finn was devastated when Vivi betrayed him. Because of her he spent 5 years in prison, nursing his need for revenge. But now that she’s in Whitechapel, he can’t hold onto his anger. Things take a devastating turn for them both when they realize neither was at fault for their separation. Finn would love to pick up where they left off, but Lavinia knows they’re both different people…and if Finn finds out all her secrets, he’ll probably hate her…

I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I liked seeing a younger Finn and Lavinia come to know each other and fall in love. I liked even more seeing the older, more mature versions of themselves doing the same. They both come to realize they would have had many more challenges had they married 8 years ago, and I liked that though they were committed then and now, they recognized their growth and appreciated the relationship more for it.

I was frustrated with how long it took Vivi to share her secrets with Finn, though I loved how supportive he was of her in the meantime. This was a sweet, second-chance romance and I was here for it.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Sins for All Seasons

four-stars


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Review: The Duchess in His Bed by Lorraine Heath

Posted January 8, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Duchess in His Bed by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Holly
The Duchess in His Bed by Lorraine Heath
Series: Sins for All Seasons #4
Also in this series: Beyond Scandal and Desire, Beyond Scandal and Desire, When a Duke Loves a Woman, When a Duke Loves a Woman (Sins for All Seasons, #2), The Scoundrel in Her Bed (Sins for All Seasons, #3), The Duchess in His Bed, The Earl Takes a Fancy, Beauty Tempts the Beast, Beauty Tempts the Beast , The Scoundrel in Her Bed , The Earl Takes a Fancy
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Length: 11 hours and 42 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

11 hours, 42 minutes

For a duchess with practical desires, falling in love is an inconceivable part of her plan…

As owner of the Elysium Club which caters to women's fantasies, Aiden Trewlove is accustomed to introducing adventurous ladies to sin and vice. But he is uncharacteristically intrigued by the mysterious beauty who visits his club one night, yearning to indulge in the forbidden—with him. Drawn to her indomitable spirit, he breaks his rule of never becoming personally involved with his clientele and is determined to fully awaken her desires.

A recent widow, Selena Sheffield, Duchess of Lushing, has never known passion, not until Aiden's slow, sensual seduction leads her on a journey of discovery and incredible pleasure. But her reasons for visiting the notorious club are not all that they seem.

As Selena's motives become complicated by love, she finds herself with a most unexpected choice: forge ahead with a secret plan that could secure her future—or follow her heart which could prove ruinous.

I really wanted to like this book. I enjoyed Aiden in the previous books and I was curious about him and his lady love. Sadly, this book didn’t work for me.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to recap the plot. The blurb does a pretty good job of outlining things anyway.

In general, I’m not a fan of the “slow seduction in a club” trope, and Selena’s reasons for wanting to be seduced did nothing to further the story for me. I never warmed up to her and therefore didn’t care about their romance. Maybe if she’d done the right thing earlier in the book I’d have felt differently, but the fact that she was still determined to stay her course at the 80% mark didn’t give me as the reader a lot of time to get over her actions. In fact, I lost more respect for her when she realizes the damage she’s going to cause Aiden with her actions, but stays her course anyway. Every time Aiden or someone else mentioned how “selfless” she was, I actually snorted out loud. A more selfish character I’ve rarely seen.

I liked Aiden and the Trewlove family, but Selena ruined the book for me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Sins for All Seasons

two-half-stars


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Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Posted December 28, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasReviewer: Holly
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Narrator: Philip Battley
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Romance
Pages: 485
Length: 11 hours and 36 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

This special ebook edition of Sherry Thomas's extraordinary romantic fantasy debut, The Burning Sky—the first in the Elemental Trilogy—features a repackaged cover for her legions of romance fans and an excerpt from the sequel, The Perilous Sea.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of the Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

At Tracy’s recommendation, I requested the audiobook from the library and switched back and forth between listening and reading. I really liked the narrator. I feel like I lost some of the connection to the story by switching platforms, however. For awhile I was fully invested in the story and characters, but that fizzled a bit by the end.

Iolanthe Seabourne has been living with her mentor and guardian since she was two years old. He was the perfect guardian…until he wasn’t. She doesn’t understand what changed him from an honorable, loving man into an unscrupulous addict. For years, she’s been covering for him and trying to keep them afloat. When he begs her not to complete a potion she’s promised to make in exchange for allowing him to keep his position, he ruins it. She ends up calling down lightning to fix it, and that sets off a chain of events she could never have predicted. Unbeknownst to her, she is one of the great Elemental Mages – a mage who can control all four elements. Her lightning brought The Inquisitor after her, along with several other agents of Atlantis. But it also brought Prince Titus, the ruler of the realm, and her personal savior. Only he has his own agenda, and Iolanthe will be forced to learn some hard lessons.

Titus has always known his purpose..to find and protect the last great Elemental Mage. He’s been preparing for this his whole life…except he never imagined she’d be a girl. He’s hiding her in the human realm as a boy, but only until he can convince her to take out The Inquisitor and take on Atlantis.

Thomas has built an engrossing world, full of magic and possibilities. I really enjoyed the action and the progression of the story. It was interesting to see Titus and Iolanthe circle around each other. I hated that he took advantage of her and treated her poorly, but I also understood why.

Parts of this were predictable, but I enjoyed it for the most part. I do think both main characters lacked a bit of depth. Things were very much on the surface, especially with Iolanthe. I’m hoping we see more change and growth from her in the next two books.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

The Burning Sky Trilogy

three-stars


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