Tag: Isobel Carr

Five Books Everyone Should Read: Author Isobel Carr

Posted September 13, 2015 by Holly in Features | 1 Comment

5 Books Project

Today we have historical romance author Isobel Carr here to share her list of Five Books. We’ve come to know each other through Twitter, and I love her choices here.

___________________Isobel Carr

It’s an interesting process to go about thinking about what five books I think everyone should read. On the one hand, it would be easy to pick non-fiction stuff. I love it, and being well informed never hurts (stuff like Craze, Salt, The History of the World in Six Glasses, Tongue First, Amphibious Thing). But then I tried to think of what books really formed me as a writer, stuck with me over the years, and that I would hand to my friend’s niece or nephew without reservation and say, “These. Read these!”

So here we go:

dragonflightDragonflight by Ann McCaffrey.


To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .

I think I was eight or nine when I read this for the first time. I loved that Lessa was strong, crafty, manipulative, and a consummate survivor. She was the girl heroine of my young dreams. And as I got older and reread it many, many times, I saw new things and had new insights into the character and her world, but I never lost that love for Lessa (with all her glorious flaws).

god stalkGod Stalk by P.C. Hodgell.

In the first book of the Kencyrath, Jame, a young woman missing her memories, struggles out of the haunted wastes into Tai-tastigon, the old, corrupt, rich and god-infested city between the mountains and the lost lands of the Kencyrath. Jame’s struggle to regain her strength, her memories, and the resources to travel to join her people, the Kencyrath, drag her into several relationships, earning affection, respect, bitter hatred and, as always, haunting memories of friends and enemies dead in her wake.

I love this whole series. I’ve been following it since I was twelve. There was a decade plus gap between books at one point, and I never forgot about this series, this heroine, or this world. Jame is similar to Lessa (strong, crafty, a survivor, someone with a terrible backstory), but Jame is also wildly independent and truly heroic (in the traditional sense of the world) as she sets out to meet her destiny.

(Can you tell I was a SFF kid? When I wasn’t reading SFF I was reading historical stuff like Rosemary Sutcliff or Elfquest comics.)

the wicked loverThe Wicked Lover by Julia Ross.

From the author of The Seduction comes a sizzling tale of intrigue, stolen pasts, and secret identities, as two people with something wicked to hide unwillingly surrender to the blazing passion of love.

It was the last thing he expected…to catch a beautiful intruder disguised as a man, rummaging through his bedroom. The fair lady claimed she was stealing one of his cravats for a wager, but Robert Sinclair Dovenby- known throughout fashionable London as Dove-suspects there is far more to “George” than meets the eye.

Little does Dove imagine, however, that Sylvie Georgiana, Countess of Montevrain, is an agent hired to determine whether he’s guilty of treason. To uncover his well-guarded secrets, Sylvie finds herself having to stay dangerously close to her mischievous adversary. But when the masquerade comes undone, will she be able to betray the one man she thinks she could love?

This is probably my all-time favorite romance. Beautifully written, with a delicious hero and a heroine to die for. Even the villain of the piece is well drawn, well-motivated, and ultimately heartbreaking. You really can’t go wrong with any of Ross’s books, but his one in particular stands out for me. And yeah, I might now hand this to the kids just yet, but I wouldn’t hesitate when I think they’re old enough for the material.

the edge of improprietyThe Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal.

Popular novelist and Countess of Gorham Marina Wyatt knows her public scandals help sell her romances. Her latest novel coincides with the arrival of her lover’s uncle, Jasper James Hedges-an antiquarian who sees a priceless work of art in Marina. For all of her passionate works, none compare to the erotic adventure that Jasper promises…

I really like all of Rosenthal’s books (disclosure, she’s a friend of mine), but the combination of a staid professor and an unrepentant voluptuary heroine is my catnip on every level. The reverse is fairly easy to find (bored rake, bluestocking heroine is a standard of the genre), but this, this book is pushing all my buttons. Add in that Rosenthal writes beautifully and is a major research wonk, and well, this is just about the pinnacle of historical romance in my opinion.


A Song For ArbonneA Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Based on the troubadour culture that rose in Provence during the High Middle Ages, this panoramic, absorbing novel beautifully creates an alternate version of the medieval world. The matriarchal, cultured land of Arbonne is rent by a feud between its two most powerful dukes, the noble troubador Bertran de Talair and Urte de Miraval, over long-dead Aelis, lover of one, wife of the other and once heir to the country’s throne. To the north lies militaristic Gorhaut, whose inhabitants worship the militant god Corannos and are ruled by corrupt, womanizing King Ademar. His chief advisor, the high priest of Corannos, is determined to irradicate the worship of a female deity, whose followers live to the south. Into this cauldron of brewing disaster comes the mysterious Gorhaut mercenary Blaise, who takes service with Bertran and averts an attempt on his life. The revelation of Blaise’s lineage and a claim for sanctuary by his sister-in-law sets the stage for a brutal clash between the two cultures. Intertwined is the tale of a young woman troubadour whose role suggests the sweep of the drama to come.

This may well be my all-time favorite BOOK. Like all of Kay’s book, it’s beautifully written, politically complicated, has a rich, fully realized world and characters you truly care about. But there’s something about the hero of this one that just undoes me. Blaise is amazing. If I had a book boyfriend (and I don’t, because I hate that term), it would be Blaise. If only this would come out as an eBook … sigh.

So there you have it, my reading world in five books. Have any of you read these?

About Isobel:

Isobel Carr is the best-selling author of the Georgian-set League of Second Sons series. She grew up participating in a wide variety of historical re-enactment clubs, which has given her an unusually personal perspective on history, along with a deep knowledge of the history of clothing. Currently, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her Mastiff, Clancy, in a 1916 bungalow that she has no time to restore. More about her and her books can be found on her website: www.isobelcarr.com.

Check out her latest release:

Ripe for Pleasure
Ripe for Pleasure Book 1
Ripe for Scandal
Ripe for Scandal Book 2
Ripe for Seduction
Ripe for Seduction Book 3


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Guest Review: Ripe for Seduction by Isobel Carr

Posted January 3, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Please welcome, once again, my Mama aka Dr. J aka Judith as she gives us another wonderful review of a historical romance.

Few contemporary women really understand what it meant in practical terms to be “ruined.” We know about losing one’s reputation and those of us who are a bit older know that when we were growing up it was imperative that you tried your darnedest to be considered a “good girl” so that you didn’t end up being the object of endless gossip. I don’t think I hated anything more than walking down the school hallways and hearing whispers about one person or another. But as mortifying as that may have been, it was nothing compared to being an aristocratic young lady, one who had been thought in good standing and who everyone thought had “married well,” and then to find out that the upstanding, aristocratic husband was, in reality, a bigamist. To make the wounds even deeper and more deadly was the refusal of one’s own parent to allow her to return to her own home. So it was with Lady Olivia Carlow, ruined in reputation and hardly received by only those at the outer edges of polite society, all for a transgression that wasn’t even hers.

As if all this were not enough, she is now considered “fair game” by the rakes of the ton even though she was in a much more precarious position than if she had been a widow. And it was upon receiving a scandalous proposal from a known rogue that Olivia decided to fight fire with fire. As it turns out, the note had been written when the young man—a second son, at that—had been “in his cups,” and now he is called to task by Olivia herself, and to beat all, she was receiving some of the ladies who were still in favor in society. The last thing Roland Devere wanted to see happen is for anyone who knew him or his family to know the contents of his ill-advised proposition. So Olivia made a counter-offer: she wouldn’t reveal the contents of his missive if he agreed to pretend to be her fiance until the Season was over.

This historical romance is just a bit different in that it is really two stories melded together into one—Olivia’s pretend engagement and its progress over the span of the Season, and the telling of that of Olivia’s father and his entendre for Roland’s sister, a young countess who had been widowed six months earlier when her French aristocratic husband had died. Now home from the French court, she caught the eye of the Earl and their romance was off and running. The dual love affairs makes for very interesting reading and the two stories come together, all caught in the web woven by a disgruntled gentleman who stood to inherit the title from Olivia’s father should he have no other heirs. Henry Carlow appears now and then throughout the story and slowly the reader becomes aware that his plans for Olivia and her father were anything but honorable.

Written with flair and a deft storytelling talent, this historical novel reads well, moving smoothly from scene to scene, from one time frame to the next, from one context on to another. It is a complex novel with the reader wondering if Roland will “come up to scratch” with Olivia, if she will guard her heart sufficiently, and if not, then how does it all play out, especially with the machinations of Henry Carlow in the mix. There’s also the reticence of Roland’s sister Margo to really believe that Olivia’s father truly loves her or perhaps he is just “in lust.” Their affair is far more overt and plays out differently as society allowed widows indiscretions that were considered totally unforgivable for unwed maidens. In truth, Olivia’s situation was like trying to balance on the thin edge of a razor blade, and that tension is part of what keeps the story intriguing throughout.

I have always been a great fan of historical romance as that is what got me reading voraciously during my teen years. Their lure has not dimmed over the years. And as this story takes a somewhat different slant right from the beginning—one doesn’t encounter bigamists often—the reader should be primed for a story that is far different from the normal formulaic historical. I think this is a story that will delight the true lover of historical romance. 

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

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Sinful Seduction Blog Tour (+ a Giveaway!) with Isobel Carr & Laurel McKee

Posted December 5, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 10 Comments

I’m more than happy to welcome both Isobel Carr and Laurel McKee to the blog! They are currently on their Sinful Seduction Blog Tour promoting their new releases, Ripe for Seduction (The League of Second Sons #3) & Two Sinful Secrets (The Scandalous St. Claires #2).

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your road to becoming an author.

Isobel: I come from the snooty white tower of academia. I got my MFA in poetry (and won a very prestigious national poetry award, the Intro Journals) before turning my hand to genre fiction. Writing romance is a LOT more fun!!!

Laurel: My road to becoming an author is probably a lot like other writers—I started as a big reader!! And I started young too. My grandmother was a voracious reader, and was always bringing home huge boxes of books from garage sales and used bookstores. When we visited her house in the summers, I would drag those boxes into a closet and hide in there reading. I found all kinds of things there—Barbara Cartlands and Georgette Heyers (my “starter” romances, that also got me hooked on history!), some Austen and Bronte, some random old-school Westerns, a few old Harlequins. I loved them all, and started making up my own stories when I ran out of reading materials and had to wait for the next garage sale run.

2. You write historical romance novels. What is it about history that draws you to write it?

Isobel: I like the challenge of crafting a historically feasible story that is still interesting, unique, and exciting.

Laurel: I’ve been a history nut ever since those long-ago novels! I also got hooked on a series I found in my elementary school library, about famous women in history as children (the childhood of Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Abigail Adams, stuff like that). I was fascinated by a world so very different from my own, where people dressed and spoke and ate so differently from me and yet were also so similar. I love being immersed in those worlds.

3. How much time do you spend doing research for each book/series?

Isobel: I’m never not doing research, so that’s a hard question to answer. I’m constantly buying new books and expanding my knowledge about the period. I rarely need to do intensive research for my books though, as I’ve been studying the period for twenty something years now. Mostly I have to look up small, fiddly bits like who was the ambassador to France in X year or double check a word in the OED.

Laurel: It depends on the book! A straightforward Regency story, which doesn’t involve plot points of politics or real historical events, doesn’t take a great deal of time, while a story set in a time period I don’t know as much about can take longer. I’m always reading history books and biographies, even when I’m not actively researching a certain story, so the atmosphere is always there in my mind. I loved The Scandalous St. Claires book since I got to dive into the Victorian period for the first time!

4. If you have time to read what are some of your favorite books?

Isobel: I read everything. Right now my favorite authors are Miranda Neville, Carolyn Jewel (both her historicals and her paranaomals), Seanan McGuire, Ilona Andrews, C.S. Harris, Tracy/Teresa Grant, Julia James, Victoria Dahl, P.G. Hodgell, and Alison Sinclair.

Laurel: I will read anything and everything that catches my attention! Romance and mysteries, literary fiction (I just finished “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” and have been running around raving about it to everyone!), history and biography, fashion magazines. I like to re-read Austen, the Brontes, and George Elliott when I have the time. Right now I’m re-reading “Anna Karenina” before I go see the new movie version.

When I was helping to run the Desert Island Keeper blog we had some “About Me” random questions we asked. I’m going to borrow a few today.

5. If you could be in any book/series/world which would you pick and why?

Isobel: Pern. I want a dragon!!!

Laurel: This might sound weird, but when I was a very little girl I loved the “Eloise” books! I’ve always thought it would be wonderful to live at the Plaza hotel and run wild there. But if I have to be grown-up about it, I wouldn’t mind living at Austen’s Pemberley, or maybe be an intellectual aristocrat in mid-18th century France.

6. What fictional hero would you like to be your significant other?

Isobel: That is so hard. At the moment though, Sebastian St. Cyr would win out (though I might elope on him with Curran or Damerel or F’lar).

Laurel: I’ve loved Mr. Rochester ever since I read “Jane Eyre” when I was about 10! (I stayed up all night reading it, and was shocked—shocked–by the wife in the attic!) He’s so complex and broody, and so in love with Jane, though in real-life I might not be quite as understanding as she was. It was fun to bring something of their Victorian world into the St. Claires stories.

7. Best love song?

Isobel: When it comes to music, I like the broken hearted stuff more, Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, everything by Adele and Depeche Mode.

Laurel: I really love “La Vie En Rose”! But maybe that comes from my love of all things Parisian.

8. Favorite sex song? (I have to ask as this is the Sinful Seduction blog tour!)

Isobel: Anything by Barry White (I’m a traditionalist).

Laurel: Hmmm, that is a tough one. 🙂 I really like the Black Keys’ “Next Girl”…very sexy.

9. Favorite Heroine?

Isobel: Of mine? Beau. She gets what she wants by whatever means necessary and she’s a fighter.

Laurel: Jane Eyre! Or if you mean my own heroines, I really found myself liking Sophia Huntington from “Two Sinful Secrets” more and more as I wrote the book. She was a character who just sort of ran away from me and made her own personality…I just followed along.

10. What heroine is most like you?

Isobel: Probably Margo, the secondary heroine of RIPE FOR SEDUCTION.

Laurel: From my own heroines, I think Lady Caroline from “Lady of Seduction” is most like me—bookish and studious, having to be pushed out into the world! When I was younger I felt a lot like Marianne Dashwood, sort of romantic and idealistic and not very realistic in many ways.

11. What heroine would you like to be?

Isobel: Oh, Margo. Definitely Margo. Once you see Philip, his house, and his dogs you’ll understand why. *grin* I love her so much I even wrote their reconciliation scene, even though it’s not in the book. It’s up on my website though, so that anyone who feels like they missed out can go read it.

Laurel: I’d like to be Elizabeth Bennet (like so many other romance authors!)

12. How old is your inside voice?

Isobel: I think she’s perpetually somewhere between 27-33.

Laurel: About 17, I think. See Marianne Dashwood above 🙂

13. What do you like best about being a writer?

Isobel: There’s really something amazing about knowing that something you created from nothing provided joy and entertainment to people. It’s like being able to perform magic.

Laurel: A lot of writers say this, but it’s very true—working in my pajamas! I love just getting up, having a cup of tea, and diving right into a story without worrying about putting on my makeup. It’s nice being able to work with my pets taking naps around me and some classical music on the stereo. But I also like all the friendships I’ve made, both the imaginary ones with the characters inside my head and the real ones with other writers. It’s a wonderfully supportive field to be in. Plus I get to put my English lit degree to work, which my dad said would never happen! 🙂

Ladies, thank you so much for stopping by and letting us get to know you a bit better.

Giveaway:  I have print copies of both Ripe for Seduction and Two Sinful Secrets to give away to one lucky winner.  Leave a comment on this post, along with your email address, no later than 12/12/12 (hey, look at that!!) at 7:00pm to enter to win.

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Guest Review: Ripe for Pleasure by Isobel Carr

Posted May 4, 2011 by Ames in Reviews | 2 Comments

Ames’ review of Ripe for Pleasure by Isobel Carr.

Second in line, first in love.

A secret society of younger sons, sworn to aid and abet each other, no matter the scandal or cost…. Their fathers and brothers may rule the world, but they run it . . . and when it comes to passion, they refuse to accept second best.

Searching for hidden treasure, finding forbidden fantasy.

London’s most sensual former courtesan, Viola Whedon, is incapable of being seduced-she does the seducing. Until she meets Leonidas Vaughn. Her salacious memoirs have made her the target of half the lords in England, and Vaughn is the only man she can turn to. When he promises to protect her-and to make her beg for his touch-the alluring beauty finds both offers impossible to refuse.

Leonidas Vaughn secretly believes Viola possesses a fortune given to his family by the King of France. So the strong and sexy Vaughn charms his way into Viola’s life . . . and her bed. But when their arrangement is consummated, he’ll experience pleasure far beyond his wildest fantasies-and realize his heart may need the most protection of all.

Viola Whedon is one of London’s most sought after courtesans. And she’s using her notoriety to publish her memoirs. And so when two men break into her home one night, she assumes it’s for the draft of her second manuscript, in which her most recent patron is featured. She figures he’s trying to get his hands on the manuscript before it goes public.

Leonidas Vaughn knows this is not the case but decides to use it as a cover for the truth. He knows that those two ruffians broke into Mrs. Whedon’s home for treasure. But since Leonidas wants the treasure, he’ll play into Viola’s fears and come to her rescue, all to gain access to the house. But Leonidas is not the only one after this so-called treasure. His cousin wants it and Leonidas knows those two men that broke into Viola’s home were working for him.

Leonidas strikes a bargain with Viola, he’ll pretend to be her protector in exchange for the safety he’ll bring her. Viola is tempted by Leonidas, so she agrees. But things don’t go quite as Leo planned them.

I enjoyed this Georgian romance about a duo of non-traditional characters. It was good to read about a second son who doesn’t inherit a title and makes his own way in the world. And yes I’ve read about courtesans but never one who used what she was to really try to improve her circumstances. The chemistry between these two characters struck the perfect balance and I believed the romance between the two of them. The conflicts they faced were also believable. There was no easy HEA for these two because Leo needs to marry an heiress basically, to make his estate profitable eventually. And then there’s the scandal of what Viola is. Leo and Viola knew exactly why they couldn’t fall in love with each other, but sometimes love strikes anyway.

Also, I thought the external conflict of Leo’s cousin was handled very well. I thought the little bit of intrigue surrounding the treasure was a good reason to introduce more characters from the League of Second sons without shoving them down our throat. That whole plot was a good way to bring all the characters together but it also remained enough in the background that it didn’t overwhelm the romance.

Ripe for Pleasure was a solid historical read with just enough variety in the characters to keep it fresh. I can’t wait to read the second book, Ripe for Scandal, when it comes out in August.

4 out 5.

This book is available from Forever. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

You can read more from ~ames~ at Thrifty Reader.

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