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Search tags: historical-mm-romance
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review 2018-10-16 00:28
My review of How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan & Joanna Shupe
How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology - Sophie Jordan,Sarah MacLean,Tessa Dare,Joanna Shupe

How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology - Sarah MacLean,Tessa Dare,Joanna Shupe,sophie jordan 

 

For starters, DUKES! I don’t care how many make-believe dukes have been created, I’ll read them for as long as they keep writing them. Secondly, Christmas! I’ll admit that I prefer to read dark, scary, paranormal stories during the month of October, but c’mon, who can say no to Christmas stories, specially when they are written by some of your favorite authors and they all come together in one pretty package!
And that actually brings me to say that thirdly, it’s freaking Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe, what?! If you haven’t read books by them then let me tell you, you are missing out on some serious awesomeness. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a super fan of all of these ladies so forgive me if I gush too much.

 

Tessa Dare’s Meet Me in Mayfair was clever, funny, and oh, so romantic. It probably is one of the most charming and memorable “date” nights I have ever read.

Sarah MacLean’s The Duke of Christmas Present is a second-chance love story. There were some serious tug-at-your-heart scenes, specially when the heroine returns “home.” It was kind of hard for me to understand the reasoning behind both the hero and heroine’s actions but once I got to the end, everything made complete sense.

 

Sophie Jordan’s Heiress Alone was another great example of how chemistry between hero and heroine affects a story, even if it’s a short one and even if the romance happens rather quickly.

 

Joanna Shupe’s Christmas in Central Park had me worrying and suffering along with the poor heroine, and had me wanting to slap the hero upside the head for acting like a spoiled brat that just had to have his way. Their love story may had been full of funny and cringe-worthy moments but the way their forgive and reach their HEA made it all worth it.

 

In short, four different settings, four different kinds of delicious dukes, four great Christmas stories, and one happy reader that recommends this set to all historical romance lovers. Even if Christmas is not your cup of tea, the romance alone make this a perfect read. 4.5 stars.

 

*I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher**

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-15 14:45
Review: The King's Mistress by Emma Campion

 

 

 

 

"When had I a choice to be other than I was?"

This quote foreshadows the constant barrage of wangst in store for you when reading The King's Mistress by Emma Campion. This is a historical fiction of the life of Alice Perrers, who's regarded as one of the more infamous ladies ever to keep royal company. She was the longtime companion of Edward III, whose rule was once considered glorious but was later encompassed in fiscal and political scandal. The above statement is inserted at the start of each section of the book, reminding you how poor Alice was ever a victim of powers beyond her reckoning. Might as well have been Gwen Stefani singing, "I'm just a girl... in the world..." It would have been interesting to see her as she's been portrayed: a woman surviving by her wiles in the shark-infested waters of the royal court, instead of as a helpless leaf blown in the storm winds.

Our heroine was born Alice Salisbury, simply the bestest daughter ever. She's pious, humble, loves her father, honors her mother, cherishes her family, rescues kittens, feeds the homeless, cures the sick, negotiates peace treaties... and blossoms into such a flower that of course, her own mother is utterly jealous of her. This thing wasn't written in ink, it was High Fructose Corn Syrup.

This fairy tale is delivered in four purple-tinted segments:
 
Part I/An Innocent Encounters The World- Where Alice comes of age and her father arranges a marriage for her to a widowed merchant, Janyn Perrers, whom its discovered has complicated ties to the scandalized Queen Mother Isabella, who helped overthrow her husband the king and set her son, Richard III, upon the throne. The Perrers family fortunes are intricately bound to the royals, but with privilege comes peril, so much so that Janyn ensures her safety by placing her in the Queen's service. What choice does she have? Her husband wills it!

Part II/The Queen's Handmaid- Alice becomes established in Queen Philippa's retinue and comes to be noticed by Edward III, king of England. As Philippa's health declines, the queen is driven to seek an amiable companion for her husband, someone she can trust... What choice does she have? The King & Queen desire it!

Part III/The King's Mistress- Alice and Edward form a deep, abiding relationship, and she even bears him children and he bestows lavish gifts of land, jewels and whatnot upon her. What choice does she have- the king made her take them! Yet the more she becomes a fixture in Edward's life, the more she is targeted by the differing factions at court. What choice does she have? She's but a commoner at court!

Part IV/Phoenix- In the wake of the king's passing, the nation is left in some difficulty from Edward's excesses and a scapegoat is needed. What choice does she have? She's but a woman alone who's blamed for leading their beloved king astray, taking the realm down with him! Yet Alice manages to rise somewhat from the ashes of her ruination.

There are two overwhelming problems with this story. One, the character of Alice is an uber MarySue- an embodiment of author's wish fulfillment whom every man must possess and every woman either admires or despises, and of course any characters that dislike this person are obviously up to no good. Alice is so much this she could almost be her own trope. The author has clearly fallen prey to what seems to be a trend in historical fiction- falling completely in love with the character and somehow trying to redeem them through fantasy instead of simply telling their story. Alice is so overflowing with compassion that at the end of the book she can even forgive everyone who's ever wronged her. Campion even goes so far as to give Alice a new life with another man while admitting to having no evidence that they ever did anything more than conduct business together- can't have a fairy tale without a happy ending, right?

Two, nothing much happens. For a person so embroiled in political scandal and panned by history Alice is spectacularly uninvolved in events; Campion always keeps Alice on the periphery, supplying the true love and support her man needs until she's swept along by the tides of fate simply because she's there. Beginning with her own arranged marriage to Janyn, we're given exposition-delivered intrigues filtered through Alice's limited perspective, all making for very dull reading. For someone constantly in the eye of the storm, she's often caught unawares despite constantly being warned about what's happening (But what choice does she have? She is unused to such manipulations, even after living at the palace for almost twenty years!). Yet with every step you're expected to cry with her pain and laugh with her joy, except you won't. You'll just want it to be over with. Despite a few insights into the social mores of the times, I suggest you don't even start.
 
1.5/5 Stars
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review 2018-10-12 16:23
Four Weddings and a Sixpence (anthology) by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Laura Lee Guhrke, Stefanie Sloane
Four Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology - Julia Quinn,Elizabeth Boyle,Stefanie Sloane,Laura Lee Guhrke

Four young girls, roommates at a boarding school, find an old sixpence in a mattress and decide it would be their lucky charm in finding suitable husbands when the time came...

Something New by Stephanie Sloane (❀❀❀)
Miss Anne Brabourne needs to find a husband and quickly, before she’s banished into the country. She also has a list of requirements and that list doesn’t include either love or passion thanks to the destruction, caused by heightened emotions, she’d witnessed as a child. Anne also gains a strange ally in her husband-seeking quest; Rhys Alexander Hamilton, Duke of Dorset. He’s determined to help her, but he has his own reasons.

This was a cute story. Maybe a tad too short, since both characterization and the plot itself suffered a bit—everything happened rather quickly, feeling a bit rushed. But I liked both main protagonists and especially their matchmaking aunts.


Something Borrowed by Elizabeth Boyle (❀❀❀❀)
Miss Cordelia Padley has invented a fake betrothed to curb her aunt’s enthusiasm of thrusting vicars upon her. But now she’s invited to her friend’s wedding and she’s supposed to bring her man along. The only one she could turn to is the famous Captain Kipp Talcott, her childhood friend. But as she pays him a visit, she discovers Kipp isn’t her Kipp anymore, but Winston Christopher Talcott, the Earl of Thornton. Still, she asks him to pretend to be her betrothed and he agrees, even though he was about to really get betrothed himself.

A sweet story of long-lost childhood friends finding each other again, trying to navigate between old and new dreams and real adult responsibilities, but in the end only one thing prevails—the heart.
I liked the contrast between the slightly flighty heroine and the stuffy hero, they provided a nice balance, complimenting each other rather splendidly. The story moved well, and though the love-story might appear rushed, the fact they were childhood friends compensated for the lack of space and time dedicated to the deeper development of their romance.


Something Blue by Laura Lee Guhrke (❀❀)
Lady Elinor Daventry is determined to save her father no matter the cost. Even marrying a man she doesn’t love. Anything is preferable to her father standing trial for things he didn’t commit. That’s why, six months before, she broke off her engagement to Lawrence Blackthorne, the man who believes all the nasty rumors about her father, determined to ruin him.
Ellie knows the sixpence is her ticket to marriage to the son of the duke, who might sway the peers to believe her father, but Lawrence Blackthorne has other ideas…And steals the coin.

This would’ve been a lovely second-chances story if it weren’t for the heroine and her determination to believe her father no matter what. Even when she had proof, she was still stubbornly in denial. I didn’t like how she treated the hero when he was doing his duty, the man that gave her up in order to seek justice for thousands of men.
I felt she wasn’t really worthy of everything Lawrence did to get her back, and somehow I didn’t really believe her feelings in the end, either.


...and a Sixpence in Her Shoe by Julia Quinn (❀❀❀❀)
Miss Beatrice Mary Heywood is the most pragmatic of the four friends. And the only reason she’s wearing the sixpence in her shoe is to keep her promise to her friends that she’d do so. And then she meets Lord Frederick Grey-Osbourne and all her dreams suddenly come true.

Short, but sweet.

Granted, the romance seemed a bit rushed, but we’re talking about a short story after all. I liked both protagonists, especially Bea, who looked beyond appearances and her enthusiasm was rather contagious. Frederick was a bit bland, at least compared to Bea, and I absolutely adored aunt Calpurnia in all her matchmaking glory.

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review 2018-10-12 00:20
Another delightful edition to the Darkest London Series...
Winterblaze (Darkest London) - Kristen Callihan

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~BOOK BLURB~

Winterblaze

Kristen Callihan

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Once blissfully in love...

 

Poppy Lane is keeping secrets. Her powerful gift has earned her membership in the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals, but she must keep both her ability and her alliance with the Society from her husband, Winston. Yet when Winston is brutally attacked by a werewolf, Poppy's secrets are revealed, leaving Winston's trust in her as broken as his body. Now Poppy will do anything to win back his affections...

 

Their relationship is now put to the ultimate test...

 

Winston Lane soon regains his physical strength but his face and heart still bear the scars of the vicious attack. Drawn into the darkest depths of London, Winston must fight an evil demon that wants to take away the last hope of reconciliation with his wife. As a former police inspector, Winston has intelligence and logic on his side. But it will take the strength of Poppy's love for him to defeat the forces that threaten to tear them apart.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I liked this so much more on Audio…with it, the slow sections are so much easier to get through.  I've previously read this series in eBook format, and I've struggled through the first two books. But now that I've found the audio version on Scribd...this has become a much more enjoyable read/listen.  Once you get to the meat of the story, it really is quite awesome…even for paranormal (just to clarify, I haven't been feeling the paranormal stories lately).  The dark, historic London paired with Kristen Callihan's superb writing makes the paranormal aspects, and let's not forget the sizzling sex scenes either, come to life.

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

4STARS - GRADE=B

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4/5

Main Characters~ 4.3/5

Secondary Characters~ 4.3/5

The Feels~ 4/5

Pacing~ 3.7/5

Addictiveness~ 3.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 3.8/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.8/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ to be continued...

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Book Cover~ I like the newer one better…

Narration~ ☆4☆ for Moira Quirk, she was excellent, but this could have been top-notch with the addition of a male narrator.

Series~ Darkest London

Setting~ London

Source~ Audiobook (Scribd)

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I used this for Darkest London Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-10-10 22:45
A Most Unsuitable Match (Sisters of Scandal, Book 1) by Julia Justiss
A Most Unsuitable Match - Julia Justiss

A Most Unsuitable Match (Sisters of Scandal Book 1) - Julia Justiss 

 

Johnnie and Prudence's story was a delight. It had the right amount of funny moments mixed with the perfect drama. The perfect example of why I love to read historical romance. 
Prudence is a woman tainted not by her own doing but because of her mother’s reputation. Johnnie is considered the black sheep of his family and even though his reputation is not considered perfect, it’s still much better than Prudence’s because he is a man. 
Their relationship was sweet yet full of passion. He cared for her but knew that his friendship would further diminish her chances of marrying into a good family. Prudence was no innocent naiveté but always behaved with propriety, just as it was expected from her. There were lots of times when I thought society was being so unfair to her (and basically every other woman) and it sure made me glad that I didn’t get to live back then. I was happy when they managed to find a way to be together without having to give up on the things they wanted out of life. 
This book was not as “spicy” as the author’s previous series but it was definitely full of heart and tender moments, and of course accurate to its times which is one of the reasons I love this author. 

**I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher**

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