Categories
Romance

Re-read Dearest Rogue

Read Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8) by Elizabeth Hoyt

HE CAN GUARD HER

Lady Phoebe Batten is pretty, vivacious, and yearning for a social life befitting the sister of a powerful duke. But because she is almost completely blind, her overprotective brother insists that she have an armed bodyguard by her side at all times—the very irritating Captain Trevillion.

FROM EVERY DANGER

Captain James Trevillion is proud, brooding, and cursed with a leg injury from his service in the King’s dragoons. Yet he can still shoot and ride like the devil, so watching over the distracting Lady Phoebe should be no problem at all—until she’s targeted by kidnappers.

BUT PASSION ITSELF

Caught in a deadly web of deceit, James must risk life and limb to save his charge from the lowest of cads—one who would force Lady Phoebe into a loveless marriage. But while they’re confined to close quarters for her safekeeping, Phoebe begins to see the tender man beneath the soldier’s hard exterior…and the possibility of a life—and love—she never imagined possible.

Re-read Duke of Midnight recently, which made me want to re-read this too. I really like the hero and heroine’s relationship and how it progresses. The heroine is frustrated with her situation, but quickly learns to separate him from his role as her guard and see him for himself. Her anger at feeling caged in is legitimate… but considering she faces four attempted (two successful) kidnappings maybe her brother has a point with the guard? 🤔 Love how the hero basically snaps and gives in mid-book. The villain’s explanation is nonsensical and pretty bleah given he’s a hero of a future book.

Last read in 2021.

Categories
Romance

Read The Larks Still Bravely Singing

Read The Larks Still Bravely Singing

A shattering breakup leaves Robert convinced that he is a destructive force in romantic relationships. When he finds himself falling in love with David, an old friend from boarding school, he’s sure that he shouldn’t confess his feelings. But as their meandering conversations drift from books and poetry to more intimate topics, Robert’s love deepens – and so do his fears of hurting David.

Since he was wounded, David has been batted from hospital to hospital like a shuttlecock, leaving him adrift and anxious. His renewed friendship with Robert gives him a much-needed sense of peace and stability. Slowly, David opens up to Robert about the nervous fears that plague him, and when Robert responds with sympathy and support, David finds himself feeling much more than friendship. But he’s afraid that he’s already a burden on Robert, and that asking for more will only strain their developing bond.

Can these two wounded soldiers heal each other?

This was just a bit longer than a novella, primarily told from Robert’s POV, with three brief epistolary sections with letters written by David. It’s overall melancholy, which makes sense for a WWI romance between two soldiers who’ve lost limbs and their youth to the war. They enlisted shortly after leaving boarding school, and though they read as older because of their experiences, they’re probably in their early 20s for the story. They’re both traumatized by their time in the trenches in different ways. David struggles with anxiety and depression, and is deeply unhappy.

Robert is a difficult character to like, consumed by guilt that he cheated (a lot) on his last partner while deployed in the trenches. He’s terrified of hurting David just as badly — and of being hurt as badly as he was by his partner who told him he’d “rather have died at the Somme” than learn of Robert’s infidelity. His need for physicality is explained but it’s still…tricky for a romance novel protagonist.

Robert also comes across patronizing to the slightly younger David, calling him “sweet boy,” “darling boy,” and so on, and the way he treats David is uncomfortably perched on the line between giving a friend the helpful nudges they need to take care of themselves and making decisions for him (crossing that line sometimes). He seems easily irritated, although he is quick to apologize when he acts like a dick and takes it out on David. It’s unclear whether this is a character trait or related to his trauma. I think hearing more from David’s perspective would have balanced this and made it seem healthier.

The ending didn’t land for me — there was a big time jump that felt abrupt, and then I think I was supposed to read something into the story at the end but my brain is anti-literary so I need cryptic metaphors to be nearly explicit 😉