Tag Archives: Historical Romance

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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Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas

16 Jul

DreamingOfYouI’m back with another historical romance from Lisa Kleypas–and not just any one of them.

For a rather large number of romance readers, Derek Craven, the hero of Dreaming of You, is up there with Mr Darcy, as far as favorite romantic heroes go. Ergo, the book shows up often on “top 100” romance lists.

I, however, came late to Ms Kleypas’ books; this book had been out ten years, if not twelve, when I finally read it, and I had read a lot of romance during that time (including a number of Ms Kleypas’ later novels) so my opinion has always been…a tad less enthusiastic than the norm, shall we say.

As usual, reader beware: there’s explicit sex and cursing on the page.

Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas

This is the second book in a duology; Derek Craven, our hero, was introduced as a rather important, and quite intriguing, secondary character in Then Came You, published a year earlier.

Our heroine, Miss Sara Fielding, is a little country mouse who just happens to be a well known novelist, and who is visiting London to research her next opus. And let me tell you, this background for the heroine creates all sorts of problems for me.

Here’s the (as always hated) blurb from my copy:
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Where Dreams Begin, by Lisa Kleypas

12 Jul

WhereDreamsBeginI am feeling very frustrated about my reading right now; even though I’m enjoying the Immortals After Dark quite a bit, I’m having trouble concentrating on any one thing. *cue frustrated scream*

So when someone mentioned this title, I realized that I had not re-read it in a good long while, despite the fact that I like it quite a bit. In fact, I really like many of Ms Kleypas’ historical romances, but I’ve only reviewed two of her books. Which just makes no sense, so here we are.

Reader beware: there is sex on the page.

Where Dreams Begin, by Lisa Kleypas

This is that rare beast, a fully stand alone novel. It also has a widowed heroine who not only loved her husband, but was sexually satisfied by him–this is even rarer in romance. She’s also a lady, a member of the ton, long on manners and pedigree, short on cash. The hero is one of those trade magnates, a nouveau riche who wants to purchase respectability, and acceptance in society, through his fortune. Hijinks, inevitably, ensue.

Here’s the (inaccurate as always) blurb from my paperback copy:
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Captive Bride, by Bonnie Dee

6 Apr

Captive BrideI usually enjoy Bonnie Dee’s writing very much, because I’m always sucked into the lives of whatever characters she writes. Which tends to be exactly what I want, and need, from authors.

In this case, I had an extremely strong reaction to the beginning of the story, and it took a good long while before I could get past a particular scene–a scene with no gore, no graphic content, and no violence.

Our minds are strange places, n’est ce pas?

Eventually, I got past that bit, and then…well, I had other issues. Be warned, this is a very rambling and meandering review–more so than usual, that is.

Captive Bride, by Bonnie Dee

This is one of those extremely rare beasts in genre romance: it’s set in the aftermath of the War Between the States, but not in the South or the West (as we think of it–the Rockies or the Plains, or Texas). It’s set in San Francisco, in the late 1870.

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

San Francisco, 1870

Huiann arrives in America expecting to be wed to a wealthy businessman. She no sooner disembarks from the ship than she realizes Xie is not looking for a bride: Huiann is worth more to him as a high-end prostitute. Though her fate is better than that of other Chinese women forced into the sex trade, she has no intention of waiting for Xie to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. At the first opportunity, she escapes and disappears into the city.

When a beautiful woman takes refuge in his store, Alan’s life changes forever. He’s spent the last five years trying to forget the horrors of war, and had almost given up hope of finding love. He hires Huiann as his housekeeper, and though they can only communicate through signs and sketches, they quickly form a bond that transcends the need for words.

But Xie is determined to recover his property, and love may not be enough to protect Huiann from his vengeance.

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“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

5 Mar

TheSeductionofLordStoneWhile I am not on twitter, I lurk there, following #not chilled, and two or three people’s stream/timeline/whatever it’s called. I am fascinated by all the things I learn about that way.

Among these many interesting things, I saw that Anna Campbell just released the second in a trilogy of shorter stories about a trio of tonnish widows returning to society after their mandatory year of mourning.

As each of these are only 99c, and as I enjoy Ms Campbell’s writing (and her), very much indeed, I snapped both of them up.

Here are my thoughts.

“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

The prologue introduces our three friends, henceforth known as The Dashing Widows. Two of them are nearing the end of their obligatory year of mourning, and they are chomping at the bit to get back out there, and to finally be allowed to live. Instead of, you know, playing the small, background character of “wife” in someone else’s life. Their thirst for life after such prolonged emptiness convinces the third to join in their quest.

The blurb, from the author’s site:

For this reckless widow, love is the most dangerous game of all.

Caroline, Lady Beaumont, arrives in London seeking excitement after ten dreary years of marriage and an even drearier year of mourning. That means conquering society, dancing like there’s no tomorrow, and taking a lover to provide passion without promises. Promises, in this dashing widow’s dictionary, equal prison. So what is an adventurous lady to do when she loses her heart to a notorious rake who, for the first time in his life, wants forever?

Devilish Silas Nash, Viscount Stone is in love at last—with a beautiful, headstrong widow bent on playing the field. Worse, she’s enlisted his help to set her up with his disreputable best friend. No red-blooded man takes such a challenge lying down, and Silas schemes to seduce his darling into his arms, warm, willing and besotted. But will his passionate plots come undone against a woman determined to act the mistress, but never the wife?

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“Tempted” by Molly O’Keefe

18 Feb

TemptedI’m late, I’m late, for a very important date…¹

So this month’s TBR Challenge is ‘series catchup.’

Which is usually embarrassing, because these days there are very few, if any, series I follow, so it’s not easy to be behind on any.

Or it wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for the awful, terrible, no-good, apotheosis of a reading slump of 2015.

Which, looking for the silver lining here, means that this year I did have at least one title in a series languishing in the (digital) TBR pile.

So, yay! (and very much so, because I loved this one!)

(Edited to add: a trigger warning for suicide of a secondary character, on the page.)

“Tempted,” by Molly O’Keefe.

This is the second (and hopefully not the last) in Ms O’Keefe’s Into the Wild series, about sisters Melody and Anne, and their lives in Colorado in the late 1860s. Here, have a blurb:

Denver, 1869

Annie Denoe has fought hard for her independence. She has a new life and new freedom as the assistant to a doctor, and though she risks both propriety and her safety, she is determined to be happy in a life on her own.

Steven Baywood is trying to rebuild his shattered life, even though the ghosts of his harrowing stay in Andersonville prison still haunt him. He craves Annie and her quiet strength, but he can’t give her the love she deserves. When a tragedy changes everything for Annie, can Steven find peace with his past in order to give Annie a future?

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Defy Not The Heart, by Johanna Lindsey

9 Sep

Defy Not The Heart - new coverBack in the dark ages (early 80’s), many popular single title romance novels (mainly Avon titles), were translated to Spanish and published in Latin America, within a year of their release in the US.

While there were no Nora Roberts novels anywhere (and, going by what my sister tells me, still aren’t), there were plenty of Catherine Coulter and Johanna Lindsey titles to choose from, right at my neighborhood bookstore. And so, I was exposed, at a fairly young age, to the wonders of the over the top, old skool crazy sauce.

Back then, lacking all that many options, I would re-read those books until they came apart. At one point in the late 90s, I owned all of Ms Lindsey’s backlist, either in translation or the US paperback edition (with the original Fabio covers, thank you very much).

Being one of those people who keep books unless they find them absolutely, irredeemably offensive, I was greatly surprised to find out, a couple of years ago, that I had purged most of my Lindsey books. Which is why, seeing recently that Defy Not The Heart was on sale for a couple of bucks at amazon, I snapped a copy, and read it.

Now you get to see what I think of this novel–almost three decades later.

Defy Not The Heart, by Johanna Lindsey

I don’t know about anyone else, but I sincerely lament the fact that, for the past decade or so, historical romance seems confined to one place, one time period, and one socioeconomic class: the Regency. Back when I started reading romance, we had novels set all over the place–we had Romans in ancient Britain; we had British explorers in Asia and Africa; we had Westerns from the Gold Rush to the Civil War and beyond. These days? I’ll say that over 90% of historical romance published is confined to those nine years, to London, the Season, and balls.

So let us enjoy a something just a tad different.

It is the year of our Lord 1192, and, somewhere in England, our young heroine is in a bit of a pickle. She’s the only heir to a large and rich estate; her father is dead; her overlord is somewhere in the Holy Lands with Richard Lionheart; and she’s still unmarried. In other words, she’s the perfect target for many an unscrupulous baron.

Here, have the original blurb (from Fantastic Fiction):
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