Tag: historical romance

Ravished by Amanda Quick

Ravished by Amanda QuickRavished by Amanda Quick
Published by Bantam on December 2005
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 385
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Rendezvous presents a spellbinding new Regency historical destined to be a hot beach read this summer. Moving from the cozy confines of a tiny seaside village named Upper Biddleton to the glittering crush of a fashionable London soiree, Quick offers an enthralling tale of a mismatched couple poised to discover the rapture of love.

RAVISHED is a retelling of the classic tale, Beauty and the Beast.

I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017: Fairy tale Retelling square.

I have carried this book with me to countless countries and on countless vacations at this point. I love “Ravished.” I think Amanda Quick was firing on all cylinders for this one. I ended up reading this after another romance book I started was ticking me off so badly I just ran to my shelves and pulled this book down. You have a hero and heroine you can root for, an A and a B plot, and some very cute secondary characters.

Harriet is a typical Quick heroine. She’s not conventionally beautiful, but is very smart. Harriet is interested in archaeology and more to the point with anything dealing with old bones and teeth. Living in Upper Biddleton she calls on Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, to come and deal with thieves who have set themselves up in the caves she is exploring.

St. Justin is a recluse from society due to his very large body and the scar that is down one side of his face due to a fencing accident. St. Justin, called the Beast of Blackthorne Hall by the local residents, does come to Upper Biddleton wanting to know what female dared to command him to come and do his duty.  Readers find out quickly about St. Justin’s nasty past with many blaming him for the suicide of one of the local young girls who St. Justin was engaged to at one time.

Harriet and Gideon were wonderful together. Honestly. From the very beginning you get to see that Harriet doesn’t let Gideon’s scar or bad temper (justified in this case) get to her at all. She looks past that and sees a man who is very lonely and doesn’t have anyone in the world. She’s also very focused on archaeology and only Gideon is able to divert her from her pursuit of finding out about a tooth she finds that does not seem to belong to any creature that she has heard of.

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Gideon is scared to love anyone again after dealing with the fact that the local girl he was engaged to really didn’t love him. He and his father fight every-time they see each other, and he barely speaks to his mother. Gideon hides from them thinking that they would prefer it if he were dead, and his older, more handsome brother were still alive.

I love the fact that Harriet is so protective of Gideon and not once, but twice goes after anyone that calls St. Justin a Beast. There is a scene in a ballroom where she launches herself at someone and I cracked the heck up. And Gideon does his best to provoke Harriet in order to see I think how much she does love him. Good for her for never taking any of his crap and telling him that she loved him all of the time. That was probably tho only failing of Gideon’s that I saw. Due to what has happened to him, he really doesn’t believe or think he can love someone.

The secondary characters in this one are really great. Harriet’s aunt is very stern, while her sister Felicity is hilarious. I once again wish that Quick had spun off some of her characters into other books. Felicity seems to find most of Society hilarious. And honestly one can’t blame her due the hypocrisy of most of the people in this story.  St.. Justin’s parents are really good in this too. You get to see how far apart he is from his parents, but the fact that his father realizes he was wrong about St. Justin, and his mother thanks Harriet for bringing her son back to her were tear jerker moments for me while reading. We also see one of St. Justin’s old friends rear his head, and we realize why the two men fell out.

The A plot (thieves in Upper Biddleton) and B plot (a man trying his best to pursue Harriet for his own reasons) tie together nicely in this one. I did love though that when push came to shove in one key scene, we have Harriet saving herself.

The writing was easy to read and the flow was great. No complaints from me at all.

The setting between Uppder Biddleton and a Society that had turned its back on St. Justin was an interesting contrast. Apparently people in the countryside can be just as much jerks as people in London.

The ending was satisfying and the epilogue was too.

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five-stars

The Secret (Highlands’ Lairds #1) by Julie Garwood

The Secret (Highlands’ Lairds #1) by Julie GarwoodThe Secret by Julie Garwood
Published by Pocket Books on May 1st 1992
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 379
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
four-stars

Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud, as purposeful as she was loyal. The dear Scottish friend of her childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another, private reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land...Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.

In a spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith revelled in the melting bliss of Iain's searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan...not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves

I had plans to read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017, but I already read a book for Man in the Kilt, so this book is just something that I read for my own enjoyment.

As a long time Julie Garwood fan, I have to say the saddest day for me was when she stopped writing her historical books. I have tried to get into her contemporary works, and each and every time ended up DNFing the book. I still have most of her historical books on my shelves at home, so it was great to read this and “Saving Grace” this past weekend.

I really liked the whole aspect of this book from beginning to end. We have a heroine and hero come together from different sides (she’s English and he’s a Scot). The heroine we find out due to her love of one of her best friends has find out everything she can about midwifing (is that a word? Cause I am using it anyway) due to her friend’s mother dying giving birth and her promise that she will make sure that her friend lives. Maybe that seems a little silly to us in modern times, but due to the time period of this book, many women died giving birth, and some died weeks and even months later due to fevers and infections. We have a secret (hence the title) which threatens to tear apart the hero and heroine. And heck we even have some acknowledgement of alcoholism and abuse. There are great secondary characters in this one who later on appear in Garwood’s sequel to this one, “Ransom.” There is a third book, “Shadow Music”, but due to a lot of my friends’ reviews on that book, I just never read it.

Judith Hampton is a very unique Garwood heroine. I don’t want to say the others are useless. But we find out pretty early on in the book that Judith has a special set of skills which makes her very important as she journeys to her best friend’s home in the Highlands.  Judith meets her best friend, Frances Catherine when they are girls. Through the years the two of them have kept in touch and visited each other when they could. When Frances Catherine marries and becomes pregnant, Frances Catherine and her husband go to the Laird of the Mclean Clan to get permission to bring Judith back to the Clan to stay until Frances Catherine gives birth. The big issue here is that due to Judith being English, there are worries that she will not agree to come. When the Laird and others show up to Judith’s home, they are in for a surprise of their own though. Judith has every intention of going to the Highlands. And due to a secret she’s keeping, she has more reason than any to go.

Iain Maitland is the Laird of Clan Mclean and we find out has a very weird clan structure that is causing problems for him. He needs to have the older people in the clan vote on everything he does. So that causes a lot of clashes with him.

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Man I miss Highlander the series. Quick aside: I miss the series before it went off the rails with that Dark Quickening mess.

We do get to see Judith and Iain fall in love slowly with each other. I liked all of their scenes together. There is definite teasing, but you also see how careful Iain is with her once he finds out about some of the things that Judith had to endure while growing up.

The secondary characters are a hoot. I loved Brodrick! He is in the next book and I loved seeing him again in that. It was nice to revisit the first book in the series and read the second one to see how everyone is doing now. Ahem. Back to this book.

The secondary characters like Frances Catherine, her husband, the women in the village, the men who make up the committee that Iain has to go through to get decisions made are great. I laughed a lot while reading this book, and I think that you will too. We also get some issues with a rival clan that is connected to one of the characters we find out about early on in the book.

The one reason why I have to give this book just 4 stars is that I found that Iain too modern in his thinking. Heck even Judith was a bit too modern. I cannot see many men listening to Judith’s opinions about anything. I know Garwood always paints the Highlanders in her books as so much better than the Brits. But, I am going to raise an eyebrow about some of the scenes with everyone finding Judith to be uber attractive though I would think many would have problems with an English woman in their midst.

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This book takes place once again in the 1200s, so the things that Judith does for childbirth were way ahead of her time. Things like washing her hands, not using a birth stool, and also refusing to listen to the Church’s belief that women should be in pain during childbirth and need to show that by screaming. Yeah that scene in the book where a rival woman in the clan accuses Judith of witchcraft and being in league with the devil had some air of truth about it. FYI, until I read this book as a kid, I also never heard of a hook and birthing stool before and never want to again. I maybe patted my lady parts in sympathy a few times.

The dialogue among characters didn’t seem to match the time period, then again I am sure that Garwood wanted to make sure that readers get through the book without having to bust out a dictionary every five minutes. The flow was pitch perfect though. The ending was a bit of a letdown. Not because it wasn’t good. I just think it ended pretty abruptly. That’s why I always recommend people read the second book in the series if they can.

four-stars

Moonspun Magic by Catherine Coulter

Moonspun Magic by Catherine CoulterMoonspun Magic by Catherine Coulter
Published by Signet on May 4th 2004 (first published August 1988)
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
three-half-stars

She felt his tongue gently stroke her lips...and his hands, caressing her shoulders, moved downward to mold her hips. "No, please," she said, sobbing with desire...

Beautiful Victoria Abermarle feared and fled the imperious desires of handsome Damien Carstairs, Baron Drago. But there was no escaping her own desires when she was rescued on the lawless highways of Regency England by Damien's identical twin, Rafael Carstairs.

Though Rafael matched the strength and daring, he was gentle where Damien was violent, caring where Damien was callous. The icy terror that Damien inspired melted in the flames of passion that Rafael ignited. And in a whirlwind of adventure, intrigue, and danger that set brother against brother and good against evil, Victoria fought to make the overwhelming power and glorious fulfillment of love the winner...

Trigger warning: Rape. 

I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017: Twins square. 

I have to say that the third book in this trilogy is my favorite. Maybe because this book calls back a location from one of Coulter’s medieval books, I want to say “Fire Song”. I have to look it up. Either way, I loved the little Easter eggs that are dropped. Plus we get to see characters we have known now through two other books. I really did enjoy that Frances/Hawk seem very much in love. So you can kind of block out the horribleness of the first book now. Plus I really enjoyed the heroine/hero in this one. For those who are looking for “Virgin Best First Time ” square, you can use this book for that one as well.

Our heroine Victoria flees from her sister’s husband Damien Carstairs, Baron Drago. Yeah he apparently thinks that rape is not that big a deal. Do not get me started on Victoria’s appalling sister as well. I ended up feeling sorry for her, since it’s pretty apparent her marriage to Damien is awful and on some weird level she likes it. When Victoria runs away she ends up being rescued by Damien’s twin brother Rafael. Readers meet Rafael in the second book in the Magic Trilogy, so it was nice to see him get his own story-line. As good as Rafael is, we get to see though that Damien is awful.

Rafael is gentle and kind and decides he is going to do whatever is necessary to keep Damien from hurting Victoria. You can see that it pains him to see that his brother seems to just be “wrong” and not care. And Damien seems to loathe Rafael for having the same face. Yeah, there was some weird twin stuff happening in this book. There is also some grossness though with Rafael trying to control Victoria through sex.

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And there is some jealousy of Rafael believing his brother that perhaps Victoria was really with him sexually which I was wondering about his intelligence at this point. Rafael tries to play a trick on Victoria, but as we quickly find out though, Victoria is able to tell Rafael and Damien apart from each other simply by how her body responds. I guess if one man tried to rape me I would always be on edge around him.

There are some familiar and beloved secondary characters in this one. I absolutely loved Frances and Lyon’s aunt in this one. The men, meh to you. They were fine, but the women really shine.

There is a secondary plot going on with men abducting young women in the area and raping them. So yeah, stay away if you don’t want to hear some terrible men’s justifications for what they are doing. And weirdly this book made me think of Nora Roberts “Brotherhood in Death” which had that same type of plot in it.  I really wasn’t happy with the final resolution to that storyline, but I get it though, the times were that things like that were not seen as a great deal until a girl of quality is kidnapped. Apparently when it was the poor it was a hard shrug.

The writing was okay, but the plot with the gross club kidnapping and raping women take up a great deal of the book. I did like the love scenes. Give me a good love scene and I am usually all over a book.

I think the flow was okay too, nothing to complain about there. Even though I have read this book a million times (exaggerating) it always feels new to me. Maybe because this ended up being my favorite couple out of the three couples who are featured.

three-half-stars

Calypso Magic by Catherine Coulter

Calypso Magic by Catherine CoulterCalypso Magic by Catherine Coulter
Published by Signet on January 6th 2004
Genres: Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 402
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
three-half-stars

His hungry lips met hers and the sensation built like raging fire...She wanted more...She wanted...

Diana Savarol vowed to stay away from her cousin, the rakish and hot-tempered Lyonel Ashton, during her visit to London—for she knew that Lyonel, the sixth Earl of Saint Leven, was a rogue who used women as playthings, and she would not be one of them. But she was homesick for the West Indies, and with only Lyonel to escort her on the perilous journey home, Diana's destiny became one with his as they braved the war-torn seas on a journey that would take them from glittering London to the tropical shores of Calypso Island. And, as the fires of battle raged around them, they found a love that burned more fiercely than any other. Diana surrendered to a passion within her that she could no longer deny...

I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017: Rogue square. 

I was tempted to just say slavery is bad and be done with this review, but no, I have to elaborate. Honestly this is not as bad as the first book in the Magic Trilogy, but it’s still about a 3 out of 5 for me. Maybe because the whole slavery aspect of this book was so distasteful. At least this book introduces us to the hero in book # 3 (Rafael) who appears in “Moonspun Magic” who does not seem like a garbage person. We also get reappearances by Frances and Hawk (what she calls Phillip). Eh…they are not as terrible as they were in book #1. This also has another cousin romance which if I had to do it all over again, I would thrown in as a bingo, cause apparently this was something that happened a lot in historical romances.

Our heroine (Diana) comes to London to visit her family. She has grown up in the West Indies on a plantation (1813 timeframe I think) and so you know, there is going to be some discussion of slavery and is it wrong. Diana is in London looking to find a husband. I have to say that Diana’s asides about England’s weather and food was kind of hilarious. As someone who has only stayed in the country via airport I have zero opinions about the place.

Lyonel (or Lyon) who is Diana’s cousin, seems to get into fights with Diana every-time he lays eyes on her. There is some throwing together of them in London due to Lyon’s aunt forcing him to escort her to events. Of course there is some obvious match-making going on. Diana and Lyon eventually sail back to Diana’s home where a murderer is on the loose.

I can say that the two leads work very well in this book. They have a lot of back and forths with each other, but I didn’t get outright hatred/antagonism that I usually get with Coulter’s heroines/heroes. And the love scenes were great. We get one that takes place on a deserted island (don’t ask) that just worked for this book.

The secondary characters in this one are also in some cases pretty transparent about motives. I loved Lyon’s aunt. She appears in the third book and I loved the resolution of this character. Apparently interfering relatives is a theme in this trilogy.

We also get the reappearance of Frances and Hawk and I am just as shocked as you are that I liked them together. I don’t want to spoil for potential readers, but we get to see them at least I think two years into their marriage. I think the timeframes are a little messed up when I went back to book #1 and read book #2. And then I tried to do a flowchart and said forget it.

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There is a murderer running about Diana’s home back in the West Indies, and I pinged them correctly when I was a teenager and of course walked in knowing who it was now as an adult. This is not an Agatha Christie novel, so there are really only one or two people who could be guilty.

I would say that the romance aspect was fine/good levels, but throwing in a murder was just weird. So the book felt like it switched on me mid-stream. The writing was okay, and the flow also worked.

The setting of 1800s England of course leaves one with very little options to talk about slavery that doesn’t make the hero/heroine look like monsters. However, that Coulter did what she could to make the whole slavery thing less appalling, but that was the only thing that seemed to not feel realistic to me.

three-half-stars

Saving Grace by Julie Garwood

Saving Grace by Julie GarwoodSaving Grace by Julie Garwood
Published by Pocket Books on March 1st 1994
Genres: Romance
Pages: 407
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

When Lady Johanna learned that she was a widow, she vowed she would never marry again. Only sixteen, already she possessed a strength of will that impressed all who looked past her golden-haired beauty. Yet when King John demanded that she remarry and selected a bridegroom for her—it seemed she must acquiesce, until her beloved foster brother suggested she wed his friend, the handsome Scottish warrior Gabriel MacBain.

At first Johanna was shy, but as Gabriel tenderly revealed the splendid pleasures they would share, she came to suspect that she was falling in love with her gruff new husband. And it was soon apparent to the entire Highlands clan that their brusque, gallant laird had surrendered his heart completely. But now a desperate royal intrigue threatened to tear her from his side—and to destroy the man whose love meant more to her than she had ever dreamed!

I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017: Man in a Kilt square.

I have to have some happy right now and this book is it. I have been reading this since I was 12 or 13 and still have a copy of it on my shelves. The heroine (Johanna) kicks butt. The hero (Gabriel) kicks butt. We actually have a hero/heroine who thank God do not have any rape scenes between them. They reluctantly fall in love with each other which I thought was hilarious. The little family between Judith, Gabriel, and Gabriel’s son was so cute. I was so happy with them. And then we have Judith’s foster brother Nicholas and I maybe swooned a bit there.

Judith was married when she was a child (typical for the time period) and her first husband is a wife beater and also apparently raped and harmed other women. When her husband is believed dead, she is commanded to remarry by King John. She agrees to marry a man her foster brother believes will protect her and also come to love her. That man is Gabriel MacBain, who is in charge of two clans who have recently come together after the death of his father.

Judith wins my heart when on her wedding day when she freaks out over saying obey in her vows and wants to reword them or she’s not going to marry. Gabriel who pretty much has enough of that, decides he is going to marry Judith (it’s pretty much lust in first sight for the guy).

Judith is very interesting though. Even though she appears meek and timid, we find out that she learns to read since it is forbidden for women at the time. She has a hard time reconciling the Church’s teachings that she is less worth an oxen and that her husband beating her is okay. There is a scene with a rival clan where Judith is like a freaking Valkyrie and it was awesome.

We do find out about Gabriel’s background and his constant struggle to lead his clan due to issues that happened with Gabriel’s father not claiming him. He is trying his best to get the two clans to come together, but the backbiting and refusal to trust one another is slowly tearing everything apart. Who knew that Judith in the end will get them to ultimately come together.

I loved the secondary characters in this one a lot. We have Judith’s brother, servants galore, and Gabriel’s trusted men. We also get to see though that Judith though she may be timid around people, does not lack any backbone. And she decides after her first terrible marriage, she is not going to be beaten by anyone ever again.

The romance between Gabriel and Judith is great. The love scenes were excellent and I did love it when Judith starts getting demanding in bed. Hey, orgasms are great.

The writing and flow also works. Though I will say that towards the end things felt a little bit rushed and melodramatic. I didn’t care because I was cheering things the whole time. Evil is slayed (temporarily) and we know that Judith and Gabriel will get their happily ever after.

The book takes place during the 1200s so there was definitely issues aplenty between the Highlands (Scotland) and England at the time. I really enjoyed how Garwood weaved the politics of the day (King John being seen as a murderer and usurper) and how it all tied things together with Johanna. I maybe cheered when the evil priest gets his due in the end as he lays dying and calls out for his mother. I sure as heck toasted.

 

five-stars

Midsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter

Midsummer Magic by Catherine CoulterMidsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter
Published by Signet on July 1st 2003 (originally published 1981)
Genres: Romance
Pages: 416
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
one-star

Philip Hawksbury, the Earl of Rothermere, obeying his father's dying wish, hies himself to Scotland to offer for one of the daughters of Alexander Kilbracken, the Earl of Ruthven.

Frances Kilbracken, informed of the earl's arrival and his mission, disguises herself as a bespectacled dowd so she won't be the one selected by the young earl. But choose her he does, and for all the wrong reasons.

The newly married couple return to England, together but not at all happy. Philip dumps Frances at Desborough Hall, his ancestral estate, and heads back to his old life in London. Ah, but Desborough has a stud farm and racing stable, and Frances is magic with horses.

When the earl returns to his home, driven by guilt, he discovers the woman he married has grossly deceived him. What follows is a battle of the sexes that will have you chuckling, maybe even howling with laughter...

Trigger warning: Rape

The only thing that this book had going for it, was that it kept making me think of the Jem and the Holograms song, “Midsummer Madness.”

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I maybe played that song a lot while reading this book on Saturday. I needed some happy heading my way.

Think of this book as the reverse “She’s All That.” Heroine is actually hot and smart young woman (Frances) who doesn’t want to marry the hero (Phillip). Hero marries her anyway though because he thinks she’s ugly so he can do what he wants and just ignore her. No, I am not kidding about that. He’s also a jerk of the first order and when he realizes his wife is hot decides he is going to bend her to his will and make her want to have sex with him. I don’t know people, I didn’t write this. I may have screamed into a pillow for a second or two though while finishing this book up.

Frances Kilbracken is the daughter of the Earl of Ruthven. Frances father and Phillip’s father (the Earl of Rothermere) obeys his father’s dying wish to run off and marry one of the Earl’s daughters. Phillip chooses Frances because one of the daughters is too attractive, I can’t remember why the second one sucked, and then Frances who disguises herself and acts as if she can’t read seems like the better wife for Phillip. Phillip has a mistress and has no intention of giving her up to a wife. So having a wife he can keep under his thumb sounds like the best arrangement.

I can see why Frances doesn’t want to marry Phillip. I was actually glad she was smart and knew a ton of things about horses. I really wish though that she had gotten the upper hand with Phillip more though. In the end, because Frances likes sex, she just gets cowed by her husband. Once again, I didn’t write this. I repeat I didn’t write this.

Phillip is typical romance hero of the times. He is a jerk and also thinks no means yes. So yes dear readers, we got a rape scene. Nothing to recommend about Phillip. Though he does use cream when he rapes her which I think is Coulter’s way of saying hey he’s not super terrible since he used something to ease his way inside his wife while he rapes her. I am going to keep saying that because good lord I can’t with this book. He speaks graphically to Frances about sex though after he realizes she’s hot. He decides he is going to have his “rights” and is angry about Frances not acting like a typical female. And one wonders what would have happened if Phillip hadn’t realized that Frances was not really unattractive? I guess his behavior would have been okay and yeah to the mistress?

There are side characters in this one and I did enjoy Phillip’s father a lot. Also Frances’s father. They appear to not be heartless men. Phillip’s mistress? No. There is a freaking scene with Frances and the mistress attacking Phillip and I think it was supposed to be funny? I don’t know. I didn’t laugh. Maybe my funny bone doesn’t exist anymore.

Philip’s sister is apparently having relations to a dude she’s not married to, and I wondered at no one blinking an eye about this in the time and day this book was taking place. It was weird it occurs and that Phillip used this as a reason to talk dirty to Frances. Yes that really did happen. I may have had some wine to stop thinking about this scene.

The writing is okay and the plot is straight forward. After reading “The Nightingale Legacy” it was nice to read a book that wasn’t so confusing.

The ending was a well I guess things are alright even though some of these people are awful. I am so donating all of my romance reads to the library this weekend.

one-star

The Nightingale Legacy (Legacy #2) by Catherine Coulter

The Nightingale Legacy (Legacy #2) by Catherine CoulterThe Nightingale Legacy by Catherine Coulter
Published by Jove on September 1st 1995
Genres: Romance
Pages: 457
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
two-stars

Caroline Derwent-Jones is at the eve of her nineteenth birthday. She's chomping at the bit to get out from under the control of her smarmy guardian, the frighteningly obsessive Roland Ffalkes. But Ffalkes has other plans for Caroline. She manages to escape him only to find herself in the fascinating company of Frederick North Nightingale, Lord Chilton.

As tragedy and mystery thicken the air, Caroline finds herself more and more drawn to Lord Chilton, a man who claims he's a lonely beggar, his soul suited for solitude and for walking his hounds on the moors.

Mysteries old and mysteries new abound. Misogyny is rampant in Lord Chilton's house, Mount Hawke, filled only with men. But to his surprise, Lord Chilton finds he wants nothing more than to have Caroline Derwent-Jones in his life....

Trigger warning: Rape

The heroine saved this book. Also though the hero did too eventually. A legacy of husbands only bedding their wives for an heir, and for them to wander along the moors being all sad and aloof was just flat out stupid. I maybe said that a few times. A family tradition of being cuckholded is some alt-right (you are Nazis!) crap. We have an appearance by Marcus and the Duchess (also we get to read about Marcus talking about how much his wife loves sex) and I just hate this couple more and more. I refused to re-read The Valentine Legacy (Legacy #3) because I don’t hate myself that much. There are too many plots happening in this book though. We have Caroline looking for King Mark’s treasure, North’s household of only men who hate women, someone is trying to murder Caroline, kidnapping, and young women who have gotten themselves into the family way, rape, and oh women who are not married and pregnant are thereby damaged goods so rape is actually okay, etc. I was over it by the time I got to the final page. Still not as bad as Legacy #1 though.

Caroline Derwent-Jones runs away from her guardian who is making a lot of noises that he doesn’t consider rape a bad thing. As she flees, she finds herself saved by Frederick North Nightingale, Lord Chilton. I definitely get that Coulter was going with a Heathcliff vibe with North, but thank goodness though he completely does not live up to that brooding mess. We find out more and more that North has missed his mother (after his father exiled her) and falls in love with Caroline because she is so alive and loving to him.  If the book had just dealt with Caroline and North and his weird household that would have been enough. But somehow Caroline has inherited a house full of young women who are in the family way. I can’t even with this whole sub-plot. She is also looking for King Mark’s treasure when she has free time.

The writing at times doesn’t work, and the whole Lord of Chilton’s supposed to be aloof and cold thing was beyond stupid. The all male household could have worked and been funny, but honestly, it goes on too long for me to really care anymore. The flow was all over the place though. I think because of the multiple sub-plots I just found it hard to follow what was going on. If we had stuck to one thing it would have been fine.

The setting is typical Regency England only the whole Caroline being so feminist at the time was not working at all. I had the same issue with this while I was reading “Stalking Jack the Ripper” too. It makes for a good modern female character being so in your face about equal rights, but if it’s not taking place during England’s Women’s Movement it really doesn’t work for the time period. Women do not have equal rights period. And Caroline not having to worry about her and her husband’s reputation for dealing with a home full of unwed teen mothers was stretching things way too much.

The ending was eh. I am still confused about it. Probably because we have the treasure found, Caroline’s would be murderer identified, and blah blah blah other stuff happens. I threw in the towel here and just gave up on reading “The Valentine Legacy”.

two-stars

The Wyndham Legacy (Legacy #1) by Catherine Coulter

The Wyndham Legacy (Legacy #1) by Catherine CoulterThe Wyndham Legacy by Catherine Coulter
Published by Jove on September 1st 1994
Genres: Romance
Pages: 392
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
one-star

Marcus Wyndham never asked to become the Earl of Chase. The Duchess never asked to be illegitimate. And neither of these two asked that their fates become so entwined.

Marcus is passionate, quick to rage, just as quick to laughter. He's tough, opinionated, domineering, known as the devil's own son. The Duchess is serene and aloof -- she has silence down to a fine art. She is always in control, her smiles as rare as bawdy jests in the pulpit. She is self-reliant once she realizes that a very special talent can make her so, a talent no one suspects.

Surrounding this unlikely pair are three servants cast in the Shakespearean mold: Spears, Badger, and Maggie -- all cocky, smart, good plotters and better friends, who don't know the meaning of subservient.

Trigger warning: Rape. 

I read this for Romance Book Bingo: Wedding Bells square. If I have to read this horrible book I am going to make it count towards something.

Lord. Some of my favorite romance reads do not age well at all. Can we just say right now, that forceful marital relations (rape) between the hero and heroine is just appalling and gross to read about. I get it, those were the times, but I don’t want to read about it if I can help it. Marcus sucked and I wanted the Duchess to run off and leave his butt somewhere. Plus they were first cousins and no, just a thousand times no. My gross out sentiment was running high while I was reading this. And the Duchess also drugs and forces the hero to marry her and man I don’t think I am on anyone’s side in this.

The Wyndham Legacy follows Marcus (hero) and the Duchess (heroine). We find out that the Duchess is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Chase. He instructs his daughter she is to marry the new Earl of Chase, her cousin Marcus and Marcus doesn’t inherit if he doesn’t marry the Duchess. We have the American side of the family coming over thinking they will get some money (oh joy, terrible Americans) and this whole book was a who who of who do you hope gets it first.

I don’t even get this book. Marcus who does rightfully have a bone to pick with the Duchess drugging him and marrying him against his will is just terrible. He rapes his new wife twice and verbally abuses her almost until the end of the book. One time when he threatens her she defends herself and knocks him unconscious. I recall in later books they are all in love, but did I just block this mess out when I was a teenager? I hope I wasn’t swooning over this mess. Man, I probably did. I am just going to hang my head in shame right now.

shame

The Duchess is called that since she is aloof and cold. Well shoot, you get why quick and in a hurry why she acts this way. It’s a defense mechanism from Marcus and others who would hurt her. Him goading her in order to get her to break was way too “The Taming of the Shrew” for me. You get repeated references to the Duchess being a bastard which someone means she is less than any other human being in the room at any one time. I wish she had told Marcus to pound sand.

There are “love” scenes, I skipped over them so I can’t tell you much about them.

Secondary characters are so paper thin and evil you have to wonder why in the world Marcus and the Duchess even let them anywhere near them. The only saving grace were the servants in this one. They needed to just kill everyone and take over the estate.

The plot is really just about the fact that Marcus and the Duchess could lose their sizable inheritance if they don’t stay married. The whole book is just people trying to off them. The flow is bad, we just go from one awful scene to another when eventually Marcus is all sorry about all those times I raped you.

The ending was just a quick wrap up of things, and also of Marcus and the Duchess being in love.

 

one-star

Rendezvous by Amanda Quick

Rendezvous by Amanda QuickRendezvous by Amanda Quick
Published by Bantam on November 1991
Genres: Romance
Pages: 360
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
three-half-stars

From the elegantly appointed drawing rooms of London's most exclusive club to an imposing country estate in the heart of Dorset comes a provocative tale of a free-thinking beauty, a dignified lord, and a mad impetuous love that defied all logic....

Augusta Ballinger was quite sure that is was all a dreadful mistake. The chillingly pompous and dangerously disturbing Earl of Graystone could not possibly wish to marry her. Why, it was rumored that his chosen bride must be a veritable model of virtue. And everyone knew that Augusta, as the last of the wild, reckless Northumberland Ballingers, was a woman who could not be bothered with society's rules....

That was why the spirited beauty had planned a midnight encounter to warn the earl off, to convince him that she would make him a very poor wife indeed. But when she crawled in through his darkened study window, Augusta only succeeded in strengthening Harry's resolve to kiss the laughter from those honeyed lips and teach the maddening miss to behave! How could he possibly know that it was he who was in for a lesson...as his brazen fiancee set out to win his heart -- and an old and clever enemy stepped in to threaten their love, their honor, and their very lives?

Another older Amanda Quick book. I read this for romance bingo and honestly I am glad that I finished up the other Quick book. Her writing style after a while starts to grate. I realize that all of the females in her books are “quirky” and the heroes are long suffering and either want the heroine to fall in love with them or are obtuse to the heroine being in love with them and railing against it while needing to have sex with said heroine all of the time. Did you follow that? I know, it’s confusing.

This book had more plot than “Scandal” did, and there was actually a nice look and see for the hero/heroine at the end of this one (you get a flash forward so to speak a few months after the end of the book, and then again a few months later). That said, the heroine (Augusta Ballinger) was annoying because of her constant need to go on and on about her ancestors. The hero (Harry, the Earl of Graystone) I liked okay, but I started to get twitchy because the guy was going around demanding loyalty from her while going on about how he would need to take her in hand to make her act like she should. I so would have been burned as a witch in Regency era days.

Image result for burn the witch gif

Augusta Ballinger goes on and on about her family tree of the Ballinger family located in Northumberland. I hope you like reading the phrases “Northumberland Ballinger” and how they are the best, smartest, bravest, daring people ever. It was so stupid. I really wanted to kick Augusta by the time we got to the end of the book. I started to loathe the word Ballinger because Northumberland was lurking around. Augusta is orphaned and alone after the murder of her brother years before this book takes place, so I can see why she wants to make her family the best thing ever. But geez Louise, at least let someone call her out on it. Thank goodness though Harry does at one point.

What gets me most about these type of books though, Augusta in her current style of going about things would have been cut from society long ago. This to me was just one misstep that Quick really had. Augusta starts a lady salon that is based on gentlemen’s clubs. And like those clubs they have betting and play cards, etc. Not that there are anything wrong with those. I just cannot imagine any father or brother being okay with their sister or wives going to a club like this back then without getting in trouble.

Harry though he is bright, also seems to be a bit dense. He comes back home married to his daughter and commands her to start calling Augusta “Mama” and is ticked when she doesn’t comply.  Forget understanding kids, how do you not understand maybe your new wife wouldn’t be feeling awesome about that as well.

Augusta and Harry are not my favorite romance couple ever. There are a lot of back and forths between them. But besides their hot and heavy sex, I was bored by them both. There is a conflict in part of the book that is taken care of by the author in a few short pages, and then it suddenly becomes about Augusta wanting to be close to Harry and be a real family.

There are some fun side characters in this one that I wish we had been able to follow around. I realize now maybe that is why Quick in her Lavinia Lake and Tobias March books started to tell POVs from every character in the book (that got old quick though). I loved the character of Peter, Claudia (Augusta’s cousin and part of a different branch of Ballingers) and Sallie as well.

The initial plot really is that Harry is looking for a virtuous woman to marry since he realizes he needs a mother for his 9 year old daughter Meredith. All of London are gossiping about Harry and who is on his famous list of potential wives since he apparently has criteria for the best wife ever. Augusta Ballinger for no reason at all finds herself attracted to Harry due to him being around more and more to talk to her uncle who is also interested in history as well. Then the plot shifts again a bit to talk about the fact that our hero did something dark and mysterious during the Napoleonic Wars and he still is after a spy that was called the Spider who a lot of deaths are attributed to. That latter plot takes up most of the book and includes Augusta in a rather odd way. It honestly didn’t fit much I think, but Quick tries to tie things together.

The writing gets really repetitive after a while though. And sometimes certain plots or comments made don’t seem followed up on. For example, it is heavily implied that Augusta’s mother was The initial plot really is that Harry is looking for a virtuous woman to marry since he realizes he needs a mother for his 9 year old daughter Meredith. All of London are gossiping about Harry and who is on his famous list of potential wives since he apparently has criteria for the best wife ever. Augusta Ballinger for no reason at all finds herself attracted to Harry due to him being around more and more to talk to her uncle who is also interested in history as well. Then the plot shifts again a bit to talk about the fact that our hero did something dark and mysterious during the Napoleonic Wars and he still is after a spy that was called the Spider who a lot of deaths are attributed to. That latter plot takes up most of the book and includes Augusta in a rather odd way. It honestly didn’t fit much I think, but Quick tries to tie things together. unfaithful, and her father was constantly fighting duels and somehow that was ignored in later chapters for the fact that her mother was devoted/in love with her father and Augusta seems to be in the dark about her mother’s affairs and her father’s duels. Also Augusta’s brother does not have a good reputation prior to his death, but Augusta seems blind to that. I really wish she either acknowledged what a hot mess her family was, or someone just said it to her.

The flow for this one was actually pretty good. The story moves along at a good pace (one of the reasons why I gave this 3.5 stars) but there are some issues here and there. And I did enjoy the aspect of Harry being a widow with a daughter. Meredith was a nice side character to have, and all of her interactions with Augusta were so good. I wanted more of her with Augusta and also with Harry just being a family. She pretty much disappears at the end of the book which sucked, especially because we know a member of Harry’s household is gone for good and I wanted to know who was in charge of Meredith’s education now.

I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017 and read this for the Historical Romance square. For those looking for a book to fit the key to my heart square, due to the cover for Rendezvous, this book would fit for that as well.

three-half-stars

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Somewhere in France by Jennifer RobsonSomewhere In France by Jennifer Robson
Published by William Morrow on December 13, 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lily from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.

Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lily’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lily is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war?

Recommended for fans of historical fiction, Rosamund Pilcher, Jennifer Donnelly’s “Rose” series, and Judith Kinghorn.

This book reminds me strongly of Ms. Kinghorn’s The Last Summer, which I read (and reviewed) last year and very much enjoyed. It is neither groundbreaking nor terribly original, but is an entertaining and well-written historical novel with strong romantic themes.

The heroine, Lilly, was extremely likeable – brave and assertive. The World War I setting worked well, and I enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Lilly’s fellow WAAC friend, Constance. There were a couple of scenes that made me smile, and more than a few scenes that caused me to sniffle a bit.

This book doesn’t possess the depth of, say, Cather’s One of Ours. But it is highly entertaining, seems to be historically solid, and I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours devouring it. I would recommend it to anyone who likes their historical fiction with a happily ever after.

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