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review 2017-11-20 20:58
Good quick regency
Talk of the Ton - Eloisa James,Jacqueline Navin,Julia London,Rebecca Hagan Lee

I think Random Number generator thinks it is Friends' Recommendation month because it picked another one! Thanks to Nia for the enjoyable recommendation :)

This collection of short regency stories seemed to be connected by having a little bit steamier tone and jealous women. With no stories rated below 3 stars, I quite enjoyed this anthology. 


A Proper Gentleman by Eloisa James 
3.5 stars

It was good for a man to know straight off that there were times when he might---be obeyed, and there were others when he should understand his place. 

My favorite of the collection and the hottest (funny how that worked out, huh ;). A long standing betrothal, hero who gains a reputation for liking French women a bit too much (really spent a couple months in Paris drowning his sorrows because his brother died), fervent gossip, and a forgotten fiancée who decides to take charge. 

The heroine decides to go to a masque ball and pretend to be French and entice the hero. The reasoning involving a Shakespeare quote the hero supposedly said mixed with some gossip is all a bit forced but I'll let it go because the heroine taking the reins was fun. There's some hot flirting, sexual tension, and disrobing. The hero and heroine both give as good as they get and I was there for it. 

The Vicar's Widow by Julia London 
3 stars

"Nefarious?" She laughed. "Lord Montgomery, how you tease me! I'd wager you've not a wicked bone in you body!"
He gave her a look that suggested she knew better than that, leaned slightly toward her, and said low, "You'd be quite wrong, madam, were you to wager. I've more than one wicked bone in this body."
 


Probably my least favorite with us getting a decent amount of pov from the villain of the piece; a jealous girl who spreads reputation hurting gossip. Heroine and hero have a forbidden kiss but then heroine's vicar husband dies a year later and hero hasn't forgotten her. 

Hero was a bit drab with his overly calm ignoring, not caring about the gossip circulating about him having serious intentions about the jealous girl and how heroine's reputation was getting dragged through the mud as jealous girl started rumors. 

Hero and heroine were sweet together but too much town gossip focus for such a short story. 

Clearly a Couple (Free Fellows League #4.5) by Rebecca Hagan Lee
3 stars

"You belong to yourself now, Lady India, you're not obliged to service any man in order to survive." 

The most intriguing with our heroine being captured by pirates and forced to live in a harem for five years (we only get told, not shown this). Hints of steamy naughtiness because heroine knows every which way Sunday to pleasure a man and has a jewel in her belly button that hero can't look away from. Hero somewhat stumbles upon her and must escort her to London but the majority of story is their one night in cabin.

I was completely interested in this one but it was hurt by the short restrictions and our hero and heroine fall in love within a night and are married within a head spinning time. The hero seemed calm, cool, and sexy and our heroine would have given him a great run for his money (she sort of does anyway) if given a full length novel. 

Miss Jenny Alt's First Kiss by Jacqueline Navin
3.5 stars

"Why, I get the distinct impression that you do not approve of me." 

Back to the jealously, our heroine is the poor relation cousin who has spent her life making sure her cousin shines, making cousin turn out to be a spoiled little bi…umm, miss. Recluse earl cousin comes to stay in London to find a wife, jealous girl wants him but he is intrigued by shy cousin. 

Look, I eat shy miss, only guy to see the hidden gem trope up with a spoon. I liked hero and heroine back and forth with their challenging each other's comfort zones and their blossoming sexual tension. Hater girl hates but gets a little comeuppance in end and our bluestocking gets her happily ever after. 


Satisfying quick regency stories if in a time crunch or looking for a quick fix. 

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review 2017-11-09 11:53
If you love Austen, Regency-period novels, and bad boys, you must read this
Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues - Joana Starnes,Amy D'Orazio,Katie Oliver,Karen M Cox,Jenetta James,Beau North,J. Marie Croft,Christina Morland,Lona Manning,Brooke West

Thanks to Rosie Amber from Rosie’s Book Review Team for alerting me to this opportunity and to the editor Christina Boyd for providing me with an early ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

After reading many great reviews of The Darcy Monologues, when I had the opportunity to sign up for this blog tour I could not resist. My fondness for Jane Austen’s novels cannot compare to that of the authors of this anthology, but rest assure that you don’t need to have read several times all of Austen’s novels to enjoy this collection (although I don’t doubt you might enjoy it even more if you have).

Each story centers on one of the rakes or gentlemen rogues in one of Jane Austen’s novels (sometimes several from the same novel). As the editor explains in her note, after The Darcy Monologues she and some of the authors started looking for another project and noticed that there are many characters that are fundamental to Austen’s novels, but we don’t get to know much about, and on many occasions we are left wondering how they got to be how they are, and what happens to them later. All the stories retain the historical period of the novels, sometimes going back to give us information about the background of the characters, to their childhood, early youth, and on occasion we follow them for many years, getting a good sense of who they become when they exit the novel.

Each one of the stories is prefaced by a little snippet about the character chosen, and by one or several quotations (sometimes spread throughout the story) taken directly from Austen’s novel, where the character is mentioned. I must say the authors remain very faithful to Austen’s words although they use their imagination to build upon those snippets, always remaining faithful to the language and the spirit of the period, although the modern sensibility is evident in the stories.

We have stories with happy endings, stories that are dark and sad, stories of broken hearts, funny stories (sometimes thanks to the wit of the characters involved, others thanks to the wit of the writers who follow in Austen’s footsteps and poke fun at the most preposterous individuals), and some touching ones. There are very clean stories and some steamier ones (as it seems only appropriate to these “gentlemen”), but the editor includes a very detailed classification of the degree of heat of each one of the stories, and apart from one of the stories A Wicked Game, the rest are not scandalous (even by Regency standards).

Many of the stories are told in the first person, and that helps us share and understand better the characters (however much we might like them or not), but the few told in the third person also work well, especially as they tend to centre on characters that are perhaps particularly insightless and more preoccupied with appearances than by the truth.

I imagine each reader will have his or her favourite stories. I was a bit surprised because I thought I’d enjoy more the stories featuring characters of the novels I was more familiar with, but that was not always the case. (OK, I truly loved Fitzwilliam’s Folly about Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride and Prejudice, but not only because of the novel, but because the character is wonderful, witty, yes, Darcy makes an appearance so we get to see him from somebody else’s point of view and someone who knows him well at that, and I loved the female character in the story too). Some writers managed to create a sense of a small society, as it must have felt at the time, where characters from several novels kept meeting or just missing each other but are all connected or know of each other. I know this was a book about the gentlemen, but I was very taken by some of the female characters, that on many occasions were the perfect match for the men.

If you are curious to know which of the characters are featured, here is the list: John Willoughby (Willoughby’s Crossroads by Joanna Starnes), George Wickham (A Wicked Game by Katie Oliver. This is the hottest one and there are some similarities to the previous story but, if you’re a fan of the character, I think you’ll enjoy this one), Colonel Fitzwilliam (Fitzwilliam’s Folly by Beau North. I’ve already mentioned this one. I love Calliope Campbell too. Well, love everything about this story and the style and the repartee reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s plays), Thomas Bertram (The Address of a French Woman by Lona Manning. How blind can one be, or perhaps not!), Henry Crawford (Last Letter to Mansfield by Brooke West), Frank Churchill (An Honest Man by Karen M Cox. One of these characters enamoured of himself who tries to do the right thing but only if it is convenient and at little personal cost. I suffered for poor Miss Fairfax), Sir Walter Elliot (One Fair Claim by Christina Morland. This is one of the stories told in the third person that do follow the character for a long time. The song “You’re So Vain” might as well have been written about him. I really enjoyed this one, first because the comments about the character were funny, later, because the tone changes and I liked his wife, who, of course, loves to read), William Elliot (The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot by Jenetta James. This somewhat related to the previous story but is quite different and particularly interesting for the comments about life in the theatre), General Tilney (As Much As He Can by Sophia Rose. This story, that uses both third and first person, I found particularly touching. Appearances can be deceptive, indeed), John Thorpe (The Art of Sinking by J. Marie Croft. This is a farce, the character a buffoon and the story really funny, especially because the character is the butt of all jokes but remains full of his own importance), and Captain Frederick Tilney (For Mischief’s Sake by Amy D’Orazio. Another great story. The main character justifies his actions insisting that he is helping other men avoid mistakes, but eventually learns to see things from a female perspective. A great female character too, Miss Gibbs).

I highlighted many passages and lines, but I don’t want to make this a never-ending review. I’ll just say the language is perfectly in keeping with the period and the stories and I’ll be exploring the books of all these writers. (There is information included about each one of them after their respective stories).

I did not cry with any of the stories (although some were quite touching), but I did laugh out loud with quite a few. I recommend this book to readers of historical romance and romance of any kind, those who enjoy short-stories with fully-fledged character, and I’m sure anybody interested in Regency novels and Jane Austen’s, in particular, will love this book.

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review 2017-11-07 21:35
Review for Third Son's a Charm (The Survivors #1) by Shana Galen
Third Son's a Charm (The Survivors) - Shana Galen

This story has the best love declaration I have ever read! It had me having all the feels, specially for Ewan, the most alluring non-Viking Viking I've read. 
Lorrie is a young, passionate, spirited woman that has gone as far as try to elope because her parents won’t allow her to marry the man she loves. Seeing how his daughter will not be dissuaded from marrying the wrong man, her father hires Ewan Mostyn, the third son of an earl and an ex-soldier that’s mostly known for knocking heads together at a gambling club than for appearing at a dance ball. 
Ewan is a taciturn man, rejected by his father because he considers him an unworthy son, and judged by society because he is considered nothing more than a brute. Ever since he was a child, he was told he was stupid due to a learning disability and it wasn’t until he joined the army and later some sort of “suicide unit” that he finally felt he belonged somewhere. I fell in love with his honesty and quiet way of communicating. He had this genuine way about him that made him both charming and alluring in a very unique, gentle way. The author made a fabulous job conveying his emotions because to me they all felt real and relatable. 

People tend to forget that historicals include debutants and most heroines are barely of age when they are thrown into the marriage market. Lorrie is young so yeah, she’s going to act recklessly at times, but in my opinion she was not stupid but naïve. She was also determined, curious, and true to herself. She was capable of seeing in Ewan what he was not able to see in himself and that in turn gave him the strength to fight for what he wanted. If that’s not a worthy heroine then I don’t know what is. 

We get a secondary love story between Lorrie’s parents that I would have loved to see more of but at least it gave me more of an insight of why Lorrie and Ewan’s closeness was allowed. Oh, and let's not forget the other Saviors! There was such a brotherly banter and comradery among them that my heart melted a little bit every time I got to read about them. I was a little off put with something towards the end but other than this was a great book and a great start to a new series. 

** I was gifted a copy of this book 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 2017-11-07 01:15
Political drama
A Lady's Code of Misconduct - Meredith Duran

First off, I just want to say, I could weep for how well written this was. I didn't catch a connection to other books in this series but if you read Duke of Shadows, two names (Duke of Auburn and Lockwood) are going to be familiar to you. The story structure, characters, and how Duran interweaved them all together was just plain great story telling. Why I ended up giving this three stars (solidly liked it) is all due to just personal taste. 

And so, in the very act of communicating an opinion, she had committed the egregious offense of insisting on her humanity. 

Again, why I read romance typically written by women and for women, are the underlining tones of women's personhood and how they have fought for it over the years. With the laws in place during the 1860s, our heroine Jane has no autonomy and has her life and money controlled by her uncle after her parents die. The author doesn't shy away from how crappy women had it and forces the reader to understand what those laws financially and emotionally do to women. Reading women’s pain, anger, and triumphs never fails to hit me in the gut and heart.

Where had this woman come from? Her voice was made of steel and her dignity, unbreakable. 

I'm glad I wait until December to do my yearly romance awards because Jane is going to be on my best heroines list with bells on. Her character gets 5 stars for me. From the way she had to survive under her uncle, to deciding she couldn't do it anymore, and how she owned her decisions. She is a bleeding heart liberal who gets knocked sideways by realities a bit but instead of shunning knowledge or being too embarrassed to acknowledge when she is wrong, she takes her licks and keeps on. Her courage was magnificent.

"You've been having a good deal of fun," he said slowly, "haven't you? Convincing the world that you're a mouse." 

I loved the beginning of the book before Crispin gets his amnesia. I loved his dark villainy to Jane's avenging angel. You could see where he starts to notice her (my favorite romance moment, when the hero "sees" the heroine in a way no one else does) and through this, the reader gets a deeper glimpse into his character and how he may have some shades of grey.

A squeak came from her. She had made that noise. His lips felt hot. He spoke against her skin.
"Your hair," he said, "is a glory. Promise me you will never pin it up again." 
The brush of his mouth sent static sparks along her skin. She felt flushed, shivering, light-headed. "I don't…it would be a scandal."
He turned her wrist ever so slightly, finding her pulse with his tongue. Her breath caught. She heard him breathe in deeply.
"Then unpin it just for me," he whispered.
 


The reason this got a three star rating from me was because I didn't fully connect with the hero Crispin and the romance between the two. I loved Crispin pre-amnesia and was settled in for some great sparking battles between him and Jane. When his amnesia reverts his personality back to before perceived betrayals (which kind of confused me, didn't all the betrayals happen before the 5 yrs he couldn't remember? Wouldn't the bitterness still be there for him? Felt kind of odd that he would only develop the bitterness the last couple years) and he lacks the dark bitterness that turned him distrustful and produced his self-isolation. It felt too easy; I wanted the journey and the work more. Since it wasn't "my" Crispin, I didn't feel the romance the way I think I should have between him and Jane. 

But the newspapers craft their headlines to sell papers, not facts. If crime has gone up in London, it has not gone up to such an extent that we should repeat the mistakes of the past. 

****
It would be difficult, after working alongside the poor, to forgot them in the halls of power. Impossible, too, to think of politics as a game, rather than the machinery through which real lives could be saved or squandered. 

Along with Jane’s character, I loved the political tone in this. The subtle jabbing Duran directs towards certain thoughts and ideologies. The pointed reminders of what the point of it all should be and the recriminations of how some people in power can shape and mold opinions and laws toward their benefit. There is a lot of political talk in this one, but in my opinion, the story only flourished from it. 

He had never realized how much could be communicated through touch, how much trust and warmth could travel through a hand simply laid over one's arm. 

Even though the hero and the romance didn't grab me the way other Duran couples have, there was no lack of her beautifully emotional lines. 

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review 2017-11-04 19:07
Historical Romance
The Wicked Earls Club: Regency Romance (... The Wicked Earls Club: Regency Romance (The Wicked Earls' Club) - Tammy Andresen,Maggie Dallen,Wicked Earls' Club

The Wicked Earls' Club by Tammy Andresen and Maggie Dallen is a wicked tease.  These ladies have created an amazing tease to what will be a new series.  The Wicked Earls' Club gives us an idea how the club came about and what it turns into and tips us off that the Earl of Coventry is a bit of a matchmaker.  The first of the 12 books of this series will be The Earl Of Sussex.  Luke and Tabitha's story, but you only get a tease.  Yes, this is a dreaded cliff-hanger.  At the same time, it's a peek at a book we'll surely want to watch for.  I can't wait to read The Earl Of Sussex.

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