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Search tags: historical-but-not-too-much
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review 2018-05-27 02:07
Review: Too Wilde to Wed by Eloisa James
Too Wilde to Wed - Eloisa James

Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed

 

It has been two years since Miss Diana Belgrave jilted Lord Roland Northbridge Wilde, and those two years have changed everything.  North went off to fight in the Colonies and has returned whole in body, though not in spirit.  And after being tossed out by her mother for breaking her engagement in favor of raising her orphaned nephew, Diana has taken a position as governess to North’s sister in Wilde family household.  When North returns to England, the two come face-to-face and the sparks immediately begin to fly.  Even though she broke his heart and damaged his reputation, North still wants Diana.  And Diana is just realizing she never truly knew the man beneath the elegant mask North had put on to impress her during their engagement.  Is it possible for two outcasts who both want different things in life to find their way to a happily ever after together?

 

Too Wilde to Wed is such a fun book!  It’s fun, sensual, and in the Wilde family Eloisa James has created a host of bright, endearing characters who grab your heart and don’t let go.

 

Unlike most of the young women she knows, Diana has never wanted to be raised to the ranks of the upper aristocracy.  In fact, she positively panics at the thought.  I liked that Diana was unconventional, that she didn’t quite fit into the mold her mother tried to forcibly stuff her in.  After falling from society’s good graces, she finally finds her true self.  It’s a self that North has never seen.  He fell for her when he first heard her laugh (cue me melting when reading this), but he proposed to an elegant creation he only later realizes was not the true Diana.  My heart broke for North in the first Wildes of Lindow Castle book, Wilde in Love, as he tried to turn himself into a veritable peacock to attract Diana’s notice.  The North in Too Wilde to Wed is a hardened warrior with no patience for fripperies.  This North, the real North, is the man who ultimately captures Diana’s heart and one of my favorite things about this story was watching them talk openly and truly learn one another.  Diana and North are clearly made for one another, but it isn’t easy for North to win over Diana.   But being in Lindow Castle, away from society’s judgmental eyes, frees them to be honest.  The resulting romance is by turns sweet and sexy and I was rooting for these two to find a way to get that perfectly happily ever after.

 

Too Wilde to Wed is the second book in Ms. James’s Wildes of Lindow Castle series and if you don’t mind some spoilers from the first book it can be read on its own.  My favorite thing about this series is the Wilde family as a unit.  They’re welcoming, loving, and incredibly funny.  I’m so glad North has a bunch of siblings because I don’t think I’ll ever tire of reading about their wild (pun intended) antics.  I finished Too Wilde to Wed a well-satisfied reader and I cannot wait to see what adventures Ms. James has in store for the Wilde family next!

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review 2018-05-27 00:21
Hate the hero
The Courtesan Duchess - Joanna Shupe
For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read Courtesan Duchess



Hero marries young heroine, leaves before they even consummate wedding night and stays away for YEARS. Why? His father made him get married because he wants to make sure hero continues the family line. Hero does not want to continue line because he hates his father. Why hero didn't just leave before getting married? I don't know. 

Heroine is left to the horrible mother-in-law who doesn't live in their home and gets a stipend controlled by the cousin who wants the dukedom to himself. Realizing she has to do something to insure her and her aunt aren't left destitute in the streets by the getting worse cousin. Heroine decides to get hero's friend, who she has becomes friends with too, to bring her to hero in Italy and pretend to be a courtesan and get pregnant, with hopefully a boy so she can gain control of the dukedom's riches. 

What follows is a bunch of sex that I skimmed because the insta-lust was immediate and I didn't feel connected or that I knew the hero and heroine to let alone feel connected to them as a couple. I honestly felt the hero was trash and he never redeemed himself. After he finds out the courtesan he was hot for was his wife, he calls her a whore and then thinks she was pregnant by some other dude and was trying to pass it off as his. He stays away from her as we get massive month jumps and only shows up when she goes into labor. He was staying away because if she gave birth too early he would know the baby wasn't his. He never grows to trust the heroine's word. 

I do like the set-up of the abandoned wife taking charge to get hers or what seems like in this case, survival but the hero was just absolutely trash. The writing fundamentals were good but wasn't a fan of the plot or characterizations.

 

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review 2018-05-26 20:22
Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose
Murder on Black Swan Lane - Andrea Penrose

Series: Wrexford & Sloane #1

 

 

I'm not sure what it was exactly, but this mystery didn't really work for me. Part of it may have been the alchemy references.; I was very pleased that the story didn't veer off in a woo-woo direction. And at least in this first book, there wasn't a silly romance. So in theory it gets points for that.

 

But I still felt pretty meh about it.

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review 2018-05-25 20:28
Part of Summer Reading Goals
A Free Man of Color - Barbara Hambly
I first discovered Hambly by reading her fantasy. In fact, the book was Dragonsbane. But, I think her real love is historical fiction because her historical fiction is better. This was the first her historical fiction I read. It is the start of the Ben January series. 

Ben is a free man of color in recently US brought New Orleans. His mother was a field slave until a white man took an interest in her and brought and freed both her and her two children. The same man paid for Ben's education, both in New Orleans and Paris. Ben is both a skilled surgeon and a skilled piano player. When he returns to New Orleans after a long spell in Paris, he has to readjust to the various codes that he needs to live by. His mother and youngest sister are both prominent in planter society - his sister, Minou, is a mistress to a white planter. His other sister (full sister) is a voodoo priestess, a wife, and a mother. Needless to say, there is some family drama, in particular Ben's feeling that his mother loves her third child (the daughter of the white man who freed her) best.

The first book finds Ben in the midst of a murder mystery where is life is on the line, for better to accuses a black man of murder of a black woman than an white man or woman from society. He also interacts with one of the new American lawman, who somewhat to everyone surprise can read. 

In a later edition of the book or installment in the series, Hambly corrects what historical erros she made here. (Hambly has a degree in and has taught history). What is of note here is Hambly's use of code switching by the characters, the use of color to determine social standing (including shades of black, something that is not always dealt with) as well as women having to deal with a society that constructs them. And of course, the question of race and slavery. It is to Hambly's credit that she never goes the route of the trophe of good master, and even "good" masters are dismissed by Ben as not being moral because of owning another person or treating black people as less than human. 

Ben and his friend Hannibal might, might, be a bit too ahead of their time in being open minded, but both men's back stories do take this into account. Neither man is perfect, and in fact, Ben does wrestle somewhat with one or two reveals in the story. 

Personallly, I find Livia, Ben's mother, to be the most interesting character of all.

 

 

(This is part of my summer reading goals, which include re-reading and reading the whole series).

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-24 10:32
A Seditious Affar - KJ Charles
A Seditious Affair - K.J. Charles

Yes, I am one of those readers who picks up stuff when it's on sale and then doesn't get around to reading it till later, so while I'd previously read and enjoyed other books by KJ Charles (though I see I've only reviewed one of them here, which I need to rectify), A Seditious Affair has been sitting on my ebook reader for a while before I got to it this week. Don't be put off by the fact that it's the middle book of a series because, while knowing the other character's stories would probably fill in some finer points, you don't actually need to know the other players to enjoy this story. 

 

The basic premise is that it's almost the end of the Regency period and the current government is lurching from crisis to crisis, not helped by brutally putting down any kind of opposition - this is the time of the Peterloo massacre, a time when radical thinkers of all varieties were putting out publications by the ton. You don't have to know the history of the period to enjoy A Seditious Affair but it does add a little extra to the story if you do, for example when Cato Street gets a mention, you might know its significance.

 

One of those radical thinkers, a self-avowed atheist called Silas Mason, is one of our protagonists here and a year before the book starts had let himself be talked into a regular engagement with a man looking for something in particular. Our other protagonist, Dominic Frey, is far more well-heeled than Mason and works for the Home Office - his day job is hunting down seditionists, while at night (or at least on Wednesday nights) he enjoys being verbally humiliated and then sexed up by a man whose name he doesn't know. 

 

Naturally, while they've managed to remain ignorant of each others' identities for a year, the wheels fall off that particular wagon as their worlds collide explosively. Both are subsequently left to figure out how to make sure Mason doesn't end up with a prison sentence (if he's lucky) for sedition and Frey doesn't have to sacrifice his principles, against a backdrop of growing feelings between them and the ongoing fact that they are committing illegal acts together on a weekly basis. This is definitely one of those scenarios where I was left wondering how the author was going to sort it all out!

 

Anyway, everything gets resolved (even though there's always a feeling that it might not be a permanent reprieve) and in the meantime there's a lot of hot sex. I don't think I've read anything by KJ Charles I haven't at least enjoyed and, while I'm not convinced I like any of the supporting characters in this book sufficiently to read their own exploits, I may yet be convinced to change my mind...

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