I Cannot Get Behind This Ship: Somewhere I’ll Find You by Lisa Kleypas

The toast of the town…

All London is at Julia Wentworth’s feet—and anything she desires is hers for the asking. But the glamorous leading lady guards a shocking secret: a mystery husband whom she does not know, dares not mention … and cannot love.

For years Damon Savage has been searching for the stranger his parents wed him to without his consent, hoping to legally free himself from matrimony’s invisible chains. And he is astonished to discover his “bride” is none other than the exquisite lady he’d hoped to make his mistress! But though his wife by law, Julia will never truly be Damon’s—until he conquers her fears, his formidable rivals … and her proud, passionate, and independent heart.

Source: GoodReads

This ship reeks guys.

I mean, it’s not one of those ships where you want to take the heroine’s hand drag her away and slap hers silly for wanting to be with an abusive asshole, but it’s close.

I mean, the only reason I didn’t completely hate Damon Savage was because I recently was reminded of that Phillip asshole in Catherine Coulter’s Midsummer Magic.  But I did hate him, I mean claiming that just because Jessica/Julia was aroused meant that having unwanted sex with her wouldn’t be rape…then there’s that whole abduction thing at the end.  And how the heroine had to be constantly almost raped so that Damon could look like a good guy.

Yeah,  book throwing time.

Also, I just HATED how much this ship was pushed.  The book seemed to have a central theme about independence, but the entire ship ruined it.  And while it might’ve been the cliche route, I really wished Kleypas had gone with Logan/Julia.  And yes, I’ve read the companion sequel (Logan’s story) and the heroine in that book was an insipid little twit.  Both Julia and Logan would’ve been better off together than with the morons they were paired with.

To be honest, I really do wonder how much of a cliche it would’ve been to do Julia/Logan pairing.  It seems like in any book where the heroine  doesn’t want to be with a character in a relationship that is forced, somehow that’s who the MC ends up being with (see Something Wonderful).  Even if the author has to force the relationship on us, like in this case.  It’s especially odd with Julia and Damon since the initial meeting between Julia and Logan was the type that in much books would equal instant pair.

Instead, though I guess that chance encounter at a May Day celebration was supposed to have me rooting for Julia to be with her “husband” even though….

In addition to the gag worthy ship, there is also a gag worthy forgiveness side plot to a God awful character.  This is something I see recurring in all different romance novels and God knows I hate it.  The character in question was a dick until he got deathly ill and somehow got a personality transplant and was able to make bunny rabbits and roses with everyone.

No.

Add in addition to those two groan worthy cliches, some ample slut slamming and…

Book Hulk anyone?

The thing is, this is the better two out of the Capital Theatre duology.  That’s the sad thing.  There were some interesting things with this one, I just hated where it went.  It’s definitely not Kleypas’s best and that might’ve been in part because it was written in the 1990’s-which while not an as rapey era in romance and the 70’s and 80’s still had it’s share of foul moments.

Do I recommend it?  Honestly, no.  Like I said, I got a shit load of Kleypas’s books at a used bookstore and have just decided to read them all this summer.  I really prefer the Wallflower books and the Hathaway series to this fuckery.  Even her newer historical series which I’ve read-haven’t reviewed yet- with it’s faults is better than this.  I just couldn’t stand the ship in this one, and I just won’t be convinced otherwise.  On a side note, if anyone can recommend me any books where the author inverses the cliche-meaning, the heroine dumps the douche she’s tied to-let me know.  I want to read the fuck out of that book.  However, I haven’t found one as of yet and it almost, almost has me willing to write my own book flipping this sad cliche.  Alas, I don’t think I have the time to do the adequate research or the stomach to write cringe worthy sex scenes that are required for a historical romance. But still, give me that book.  Please, someone.

Overall Rating: A C+ that’s higher than the rating I gave to this book’s sequel, right?  I mean, it’s better than that dunce of a book.  But really, really, hated that God forsaken ship

 

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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-

Meaty Plot Eh Ship: Then Came You by Lisa Kleypas

A woman with a secret…

Reckless beauty Lily Lawson delights in shocking London society. She will break any rule to get what she wants . . . and she is determined to stop her younger sister from marrying Alex, Lord Wolverton, a handsome and arrogant earl who has vowed never to fall in love.

A man who will do anything to possess her…

To Alex’s fury, the headstrong hellion presents a temptation he can’t resist. He vows to make her pay dearly for her interference—with her body, her soul, and her stubborn, well-guarded heart.

As Alex and Lily challenge each other at every turn, they are caught up in a white-hot desire that burns through every defense and exposes the mystery of Lily’s past . . . and together they discover that love is the most dangerous game of all. 

Source:GoodReads

Yes, I read another Lisa Kleypas book. That’s because I got a lot of them really cheap at a used book store about a year ago and I’m cleaning out my shelves. Plus, I can’t help but love her books even if some of them are better than others.

Then Came You was written in the early 1990’s and is the first book in the Gambler duology. I actually read the second book awhile back and sort of have reverse shipping meaning I wished Derek and Lily would’ve been the ones who had gotten together for a good 90% of this read until Derek acted like a pimp and then I wanted to deck him.

It’s weird the problems I had with this book are sort of inverse to the problems I had with the Wallflower and Hathaway series. With those books, I really felt that I got to know the ship really well, but then they have outrageous outlandish climax plot points that have me rolling my eyes.

Here, this one has a good plot. Over dramatic, yes. But compared to most Kleypas books, this plot is well formed and the relationship (yes, the actual relationship) seems somewhat neglected.

This is one of those books with a love/hate relationship but it randomly changes from hate to love; and I have to say how it changes is sort of sleazy (thank you NOT, Derek) and I couldn’t ever really get into them because of that. It would’ve been one thing if Alex would’ve told her just to go and that they were even but NO. I don’t think I’ll ever get that.

Also, I don’t think I’ll ever totally be on board with Alex because he had a major case of the grumpies and his comparison to Lily to his dead wife was a bit creepy.

But like I said, I did like the plot. It was interesting with enough mystery in it to make me want to finish the damn thing and figure out how it all played out. The fact that it didn’t appear randomly in the last thirty pages made it better (take that Scandal in Spring), but overall it wasn’t one of Kleypas strongest.

Overall Rating: A B. Enjoyable enough, but I’m sorry Alex isn’t exactly droll worthy.

 

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-

Poor Lady Avery: Brown Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn’t believe in love–at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can’t resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can’t afford distractions. She’s been hired to plan the wedding of the year–a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he’s not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything–including her well-guarded heart–will she find out what matters most.

Source: GoodReads

I started reading the Travis series way back when the first book was released.   I didn’t think that the last brother, Joe, was going to get his own story but low and behold when this book showed up on my GoodReads feed one day and I preordered it.

Some eight months later, I actually read it-yeah, things have been busy lately-and it did give me some feels of nostalgia, but I didn’t exactly love Brown Eyed Girl like I loved Blue-Eyed Devil or Sugar Daddy.

It wasn’t bad though.

There is something that is just charming about Kleypas books.  Somehow, I can always guarantee that I will immerse myself in their worlds. I found myself immersed in Avery’s world, but I didn’t love her like I loved other of Kleypas’s heroines.

In comparison to Haven, or to Liberty, or even Ella’s; Avery’s journey to a happily ever after is much less dramatic.  Which isn’t necessary a bad thing, but it had me rooting for her a bit less.

I mean, when you have horrible things happening to a heroine you wish for their happy ending a lot more.  Look at poor Lady Edith from Downton Abbey  if you need an example.  All of her problems and hardships made her happiness a lot more appreciated.

That being said because Avery’s problems are so minuscule compared to the other characters, I really couldn’t help but roll my eyes when she whined about her life-her main problem was that she wore frumpy clothing and had quasi daddy and mommy issues.

I feel like if some of her family inadequacies were explored more, I might have cared for the story more.  But as it was written it just seemed all very fast.

That didn’t mean Brown Eyed Girl wasn’t an enjoyable read though, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

Overall Rating: A B-

If Jane Austen Met a Hot Gambler: Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

She stood at danger’s threshold—then love beckoned her in.

In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Feilding puts pen to paper to create dreams. But curiosity has enticed the prim, well-bred gentlewoman out of her safe haven—and into Derek Craven’s dangerous world.

A handsome, tough and tenacious Cockney, he rose from poverty to become lord of London’s most exclusive gambling house—a struggle that has left Derek Craven fabulously wealthy, but hardened and suspicious. And now duty demands he allow Sara Fielding into his world—with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But here, in a perilous shadow-realm of ever-shifting fortunes, even a proper “mouse” can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress—and a world-weary gambler can be shaken to his cynical core by the power of passion…and the promise of love.

Source: GoodReads

This book could also be known  as Jane Austen Did Have a Happily Ever After and Married a Reform Rouge.

Okay, Sara is not exactly Jane Austen.  Instead of writing witty commentaries on society, she writes gritty books about undesirables that might even have Dickens blush.  And she’s out researching a novel-because unlike certain authors she doesn’t rely on Wikipedia as her only source material (Not that there was Wikipedia back in her day) and ends up saving super hot and rich Derek.

Of course, things develop from there.

But first Derek and Sara have to deal with obstacles.

And while the obstacles in romances always annoy me to some degree, I couldn’t help but swoony at them throughout it.

Lisa Kleypas is one of those authors I can usually count on for a solid experience.  Some of her books are better than others, but none of them I’ve read so far have been bad.

This one while not the best Kleypas’s book I ever read, was thoroughly enjoyable.  The characters were richly described.  Particularly, Derek.  The side characters also held my interest enough where I’ll probably-okay, I know-I’ll be indulging in their stories later (I bought a lot of Kleypas’s books on Amazon a couple of weeks ago).

The characters also deviated enough from the typical Regency stereotypes which made it more enjoyable.  I liked that Derek was a self made man-something you hardly ever see in these books and that Sara wasn’t a the stereotypical pathetic spinster.

Instead, she was a kick ass activist with a pistol.

The characters themselves were stellar.

The plot.

Eh….

It was just sort of stagnant, while there was more excitement than Again the Magic, the villain though annoyed me.

I just really expected more from Kleypas than to use that trope of all things. I just didn’t like how one note that villain and it made what was a good book a bit over dramatic.

Still though, Dreaming of You is probably one of the better historical romances I’ve read recently. I liked the characters and their backstories, and their romance was charming.  I just wish there wasn’t that over the top melodramatic villain.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Second Chance Romance: Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas

Lady Aline Marsden was brought up for one reason: to make an advantageous marriage to a member of her own class. Instead, she willingly gave her innocence to John McKenna, a servant on her father’s estate. Their passionate transgression was unforgivable—John was sent away, and Aline was left to live in the countryside…an exile from London society.

…and he took her love.

Now McKenna has made his fortune, and he has returned—more boldly handsome and more mesmerizing than before. His ruthless plan is to take revenge on the woman who shattered his dreams of love. But the magic between them burns as bright as ever. And now he must decide whether to let vengeance take its toll…or risk everything for his first, and only, love.

Source: GoodReads

I feel like if I hadn’t read Judith McNaught’s Paradise, I would’ve enjoyed this one much more.  Paradise is a contemporary that covers many of the same things that Again With the Magic did, except in my humble opinion better.

Again With the Magic isn’t a bad book.  I managed to finish it within like four hours.  That’s not bad at all.  Especially since I was very tired and I could’ve been doing other things like shopping online for my two new Chihuahuas.  However, it just didn’t live up to what I wanted.

One of the things I really like about the second chance romance trope is that you get to explore the characters at different points in their lives.  I felt like the “before” period was a bit rushed here and we were told not shown more or less McKenna and Aline’s romance.

Not that McKenna and Aline are that bad of characters, I just didn’t really feel like I “got” them.  Maybe this was in part that this book heavily featured a side romance with Aline’s sister and McKenna’s business partner.

The side romance was cute BUT…

I think it hindered my enjoyment of McKenna and Aline, who by all accounts should’ve been fascinating characters to explore.

First you have McKenna, who’s origins are kind of murky and honestly never get explored as much as I liked.  With Aline, something terrible happens to her, but it really doesn’t effect her life in a way that she has too much difficulty.  When she should.

Oh, yes, she didn’t marry…but what happened to her should’ve had more effect than what it did.

While I didn’t get to know the main characters as much I liked, I did think Kleypas did do an excellent job with depicting the side characters.  Save for one very, very, minor characters all of these characters showed many quirks and facets.

The plot here was fairly boring.  There wasn’t really anything driving it, but angst.  And angst can get very tiring after awhile.  And I think a part of me kept reading it because I wanted something more to happen.

If you like second chance romances that take place in the Victorian era this is probably a fairly solid one to read, but nothing extraordinary special.  It did make me want to revisit Paradise though.

Overall Rating: B+