Blame it on the Bet- L.E. Rico

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This “Bliss” book is set in an adorable Irish pub in Minnesota setting with “whiskey sisters” named after various brands of whiskey. This is Hennessy’s story, and it is like a not-cheesy Hallmark movie. Having previously read and enjoyed Rico’s hot contemporary, “Solo”, I was looking forward to this one, especially since I spent 5 years of my life in North Dakota. It didn’t disappoint; Rico got the vibe of small-town almost-Canada perfectly from hotdishes to the lethal ice on the sidewalks.

The Story-
Hennessy’s father just died and left her and her sisters with a mountain of debt and an Irish pub that he was all set to sell. The buyer, Bryan Truitt, travels to Minnesota to complete the sale. Of course, he is charmed by the small town and its inhabitants.

My Thoughts-
While this may sound like a story you’ve heard or a movie you’ve seen (starring Candace Cameron Bure), Rico’s smart sense of humor and approach make it feel entirely fresh. She populates the town with an array of secondary characters, and some have a lot more going on than you might figure. I was initially a bit confused by all the characters with the androgynous whiskey names, but I soon got everyone straight and appreciated that she took the time to really flesh out who these people are. It makes me even more excited for future books. As I said above, she got the mid-west charm down to a “t” and made me miss my stand-in home for a few years. The romance is well-developed, especially in the motivations and background of the hero. Since this is a “Bliss” book, the sex happens behind closed doors, but I didn’t feel like it detracted from the story. (For the most part…What can I say? I like the door open.)

The Bottom Line-
If you like Hallmark movies, this is so much smarter than those usually are, although it would make an excellent Hallmart Christmas movie. (series!) I can’t wait to read Bailey’s book eventually because I loved her particular brand of sass, but whichever Whiskey Sister is next, I’m game! 4 stars

Guide to Historical Romance- Part 3

Cheers all! So far this week, we have examined the “Standards” and the “Comedians” of historical romance. I’ve saved my favorite category of historical romance for last. Considering that the other genre of romance that I read regularly is paranormal, it should be no surprise that I LOVE dark and edgy historical romance. Danger, fighting, slightly twisted sex scenes, and anti-heroes that make you wonder if they can ever be redeemed; these are the components that make me swoon. If you combine historical romance with paranormal or fantasy, I am in heaven, but that is another blog post altogether. Without further ado, here are my top picks for “Edgy” historical romance.

Elizabeth Hoyt

Hoyt is pretty much the reason I created this category. It’s hard to pinpoint what I love the best about her Maiden Lane series which is set in Georgian London and ping-pongs between nobility and the slums of St. Giles.  This class struggle which allows for a wider variety of couples than you would think possible also keeps the dirt and danger close to the surface at all times. The sex scenes are edgier than you’d expect in historical romance with a little BDSM thrown in here and there for fun. Anti-heroes abound with one of the most irredeemable characters I’ve ever read as hero in “Duke of Sin”. (Unlike some, I loved him) I think I read more Hoyt this year than any other author, so I had some trouble selecting which Maiden Lane book to recommend…

Recommended: Thief of Shadows

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Again, I had so much trouble deciding, but eventually I settled on this tale with a virgin hero who acts as a vigilant at night. The heroine a wonderfully confident woman; she’s the kind of woman I am thrilled to read about and kinda wish I was more like. Seriously though, start at the beginning or anywhere you choose. I have not been disappointed by a book in this series yet, and I am anxious to finish it. (Except for the fact, of course, that I would be done with my favorite series I’ve read in historical romance. Sigh.)

Kerrigan Byrne

I don’t think historical romance can get much more dark and twisted than Kerrigan Byrne. Victorian romances that kick off with a bang: asylums, train robberies, undercover prostitutes…you never know WHAT you will find in a Byrne book. During my first read of hers, I literally stopped about 1/3 of the way through and went “WHAT?! How’s that gonna work?” But it did. Because that is what she does: create crazypants, wonderful plots and then make her couple fall in love in the middle of all that insanity.  Once again, I had trouble picking a recommendation, so I cheated and selected two.

Recommended: The Duke AND The Scot Beds His Wife

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“The Duke” is the original Kerrigan Byrne that made me wonder how in the world the story would work out. I found it wonderfully captivating and dark. It is a page turner in the truest sense. Her new book that is coming out next month, “The Scot Beds His Wife” isn’t quite as dark as “The Duke”, but it still keeps the drama and intensity that are synonymous with Byrne at this point. I particularly LOVED the hero (he has the hottest Scottish accent…) So, my suggestion is to read “The Duke” now, and “The Scot Beds His Wife” next month. If you like twisty, intriguing romance, you won’t be sorry!

Courtney Milan

For months I had been reading historical romance and saw people recommending Courtney Milan everywhere I looked. Finally, I bit the bullet and sat down to one of her books and was immediately hooked. Next thing I knew, I had flown through a couple more. While Milan’s style isn’t dark and twisty like the authors I mentioned above, I still categorize her as edgy because of her obvious intelligence and the brazen way she tackles social issues in her books. These are what I would call the “thinking woman’s books”, but while they make you think, they also make you swoon and sigh and laugh and cry. I am at my most feminist when I read Courtney Milan.

Recommended: The Duchess War

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I feel like this is the best place to start with Courtney Milan. It is the perfect introduction to her style and characters. Set in the Victorian period, it is rife with material for social issue exploration but is also steamy as all get out. Loved it! And once I read the prequel novella for this book, it made me love it even more. Milan weaves her characters and backgrounds together in ways you wouldn’t expect. So good!

Shana Galen

My final “edgy” author pens some of the best spy/adventure/mystery historical romance I’ve read. I considered putting her on the comedian list for her wit, and while she is a funny lady, what really sets her apart is the way she constructs a suspenseful scene. You hear the lock click, you smell the blood dripping, you feel the breath of your pursuer on your neck. Galen is the master of setting a scene and making you feel like you are there. Whether it is the poorest hovel in London or the bloody streets of Revolutionary France , she uses real historical places and events to great effect.

My Recommendation: Earls Just Want to Have Fun

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A little bit “Oliver Twist”, a little bit “Pygmalion”, this one was a lot of fun, but also kept me on the edge of my seat. There’s danger, mistaken identity, a wonderful rogue hero, fast-paced action…all my favorite elements of a historical romance. There’s also some wonderful humor here. Now, if you want something a good bit darker and more suspenseful, go for her newest release, Traitor in Her Arms. It is a romance set in the world of The Scarlet Pimpernel, blood and gore and all. I was on the edge of my seat, biting my nails. I cannot wait to read more Shana Galen.

Honorable Mentions

For my honorable mentions, I want to throw a little love to the darkest of historical romance: historical paranormal!!! I will be writing a full blog post on this at some point in the near future, but for now, I have to say that I love the intensity and intrigue of two of my fave authors: Bec McMaster and Juliette Cross. McMaster is famous for her steampunk series (which I LOVE), but also has an excellent historical magic series that starts with the book “Shadowbound“. Juliette Cross has crafted a historical fairytale world with vampires in which she retells beloved classics in new and twisted ways. Her newest addition to this series is “The Red Lily” which is a super-dark and sexy spin on Little Red Riding Hood. The third book, “The White Lily” releases next month and I cannot say enough about how she has turned the Snow White tale on its head.

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Okay peeps! This concludes my ode to historical romance. While I feel like it is a great place to start, I know there is so much wonderful historical romance out there that I still need to read. If you have suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them. And, obviously, I love to review historical romance, so feel free to check out the myriad of in-depth reviews on this blog. Cheers!

 

Historical Romance Guide- Part 2

Hi there fellow coffee addicts and winos! Continuing on from my previous post exulting “The Standards” of historical romance, today we cover a new category of wonderful books and authors: a category I refer to as “The Comedians”.  While these historical romance authors all possess the ability to make you swoon with their amazing characterizations and intriguing stories, they can also make me laugh my butt off, and that is truly something I NEED in my life. Some of these ladies are quirky and witty with the perfectly placed sarcastic quip, while others put their characters in the funniest situations that make you flip the pages faster to see how everything will play out. Without further ado, here are my favorite hilarious historical romance authors.

Tessa Dare

This list would be incomplete if she wasn’t on it. From the first chapter of the first book I read by this extremely talented woman, I had to put my drink down in order to avoid spilling it because I was literally laughing out loud. Now, we are quite accustomed to responding LOL when we are smirking or smile on social media, but I truly laughed out loud to Ms. Dare. Other reads by this author have proven that the first book I read wasn’t a fluke: she truly is as funny as I originally thought, but I am always looking for that Tessa Dare book I haven’t read yet that will bring a smile to my face.

My Recommendation: “Any Duchess Will Do”

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An ingenious take on “Pygmalion” or “My Fair Lady” with a heroine that just doesn’t quit, this book is what won me over to Ms. Dare. Situational humor, witty dialogue, and wonderful characters who are true to themselves are what set this gem apart from many historical romances.

Lenora Bell

A relatively new author, but she has cemented herself as one of my favorites with her first trilogy: The Disgraceful Dukes. I can pinpoint the exact moment Ms. Bell cemented herself in my heart. It was when her heroine, at a dinner party, in a dress too small for her bosom, comes bursting out of her dress to everyone’s dismay. I laughed so loud and told so many people about this book after that scene… Brava, Ms. Bell, brava. And trust me, it is way funnier in the book than I could possibly explain.  The rest of the book made me laugh and swoon, and the subsequent books in the series (which I devoured) solidified my love for Ms. Bell’s writing. Yep; I am a devoted fan and made it my goal to see her whenever possible at RT to tell her how much I loved her. Sue me. We all have favorites, and Lenora Bell is one of my tops. Her stories are all some spin on something you are familiar with. The first is a Bachelor-type retelling of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. The second is “Wizard of Oz”, and the third “Alice in Wonderland” AND she has a Jane Eyre/ Mary Poppins mash-up on the way. Yay!

My Recommendation: How the Duke Was Won

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The original Golden Heart winner and retelling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is the one with the bosom-busting scene and a particularly enchanting plot. What more can I say? I love it.

Julia Quinn

Wit is the name of the game with Ms. Quinn. Sarcasm and intelligence are her tools, and she wields them with particular skill. Personally, I think Julia Quinn is the author I would like to go out for a drink with, if only to hear her chitter-chatter all night. Because it would be funny. Like Lucille from “Arrested Development” funny. (If Lucille isn’t your favorite, you are wrong.) At RT, she went off on a tangent on vaccines that had the audience in stitches. Vaccines, people. I like to think I’m smart. For my day job, I teach gifted kids all day and put them in their egotistical places here and there, as needed. (They tend to think a lot of themselves and their own intelligence.) But, I think that Julia Quinn is smarter than me. And that’s ok, because I will keep reading her books and laughing and smirking.

My Recommendation: Just Like Heaven

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A terrible violinist, some chocolate cake, and a great marriage of wit, verbal sparring, and extraordinary chemistry make this one an absolute winner. Of course, there are many many examples of amazing stories from Ms. Quinn (heard of the Bridgertons?), but this one has a special flair that I love.

Valerie Bowman

There I was, clicking along, reading a nice historical romance that made me giggle here and there, turning pages with desperate intensity when all of a sudden, I finished a chapter and gasped… I put the book down, laughing out loud. “Oh no, she didn’t!” I exclaimed. “What?!” my kids who were visiting my room over lunch asked. “Just a very well-written plot” I explained, dying to get back to my book while cursing the bell that would make me wait. That, my friends, is Valerie Bowman. Her series, The Playful Brides, perfectly describes her style, and it makes me happy. Each one is a take on a different famous story, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it unless you looked it up. Why? You will be so engrossed in the plot of whatever it is you are reading that you won’t recognize that you’ve seen it somewhere before. Another author who won my additional love  with her personality at RT, Valerie (we are on a first name basis…at least in my head) is totally down-to-earth and approachable. So, if you want irresistible situational comedy and great banter, check her out now!

My Recommendation: Never Trust a Pirate

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The book that made me gasp. This twisty, fun plot is impossible to put down.  A little bit “Scarlet Pimpernel”, a little bit “Mr. and Ms. Smith”, this one is so smart and enjoyable, you will feel like you spent some time at a great movie when it is all over.

Kimberly Bell

There’s another Bell on this list that is making waves in the historical romance community! (Maybe there’s something in the name… I do love Kristen Bell also.. hmm) The first book I read from Kimberly Bell put her on my radar as someone who is willing to do almost anything in her historical romance with one of the most sexually liberated heroines I have ever read in a historical. Then, she blew me away with her next book. Situational humor and kick-ass heroines are Kimberly Bell’s calling cards. I absolutely LOVE her women. Can’t even… A definite rising star in the historical romance genre, Kimberly Bell is one to keep her eye on. I, for one, cannot wait until the second book in her current duology comes out.

My Recommendation: The Importance of Being Scandalous

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One of the most original and real sister relationships I’ve ever read in a romance novel, let alone a historical. The boy next door is not supposed to marry the scandalized girl he’s been writing letters to for a decade, and now she’s engaged. Looks like she’s gonna have to pull out all the stops to get her fiance to call off the wedding… Y’all. I read this so fast. Snappy dialogue, hilarious situations, super-sexy times; this is one you need to check out.

Honorable Mentions

I have read some other great funny authors this year that I’d like to mention: Lara Temple, Jenni Fletcher, Stacy Reid, Maggie Robinson, and Emily Larkin. What books have made you literally laugh out loud? I would LOVE the recommendations… I can always use a comedy in my life. Stay tuned for Part 3! The Edgy Ladies of Historical Romance

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Romance Guide- Part 1

I have been reading romance since I was in high school, but didn’t really commit myself to heavy reading until a year ago when I started this blog. One of my favorite genres is historical, and after a year of in-depth historical romance reading, I have come to some conclusions and have some thoughts on a variety of authors and books. Over the next week, I will explore a few different categories: Standards, Comedians, and Edgy. As always, I’d love your thoughts. Let’s dig in!!

The Standards

When I think of the standards in historical romance, I think of a beautifully-written story with wonderful characters. Maybe there is angst, but it usually isn’t driven by really dark things.  I feel satisfied and happy at the end of these books. Maybe they make me cry; they always make me sigh and smile.  In no particular order, here are some of my faves.

Suzanne Enoch and Karen Hawkins- The Scottish Ladies

Okay, I’m putting these ladies together because they complement each other so well. They both write wonderful historical romances either set in Scotland or with Scottish characters. Not all of their books have that Scottish flair, but I feel like these two are doing the Scottish thing better than anyone else writing currently. I’ve been loving books set in Scotland since I first read Julie Garwood back in college. These women pick up right where she left off, and create the perfect kilted men that I love to read about.

My Recommendations: Caught by the Scot by Karen Hawkins AND

My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

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“Caught by the Scot” will be out on Sept 26th, and there will be a full review coming. A playful Scottish rogue has to marry to inherit, so he decides to go marry his best friend’s sister and longtime confident. Little does he know, she just ran off to elope…

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“My One True Highlander” by Suzanne Enoch is a delightful kidnapping plan gone wrong with a heroine that comes from a common upbringing, but just rose in position. She is so not what he expected, and it is wonderfully entertaining.

Eloisa James and Loretta Chase- The Grand Dames

They have been doing this for years, but they are still SOOOO good at it. You practically float when reading one of their books. They are the Grand Dames of historical romance, and here are my two favorites: Eloisa James and Loretta Chase. Eloisa James writes with music in her words.  It is beautiful and heart-wrenching, fully-developed and lovely.  Her intelligence is evident in her writing, but she combines that with such lyrical prose that you are sure to be swept away. Loretta Chase has written the book that is potentially my very favorite historical romance ever (yeah, I’m jumping on the bandwagon; it;s that good!) “Lord of Scoundrels”.

My Recommendations: “When Beauty Tamed the Beast” by Eloisa James AND

“Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase

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I have a confession. If I did not run this blog and, therefore, need to read new books consistently in order to write reviews, I would take a couple of months to read everything by Eloisa James. This book is a beautiful retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” with a Dr. House-type hero and so much goodness I can’t even tell you.

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If you enjoy historical romance and have not read this book, just stop whatever you are doing right now and go get it and read it. Seriously. A brooding hero who thinks no one could love him, a spunky heroine that redefines the word, an amazing tale of why and how they come to fall in love. I know I need to read more Loretta Chase, but this was the best introduction to her EVER.

Lisa Kleypas and Sarah MacLean- The Current Trend-Setters

If you read romance at all, you have likely seen these two all over the place: Lisa Kleypas and Sarah MacLean. Both write captivating series with wonderfully rogue heroes and women with a twist. You will hear a lot about Kleypas’ Wallflower series, and with good reason. “Devil in Winter” is the definition of a standard of historical romance with one of my (and everyone else’s) fave heroes ever. Sarah MacLean’s “Rules of Scoundrels” and “Scandals and Scoundrels” series are witty and compelling.

My Recommendations: “Suddenly You” by Lisa Kleypas AND

“One Good Earl Deserves a Lover” by Sarah MacLean

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A curvy heroine that is nearing middle-age decides that her birthday gift to herself will be to lose her virginity. Little does she know, the man who arrives at her door is not who she is expecting… I LOVED this amazing standalone book. It is mature, sexy, and tugs at the heartstrings. If you have read the Wallflower series and want another Kleypas, let this be it.

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I adore a smart, “nerdy” heroine, and the combination of this one with the rogue hero is totally great. I admit I need to read more of MacLean’s work because there are a couple I have heard fabulous things about (“Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover”, I’m looking at you!), but of the handful I got around to this year, this was the best.

Janna MacGregor and Elizabeth Michels- The Rising Stars

Don’t you just love when you read a relatively new author and the book is soooo good? I seriously live for that because I know that it is the beginning of something wonderful. This year, to my delight, I discovered Janna MacGregor and Elizabeth Michels. Janna’s debut novel “The Bad Luck Bride” kicked off her Cavensham Heiresses series with a bang. Lyrical writing and well-developed characters are the name of the game here, and I cannot wait to read the next one in the series, “The Bride Who Got Lucky”. (It’s in my queue and a full review will be coming in the next month!) Elizabeth Michels has been around for a few years, but her Spare Heirs series about the second sons of nobility is particularly inspired. Michels brings relatable characters along with intriguing plots and witty dialogue. Both of these rising stars bring a freshness to the genre and I highly recommend you check them out.

My Recommendations: “The Bad Luck Bride” by Janna MacGregor AND

“The Wicked Heir” by Elizabeth Michels

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Claire is convinced that there is a curse on her and that she will never be successfully married. Alex has a debt to settle, and marrying Claire is part of his plan. This gem is currently a steal at $1.99!

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Isabelle is like the heroine from “Northanger Abbey”, a complete dreamer who wants that fairy-tale ending. Fallon St. James is a bit of a Rochester-type hero who is won over by her optimism. This friends-to-lovers story has great characters and a suspenseful plot.

Honorable Mentions

The problem with a list like this is that you will undoubtedly leave some wonderful authors out. I also read some excellent “standards” this year by Madeline Hunter, Theresa Romain, Amalie Howard and Angie Morgan, Anna Harrington, Sarah Hegger, Christy Carlyle, and Anna Bennett. I’d love to hear your thoughts on historical standards as well as your recommendations from some of the above authors!

 

When the Scoundrel Sins- Anna Harrington

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This is my first Anna Harrington! (steadily making my way around to all the Regency Historical authors) I enjoyed Harrington’s different voice and really sympathized with the heroine. Let’s get into it!

The Story-
Annabelle comes from humble beginnings, but has been raised by and lived with an upper-class family since she was a child. Her one chance at a good marriage is ruined by Quinton, a friend who decided to kiss her at exactly the wrong moment. Now it’s years later, and she finds out that she will actually inherit the only home she’s ever known if she can only marry by her next birthday. When Quinton is called in to help weed out would-be gold diggers, the issue is complicated.

My Thoughts-
This is one of those books that, even though I knew who had to end up together by the end, I had no idea how they would actually get there. The obstacles seemed pretty insurmountable. I felt so bad for Annabelle, and the hero, Quinton, took way too long to realize what needed to happen. That being said, the hot moments were seriously hot. Quinton is the perfect callous rogue that is hiding the good guy under a playboy exterior. The characters were well-developed, and that includes some secondary characters as well. They really brought the heart to the story.

The Bottom Line-
I think any historical romance fan would enjoy this, even though the story did take a little while to wrap up. Harrington’s voice and characters bring a different spin to the typical Regency, and I will definitely be reading more books by her very soon. 4 stars!

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Releasing Henry- Sarah Hegger

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Sarah Hegger has crafted a beautifully-written medieval world and family in the Sir Arthur’s Legacy series, so I was really looking forward to returning to this world. When I started the book, I was completely thrown by how different it was, but once I got into it, I found the characters even more touching than before.

The Story-
Henry went off to the crusades several years ago and, somehow, has ended up a slave in North Africa. An old friend buys his freedom at the same time that a local merchant, originally from Genoa, is sending his daughter back to Europe to protect her. She happens to be a gal that Henry has watched, admiringly, from a distance. He will have to get much closer to her when he gets tasked with bringing her to family in Genoa before he heads home to Anglesea.

My Thoughts-
I feel like Sarah did an amazing job of getting across her message without being preachy. She handled issues of race, discrimination, and differences with grace and dignity. I felt so strongly for both Alya and Henry as they tried to make a new life for themselves. This is truly an emotional book that examines human connections and love. It does get a bit dark, so if you are looking for a light-hearted historical romance, this isn’t it. This is more serious and thought-provoking.

The Bottom Line-
What a beautiful end to a lovely series. I did cry a little (twice). I hope Ms. Hegger isn’t done with historical (although I LOVE her new contemporary series and highly suggest you check it out) because she really has a knack for historical world-building and making me feel like I’ve stepped back into the past, if only for a few hours. 4 1/2 stars

The Laird Takes a Bride- Lisa Berne

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The Laird Takes a Bride is my first book by Lisa Berne, but I was pleasantly surprised. A true Scottish historical (not a Regency disguising itself as Scottish), this marriage of convenience story definitely provides a different spin on the trope.

The Story-
Fiona has had her heart broken, and she has given up on love. Alasdair was enjoying the bachelor life, but when an old edict is uncovered, he’s going to have to make a big change.

My Thoughts-
I really enjoyed the “Bachelor” set-up, but was disappointed at how quickly everything was settled. The characters are well developed, but they are both too stubborn to almost be believed. That being said, I couldn’t quit turning pages because I absolutely had to know how it was that these two would end up falling for each other. The Scottish setting and daily life circumstances provide depth and a nice historical framework that isn’t always achieved in books like this.

The Bottom Line-
I would read another book by Berne, especially if it is set in Scotland. An enjoyable historical read. 4 stars

Traitor in Her Arms- Shana Galen

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Previously having read and enjoyed a Regency historical by Galen, I was looking forward to this one, especially when I noticed that it was set during the French Revolution. I was not disappointed, but this was not the light-hearted romp that I am accustomed to in historical romance.

The Story-
After her husband’s death, Gabrielle is left with all of his gambling debt and no way to pay it back. She has taken to stealing expensive artifacts from the rich in order to keep her head above water, but when she is offered the chance to repay everything and help the Scarlet Pimpernel free innocents in Paris, she must act. Ramsey has always been intrigued by Gabrielle, but no more so than now, catching her in the act of theft. A secret and blackmail keep him from realizing his full potential, and now he will follow Gabrielle into danger to hopefully free himself.

My Thoughts-
It was so refreshing to read of a different time period than Regency or Victorian England, but man, Revolutionary Paris is pretty depressing. Exciting, yes. But still depressing. The danger in this story was as palpable as a world-ending paranormal, which I adjusted to, but was perhaps not expecting from the normally light historical genre. The development of the characters was thorough and complete; their actions are entirely driven by their motivations. The heat between the two was constantly simmering beneath the surface. Mostly though, the depictions of Paris during the Revolution perfectly set the scene. I could almost smell the blood and feel the tension, waiting for the zing of the guillotine. Honestly, this felt more like a historical novel with romantic elements than a true romance because of the weight of the plot. I think that is what kept it from a 5 star rating for me; I wasn’t prepared, and the suspense stressed me a bit.

The Bottom Line-
If, after reading this review, you are thinking that this sounds like a book you will really enjoy, you will likely LOVE this one. If you are in the mood for a light historical, this probably won’t be your jam today. Well-written and a wonderfully different setting! 4 1/2 stars

How to Marry a Marquess- Stacy Reid

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This is the third book in Reid’s “Wedded By Scandal” series which focuses on a variety of couples caught in some sort of scandalous behavior. I really enjoyed the second book in this series, and this one was also entertaining.

The Story-
Evie and Richard have been friends for a long time. He’s helped her keep unwanted suitors away since she was 16. But, now that it is time for her to actually marry, Richard is torn between helping her with lessons in seduction and finding a wife for himself and his illegitimate daughter.

My Thoughts-
I enjoy Reid’s style which focuses more on character development and really hashing out why the two belong together. Although the plot is strong, it is the characters here who really shine. Evie is perfectly easy to imagine from the moment we meet her vomiting all over Richard’s shoes and burping to warn off would-be suitors, but still beautiful and innocent. (Not joking. She is a lot of fun.) Richard is an equally well-drawn character, and it is great to see how Reid winds a path around their journey to each other.

The Bottom Line-
These books always have a different, refreshing feel to me that is welcome in a normally predictable genre. The only thing that kept this from 5 stars for me was that the conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart didn’t seem to need as much time to resolve as it took. But, I will definitely be around for the next one in the series and recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romance. 4 stars

Vessel Trilogy- Juliette Cross (Forged in Fire)

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Forged in Fire Review:

“Forged in Fire” is the first book in one of my favorite romance series. The premise is unique, well-constructed, and captivating.

The Story-
On Genevieve’s twentieth birthday, she begins to encounter some strange things. There is more to meet the eye than she knows, and sexy Jude will be the one to introduce her to a world she never knew existed.

My Thoughts-
The world-building in this book is top-notch, and I was immediately drawn into the story. Jude is one of my favorite heroes ever. I do not say that lightly. Genevieve starts a bit young, but grows throughout, as she is meant to. Secondary characters are well-developed and flesh out the world and story. This is an extremely smartly written book, and you should pay attention to everything. The story builds throughout the trilogy with amazing payoffs.

The Bottom Line-
This book and series are not typical. They build and connect like an excellent tv show. This is not a fluffy romance that is solved in one book, then we move on to another couple. Although I love those, I am so glad books and series like this exist where I can immerse myself in a world and mystery and see a romance grow. This entire series is totally a must, and this book is a great intro to this wild ride!

Sealed in Sin Review-

Sealed in Sin is the second book in the Vessel Trilogy, and I suggest strongly that you read these in order. The first book is a great introduction to the world and the characters. This one is where things get twisty, the characters get more complex, and the pace starts flying. I seriously read this one as fast as I possibly could, and I happened to be on vacation in France at the time. Yep, I took time away from my gorgeous vacation in France to race through this book. I actually finished this under an old windmill by a stream, but I digress… The point is, this book brings the series to epic territory.

My Thoughts-
I’m skipping the story part of this review because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. If you are stumbling upon this review without having read the first book, you need to know: there are angels, there are demons: think Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, but not quite as dark and hopeless.
The best part of this book is the surprises and secrets which are uncovered as well as the growth of the characters. The heat factor is also raised in this book, and it has one of my fave sexual tension scenes in any book which made me feel like it was written specifically for me because I am such a musical theater geek. Yes, The Phantom of the Opera is hot. Ok, see? I can’t continue without giving away major plot points, but I will say that if you have no desire to immediately read book 3 upon completion of book 2, I worry for your soul.

Bottom Line-
Step 1: Buy all 3 for .99 each right now!
Step 2: Read book 1
Step 3: You will figure out the rest, but don’t forget to eat and sleep.

Amazon US –
Forged in Fire – http://a.co/ewWoI5R
Sealed in Sin – http://a.co/8ZbQiLG
Bound in Black – http://a.co/6KPAYGo (less)

Bound in Black- Review

Bound in Black is the third book in Cross’s Vessel Trilogy and is an extremely fitting end to this amazing series. I recommend reading this series in order as there are many references and plot twists that payoff throughout this book. I liken it to the same feeling you get when you read the final Harry Potter book.

The Story-
I’m not going to give away too much, but Genevieve has been through quite a journey since book 1, and this book is where the entire battle between good and evil comes to a head. And it is thrilling!

My Thoughts-
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this series. The hero is one of my absolute favorite hero in any romance ever. I can’t exactly explain why, but he is perfectly written for my tastes: dark and brooding, but sarcastic, yet protective, hot as hell… yum. The twists and reveals of this book are so juicy that I found myself just smiling broadly or exclaiming “oh man! I can’t believe she brought THAT back in!” Yes, it’s that kind of book. So much fun to read, and you are sad when it’s over.

Bottom Line-
If you are, indeed, sad when it’s over, know that Ms. Cross just signed a contract for a spin-off series which follows other characters from the Vessel Trilogy. I am so excited that there is more to come in this world, and I cannot wait to read it! 5 stars

Sexy couple in jacket hugging each other