Tag Archives: historical romance

What I read over Thanksgiving Holiday 2019

We spent Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle in Tennessee. They have a lovely place outside the city—land, hot tub with a view, walking distance to the river, etc. Visiting them is always a little mind-blowing for me (in a good way).

From my house to theirs is a six hour drive. We stayed Thursday and Friday and then drove home last night (Saturday). That’s twelve hours in the car to read and then quite a bit of time while there.

You see, I love my family, but thanksgiving is always big and loud and chaotic. So much love in the air, but also just so many people. And I’m an introvert. I invariably get super overloaded and spend the day after Thanksgiving laying on the couch reading. It’s my way of being in my family’s presence, but allowing my introvert cells to recharge. The point is, you might not think such a short visit wouldn’t allow for much reading. But I read six books.

I’m going to review them all here, with the caveat that I took no notes and reading a book and then waiting to review it means I never remember quite as many details. For example, I do remember that one of these book needs further editing. But I don’t now remember which one, so I can’t mention it in the review. Similarly, some of the reviews might be on the short side. Pleasantly however, I liked them all. There have been years I couldn’t say that. Here we go.


the cover of vengeful prince

Vengeful Prince, by Mary E. Twomey:

I’m undecided about this book. Some things I really loved, but others I thought it pulled a bait-and-switch on the readers about, and it includes one of my BIGGEST PET PEVES. Let me address that first, since I probably won’t be able to concentrate until I get it out of the way. 

One of my biggest pet peeves: When the male MC falls in love with the female MC because she talks back to him in a way no one else will. (Here it’s actually not any of the male MC that do this, but it’s someone super integral to the plot. So, I’m calling it same-same). My problem with this logic as it plays out here (and almost every time authors do this) is that people don’t talk back to this powerful individual because he’ll kill or punish them if they do. But he doesn’t kill or punish the female MC when she does this…because she’s special…because she does it? It’s circular. And presumes she’s special prior to the very thing she’s being singled out as special for. Arg. I hate this so much and Lilya is seriously mouthy to people she shouldn’t mouth off to and gets away with it. What’s worse is that she’s no where near as brave with other people, so it doesn’t even fit her personality in the rest of the book. 

A positive, Salem. I loved Salem. Why didn’t we get more Salem? And why does poor Salem get so shafted? We have a heroine who will loom and yell at a king, but can’t tell a man who she longs for that she’s not disgusted by him? Three friends who will do anything for each other (including changing the whole structure of society), but neither of the other two will clear up the VERY OBVIOUS MISUNDERSTANDING to bring their best friend and love some happiness and end of distress? 

The bait and switch: It’s a reverse harem. Two of the three men are handsy as heck. They sleep together and make out, etc. But there’s not a single sex scene in the whole book (even after months having passed after marriage). It sets up an erotic plot line and then doesn’t deliver any…at all. 

For all that, I basically enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’d seek out the sequel for any reason except to see Salem finally get his happy ending. But I didn’t not enjoy it. 


Cover of House Ash & Brimstone

House of Ash & Brimstone, by Megan Starks:

I surprised myself by liking this book a lot more than I expected. (Though I do love the cover.) I expected it to be a lot more YA than it was, which was a pleasant surprise, and I think I might move heaven and Earth for Beast and Shade. Oh my, they were both wonderful in their own way. (Though I have to admit that it was Shade’s desperation I loved about him and that’s just a little cruel of me.) 

Gi-Gi was only a so-so heroine for me. I didn’t dislike like her by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn’t love her either. She seemed to make split second decisions and act on them without much thought. Some good (taking in Beast), some bad (hating Shade so extremely based on so little). 

Also, I never fully understood the motivation of her brothers. Beyond being generically evil the reason for everything they did isn’t really explored very deeply. I was especially interested in the oldest brother’s motivation. 

Lastly, I have to quibble with the cliche manner in which the only female villain (and only woman with any political cachet) is evil because she was denied a man. Anyone else ever wonder if there are no other motivation for female villains available or something? I’m so tired of always seeing this same one. 

All in all however, I liked the book and would happily pick up the next one in the series.


A Taste of Honey, by Rose Lerner:

This was wonderful and sweet. I liked how food tied into it so intricately and that it was the woman who took the initiative. I also loved that the two were so open to exploring and trying new things. However, I thought it was a stretch to go from I-couldn’t-possibly-kiss-you to pegging in less than a week. Despite that, the message of openness and willingness for those you love was one I appreciated. Not to mention Lerner just goes places that a lot of such authors don’t. All in all, a successful read for me.


Machine Metal Magic, by Hanna Dare:

I generally enjoyed this. I loved the caption’s sarcasm, Jaime’s sass, and Rylan’s ceaseless attempts to do the right thing. I did think the whole thing wrapped up a little quickly wondered if Rylan would really have been dishonorably discharged given the extenuating circumstances. Despite that I’ll be looking for book two.


How to Marry a Werewolf, by Gail Carriger

I adored Channing in Changeless and I was too happy to see him get his happy ending here. I appreciated seeing him meet his match; and what a match Faith is. A always, Carriger carries it all off with humor and too much tea. I can’t wait for more.


Mainly by Moonlight, by Josh Lanyon:

I mostly enjoyed this. I liked the world Lanyon created, the characters, and the mystery plot. But I never felt the spark of the romance at all. I know the author tried to address how the two could meet, fall in love, buy a (and decorate) house, and plan a wedding (including planting a special made garden) in two weeks. But I couldn’t buy it. And that wasn’t the only thing. Several other things didn’t hold together for me. There’s a pretty big reveal at one point that I simply can’t believe that Cosmo didn’t see coming, for example. For all that, if I suspended my disbelief far enough I found it a cute little read.


There you have it, reviews of the six book I read on my 2019 Thanksgiving holiday. Honestly, it’s more physical reading than I’ve done in a while. I’ve been mainly listening to audio books, which I love. But I find it was like coming home to spend some time with my Kindle.

Review of Once A Pirate, by Diana Bold

I received an Audible credit for a copy of Once A Pirate, by Diana Bold.

Description from Goodreads:

The Earl of Sutcliffe has a problem – his son, Daniel, prefers men to women.  After two years of marriage to Lady Kathryn Sinclair, Daniel hasn’t produced an heir.  Desperate to continue his bloodline, Sutcliffe turns to his illegitimate son, Talon Montgomery. Knowing the prosperous American privateer will never do as he wishes, Sutcliffe arranges for his son to be falsely arrested for piracy. Talon is devastated when he believes his entire crew has been executed.  When he discovers Sutcliffe has interceded on their behalf, Talon is willing to do anything to keep them safe – even seduce his sister-in-law. 

Review:

Mechanically this was well written, and the narrator did a fine job of it. But I had a hella lot of problems with the plot. For one, while it doesn’t quite sink to Bury Your Gays, it comes perilously close (more than once). What’s more, it’s done off-page, practically without comment and 100% without mourning. And it comes within touching distance of suggesting the gay character is gay because he was sexually abused as a child. (Though I will acknowledge that he doesn’t actually die or have a tragic future, just a tragic past.)

Secondly, the “love” is so fast as to feel instant. I didn’t feel this relationship AT ALL.

Third, the villain is so villainous as to be a caricature.

Lastly, Kathryn (the heroine) is married. But the book still follows the well trodden love=marriage and children pathway. Which can’t really work when the woman is already and still married to someone else! (Thus the need to Bury the Gay.)

This is apparently a republication of an older work, from 2006. I feel like if I’d known that before I read it, I wouldn’t have chanced it. The genre has come a long way in the past decade. The fact that the writing itself was decent makes me think I could give a newer work a chance and maybe like it.

Review of Waiting For an Earl Like You, by Alexandra Hawkins

I won an ARC copy of Waiting for an Earl Like You, by Alexandra Hawkins. Unfortunately, it got lost for a while.

Description from Goodreads:

Justin Reeve Netherwood, Earl of Kempthorn—a.k.a. Thorn—has never cared much for his neighbor’s daughter. But his twin brother, Gideon, befriended the wild, reckless, and wholly inappropriate Miss Olivia Lydall in youth, and two have been close ever since. So when Olivia finds herself in a state of romantic conflict and seeks out Gideon for advice, he’s only too pleased to oblige. Only problem: The man Olivia is speaking to is Thorn. And now it’s too late for him to tell Olivia the truth…

Thorn always believed that Olivia was too smitten with Gideon for her own good. So what’s the harm in steering her away from him? But Thorn’s charade turns out to be anything but harmless once he begins to see Olivia for who she really is: A woman full of spirit and passion…and someone he can’t live without. But how can Thorn claim Olivia’s heart when their deepening connection—and burning desire—is built on lies and deceit?

Review: (with spoiler)

A few weeks back, I (thought) I read all the regency romance on my physical book shelf. If you include the extra short at the end of one of them, I read books with two duke, two viscount and a marquess heroes*. Apparently, I missed this one about an Earl. It was hidden in the back of a double-lined shelf. 

Regency romance is hard for me. When I find one I like, I tend to love it. But they have a high probability of including problematic ideas around female autonomy, male control and possession of women. Of course, for the time period, some of that is to be expected. But some books manage to challenge it and others seem to revel in it. Waiting for an Earl Like You if of the latter. 

I liked very much that Olivia was head strong and not inclined to do what she was told. But throughout the book Thorn undermines her, which largely nullified the effect. There’s references to him setting up the rules of their relationship and hints at discipline if she doesn’t obey. I disliked it. 

Further, I really just hated Thorn. Imagine the scenario…He thinks his brother is in love with Olivia.The two of them have been best friends since childhood (age difference be damned). So, he sets out to seduce her, falls in love and marries her. The fact that his brother loved her is never address. The author tried to twist the events of early in the book to make it seem like Thorn had always loved her, and therefore it’s all all right. But it’s bogus and doesn’t work. He was a jerk. The impression really wasn’t helped by the authors frequent references to he and his friends past debaucheries. They really seem like the sort that take advantage of their station, unlikable to the extreme. 

Then there is a whole mystery set up around why Gideon left, where he’d been, why he came back and why he and Thorn are so distant. But it’s never cleared. It’s just a big question mark. Perhaps this is addressed in one of the other books, but it’s not here and really, this mystery was the primary reason I kept reading. So, not having it solved irked me. 

Lastly, one of my pet peeves in books is how easily and off-hardly authors victimize women. In this book, Olivia is randomly almost kidnapped by three random men for nefarious purposes (one would assume rape) and then later deliberately kidnapped to be sold as a sex slave. This was taking the plot off in some ridiculous and unbelievable direction, but it was also wholly unnecessary. There are a million other ways to punish a regency era woman. But the author jumped to sex slave? I was livid. 

*My Once and Future Duke, My One and Only Duke (with Once Upon a Christmas Eve), Schooling the Viscount, and Unmasked by the Marquess