Tag: Historical

Joint Review: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

Posted July 1, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry ThomasReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Marsdens #2
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication Date: May 19, 2009
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 354
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sherry Thomas is one of the hottest new voices in historical romance, garnering the highest praise from today’s bestselling writers (“Entrancing.” —Mary Balogh; “Ravishingly sinful, intelligent and addictive.” —Eloisa James). Now Sherry delivers this powerful story of a remarkable woman and the love she thought she’d never find—with the man she thought she’d lost forever.…

Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon—to no one’s surprise, not even Bryony Asquith’s. A man as talented, handsome, and sought after by society as Leo Marsden couldn't possibly want to spend his entire life with a woman who rebelled against propriety by becoming a doctor. Why, then, three years after their annulment and half a world away, does he track her down at her clinic in the remotest corner of India?

Leo has no reason to think Bryony could ever forgive him for the way he treated her, but he won’t rest until he’s delivered an urgent message from her sister—and fulfilled his duty by escorting her safely back to England. But as they risk their lives for each other on the journey home, will the biggest danger be the treacherous war around them—or their rekindling passion?

Holly: I am a total sucker for second chance romances. When our book club suggested this novel, I was really excited. I was frustrated with Bryony in the beginning, because I didn’t understand why she was so cold toward her former husband. But my heart really ached for her after we found out her reasons for pulling away.

Rowena: I haven’t been in the mood for historicals so I wasn’t all that enthused about starting this one but I am glad that I read and finished it. Like you, I spent a lot of the beginning of this story frustrated with Bryony. I was impatient and just wanted to know why she hated her husband so much. He had to have done something but even he was clueless about what he did so I thought I was going to be pissed at Bryony because it was going to be something stupid but that wasn’t the case at all.

I will say that I spent a good chunk of this book annoyed at one thing or another but I couldn’t stop reading it so I guess that’s a good thing?

Holly: It’s funny because I felt the same way. I wanted to keep reading and find out what was going to happen, and why they were at odds when they both clearly loved the other. But man was I annoyed through a good chunk.

I especially struggled with the dubious consent on both sides.

Rowena: Yes. The dubious consent on both sides pissed me off. Every single time that he did it, I wanted to smack him upside his head and then knee him in the balls because what is wrong with him?? I was so mad on her behalf because she was trying so hard to stay away from him and he just kept right on coming back while she had her guard down…so when she ups and does the exact same thing that I was pissed at him for doing, I wanted to pull her hair and poke her eyes out.

Holly: Exactly. I was so angry at him, and then she went and did the exact same thing. I wanted to smack them both.

Rowena: Once all of their drama is out in the open and they start working together to figure out where to go from here (especially during the attack), I was glad. I will say that Sherry Thomas’ writing style is hard to stay away from. No matter how many times I wanted to smack a bitch in the book, I never once wanted to stop. This was a quick read for me and alls well that ends well so for me, I’d give this one a 3.75 out of 5 rating. You?

Holly: Like you, I didn’t want to stop reading, though. This was a fast read and I easily finished it in one sitting.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5. It was easy to read and I liked the story overall, but there were some problematic themes for me.

Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3.75 out of 5

The Marsdens

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Posted June 3, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 8 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly
Love In The Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Hathaways #5
Also in this series: Tempt Me at Twilight, Married By Morning
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: June 29th 2010
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 352
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted...and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix's friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it's becoming clear that Christopher won't come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru's disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru's letters to Christopher for her.

Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep...and when Christopher comes home, he's determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix's innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can't be denied...

I’ve been really into re-reading Lisa Kleypas recently. I enjoyed this book just as much this time around. Beatrix is so wonderful.

This review was originally published on July 20, 2010.

I have to be honest and say I wasn’t really looking forward to this book until the very end of the last book. Up until that point, Beatrix still seemed very young to me. Even after the last book I still had reservations about her as a heroine.

I should have had more faith in Kleypas. Both Beatrix and Christopher were delightful. I loved the premise behind their romance. The letters they exchanged really set up the romance beautifully. It was easy to see how they’d fallen in love with each other as Christoper was at war, and Beatrix waiting at home for him. Those first few chapters were so emotionally charged they pulled me in completely.

But Christopher doesn’t realize it’s Beatrix he loves. Because Beatrix has been writing her letters in the name of her friend, Prudence Mercer. Pru shared Christopher’s first letter with Bea and it was obvious to her that he needed someone to correspond with. The selfish and shallow Pru didn’t want to hear tales of war, and refused to respond to him. So Bea offered to do it instead, agreeing to signing Pru’s name to the letters.

When Christopher returns home he expects to find Miss Prudence Mercer waiting for him. He knows she loves him, just as he loves her. But Pru isn’t there waiting, and he realizes he needs time to decompress before going to her in London. That’s when he runs into Beatrix Hathaway. He’s always thought Beatrix was unconventional, and not in a good way. He’s surprised to see she’s grown into a beautiful woman, one he desires. Not that it matters, since it’s Prudence he loves. But still, he’s a man and he noticed. He also starts noticing other things about Beatrix – how comfortable she is to be around, how understanding she is, and how much she challenges and frustrates him.

Once he reaches London it isn’t long before he realizes Prudence Mercer did not write the letters he received. She’s nothing like the woman he corresponded with. But who then? Certainly not..Beatrix Hathaway?

Christopher is a young, foolish, vain boy when he leaves for war. He’s what you would expect a spoiled, entitled man to be. But the things he sees in battle change him. He comes home with darkness in him, and a better understanding of himself and the word. It was really interesting seeing the way he matured. He also suffers from PTSD. I think Kleypas did a really excellent job of showing how that effects a soldier.

Beatrix was everything I expected from the earlier novels – loving and caring, helpful and more interested in animals than humans. She was also stronger and much more mature than I expected. I guess I always saw her as the youngest Hathaway, always into mischief and taking care of animals, so I didn’t think of her as a woman. She feels terrible guilt over writing letters to Christopher as Pru, but she just couldn’t not write to him. It was easy to see how something that started innocent got out of hand the longer it went on.

I loved that they admitted their feelings for each other early on. Neither of them play coy, or try to deny what’s between them. Christopher is worried that he’s too damaged for Beatrix. Not in a “I’m a martyr” kind of way, but he has very real concerns that, as a result of his PTSD, he might hurt her at some point. He’s against marrying her because he’s afraid of himself. But he doesn’t deny that he loves her, or try to pretend his feelings aren’t what they are, or try to push her away. I loved that.

I also loved how Beatrix stood beside him and pushed him to get better. She didn’t let him wallow in his misery, or fall into depression. She was just exactly what he needed.

Though this was a darker novel than some of the others in the series, it still had moments of great humor. There’s one scene in particular where I was literally laughing out loud. I won’t spoil it, but it has to do with squirrels. You’ll have to read it yourself to see what I mean.

It was lovely to see the Hathaway’s again, as always. The family is so quirky and strong. I adore them. Kleypas once again managed to include scenes with them without taking away from the main romance, which was great.

One last thing I have to mention: Beatrix’s animals. I loved all her pets. The goat scene was hilarious, and I loved the hedgehog. But it was Albert, Christopher’s terrier, who really stole the show. It was heartbreaking to see how much he was suffering, and delightful watching Beatrix work with him.

While I enjoyed Married by Morning more than many others, I’d have to say Love in the Afternoon was deeper and more emotionally compelling.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Hathaways

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

Posted May 27, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 10 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Worth Any Price by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly
Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Bow Street Runners #3
Also in this series: Worth Any Price
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 388
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Nick Gentry is reputed to be the most skillful lover in all England. Known for solving delicate situations, he is hired to seek out Miss Charlotte Howard. He believes his mission will be easily accomplished - but that was before he met the lady in question.

For instead of a willful female, he discovers one in desperate circumstances, hiding from a man who could destroy her very soul. So Nick shockingly offers her a very different kind of proposition - one he has never offered before.

He asks her to be his bride.

And he knows that this will be much more than a union in name only. For he senses what Charlotte does not yet know - that her appetite for sensuality matches his own. But what Nick learns surprises him. For while London's most notorious lover might claim Charlotte's body, he quickly discovers it will take much more than passion to win her love

This is another novel I recently re-read. It was just as wonderful this time around. I adore Nick and Lottie.

This review was originally posted on June 24, 2009.

Worth Any Price is the 3rd book in Lisa Kleypas’ Bow Street Runners series. I read this book before I read any of the others (naturally) and Nick immediately grabbed me. Right from the beginning I adored him, and that hasn’t changed in all my years of reading romance. I recently re-read this book because of a discussion on Good Reads and I was just as impressed with it this time around.

Lottie Howard has escaped a fate worse than death: Being married to Lord Radnor, a peer of the realm who thinks he’s purchased her and now owns her lock, stock and barrel. Even though it puts her family in a bad position she knows her life will be over if she goes forward with the marriage. She finds a position as a lady’s companion to Lord Westcliff’s mother.

Which is where Nick Gentry finds her. Nick is a bow street runner who takes private commissions on occasion to supplement his income. He was hired by Lord Radnor to find Lottie and bring her back. Radnor has hired several others before Nick to find her with no luck, but Nick is the best of the best and it isn’t long before he locates Charlotte. The problem is that he seems to be completely taken with her himself.

Although he has every intention of taking her to Radnor, he surprises everyone, himself included, by offering for her instead. Although Lottie would prefer to remain single and independent, she knows she needs the protection of marriage if she’s to avoid marriage with Radnor. And if anyone is strong enough to keep her safe from Radnor, it’s Nick Gentry.

They enter into a marriage of convenience, but both are surprised by the depth of passion they feel for each other. Despite their steamy, passionate nights, however, they each hold part of themselves back.

I think the thing I love most about this book is what a unique and unconventional hero Nick is. He’s only had one lover prior to Lottie (though admittedly the madame of a brothel is probably like the equivalent of like sleeping with all of London) and he is very content with his lot in life. He thrives on the rush of being a Bow Street Runner and isn’t just playacting when it comes to his past. He’s very scarred from things that happened in his youth. The only person he really allows himself to be close to is his young niece, and to some extend his sister (who’s story is told in the previous book, Lady Sophia’s Lover).

In this case it’s Lottie who is the strong one. She’s the more balanced of the two, despite her childhood under Radnor’s thumb, and she’s the one who steadies Nick, though he doesn’t realize it. I love that they were able to lean on each other – Lottie on Nick for protection and Nick on Lottie for emotional support.

Plus, the sex is totally hot. Tantric Love-making takes on a whole new meaning with Nick Gentry.

There are issues with it. I hate it ends as abruptly as it does, without giving us more of the story with Charlotte and her family. Particularly her younger sister. I think I really wanted to see her family brought low after they way they treated her, and I never got that. The problems are few and the rest of the story really makes up for them, in my opinion.

Overall this is an emotionally appealing novel about love, redemption and the strange connections formed between two polar opposites. I was sucked in from page one the first time I read this years and years ago, and that didn’t change upon this re-read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Bow Street Runners

Book CoverBook CoverBook Cover

five-stars


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Review: Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath

Posted May 24, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Holly
Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath
Narrator: Faye Adele
Series: The Lost Lords of Pembrook #3
Also in this series: Lord of Temptation (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2)
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: April 28, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Length: 10 hours, 7 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright...

Lord Rafe Easton may be of noble blood, but survival taught him to rely only on himself and to love no one. Yet when he sets eyes on Miss Evelyn Chambers, an earl's illegitimate daughter, he is determined to have her, if only as his mistress...

After her father's death, Evelyn Chambers never imagined she would be sold to the highest bidder, yet circumstances give her little choice but to accept the lord's indecent proposal. Rafe is wealthy, as well as ruthless. Yet his coldness belies deep passion and deeper secrets. If she must be his, Evelyn intends to lay bare everything the Lord of Pembrook is hiding. But dark discoveries threaten to destroy them both until unexpected love leads the last lost lord home...

Lord of Wicked Intentions is the third and final book in Lorraine Heath’s Lost Lords of Pembrook series. I requested the audiobook from the library, but only listened to a few chapters before I switched to reading. I liked the narrator, but I was getting impatient with the pacing. I easily fell into the story once I began reading. I actually liked this book least of the three when I first started, but it ended up my favorite of the series.

My heart broke for poor Evelyn. There were some really hard chapters to read here. Her lack of control over her own future, the way her half-brother treated her, even the way Rafe treated her…man, she had a rough go of it. I liked her innate optimism and how she tried to make the best things. I also ended up really liking Rafe. In the beginning, his constant whining was kind of annoying, but I came to feel for him as things were further revealed about his past struggles.

Their romance was also well done. I enjoyed Evelyn’s journey to independence and how focused she was on herself. She didn’t need Rafe. She wanted him, but that’s not the same thing. It was very refreshing.

Another great series from Heath.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Lost Lords of Pembrook

four-stars


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Guest Review: An Earl, the Girl and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley

Posted May 19, 2021 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: An Earl, the Girl and a Toddler by Vanessa RileyReviewer: Tracy
An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: 1st & 3rd
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
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three-stars

A witty and moving story from the acclaimed author of A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby, about the lengths to which a woman will go for the love of her child…and the love of a man who knows her worth. Breaking with traditional Regency rules and customs, Vanessa Riley pens an unforgettable story perfect for fans of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton, Evie Dunmore, and Eloisa James looking for something fresh and stirring!

Masterminded by the ton's most clever countess, the secret society The Widow's Grace helps ill-treated widows regain their reputations, their families, and even find true love again--or perhaps for the very first time...

Surviving a shipwreck en route to London from Jamaica was just the start of personal maid Jemina St. Maur's nightmare. Suffering from amnesia, she was separated from anyone who might know her and imprisoned in Bedlam. She was freed only because barrister Daniel Thackery, Lord Ashbrook, was convinced to betray the one thing he holds dear: the law. Desperate to unearth her true identity, Jemina's only option is to work outside the law--which means staying steps ahead of the formidable Daniel, no matter how strongly she is drawn to him...

Married only by proxy, now widowed by shipwreck, Daniel is determined to protect his little stepdaughter, Charlotte, from his family's scandalous reputation. That's why he has dedicated himself not just to the law, but to remaining as proper and upstanding--and boring--as can be. But the closer he becomes to the mysterious, alluring Jemina, the more Daniel is tempted to break the very rules to which he's dedicated his life. As ruthless adversaries close in, will the truth require him and Jemina to sacrifice their one chance at happiness?

Jemima St. Maur was put into Bedlam after a shipwreck.  She has amnesia and couldn’t remember who she was, she still can’t remember and seeks the truth of her past.  She’s saved (in book one of this series) by Daniel Thackery, a barrister who helps his aunt get widows out of trouble.

Daniel was married by proxy to Phoebe, who was also on the ship that went down, but his wife didn’t survive.  He was presented with a baby who he believed was Phoebe’s child, even though she had never mentioned a child in her letters.  He decides to raise the child as his own.

Two years later Jemima and Daniel have a bit of a love/hate relationship.  They don’t necessarily get a long, but when they’re together there’s a very strong attraction.  Daniel finally decides that he has mourned for Phoebe long enough and wants to make Jemima his mistress.   Jemima’s not opposed to the idea, but she is wary of Daniel as she’s positive he’s keeping information from her about her past and the shipwreck.

This was my first read by Vanessa Riley.  I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style as it seemed a bit all over the place.  I also didn’t feel that the hero and heroine actually had a lot of chemistry.

I liked Jemima…to a point.  She was pretty headstrong, and I liked that about her.  That said, I felt the author took that too far and went into I’m-so-headstrong-I’m-going-to-make-stupid-decisions territory. There was also the constant on/off with Daniel as Jemima couldn’t decide if she was going to trust him or not.  Granted, she had every reason not to trust him as he’d kept a lot of stuff (about her) to himself. She wasn’t even aware she’d been in a shipwreck until he told her – two years later! Still, the on-again off-again love was annoying at times.

Daniel was a smart man – a barrister who worked for the crown.  Even so, he was looked down upon because he was mulatto.  Even when he inherited an Earldom, people still turned their noses up at him.  He was a good man for taking in the baby (Hope) and raising her, and he was a good father.  He helped his aunt with her business of saving widows and their families.  I admired his dedication to his aunt and her cause, as well as his dedication to Hope and fatherhood in general.  Unfortunately, I just didn’t like him all that much as a man.  He kept so much a secret, even when his marriage was failing, he still couldn’t come completely clean.  I found it so frustrating.

Overall I didn’t find the story very satisfying.  Not liking the couple as a couple put a damper on the whole experience.  While I really loved the blurb for this book, the story itself just didn’t do it for me in the end.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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