Category Archives: Regency

Review: What a Hero Dares by Kasey Michaels

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2Stars

As a directionless youth, Maximillien Redgrave’s grandmother had him become a soldier. There he learned the skills he needed to protect England and hunt down those who want to destroy his family. In his quest, Max met and fell in love with his fellow agent Zoe Charbonneau. Only Zoe betrayed him and killed most of their associates in the process. Now, nearly a year later Zoe is back just when the Society is ready to attack.

Framed for a crime she did not commit, Zoe must work with the man she still loves to clear her name and catch the real culprit.

The story began with an extensive summary to catch readers up on the events of the previous three books in the Redgrave series. The synopsis is thorough, but a bit dry and dense.

The main issue with this novel is that it does not feel like the focus of the story is about Max and Zoe. In fact their issues are settled right away and there is no further conflicts that would prevent them from being together.

WHAT A HERO DARES is the final chapter of a larger saga and it shows by pushing aside the romance to finish the story of the Redgraves and the Society. The ending seemed rushed and hinged on a reveal that did not really make sense and it left me feeling cheated.

SPOILERS AHEAD

A better ending would’ve been to have the Exalted One to have been the Redgraves’ mother. She was a far more plausible and had much more motivation to see England and the Redgraves legacy destroyed. It would also make sense as to why she would be sexually obsessed with Niall who was said to be the spitting image of her late husband Barry. The Exalted Leader’s eventual suicide would make for a more compelling and emotional scene. She is losing, but she also does not want to face her children—whom she abandoned years ago—as the monster she has become.

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Filed under Harlequin, HQN, Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: The Arrangement by Mary Balogh

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4Stars

After being blinded in battle Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh evades his well-meaning, albeit smothering female relatives bent on matchmaking by escaping to the country. But when his neighbors try to entrap him into marrying their daughter, Vincent is saved by plain-looking companion Sophia Fry. Feeling that the only thing women find attractive is his title and income, Vincent wants a marriage of convenience with a woman of his choosing who will let him be.

When he proposes to Sophie, she cannot understand why such a handsome man would want to marry such an unlovable person as she. With no option she agrees to his plan: After living one year together they will separate. Sophie will get her own little cottage to draw her little cartoons and live a quiet life, while Vincent will get to be independent and free from matchmakers and debutantes.

As they learn to live together, they begin to discover common interests and maybe their marriage of convenience can become a real one after all.

THE ARRANGEMENT is interesting and well-written with a delightfully engaging couple. The main desire of the couple is a life of freedom, but soon they find that freedom with loneliness can be a more daunting than the metaphorical cages that once trapped them.

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Filed under Dell, Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Sapphires are an Earl’s Best Friend by Shana Galen

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4Stars

Lily Dawson is the only unwed lady left of the famous courtesans dubbed the Three Diamonds by the prince regent. Called the Countess of Charm, Lily uses her social skills and dubious position to ferret out information as a spy for the Foreign Office. Her next mission has her cozying up to the Duke of Ravenscroft and find evidence of any treasonous activities. Unfortunately, the duke’s son may be more of an impediment than Lily anticipated.

Andrew, Earl of Darlington hates that the Countess of Charm has taken up with his father so soon after his mother’s death. He even wants to hate Lily, but there is something about her that sparks his interests. When he discovers that there is more going on than what is visible on the surface, Andrew offers to help Lily uncover the traitor, even if that traitor is his own father.

Sapphires are an Earl’s Best Friend” is the final installment of Shana Galen’s Jewels of the Ton trilogy. In previous books, Darlington was the persistent suitor of Juliette, the Duchess of Dalliance and the heroine of “If you Give a Duke a Diamond.” Then he seemed like a loveable, but shallow dandy, a man who had still not matured to adulthood. In this story the readers get see Andrew grow up, shed his rakish persona and show Lily and others his true self, a man who is ready for the mantle of Duke and responsibilities he will have one day. He isn’t perfect, but he sees that and tries to achieve better.

It was really satisfying to learn more about Lily. Her past–like those of the other Diamonds–is tragic and difficult. To see what she has become despite the heartbreak and horrors, gives her character dimension and strength without beating the reader over the head with the events. Instead the readers are treated to a look into the longing, heartache and despair some decisions create that feels genuine and sympathetic.

With these two characters you see a spectrum of emotions and with each passing page hope that–after they find the assassin–they get the satisfying ending that they and the series deserve.

Sapphires are an Earl’s Best Friend” will be released March 4th online and at local booksellers nationwide.

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Filed under Regency, Review, Romance Novel, Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review: Between a Rake and a Hard Place by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

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4Stars

Wealthy heiress Lady Sarah Osbourne is about to be sacrificed on the marriage altar to none other than the royal Duke of Kent. Though the thought of raising the next English monarch holds great appeal, Sarah cannot help but feel like she will be missing out on all life has to offer, so she makes a list of forbidden pleasures she has yet to experience.

Sir Jonah Sharpe has a dark past and is used to unsavory missions. Now he is being blackmailed to prevent Lady Sarah’s marriage to the royal duke by any means necessary. When he learns of her list, Jonah knows the best way to seduce her is to help her complete it, but with every item they cross off the list their mutual attraction blossoms.  And soon Sir Jonah does not only want to prevent Sarah’s marriage to the duke, but marry her himself.

BETWEEN A RAKE AND A HARD PLACE is an enjoyable romance about duty to one’s family, friends and country versus the duty we all have to ourselves and our own happiness.

Jonah is a good parallel to modern-day soldiers coming home from war, haunted by the things he’d done and let happen. Whereas Sarah is a woman who wants to push boundaries and not let society dictate what she can and cannot do (even though she usually prefers the usual ways). Both Sarah and Jonah are very likable with commitments not entirely of their choosing, but obligated to fulfill due to obligations and personal integrity. The duality of their mutual dilemma is sometimes frustrating for a reader, but then again, more so for the characters.

Mason and Marlowe have penned a satisfying and well-rounded capstone to their Regency Rakes trilogy.

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Filed under Regency, Review, Romance Novel, Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review: Caroline and the Duke by Sabrina Darby

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2Stars

On the insistence of her dear friend, Caroline, Lady Ballister decides to take a lover for a no strings attached affair. And what better candidate than the man who broke her heart ten years ago, the infamous rake John, Duke of Sutbridge, but he has other plans.

He has wanted Caroline for ten years and now that she’s a widow, John wants to make her his wife. Caroline doesn’t want to be trapped in marriage again. Sutbridge knows he has a lot of work ahead of him, but if he can get Caro to agree to be his wife, then it will be all worth it.

What many people don’t realize is that a short story is often harder to pull off than a full-length novel. An author has to pack a lot of story and a lot of love into only a few pages. Unfortunately, not everyone can pull it off.

Caroline and the Duke” feels like a novel, but not in a good way. The story felt long and plodding. The characters were boring and the heroine’s constant denial to marry Sutbridge seems too great in comparison to his declarations. In the end they only end up together due to jealousy caused by the manipulation perpetrated  by the heroine’s best friend who is also the hero’s sister.

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Filed under Regency, Review, Romance Novel, Self-Published

Review: The Trouble with Honor by Julia London

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4Stars

As the eldest stepdaughter of a dying earl, Honor Cabot has a little problem: Once her stepbrother marries and attains the title, his bride intends to toss her and her family out. So desperate times call for desperate measures and she enlists the help on an infamous rake George Easton to seduce her sister-in-law to be.

The unclaimed bastard son of a royal duke, George Easton isn’t a stranger to people thinking the worst of him. At first, he refuses but he finds Honor intriguing and irresistible. Even though they are perfect each other, life and society are against anything permanent.

The first of new series entitled “The Cabot Sisters,” Julia London begins strong. She does not shy away from real life. Honor Cabot has problems. What seems like selfish self-interest and fear of losing her life of luxury is actually just the surface. What is the real fear is her family being adrift and penniless, and her mother’s declining mental health.

London does an excellent job developing the relationship between Honor and George. Their progression from acquaintances to lovers is well-paced and understandable. The story never makes the reader feel that the obstacles keeping the hero and heroine apart are contrived and only there for padding. And her approach to Honor’s problems feel authentic, a refreshing change from the new trend of over dramatizing every issue.

In the end, “The Trouble with Honor” is a fun, sparkling start to a brand new series and is a must-read whether in print or ebook.

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Filed under Harlequin, HQN, Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: The Secret Life of Lady Julia by Lecia Cornwall

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3Stars

Thomas Merritt is a thief with a past. He attends the betrothal ball of Lady Julia to the Duke of Temberly to steal the lady’s jewels. But when they meet, he is captivated by her innocent beauty and they share an unforgettable night together.

Unfortunately, a year later Julia has been disowned, her fiancée is dead and she now must support herself as a paid companion. Not all is lost though.

Her employer’s brother doesn’t seem to care about her indecent past and the whole family is off to Vienna. The same city Thomas is staying in and meeting him again will change Julia’s life again.

Lecia Cornwall writes well, but the book has flaws. I was surprised how much of the story had the hero and the heroine separated without knowing the other was near. I thought having a good portion of the book being about each individual rather than the couple would be a severe detriment but both characters showed more than adequate longing for each other despite the year of separation. Unfortunately, at times the couple’s love seem based on little more than infatuation after one night together.  The infatuation phase of the story lasts much longer than the actual falling in love, which can make the beginning feel a bit repetitive and slow.

The secondary character of Major Lord Stephen Ives was engaging. His gradual development of feelings for Julia was heartbreaking because you know he is a nice guy and isn’t going to get the girl, but that only makes readers want to grab the next book to find out who his true love ends up being.

Cornwall’s “The Secret Life of Lady Julia” is an average read that lacks a little something extra to truly make it standout. It is available on Kindle and in Print.

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Filed under Avon, Regency, Review, Romance Novel