Tag Archives: regency 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 The Haunting of a Duke (Dark Regency #1), by Chasity Bowlin

I picked up a copy of The Haunting of a Duke (by Chasity Bowlin) from Amazon. It was free at the time and still free when I posted this review.

Description from Goodreads:
Communing with spirits has been both gift and curse to Emme Walters. Now it’s made her a killer’s target.

Emme knows why the Dowager Duchess of Briarleigh invited her to a house party–to investigate whether the duke, Rhys Brammel, murdered his wife years ago. But Emme never imagined she would fall in love with the brooding duke. Branded by society as a possible killer, Rhys is suspicious of Emme and her alleged “gift.”

Then a late night encounter creates awareness of her other, more attractive, aspects. When Emme’s life is threatened, Rhys becomes her protector. Emme and Rhys find passion and peril as they join forces to solve the mysteries at Briarleigh.

She made him believe in spirits, but can she make him believe in love?

Review:
Mechanically the writing here is fine, if painfully repetitive with certain phrases. But the whole plot, every single aspect of it is just so cliched and overused I can’t give it any more. There is literally no aspect of this plot I couldn’t have predicted just by thinking about what motive you see most often in this sort of book and which of the characters were described to match the most common idea of villainy. Plus, it could do with more editing. I mean, the epilogue appears twice in the Kindle copy, so….

I had to just skim the sex scenes as they were so unexceptional and, to me, annoying. I find sex scenes that continuously focus on how “innocent” and “untried” and “untutored” and “inexperienced” the woman is, as well as ones that might as well just be a grocery list of which body parts the man lusts over boring to the extreme. Plus, I found it disturbing how often she couldn’t identify her own feelings. I will give her credit for at least being willing to accept her own desires once she finally identified them and she never pulled the common, “What’s happening to my body” schtick when she lost her virginity.

All in all, I keep trying to like Regency Romance and every once in a while I encounter one I do, which encourages me to keep trying. But this is a pretty classic example of why I generally don’t like the genre, even if paranormal aspects were thrown in.

Review of Claiming Mister Kemp, by Emily Larkin

I received a copy of Claiming Mister Kemp, by Emily Larkin from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Lucas Kemp’s twin sister died last year. He’s put aside his mourning clothes, but not his heartache. If Lucas ever needed a friend, it’s now—and who should walk in his door but Lieutenant Thomas Matlock… 

Lucas and Tom are more than just best friends; they’ve been in love with each other for years. In love with each other—and pretending not to know it. 

But this time, Tom’s not going to ignore the attraction between them. This time, he’s going to push the issue. 

He’s going to teach Lucas how to laugh again—and he’s going to take Lucas as his lover…

Review:
I thought this was ok, not great but not bad either. It’s a 4th book in a series that I haven’t read and it stood alone, but felt more like book 3.5 than 4. Both men are side characters from the previous book and there are several characters that I could tell were cameos even without reading the other books. It just didn’t feel particularly fleshed out, even if the writing was very pretty.

I was also uncomfortable with how the relationship started. I understood Tom’s seize the day attitude, but I really thought he was too aggressive, pushing Lucas even when he was actively saying no. I did appreciate the presence of bisexuals and the fact that sex didn’t have to be penetrative to be satisfying and loving. So often ‘romances’ culminate with penetrative sex, as if it’s the only real kind of sex and somehow marks a relationship out as real.

From what I understand of the other books in the series, they are fantasy. But there is no evidence of magic here. It’s a fairly straight forward historical romance. I did get tired of Lucas’ constant fretting. I understood it, but from the reading perspective, it got old. Lastly, I thought given all that emotional turmoil, Lucas seemed to get over it awful quickly, once the time came.