Tag Archives: Regency

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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Surviving Seattle Rain

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For those who don’t know, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new theme and everyone is invited to join in! (Note: all book cover images in this post link to that book’s Goodreads page.)

Today’s Theme: Ten Books for Surviving Seattle Rain

This week’s theme is a general freebie, so I decided to go with one that is meaningful to me. While the internet has been bombarding me with posts about the American East Coast’s epic blizzard, I’ve been getting drenched each time I set foot outside (dog walks and uncovered bus stops certainly don’t help). This is about the time of year when the constant wet really wears me down. Thank goodness for good books that help us survive the winter.

Without further ado, if you can’t beat it, join it!

Books to BEAT the rain:

No matter the genre, these books will take you to a place where winter rain isn’t even a blip on the radar.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour  Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers, #1)  Uprooted  Fortune's Pawn (Paradox, #1)  Venetia

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – For fans of YA contemporary romance – This one features a sunny, pan-American road trip.

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron – For fans of quirky urban fantasies- The Heartstrikers series will suck you in with its post-magical-invasion-Detroit setting and amazing cast of characters.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – For fans of fantasy and/or fairy tales – A vivid fantasy featuring a seemingly unstoppable corrupted wood.

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach – For fans of fast-paced science fiction – This is the start to a really approachable sci fi trilogy with a bit of fantasy on the side.

Venetia by Georgette Heyer – For fans of Regency romances – This one is set in a sunny countryside and is generally lighthearted and goofy.

Books to JOIN the rain:

If you just can’t seem to ignore the rain, these are great books for embracing the foul weather. You can read all about crazy antics in gloomy worlds from the comfort of your own chair, blanket, and hot beverage of your choice.

Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)  Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey, #1)  A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent, #1)  Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)  Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties, #1)

Sanctum by Sarah Fine – For fans of YA paranormal/fantasy – This fast-paced trilogy is set in a dark, vivid world – no rain, but LOTS of grey.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn -For fans of Victorian mysteries with a side of romance – This is a fun, quirky murder mystery set in rainy Victorian London.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan – For fans of historical sci fi/fantasy – As a fictional memoir by the world’s leading dragon naturalist, there are plenty of muddy, wet adventures to be had in this one.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – For fans of YA paranormal/fantasy – The dark, mysterious setting of Prague is, hands down, my favorite part of this trilogy.

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett – For fans of period romance – This is the first book in a paranormal series set in rainy-but-vibrant Roaring Twenties San Francisco.

***

What books do you read when the weather gets you down? Link you own TTT in the comments so I can check out your freebie theme!

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: Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer

Faro's Daughter
Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer is a Regency romance full of mischief. It tells the tale of a woman working in a gaming house, a young man fervently hoping to marry her, and the young man’s uncle, who is willing to go to any lengths to prevent a wedding that will never come to fruition, regardless of his interference. Full of Heyer’s usual talent and Regency snark, hilarity quickly ensues.

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 highly recommend this book.

A Regency Character Summary:

Max Ravenscar: Very wealthy, reserved, and calculating, Max Ravenscar likes to win. When Miss Grantham refuses his offered bribe of money in return for not marrying his young cousin, his pride and competitive nature kick into overdrive. He WILL ferret out Miss Grantham’s motives and he will use them to beat her in the war that inevitably follows.

Miss Deborah Grantham: Miss Grantham is a lot like Jane Austen’s Emma. That is, if Emma’s position in life classified her as a strumpet among the ton and if she had been far less self-entitled. Rather than focusing all her energy on the love lives of others, Deborah is singularly focused on winning her battle with Mr. Ravenscar. She is so heartily offended by Ravenscar’s bribe and its assumptions about her character that she is determined to pretend she will marry his cousin at all costs. Deborah refuses to be bested, even after events take a sharp turn toward the absurd.

“Oh, if I were a man, to be able to call him out, and run him though, and through, and through!”

Lady Bellingham, who appeared quite shattered, said feebly that you could not run a man through three times. “At least, I don’t think so,” she added. “Of course, I never was present at a duel, but there are always seconds, you know, and they would be bound to stop you.”

“Nobody would stop me!” declared Miss Grantham blood-thirstily. “I would like to carve him into mincemeat!”

Lord Mablethorpe: As a man who has not quite come of age (just 2 months shy of the magical 21st birthday), he is unable to marry without parental consent – which is truly a shame because there is nothing he wants more in life than to immediately marry “Deb.” Of course, everyone else knows that Deborah is merely his first love and the infatuation will fade. Deborah herself has absolutely no desire to bind herself to Mablethorpe and manages to never actually consent, though she lets him follow her around like a lost puppy.

Faro’s Daughter also has the usual assembly of side characters to round out the story and enable the main cast. I  particularly liked the boxing doorman and the unrepentant heiress who toys with fortune hunters.

3 of the 17 words I looked up while reading this book:
farrago – a confused mixture
magniloquent – using high-flown or bombastic language
obdurate – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.

See my review on Goodreads

Review: Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Venetia
Venetia by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my first read by Georgette Heyer and I’m so glad to have found another excellent author who wrote in the Regency period!

Like all great Regency romances, this one was full of wit, character studies, and a strapping vocabulary. The quirky, strongly developed characters won the day, so it seems only fitting to include a summary of them in this review.

A Regency Character Summary:

Miss Venetia Lanyon: As our heroine, Venetia was a lovely focal point for the story. Having lived most of her life in seclusion, she managed to reach 25 years of age as an unmarried, well-mannered, and very attractive woman. She is also very lively and independently-minded, to the chagrin of almost everyone who knows her (save Damerel and Aubrey). Venetia is an open woman who speaks her mind plainly, leading to many hilarious conversations.

A delicately nurtured female (unless all the books lied) would have swooned from the shock of being kissed by a strange man, or at the very least would have been cast into the greatest affliction, her peace cut up, her spirits wholly overpowered. What she would not have done was to have stayed to bandy words with her wolfish assailant.

Lord Damerel: A 38 year old rake, Lord Damerel has lived quite a life and is often the topic of gossip. He finds a kindred spirit when he meets Venetia by chance, who, due to her personality and nontraditional upbringing, suits him perfectly. They soon become fast friends and confidants, against everyone’s advice and the “better judgement” of the ton.

Damerel, entering rudely on to the scene, instantly dominated it, and whether he was the villain or merely a minor character it was useless to deny that he had infused life into a dull play.

Aubrey Lanyon: Venetia’s younger brother, and closest friend for many years, Aubrey is full of book smarts and the impetuosity of a teenager. At 17 years old and with a disabled hip that causes a severe limp, he has spent most of his life studying. He lends frequent quips to the story, usually with the goal of shutting down some of the more ridiculous characters.

Edward Yardley: As one of the only men Venetia’s father allowed to enter the household, Edward feels he has an advantage at gaining her hand. Too bad for him that he is delusional, insulting, and contrary to Venetia’s character in almost every way. He was the “Mr. Collins” of this story, refusing to give up his perceived claim on Venetia, no matter how many times she rejected him.

“I daresay he won’t remain at the Priory above a day or two, but while he is here it will be best for you to discontinue your solitary walks,” Edward said, with a calm assumption of authority which she found so irritating that she was obliged to choke down a hasty retort. “You know,” he added, with a wry smile, “that I have never liked that custom of yours.”

Oswald Denny: The second of Venetia’s countryside suitors, Oswald is around 20 years old and fancies himself a Byron hero, all moody and dashing. Damerel is described as being everything that Oswald wishes to be, and the poor kid can’t handle the weight of his excessive jealousy.

Beyond these characters, there are a plethora of other meddling neighbors and family members, as well as horrifying in-laws. If you are an Austen fan, or a general fan of Regency period romances, I highly recommend this book!

PS – Thanks to the Kindle creators for the dictionary/Wikipedia lookup function, because I must have used it a couple dozen times for words like avuncular, raiment, and punctilious!

See this review on Goodreads