Tag Archives: historical romance

Review of Ready Set Rogue (A Studies in Scandal #1), by Manda Collins

I won an ARC of Ready Set Rogue, by Manda Collins, through Goodreads:

When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s one of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library, she packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady Celeste’s nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is determined to interrupt her studies one way or another…

Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockings—no matter how lovely they are to look at—is a travesty, and Quill simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes to solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s help. Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This rogue believes he’s finally met his match—but can Quill convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no fiction?

I’d give this a 2.5-3 stars if I was using stars, here on the blog. I very much appreciated that Ivy was self sufficient and frequently acted with a lot of agency. I liked that there was a character likely meant to be on the autism spectrum, a severe introvert and a single mother who had overcome her own past trauma.

However, I felt the plot was a weak one. It’s basically insta-lust that bloomed into love out of nowhere and the mystery was just an excuse to throw the characters together. This impression solidified when the villain announced themself before the characters identified them and told their whole plan, start to finish, with no prompting. Such that the characters didn’t really have to solve the mystery in the end. I also felt cheated that after all the build up, we never saw the end result of the romance. That was all off page.

My main complaint however was that Quill, the hero, notably WAS NOT A ROGUE. If I pick up a book called Ready Set Rogue, I expect a rogue. Quill is a single man in a historical romance novel, and I suppose the term rogue is morphing to mean just that, but I still consider a rogue a ‘dishonest or unprincipled man,’ a ‘knavish person’ a ‘scoundrel.’ Quill is polite, principled, loyal and not even a player. He’s a gentleman in every way—politically, socially and behaviorally—NOT A ROGUE. This annoyed me to no end.

I was reading an ARC and there were some pretty significant discrepancies in the time line and contradictions in event, but I have every faith that these will be cleaned up before the book’s final print run. That the repetitive phrasing, over-use of ‘bluestocking,’ and anachronistic language will be isn’t as guaranteed, but it was readable even as an ARC.

As an aside, I don’t think the cover fits the tone of the book or the description of Ivy (who was curvy with glasses), but that’s just my opinion. I’m not a huge lover of historical romances, so there’s a chance someone who is will overlook those things that so annoyed me. All in all, I found it to be an OK read, not bad but not very good either.

What I’m drinking: organic Irish Breakfast tea form the Traveling Tea Shop.

Review of The Soldier’s Scoundrel, by Cat Sebastian

The Soldier's scoundrelI purchased a copy of Cat Sebastian‘s The Soldier’s Scoundrel. It was the buddy read in one of my favorite online groups.

Description from Goodreads:
A scoundrel who lives in the shadows
Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.  
A soldier untarnished by vice 
After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman’s life-one that doesn’t include sparring with a ne’er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack’s pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they’re together.  
Two men only meant for each other

Really lovely, I thought. I enjoyed the way Oliver and Jack rubbed each-other the wrong way (when they weren’t rubbing each-other the right way). I enjoyed the way Oliver was almost boyish in his straight forward, goal-oriented pursuit of Jack and the way Jack enjoyed it despite himself. I liked that Jack was a bit older than the average romance hero and I liked the close friendships between the sister and her ‘companion.’

I did think the book a little too long, or at least longer than what seems to be the average for such books. The mystery especially seemed to take forever to come to a head. And, after all Jack’s protests about social position, I thought the ending didn’t adequately address how they were going to make their HEA work. But the writing was lovely. There was humor and feelz. I’m looking forward to reading more of Sebastian’s work.

On a side note: I understand the cover is a mimicry of the het historical romances Avon has published in the past (bodice rippers especially, I think), but I hate it. Do with that what you will.

Review of The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister #2), by Courtney Milan

The Heiress EffectI borrowed The Heiress Effect, by Courtney Milan, from my local library. I reviewed book one of The Brothers Sinister series here.

Description from Goodreads:
Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s 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.

Everyone seems to have loved this book. I just…didn’t. Objectively I can say it was well written. The characters were pleasantly flawed. A number of different threads wove together, there at the end. The book is well written, but I just didn’t particularly like it. I thought Jane went from strong and confident to lost and confused and back again too abruptly without enough reason for her changes. I thought the happy ending was too sappy. I didn’t love the characters. I liked them well enough, but didn’t love them enough to care about them. For me, this book really was just ok.