Tag Archives: Historical Romance

“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

28 Aug

UnlockedBona, a fellow TBR Challenge participant, posted a review of this story over a year ago, on her blog. As I mentioned here, her review led me to–finally–reading this story.

Which in turn, leads me to a confession: I do have a few Courtney Milan stories in the digital TBR.

But, I hear you say, aren’t you the one singing Ms Milan’s praises and telling us how wonderful her writing is?

Yes, yes, I am one of the many who do these things–because pretty much everything I’ve read of hers, I’ve liked very well indeed.

However, well before I fell into the dreaded reading slump from hell, almost two years ago (dear dog, shoot me now!), I already had accumulated scarily ginormous TBR mountain ranges (both print and digital), so really, it’s not surprising some of Ms Milan’s stories had gotten lost in the shuffle there.

Be warned: there are people in love and sexytimes in here, so if you don’t care to read about either, you may want to stop reading here. You may also keep in mind that this story deals with the aftermath of bullying.

“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

This story is set in the same ‘universe’ as the Turner brothers stories, and it’s about a fairly minor secondary character introduced in Unveiled, the first novel.

While this story is definitely shorter than, say, Proof of Seduction or Trade Me, it didn’t read like a novella. By which I mean, despite the lower word count, the pacing and structure of the story allowed me to believe in the characters’ feelings about themselves and each other, and how these changed over time.

Here, have a blurb:

A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.

Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

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Spectred Isle, by K. J. Charles

9 Aug

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this novel a few weeks ago, and I had hoped to post the review before its release.

Alas, work, life, RWA, and the world being on fire, mean I’m late.

Reader, beware: if you have issues with paranormal stories, with adult language, or with explicit sex between consenting adults, you may want to skip this one.

Spectred Isle, by K. J. Charles

This is the first title in the Green Men series, which is set in the same universe as The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal; it can, however, be read on its own perfectly well.

The story is set in 1923, in an England still reeling from WWI, at a time where veil between worlds has been damaged almost irreparably, and when most of those who would know what to do, are dead.

Here’s the much-better-than-usual blurb:
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The Lawrence Browne Affair, by Cat Sebastian

3 Aug

A number of people I trust have recommended Ms Sebastian’s work; most recently, Keira Soleore (review here) and Bona Caballero (review, in Spanish, here), have talked about this novel.

To virtually no one’s surprise, I already had it, in ye olde digital TBR of gargantuan proportions, so I finally read it.

Caveats: adult language, a couple of graphic sex scenes, and implicit emotional and physical abuse of children.

The Lawrence Browne Affair, by Cat Sebastian

This is the second title in a trilogy, which is something I managed not to internalize somehow. As most of my lovely readers probably know, I tend to be pretty anal retentive about reading series in order, because I like seeing the evolution of different characters through the various books. This novel, however, can stand perfectly well as a stand alone.

Well, except that once you are done, you want to get your hands on the first novel in a hurry.¹

Here, have a back cover blurb:
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An Unseen Attraction, by K.J. Charles

21 Jun

I’m cheating just a teensy bit by choosing this a my TBR Challenge review of the month. But hey, the novel was in the digital TBR Cordillera of Doom, so it counts.

While I enjoy Ms Charles’ online presence immensely,¹ and despite having at least three other of her books in the TBR Cordillera of Doom, I had not yet read any of her fiction. Then, our Queen Librarian of the Universe, Wendy the SuperLibrarian, reviewed this book recently, and I was most intrigued.

As it often happens, I discovered that I had already purchased it a few weeks before, and, since I had not only read a whole new-to-me book that week, but actually wrote a semi-decent review, I decided to dive right in.

And yay, I really liked it!

Reader, beware: there’s explicit sex and adult language; there are also references to sexual abuse of a character who is not in the story.

An Unseen Attraction, by K. J. Charles

This is the first book in the Sins of the Cities trilogy, set in Victorian London in 1873. There’s fog. Serious fog.²

Clem manages a lodging-house for skilled artisans in a very diverse neighborhood in London. Rowley, one of his lodgers, is a taxidermist, called a preserver (or stuffer) at the time.

And there they are, two gents going about their business as normal, until things…change.

Here’s the blurb from the author’s site:

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Dukes Prefer Blondes, by Loretta Chase

14 Jun

Recently the lovely Keira reviewed this novel at Cogitations and Meditations, and after reading her wonderful review, I just had to look it up, with a view to checking the price, perhaps snag it.

Turns out, I already owned it.

I am not exactly sure how long this book has been on my digital TBR pile (frankly, I’m a little afraid to look too closely at these things), but, probably from the first time it was offered at a reduced price.

Long story a bit shorter, this meant I could start reading it on the spot, without budget guilt.

Reader, beware: while there’s very little explicit language, the bedroom door is open.

Dukes Prefer Blondes, by Loretta Chase

I didn’t realize it until I was already a few pages in, but this novel is connected to Ms Chase’s Dressmakers trilogy¹. The heroine, Lady Clara Fairfax, is an important secondary character in the first two books.

Our hero, brilliant barrister Oliver ‘Raven’ Radford, may be not-so-distantly related to a duke, but he’s not what one would call a great catch for the daughter of a Marquess.

Or, perhaps, that’s exactly what he is.

Here’s the blurb, from the author’s site:
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The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

9 May

thegirlwhoknewtoomuch

I received an ARC for this novel sometime in late 2016, and it was one of only two new books I read in the months following my mother’s death.

Although I have not yet written any reviews for them, I own and love all of Ms Quick’s early historical novels (Surrender, Mystique, Ravished, etc). In later years, I had given up on her books, after growing a bit fatigued by some writing tics, and frankly tired of the Arcane Society novels.¹

However, the cover caught my eye, and the blurb makes it clear this novel is not part of a series. Best of all, it’s set in California in the 1930s!

Warning: there are a couple of murders, though not much gore; there’s adult language, and sex on the page. If any of these bother you, avoid this one.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

I liked many things about this novel, starting with how well the setting is rendered. I felt immersed in the period without awkward lectures or info-dumping. Both of the main characters are complex and three dimensional, and their world is populated by three dimensional, complex people.

The suspense thread is a lot more layered than the blurb would make one think, and the story is told from several characters’ point of view, which allows the reader to believe she knows more than our hero and heroine.
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The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, by Jennifer Ashley

18 Jul

TheMadnessofLordIanMackenzieI’m still firmly in the land of re-reads–which will not shrink my TBR Mountain range any, but at least means I’m back to reading. And you, gentle readers, get treated to more reviews of older books. You poor things erm…lucky people you.

I first heard about this book from the lovely KristieJ, many, many moons ago, right around it was released. Unfortunately, at the time I had a very long list of ARCs and other review commitments, so I just made a note to read it soon.

Things happened, and it turned out that I read the second book in the series, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, first, sometime after it had come out.

In fact, if memory serves for anything, I think I also read the next one, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, before I finally got my hands on Lord Ian.

When I finally did, however, I loved it as much as KristieJ promised I would; so much, that I own two paper copies (one will eventually my sister’s), and I just got the digital version when it was on sale a few days ago.

Of course, I immediately ‘paged’ through it, and a couple of hours later, when my phone battery died, I realized I was engaged in a full re-read. And so, here we are.

The usual disclaimer: explicit sex, explicit language, and a bit of violence. This novel has a hero in the autism spectrum, most likly Asperger’s; it is the first such hero in genre romance I’ve ever read, and I am not familiar enough with autism to vouch for the accuracy or sensitivity of the portrayal. Proceed with caution.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, by Jennifer Ashley

The novel is set in 1881, well into the Victorian era, where many things were changing in Britain; from the political climate to technology, this was a period of social tension. Everything is in flux.

Our hero, the eponymous Lord Ian, is the youngest of four brothers with very tarnished reputations. The family is quite high socially–dukedoms do that–and they have a lot of money, individually and as a family–thanks in large part to Ian’s affinity for numbers, perfect recall, and instinctive understanding of finances.

Our heroine, Mrs Beth Ackerley, is the widow of a vicar from a rough part of London, lately the companion of a wealthy gentlewoman of little consequence, who willed her fortune to Beth.

Here’s the blurb:
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