Genre: Historical Romance

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted June 22, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 7 Comments

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewSay Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #2
Also in this series: Romancing the Duke, When a Scot Ties the Knot
Published by Avon on December 30, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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5 Stars
Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and... and...?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She's inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride's cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can't have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she'll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn't kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn't kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn't fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

So I’m feeling like a review is not even possible because I loved everything about this book and have no complaints. I’m not kidding. Just go buy it and be done! This book was perfection to the highest degree, and I wish I had another one just like it to read right now. I think Tessa Dare is my favorite historical romance author! I love that I’m getting well-read enough in the genre to have favorite authors! Say Yes to the Marquess was even better than the first in the series, Romancing the Duke (You do not have to read that one to read this book. All of the books in the series stand alone.), and I really enjoyed that one too (read my review).

This book is funny. I love all the banter and the pent up tension that brings humor with it. But it’s dry humor that does not hit you over the head with its cheesiness. Rafe and Clio say some of the funniest things to each other, and their inner thoughts are pretty hilarious too. These two kind of grew up together, so they have a really strong foundation to build their feelings on. It felt so real. She’s engaged to his brother but doesn’t want to be anymore, and he is trying to be honorable and marry her off to his sucky brother anyway. But that’s so not working. Their flirtations, some of which involving a cake scene that had me swooning, were so sweet. I just loved everything about these two! She’s this prim, proper, sweet thing and he’s a hardened prizefighter with all kinds of worldly experience under his belt. It’s a very Lady and the Tramp story, and I loved it.

I’m going to stop here before I gush about everything. Basically, you should read this book if you’re in the mood for a fun historical romance. It’s funny and sizzling and sweet and soooooo romantic. Say Yes to the Marquess is a favorite of mine that I know I will want to revisit time and time again. When A Scot Ties the Knot is on the tippy top of my wish list! I can’t wait!

 


Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little | Book Review

Posted November 17, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little | Book ReviewForbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Series: Forbidden #1
Published by HarperCollins on November 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 397
Format: eBook
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3 Stars
In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

As soon as I saw “Mesopotamian desert” I was sold. I have never read a book that takes place there, and I was super excited about it! Tribes and a shadowy boy and a forbidden romance were just icing on the cake! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Things started out a little slow for me, and I actually almost quit about a quarter of the way through. I’m really glad I hung in there, though, because I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.

2. Forbidden love stories are pretty common in YA literature, considering the fact that young people usually have a lot pulling them away from romance altogether. It’s easy to read the same story over and over again, but the additions of tribal life, arranged marriages, and cultural divides made this one unique and interesting to read about.

3. Griffiths Little did a great job of writing about the desert. Deserts are not the most gloriously beautiful landscapes. There’s sand and dunes and the occasional camel. The author much to work with, but she brought life to the desert and painted a lovely picture in my mind.

4. The world is very intriguing and exciting to read about. I liked reading about the tribal customs, rituals, and culture. They have legends and a kind of religious connection with life. At the same time, the world is brutal and dark and dangerous. People murder to get ahead, they take freedoms away from others to show dominance, and they belittle the less fortunate. I would hate living in this time and in this place.

5. Jayden’s life is pretty much the worst! She’s being forced to marry a man she does not love, the man she does love is in danger of losing his life for loving her, she is never safe, nobody believes a lowly woman, and she holds her family’s lives in her hands. I felt horrible for her!

6. Kadesh, the shadowy boy, is mysterious and very interesting. We do not learn much about him, but I’m assuming we will as the series progresses. He seems very honorable and protective, though, not to mention respectful of women. His views of life are more modern than the men of Jayden’s tribe, so he was a breath of fresh air. I’m eager to see what happens between these two.

7. Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, is your typical historical villain. He has no regard for what Jayden wants or how she feels, and he has a handle on her that is dangerous and hard to escape. Plus, women are pretty much useless to him. He’s evil, evil, evil. I don’t like him at all, and feel like he does not really stand out from other evil characters.

8. My main complaint is that this book was LONG. It started out slow for me, and it dragged in other places. I feel like it took a long time for things to happen, and if things weren’t happening then we were following the tribe’s migration through the desert. I would have really liked more action or fewer pages.

All in all, this book was ok for me. I’m intrigued enough to read book 2, but I’m not dying for it. I’d like to see how things turn out for Jayden and Kadesh, and I’m interested in reading more about this world. I hope book 2 contains more substance, though, and holds my attention more.


Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare | Mini Book Review

Posted July 9, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 13 Comments

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare | Mini Book ReviewRomancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #1
Also in this series: Say Yes to the Marquess, When a Scot Ties the Knot
Published by Avon on January 28, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 370
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed from Library
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3 Stars
As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?


No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

This book is a very sweet, funny romance filled with sharp wit and awkward moments. I loved our bookish heroine, Izzy, who has lived her entire life in the shadow of her late father’s famous stories. As soon as she and the duke met, I knew I would be in for a very fun ride. These two have the best banter, and really know how to push one another’s buttons. Izzy inherits the duke’s castle, and he is NOT happy about it. But she is determined to stay in her new home and add a feminine touch to it before kicking him out. I love it! I really loved her spunk and her desire to stand up for herself. She’s not the typical historical romance heroine who lays down and takes it. She pushes right back. She’s such a good sport dealing with the extremely devoted fans of her father’s stories, who are a very eccentric and borderline insane. But I loved that too.

The duke is a really great hero because, even though he’s blind, he still acts as cocky and entitled as if he weren’t. It was pretty hilarious and interesting at the same time. I loved seeing him fall for Izzy’s personality and her inner beauty, rather than lusting after her looks. This is also a very uncommon thing in historical romances, and I found it to be a very exciting story element. He’s very romantic and thoughtful, and I could not help but smile at his bluntness. He loves trying to make Izzy blush. It worked on me!

Overall, Romancing the Duke was a sweet love story with a memorable couple. I’m excited to see where Tessa Dare takes this series next!


What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long | Mini Book Review

Posted March 28, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long | Mini Book ReviewWhat I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long
Series: Pennyroyal Green #5
Also in this series: The Perils of Pleasure
Published by Avon on February 22, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 371
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
For years, he's been an object of fear, fascination . . . and fantasy. But of all the wicked rumors that shadow the formidable Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, the ton knows one thing for certain: only fools dare cross him. And when Ian Eversea does just that, Moncrieffe knows the perfect revenge: he'll seduce Ian's innocent sister, Genevieve, the only Eversea as yet untouched by scandal. First he'll capture her heart . . . and then he'll break it.

But everything about Genevieve is unexpected: the passion simmering beneath her cool control, the sharp wit tempered by gentleness . . . And though Genevieve has heard the whispers about the duke's dark past, and knows she trifles with him at her peril, one incendiary kiss tempts her deeper into a world of extraordinary sensuality. Until Genevieve is faced with a fateful choice . . . is there anything she won't do for a duke?

This is an Epic Recs book review! My partner, Raquel, recommended What I Did for a Duke because she thought I could use some awesome historical romance in my life. Personally, I love the genre and was eager to read a book recommended by someone so well-read in the genre! I ended up really loving this book, and am excited to get my hands on more of the books in the series!

I think my favorite part of the entire book is the witty banter between Genevieve and Alex. They are hilarious, and I could not help smiling and/or cringing as I read what they said to each other. They also have this sexual tension that is so real and intriguing. There was no insta-anything, and the slow burn was so slow that I was going crazy wondering why these two wouldn’t just kiss each other already! When things finally did start to happen I was just so on board, and really believed there was something more between them than just a physical attraction.

Genevieve is not your typical historical romance heroine. She is smart and feisty and knows exactly who she is and what she deserves. She put Alex in his place a time or two, and I loved that! Alex is so swoony and dreamy, even though he is twice Genevieve’s age. I just loved him. There was a bit of a role reversal between him and Genevieve, which was a pleasant surprise. You don’t usually read about men who want to commit, but the woman is having a hard time wanting to.

The ending. HELLO. I have never read a better ending in my life. This was me:

image

You should probably read this!


Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham (Review & Guest Post)

Posted May 22, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest Post / 3 Comments

Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham (Review & Guest Post)Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham
Series: The MacDonnells #2
Also in this series: Under the Same Sky
Published by Berkley on May 1, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: From the author
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4 Stars
Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold. Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies. There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love.

(Even though this is a companion novel, it can be read as a stand-alone. The first book is Dougal’s brother’s story.)

I read Genevieve’s Under the Same Sky and reviewed it over at The Broke and the Bookish last month, so I was excited when Genevieve contacted me and asked if I was interested in reading this companion novel. Under the Same Sky was a tricky read for me, as some of the subject matter was highly distressing, and my tender heart had a hard time reading the recounting of certain historical happenings, including rape, abuse, and war. I wrote to Genevieve about my struggles, and we began discussing history and how women were treated during the times this book covers. Genevieve is here today to talk about what she and I discussed (how researching opens up so many unknown truths), and you can find her guest post beneath my review of Sound of the Heart. Now, on to my review (which I will try to keep brief so this post does not turn into a HUGE read!)! I fear my review will be vague, as there are so many ways to include spoilery… but I will do my best to not spoil anything! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I went into this book expecting a darker read, like Under the Same Sky. The covers of both books are rather deceptive, so don’t assume you’ll be getting a light, fluffy romance when you pick them up. Sound of the Heart is much lighter than Under the Same Sky, and I actually ended up liking it even more than I liked the first one. I rarely like sequels or companions as much as the first book, so I was pleasantly surprised at my reaction to this one.

2. Now, we’re still dealing with some heavy subject matter, it’s just spread more thinly throughout the book, plus there’s much less violence towards women, which is what I struggled with in book 1.

  • The bulk of the first part of the book tells us all about Dougal’s time being imprisoned as a POW after he survives the Battle of Culloden (which is actually told in great detail in Under the Same Sky). The struggles of life in prison during this time are told in great detail, and I felt so badly for Dougal and all the others with him. There was a lot of violence, and prisoners were killed or beaten for the smallest reasons.
  • Women were treated very poorly and we read some instances of rape and abuse. It’s much tamer and less detailed than in Under the Same Sky.

3. I really liked Dougal. You don’t learn much about him in the first book, but I liked him just as much as I liked his brother, Andrew in Under the Same Sky. We’re given another sexy Scottish Highlander with a cute accent and a sweet demeanor. He befriends and watches over two younger boys who are imprisoned with him, and I loved the tender bond the three formed. He sort of adopts them as his own brothers after his family died in the battle. The loyalty to his family was very touching. I love family guys. I also really liked his friend Joseph, who had a lot of personality and a sense of humor that lightened the mood during the dark times of the story.

4. Glenna is a very dynamic character, with a lot of secrets. I won’t tell you how she falls into Dougal’s life, because that’s a spoiler, but I really liked her. I appreciate the fact that Genevieve writes strong female characters. So many historical romances make women look like submissive, meek little chickens with no backbones or common sense. Glenna was SO strong, just like Maggie was in Under the Same Sky. She was thrown some major curve balls in life, but she’s still a sweet character with a lot of street smarts.

She is captured from her humble home with Dougal and shipped overseas, where she is sold into slavery. Hello? I had no idea white slavery existed during this time, nor did I know that Scottish men and women were essentially kidnapped and shipped to the Americas to serve as slaves or fight for the English Army. Her life as a servant starts out better than most, but then things go wrong and she is placed into a terrifying situation. She fights back, though, and I kept saying, “Yes! You go girl!” all throughout the book. I loved watching her grow. She also runs across some wonderful friends, and I enjoyed reading their stories as well. They all had such sweet personalities, even though their lives were far from pleasant.

5. The romance was really wonderful. Glenna and Dougal are adorable together! Sadly, a lot of this book is them trying to get back to one another once they are separated, but you can feel the longing they share. Their love keeps them alive, and I really enjoyed reading about a love with that kind of power.

6. Again, Genevieve does not disappoint with her writing style. It’s gorgeous. She has a way of packing you up and taking you to the settings in the book. She also has the power to make you feel what the characters are feeling. I know that’s why I struggled so much with Under the Same Sky, and why I ended up really enjoying both books. It’s because her writing is so powerful that it feels real. You’re sent on this roller coaster of emotions and feelings, and when the ride is over you’re as in love with the characters as they are with each other.

Overall, I’m so glad I read this book. I loved reading about Dougal and Glenna’s love story, and I enjoyed learning more about the history during this time in Scotland, England, and the American Colonies. I would recommend this to lovers of historical romance and historical fiction. Genevieve has a book 3 in the making, and I KNOW I want to read it! It tells the story of Adelaide, Maggie’s sister in Under the Same Sky. SO exciting! Hopefully Penguin picks it up, as I know it’ll be nothing short of amazing.

Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing the oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta, she met her future husband in a chairlift lineup and subsequently moved to Calgary to be with him. They have recently settled in a small, peaceful town in Nova Scotia with their two beautiful daughters. Writing became an essential part of Genevieve’s life a few years ago, when she began to write her debut novel, Under the Same Sky. The companion novel, Sound of the Heart, will be in stores May 1, 2012.

The Trouble with Research…
is that you find out stuff.

 
I write Historical Fiction, so that means there’s going to be a certain amount of research involved. When I started writing, I had no experience with researching, other than what I did eons ago in school, but I was excited about starting. My first book, “Under the Same Sky”, takes place in the 1700’s, a time of which I had no knowledge, other than what I had read in well-written historical fiction, like the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon, and the “Into the Wilderness” series by Sara Donati. The time period sounded gritty and exciting and full of adventure. A perfect setting!

When I realized my hero’s name was Andrew MacDonnell, I enthusiastically went online and researched the MacDonnell clan tartan. When I got past all the advertisements (and pried my eyes off pictures of models and movie stars in kilts), I ran headlong into a discovery that made me shake my head with confusion. Did you know … It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that clans began to claim their own tartan? Until that time, the variation in tartans was a regional thing. The striped patterns were based on the dyes available in the region. Oh, and in the beginning I had no idea that the words ‘plaid’ and ‘tartan’ weren’t technically interchangeable. Maybe in North America they are, but in Scotland, a ‘plaid’ is a wool tartan blanket which the people slung over their shoulder.

For that first book, I also studied the Cherokee and other Native American tribes and absolutely loved researching them. I dug in deep, exploring the seven different clans within tribes, the animal totems, the beliefs after death, hunting rituals … and I ended up with about 50,000 extra words that had nothing to do with the story. They were pretty fascinating reading, but took the story completely off track. So I cut them and stored those chapters away for another time.

I’ve come to believe deeply in the importance of revealing truths in historical fiction. While I’m no expert, I know a lot of things now that I never knew before. For example, I was aware that it was tough to be a woman back then, but I had no idea just how bad it was. One in three women died in childbirth. One in three! Was every one of those babies fathered by a husband? No. Rape was a fairly common occurrence back then and since women had little protection and no rights, it was practically impossible to punish the perpetrator. Unwanted pregnancies were occasionally terminated by herbal concoctions or more brutal methods, but the mother rarely survived. If she did, it would be a miracle if she ever managed to bear another baby.

“Sound of the Heart” gives the reader a taste of prison life for battle captives in 1746. When the defeated Scottish warriors arrived at the prison, after walking three hours, were they fed? No. They were locked up for two days with no food and no medical aid. Did men die easily on the battlefield, succumbing to wounds with a final loving word whispered to their loves? Since pain relief was barely used and loved ones were often miles away, I’d say no.

Some authors research political aspects, society rules, formal issues. All are valid, important facts within historical fiction. I have chosen to follow a grittier path. My characters are every-man and every-woman, commoners who have never seen silk or pearls. Often, though, they have a little something “extra” (like psychic powers). I throw them into scenes they might not survive if it weren’t for their strength of character or something changing in the situation that frees them. Like my characters, I don’t know anything about the “regency” side of history. I only know about the often agonizingly painful realities of life back then.

“Sound of the Heart” also introduces readers to an ugly aspect of history that many of us (including me) otherwise wouldn’t know about: white slavery. Beginning in the 1600’s, hundreds of thousands of white slaves were taken to the colonies. They were treated as badly as their black counterparts, and often worse. They were usually less expensive, because they were constantly being replaced. After all, the colonies were a hot climate compared to overseas. Working plantation fields was far too much for them, and many died.

I know some people are put off by violence in historical fiction, and I’m sorry when my stories upset them. I salute those readers who battle through the difficult parts so they can get to the end. I was once accused of using rape as something of a plot vehicle, which actually left me slack-jawed. The thing is, just because I include these things in the stories doesn’t mean I make them up. I don’t. These are real situations. And just like white slavery today, it is important that we stop looking the other way. I refuse to sugar coat the truth, and I don’t pull punches. At the same time, I stay away from gratuitousness.

Okay. Hopping off my soapbox now.

I guess the moral for today is you never know what you’ll find when you start researching the past. But chances are, if you persevere and keep digging, you’ll come away with treasure.


Seduction by Brenda Joyce (Book Review)

Posted January 26, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Seduction by Brenda Joyce (Book Review)Seduction by Brenda Joyce
Series: The Spymaster's Men #1
Published by Harlequin on January 31, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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1 Stars
Dominic Paget, the earl of Bedford, will do anything to resume spying upon Britain's enemies. Badly wounded, he is put will in the care of a beautiful gentlewoman, Julianne Greystone, only to discover that her sympathies lie with his enemies. Yet he can't help but seduce the woman who saved his life—hoping she never learns of his betrayal.

Julianne is captivated by the wounded stranger she believes is a revolutionary hero. Until she discovers the truth…her "hero" is the privileged earl of Bedford. Devastated and determined to forget him, Julianne travels to London. But when she finds herself in danger, it is Bedford who comes to the rescue. Now Julianne must navigate the intrigues of a perilous city, the wild yearnings of her own heart and the explosion of their passion….

I pride myself on being a pretty versatile reader. I’ve been reading a lot of dark YA dystopians and paranormals lately, so I took a few days to read some lighter romances like Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, and now Seduction. I love my YAs, but sometimes I just need something completely different. Historical romances are another love of mine, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I was excited and intrigued. I love spy stuff and England and France and deception! I was expecting to really enjoy this. Sadly, it fell short for me. And with that, here are my thoughts (I’ve bolded the most important points, just in case you’re a skimmer!):

1. The romance took a back seat to the extremely political discussions and explanations in this book. At 30% of the way through, I knew very little about the characters, but had received a very thorough history lesson on the French Revolution, the Tories, the Jacobins… the battles… the sympathizers and the different thought processes from everyone involved. I started to space and skim through large chunks. I love history, but not this much! I wanted a romance, and there were parts that felt like I was reading a textbook rather than a novel. I felt like the framework of the story took forever to be put into place. It really took away from the romance, which felt like an afterthought. Historical fiction? Yes. Historical romance? Not really.

2. With all that being said, her story was very well researched. I understand that the author wanted her readers to receive all the background information to really understand the story. However, the reader is bombarded with so much! Too much to be enjoyable.

3. I didn’t connect with/like any of the characters. Julianne made the stupidest decisions, and was unbelievably naive and spineless. I like romance novels that have strong women. Yes, she had strong opinions, but she was so naive and clammy that I had a hard time believing they were her own thoughts, and not something she had read in a pamphlet. And she kept getting into trouble! Dom was just annoying. He spent so much time with his nose in the air that he didn’t even see what was going on. He totally lacked common sense. The supporting characters aren’t really worth mentioning. Julianne had two brothers, but they were so similar and hardly ever spoken of, that I had a hard time differentiating between the two of them. Julianne had a maid/servant while staying at Dom’s house that I liked, but I think it was only because she didn’t bug me.

4. Too. Much. Drama. Everyone threw tantrums. Dom deceived Julianne, and she was so mad that she pouted forever! Julianne deceived Dom, and he got so mad he refused to look at her. Can’t we be more adult here, and talk about this? They were on opposing sides of a war. Feelings are bound to be hurt. All of this pouting and cold shoulder business caused pointless misunderstandings. Julianne ends up getting into trouble because of her radical ways, and spends less than 24 hours in a jail cell. She won’t eat. When she gets out, she’s so weak and traumatized that she has to spend a week in bed. Seriously? That’s a pretty wimpy reaction. I kept wishing she’d suck it up.

5. About 3/4 of the way through, things pick up a little. At this point we’ve been given all the info on the French Revolution, so the focus settles on Dom and Julianne and deception. It was a bit more enjoyable, but I felt it was too little too late. There was not enough time to recover, which was disappointing. So much time was spent on historic details and politics that time ran out before I could connect enough with the characters or the story to care how things ended.

6. For so much frustration and confusion, the ending gets wrapped up in a perfect little bow way too quickly to be believable. I was actually worried that things would be continued in the next book (which I won’t be reading), we had so little time left. After all this time of being mad and annoyed and hurt and brooding and pouty, everyone just falls into place and life is perfect. This doesn’t happen! People go from hate to love in the blink of an eye! I’m really glad their story ended with this book, because I would have been frustrated if I had plowed through this one, only to still not be finished.

I’ve read a lot of historical romance. Like I said, it has always been one of my favorite genres. I would not classify this as a romance, though. Julianne and Dominic’s story was so weak, that it just annoyed me. Honestly, I didn’t care if they sorted out their battles. I didn’t like either of them, or their families. Everything took a backseat to the history lesson, which was really pretty boring. I skipped entire pages of history with no dialogue or happenings. It was just history. Now, I have nothing against history. It’s just not what I wanted to be reading when I picked up a romance. I will applaud Ms. Joyce for her impeccable research. It was obvious that she spent a ton of time reading up on the French Revolution and the spymasters. If you like historical fiction, I can see that you might like this. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.


Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (Book Review)

Posted December 5, 2011 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (Book Review)Marian's Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly
Published by Cedar Fort on October 9, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 298
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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5 Stars
Miss Marian Wynswich is a rather unconventional young lady. She plays chess, reads Greek, and is as educated as any young man. And she's certain falling in love is a ridiculous endeavor and vows never to do such a thing. But everything changes when she receives a Christmas visit from someone unexpected a young and handsome English lord.

The summary on the back of the book does not give you much info, so here’s just a little more. I’m not going to give away too many details, just because the story is so much fun to just discover on your own. So here are the bare essentials: Marian’s spunky, outspoken, and not accomplished in the ways that many young women are during her time period. She doesn’t sing or play the piano. She didn’t go through all the classes and training that one goes through to learn how to be a lady. No, she’d rather make ointments and work with medicines to heal all of her stray animal friends (and a few people, too). She doesn’t have curly hair and brown eyes. She doesn’t care, though! She can beat you at chess, and read Greek and Latin better than anyone. She speaks her mind whenever she feels so inclined, and that gets her into trouble sometimes. She’s also read every book in her father’s library. A bookish girl after my own heart. Speaking of her father, he passed away and left his family in a very dire situation. When Marian’s brother comes home with a rich, but unattractive and undesirable suitor for her older sister, Ariadne, Marian is determined to figure out a way to stop this awful courtship. She believes that people should only marry for love, and that it has to be a LOT of love or it’s not even worth it. As she and her brother play tricks on this man alongside the very handsome Gilbert Collinworth, Earl of Ingraham, she begins to question her decision to never marry. Perhaps love is better than she thinks!

This book was endearing, and oh so sweet! It’s the kind of sweet you hope to read during December, but not so over the top that you want to throw you Christmas cookies in the trash because you’ve reached your maximum sugar intake for the season. I loved Marian. She’s exactly the kind of personality-type I was/wished to be at the ripe old age of 16, so I identified a lot with her as I read her story. She doesn’t follow the normal trend, and manages to stand out in her own special way. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, is very mature, and won’t take crap from anyone. She’s so much more amazing at sticking up for herself and speaking her mind to authority figures than I was, though, and I envy that a little. She’s resilient, a tad emotional, and enjoys acting her age sometimes (when she’s not having to force herself to be a grown up). And Gilbert is amazing. Just like Marian, he was not created from the same mold most males of his time were. He’s a funny troublemaker who likes to stir the pot. He becomes quite an ally to Marian, making her be quiet when she wishes to speak her mind. Their banter back and forth is so much fun to read, not to mention his moments of being so tender and caring… oh, and those twinkling eyes. I kinda fell in love with that Gilbert Collinworth.

Marian’s brother, Alistair, is a really awesome brother. I wish I had one just like him. He teases Marian non-stop, but when she needs him to lean on, or to cry on his shoulder, he’s sensitive and very caring. I can just picture those two bantering over chess or at the breakfast table. They have one of those sweet brother/sister relationships that I hope my future son and daughter have one day (long, long into the future!). We don’t get to know the rest of her family extremely well. Her mother is pretty high maintenance and snobby, and Ariadne (seriously, how on Earth do you pronounce her name!?) is pretty spineless and quiet. She clams up and goes with the flow–a great contrast to Marian. Percy (the oldest brother) is firm, but you can tell he doesn’t want to be. He became the man of the house, and with that comes a great responsibility. He’s a softy, though, and ends up making you smile as well. You can tell that the entire family is very loving and cares about everyone deeply. Of course, I object to the arranged marriage, but that’s all part of the the time period. A poor family marrying their daughter off to an old rich man, whom she will never love is something we read a lot about in regency romance novels.

I did not mean to do such a thorough character analysis, but the characters are what make this story so enjoyable! I mean, when you come right down to it, this storyline has been done before. A little suspense and mystery is thrown in (which I loved, by the way), but for the most part it’s been done. The characters are what set this book apart from all the others, plus the fact that it’s during Christmas, so it’s much more magical already! Bottom line, when I think of the story, I think about the people before the plot. That’s a big deal. The descriptions of lovely snowy scenes and intense moments of danger also make this book something special. Oh, and the kissing scene is pretty dang cute too!

While I did see this book on a shelf at a local Christian bookstore, I would not mark this as strictly Christian fiction. The Christmas service at the church is only a few paragraphs, and there’s really no other talk of religion. So, if you’re a bit leery of this book for that reason, don’t worry! You won’t be preached to. I also wouldn’t mark this as young adult fiction. Girls during this time period were forced to grow up early, so even though Marian is only 16, she’s where many of today’s mid-twenties to even late-thirties women are.

So, I can happily add another adorable Christmas romance to my list of keepers! This December is turning out to be a month of great finds so far! Thanks again to netgalley and Cedar Fort Publishing for giving me this complimentary copy, in exchange for my honest review.


The Bastard/Honor Bound, by Brenda Novak (Book Review)

Posted November 18, 2011 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Bastard/Honor Bound, by Brenda Novak (Book Review)Honor Bound by Brenda Novak
Published by Self on October 23, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
Note: This story was previously titled The Bastard

To some men honor is just a word...

Jeannette Boucher, a young French beauty from a family left penniless by the revolution, must marry against her will to save them all from ruin. But almost immediately after the vows are spoken, she learns that her old English husband is impotent—and in his desire for an heir, he plans to compromise her in the worst way. Determined to escape such a fate, she stows away on one of His Majesty’s frigates. But a woman alone is in constant danger.

To Lieutenant Treynor, honor means everything...

Born a bastard to a wayward marquise, Lieutenant Crawford Treynor was given to a poor farmer to raise and was maltreated until he ran away to join the Royal Navy. Treynor is determined to prove he’s as good as any other man and rise to captain his own frigate. But once he finds Jeannette aboard The Tempest he must decide whether to return her to the man he knows would abuse her—or risk everything, even his life, to keep her safe.'(

The story was exciting! We enter the story right as Jeanette is marrying this ugly old man that she is really rather repulsed by. She’s doing it to help her family, though. By marrying him, her family will want for nothing, but she will always want true love! While awaiting her new husband’s arrival to their bedroom, her brother barges in with some scary news. Her husband is impotent, and plans to have his male friends sleep with her to get her pregnant so he can have an heir. Jeanette decides to flee. When she discovers a Royal Navy ship in port that will be leaving for London soon, she decides to pose as a thirteen-year-old boy and sign on as one of the crew. In doing so, she runs into some dangerous situations. Lieutenant Treynor figures out her secret, and takes care of her until they can get her back on dry land. Of course, love happens… along with some adventure.

I really enjoyed this story. I appreciated the fact that, as far as romance novels go, this one was a little on the tamer side. It’s definitely not a book for youth, as steam happens, but there’s not a ton of time or pages devoted to it. It’s very easy to skip if you’re so inclined.

Jeanette is one of those characters that easy to not really know how you feel about her. Do I like her? Do I not like her? There’s a fine line between the two in this book. At times, I really liked her. I mean, she had self-esteem. She knew she did not deserve the life her husband was going to give her. She had a sense of honor because she married him to help her family. She was brave posing as a boy and becoming part of the crew. She had a certain level of values, and was very ladylike. However… so many of the times she was in danger were because she was an idiot. She kept doing things she was told not to do, thereby putting herself and Treynor in danger. It happened all the time. I can’t stand heroines who lack common sense.

How could anyone not like Lieutenant Treynor? He’s described as being nothing short of a Greek god. He came from a very difficult background and ran away to join the Royal Navy at a very young age. He climbed the ranks, and gained a ton of respect from the people he works with. He has an incredible sense of duty and does everything he can to protect Jeanette in secret, as well as do his job. He respects women. At one point, Jeanette gt a little tipsy drinking rum with the boys one night, and tried to seduce him. He sent her away because he felt wrong taking advantage of her current state of mind. He never forced himself on her. He is compassionate. Even when he thought she was a boy, he protected this young thing and took “him” under his wing. He’s also very gentlemanly and well-spoken. I really liked him. Definitely one of my favorite males in romance, and the very best part of this book.

The supporting characters were great. There were not too many to keep track of, but enough to convince you that the ship was full of a crew that mattered. We even have a villain, as pretty much all books do. He bugged me, but he was supposed to! I found myself enjoying the company of many of the characters. I’m not used to that, but I suppose it’s because these were Navy men and not ruthless, cold-hearted pirates.

I loved the descriptions. I could picture the wedding, the town, the port area (with taverns and seedy inns), the ship, the ocean, all the different cabins and rooms on board, etc. I could picture the crew doing tasks that I’ve never seen done before. I pictured everything wonderfully. I understood everything, and even learned a little about what went on aboard ships in days gone by, not to mention French and British history.

I’m not used to books of this genre covering so much adventure. Many authors could have turned this in to two books. I loved how fast-paced it was. Just as I thought we were winding down, ready to tie everything up into a nice bow, something crazy happened. AND every loose end imaginable was tied up. I was not left really wanting anything. I was happy with the ending.

I’d recommend this book to people who love romance on the high seas, adventure, strong male leads, likeable heroines, interesting and amusing supporting characters, and happy endings.

I’ll definitely be looking into more of Novak’s books. I hear she writes a lot of romantic suspense, which is another favorite genre of mine. Happy reading!

(Notes for those concerned about sensitive content: (Some may consider these spoilers, so be careful in reading.)
– Foreplay happens, but the actual act of sex never does.
– Any steamy scenes are kept to a paragraph or two (with the exception of maybe one).
– There is a rape attempt at Jeanette by someone on the opposing side of the war. Nobody on her ship’s crew is involved with that.
– There is war violence. People die.

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