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Currently Browsing: historical romance
Oct
24

Review: The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter

Review: The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter The Counterfeit Mistress Author: Madeline Hunter Reviewer: Ang Rating: DNF What I’m Talking About: Let me start by saying this book has great potential, and I was super excited to get. Spies, Refugees, French versus English, Love, Seduction, a handsome viscount as our hero and a war-torn French refugee determined to do anything to protect herself and her father as the heroine. There is so much to work with, but the reality is I’ll likely never know if all the pieces came together to reach it’s potential or not. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. For more than a month I tried to get into this book. I picked it up no fewer than six times, and each time I couldn’t get more than a few pages into it before setting it down. It simply didn’t hold my interest. I finally gave up when I reached chapter eight, and it was still dragging. I understand a slow starting book, but by chapter four or five things should be picking up; however, we were still wandering the streets of London. Or was it Bath? Wait, maybe it was Brighton… I can’t even tell you, which is sad because I really wanted to read this book. DNF – Did Not Finish About the Book: A refugee from the war in France, Marielle Lyon has established herself at the fringes of London society. Claiming to be the niece of an executed aristocrat, Marielle welcomes the gossip that she is a spy. The more eyes she has watching her, the better protected she is—and the better chance she has of saving her father’s life. A warrior at heart, Alban Norwood, Viscount Kendale, would still be in uniform if not for his older brother’s untimely death. After all he’s seen, Kendale doesn’t trust the French—or their femmes fatales. He has set up a surveillance network to ferret out undercover agents, and he believes he’s found one in the delicate, mysterious Marielle. Ready to pounce on his tempting prey, Kendale arranges a meeting with Marielle, who is more beautiful and more cunning than he anticipated. But the Viscount is ready to do whatever it takes to unmask her—even if it means playing a game of seduction… Release Date: September 24, 2013 Publisher: Jove Series: Fairbourne Quartet #3 ISBN: #978-0515151381 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info: The Counterfeit Mistress (Fairbourne Quartet...
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Oct
11

Review: His Lordship Possessed by Lynn Viehl

Review: His Lordship Possessed by Lynn Viehl Disenchanted & Co., Part 2: His Lordship Possessed Author: Lynn Viehl Reviewer: Twimom Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Note: this review will contain spoilers from the first title, Her Ladyship’s Curse, which is actually the first part of the two part story making up the novel Disenchanted & Co. If you plan to read the novel in its entirety when it comes out in January – or – if you haven’t read Ladyship, please be warned! His Lordship Possessed truly is the second half of a larger story, and I do not recommend reading it as a stand alone story. His Lordship Possessed picks up immediately where Her Ladyship’s Curse ends. In the first half of the tale, the reader was introduced to Kit Kittredge, a sort of “private eye” who debunks magical curses and spells. Lucien Dredmore is her nemesis who is terribly attracted to Kit and wants her all to himself. After a brief weakness of spirit resulting in exciting sexual encounter between Kit and Lucien, Kit finds herself locked away in his estate. Relying on her mysterious grandfather, she makes a daring escape, only to find that Lord Walsh is attempting to ruin her. I completely devoured His Lordship Possessed in a matter of hours. I could NOT put this exciting story down for more than a moment. After doing a fabulous job laying the groundwork and creating an interesting and intriguing world in the first book, Ms. Viehl sends her characters on a non-stop adventure, full of unforeseen twists and amazing revelations. The purposeful actions and events are well-planned and masterfully written. One really doesn’t need more from a book, right? But wait… that’s not all! As I stated in my review of Her Ladyship’s Curse, the characters of this tale are an exciting aspect of the book that make it so much more than just an adventure. Each of the characters undergoes further development and adds heart to the story. However, it is Kit herself that truly makes this story a wonderful piece. Seeing everything from her point-of-view, I was heartbroken as Kit watches her life unravel due to the machinations of Lord Walsh. Her feelings and subsequent actions add complexity to the story and give readers a character to root for and admire. Add to this her complex feelings towards Lucien and their growing affections, and you have a beautiful romance as well. Meanwhile, we learn the true nature of...
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Oct
10

Review: Rogue on the Rollaway by Shannon MacLeod

Review: Rogue on the Rollaway by Shannon MacLeod Rogue on the Rollaway Author: Shannon MacLeod  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: I’m not quite sure exactly what draws me in about a hot Scot displaced in time.  Whatever it is, however, Shannon MacLeod has totally entranced me with Rogue on the Rollaway. With a strong hero and a believable heroine, I found that I was rooting for the couple and their star-crossed relationship throughout the title. I really enjoyed the fact that Faolan and Colleen built a relationship before jumping into bed.  Yes.  That means they’re not rolling in the sheets in the first 30 pages.  It’s still hot.  I was entranced at the way Ms. MacLeod showed the inner conflict of the characters – Does he like me?  Does she like me? – at the beginning of the title.  The fantasies, the descriptions of how the characters felt about the other, I found to be heartwarming and quite honest.  Yes.  I like a healthy dose of reality with my fantasy.  Thankyouverymuch. Colleen was a completely believable and realistic female lead character.  This. Was. Fabulous.  Many times, we have female leads that are either wishy-washy, or they’re so head-over-heels in love with the hero that they lose themselves.  Not so with Colleen.  She kept her job, she maintained her connections (at least superficially) with other people.  She actually taught Faolan about this new place in time where he’d landed.  Instead of him magically understanding everything, we watched her fret over the little things, like not burning down the house using appliances.  We watched her open-mouth, insert-foot a couple times and ultimately recover and reconnect with Faolan.  Making her a very relatable, honest and intense character for me.  Which I enjoyed. Faolan is really one of the most honest male characters I’ve read this year.  Sure, he’s cursed.  Sure, he’s too nice to just manipulate someone into ending his curse.  Sure, he’s hot as hell.  But in the grand scheme of things, Faolan trusts his heart, and damn all the nay-sayers.  He believes in true love, and with that belief, anything is possible.  He begins the story thinking he could finally end his curse but realizes rather quickly that there’s entirely too much going on with this woman for things to be simple.  Protecting her as much as possible, Faolan puts Colleen and her safety first at all times.  That’s one of the things I absolutely adore about him.  Even though he isn’t completely...
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Oct
9

Review: Her Ladyship’s Curse by Lynn Viehl

Review: Her Ladyship’s Curse by Lynn Viehl Disenchanted & Co., Part 1: Her Ladyship’s Curse Author: Lynn Viehl Reviewer: Twimom Rating: Stand alone: B, 3 Stars Part of larger book: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Her Ladyship’s Curse is actually the first part (of two) of the upcoming title, Disenchanted & Co., the first novel in the Disenchanted & Co. series by Lynn Viehl. Fortunately, I was able to read both parts back-to-back, and knowing that they were two halves of a whole makes this review difficult to write. Therefore, I am giving this story two ratings: one as a stand alone story and the other as the first half of a bigger book. The story is set in an alternate timeline where the colonies did not win the Revolutionary War and are now the Provincial Union of Victoria. Times are hard, and society supports a wealthy class, a working class, and a group of undesirables. The Native Americans have some rights, but are still looked down upon. Women – especially ones like Kit who are trying to make it on their own – are on the lowest rung of society. While the author promotes the book in the steampunk genre, I feel there isn’t enough steam technology to support this label. With that said, it doesn’t matter what genre you want to label the book, it is a fascinating, well-developed world that I highly enjoyed reading. Miss Charmian “Kit” Kittredge doesn’t believe in curses or magic, yet she is surrounded by believers. Therefore, she has opened up her own “private eye” business (not something looked highly upon by society) called Disenchanted & Co.. While Kit feels she is debunking myths and uncovering false magic, everyone else believes she is the best dispeller of magic. Lady Diana Walsh, the young trophy wife to the wealthy Lord Nolan Walsh, thinks she’s been cursed by her husband’s deceased first wife. Terrified by the mysterious events plaguing her, she turns to Kit in secrecy, hoping Kit will put an end to the curse. However, when Kit begins to uncover the facts, the ominous nature of the truth begins to turn on Kit, placing her in mortal danger. As I mentioned earlier, writing a review for one half of a story is difficult. However, as a stand-alone book, Her Ladyship’s Curse provides an exciting glimpse into an adventurous new world. Ms. Vielh does a marvelous job setting the stage by developing her world and creating interesting characters. The...
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Oct
2

Review: A Lady’s Secret Weapon by Tracey Devlyn

Review: A Lady’s Secret Weapon by Tracey Devlyn A Lady’s Secret Weapon Author: Tracey Devlyn Reviewer: Ang Rating: B, 3 Stars What I’m Talking About: A Lady’s Secret Weapon is the third title in the Nexus series, and I wish I had realized that going into the book. That knowledge would have saved me chapters of frustration because I could have either found the previous two books and caught up on the story line. OR known going in that a variety of relationships and other questions were going to be left unanswered, and I could have accept that and enjoyed what was in my hands. Tracey Devlyn gives us a well-written book with strong characters whose chemistry is tangible right out of the gate, and whose back stories are as interesting as the current story. She uses the similarities and differences between the characters to bring flavor and spice to a story that could easily be stiff or so far fetched it lacked plausibility. She delivers a storyline with interesting twists without going too far or playing it too safe, which is a nice change from the other books I’ve read of late. All of which were wonderful additions to world of historical fiction. Then the end happened, and although the final twist was interesting, it almost felt like a cop out, and it was one of many issues with the book’s conclusion. I read romance novels for the escape, which this book definitely gave me, but I also read it for the happily ever after, and I’m not sure I got that with this book. The side characters we follow and get to know through this book get no resolution. Giles and Latameyer disappear, Amelia and Mac what happens to them? Do they find their happily ever after together? apart? Does Mac find healing? What of the Nexus? As I was reading this book I was given no indication that this book is part of series and even as it ended I was not given any hint that another book would be coming to offer answers. Although the main characters Ethan and Sydney get their happily ever after, but I felt that there wasn’t enough story to give me the complete picture. Overall, I felt that despite its many assets, there were far too many unanswered questions for me to give this book an A. Was it fun? Certainly. Could many of my questions be answered by reading the other books? Possibly. Will I ever find...
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Sep
23

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion Forged in Dreams and Magick Author: Kat Bastion  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that completely captivated my attention like Forged in Dreams and Magick.  As the first title of Ms. Kat Bastion’s self-published Highland Legends series, readers are certainly in for a pleasant surprise. I went back and looked at my Goodreads updates while I was reading this title.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so up and down and all around emotionally for a dudes-in-kilts title as I was while reading this one.  Which is a good thing.  Ms. Bastion’s writing is tight, and able to transport the reader to 13th century Scotland or to the ancient Pict villages with her vivid descriptions and her attention to details needed to bring the reader into the time periods in question. In reflecting on Forged in Dreams and Magick, there’s nothing that irritated me.  Which. Is. Amazing.  Most of the time, even when I’m reading a fabulous book, something just doesn’t sit right with me.  You know, that one thing that makes you go, “Hrmmm…”  Additionally, I spent days revising this review just so I could write it spoiler-free.  VERRA difficult.  Here’s what I came up with. Characterization and setting were the primary focus, for me, while reading Forged in Dreams and Magick.  Without ever having been to Scotland, I felt as though I were riding through the woods on a trusty steed, wind in my face, the smell of the sea filtering through my lungs.  I could nearly smell the aromas in both time periods.  The tactile experiences were nothing short of amazing.  I could practically feel the fabrics and furs beneath my fingers.  I relished the experiences of Isabel, which can be two-fold.  The reading experience is EPIC.  Sometimes, however, vivid experiences such as this, throw me into the dreaded book hangover.  Not this time.  Ms. Bastion expertly resolved everything to my satisfaction, for this storyline.  Gently bringing her reader out of author-induced story hypnosis, and sending us on our merry way, with a smile on our faces.  A spoiler-free passage needs to make its way into my review; however (and seriously, I marked MANY passages I loved…this was the only one that was spoiler-free).  The illustration of emotion Ms. Bastion has masterfully crafted should convince any reader of the genre that this is a must read: Iain masterfully orchestrated every note of...
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Sep
19

Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin The Lotus Palace Author: Jeannie Lin  Reviewer: Una Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: The Lotus Palace is the first novel in a new Tang Dynasty series by Jeannie Lin.  Ms. Lin is a new-to-me author, and I am so excited to have volunteered for The Lotus Palace.  Suffice to say, I was enchanted, engaged and enthralled, the three E’s to which lead to me absolutely loving a new book.  This story reminds me in a way of Pretty Woman crossed with L.A. Confidential and yet is solely its own.  A hauntingly beautiful love story crossed with a fascinating detective drama, all of which seems impossible and yet still finds its happy ending.  I warn you, it is absolutely impossible to put down! Firstly, I know very little about Chinese culture, mores and customs; current let alone historically.  However, from what I have learned from school and movies and the like, it is very different from my own culture and yet, historically speaking, enchanting and similar.  I admit there were terms I did not understand, but thanks to technology (I read this on my e-reader) the definitions were easily found.  It was so seamlessly done that I didn’t realize how much I was learning as I was completely consumed and lost in the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the novel. This time period is stunningly beautiful, enchanting and yet the the beauty is hiding some very ugly and painful layers in society.  The rich descriptions of the locations and people allow the reader to be completely immersed in the world.  It is fascinating to learn how hurtful, ugly and hopeless the pleasure district is under such extraordinary beauty and charm.  The contrast between what is seen by the aristocracy and the life of those within the walls is staggering.  What allows us to see both sides of this world well is that we are granted the point of view from not only Yue-ying but Huang as well.  The dichotomy between then and the seemingly endless divide which separates them is surreal.  How they can hope to have a relationship seems so impossible and yet, Ms. Lin gives us the hope even when it seems only the darkness will remain. Our heroine of the story is from this more painful and ugly layer.  Yue-ying is the servant of a courtesan (I believe this is the correct term) for the famous Lotus Palace.  She has little hope...
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Sep
19

Review: Darke London by Coleen Kwan

Review: Darke London by Coleen Kwan Darke London Author: Coleen Kwan Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A-, 4 stars What I’m Talking About: Darke London was a great little historical distraction.  With a different flavor than my normal reading fare, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. There really wasn’t anything specific that caused me to rate this title four stars; it just didn’t grab me like those that are a five.  I need an intense emotional connection for that perfect rating.  However, it was an expertly crafted story that had excellent character development. While not truly bothersome, I prefer a bit more setting description than Ms. Kwan chose to use.  I’m OK with that, but in this instance, my imagination could have taken a little break and focused more on the steampunk aspect of the story. Poor Nellie!  Besides surviving attempted murder, unbeknownst to her assailant, this little spit-fire has guts to spare.  Eager to learn the circumstances of her attack, Nellie took matters into her own hands.  I liked her.  She was of the mindset of 1800’s London, and that upbringing and the conventions of that time period were evident. Julian, the dashing doctor and engineer extraordinaire, fell head-over-heels for Nellie.  I thought he loved her inner beauty, and that was evident throughout the story.  Julian was tormented with his own inner demons surrounding his parentage, and that dominated about a third of his storyline.  Provided some great conflict, and a resolution that’s I adore. This novella is definitely worth the read!  I look forward to reading the next installment of Ms. Kwan’s Uncanny Chronicles series in the future. 4 stars: Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-) About the Book: Julian Darke was only a newborn when he was abandoned on the doorstep of a gentleman doctor. Though raised with love, he is driven to discover his true origins. Convinced Sir Thaddeus Ormond knows something, Julian shadows him one night—and is shocked to see a young woman thrown from Ormond’s carriage and accosted by a thug. Julian manages to save her life, but not her face and hands from horrific injuries. Nellie Barchester doesn’t recognize the scarred, disfigured stranger in the mirror. Though the gifted doctor and engineer has done his best to repair the damage, scars ravage her body, and chill her soul with the realization that her own husband may have plotted her death. Julian’s tenderness is a balm to her soul, and Nellie is drawn to the edge of passion by a man not repelled by her...
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Sep
5

Review: Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt

Review: Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt Shivering Sands Author: Victoria Holt Reviewer: Una Rating: DNF What I’m Talking About: I was surprised to find that this novel, Shivering Sands is not a new book but a republished one.  That being said, this is not the type of historical novel I read.  I enjoy historical mysteries and suspense along with historical romances.  My problem with Shivering Sands is the narration.  I find the main character too focused on the trivial while not conveying items or snippets of importance.  I feel as is Caro is giving us a stream of consciousness account of a past experience.  In many ways I feel this novel to attempt to be like Rebecca and falls flat.  When I read, I like to find myself immersed in storytelling.  The sights, sounds, emotions conveyed in such a way I experience it along with the characters.  In Shivering Sands, I feel like I’m being instructed by a teacher who is easily distracted by the minutia.  By the half way point, even though it was finally getting interesting (plot-wise) I cannot take the style of writing any longer.  I hope to one day pick it up and finish it (I would like to know what happened to Roma) but I just cannot force myself to do it right now. DNF – Did Not Finish About the Book: Caroline knows something is wrong. Her sister Roma has gone missing, and no one can tell her why. The only option is to go where Roma was last seen—an estate with a deadly history… The Stacy family has lived off the Dover coast for generations, carefully navigating the treacherous quicksands nearby. But the sands aren’t Caroline’s biggest threat. Everyone here has a secret, especially enigmatic young heir Napier Stacy. No matter where Caroline turns, the ground she walks is dangerous. And the closer she comes to unraveling the truth, the closer she comes to sharing her sister’s fate… Release Date: September 3, 2013 (original release 1971) Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca ISBN: #978-1402277498 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info: The Shivering...
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Sep
3

Review: The Wife He Always Wanted by Cheryl Ann Smith

Review: The Wife He Always Wanted by Cheryl Ann Smith The Wife He Always Wanted Author: Cheryl Ann Smith Reviewer: Ang Rating: B-, 3 Stars What I’m Talking About: I want to like Cheryl Ann Smith’s novels. She steps out of the box and mixes Victorian period romances with decent mysteries. My struggle is that in every book I’ve read of hers one side of the story or the other suffers, The Wife He Always Wanted was no exception. It starts out strong. Rough and rowdy cowboy shows up at the door rescue the struggling and starving maiden and sister of his best friend, except he isn’t a cowboy–he is a gentlemen, and off they go on an adventure to find love in a marriage of duty. Pretty typical historical romance and Ms. Smith did a fine job with the romance side of the story. Sarah is sweet and it is fun to watch her come into her own as she learns to be a wife, a lady, navigate society and seduce her husband. Gabriel is kind and caring and works hard to be a good husband as he works through a few issues of his own. All-in-all they are charming couple to watch, with a family full of interesting characters that adore them both. This in and of itself would have made a fine novel but between the family references and the mystery of Sarah’s father’s death in the mix things got mucky. First, The Wife He Always Wanted is the last book in a series. I now have read two of the five books in the series, and it was frustrating for me because throughout the book there are references to things that have taken place in the past. While these issues were likely addressed in other books and clearly relate to the character or characters presented at the moment, I felt a bit lost and only got veiled references or a hint, but nothing solid. I don’t need a complete retelling, but I feel like more information into their back stories would have been helpful to catch me up. Second, The mystery of Sarah’s father is dealt with throughout the book, but her brother and his past is never dealt with. We know he died in America, but never do we get so much as a flashback to tell us what he was like with Sarah or Gabriel or what happened to him in America other than he died. Given that this is last novel in the series...
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