Hilaribad: The Raider by Jude Devereaux

Jude Deveraux continues her beloved Montgomery saga in America with this dramatic, passion-filled tale of rebellion and love — a breathtaking adventure to be savored all over again — or discovered for the first time!

The Raider

In colonial New England, the British are hunting a fearless, masked patriot whose daring foils them at every turn. He’s known simply as the Raider.

Jessica Taggert, a proud-tempered beauty, thrills to the Raider’s scorching midnight embrace, but despises Alexander Montgomery, the drunken town buffoon.

In truth, the cleverly disguised Montgomery lives two lives…and only his triumph over the hated Redcoats will free him, at last, to know the full pleasure of Jessica’s love.

Source: GoodReads

This is sort of a weird one to read. Honestly, if we’re going to be objective it deserves one big fat star, if even that. It’s pretty horrible with bad characterizations, bad pacing, and a feeling of the book not being completely resolved—because I would’ve liked a little more fall out after the reveal—when it ended. BUT, BUT this is one of those cases the tropey goodness of the romance ran out and made it an enjoyable crack read. The thing is, I don’t know if I’ll be able to read The Raider again but for the couple hours I read it in total exhaustion. Man, it was hilaribad and the sort of book you’re not exactly proud about reading or enjoying.  But it’s such a train wreck and you can’t help but continue reading it.

So, the main premises of this story is that the hero is like a Zorro figure in the colonial days and disguises himself as a large dandy. Of course because of this hijenks occur, especially since he’s attracted tot the hot shrew in town.

Yeah, it’s about as cringe worthy as it sounds especially since I didn’t understand how the idiotic heroine would think that the hero was the complete moron he portrayed when she touched him and could obviously feel padding not fat—but, but, yes the it’s fiction excuse comes in here.

Honestly, it was a neat set up and I do enjoy these tropes but the execution was quite hideous. I think one of Devereaux’s issues which is why I can never completely get into her books is that her characterization is so weak. Give this to another author: Judith McNaught, Lisa Kleypas, etc. and it could’ve been a “wow” book for me. Not that the book has it’s fan base, I came across it several times in recommended books BUT the characterization really was lousy.

Jessica, our heroine, is probably one of the worst female leads that I’ve read about in awhile. She is whiney, mean, and cruel, and not in a loveable or redeemable way. I think her being thrown in dirty water was suppose to be her “punishment” for basically making Alex the town’s punching bag but it didn’t work. I still hated her. And for being portrayed as being such a shrew in the beginning, her revenge against Alex when she found out about his secret identity was weak at best.

Alex—uh. I hated him less than Jessica if that’s something. Well, I did until he made his little sex ultimatum—either have sex with me or be raped. Seriously. And his whole reason for keeping up the charade after they got married was weak. You know, the book would’ve been more interesting if he revealed himself to Jessica post wedding and they had to keep up the charade. But nope, the reveal was put off so long I actually didn’t really care when it happened.

Like I said it was bad. But very entertaining, this time around. I’m actually looking for some romance novels that handle this trope better than this one. Surely, they have to be out there. However, if you want to be entertained by pure ridiculousness give The Raider a try. You’ll at least be cringing and snarking for a couple of hours.

Overall Rating: A C/C- but a very entertaining one.  If it wasn’t so entertaining though it would’ve been a total flop.

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He Should’ve Stayed Dead: Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries

The first wedding night that Lady Juliana St. Albans spent with the dark and daring Rhys Vaughan was intoxicating, the heady culmination of her new husband’s driving hunger and her own awakened sensuality. When he mysteriously disappeared the next morning, she waited for him in hope and desperation. And when he was finally proclaimed dead in a shipwreck, she bitterly mourned the loss of her love.

The second wedding night that Juliana spent with Rhys Vaughan was six years later, after he returned to claim her just as she was about to wed another. This Rhys was different—bolder, harder, and convinced that she’d betrayed him. Only their blazing passion remains from their years apart. But is it enough to light their way through the maze of mystery, menace, and mistrust—to the love they once shared and would have to find again?

Source: GoodReads

Remember, how I was griping the other day—okay, last post about reunited love interests who should call it quit?

This is another one of those books.

So, get out the liquor folks because I’m going to bitch and moan about Stormswept.

Yeah, I know, me bitching and moaning nothing really new there. The thing is, I sort of do it to myself. When done right, I love reunion stories especially if it involves high drama. What can I say, but I was a soap opera baby (I grew up on ABC soaps). So back from the dead, marriages that hadn’t been quite yet annulled, all that good stuff gets me reading. The thing is, in romance especially—Stormswept being a prime example the fallout is often handled in a despicable way where the bad guys aren’t punished, the hero has suffered so it gives him every right to be a douche, and the heroine suffers from a little too much TSTL.

This all occurred in Stormswept. To be fair, it was originally written in the 90’s BUT the book had been revised. Some of the problem tropes of that era—and yes, there were problem tropes—still existed in the revision.

Okay, a lot of these tropes did.

Whenever I review something, I always try to list something positive believe it or not. I know as of late, I’ve been whining a lot about my reading choices and to be honest I sort of hate that. I love reading, and I do try to find something nice to say about each book I read and for this book I will say it had trope after trope that sucked me in.   Which made the reading experience, at least swift.

Okay, nice bits over. The execution of the tropes, the characters. HATED.

HATED.

HATED.

HATED.

I had a problem with both leads.

The main lead had to be the most immature, dumbest twenty-one year old I’ve read about in awhile. I could buy her maybe being fifteen or sixteen, but not twenty-one or later twenty-seven/twenty-eight. Yes, I understand she was sheltered but for a lady of that period, she would’ve been a little less naïve. Or at least known better than to have smacked lips with a guy at a meeting you weren’t supposed to attend. Besides being extremely stupid, the lead is way too forgiving. Like I expressed in my review for Somewhere I’ll Find You, I’d like for once for the lead to give the returned “tormented” hero the boot when he acts like a asshole for no reason. But nope, completely forgives the boob. She even let’s her treat him horribly when someone offers to tell the douche the truth because he needed to see the truth for himself.

In other words, Jefferies wanted to add thirty or forty extra pages to the readers misery.

That wasn’t sarcasm.

I just couldn’t figure out why Juliana didn’t just have her brother and Rhys’s friend tell the truth. It was clear that Rhys was too pigheaded to realize the truth, and it wasn’t like Juliana was actively doing anything to convince him otherwise except having sex with him.

And yes, I know, sex is the cure for anything in historical romance.

Rolls eyes.

As insipid as I found Juliana, she wasn’t near as bad as Rhys.

God, I hated this fucker more than I hated Jordan in Something Wonderful and if you’ve read my review of that book, you know I wanted Alexandra to ditch his ass for sweet Tony.

Well, at least Jordan’s douche-ness was countered with logic, Rhys though not so much….

I mean, it’s blatantly obvious that Juliana did not betray him. But of course, Rhys can’t get a clue and is controlling. He basically imprisons Juliana until she has sex with him.

True thing.

Once she spreads her legs, he’s like okay you can ride your horse now. But before then…

Nope.

And yes, I get he was tortured we were told about it, but this is where some fucking flashbacks could’ve helped the hero’s cause.   Again—I keep making comparisons to it, but the books were so similar—Something Wonderful at least had one or two scenes of Jordan being tortured. It at least allows us to know what happened to the douche, so we don’t outright hate him.

But with Rhys, just get over yourself you annoying crybaby.

I mean, seriously, all he had to do was have one mature conversation with Juliana. And yes, I know, it’s Juliana but still…one fucking conversation and the book would’ve been a lot better.

I think the thing that got me the angriest about this particular stinker was that the villain was never really punished. And boy do we have a particular nasty villain named Darcy of all things.

Sorry, Mr. Darcy.

Really, though was the name supposed to make me like him a bit more? Because it didn’t. If anything it made me hate him because he was running one of literature’s sexiest hero’s names.

Boo to you, Darcy. That’s more than what most of the cast in the novel did to you. As a reader we want payoff. Having a character do so many wretched things, like Darcy, isn’t going to make him endearing to us.   We want him to suffer. Giving him a piss poor motive, and a slap on the wrist isn’t what the reader wants.

Then again, that’s what they did with Elizabeth Webber after she kept the secret about Jason’s identity for almost a year on GH so…

Yeah, that storyline sucked too because no payoff. We at least need someone to slap Darcy. Personally, I’d like to see Rhys pummel him but to forgive over one dinner and a big fat donation.

No.

Obviously, I don’t recommend this one. It is flawed even with a rewrite. If you like these tropes read the frequently referenced book (Something Wonderful). It has its problems with a douchey character, but at least there is a payoff and the heroine is not a big fat moron.

Overall Rating: C-

 

 

 

It was Sort of a Snore for Me: Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas

“We’re strangers in the darkness,” he whispered. “We’ll never be together like this again.”

Zachary Bronson has built an empire of wealth and power, but all London knows he is not a gentleman. He needs a wife to secure his position in society—and warm his bed in private. But one alluring, unexpected kiss from Lady Holly Taylor awakens a powerful need within him beyond respectability.

An exceptional beauty whose fierce passions match Zachary’s own, Holly always intended to play by society’s rules, even when they clashed with her bolder instincts. But now a dashing stranger has made her a scandalous offer that does not include matrimony. Should she ignore the sensuous promise of a forbidden kiss…or risk everything to follow her heart to a place where dreams begin?

Source: GoodReads

Eh.

This is not really one of my favorites of Kleypas.  It’s overall not a bad book, but there are some things about it that grate on my nerves.

I”ll talk about what I liked though first.   I thought that the characters-by themselves-were fairly interesting.  Zachary was a fascinating character who had potential to be a Derek or Simon type of character but just didn’t reach the oomph that either of those characters did.  I think a part of the reason why I couldn’t love this character was that while those characters had some vices as well, I didn’t feel like either of them were trying to force the MC to love them as much as Zachary did to Holly.

Yes, I know it wasn’t like he forced her to move in with him, but the way he went about it and the way he slowly encroached himself into her life was a bit creepy.

I also felt like some McNaught like flashbacks showing how he got rich and not just telling us he was poor once upon a time might’ve helped somewhat.  I know that a lot of times Kleypas does the tell not show background and it works, but here I think a little further backstory might’ve at least made me sympathize for the male lead more.

As for the lead female, I felt like we got enough backstory with her and I liked her struggle with moving on.  What I didn’t like was the end where Kleypas sort of diminishes what Holly’s relationship with her dead husband was.  Like, her relationship with Zachary is something more and her other relationship was insignificant.

Really, is it that difficult to admit that hey both relationships were great but different.  You can have more than one love of your life.

The whole ending, really cheapened the effect of the book and I also saw this with one of Kleypas’s previous books as well.

The plot wasn’t really anything special.  I will give Kleypas this that she didn’t try to invent some overdramatic plot at the end with a random villain-though we do get a overdramatic event that sort of made me cringe than the usual mustache twirling villain.  But the book is decent enough.

If you’re Kleypas’s binging, sure why not give this one a try.  The reason I read it is because I’ve been doing just that and got a good discount on the book.  However, if you see it in the bookstore and haven’t tried any of her work before I highly recommend reading the Wallflower series or Hathaway series before this one.  It  is a bit meh.

Overall Rating: A B-

Smart But Lacking Passion: Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan

The last man Judith Worth wants to see again is Christian Trent, the Marquess of Ashford—the man who spent summers at her family home, who kissed her one magical night…and then heartlessly ruined her father. But when a tricky business matter arises, he’s the only one she can ask for help. With any luck, he’ll engage a servant to take care of the matter, and she won’t even have to talk with him.

But Ashford has never forgotten Judith. He knows she will never forgive him for what he’s done, but when offered the chance to assist her, he arrives in person. His memory of Judith may have haunted him, but it pales in comparison to the reality of the vivacious, beautiful woman he rediscovers. Throughout his life, he has always done what is correct. But now, he finds himself doing something utterly wrong…falling in love with the one woman he can never have.

Source: GoodReads

Historically speaking, Once Upon a Marquees works very well. I think if there is one author who is able to really make you feel like you’re back in the days of Victorian England it’s Courtney Milan. The thing is though, while I feel like the historical aspects about this book are just right—other things such as relationships are pushed aside.

Don’t get me wrong, this book has character development. Good character development. It is the opening book in the Worth saga, and I can tell that this is going to be an entertaining series. The thing is, is that while there was nice introduction to the characters—including the leads Judith and Christian. I felt like the characters just magically got together in the end and the audience didn’t really get to savor them together. Yes, there was one steamy scene with them, but it seemed more or less an after thought. And after they had their scene together, well, everything works out fine for them despite the fact that there are still some relatively big conflicts there.

Again, this might’ve been because this book was a part of a series but it left the book feeling incomplete. I really feel like Christian and Judith’s story needed something more than it got. Don’t get me wrong, the bare bones are there, it just didn’t feel like a complete novel at the end of the day.

Which was sort of sad.

On the other hand, I am delighted at the potential this series has all of the supporting cast was well done. I’m intrigued about Camilla’s story, and the other Worth siblings stories as well. But at the end of the day, Judith and Christian’s story came off more as a novella than a novel since while the courtship aspect was there the being in a relationship and dealing with difficulties wasn’t so much.

I am giving this one a reluctant B to a B-. It wasn’t bad. I liked it, but I just didn’t love it.

Another Cinderella Story: An Offer From a Gentlemen by Julia Quinn

Will she accept his offer before the clock strikes midnight?

Sophie Beckett never dreamed she’d be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton’s famed masquerade ball—or that “Prince Charming” would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.

Who was that extraordinary woman? Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other—except, perhaps this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid’s garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?

Source: GoodReads

Everyone always talks about how great Julia Quinn books are.  Up to this point, I’ve only read one The Duke and I and I was unimpressed.  I read it before I reviewed books though, hence why I’m not doing a thorough analysis over it and I don’t plan to either-since again wasn’t that impressed.

At that point in my life, most of the HRs I read were my mom’s.  It wasn’t something I was really interested in that much, except they were the only thing I could read at my house and I was a college kid on a budget.  Now that I’ve been in a HR mood lately, I thought I’d give Quinn another shot and bought a few of her titles that stuck out An Offer From a Gentlemen was one of them.

And yes, it’s a Cinderella retelling, and I love the shit out of Cinderella, but in at the end of the day it just didn’t work for me.

I think a lot the reasons why it didn’t work was that even though I know the social norms wouldn’t have allowed Benedict and Sophie to be together, it still annoyed me how Benedict was like I want you to be my mistress rather than my wife, and we’re suppose to somehow find him endearing?  I mean, yeah, eventually he came around but it sort of pissed me off.

Sophie for her part, was a bit of a drip, but then again most Cinderella type characters are.  They are doormats for the most part, as is Sophie.  I did like the way that Quinn set up the scenario, it was clever but it still annoyed me  to no end-and yes, I know Sophie’s options back in that day were sad at best but…but…I somehow wanted her to become a self made women like all these self made men you see in tomances.

Le sigh.

The whole climax of this book was a little over the top too.  Sure, I don’t know that much about 19th century British law-save for all the cow cases I had to read in Contracts I (though that might’ve been 17th century not 19th century law) BUT I don’t think someone could get arrested so easy like that.

What do I know though?

Nothing, it seems.  The villain also was a little cartoonish.  And maybe that’s what bothered me the most about this book, that it lacked shades of gray.  Motivations and characters were really 2D and yeah…just didn’t really work.

I have a few more Quinn books in my stash and I will get to them eventually, but so far I haven’t been that impressed.

Maybe it’s just me though.

Overall Rating: A B- it is a fun read, but it really lacks depth and in hindsight it could’ve been a lot better.

Romance-cation: The WORST Book I Ever Read

Philip Hawksbury, the Earl of Rothermere, obeying his father’s dying wish, hies himself to Scotland to offer for one of the daughters of Alexander Kilbracken, the Earl of Ruthven.

Frances Kilbracken, informed of the earl’s arrival and his mission, disguises herself as a bespectacled dowd so she won’t be the one selected by the young earl. But choose her he does, and for all the wrong reasons.

The newly married couple return to England, together but not at all happy. Philip dumps Frances at Desborough Hall, his ancestral estate, and heads back to his old life in London. Ah, but Desborough has a stud farm and racing stable, and Frances is magic with horses.

When the earl returns to his home, driven by guilt, he discovers the woman he married has grossly deceived him. What follows is a battle of the sexes that will have you chuckling, maybe even howling with laughter…

Source: GoodReads

This is probably the worst romance novel I ever read.  Or at least the most memorably bad one.  It was originally published in 1981 which explains some of this horribleness since the book is full of the things that the 70’s and 80’s era of romance novels are full of-women being subjected to horrible abuse and alpha douche heros.

I really don’t like calling them heros.  In fact, I’m going to be referring to the so called hero (Phillip) as a rapist because that is fucking what he is. A fucking rapist and abuser.

While I discuss what’s wrong with this book-fucking everything-I am going to occasionally mention some changes that should’ve been made to it.

Before I do that though, I’ll talk about how I originally found this turd of a book.  It was in my mom’s stash of goodies.  It’s funny that my mom actually bought this sort of shit.  She’s a tough cookie and has always been one to tell me to tell a  misogynist idiot to fuck off.  And trust me, there are a lot of misogynist jerks out there, one is even running for president.  Anyway, to get back on topic this book is a lot of misogyny and then some.  I haven’t talked to her about it, because when I first read it I wasn’t supposed to be reading it being her impressionable teenage daughter.  Now, I doubt she’d even realize what book I was referring to since her reading these days tends to focus on gardening books and books about Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

Problem 1: Frances

I felt sympathy for the main character throughout the book but that doesn’t mean I like her.  For one thing her plan dressing like a complete frump is completely stupid and sort of pointless, especially since she is playing Peeping Tom on her husband.  And as fearless and tenacious as this MC is described, it shocks me that she did not even attempt to fight back or runaway.

You know what I would’ve liked well I’m going to tell you I wanted Coulter to fucking write that Frances leaves the Rapist.  Why can’t there be one of these fucking books where the heroine leaves an abusive relationship?  Is it too much to ask?  Again, I know this book is in the 80’s, but still.  Frances didn’t deserve to be with the Rapist even though she was completely stupid and sort of creepy herself.

Problem 2: The Rapist

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

I could just repeat that phrase and it would not be near enough times how many times I wanted to tell the Rapist (Phillip/Hawk) this.  Frances is plain creepy, but Phillip is just disgusting and needs to be castrated.

He feels like he has every right to have sex with Frances anytime he wants.  He doesn’t give a crap what she feels.  He justifies the fact that he is forcing her to have sex with him because he uses cream so that it won’t be too rough on her-spoiler alert, we’re subjected to one scene where he forgets to use said cream and the results end up being disgustingly graphic.

Long story short, cream or no cream-and I feel mildly disgusting saying that-rape is rape.  It’s sad  when the only remotely decent love scene is with his fucking mistress.

Yes, he has a fucking mistress AFTER he married the heroine and she gives him love advice.

Oh, fuck me.

See anytime I start talking about this fucking rapist, my vocabulary converts into Gordon Ramsay vocabulary since the only word I want to say is FUCK after reading this drivel.

If I was Coulter I would’ve killed the Rapist off when he was having sex with his mistress perhaps he gets shot by the mistress herself or maybe by one of her lovers,  or I’d have  Frances’s father wake up to what sort of scum he sold his daughter off too for all that money and realizes-hey, I fucked up.  Someone though need to shut that mother fucking rapist up.

Again, fuck this guy.  Coulter, you can do better.

Problem 3: The Plot

It was just fucking stupid.

So, Frances disguises herself as a frump so that the Rapist will ignore her.  Obviously, it doesn’t work but their not married right then and there.  Why doesn’t she show her real self there?  Would’ve taken care of the fucking problem.  Or run the fuck away.

Again, this character has no fucking sense of self preservation.  This problem stays throughout the rest of the novel where Frances had opportunities to get away from the rapist and doesn’t do anything.  Yes, she ditches the frump look but she sits there waiting for the Rapist to come back rather than stealing one of his horses and running off.  Again, this could’ve been great if she would’ve escaped and found a non-jerky guy and then wanted to marry him but couldn’t because of the Rapist.

God.

And the whole thing why they get married….because of the Rapist’s near dead daddy who ends up being the picture of health and faking the whole thing to get the Rapist married.

??????????

I get that medicine was sort of piss poor back then, but surely you’d realize that someone who is the picture of health isn’t exactly on his death bed.

Le sigh.

And the fact that the marquess acts like he pulled a prank on his rapist’s son and that he should be happy that he married a girl he didn’t even wants makes the book even more painful to read.

By the way, the book is pitched as a comedy.  It’s not.  Honestly, I only think sadists share Coulter’s humor but I’m digressing…

Back to the plot, so we have two idiots who didn’t want to get married-one who should’ve had some sense of self preservation and the other who should’ve gotten shot, hang, quartered, or something awful should’ve happened to him are sort of thrown together.  The Rapist leaves for a bit, but like I said got some advice from his mistress and decides that maybe if he takes all of Frances’s clothes off when he rapes  puts cream (and no, I’m not going to make a joke about the cream, but let’s just say I got some nasty imagery my head) and promptly forces breeds with her (and yes, the word breed is used frequently)  she’ll look hot.

But Gosh darn it, she looks hot with clothes on since she ditched those nasty glasses and ugly cap and gown.  Oh, yeah, and now she apparently has a rack on her that he didn’t notice.

He of courses gets mad that she kept her so called hotness from him and promptly rapes her again, but somehow Frances is eventually turned on by all this crap and there’s some weird shit with the horses where the audience has to painfully read about and then I think there’s a random bad guy at the end.

Honestly, by the fourth or fifth rape, I just started to tune out when I reread the thing so that I could write about the worst romance novel I ever read I only made it to the 60% mark before all the weird horse sex started.

It’s not a very well put together book, folks.

Overall Rating: Fucking F.  Thank God, rapists heroes aren’t an in thing anymore.  And God knows they never fucking should’ve been.  This book is disgusting.  One day I am going to have an honest discussion with my mom about this.  I hope she was as disgusted with it as I was.  I know that a lot of people-myself included-like reading Coulter occasionally for camp but this title and some of her older titles make my skin crawl.

Romance-cation: Some More Kleypas and Cabot

This is the last mini review I’m going to do for awhile.   As much as it pains me, I am going to start reading some YA again. Okay, it doesn’t exactly pain me, but I have been enjoying the change in reading and I am thinking about maybe widening the focus on this blog.

I know I’m going to continue reading HR at the very least I even purchased the Kindle edition of a very embarrassing book of my mother’s that I read. But that’s another reading experience for another day. Rather, this series of mini reviews is going to focus on several Kleypas standalones I read—well, two of them are parts of duologies but I didn’t realize it until after I finished—and a Patricia Cabot novel that I revisited (for those who don’t know Patricia Cabot is a pseudonym for Queen Meg Cabot).

 

 

Lord Lucas Stokehurst is captivated by the gentle grace and regal beauty of “Miss Karen Billings”, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere and now stands demurely before him. Enchanted, the gallant, haunted widower impetuously offers her a position as governess to his young daughter, taking the lady of mystery into his home.

But “Miss Billings” has another name, Anastasia, and a dark past that pursues her still. Condemned for a crime she cannot remember, she barely escaped the gallows. And now she seeks shelter in the arms of a man devastated by tragedy, a man who must now defy society and the forces of vengeance to keep his lady safe and their bold new love alive. 

Source: GoodReads 

Oh, man this one was a trip. After reading Kleypas latest books I was sort of surprised it was by her. There is so much about this book that is cliché romance. But it’s not terrible.   I mean, I didn’t hate it and I enjoyed it in that way you occasionally need a piece of 50,000 calorie cheesecake even though you know it’s not good for you.
Basically, the story is like if the Anastasia movie (not the teal because the princess and the entire royal family died and there was no magic and singing bats and Dmitri) had a baby with Jane Eyre.

Yeah, sounds ridiculous.

It totally is.

The MC I’m just warning you know is a complete Mary Sue, and the hero is one of the dullest in Kleypas repertoire even though he seems interesting—he has the one hand Hook thing going on for him. In fact, I imagined Hook from Once Upon a Time when Lucas was described so at least it was some nice mind candy.

The book was published in the mid 90’s so I’ll sort of give it a break there since flawed heroines really weren’t a big thing then. Hell, they’re not even they’re not even a big today which sort of sucks. But comparatively to Kleypas other heroines, Tasisa has little to no personality.   And even though this character finds herself in a horrible situation, I really couldn’t feel for her.

It’s odd both of these characters should have compelling back-stories, but they’re really dull as dishwater soap. The villain is mechanically evil, and when I found out that he got his own spinoff book they made my rage for St. Vincent seem miniscule. Though, to be honest, I may look at it when I have enough distance between myself in this book.

When I think of Midnight Angel I’m a little disappointed for it’s set up it is a bit of a downer, but it had some nice tropes going for it.

Overall Rating: B-

 

“I don’t care about your conscience. All I want is for you to kiss me again.”

Lady Madeline Matthews would rather shame herself than sacrifice her freedom—which is why, to avoid a marriage to an aging, lecherous lord, she seeks out the company of Logan Scott. A torrid affair with the notorious womanizer would surely condemn her in the eyes of good society.

Though a legend in the bedchamber, Logan is, in truth, an intensely private man tormented by past betrayals. Now a forward little minx is disrupting his life with her vibrant charm and unspoiled beauty, a high-spirited enchantress completely at sea in London’s sophisticated whirl. But when what begins with a kiss threatens to blossom into something more rapturous and real, will Logan and Madeline have the courage to drop the masks they hide behind in the name of love? 

Source: GoodReads

 This  book  also belongs to a duology. I actually have the first book in my cache of romance novels somewhere, but I haven’t found interest into reading it yet.

Like Midnight Angel, this one doesn’t live up to its premises. I was expecting Maddie to do something more than just standing by and playing nursemaid to seduce Logan. In all, she was a Sue who we were made to feel sorry for even though she really wasn’t that sympathetic of a character.

To be fair, Logan acted like a complete dick after finding out he knocked her up; but he was sort of used so I got why he was a little disdainful.

Still though, horrible.

I guess my problem with this one is that this was just a couple I couldn’t root for and the back story and plot just seemed a little phoned in.

Of course, the hero has a somewhat tragic back story with an interesting legacy. Of course, the heroine’s fiancé is a leach. I just—no.

It’s not what I expected with a Kleypas story.

The thing is though, it’s an average romance story. Any other author I’d be like—okay. But as far as Lisa Kleypas standards go, I’d skip this one.

Overall Rating: C+

 

 

Bestselling author Lisa Kleypas creates a beguiling story, set in a world where appearance means everything, passion simmers just below the surface, and a respectable Englishwoman is willing to risk scandal for one night of love.

She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn’t about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion. Unforgettably handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never thought possible, but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.

Jack Devlin’s determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London’s most notorious businessman, refused to live by society’s rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected. . . but both soon craved.

Source: GoodReads

I actually liked Suddenly You even though it was a little cliché.

Amanda is your typical beautiful spinster who is, of course, ravished after meeting the right guy.

Her relationship with Jack starts out pretty intensely since she thinks he’s a male hooker (and of course he’s not he’s really a rich publisher). To be honest, a part of me sort of thinks that this one could’ve been more interesting if Jack really was a gigolo. I mean a Pretty Woman tale with a gender bending angle could be interesting.

But those sorts of things never happen in romance-land. I’m okay though, mainly because I liked the chemistry these two characters had.  It was delightful, and because of the earlier Pretty Woman innuendos, I kept thinking of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in the leading roles.

Jack’s backstory was a little on the cliché side as well. Often when there’s these dark hero backstories—especially with Kleypas. The facts of what happened are merely thrown out for the reader and are more biographical, than anything else. Yes, I heard about the terrible things that happened to Jack but I didn’t feel them and feel the angst like I would’ve say in a Judith McNaught novel.

It didn’t make the book that weak though, again I enjoyed it. There were parts of it that were a bit of a downer though. Something happens in the last twenty pages of the book that I really felt was unnecessary, especially since it didn’t really add much to the plot. If you were going to use such a plot device have it effect your characters more. At least that’s what I think, some people might be glad that Kleypas didn’t dwell on it that much.

In all, Suddenly You is a fun romp but it does not hit the same caliber as the Wallflower or Hathway series.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

A stormy heart

Adventurous, outspoken, Payton Dixon has two passionate dreams…a clipper ship of her own and the love of Captain Connor Drake. But both seem impossibly out of reach, since her beloved captain is about to marry another, and worse, he’s been given her ship as a wedding present from her traitorous father.

A thwarted love

Out to prove she has right on her side, Payton manages to unleash a scandal and ignite all sorts of trouble. As for Drake, he can’t decide whether to throttle the girl he’s grown up with, or make love to the beautiful woman she has become.

An Improper Proposal 

Source: GoodReads

 

I read this one about ten years ago, give or take a few years. I liked it okay then, and thought it would be a fun to revisit.

I was wrong. If there is anything “good” about this book it is how much Cabot has grown as a writer since it’s publication.   If you read a lot of Meg Cabot books—which is who Patricia Cabot is—you’ll know that she’s prone to using certain tropes (feisty unconventional heroines, long descriptions about how tight the hero’s breeches (or jeans in a contemporary) are, hints of feminism, that sort of stuff). The thing is her use of tropes has improved as her writing improved.

To be honest, upon reread I sort of hated Payton. She seemed she was twelve rather than nineteen and after reading a plethora of other historical romances I know that if she acted the way she did in any other book she’d be walloped and then some.

It just seemed so weird to me that conventions of the period weren’t followed here. Yes, I get that Payton grew up around men, but there was such a disregard to what the woman’s role in society was back then that I just kept shaking my head and wanting to tell her to just shut up.

The hero appears to be a drip for the better part of 200 pages of the 300 some odd pages, since Cabot makes it appear that he’s a total drip before pulling a twist that Conner is really noble. Any other book there would be a more desirable suitor that would’ve kicked Conner’s ass. Instead, we just had to watch Payton be poorly treated by him and then have it scrubbed for nobility purposes.

And don’t even get me started on Connor’s fiancée or whatever she was to him. That whole plotline fell flat and I didn’t get why Payton even decided to help her out in the end when she treated her as if she was some sort of hussy or the better part of the book.

In addition to character issues, the book is just oddly paced. It drags really for the first half and then things just randomly happen. There’s a lot of stuff that works, but at the same time there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t.

I think if you’re truly a Cabot fan you might want to check this out, but it’s going to be a little bit of a disappointment. It’s nowhere near her best and while there are some things that are interesting about it, her writing has since been polished and refined to where this book comes off looking very poor.

Overall Rating: A C.

Romance-cation Part II: A Whole Lot of Hathaways

Another week of Kleypas binging.  Yay!  Yeah, yeah, I know as a book blogger I’m supposed to be responsible and fair to all authors break up my reading accordingly and I do have a bunch of YA books I need to get too.  But God, I really needed a break from YA and I forgot how fun historical romances can be.

So to my reading schedule….

Seriously, I really do love historicals, guys.  And I am glad I have a stockpile of Kleypas books because honestly her books are really what I love from HR without getting all gross and rapey a la Catherine Coulter-one of these days I am really going to have to do a R&R of those.  I think though for the sake of my liver it might be awhile though.  Also, I need to go to my mom’s house and dig them out of my shelves there since I sort of am eerie about checking out said books at the library (don’t even know if they have them at the pathetic library I am now privy to).

Series Overall: The Hathaway series is a series of five books that follow a very large and unconventional family in the early Victorian era-the late 1840’s to late 1850’s England.  The series slightly overlaps with the Wallflower series which was why I decided to binge on it next because once a reader starts reading about Lord Westcliff they cannot stop.  Honestly, I liked this series better than the Wallflowers because all of  the family plays an important role in the books while some of the Wallflowers all but disappered when it wasn’t their respective book.  Also, Cam Rohan which gives Westcliff a nice run for his money.

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter…

Source: GoodReads

I really loved this book.  It did annoy me when I read the summary and I saw the “g” word being used.  But luckily Kleypas did not diminish the Romani culture throughout the book and I actually felt like you got to learn about things in the period and the culture which was nice.

And God knows, I love the character Cam.  Like I said in my series overview, I think Cam ranks right up there with Westcliff.  Though, while Westcliff is fairly your conventional historical romance hero, Cam isn’t.

He’s not a viscount.  Yes, he has money, but he doesn’t even like being rich.   He also isn’t a complete cad or an egomaniac.  He is just a nice guy, and I liked his relationship with Amelia.  It is a book I will be re-reading.

Amelia is your fairly typical mother hen type character but I thought she was fairly formed.  She wasn’t terrible and I liked how strong the character was despite how fucked up her family was.

If I was being more critical I could comment about the plot.  There were some things that were a bit overdramatic and were never given full explanation in the series, BUT I’m letting it go.  Honestly, it’s a problem with a lot of Kleypas’s books.  The whole plot climax with the villain is fairly poorly done in all of these books that after reading God knows how many of them I sort of ignore it, and in this case the added bonus of that ghost or whatever it was just made things weirder.

Again, though overall not bad at all.  I really liked it.

Overall Rating: A-

He has tried hard to forget her.

Kev Merripen has longed for the beautiful, well-bred Winnifred Hathaway ever since her family rescued him from the brink of death when he was just a boy. But this handsome Gypsy is a man of mysterious origins—and he fears that the darkness of his past could crush delicate, luminous Win. So Kev refuses to submit to temptation… and before long Win is torn from him by a devastating twist of fate.

Can she remember the man he once was?

Then, Win returns to England… only to find that Kev has hardened into a man who will deny love at all costs. Meantime, an attractive, seductive suitor has set his sights on Win. It’s now or never for Kev to make his move. But first, he must confront a dangerous secret about his destiny—or risk losing the only woman he has lived for…

Source: GoodReads

Okay, so I am liking this one a bit more after sitting on it but I don’t love it by any means.

I think I was hoping that there would be more shades of Paradise in this one which there were not.  I mean, there were bits and pieces of the angst that I felt, but Kev acted like a jerk towards Win for a lot of this book.  And while there was motivation towards it, if he would’ve stopped being a dick towards her and at least stopped himself from practically molesting her when they first met.

Grant it, I guess it was common for single men  to hire prostitutes back then.  But it was still a little tactless.  Claim you loved a girl so much that she’s the only woman you could love and then not recognize her and think she’s a call girl?

Again, to be fair Kev does have a lot of angst but the one who should’ve been angst-ing more in some regards was Win.  She was a fucking invalid and this book is all about Kev’s past-yes, horrible- BUT she was a fucking invalid whose life was practically on hold for several years and rather than telling her you loved her you dicked around.

Again, it’s a historical romance.

But.

But.

The thing that saved this one for me was the relationship between Cam and Amelia.  They’re secondary characters and they have a lot of sexy times together in this book.  That was good.  What wasn’t good was Kev the dick.

Overall Rating: A reluctant B.  It was originally lower, but upon reflection I can see myself maybe revisiting this one in the future.

He was everything she’d sworn to avoid.

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal—only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

And she was everything he needed.

Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all…

Source: GoodReads

In this book it’s the Hathaway that’s boring and the love interest that’s interesting.   In the other two books both of the characters have been interesting but Poppy is just dull.  The most interesting thing about her is that she’s pretty and, well, nice.  But she is so dull.

I think what Kleypas wanted to do was to sort of do a Beauty and the Beast thing and she succeeded with Harry Rutledge.  In most novels, he would’ve been the villain.  He did some rather horrible things and was unashamed about them, just to get between the sheets with Poppy.

In a weird way their relationship reminded me of the Rumbelle relationship on Once Upon a Time (a show that I have very mix feelings about), EXCEPT Poppy isn’t stupid enough to expect him to change.  Although, she does issue a couple of ultimatums but it’s not like she expected Harry to totally change.  She knows he still has evil ways.

I think that’s one of the reasons I tolerated her even though she was dull as dishwasher (much like Belle on Once Upon a Time).

Honestly, in comparison to the rest of these books this one is a little bit on the dull side.  Sure, it has it’s cluster fuck of a climax which I’m like-why about.  Because really it should’ve ended with their romp in Hampshire where everything was hunky dory again than that stupid kidnapping plot.

Because really.

But again, at this point I don’t even try to hold the climaxes against Kleypas.  You want a decent climax with background plot, read a Judith McNaught novel.  Kleypas though has the romance bits down to a science.  While Poppy was dull, I really did like the turn with Harry’s character so it wasn’t like this book totally stuck out.

Overall Rating: A B

He is everything she wants to avoid…

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

She is not at all what she seems…

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…

Source: GoodReads

After the first book in this series, this one is probably my favorite.

Oh, Leo.

The character has evolved throughout this series from a sad SOB who grossly neglects his family to a reformed cad.  He has really came into his own and it’s nice for him to finally have his own story.   And I can’t complain that much about Catherine-though her backstory was a bit melodramatic.

And really, why does everyone this family marries into have to be related?

That being aside, I did like that Catherine wasn’t your stereotypical poor little governess that the hero swoops up.  These two HATE each other at the beginning of the novel, and its nice to see how their hatred evolves into something more.

And I love the little ferret that is in this book too.  There is so much humor in this installment and enough cameos from the other Hathaways to make me smile.

Do we get another over the top climax (obviously).  But at least here, there is some build up which didn’t exactly happen in the other books.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it A- same as the first book.  I feel like this one and the first are both the strongest in this series but for different reasons.

She harbors a secret yearning.

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted… and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?

He is a world-weary cynic.

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix’s friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it’s becoming clear that Christopher won’t come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru’s disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru’s letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep… and when Christopher comes home, he’s determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix’s innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can’t be denied.

Source: GoodReads

 

This one is NOT terrible.  But I just don’t think Beatrix comes off as realistic.  Or for the fact this relationship.

Yes, her thing with the animals is cute and all but really a grown ass twenty-three year old would not randomly come up to people and be like, “Oh, yes.  You’re a Beagle because you like to eat a lot and are a red head who talks a lot about herself on her semi-regular blog column for her owner.”

Okay, Beatrix doesn’t exactly compare anyone to Patty Beagle but she does compare them to animals and she’s in her twenties and it’s viewed as cute and all of that.

Rolls eyes.

She’s like the manic pixie dream girl of the 1850’s ya’ll.

The hero-Christopher-was kind of a wash compared to the other guys in this series he’s nice and tortured enough but compared to Cam, Leo, Harry, and even Kev he’s just sort of meh.

The plot in this one, was sort of meh as well.  I like the idea of love letters written by someone you don’t expect.  It’s a cute idea, but I thought Christopher accepting it was Bea really fast and declaring his love for her equally fast was a little jarring.

It just wasn’t a book I expected from Kleypas.

That didn’t mean it was bad though.  I just…I just think Beatrix would’ve been better off with the eighty year old vet.

Overall Rating: B-

Romance-cation: The Wallflower Series

Occasionally, I get annoyed with reading YA.  After a slew full of meh reads with a few good ones thrown in, I decided it was time to hit the historical romances.  I think I read like seven or so Lisa Kleypas novels in the past week.  I had a stack of them stockpiled and thought now’s the time to get through them.  Honestly, I might continue this binge of Kleypas reading because I am still not completely ready to be YA-ing it again.   It’s almost a universal truth that historical romances (even those that aren’t exactly perfect will get me in a better mood)

Rather than doing full reviews to all the books I’ve read, I thought it would be better if I did  mini-reviews.  For this first series of mini-reviews I’ll be looking at Kleypas Wallflower series.

Series Overview: There are four main books in the series and a prequel of sorts (which I’ve already reviewed) and Christmas special which I haven’t read yet but have on order since I only found out about it partially through the read through.  The book focuses on a group of girls self dubbed the Wallflowers.  However, each one of the is ridiculously attractive and end up latching on to some rich guy with little effort.   So,  I really don’ t know why they call themselves the Wallflowers only that-hey, series title and it sort of connects them together.  I don’t really mind that much though because these books are highly entertaining and unlike Judith McNaught’s historicals it’s not like every character gets together with a duke.  A lot of the heros are self made men.

Four young ladies enter London society with one common goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So a daring husband-hunting scheme is born.

Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle’s most intriguing–and persistent–admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage. Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition . . . but it is impossible in the face of such skillful seduction.

Her friends, looking to help, conspire to entice a more suitable gentleman to offer for Annabelle, for only then will she be safe from Simon–and her own longings. But on one summer night, Annabelle succumbs to Simon’s passionate embrace and tempting kisses . . . and she discovers that love is the most dangerous game of all. 

Source: GoodReads

This one was okay.  Yes, most of the conflict could’ve been avoided if Annabelle wouldn’t have been such a snob.  But you sort of get where she was coming from based on the period.  But still….dear lord, Simon for putting up with that crap.

Aside from being a snob, Annabelle isn’t too bad though she does borderline Mary Sue since we’re told how perfect looking she is and that he only reason she’s a Wallflower is because she’s so poor.

Awww.

Honestly, I couldn’t help but get a little annoyed with Annabelle.  Also, for someone who is destitute she lives a pretty good life full of ladies maids and the like.

I do like the fact that the book focused on friendships.  Especially female friendships.  You don’t get a lot of that in historical romances so that was refreshing and each of these girls do seem to have a personality.

In all I didn’t mind this one, and snobbery aside there is some nice chemistry between Annabelle and Simon.

But was it Darcy in the Lake worthy, hardly.

Overall Rating: A B

Four young ladies enter London society with one necessary goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So they band together, and a daring husband-hunting scheme is born.

It happened at the ball…

Where beautiful but bold Lillian Bowman quickly learned that her independent American ways weren’t entirely “the thing.” And the most disapproving of all was insufferable, snobbish, and impossible Marcus, Lord Westcliff, London’s most eligible aristocrat.

It happened in the garden…

When Marcus shockingly—and dangerously—swept her into his arms. Lillian was overcome with a consuming passion for a man she didn’t even like. Time stood still; it was as if no one else existed… thank goodness they weren’t caught very nearly in the act!

It happened one autumn…

Marcus was a man in charge of his own emotions, a bedrock of stability. But with Lillian, every touch was exquisite torture, every kiss an enticement for more. Yet how could he consider taking a woman so blatantly unsuitable… as his bride?

Source: GoodReads

This was the book that made the series.  Think of a hotter version of Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth comes from a family like Lady Cora and you get this book.  I loved this book and the characters.  I liked the verbal foreplay between the characters, and Westcliff is up there for historical men I’ve read about.

I could’ve done less with the ending though, especially considering that Kleypas went on to use that character heavily in one of the sequels to this book.  But overall very, very, solid and I liked how the two characters relationships evolved.

It also made me want to review the prequel to this whole series because I wanted more Marcus.

The cameos from the prior cast were just enough too.  Again, I loved he book for the most part until the ending.  And I don’t think the ending would’ve bothered me that much if the villain wouldn’t have been used in the next book.  It’s just too hard to be redeemed for that and I couldn’t help but thinking that wallflower was sort of  a shitty friend considering what almost happened to Lilian.

If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice-y novels give It Happened One Autumn a try you won’t regret it.

Overall Rating: A-

Four young ladies enter London society and band together to each find a husband. Has the third “Wallflower” now met her match?

A Devil’s Bargain

Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!

Sebastian’s reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden’s good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.

But Evie’s proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine’s callously discarded broken hearts—which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions… or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love. 

Source: GoodReads

This one was probably my least favorite in the series.  I just couldn’t ever love the hero based on his actions in the previous book.  I was like-no.  And it wasn’t like there weren’t other options for this MC.  Personally, I had a fan fic written out in my head how she’d get with one of the supporting characters while married to the hero and….yeah, didn’t happen.

Though to be honest, that character deserved more than this drip.  And yes, I saw Evie as a drip.   Because while I know she couldn’t help some things-like her stuttering-it wasn’t like she did a lot to help herself.  In the beginning I had hope, what she did was pretty ballsy then she just got meh-

I never even saw how a relationship developed between her and the so called hero because-no, no, no.

While I enjoyed the nods to Kleypas Gambling series, I didn’t enjoy the fact that this plot seemed to fall apart in lots of ways.  There was so much potential here and the ultimate story-well, it was cliche and predictable.  And whatever happened to the mean evil relatives, they certainly gave up pretty fast after that one attempted kidnapping.

The best part about this book was the cameos made by Lilian and Marcus.  But again, why would you be friends with these people after ****spoilers*****

It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Overall Rating: A C+

After spending three London seasons searching for a husband, Daisy Bowman’s father has told her in no uncertain terms that she must find a husband. Now. And if Daisy can’t snare an appropriate suitor, she will marry the man he chooses—the ruthless and aloof Matthew Swift.

Daisy is horrified. A Bowman never admits defeat, and she decides to do whatever it takes to marry someone… anyone… other than Matthew. But she doesn’t count on Matthew’s unexpected charm… or the blazing sensuality that soon flares beyond both their control. And Daisy discovers that the man she has always hated just might turn out to be the man of her dreams.

But right at the moment of sweet surrender, a scandalous secret is uncovered… one that could destroy both Matthew and a love more passionate and irresistible than Daisy’s wildest fantasies.

Source: GoodReads

I sort of have mixed feelings about this book.  I liked it, but it didn’t full out go into detail on the hero’s secret past as I’d like it too.  It’s a shame too because 200 some odd pages into the book, I was fairly bored.  Yeah, there was nice chemistry BUT there was really no plot other than the father was a dick who wanted the MC (Daisy) to marry a guy that was supposedly horrible but experience a physical and personality makeover in the time that they were a part.

Not the most exciting plot line, but then you have the backstory of the hero and I’m like….why couldn’t the whole book go into the angst on that?

It really is a shame because out of all the wallflowers I related the most to Daisy, even though Lillian is undoubtedly my favorite.  The love story ended up being just incredibly dull especially since there were hints and teases in the previous book that the hero was going to be way more interesting-he will be getting his own story though which I am interested in reading.

In the end, I didn’t HATE Scandal in Spring BUT it could’ve been better.  Out of all the Wallflower books this potentially had the most interesting set up but….B-

Slow to Start: Unveiled by Courtney Milan

Ash Turner has waited a lifetime to seek revenge on the man who ruined his family – and now the time for justice has arrived. At Parford Manor, he intends to take his place as the rightful heir to the dukedom and settle an old score with the current duke once and for all. But instead he finds himself drawn to a tempting beauty who has the power to undo all his dreams of vengeance….

Lady Margaret knows she should despise the man who’s stolen her fortune and her father’s legacy – the man she’s been ordered to spy on in the guise of a nurse. Yet the more she learns about the new duke, the less she can resist his smoldering appeal. Soon Margaret and Ash find themselves torn between old loyalties – and the tantalizing promise of passion….

Source: GoodReads

I have mixed feelings about this book, it started out really slow but once I got into it I really couldn’t put it down.  It had a lot of good things going for it.

After this book, there’s no doubt that I’m a fan of Courtney Milan’s historical romances.  She manages to side step many of my pet peeves when it comes to romance novels-i.e there are no jerky heroes and the main characters are realistic women.  However, there were a few times I was like “come on”.

Grant it, that might be a common reaction to the genre.  A lot of the scenarios you see in historical romances are unrealistic but that’s just part of  the genre.

Unveiled has a lot of tropes that I am a fan of: secret heirs, hidden identities, horrible families (yes, I like the horrible family trope), brotherly love, and  dark deep secrets.  The thing is, often these tropes can seem soap-ish, BUT Milan always makes it appear relatively realistic.  The characters are always dead on in how they should be acting emotionally.  And while there is romance and fluff, underlying issues of the period are highlighted too.

Unveiled touches on several issues such as mental illness, illiteracy, inheritance rights, and the treatment of the classes.  It’s not done in a heavy handed lesson of the week type of way either.  The issues flow within the story.  The lack of care for the mentally ill effects several of the characters motivations.  Class issues effect the way characters understand and interact with each other.

This all in all, is a good book.  But damn, it was slow in the beginning.

While I was able to read this novel rather quickly-a good chunk on an hour long plane ride and one night at home-it took awhile for me to really get into it.  There’s a lot of set up that as to take place for the novel to get going, and while it worked in a lot of ways.  I didn’t totally buy Margret and Ash as a couple.  I think because in a way the attraction seemed almost too fast-at least when it came to one party.

Not that I ended up really minding it at the end.  These two had some cute scenes together, but the initial attraction seemed a little forced.

Overall, Unveiled is a cute read with a few issues.  However, not the typical issues you would see in a historical romance.

Overall Rating: A solid B.  Maybe borderline B+.