Tag: Historical Romance

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner

Posted December 10, 2020 by Ames in Features, Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: A Lily Among Thorns by Rose LernerReviewer: Ames
A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner
Publisher: Leisure Books, Self-Published
Publication Date: September 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 392
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

London 1815, just before Waterloo...

After her noble father disowned her, Lady Serena Ravenshaw clawed her way from streetwalker to courtesan to prosperous innkeeper. Now she’s feared and respected from one end of London to the other, by the lowest dregs of the city’s underworld and the upper echelons of the beau monde, and she’ll do anything to keep it that way.

When mild-mannered chemist Solomon Hathaway turns up in her office, asking for her help, she immediately recognizes him from one fateful night years before. She’s been watching and waiting for him for years—so she can turn the tables and put him in her debt, of course, and not because he looked like an angel and was kind to her when she needed it most.

She’s determined not to wonder what put that fresh grief in his eyes. But after a betrayal even Serena didn’t expect, she must put aside her pride and work with Solomon to stop a ring of French spies and save her beloved inn, her freedom—and England itself.

This review was originally published September 7, 2011

I read Rose Lerner’s In for a Penny last year and really enjoyed it, so I’ve been looking forward to her second book for a while now.  It was worth the wait.

A Lily Among Thorns starts with Solomon Hathaway visiting a brothel with two school chums.  He doesn’t necessarily want to be there and he can tell that the prostitute really doesn’t want to be there.  In desperation (and drunkenness) Solomon gives his lightskirt his whole quarterly allowance and races off into the night.

Five years later and Solomon has entered the Ravenshaw Arms, a hotel with a well-known proprietess.  Lady Serena, aka the Thorn, is known in underground circles as someone who can find missing things (among other skills).  Serena is also the young prostitute whom Solomon’s quarterly allowance allowed to leave her situation.  Serena recognizes Sol immediately, but he doesn’t recognize her until a little bit later.  Sol needs Serena’s talents to locate some family earrings that his sister demands she needs in order to get married and said earrings were stolen a week prior by some highwaymen.  Sol and Serena work out a deal that he’ll stay at the Ravenshaw Arms and do the bed hangings while Serena locates the earrings.  Simple, right?

Not so much, because Serena’s former partner, the Marquis du Sacreval, has returned from France and wants to take the Arms away from Serena.  This is anathema to her because the Arms is her home and something that she’s worked for and proud of.  She also rescues those from her former profession and gives them positions at her hotel.  She has quite a few people counting on her and the last thing she wants to do is hand it all over to Rene.  But he threatens her with a fake marriage license.  By now Solomon has recognized Serena and he’s vowed to help her out…but nothing is that simple and his family, her family, and a ring of French spies are only a few of the obstacles between these two characters.

There was a lot going on in A Lily Among Thorns, but it all came together very well.  I did not even delve into some of the stuff going on in this story.  It had a lot but it was definitely character driven.  And what characters!

First there’s Lady Serena.  She is actually the daughter of an aristocrat who fell for a footman and instead of allowing her father to dictate her life, she ran out.  Yeah she didn’t end up in the best of circumstances, but she took advantage of Solomon’s drunken generosity and made something of herself.  She’s a very strong character who puts up a front in order not to appear vulnerable to former clients who visit her hotel now and then.  She’s also intimidating as hell, with a fierce reputation that makes other unsavory elements quake in their boots when she lifts a sardonic brow in their direction.

Then there’s Solomon.  He is actually an earl’s nephew but who turned his back on the opportunity his rich uncle gave him and went to work for his other uncle in a tailoring shop.  He can match any shade of cloth to the color of your choice.  He is also suffering over the death of his twin, a twin who overshadowed him a bit.  Solomon is very much a non-alpha type of character.  But he has an inner strength that shines through and he has a sense of belonging that appeals to others.  He’s a man who knows what he wants and he makes sure he gets it.  He isn’t in your face about it and that sets him apart from overly-confident alpha types who ooze testosterone.  That’s not Solomon’s style.

So great characters and strong writing are two key elements for why A Lily Among Thorns works for me.  I really like the dynamic between Serena and Solomon.  She can be a bit hard and that’s something that Solomon likes about her.  Solomon also makes Serena believe in herself over the opinion of her extremely disapproving father.  There was also a surprising secondary story that I don’t want to name a romance so much because there was no concrete HEA for those characters (I refuse to spoil the surprise as to who it is) and I would definitely like to see their story wrapped up at a later date.  My only complaint about this book would be the beginning, it took a little while for me to get into what was going on.  But once the story got rolling, I was engrossed.  A Lily Among Thorns gets 4 out of 5 from me.

This book is available from Leisure Books. You can buy it here.

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: My Last Duchess by Eloisa James

Posted December 7, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: My Last Duchess by Eloisa JamesReviewer: Tracy
My Last Duchess by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle #0.5
Also in this series: Wilde in Love, Too Wilde to Wed, Born to Be Wilde (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #3), Born to Be Wilde (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #3), Say Yes to the Duke
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 432
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James returns to the Wildes series with a prequel about the Wilde children's parents, Hugo, Duke of Lindow, and Ophelia, Lady Astley.

Every Duke needs a Duchess...

Hugo Wilde, the Duke of Lindow, has a drafty castle, eight naughty children—and no wife. Ophelia, Lady Astley, has a fine house, one well-behaved daughter—and no husband.

Hugo takes one look at Ophelia and loses his heart, but she doesn’t want more children or a castle. She takes one look at him and heads for her carriage.

Desperate to find a duchess, Hugo identifies an appropriate lady to woo. Yet when he meets Ophelia again, the duke realizes that he will marry her, or no one.

Now he faces the greatest challenge of his life.

He must convince Ophelia that their blazing sensuality, his exquisite castle, and his eight charming children add up to a match made in heaven.

When duke finds his duchess, can he win her heart?

A Wildes series prequel about the Wilde children’s parents, Hugo, Duke of Lindow, and Ophelia, Lady Astley.

Hugo Wilde isn’t interested in getting married again.  His twin sister, Louisa, makes him think seriously about that choice as he has eight children, and they have no mother.

Hugo was in love with his first wife and they had three sons together. Unfortunately, she died.  His second wife he married just so his sons could have a mother – he was not in love with her.  She ended up having an affair and leaving her four small children with Hugo and obtaining a divorce (scandal!). He also had a ward that he adopted so that brought the children total up to eight.

He finally agrees with Louisa and heads off to London to find someone to mother his children.  He’s a duke so it won’t be that hard to find another wife, so he thinks.  All the women are a little leery of him as they know how many children he has and the divorce doesn’t help matters. Though Hugo has no plans to fall in love again, the minute he sees Ophelia he is sunk.  It is said that Wilde men fall in love at first sight and this is proving correct in the case of Hugo and Ophelia.

Ophelia is a widow with a two-year-old daughter. She loves being independent (she has more than enough money) and she loves being a true mother to her daughter.  She’s not interested in getting married again and she’s certainly not interested in taking care of 8 children who aren’t her own – even though the oldest 4 are older and away at school.

Hugo isn’t taking no for an answer and pursues Ophelia. They end up spending one night together and Hugo wants only her. Unfortunately, Ophelia is steadfast in her refusal and Hugo has no choice but to move on.  What he moves on to doesn’t make him happy, but hopefully will be a good choice for the many children whom he loves beyond all else. When Ophelia finds out he’s moved on, she starts to rethink her decision, but it may be too late.

This was a short but very sweet novella that I enjoyed immensely.  When I read romances about adult children I’m not normally interested in reading about their parents.  In this case, I was curious about Hugo – especially after hearing about his past wives. I wanted to know how he had met his third and final wife and I’m so glad I read it!

Hugo was charming, Ophelia was lovely, and their story was adorable.  I loved the children as they were so freaking cute! The questions the younger ones had for their potential mother were hilarious and they were so very serious about them, you couldn’t help but want to hug them.

Overall a great story and one that’s not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Review: The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie

Posted November 16, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Perfect Rake by Anne GracieReviewer: Holly
The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie
Series: The Merridew Sisters #1
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: July 5, 2005
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 360
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

She ran from a brute...

Fleeing violent tyranny, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters' chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke...But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster.

...into the arms of a rake

Aristocratic Gideon, handsome, rakish and with a strong frivolous streak, casually hijacks Prudence's game, awarding himself a stolen kiss or three along the way. Used to managing sisters and elderly men, Prudence is completely out of her depth with a charming, devious and utterly irresistible rake. And her plot goes terribly—if deliciously—awry...

The Perfect Rake is the first book in Anne Gracie’s Merridew Sisters trilogy. Tracy recommended this to me after I finished Marry in Scarlet. As it happens, it has a very similar theme to My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid, which I read shortly before this one. I really enjoyed it.

Prue and her younger sisters are being abused at the hands of their grandfather, their guardian since their parents’ death. When he falls down the stairs after a particularly brutal attack against her youngest sister, she sees it as a chance to finally be free of him. If she can get just one of her sister’s married, she can claim their inheritance and take them away from him forever. She forges a letter from their Guardian to their uncle, enlisting his help to give the older girls a season. The problem? Their uncle refuses to launch her sisters until she herself is wed. What she hasn’t told him is that she’s already engaged…to a man he’ll find completely unacceptable. So she does something daring…she claims to be engaged to a reclusive duke, one who hasn’t been out in society in years. She just needs enough time to get one of her sisters wed, and then she can give up the deception. Of course things are never that easy. It just so happens the Duke has come to town to find a bride himself. Prue knows they can’t go back to their grandfather, so she rushes to the Duke’s home to ask him to please keep her secret.

Gideon is reluctantly charmed by the headstrong girl who bursts into his friend’s home to demand he keep up her charade. When she assumes he’s the Duke, he doesn’t correct her at first, mostly because he’s convinced she was a gold-digger at first. It isn’t long before he realizes there’s a quiet desperation to the spitfire. He’s intrigued and wants to know more about her, but she wants nothing to do with him. As they traverse the season together, he realizes she’s more than he could ever have dreamed..now he just has to convince her she wants him just as much.

Prue, her sisters and both Carridan and the Duke were wonderful. I also loved the secondary characters. I loved how into Prue Gideon was. Every time someone mentioned the plain Merridew sister and he was confused I wanted to hug him. I liked how Prue was steadfast and loyal, and took care of her sisters.

This was a really light read, which worked against it in some areas. The early part of the book deals with some pretty heavy themes, but I never felt like they were explored. That was a missed opportunity.

Still, I can’t deny I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Merridew Sisters

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: Once & Always by Judith McNaught

Posted November 12, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Once & Always by Judith McNaughtReviewer: Rowena
Once and Always by Judith McNaught
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: September 20, 1990
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

Across the vast ocean sailed Victoria Seaton, a free-spirited American beauty left suddenly orphaned and alone. Eager to claim her long-lost heritage, she was amazed at the formal elegance of Wakefield, the sumptuous English estate of her distant cousin...the notorious Lord Jason Fielding. Sought after at plays, operas, and balls by London's most fashionable ladies, Jason remained a mystery to Victoria. Bewildered by his arrogant demeanor, yet drawn to his panther-like grace, she came to sense the searingly painful memories that smoldered in the depths of his jade-green eyes. Unable to resist her spitfire charm, Jason gathered her at last into his powerful arms, ravishing her lips with his kisses, arousing in her a sweet, insistent hunger. Wed in desire, they were enfolded in a fierce, consuming joy, free at last from the past's cruel grasp. Then, in a moment of blinding anguish, Victoria discovered the shocking treachery that lay at the heart of their love...a love she had dreamed would triumph...Once And Always.

This review was originally posted on April 21, 2016.

***THIS REVIEW WILL BE FILLED WITH SPOILERS SO KEEP SCROLLING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK AND DON’T WAIT TO BE SPOILED***

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
Alright, you’ve been warned…

It’s been ages since I’ve read this book so when my book club chose it for last month’s discussion, I knew that I was going to have to re-read it since I couldn’t remember anything aside from the gift that Tory gave Jason and that she kissed his back.

And that thing. For those of you guys who have read this book before, you know what I’m talking about. I’ll come back to that in a little bit.

Victoria Seaton known affectionately as Tory has been shipped to live in England with distant relatives after her parents die in a carriage accident. Victoria and her sister are sent to live with family they don’t know and have never heard anything about. Victoria looks just like her mother so she’s sent to live with Charles Fielding and her sister goes to live with their grandmother. When Victoria shows up at the Fielding residence, she’s met by Jason Fielding, Charles’ nephew who is the heir to all of Charles titles and businesses.

Jason wants nothing to do with a gold digging hussy from America and if Charles wants to house her, he’ll have to come and fetch the girl himself. Jason’s past has soured him on all relationships and he really wants nothing to do with anyone. He’s cold and he’s bitter and he’s been like that ever since his wife and son died a few years ago.

This wasn’t an easy romance to read. I remember loving the hell out of this book when I first read it. This was one of those romances that were filled with moments that I absolutely loved. Moments that broke my heart and then moments that enraged me so.

Jason was such a broken man that lived each day doing whatever he damn well pleased. He had not one iota of care left in his system for anyone outside of himself. He didn’t let himself get close to anyone and he preferred it that way and then Victoria Seaton comes into his life and she’s the complete opposite of him. She’s bright and happy where he’s dark and cold and she’s got this courage that shines from within and a caring touch for everyone that crosses her path. They shouldn’t have made sense together but over the course of the book, you see that they do.

I loved that when Jason finally owns up to his feelings for Tory, the love he showers her with made me all swoony. I loved that Victoria was able to reach Jason when nobody else could and I loved that her love for him grew over time and once she let herself fall out of love with Andrew and into love with Jason, I loved how all in she was. I loved seeing her thaw Jason’s heart with the gifts, by caring about his welfare and by just being herself. She was probably my very favorite part of this book.

What I didn’t love was how Jason jumped to conclusion after conclusion about Tory’s every move. It didn’t matter how out of character he knew it was, she was guilty before found innocent. I didn’t love the way that Charles manipulated Jason and Tory, no matter what his reasons were for doing so. And I didn’t love when Jason went to London right after their wedding and we find out who he was in London with.

I remember reading this book back in the day and being so completely sure that Jason didn’t cheat on Victoria when he was in London. Reading this book now? I am completely sure of the opposite. What’s funny is that while discussing this very thing with my book club, we were split down the middle. The ones who didn’t think he cheated, didn’t want to believe he did but the others? The others read it for themselves and it was plain as day that Jason was up to no good in London. Sure it was a sign of the times since he wasn’t the only Lord to keep a mistress but it was so disappointing to realize that he wasn’t the hero that I remembered. The hero that I was so sure of before. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and a bit more cynical but to me, it was so obvious that Jason didn’t spend his nights alone in London and that hurt my heart.

Reading this book all over again reminded me how angsty McNaught romances are. She really pushes you over the edge, emotionally before dragging you back by your hair. This book was an emotional roller coaster that knocked me on my ass more than once. I rejoiced with Tory and Jason, I raged at the both of them but in the end? I was so hot damn glad that they got their shit together and did right by each other. I came full circle with this read and while I didn’t absolutely love it this time around, I wasn’t fully disappointed either. I would re-read this one again.

So if you’re going to read this one, prepare yourself. It’s not easy, the characters will drive you crazy but you’ll be okay. Haha.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,

Guest Review: Tempted by Her Viking Enemy by Terri Brisbin

Posted November 2, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Tempted by Her Viking Enemy by Terri BrisbinReviewer: Tracy
Tempted by Her Viking Enemy by Terri Brisbin
Series: Sons of Sigurd #5
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
Publication Date: November 1, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


USA TODAY
Bestselling Author
“What do I get if I help you?”

“Whatever I have to give…”

The only person who can help Katla flee a violent marriage is the Viking in her father’s dungeon, the strong and honorable Brandt Sigurdsson. Except Brandt is hungry to see justice done for his family’s destruction, the final vengeance on behalf of all the sons of Sigurd. Is there any persuasion she can offer that will free them both to live—and love—together?
From Harlequin Historical: Your romantic escape to the past.
Sons of Sigurd

Driven by revenge, redeemed by love
Book 1: Stolen by the Viking by Michelle Willingham
Book 2: Falling for Her Viking Captive by Harper St. George
Book 3: Conveniently Wed to the Viking by Michelle Styles
Book 4: Redeeming Her Viking Warrior by Jenni Fletcher
Book 5: Tempted by Her Viking Enemy by Terri Brisbin

Katla Thorfinnsdottir is the oldest daughter of a Pict woman and a Norse man.  Her father has promised her in marriage to a horrible man and Katla is devastated.  She is a widow from her first marriage and doesn’t want to marry another ogre.

Brandt shows up at the Pict stronghold to kill Katla’s father, Thorfinn Bjornsson.  He wants revenge as he believes that Thorfinn is responsible for the raid on his Norse village that ended up killing his father, Brandt’s pregnant wife, and the crown taking their titles and their land.  They fight, but eventually Brandt is wounded and taken prisoner.  Katla is the castle’s healer and is ordered by her father to save Brandt.  As he’s healing, Katla gets to know Brandt and stats to like him a great deal.  She asks him to help her and her younger sister escape from the castle and Brandt agrees, but not before he gets his revenge.  Brandt is leery of Katla at first but soon finds himself falling in love with her.

Brandt tells Katla the story of his village and Katla discusses some weird happenings that are taking place in the castle.  Between the two of them they solve the mystery of what’s going on, but that doesn’t help Brandt who is still a prisoner. They make a plan, but they’re not sure if they can execute it without, well, getting executed.

This was a decent read.  I liked Katla but felt bad for her for the life she’d had after her mother died and her father had gotten remarried. She came back home after her husband died with the intent of staying at the castle for the rest of her life.  In the Pict lands the right of inheritance is through the women.  For the Norse, the right of inheritance goes through the male line.  Her father marrying her off again was something she certainly didn’t want.  She’d been abused by her first husband and didn’t want to have to deal with that again.  Unfortunately, her father wasn’t listening, because of his new wife and her machinations.

Brandt was a good character, but he didn’t have much depth.  He was so focused on revenge that we didn’t get to know a whole lot about him or his background. I certainly liked him with Katla,and loved that he could love her despite his hate for her father.  Katla was kind and giving and I loved her determination in getting the heck out of Dodge.

The story did have a ton of introspection as the characters were trying to figure out their lives, and the mystery that entwined the two of them, and that slowed things down a bit for me.  Despite that I enjoyed the story and recommend it if you like a good Viking story. This is the 5th book in the Sons of Sigurd series – all the books are written by different authors.  I didn’t read any of the books in the series besides this one but didn’t feel that I needed to do so in order to figure out what was going on in this one.  I obviously can’t say if that applies for all the books in the series, but for this one, it worked.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,