Tag Archives: historical romance

Review of Must Be Magic, by Patricia Rice

I’m on vacation, slash, visiting my mom. Which means I get to read and write my reviews in the St. Andrew Bay sea breeze. Today I finished Must Be Magic, by Patricia Rice. I borrowed an e-copy from the library before I left home.


Description from Goodreads:

An Explosive Attraction…

Lady Leila Staines has always felt like an outcast among her magically gifted sisters. Desperate to discover her own talent, she seeks out Dunstan Ives, a dark and brooding aristocrat with a scientific bent who may hold the key to unleashing Leila’s hidden powers.

Can Create A Spark That’s Pure Magic…

Dunstan has shunned the decadent society that wrongfully condemned him of murder, and he’s vowed never again to succumb to the spell of a beautiful woman. But the bewitching Lady Leila makes him a proposal no man in his position can resist.

Review:

Generally enjoyable. I appreciated the slightly older couple (a widow and widower), the unusual inclusion of an illegitimate child, and that the female character was given sexual agency throughout. I did find the mystery easy to decipher and thought Dunstam was a little too driven by his lusts (though I did like how he fully owned that he went brainless in the presence of an attractive woman).

This is book two in a series and I was able to read it easily, even without having read book one. I’ll happily read the rest of the series.

Review of The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics (Feminine Pursuits, #1), by Olivia Waite

I won a signed copy of The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics (by Olivia Waite) in a giveaway Rose Lerner was running on Instagram. I was super excited both to get this book and to get anything from Rose Lerner!

Description from Goodreads:

As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.

Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.

While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?

Review:

I thought this was a really sweet romance. I liked both the heroines and the feminist plot. I did think the pseudo-villain’s change of heart at the end was unlikely. I think his truer response in the circumstance would be embarrassment and anger. So, the sudden contriteness felt saccharine and artificial. But I saw why the author chose to do it.

My only real complaint with the book was that there didn’t seem to be enough meat beyond the romance to really keep me interested. At one point, I set the book down to do other things and didn’t pick it up for over a month. Now, I wasn’t reading other books, I just didn’t make time to read. (I’ve been working on my ebook cull, if you remember.) But the fact that this book sat there unfinished for so long attests to how little it held my attention if I wasn’t actively reading it. I enjoyed it when I was and forgot about it when I wasn’t.

All in all, not a bad read. But a perfect example of why I tend to lean toward X-romance (sci-fi romance, paranormal romance, romantic thrillers, etc. Normally historical romance works, but apparently it wasn’t enough here.) I just seem to need a little something more.

Review of The Widow of Rose House, by Diana Biller

After seeing it praised on Twitter, I borrowed a copy fo Diana Biller‘s The Widow of Rose House from the library.

Description from Goodreads:

It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.

Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history―and her heart.

Review:

I adored this. I thought Sam was too adorable for words. When he fell into his distracted inventor mode or social oblivion I swooned. He was just too sweet. Alva was prickly, but with reason. I admit that I usually try and avoid books centered on women surviving abuse (it’s a plot device I think is too often and too easily used), but I appreciated her strength here. Similarly, all of the side characters were marvelous. I want them all to get their own happily ever afters.

I think the book suffers from painting 21st-century morals on 19th-century characters. But I’ll forgive it, simply because I liked it so much. I look forward to more of Biller’s work.