Tag Archives: historical

Review of Trial by Desire, by Courtney Milan

I won a copy of Courtney Milan‘s Trial by Desire through Goodreads.

Description:
SHE CANNOT FORGET THE FIRE HE IGNITED …

In the three years since her husband left her, Lady Kate Carhart has managed to forge a fulfilling life for herself. But when Ned Carhart unexpectedly returns, she finds her tranquility uprooted — and her deepest secrets threatened. Though she has no intention of falling for Ned’s charms, Kate can no longer deny the desire that still burns in her heart.

OR THE PROMISE OF HIS LOVE …

Ned is determined to regain his wife’s trust by using unbridled seduction. But just as Kate surrenders to Ned’s passion, her carefully guarded past threatens to destroy her. Now Kate must place her faith in the only man she’s ever loved, and the only one who has ever betrayed her …

Review:
OK, I won’t say this is a bad book. I know Milan is quite popular. I’ve even read and enjoyed some of her books. But the simple fact of the matter is that I DID NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. That’s the truth of it.

I found Ned horribly selfish, from start to finish. Yes, I understood that he was young and fighting demons, that he regretted having left and was trying to make amends. My problem was that he returned just as selfish as he left. I didn’t find his fear a good enough excuse for the fact that he allowed his own wants to overshadow Kate’s openly expressed desires, over and over again, hurting her repeatedly.

Further, I didn’t understand why she continued to trust and love him. And that after the simple fact that after a 3 year absence (in a three month marriage), I wouldn’t have been inclined to forgive him in the first place, let alone over and over again.

Then, there was the domestic violence aspect. Milan spouts all the right words about it not being a woman’s fault, etc. But then she sculpted a heroine who laughed in the face of an abusive man. Yes, he was going to hurt her regardless, so why give him her fear. But it totally glossed over the fact that he very well could have killed her and purposefully antagonizing him isn’t admirable. Placation isn’t weakness if it keeps you alive. And of course the abused woman eventually stands tall and confronts her abuser. While I understand how this was supposed to be a triumph, if you really look at the inverse of it, regardless of what Milan espoused in the narrative, it all suggests that women who don’t laugh in the face of their abuser or stand tall because they’re so strong must in fact be weak. I was offended by the whole storyline.

Review of The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series #3), by Cat Sebastian

I won a copy of The Ruin of a Rake, by Cat Sebastian in a Facebook giveaway. You can find my reviews of the first two books in the series here and here.

Description from Goodreads:
Rogue. Libertine. Rake. Lord Courtenay has been called many things and has never much cared. But after the publication of a salacious novel supposedly based on his exploits, he finds himself shunned from society. Unable to see his nephew, he is willing to do anything to improve his reputation, even if that means spending time with the most proper man in London.

Julian Medlock has spent years becoming the epitome of correct behavior. As far as he cares, if Courtenay finds himself in hot water, it’s his own fault for behaving so badly—and being so blasted irresistible. But when Julian’s sister asks him to rehabilitate Courtenay’s image, Julian is forced to spend time with the man he loathes—and lusts after—most.

As Courtenay begins to yearn for a love he fears he doesn’t deserve, Julian starts to understand how desire can drive a man to abandon all sense of propriety. But he has secrets he’s determined to keep, because if the truth came out, it would ruin everyone he loves. Together, they must decide what they’re willing to risk for love.

Review:
This was sweet and entertaining. I liked both the main characters, the writing was good, and it was fun to see the couples from The Soldier’s Scoundrel and The Lawrence Browne Affair make an appearance. But it was no where near as good as those first books, IMO. I found it repetitive and sloppy.

Also, as I said above, I won a copy from the author in a Facebook giveaway. I don’t recall it being referred to as an ARC (it’s been published 8 months), but I hope it was and I’m keeping the possibility open because there were quite a few editing mishaps. (The chance that it wasn’t is why I mention it, instead of just chocking it up to being an ARC.)

All in all, If I hadn’t read book one and two and wasn’t comparing this one to them, I might have liked it more than I did. (Keeping in mind that I didn’t actually dislike it.) I’ll no doubt read more of Sebastian’s writing. This just might not ever be one of my favorites.

Review of An Unsuitable Heir (Sins of the Cities #3), by K.J. Charles

I received a copy of a copy of K.J. CharlesAn Unsuitable Heir through Netgalley. I reviewed the first books, An Unseen Attraction and An Unnatural Vice earlier this year.

Description from Goodreads:
On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.

Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.

But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.

Review:
So, Pen is non-binary/gender fluid and Mark is pansexual, in a time when such language didn’t exist. I imagine this last fact made the story a difficult one to write, because I found the lengths to which the characters had to go to describe themselves without the words sometimes didactic and difficult to read. But honestly I really quite enjoyed this conclusion to the series (a series that happily contains more representation of varied identities, bodies types and abilities than the collection of several other authors put together).

I enjoyed it, but it was my least favorite of the three. I don’t mean to be dismissive of Pen’s situation, because it was horrible, but I got tired of his panics. Further, I felt he was frequently stressing over being unable to express his more feminine aspects, with the understanding that he’s sometimes perfectly happy being perceived as male. But I don’t once remember him being satisfied in his more observably male appearance. It felt ill-balanced. And obviously I understand that one of those would have been considered normal and not noteworthy, while the other stress-inducing because it would have been considered deviant. But throughout the whole book he never seemed to have a good body day, which readers were meant to understand he did have sometimes and I’d have liked to see.

I cannot express how much I loved the way Pen and his sister refused to be bullied or bow to the aristocracy, however. Loved it. Further, I think we all deserve a Mark in our lives, someone 100% accepting and willing to have the awkward conversations that eventually make us more comfortable. I adored him. We got brief cameos of all the other characters in the series, which I liked. But the first half of the book is almost entirely recap of the first books or seeing scenes we’ve already witnessed from the point of view of new characters. I found this a tad tedious, but the last half was all new and exciting.

I did see the side pairing and eventual solution to who should become Earl coming very early on, but I didn’t figure out the larger mystery of the murdering mastermind. So, I was held in suspense until the very end and liked it. I found it really quite satisfying in the end.

All in all, I ended the book and this series happy and, as always, look forward to more of Charles’ writing.