Tag Archives: historical romance

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

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.