Category Archives: Period Romance

Review: Kisses and Rogues: Four Regency Stories by Anthea Lawson

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Kisses & Rogues: Four Regency Stories by Anthea Lawson
My Overall Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Passion flared in his eyes, and he took her mouth again in a kiss that seared her to her soul. In a moment, they must pull apart, their two bodies un-melding, but for now she savored every second.

I breezed through this anthology because the stories were exactly what I needed at the time: short, lighthearted romances with a touch of historical ambiance and a guaranteed HEA. Without going into too much detail on such short stories, I’m just going to sum up a couple key points about each one.

Five Wicked Kisses: 2 of 5 stars – I kept getting really distracted (and upset) by the coercion in this story, which wasn’t long enough to dive into such morally fraught waters.

Maid for Scandal: 3.5 of 5 stars – While totally unbelievable, this story was hilarious. It would have had a slightly higher rating if I hadn’t been so annoyed at the heroine’s naivete, but I suppose that was also part of the story’s charm.

The Piano Tutor: 4 of 5 stars – This was definitely my favorite of the bunch, and I think it was because the heroine was more mature. The plot also worked excellently as a short story.

To Wed the Earl: 3 of 5 stars – Of all the stories, this was the one I most wanted to see developed into a full-length novel. I kept finding myself wanting to know more about the characters, the financial mystery, and the side relationships.

As someone who doesn’t often read historical romance, I was happy with how this one turned out. I have had Passionate on my TBR for about a year now, so maybe it’s time to give that one a try.

Minute Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (Glamourist Histories, Book 1)
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

The room had vanished, its walls replaced entirely by arching trees; the ceiling, a sky overhead which shimmered with the light of stars and the moon. The trees rustled in response to a conjured breeze, which carried with it hints of jasmine and the pleasant, spicy scent of loam.

This is a sweet, quick romance, full of the imagery of a Regency English countryside, and I really enjoyed it. The hint of fantasy added a flair to the usual Austen-esque themes without turning it into a full-fledged fantasy novel.

Recommendation: Read this if you are intrigued by the idea of Regency romance with a touch of fantasy, or if you’re curious about the artistic possibilities of folding glamours.

The Friday 56: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Friday56

The Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the participation rules couldn’t be simpler. You just pick any book you want, flip to page 56 (or 56% for e-readers), and choose a non-spoilery sentence or two to share with the world.

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)
The Paper Magician
by Charlie N. Holmberg (The Paper Magician Trilogy, Book 1)

From page 56:

Fennel had taken to adventuring downstairs, and Ceony had shoved Jonto’s inanimate bones into a closet in the office and left him there. Now the place seemed… lifeless.

I really enjoyed this book, and it seemed like the perfect Friday 56 pick for this overcast day. Do you have your own Friday 56? Let me know in the comments!

Minute Review: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey, #1)Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (Lady Julia Grey, Book 1)
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.

This story had me hooked from the first line (see above), and while it wasn’t a book that I raced through, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. I loved the Victorian setting, the colorful cast of characters, and Julie Grey’s particular blend of English Gentlewoman and closeted eccentric.

Recommendation: Read this if you enjoy bumbled murder mysteries and slow burn romances set in the Victorian era, especially if you’re looking to dive into a new series. Also give this a shot if you’re a fan of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series – they share some great qualities.

Minute Review: Silver Lining by Maggie Osborne

Silver Lining

Silver Lining by Maggie Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The situation demanded some serious swearing and bullying, but she couldn’t let herself cut loose, not with Sunshine in the kitchen. Having a child nearby placed a severe crimp in her style.

“You are full of… horse feathers, cowboy.” Leaning over him, she stared hard into his eyes. “I didn’t work like a damned dog out there and freeze my butt off–excuse me, Sunshine–so we could just let those damned–‘scuse me, Sunshine–stupid cows starve or freeze. And we aren’t going to find a buyer for them now, that’s for damned sure–excuse me, Sunshine.”

This story can be read one of two ways: either it’s completely unrealistic and frustrating, or it’s a wacky, amusing, almost farcical Western Romance in which virtue wins out and the baddies get their just desserts. Fortunately for me, by about 30% in I knew I would highly enjoy it as one of the latter 🙂

Recommendation: Read this if you enjoy Hallmark Channel Westerns or are intrigued by a mashup between My Fair Lady, Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman, and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Review: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

The Grand Sophy

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer is a Regency romance and is perhaps one of Heyer’s most popular books. It tells the story of a feisty young woman named Sophy, who is the product of an unconventional upbringing and a wonderfully unique personality. Like all of Heyer’s Regency romances, the story is funny, over the top, and full of witty dialogue.

If you are a fan of old school Regency romances, romantic comedies with a hefty dose of absurdity, or want a fun way to brush up on your SAT words, I definitely recommend this book.

A Regency Character Summary:

The Grand Sophy: Sophia Stanton-Lacy is our plucky heroine, and she is quite a character! She wishes the best for everyone and seems to believe that it is her duty to turn everyone’s troubles to right. Fortunately, she is clever enough to figure out how, in most cases, and in this book she has set her sights on fixing the woes of her Aunt’s family. She also has no qualms about setting down those who are quite accustomed to getting their way.

“Now, that,” said Sophy, “I am very glad to know, because if ever I should desire to please you I shall know just how to set about it. I daresay I shan’t, but one likes to be prepared for any event, however unlikely.”

Mr. Charles Rivenhall: While not the patriarch of the Ombersley family, Charles does control the purse strings and has become the dictator over his parents and siblings. He begins the story engaged to an equally oppressive woman, Ms. Wraxton, who brings out all of his worst qualities. Charles’ obnoxious manner of ruling the house and his poorly matched engagement are among the trials that our dear Sophy takes it upon herself to fix.

Lord Charlbury: Charlbury is in love with one of the Ombersley daughters, Cecilia, who has unfortunately fallen in love with a young poet. Despite his many virtues, he fell victim to being her family’s chosen match for her, as well as a poorly timed case of the mumps that kept him away for several weeks.

Lord Charlbury might be constitutionally incapable of addressing her as Nymph, or of comparing bluebells unfavorably with her eyes, but Lord Charlbury would infallibly provide a cloak for her if the weather were inclement, lift her over obstacles she could well climb without assistance, and in every way convince her that in his eyes she was a precious being whom it was impossible to guard too carefully.

Mr. Augustus Fawnhope: The young poet in question, Augustus is CONSTANTLY working on his verse and is generally oblivious to pretty much everything else going on around him.

‘”Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch One of her feather’d creatures broke away!”‘

Miss Eugenia Wraxton: Ms. Wraxton is an infuriatingly abhorrent character, passive aggressively knocking down everyone she dislikes under the guise of behaving as a “proper” young lady should. I pretty much wanted to strangle her the entire story. Sophy, on the other hand, handles her admirably and even manages not to harbor her any ill will (miracle of miracles).

***

I do feel compelled to say that, yes, this story does involve a romance between first cousins. While this happened all the time during this book’s historical time period, it’s understandable that some are super skeeved out by this given today’s standards. I just imagined that they weren’t actually blood relatives and was able to put it out of mind.

My one major issue with this book (and the reason I docked an entire star) was the random Jewish moneylender that cropped up in the middle of the book. I know a lot of other reviewers have mentioned this, but I couldn’t write my own without addressing it. The character depicts every horrifying Jewish stereotype, and it was disgusting to read. I don’t know if this is a product of the Regency Era, the 1950s when this was written, or Heyer’s own prejudices. Either way, it was unnecessary, out of place, and severely detracting from the story.

All in all, I really liked the writing and main characters, the story and relationship nuances was hilarious, and the plot was entertaining. While Venetia is still my favorite Heyer, I’m going to keep working my way through the rest of them!

3 of the 9 words I looked up while reading this book:

urbanity – suavity, courteousness and refinement of manner
Nabob – a person of conspicuous wealth or high status
rodomontade – boastful or inflated talk or behavior

Click here to see my review on Goodreads.

Review: A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam

A Devilish Slumber (The Rue Alliance, #1)

A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam is the first book in The Rue Alliance series, and it is set in a Regency Era paranormal/fantasy version of London. The main characters are Lady Roselyn Ravenstock and Sir Phillip Jones. Rose is a powerful shapeshifter, a gift inherited from her mother’s lineage, and Phillip is a love from her past and a covert agent of sorts. When he begins investigating a murder that points right to Rose, they fall back into each other’s lives and adventures ensue. The tale was inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty.

I was immediately whisked away by this book. The intrigue begins immediately and I loved the nature of the murder mystery that is at the heart of the plot. I also quickly found myself drawn to the characters, especially Rose. Having suffered an excessive amount of loss in her life, she gave up on living and merely existed for several years. When her only friend is murdered and Phillip re-enters the picture, it is as though the spell is broken and she reawakens to the world.

Part of this reawakening is an acquaintance with the Rue Alliance. The Rue Alliance is a band of shifters with all manner of talents, including Rose’s. Meeting this underground community was by far my favorite part of the book. They are such a lively, loyal, and varied group of people. I can’t wait to read more about them!

The one element that kept this from being a higher rating for me was the occasional overly strong presence of stereotypical gender roles. I know this is a pretty subjective area when it comes to enjoying a story (especially in romance novels where “alphas” and the “man’s man” run rampant), but there were a few gender-related moments that crossed a line into awkward. For example, “He had shown Ben the worst side of himself. His male side.” Huh?

Overall, I really enjoyed this one, and I’m excited to read book two, A Scorching Dilemma. Especially since it tells Daniel Trenton’s story, a fire-starter affectionately known as Cinder Fella 🙂

*** UPDATE ***
Upon finishing this review, I looked up some other works by Vedam and discovered A Beastly Scandal. While not part of the Rue Alliance series, this book takes place in the same setting and with overlapping side characters. Some of its major events are mentioned in A Devilish Slumber. I certainly had no problem enjoying this book never having read the other, but it might be a good idea to start there!

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars