Tag Archives: Victorian Historical Romance

Review-Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

cold-hearted-rake

Title: Cold Hearted Rake (The Ravenels, book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Publisher: Avon, 2015

Source: Purchase

Pages: 419

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:         

A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

***

I finally got around to reading this Lisa Kleypas book, her first historical romance in a very long while. I think the only thing that held me back from delving into this one sooner is that I read several reviews that told me I just might be disappointed in the book.  Now, Lisa Kleypas is a favorite author of mine so I should have realized that I would not be disappointed, and I wasn’t.

Kathleen was not a very likable character which might have irked some readers.  She was a real prude, at least until Devon wore down her resistance and after that she decided to run everyone else’s life. Devon was a true Alpha male and yes, that got a bit annoying too.  However….this is still a story written by an author who can bring even these flawed characters to life and make them seem very real.  We are given total understanding of the whys of their actions and attitudes as only an accomplished author can. The sisters, Pandora, Cassandra and Helen, are beautifully introduced and we look forward to their stories in the already released Marrying Winterbourne (Helen’s story) and the soon to be released Devil in Spring(Pandora’s story). This is a really good start to this series and as I go forward to read the rest of the series I’m glad I had this introduction to the characters.

I can recommend this book highly, it is classic Kleypas and, although not my very favorite of hers, still a beautifully wrought Historical Romance.

 

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Recent Release Review- Once Upon A Marquess by Courtney Milan

Title:  Once Upon A Marquess (Worth Family Saga, book #1)

Once Upon A Marquess

Genre: Historical Romance/ Victorian

Author: Courtney Milan

Publisher: Courtney Milan, Dec. 2015

Pages: 277

Source: Free for review from the author.

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

The last man Judith Worth wants to see again is Christian Trent, the Marquess of Ashford—the man who spent summers at her family home, who kissed her one magical night…and then heartlessly ruined her father. But when a tricky business matter arises, he’s the only one she can ask for help. With any luck, he’ll engage a servant to take care of the matter, and she won’t even have to talk with him. But Ashford has never forgotten Judith. He knows she will never forgive him for what he’s done, but when offered the chance to assist her, he arrives in person. His memory of Judith may have haunted him, but it pales in comparison to the reality of the vivacious, beautiful woman he rediscovers. Throughout his life, he has always done what is correct. But now, he finds himself doing something utterly wrong…falling in love with the one woman he can never have. Once Upon a Marquess is the first book in the Worth Saga.

**

The Worth family has had their share of tragedy and dysfunction.  Judith Worth is trying to hold together what is left of her family after her father and older brother’s conviction of treason against the crown.  It has been eight years since the trial, her father’s suicide and her brother’s transportation to a penal colony.  Her next younger sister Camilla is missing from her uncle’s home, her sister Theresa is an uncontrollable teenager and brother Benedict at twelve years of age is refusing to go back to Eton.  All of this would be enough for anyone to bear but now someone is embezzling money that Judith can’t afford to lose.  Her only recourse is to seek help from a member of the ton who will still acknowledge her, Christian.

We are treated to Courtney Milan’s beautiful prose, and her ability to place us right into the Victorian England scene so that we are caught up in the pulse of daily life and the emotions of Judith, a woman who marches on when others would have stumbled. Christian, a man who is obsessive-compulsive and has multiple problems of his own, is drawn so well that we feel his heartache.

I was put off only a bit by so much familial dysfunction and then more from Christian.  It was a bit over the top and I longed for Judith to have someone who was not a problem to her or for her. But as with any of Ms. Milan’s novels the beautiful writing, unique plot and superb characterization outweighs any minus.

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Release Day review- Merry Christmas Mrs. Robinson by Delilah Marvelle

Title:  Merry Christmas Mrs. Robinson

Merry Christmas Mrs Robinson

Genre: Historical Romance novella

Author: Delilah Marvelle

Publisher: Entangled Scandelous, Nov. 9, 2015

Pages: 99

Source: Free for Review

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Christmasy feeling: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Lady Jane left her father, the Earl of Chadwick, and the ton behind to experience life on the stage. After a disastrous marriage, the widow is living on the edge of poverty, determined to guard her heart, when a secret admirer from her past demands a second chance.

Shy and retiring Martin Nicholas Pierce, the Sixth Duke of Somerset, has carried a torch for Lady Jane since her youth, but he is five years her junior. When she married another man, he left for Europe, determined to put her out of his mind. After returning to find Lady Jane free, he vows to replace the memories of her cursed Twelfth Night with a new beginning.

**

If you have never read a book by Delilah Marvelle you have been missing out big time.  This novella is a good place to start, it is a quick read and will whet your appetite for all of her other lovely offerings.  She gives us characters that jump off the page and breathe emotion. Jane is the embodiment of a woman raised to be a lady with a moral compass. How refreshing that she does not immediately jump on our hero. Martin is a thoughtful man who understands the need to be assertive and at the same time loving and restrained. Only Ms. Marvelle could bring off that paradox.  My only criticism is that I wish this had been a full length book.  I didn’t want it to end.

Perfect for a cozy, sexy winter read.

 

 

 

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Deet’s Fabulous Giveaway and Review- The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

Title:  The Highwayman

The Highwayman

Genre: Historical Romance/ Victorian

Author: Kerrigan Byrne

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Sept. 1, 2015 (pre-order available)

Pages: 384

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5+

Description from Amazon.com:

STEALING BEAUTY Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of Victorian London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception-and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…

COURTING DESIRE But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret-one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?

**

I was totally mesmerized by this story.  I have never, yes, I mean never, read a book so quickly because I just could not put it down.  We often see heroes and heroines who have traumatic pasts that are in need of redemption but Farah and Dorian have pasts that we are not sure can be redeemed by love or by anything.  Dorian has to win the “Most Tortured Hero” award if there is one being given this year.
Are these two lovers too damaged for redemption?

This is a tour de force for true love.  We cry and ache for Farah’s loss and we cry and ache for Dorian’s suffering. That they have innumerable obstacles in their path only heightens the drama. This is a gritty, dark and sexy story that left me at times in tears. I have had to be very careful in this review to avoid spoilers for I want to shout them out to you.  If you are a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane Series and stories of the seedier side of historical London, I can guarantee you will love this the first book in a new series by Ms. Byrne.

Giveaway:

As a special surprise I get to offer my U.S. readers 5, yes, I said 5 Paperback Advanced Reader Copies of THE HIGHWAYMAN by Kerrigan Byrne, compliments of St. Martin’s Press and this blog.

Here is what you need to do to win:

  1. Leave a comment here, on this post.
  2. Follow my blog. (sign up in the right hand column)

Small print:

This giveaway is open to US residents only (apologies to my International readers). It will run from Thursday, August 20-Saturday, August 22, 2015.  Five winners will be randomly chosen and notified by e-mail and on this blog on Sunday August 23, 2015, and have until Wednesday, August 26, 2015 to respond with their snail mail address or another winner will be chosen. This blog will not be responsible for misdirected or lost mail in regard to this giveaway.

Good Luck to all, if you win you are in for a treat.

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Recent Release Review- The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress by Victoria Alexander

Title: The Daring Exploits of A Runaway Heiress (book #5, The Millworth Manor Series)

The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress

Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian

Author: Victoria Alexander

Publisher: Zebra, April 28, 2015

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

To Do: Swim naked in the moonlight Play in a high stakes card game Ride an elephant Be painted sans clothing. Take a lover. . . Lucy Merryweather has inherited a fortune–and her great-aunt’s list of unfulfilled wishes. What better way to honor her memory than by accomplishing as many of them as possible? And with Lucy’s family an ocean away in New York, nothing stands in her way–if one ignores the private investigator hired to spy on her. Yet Cameron Effington is infuriatingly difficult to ignore. . . As a reporter, Cameron is always looking for a good story. An American heiress running rampant between Millworth Manor and Mayfair is the perfect subject. Not to mention captivating. And extremely kissable. And if Lucy believes he’s a detective? Well, the truth should never get in the way of a good story–or hinder delicious, impetuous passion. . .

**

The bucket-list premise was the center of this lighthearted easy read. Lucy was determined to fulfill her Aunt Lucinda’s “Regrets” list as a point of honor to the dear lady leaving Lucy all her money. Cam, is charged by his father, the Duke, to write a book or else, no more dilly-dallying. So he thinks Lucy’s adventure would be the perfect inspiration. That he doesn’t tell her what he is doing, or who he really is, complicates everything in the long run.

I enjoyed this story. It often felt a bit too long in some scenes. There could have been some editing that would have made it more enjoyable. The characters were well developed and Clara and Phineas are definitely in need of their own book. This is book #5 in the Millworth Manor series but can be read as a standalone novel.

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5 Thursdays ‘Til Christmas Review- Christmas Delights by Heather Hiestand

Title: Christmas Delights (Redcake book #5)

Christmas Delights

Genre: Historical Romance/ Holiday/Victorian

Author: Heather Hiestand

Publisher: Kensington, 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Christmasy feeling: 1

Description from Amazon.com:

The sweetest gift is the hardest to unwrap…

Lady Victoria Allen-Hill never dreamed she’d be a widow at twenty-one—let alone a virgin. Her father insists that she attend a matchmaking house party in the snow-covered seaside town of Pevensey in hopes she’ll find a suitable husband. But for Victoria, it’s an opportunity to indulge in a passionate affair—and the handsome inventor she meets at the Christmas Eve masquerade ball may be just the man for the job…

Lewis Noble is the cousin of London’s famed Redcake sisters, so it almost stands to reason that he’s just as irresistible as one of their sugar-iced pastries. Lewis catches the eye of every woman at the party—but Victoria is the only one who catches his. He won’t be tied down in her father’s business, but watching other men court her amid a flurry of engagements ignites a jealousy he’s never felt before. A dose of honesty may be just the thing to mend their broken hearts—for many holidays to come…

**

This is a book for the keeper shelf. Well written, full of drama and romance and, yes, some very lusty country party goers. Victoria is being put in a position where, to her, her choices are nonexistent. She has come to this party hoping for a romantic affair but she did not expect to fall in love. Her father has other ideas about who is suitable for her and forces her hand. Lewis is certainly willing to accommodate the beautiful Victoria with a holiday affair but he has no wish for a marriage and especially not to a woman so under her father’s thumb. How will these two ever get together and will they? That is the why this book is so superbly plotted, we also keep turning pages to find out how the lovers can live happily ever after.

Although the setting is a holiday, country house party there is very little feeling of holiday in the book. It could be any winter party.

Confession time. I read book #1 in the Redcake Series, THE MARQUIS OF CAKE (and reviewed it here), but I did not read #’s 2, 3 & 4. Lucky for me and all of you readers this is a standalone novel and you will not get lost, but like me I’m sure you will want to catch up on those Redcakes.

sexy_santa_4-257x400

 

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Recent Release Review- Talk Seweetly To Me by Courtney Milan

Title: Talk Sweetly To Me (final Novella, The brothers sinister Series)

Talk sweetly to Me

Genre: Historical Romance, Victorian

Author: Courtney Milan

Publisher: Courtney Milan

Source: Free for review from the author

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com: Nobody knows who Miss Rose Sweetly is, and she prefers it that way. She’s a shy, mathematically-minded shopkeeper’s daughter who dreams of the stars. Women like her only ever come to attention through scandal. She’ll take obscurity, thank you very much.

All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is. He’s an infamous advice columnist and a known rake. When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he’s also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stopping handsome. But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn’t just a scandal waiting to happen. He’s waiting to happen to her…and if she’s not careful, she’ll give in to certain ruination.

**

We met Stephen in The Suffragette Scandal and all signs pointed to him being a hero to love. There was no disappointment in that, he is all those delightful things we love about a hero and most important of them he is head over heels in love with the heroine. Now the heroine, Miss Rose Sweetly, encounters our hero often in the street where he engages her in conversation that usually turns to her passion for mathematics. He is not put off by this topic he absolutely enjoys listening to her expound on theory and astronomy, so much so that he goes to her employer and finagles a way to take astronomy lessons from Miss Sweetly. Of course Rose is wary, because she is already falling for him and there is just too much societal restrictions for them to ever be serious.

Once again Ms Milan gives us an original plot and protagonists to cheer for. She touches on women’s rights, racism and religious prejudice prevalent in Victorian times and she ties this all up in a lusciously sensual romance.

This is the final entry in the Brothers Sinister Series but like the others it is a standalone book. This has been a wonderful series by a top-tier author, I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

 

Talk Sweetly to Me is the final novella in The Brothers Sinister series.

The Brothers Sinister Series:

½. The Governess Affair (prequel novella)

  1. The Duchess War

1½. A Kiss for Midwinter (a companion novella to The Duchess War)

  1. The Heiress Effect
  2. The Countess Conspiracy
  3. The Suffragette Scandal

4½. Talk Sweetly to Me

 

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Review- How To Lose A Duke In Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke

Title: How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days

How to Lose a Duke in ten days

 Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Laura Lee Guhrke

Publisher: Avon, April, 2014

Source: Purchase

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

They had a deal . . . From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.

But deals are made to be broken . . . By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?

**

The description makes this book sound like a typical frothy historical romance but it really deals with the emotional issues of a rape victim in Victorian times.  Though it is a dark subject, the author brings hope and love to the heroine even though she resists it almost to the end of the book.  The hero is a man with enough sympathy for the heroine to help her overcome her traumatic past.  He is to be admired for his protectiveness of Edie.  Ms. Guhrke’s dialog is believable and her characterization is period accurate. I recommend this book to Historical Romance readers.

 

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Review- The Luckiest Lady In London by Sherry Thomas

Title: The Luckiest Lady In London

The Luckiest Lady In London

 Genre:  Historical Romance/Victorian

Author: Sherry Thomas

Publisher: Penguin, 2013

Source: Purchase

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth, is The Ideal Gentleman, a man all men want to be and all women want to possess. Even Felix himself almost believes this golden image. But underneath is a damaged soul soothed only by public adulation.

Louisa Cantwell needs to marry well to support her sisters. She does not, however, want Lord Wrenworth—though he seems inexplicably interested in her. She mistrusts his outward perfection, and the praise he garners everywhere he goes. Still, when he is the only man to propose at the end of the London season, she reluctantly accepts.

Louisa does not understand her husband’s mysterious purposes, but she cannot deny the pleasure her body takes in his touch. Nor can she deny the pull this magnetic man exerts upon her. But does she dare to fall in love with a man so full of dark secrets, any one of which could devastate her, if she were to get any closer?

**

Can a push-pull, cat and mouse, game of lust and seduction lead to a happily ever after? The game that Louisa and Felix play is not for the faint of heart.  It is full of lies and machinations and one up-manship.  All this is deftly handled by the superb writing of author Sherry Thomas.

Deliciously clever dialog underscores the sizzling sexual tension that vibrates between the protagonists.  This story is all about the manipulations devised by the hero and heroine.  They have made love into a competition.   Ms Thomas deftly handles the characterization of Felix and Louisa so that we not only understand their dispositions and moral fiber, or lack thereof, but we sympathize with them also.   Side characters play only very minor roles.

I highly recommend this book to all romance readers.

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Recent Release Review- The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Title:  The Heiress Effect (The Brothers Sinister Series)

The Heiress Effect

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Author: Courtney Milan

Publisher: Courtney Milan, July 15, 2013

Source: Free for review from the author

Rating: 5+

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com: Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When in company, she always says the wrong thing–and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances–and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

The Heiress Effect is the second full-length book in the Brothers Sinister series. It is preceded by The Governess Affair, a prequel novella, and The Duchess War, the first book in the series. Each book stands alone, but those who prefer to read in order might want to start at the beginning.

**

I’m a huge Courtney Milan fan.  She does not ever disappoint in her novels and The Heiress Effect is another example of a superbly constructed and executed story.  This book starts off by bringing forth the heroine with terrific wit; Jane’s over-the-top shenanigans at a society dinner had me in stitches.  But beneath the laughs are the very real problems that plague her sister and herself.  The hero has his own problems to deal with but he is the only one at the dinner that can see through Jane’s ploy to the person beneath the disguise.

Ms Milan can breathe life into characters that resonate with purpose and she gives the reader the sense of being thrust into the Victorian era along with them.  She captures the societal concerns of the day from women’s rights to working men’s rights.  She has fashioned two outcast protagonists who are more alike than they think they are.  They both fight against their growing attraction knowing in their hearts that a union would be futile.  The romance is slow to develop and wonderfully realized. The side characters of Jane’s uncle and her sister are full of personality. There is a surprise that you won’t see coming. We are given brief looks at Robert and Sebastian from the first full length book in this series, The Duchess Wars. (Sebastian will be the hero in the next book of the series.)

This book is going on my list of best books of 2013.  I highly recommend!

The Brother Sinister Series:

1/2. The Governess affair (prequel novella)

1. The Duchess Wars (Robert and Minnie)

1 1/2. A Kiss For Midwinter (Lydia and Dr. Grantham, novella)

2. The Heiress Effect (Jane and Oliver)

3. The Countess Conspiracy(Sebastian)

4. The Mistress Rebellion (Free Marshall)

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