Tag Archives: historical romance

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

Review of Much Ado About You (Essex Sisters #1), by Eloisa James

I won a paperback copy of Eloisa JamesMuch Ado About You. However, I chose to listen to it and borrowed an audio copy.

Description from Goodreads:

When you’re the oldest daughter, you don’t get to have any fun!

Witty, orphaned Tess Essex faces her duty: marry well and marry quickly, so she can arrange matches for her three sisters — beautiful Annabel, romantic Imogen and practical Josie. After all, right now they’re under the rather awkward guardianship of the perpetually tipsy Duke of Holbrook. But just when she begins to think that all might end well, one of her sisters bolts with a horse-mad young lord, and her own fiancé just plain runs away.

Which leaves Tess contemplating marriage to the sort of man she wishes to avoid — one of London’s most infamous rakes. Lucius Felton is a rogue whose own mother considers him irredeemable! He’s delicious, Annabel points out. And he’s rich, Josie notes. But although Tess finally consents to marry him, it may be for the worst reason of all. Absurd as she knows it to be, she may have fallen utterly in love . . . 

Review:

I have to be honest. I finished this by force of will alone. I didn’t particularly care for it. The writing is wonderful (as is the narration), but the story itself irritated me. For over half the book I kept thinking, “This isn’t a romance, it’s just a book about being on the marriage market.” Then, a dedicated bachelor suddenly and seemingly at random decided he was going to marry the main character and that was that. From there it’s just filler and unnecessary drama that I read thinking, “Why hasn’t this book ended yet?” I have the first couple books in this series, but Much Ado About You is the first book by James that I’ve read. I’m not really looking forward to more. Here’s hoping the series improves.

Review of Schooling the Viscount (Cotswold Confidential #1), by Maggie Robinson

My kindle has died. Or rather, it’s decided charging is no longer a thing it wishes to do, and Google tells me that’s a rather common problem. Apparently, the charging port isn’t well soldered. I’ve ordered a new one, but it’s yet to be delivered. In the mean time, I decided this was a good time to concentrate on clearing a few physical books off my shelf.

By chance, I chose Unmasked by the Marquess as the first one. And since I enjoyed the historical romance, I decided to continue with the aristocratic theme. I read My One and Only Duke and then My Once and Future Duke (the similarity of those titles cracked me up, BTW) and now Maggie Robinson‘s Schooling the Viscount. I won a paperback copy through Goodreads.

Description:

Captain Lord Henry Challoner is a young viscount who’s left his ambition on the plains of South Africa. Wounded in the First Boer War, he’s come home and wishes he were anywhere else, until his desperate father sends him to Puddling-on-the-Wold to rusticate and recalibrate. How can Henry have any fun without any alcohol, or worse yet, any women? Kept under house arrest under the watchful eye of his draconian housekeeper and earnest local vicar, he’s bored enough to begin speaking to sheep until he literally stumbles across schoolteacher Rachel Everett.

Rachel knows she’s not on Henry’s improvement plan, but can’t seem to avoid or repel him no matter what she does to keep him at arm’s length. Could it be that she quite enjoys being in his arms, even if it’s against all the Puddling Rehabilitation Rules? Can Rachel circumvent the town fathers and Henry escape his personal jailors and demons?

Review (with minor spoiler):

My husband asked me, this morning, what my plan for the day was. I responded that I was going to “fold laundry, finish the horrible book I’m reading, and maybe play some Overwatch in the evening.” That should tell you how I feel about Schooling the Viscount. This book was almost everything I dislike in historical romance, romance in general actually. It’s exactly the kind of drivel that caused me to say, for years, that I wouldn’t read romance novels (until I realized it wasn’t the romance I disliked, but the treatment of it and women in them).

Let me start with two examples from early in the book, along with a little context to make them make sense. (This is also the spoiler I mentioned.) When Lord Challoner first comes across Rachel (the first women under 50 he’s seen in a week) he falls down. He then pulls her into his lap and holds her there as she struggles to get up. He then kisses her against her will and when she slaps him, he pretends infirmity to continue to hold her as he rubs his erection against her. When finally they stand up, he goes for her again and she hits him again. Even by modern standards this is assault. She was a perfect stranger to him and he’s just accosted her.

However, this is her later thought on the matter: “…in fact, she was beginning to wonder whether the man was as bad as he was supposed to be.” (The inference being that he isn’t.) He’d been sent to the Cotswald rehabilitation center because his father caught him in bed with two women (prostitutes). So, Rachel’s decision that he wasn’t so bad as his reputation is flat out bull shit. He’s worse.

Not too long later, he comes across her again. Her dog is worrying his walking stick. So he sneaks a knife out, cuts his own leg and pretends her dog bit him. Thereby tricking her into taking him into her home in the middle of the night for treatment. Her thoughts on this matter: “Even though he’d tried to trick her, Rachel couldn’t fault the man. He’d been lonely and wanted a few more minutes of her company.”

Keep in mind that this is supposed to be 1881, England. The irreparable harm he could do to her reputation and future prospects with either of these tricks boggle the mind. But somehow I’m supposed to believe he’s a good man and she’s just kind-hearted, not just flat out stupid. And he’s attracted to her specifically, not just the only woman he interacts with. The whole book continues in this vein, him being horrible and her falling in love with it. It makes no sense, doesn’t fit the time period at all, and irritated me like god damned dermatitis.

In fact, nothing about the book felt like 1881. The language, the viewpoints, the general tone of the book all felt anachronistic. I will grant that the descriptions of PTSD were well handled, even if it seemed to miraculously disappear with the love of a good women. (Yes, that’s an eye-roll you sense in my tone.) And the writing is passable. My only big complaint being how often Rachel said, “Dad,” in her conversations with her father. It was too many to feel natural. But all in all, I finished this book by force of will alone and hated almost every page of it.