Just finished re-reading Anne Gracie's first two published books. When I first read them, I gave "Tallie's Knight" 5 stars and "Gallant Waif" 4. This time around, I would reverse the ratings - I definitely enjoyed "Gallant Waif" more, with its spirited, sassy heroine, than "Tallie's Knight", which left a few loose ends, such as the nasty Laetitia not getting the comeuppance she deserved. But both books are great reads if you love Regency romance, and both have excellent historical details describing how people actually lived at that time.
4 solid stars for this one. A mostly character-driven story about a duke's bastard son and a woman from the gentry class whose wealth is pretty much wiped out and has to support herself and her sister by making copies of paintings by famous artists. Trouble is, she doesn't realize that the paintings she's copying (they're sitting in an attic) are stolen and the owners and government have been looking for them for years. The hero, who supports himself by being an art broker, has been assigned the task of figuring out what happened to the paintings, which apparently were stolen while being taken to be hidden in case of an invasion of Britain by Napoleon. He also just recently inherited a house from his father the duke which is very close to the heroine's home. Some of the coincidences in the book are a little too pat, but otherwise, it's a good, enjoyable romantic story with some mystery thrown in. No wonder Madeline Hunter is an auto-buy for me.
Fantastic! I've read this one several times now, and the pleasure of the story, the characters and the writing just grows with each reading. This book, Georgette Heyer's first novel set during the Regency, is the one that started the whole "Regency romance" genre and it's still one of the best. The descriptions of all sorts of Regency social activities, sports, dress, towns, architecture and society are just amazing. Even the use of Beau Brummell, the Prince Regent and various other historical persons as characters in the story feels right, although the character of Beau Brummell was quite sanitized in the book, compared to what he was apparently really like. (Using historical people as characters in a romance usually feels like gratuitous name-dropping to me, but not here.)
Read this one the first time a few years ago during my initial Mary Balogh glom. I loved it then and gave it 5 stars (stars in my eyes, apparently). Just read it again a couple of days ago and I'm lowering the rating to 4 stars. The love story is good, but I now realize that the main characters of the story, Justin and Rosamund, the ones who meet up and fall in love while spending a couple of days snowbound in a cozy hunting lodge, are not actually the hero and heroine of the story.
The hero and heroine of the story, in the sense that they are the ones who make the final HEA ending possible, are Amanda, who is Justin's almost-betrothed and Rosamund's niece, and Josh, a friend of Justin and a relative of Amanda and Rosamund, who was wounded in the battle of Waterloo. Without the actions of Josh and Amanda, Justin would have gone ahead with his engagement to Amanda, even though he realizes that Rosamund is the "second half" of his soul, and lived to regret it bitterly for the rest of his life. Justin is strangely passive in all the events that take place during the house party where the betrothal is supposed to be announced, so I can't really call him the "hero" of this story and for that reason I'm taking the rating of this book down a notch.
(Mary Balogh has another story where the "hero" is almost completely passive in securing his and his true love's HEA - "Tempting Harriet".)