Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Romance Round-Up (4)

*Glances around guiltily* I've definitely been reading some great romance novels recently, but it's felt like too much energy to get them up on the blog and formatted (you can find simple reviews on my Goodreads as I finish books). I'm hoping to keep up with this a little better than I have been, but who knows with my track record.

Title: The Hellion's Waltz
Author: Olivia Waite
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release: June 15, 2021
Series: Feminine Pursuits
Pages: 384
Review: 5 Stars

The Hellion's Waltz was truly great! Dare I say, it might be my favorite book in the series. Right off the bat there was some strong chemistry between Sophie and Maddy. But what I really loved was that for the majority of the book, the characters were working together, not against each other. So many romances have the main characters pursuing opposite goals and one or both of them end up having to compromise. In The Hellion's Waltz, Sophie and Maddie have goals that are either aligned or adjacent. This allows their relationship to blossom without the weight of potential betrayal or thinking they will have to give each other up in the end.

I also really appreciated the diverse cast of characters. Historical romance is generally very white, christian, and Eurocentric. Along with the solid queer representation, there are Jewish characters, Black characters, and Indian characters (to name the ones I remember). Their characters aren't defined by their ethnic identity, but it does inform them and makes the world of the book feel a little richer. I'd definitely love to see more of this in historical romance!

Alongside the great romance, there was a fun plot. Maddie is plotting a swindle to help the local weavers. Sophie and her family have just been swindled, and she's initially concerned about what's going on. But let's just say that things aren't set in stone.

I highly recommend this book both if you've enjoyed Olivia Waite's earlier books and as a jumping point into queer historical romance! It is books like The Hellion's Waltz that really show what the historical romance genre can be at its best. So go forth and enjoy!


It’s not a crime to steal a heart... 

Sophie Roseingrave hates nothing more than a swindler. After her family lost their piano shop to a con man in London, they’re trying to start fresh in a new town. Her father is convinced Carrisford is an upright and honest place, but Sophie is not so sure. She has grave suspicions about silk-weaver Madeline Crewe, whose stunning beauty doesn’t hide the fact that she’s up to something.

All Maddie Crewe needs is one big score, one grand heist to properly fund the weavers’ union forever. She has found her mark in Mr. Giles, a greedy draper, and the entire association of weavers and tailors and clothing merchants has agreed to help her. The very last thing she needs is a small but determined piano-teacher and composer sticking her nose in other people’s business. If Sophie won’t be put off, the only thing to do is to seduce her to the cause.

Will Sophie’s scruples force her to confess the plot before Maddie gets her money? Or will Maddie lose her nerve along with her heart?

You Can Find it At:

Title: The Duke Goes Down
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Avon
Release: July 27, 2021
Series: The Duke Hunt
Pages: 384
Review: 4.5 Stars

If you're looking for a fast, fun read this summer, The Duke Goes Down will fit the bill! The first book in a new series by historical romance author Sophie Jordan, it features childhood enemies who become something more. Imogen has disliked Perry since he teased and made fun of her as a child. Perry thought she acted superior to him, and being a stuck-up duke's heir, didn't like that feeling. He was honestly quite a brat as a child and teen. Years later, Perry finds out he was born before his parents marriage, and is now on the hunt to marry an heiress to restore him to his former lifestyle. Remembering how he treated her as a child, Imogen is determined to keep Perry from preying on the young women of their village.

I definitely liked Imogen as a main character. She cares a lot about her father and the people in the village, even if she can be a little high and mighty at times. I felt like Perry had more apologizing for childhood actions to do than he actually did in the book, but that's not uncommon in romances. Their romance felt a little rushed, and I wouldn't have minded another 50 to 100 pages to really let everything knit together.

There was a small subplot that came up in the latter half of the book, and I didn't fully understand why Imogen didn't just tell her cousin about what happened. You'd think she'd want to know. And even if Imogen had trouble sharing at the time (she was young after all), it's something she might have wanted to share later. Especially after certain actions in the book. Another thing that could have been more developed with those extra pages mentioned earlier.

All in all, the book was enjoyable. And it was written in 2020, so the fact that any books got written at all given that hell of a year is a miracle in and of itself.


New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan begins the all new Duke Hunt series with the illegitimate son of a duke who meets his match in the daring daughter of a vicar.

The Bastard Rogue...

Peregrine Butler's privileged blue-blooded world is rocked to the core when it is revealed he was born before his parents' marriage and, therefore, is not the legal heir to the dukedom. Facing ruin, Perry must use his charm and good looks to win an heiress—all the while, ignoring his fascination with the one interfering and alluring chit who is intent on sabotaging his efforts. 

The Lady Vicar... 

Everyone knows Imogen Bates, the virtuous daughter of the senile vicar. She can write a sermon in a day and spot a rogue in a second, so she sees right through Perry's seductive façade. But Imogen's plan to protect the heiresses of her beloved Shropshire from the erstwhile Duke of Penning, the bane of her existence since childhood, soon turns into something altogether unacceptable for the proper lady... who suddenly finds herself longing to keep his heated glances and tempting kisses all to herself.

You Can Find it At:

Title: The Viscount Made Me Do It:
Author: Diana Quincy
Publisher: Avon
Release: July 27, 2021
Series: Clandestine Affairs
Pages: 384
Review: 5 Stars

All the swoons! I *loved* the first book in this series, and requested an ARC of this one as soon as I saw it was available on Edelweiss! This book has it all: great characters, a solid secondary plot, and a steamy romance! Hanna and Thomas are such a great couple. I shipped them right off the bat.

Hanna is a capable woman running her business as a bonesetter. Not only is she looked down upon for her Arab ethnicity, others in the medical professor declare her a fraud. Nonetheless, she keeps doing the work and taking care of those around her. I loved her relationship with her family, and I hope to see more of them in later books. I suspect her brother Rafi has a budding romance with a female character introduced in this book, and I can't wait to read their story!

Thomas has been through a lot. His parents were murdered when he was a teen, he hasn't talked with his sisters for years, and much of society believe he killed his parents. Combined with a war injury that leaves him in constant pain, Thomas is mostly making it day to day. Then he sees Hanna in a tavern, wearing the necklace that was stolen from his mother's dead body. As he pursues the mystery that is Hanna, he learns that not only can she heal his body, but she might just heal his heart. (I'm pretty proud of that line)

I don't want to dive too deep into the secondary plot, but it's really well done. What starts as a mission to recover a beloved necklace becomes something more as dark secrets are revealed. Diana Quincy does a great job of seeding in little moments that become exponentially more important later in the story.

This is all a lot of words to say something simple: read this book! It doesn't come out until this summer, but I know I plan on picking up a copy to add to my collection!


Diana Quincy returns with the second novel in her Clandestine Affairs series featuring a steamy romance between a working class London bonesetter who is dangerously attracted to her mysterious noble client.  

A seduction that could ruin everything... 

Hanna Zaydan has fought to become London’s finest bonesetter, but her darkly appealing new patient threatens to destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. The daughter of Arab merchants is slowly seduced by the former soldier — even though she’s smart enough to know Griff is after more than he’ll reveal. Whatever it is, the bonesetter’s growing desire for the man just might tempt her to give it to him. 

An attraction that cannot be denied... 

Rumors that he killed his own parents have followed Thomas Ellis, Viscount Griffin, practically since he was a boy. More than a decade after the tragedy, Griff receives a tip about his parents’ killer… one that takes him straight to a captivating bonesetter. Griff is convinced Hanna is a fraud, but the dark-eyed beauty stirs deep feelings in him that he thought had perished along with his family. 

Hanna has a gift for fixing fractured people, but can she also mend a broken heart? More importantly, will Griff let her?

You Can Find it At:

Title: The Duchess Hunt
Author: Lorraine Heath
Publisher: Avon
Release: September 28, 2021
Series: Once Upon a Dukedom
Pages: 384
Review: 4.5 Stars

Lorraine Heath is always a favorite of mine! The romances are always great and she does a good job of mixing expectation with surprise. I absolutely loved Penelope. I enjoy historicals that have women in positions not common for the time. She's a compelling character in many ways. Her past is a bit checkered, but her present is made up of hard work and an unrequited love for her duke, Hugh. Hugh is a smart idiot. He's book smart and generally does well with people, but can't see right in front of his face as far as Penelope and their relationship. That made it all the more worth it when he finally realized he actually did have a heart.

I heartily recommend this book to all Lorraine Heath fans! It's fun and romantic, featuring great characters with a solid story.


New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath continues her Once Upon a Dukedom series with this lush love story of a duke who discovers what he desires in a wife may not be what he needs...

Hugh Brinsley-Norton, the Duke of Kingsland, is in need of a duchess. However, restoring the dukedom—left in ruins by his father—to its former glory demands all his time, with little room for sentiment. He places an advert encouraging the single ladies of the ton to write why they should be the one chosen, and leaves it to his efficient secretary to select his future wife.

If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.

But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?

You Can Find it At:

Title: When a Duke Loves a Governess
Author: Olivia Drake
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release: July 27, 2021
Series: Unlikely Duchesses
Pages: 320
Review: 5 Stars

I got approved for this this afternoon, and immediately dove into the book! Tessa and Guy are such a great couple! And to say I loved Sophy is an understatement. I appreciated the multiple plots going on, from their romance, to Tessa's search for family, to the mystery about Guy's family mishaps. The book does a good job of slowly building up the tension. What starts as relatively light and breezy builds as odd events keep happening. I also really appreciated how relatively early a certain deception plot was resolved. I hate when a ruse is kept up until like the 90% mark, and so I was glad this didn't do that.


A stunning new Regency from beloved author Olivia Drake, When a Duke Loves a Governess...!

Tessa James has worked and planned tirelessly to open her own millinery shop. All she needs now is a loan from the lord who sired and abandoned her. The only problem is, she doesn’t even know his name. What’s a woman to do to find him but enter the aristocratic world by becoming a governess?

Guy Whitby, the new Duke of Carlin, has returned to London after years abroad to discover that his young daughter Sophy has become a wild-child known for scaring away every governess who's crossed his doorstep. When Tessa James applies for the job, he hires her in desperation despite his misgivings that she’s too bold and beautiful–and that she might be fibbing about her qualifications.

Their blooming attraction leads them on a completely unexpected path to love that neither wants to deny. But when an old enemy threatens Guy's family, their forbidden romance goes up in flames. Can they still learn to love and trust each other as forces try to tear them apart?

You Can Find it At:

Title: The Duke Heist
Author: Erica Ridley
Publisher: Forever
Release: February 9, 2021
Series: The Wild Wynchesters
Pages: 332
Review: 5 Stars

I loved this book! This was my first book by Erica Ridley, and I will definitely be reading more! I'm particularly excited for the next book in this series! Chloe is one of the adopted Wynchester siblings. Each orphans, they were adopted by a wealthy baron and quickly became a family. After their father dies, Chloe and her siblings are determined to get back a stolen family painting, even if they have to steal it from the duke who now has it.

Chloe is absolutely fabulous. She has the ability to blend into a crowd, but inside is yearning to burst with color. Prior to the book, she had admired Ambrose's character, until he refused to acknowledge her family or return their painting. So begins the long plot to get the painting back.

While Ambrose comes off as standoffish, he's actually a combo of misguided and anxious. He clearly struggles in unexpected social situations, and has some deep-rooted beliefs about who is and isn't appropriate to keep company with. Those beliefs are perhaps his biggest hurdle in the book, and though it takes time, I think he overcomes them well.

One of my favorite characters was Tommy, who happens to star in the next book. She happens to have a crush on a side character, Philippa, who Ambrose is courting as he is in need of a big dowry to get out of debt. To say the situation is complicated is an understatement, but I can't wait to get their book next!


A NYT bestselling author kicks off a new Regency series of "irresistible romance and a family of delightful scoundrels" as a woman looking to recover a stolen painting accidentally kidnaps a duke instead. (Eloisa James) 

Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable—a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she's ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she's the first one her siblings turn to for stealing it back. No one expects that in doing so, she'll also abduct a handsome duke.

Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father's mistakes. To repair his estate's ruined reputation, he must wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven hell-for-leather down the cobblestone streets of London by a beautiful woman who refuses to heed his commands, he fears his heart is hers. But how can he sacrifice his family's legacy to follow true love?

You Can Find it At:

Have you read any good romance novels recently? Most of these books are upcoming, do you plan to pick any of them up when they come out?

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