When Beauty Tamed the Beast

Linnet Berry Thynne was ruined in the eyes of the ton. Caught kissing a prince who then wants nothing to do with her, not to mention it wasn’t even all that pleasant! Wearing a gown that makes her look pregnant, her humiliation and ruination is complete.

Piers Marchant a doctor and Earl has a fearsome reputation and a temper to match which has earned him the nickname of the beast. Injured as a child he is supposedly unable to perform (if you get my drift)!  With no prospect of an heir in sight his father jumps at the chance of his son having a bride, already with child and a royal one at that.

Being a medical man it does not take him long to realise things are not as they seem and despite Linnet’s beauty, he is determined she will never marry the beast.

This is another great book by Eloisa James and I really enjoyed it. It is supposedly a very loose adaptation of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast, and if the title had not indicated so, I would not necessarily have thought to associate it.

I loved the characters, Dr Piers is hilarious – his bedside manner leaves much to be desired and you get the impression his life would be much simpler if his patients died so he could cut them open and see what was going on.  Sarcasm seems to be his forte and he does not care who he upsets or what he says. Linnet is feisty, just as sarcastic and gives as good as she gets, almost enjoying taunting him. This leads to some funny conversations between the two of them.

The story is almost exclusively set in Wales and it was great to have a setting other than the traditional London for a regency romance. I found the snippets about medicine and treatment fascinating but how accurate they are I am not sure, Piers did seem ahead of his time in some aspects of his treatment. Historical accuracy is not a strong feature of this book but to be honest it was not a problem for this story. Some books need rich historical description, others don’t, the characters easily carried the story no matter how historically inaccurate some of their behaviour was!

Of course it is based on a fairytale and fairytales always have a happy ending so I got the warm fuzzies which I like in my books. It wouldn’t be an interesting or entertaining story however if there were not a number of obstacles and incidents before we reach that point.

If you are looking for a romance with accurate historical descriptions and behaviour this may not be you, if however you like a touch of humour, strong characters and can overlook the historical licence – read it!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Eloisa James
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

A Rogue by Any Other Name

Michael, the Marquess of Bourne, has waited a decade to get his revenge, hiding from polite society and becoming a partner in London’s most famous gaming hell. Soon he would reclaim what was rightfully his, even if in order to do so he would have to ‘persuade’ Lady Penelope Marbury to marry him, vowing his wickedness would never touch her.

Lady Penelope has had a rough time in the ton, none of it of her own making. At twenty eight she still holds out for a love match but circumstances push her into marriage to the Marquess of Bourne. He had once been her dearest childhood friend – what had happened to him during the ten years he disappeared?  Where had the boy she once knew gone?

This was a fantastic book and right from page one, which starts ten years before the story proper, I was totally engrossed and by page two I felt like crying! The characters came to life so easily they seemed to jump off the page at me. The interspersing of child and young adult letters throughout the book were both humorous and heartbreaking, I could feel Penelope’s desperation through them as the years progressed. The pain both of them were in was heart-rending at times and they are both so stubborn you start to feel there will never be a happy ending. Never fear though, this is after all an historical romance. The story focuses on the darker side of London’s aristocracy in Regency England and I am starting to find I love that aspect more than the glittering ballrooms.

I am finding it really difficult to find anything to criticise about this book so I won’t!

I was unable to finish the book in one sitting as work most inconsiderately got in the way. I found I was counting the hours until I was able to get back to reading it. I got in from work and by 7.30pm I realised I hadn’t fed the kids (but at least I had finished the book). Fortunately they are old enough to get something if they were that hungry so don’t worry I didn’t starve them!

This is the second Sarah Maclean book I have read and it will definitely not be the last!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Maclean
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On a Wild Night

Amanda Cynster cannot find a man worthy of her love in the ballrooms of the ton. Taking matters into her own hands she ventures where no self respecting young lady should ever go, but where eligible gentleman can always be found!

Martin, the Earl of Dexter has shunned the ton since the scandal surrounding him 10 years previously. After rescuing Amanda from a risky situation, one of her own making, he finds he cannot avoid her at his usual haunts. Is she stalking him or is she as uninterested as she appears?

While I enjoyed this book, I felt it didn’t quite catch my imagination as some of the previous Bar  Cynster stories have.  It was quite a bit longer than previous books of this series, which of course is not usually a problem for me but I felt that those extra pages seemed to be filled with sexual encounters rather than advancing the story. While I love sex scenes as much as the next person, I found the encounters were repetitive, and I even found myself skimming over them after the first couple!

It did seem a bit strange having a woman as the dominant character in this setting – but of course no self respecting Cynster is going to pick a fop to be her partner, and sure enough it becomes clear Martin is as much an alpha male as the Cynster cousins – I do love a good alpha male!

As I find with all Stephanie Laurens work, the 19th century comes alive and it was good to get an idea of what goes on in entertainments outside the ballrooms we are so used to reading about. The story was very focused around Martin and Amanda, almost to the exclusion of other people, which I felt was unusual. While we do get to meet others, I did find myself becoming a bit bored with the two main characters, and wished there was more outside interaction. From the hints in this story, I am looking forward to the book I think is coming with Amanda’s twin sister as the heroine.

It wasn’t until about halfway that the story picked up pace with a mystery needing to be solved and the Cynster cousins making cameo appearances.  Since I love the Cynster cousins, that’s where the book became interesting for me.

Overall, despite the criticisms above I enjoyed this novel and will still be looking to read anything by Stephanie Laurens I can get my hands on!

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

My Dangerous Duke

The Duke of Warrington is an assassin for the Order, serving his country as he was raised to do. He has earned the nickname The Beast for his ruthless nature. When he returns home for a brief visit to his castle he finds his tenants, trying to avoid his wrath, have left him a ‘bed-warmer’.

Kate Madsen is an innocent woman abducted from her isolated cottage drugged to appear drunk, made to look like a whore and given to the Duke as a ‘gift’. The Duke soon realises she is not who she appears to be and together they try to unravel the reasons surrounding her abduction. Does it have something to do with the ancient curse affecting the Warrington line?

This story was really good, it immediately grabbed my attention with the opening chapter dealing with Kate just after she has been abducted. The storyline was very strong and action packed, moved along at a realistic pace and kept me engrossed throughout the entire book. I found myself reading at the oddest times (for me anyway) just so I could find out what happens next – most notably while I was cooking tea; I had one hand on the book and one hand on the spoon! In fact I was so focussed that I forgot to cook the vegetables!

It was really good to have a strong plot alongside the romantic element and if the author’s other books are anything like this I cannot wait to read them. This is a sexy intense historical romance novel with more than a hint of action, adventure and intrigue!  I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in the ‘Inferno Club’ series.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gaelen Foley
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The Duke and I

Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, finds himself besieged by all the mamas of the ton looking for a suitable husband for their darling daughters. Frustrated with the relentless pursuit, he has vowed he will never marry.

Daphne Bridgerton has had two seasons in London but is holding out for a husband she has at least some affection for. Her mother is determined to push every eligible bachelor her way and the balls are becoming one nightmare after another.

Simon is an old friend of her overprotective brothers and after meeting, Simon and Daphne hatch a plot to avoid their perpetual nightmare.  They pretend to be courting for the season ensuring her mother is happy and his matchmaking mothers look elsewhere.

All seems to be going well until their desire for each other gets out of control and the situation moves to pistols at dawn!

This book was really enjoyable and had some very humorous moments. I particularly enjoyed Daphne receiving the ‘talk’ from her mother – oh how things were different in those days! I also experienced sadness at times, especially as Quinn describes Simon’s childhood experiences.  In fact Julia’s writing made me feel all sorts of different emotions, exactly what I want from a good story.

Unlike several similar books there was not as much focus on society, the ways of 19th century England and the rituals of the ton. Julia focused very much on the Bridgerton family and the relationship between Simon and Daphne which was definitely good enough to keep the story flowing nicely. I love Daphne’s mother, and the behaviour of her youngest brother and sister had me giggling to myself at times.

This is not, by any means, a sickly sweet romance despite the focus being primarily on Simon and Daphne and I am very excited to have discovered a new series which has enough brothers and sisters (thus books!) to keep me going for a while.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Julia Quinn
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Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell (Callie to her friends), is an acknowledged spinster.  She sits in the ‘spinster seating’ at balls and wears the lace hat that denotes her as such. At the age of 28 she knows no one would ever offer for her and has resigned herself to her fate. Her romantic inclinations, caused by reading endless romance novels, are left unsatisfied despite fantasies of a chance meeting 10 years ago in her début season. When her 18 year old sister falls in love and is betrothed in her first season, Callie eventually decides she has had enough of being a simple spinster and decides to make a list of things she wants to do, starting with being kissed. Passionately!

Gabriel, Marquess of Ralston is a notorious rake whose reputation is well known. When he meets Lady Calpurnia hiding in the garden at a society ball he engages her in conversation but forgets her as soon as he leaves, little knowing the impact he had on the then 18 year old. Ten years on he is surprised with a half sister he did not know existed, and despite her being the very image of his despised mother he knows he must do all he can to bring her out into society. Knowing he will need some female help with this, his opportunity arrives when that very evening a lady shows up in his bedchamber asking for a kiss.

I really enjoyed this story. In so many books the lady ‘left on the shelf’ is still only 22/23. Having a 28 year old be the heroine, someone well and truly confined to the shelf, made a refreshing change. As an acknowledged spinster Callie has much more freedom than other young ladies and I loved her attitude. I really found myself drawn into the story and when it seemed she might get discovered doing something outrageous I felt my pulse beat faster as if I was there with her, willing her to make it. I was so involved in the story, at one point I was even holding my breath!

I have read a lot of historical romance and this by far rates among my favourites. Other than the girl meets boy part, the plot was totally unique; the idea of the list and the things on it – totally scandalous!

Without a doubt I will be looking out for more books by Sarah Maclean.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Maclean
  • Format: Kindle
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The Apothecary’s Daughter

The Apothecary’s Daughter is a book I’d been hearing good things about, and while it might not be a part of my usual set of genres, I wanted to give it a try.  I started it this morning and absolutely could not put it down.  When I’d finished, I had to let it sit for a while so I could think about it.  It’s actually a very hard book to review, not because of the subject matter or that it’s an historical romance but because there are just so many layers.

Charlotte Betts created a rich setting, a stark and vivid London in 1665.  A time of plague and the great fire of London, where death, disease and sorrow were part and parcel of daily life.  She then brought her characters to life with beautiful writing, and they fit really well into the time and attitudes of the period.

Eventually it’s an extremely sweet romance, but to get there, Susannah Leyton has to go through several adjustments and compromises.  At a time when being a strong woman was not considered an asset, let alone an intelligent one who wanted to use the skills learned from her father, it made her all the more special.  She isn’t a woman chafing at her lot in life however, she doesn’t want to change the world, she just wants to live in it as best she can.  The thought of marriage and children are abhorrent to her after watching her mother die horrifically in childbirth, but her choices are limited when her father remarries and the new lady of the house wants her gone.  Unable to find a suitable position, she finally accepts the proposal from the cousin of a close family friend.

I think the thing I liked most about Susannah is that once she has decided to do something, she does it with all her heart.  Marriage may not have been her first choice but she enters into it earnestly, despite her fears.  She is compassionate and caring and the author made it easy for me to empathise with her, through simple but evocative words.

The pace of the story is well measured and at times can be very grim and sad.  The cast of characters change frequently with Susannah as the focal point, but one remains with her all the way through and was the last person I expected to sneak into both our hearts.

This is not a bodice ripper historical romance, nor is it a story about a woman who wants to be equal to a man.

It’s a wonderful, fluidly written and extremely gripping journey with Susannah, the apothecary’s daughter.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Charlotte Betts
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

A Rake’s Vow

He vowed he’d never marry, she vowed no man would catch her.

Vane Cynster takes refuge with his elderly godmother to avoid getting caught in a storm, only to find one of her guests is her niece Patience Debbington. Intending to leave when the weather clears he finds himself intrigued by that young lady, and when his godmother asks for his assistance in a matter necessitating a longer stay, he agrees. Vane realises he has met his match in Patience, and the vow he made no longer seems important.

Patience thinks Vane is arrogant and presumptuous just like every ‘elegant gentleman’ and while his kisses leave her wanting more, she knows he is bound to be unfaithful just like her father. She has no intention of being caught and definitely not by a known rake like Vane.

I really enjoyed this book but I have to confess I am a sucker for an alpha male! The author  manages to bring alive the early 19th century and I have no problems imagining the time as she describes. The story moves along well with a good sub plot involving a thief and a ‘spectre’, as well as the main plot line involving the two main characters.

Vane is definitely an alpha male but Patience is no shrinking violet either. Get your fan ready because with what goes on behind closed doors you will definitely need to cool down!

While this book is the second of a series involving the Cynster family, A Rake’s Vow, and indeed all the Cynster books can be read on their own. However, once you have been introduced to the Cynster men you will want more and more and more…. fortunately there are a lot of them!