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Romance

Read The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

Read The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes (London Highwaymen #…

Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, just shot her husband. Of course, the evil, murderous man deserved what was coming to him, but now she must flee to the countryside. Unfortunately, the only person she can ask for help is the charismatic criminal who is blackmailing her–and who she may have left tied up a few hours before…

A highwayman, con artist, and all-around cheerful villain, Rob Brooks is no stranger to the wrong side of the law or the right side of anybody’s bed. He never meant to fall for the woman whose secrets he promised to keep for the low price of five hundred pounds, but how could he resist someone who led him on a merry chase all over London, left him tied up in a seedy inn, and then arrived covered in her husband’s blood and in desperate need of his help?

As they flee across the country–stopping to pick pockets, drink to excess, and rescue invalid cats–they discover more true joy and peace than either has felt in ages. But when the truth of Rob’s past catches up to him, they must decide if they are willing to reshape their lives in order to forge a future together.

Liked this better than the first book. The epistolary opening is a total delight. Rob is great. I quite enjoyed it but found it a bit of a slower read usual for a romance — and I stalled out at 70% for a few days — I think because much of the plot is actually pretty incidental to the relationship.

I appreciated the way revelations were handled. I wasn’t sure exactly how the ending would turn out but it felt like a good landing. The drama at the climax I think needed to be explained better earlier on since it seems emotionally important.

A lot of bi representation seems like lip service but these two felt queer and the way they approached sex was non-traditional compared to a typical m/f romance.

Categories
Romance

Read Sailor’s Delight

Read Sailor’s Delight

Self-effacing, overworked bookkeeper Elie Benezet doesn’t have time to be in love. Too bad he already is—with his favorite client, Augustus Brine. The Royal Navy sailing master is kind, handsome, and breathtakingly competent. He’s also engaged to his childhood sweetheart. And now that his prize money is coming in after years of delay, he can afford to marry her…once Elie submits the final prize paperwork.

When Augustus comes home, determined to marry by the end of his brief leave, Elie does his best to set his broken heart aside and make it happen. But he’s interrupted by one thing after another: other clients, the high holidays, his family’s relentless efforts to marry him off. Augustus isn’t helping by renting a room down the hall, shaving shirtless with his door open, and inviting Elie to the public baths. If Elie didn’t know better, he’d think Augustus didn’t want to get married.

To cap it all off, Augustus’s fiancée arrives in town, senses that Elie has a secret, and promptly accuses him of embezzling. Has Elie’s doom been sealed…or is there still time to change his fate?

A quiet but deeply emotional story — Rose Lerner always seems to be very good at writing emotional complexity. The narrator, Elie, struggles with his love for his client, wondering what the right thing to do is, and trying so hard to do right by everyone else that he forgets about himself. His family, his honor, his duty, his faith all matter deeply to him. I really liked the framing of Rosh Hashanah, the new year, for the story and his arc of change. This feels painstakingly researched, with so many historical details enriching the story. This romance is mostly yearning, with the barest glimpse through the closing door, so don’t go in expecting heat. I would have liked one more chapter at the end to give them some more time together after so long apart.

Categories
Romance

Read A Duke for Diana

Read A Duke for Diana (Designing Debutantes, #1)

Self-made civil engineer Geoffrey Brookhouse has unexpectedly inherited the dukedom of Grenwood. But he has a secret that could ruin his family. Hoping to save his timid sister from that fate, he seeks to marry her off to a respectable, protective gentleman. With the London Season imminent, Geoffrey hires Elegant Occasions to orchestrate her debut. Yet Lady Diana Harper, spirited fashion expert, proves more than he bargained for. Suddenly, Geoffrey’s sister is emerging from her shell, and he is beleaguered with social invitations and gossip! Worse, Diana is attempting to transform him into a presentable duke—when all he really wants is to win her heart…

Diana doesn’t know what to make of the handsome, disheveled duke. The man bristles at the very idea that his fashion faux pas might spoil his sister’s chances. Yet Geoffrey’s stubbornness simply inspires Diana to ruffle his feathers—by setting him on a course of self-improvement. Although there’s something endearing, even irresistible about his flaws, can a man who hates the ton tolerate a woman who makes her living catering to them? Little does either know that they have more in common than they suspect—and that two can create a society all their own…

Fun premise, but the telling turned out a bit generic. I was hoping the civil engineer would do something with his skills besides go to meetings. I wanted more between the hero and heroine, they spent very little unchaperoned time together and seemed more in lust than love. Fine for a light read, I may try the second book.

Categories
Romance

Read The Monster of Montvale Hall

Read The Monster of Montvale Hall (Saints & Sinners Book 1)

A childhood tragedy had shaped the life of Robert Forsythe, the Duke of Montvale Hall, forever.

He kept himself isolated from the world and the people in it, reveling in his reputation as a monster.

Locked in a world of guilt and grief, nobody had ever been able to break down the walls he kept around him. Nobody had ever tried.

And if being a monster kept everyone away, then a monster he would be.

Abigail Langton was as headstrong as she was mischievous, so it was no surprise that she wasn’t exactly welcomed at Montvale Hall with open arms.

It didn’t take her long to understand why its owner was called a monster.

It took even less time to realize that monster or not, Abigail’s heart called to him in a way she couldn’t deny or understand.

Robert’s world is turned upside down and inside out by the irrepressible Abigail. And try as he might to avoid it, he finds himself drawn to her in ways he doesn’t want. In ways that scare the wits out of him.

Will Robert give in to the temptation that is Abigail? And will Abigail find the heart of the man beneath the monster?

I didn’t realize this was a sweet romance 😣

I’m not sure the hero had enough going for him for me to buy that she fell in love with him despite his constant snapping and rudeness. They didn’t seem to have much in the way of conversation, especially that didn’t end in him yelling.

Not a lot happened in this? One dramatic interaction was… stumbling on the staircase. Another was… disputing wildflowers as decoration. (His antipathy towards the wildflowers was never clear to me.)

Saw the climax coming though I was hoping it wouldn’t go that way… at least it was less dramatic than I was braced for.

Is it not fridging if the female character is killed to traumatize the hero, rather than motivate him? 🤔 I kept waiting for her to come back from the dead.

Got this for free in a stuff your kindle giveaway — hadn’t read this author previously. Not planning to read the next book.

Categories
Romance

Read Never A Duke

Read Never a Duke (Rogues to Riches, #7)

A proper lady must choose between society or the untitl…

Liked this though I wish I’d read more of the previous books in the series first. Really liked Ned and Rosalind.

A bit slow-paced at times, with some scenes I think could have been cut that were probably included because this is (I presume) the final book in a series and the author wanted to include scenes from many other POVs and have all the conversations that hadn’t been had yet. Frankly the Wentworths come off pretty dickish in how they treat Ned: controlling, overbearing, imposing, dismissive, and as if he is less than them. It’s nice to see him stand up for himself when they cross boundaries.

Categories
Romance

Read All the Duke I Need

Read All the Duke I Need (Desperately Seeking Duke, #3)

Raised in the splendor of Carlyle Castle by her doting guardian, the Duchess of Carlyle, Philippa Kirkpatrick is one of the greatest heiresses in England. The duchess is eager to see her wed, but Philippa hesitates to leave the only home she knows.

William Montclair is in London to expand his family’s trading firm, with little progress. Impulsively he takes a job managing the Carlyle estate—for the money, he tells his incredulous brother, and only for a year.

Philippa is shocked by the handsome, scandalously bold new steward. It’s all she can do to prevent the horrified duchess from sacking him on sight. She determines to teach him how to love Carlyle as she does, only to find herself reluctantly charmed by the rogue.

It’s true; Will is falling for everything about Carlyle…including the duchess’s beautiful ward. But he has promises—and secrets—to keep, and telling Philippa would resurrect a devastating family scandal. Not telling her, though, means he must break her heart—and his own.

Read this and the separate extended epilogue which gave some more answers to loose ends.

Really liked both hero and heroine.

I wanted a little more explanation of the hero’s change of heart. There was a big reveal that was purposely obfuscated by one of the characters through the whole book, so it wasn’t set up and could have used another chapter to let it settle, maybe, and to let us have a bit more time with the couple.

Categories
Horror Romance

Read The Widow of Rose House

Read The Widow of Rose House

It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.

Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history―and her heart.

This was very much a romance rather than gothic ghost story with a romance, which is what I expected from the cover. I enjoyed it despite some quibbles about a rushed ending (everything resolved too cleanly and quickly, hero not given enough to do, insufficient denouement) and expectations from the first half not quite aligning with the story in the second half. I think there were too many plotlines and cutting out the brother would have allowed more time on the ghost story, which would be a better match for expectations.

Sam and his family are very entertaining. I also enjoyed the relationship between Sam and his BFF / semi adopted brother, who I suspect was being set up for his own book.

Categories
Romance

Read A Lady for a Duke

Read A Lady for a Duke

When Viola Caroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.

Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.

As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.

This story was long, which meant the author could include both the gothic oceanside home and a Season in London. I don’t feel the second half and first half tied together enough plotwise — the villain for the end of the piece was brought in quite late. Emotionally, I can see why a longer resolution was needed for reconciliation, but I think it could have been accomplished a little more directly. Both halves of the story could easily have been made into their own story, and perhaps picking one to focus on would have kept it tighter. And it maybe bothered me that the heroine is given another side role rather than being central to the story, when part of her story is that she gave up so much to be herself, including having her own independent life?

I thought the emotional conflict over the MC’s transition and “betrayal” was done well (though I’m not trans so defer to actual trans people on whether the rep was good). The hero adjusts to the transition fast, but I feel like as an author you need to do that or he’d look like a transphobic dick, which would kill the story. The sex scenes were written tastefully and thoughtfully.

Categories
Romance

Read The Truth About Dukes

Read The Truth About Dukes

Robert Rothmere is hiding a past no duke should have endured, but he’s not hiding it well enough. Sooner or later, his enemies will learn that he spent years locked away at a private asylum. To get their hands on his wealth, they’ll try to send him right back to his worst nightmares. If Robert is to foil their schemes, he needs to marry a perfectly proper, blessedly boring, deadly dull duchess, immediately—and he knows exactly which quietly delightful lady he’d love to entrust with that role.

Lady Constance Wentworth has cultivated a reputation for utter forgettability. She never speaks out of turn (in public), never has a daring thought (that she admits aloud), and never comes close to courting scandal… as far as anybody knows. Her path crossed Robert’s years ago, though, and she’s never forgotten the extraordinary lengths he traveled to keep her safe when she hadn’t a friend in the world. She longs to be his demure duchess…but little does he know that to marry her would be utter madness.

Direct sequel / continuation of A Duke by Any Other Name.

Liked this but not as well as the previous book. Again, I appreciated the lack of drama and resistance between them on admitting their feelings, that the drama was primarily caused by outside events and other people.

Robert came off as more mature in this book than the previous, where he painted himself a tragic tale of woe. It was good to see him get over it.

Categories
Romance

Read A Husband for Hartwell

Read A Husband for Hartwell

He must marry, or risk his fortune.

The whole of London Society has long assumed Lord William Hartwell will marry his childhood best friend, Lady Rebecca Warrington. After two Seasons, Hartwell remains quite content with bachelorhood–his parents do not. When Hartwell learns they intend to cut his purse strings unless he makes a match this Season, he resigns himself to a marriage of convenience with Becca, and yet he can’t help but be drawn to her younger brother, Warry.

He must marry, or risk his sister’s ruin.

The Viscount “Warry” Warrington is used to being viewed as the tagalong little brother. Now a grown man about to enter his second Season, Warry is desperate to be seen. When Lord Balfour, a handsome older peer, takes Warry under his wing, Warry thinks his dream is finally coming true. Until Balfour reveals his true intent–to make public a letter that will destroy Becca’s reputation, unless Warry agrees to marry him.

Time is running out for both of them.

When an injury forces Warry to recover at Hartwell House, the two succumb to a secret flirtation. But Warry’s sudden announcement of his engagement to Balfour drives Hartwell near mad with jealousy–and right into Becca’s arms. With the clock ticking for Warry to save his sister, will Hartwell discover the truth of Warry’s feelings before it’s too late?

Read the whole thing but should have quit. Hartwell treats the younger love interest poorly throughout the whole book – I thought he would get better but he kept digging himself deeper into dickishness.

It was also extremely uncomfortable that he’s portrayed as the good option compared to the bad guy when he “accidentally” nearly shoots the other man with an arrow. Both are bad options, and Hartwell certainly did not redeem his inexcusable behavior. He’s petty and jealous and dismissive and cruel at turns. Both of them hurt each other but I give the abuse victim a pass for defending himself and calling out bad behavior.

Also, Hartwell’s most memorable quality is burping in people’s faces? Not attractive.