Book Reviews

Historical Romance Windfall Thoughts, Part Three

I’ve finished another ten books from my enormous pile of secondhand historical romances, so it’s time for another round-up of mini-reviews! (If you missed parts one and two, follow the links to read them!)

Regency Candlelit Christmas – Julia Justiss, Annie Burrows, Terri Brisbin

The first story, Christmas Wedding Wish, was a sweet read with a huge cast of characters, so obviously a beloved family for the author! The leads were a little frustrating in their assumptions about each other, but it was a good story. The second story, The Rake’s Secret Son, was a little bit melodramatic, with collapses, poisoning and plots, but actually was interesting look at the darker side of being compromised into marriage – though of course with a happy ending. The final story, Blame it on the Mistletoe, was really cute – a quiet story about two people who feel they are burdens realising that the other loves them anyway.

What A Duke Dares – Anna Campbell

My first DNF of this batch! As you may know I’m not generally a fan of an action- or violence-focused plot in my historical romance, nor do I generally enjoy enemies-to-lovers where the two leads are highly antagonistic towards each other with good reason, and I’m very picky about second chance romance. So this was never going to be my cup of tea, as it’s all three!

Bound by One Scandalous Night – Diane Gaston

You know, I’ve gotten really good at guessing when romances are going to have a miscarriage plotline, but Christ, Mills and Boon, learn how to use a content warning, won’t you? The blurb of this book focuses only on the fact that the heroine gets pregnant, and no one should have to be blindsided by that going badly – this goes for heroines with ‘dark secrets’ that are previous losses too. That, plus some really weird ‘ooh-I’m-wicked-because-I-like-sex’ characterisation for the heroine make this one a thumbs down from me.

The Regency Lords and Ladies Collection 13 (bind up) – Helen Dickson, Joanna Maitland

There were two novels in this bind up, and I ended up DNFing both. I’m getting savage with my decisions at this point, mostly because I can tell when the style of a book is not going to be for me, and both of these were just too dated in writing and plot for me to get on with – which sounds ridiculous for 2006 releases, but as I’ve mentioned in a previous post I really do think there’s been a sea change in style in HR in the last ten years or so. Neither of these were going to be my cup of tea so I cut them off early.

When the Rogue Returns – Sabrina Jeffries

Where was the titular rogue?? This one is about a husband and wife who split up ten years ago because the wife’s siblings tricked them both into thinking the other had stolen some royal jewellery and run off without them. It’s a weird set up, but okay – but neither of the two leads were remotely roguish, just quiet normal people. So, second chance romance, which isn’t my thing, but I’ll give them props for discussing their issues fairly openly and being mature about things. Shame the end of the book descended into madness when the criminal siblings popped back up.

Betrayed and Betrothed – Anne Ashley

There was nothing so terrible about this one that I wanted to DNF, but it just never grabbed me at any point. The initial conflict between the hero and heroine was so underplayed (she refused his proposal because she saw him kiss another woman) that I felt like I was genuinely missing something, because it never seemed to be brought up or solved, and there was a strange mystery plot about a Yorkshireman (complete with phonetic dialogue) trying to kill the heroine. Just very lacklustre all over.

Under a Desert Moon – Laura Martin

I really enjoyed this one! It’s a fast-paced and slightly silly chase across the Egyptian desert on the hunt for a lost tomb, with lots of longing glances along the way. A few too many sandy sex scenes, and the hero’s backstory was weirdly dark for the derring-do tone of the book (cw for a violent home), but on the whole this was fun.

Lord Laughraine’s Summer Promise and The Black Sheep’s Return – Elizabeth Beacon

I actually DNFed both of these books in the first couple of chapters – I just absolutely hated the writing style. The author seemed determined to pack as much random information into each sentence as possible, so it was very awkward to read. Here’s a sample sentence from page 8 of The Black Sheep’s Return: “Content by his own fireside, watching a fire fuelled with wood he’d felled, seasoned, and chopped himself, he let himself enjoy the pure pleasure of sitting still for ten minutes before he climbed the steep stairs he’d built when they restored the derelict cottage so deep in the woods he hoped everyone else had forgotten it was here and sought his bed after a hard day’s work.” Every sentence on the page is like this – it’s just so unnecessarily convoluted. I couldn’t get into either story because of this constant weirdness in the writing.

The Illegitimate Montague – Sarah Mallory

This one was good! There was a twist that genuinely surprised me a bit, and I liked how practical and down-to-earth both of the leads were. The fact that it was set around a fabric shop was a nice touch too, and added an interesting dimension.

So six reads and four DNFs – and all of that means that there are only ten books left in the stash!

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