I was looking things over, and I realized I hadn't posted any of my romance reviews since September! I wrote some of these reviews a few months ago, so please forgive me if dates referenced in the review are odd. Sometimes if I really love a book I don't actually have that much to say about it, but I'm still including the those short reviews so you know to check them out!
Author: Tina Gabrielle
Release: October 18, 2021
Series: Daring Ladies #1
My Review: 5 Stars
I really enjoyed One Night With an Earl! The premise is intriguing, featuring an 'older' heroine (for historical romance standards) who wants to have sex for the first time. The man she chooses is a stranger at the time, but she soon finds out that he is the son of the man who took her home and ruined her family. To say she is hesitant to pursue a relationship is an understatement. Meanwhile, the titular earl is head over heels for her. He has a rough road ahead of him, breaking through her barriers to learn her secrets.
I rushed through the book, as I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend reading this when it comes out! I also enjoyed that the main characters were actually close in age, instead of the hero being like ten years older.
Ana Gardner is determined to lose her virginity before her thirtieth birthday. She’s no stranger to fake identities, having posed as a chaperone since the scandal that destroyed her titled family. So she dons a mask, changes into a low-cut red gown, and attends the city’s most elite brothel, the Silver Chalice.
Oliver Bedford, the imposing Earl of Drake, is only at the Silver Chalice to appease his debauched friends—until he spots Lady Scarlet. She’s refreshing...and a complete mystery. Certain she’s a lady in disguise, Oliver is determined to learn her identity, but she eludes him at every turn.
The night with Oliver was unforgettable. But when he arrives at her employer’s home, she’s horrified to discover her lover is the Earl of Drake, the son of the man responsible for her father’s death and subsequent family ruin. And that he’s there to court her young charge.
Oliver never had any interest in the debutante, but he is drawn to her chaperone—a woman he soon realizes is his Lady Scarlet. Now that he’s found her, she claims she wants nothing to do with him, even though her kisses say otherwise. Fortunately, Oliver is not one to give up when he finds something he wants...and he wants Ana. In his bed, and in his life. Forever. But first, he must persuade her to trust him—and to believe that one wild, passionate night can turn into forever.
You Can Find It At:Amazon
Author: Erica Ridley
Release: October 26, 2021
Series: The Wild Wynchesters #2
My Review: 4.5 Stars
This was a great addition to he Wild Wynchesters series! Queer characters are already rare in historical romance, and two women in love as the protagonists is even rarer. Tommy knows who she is and what she wants. In modern day she might identify as genderqueer but she doesn't quite have the language for that in the 1800s. Philippa knows she doesn't like men, but it's only once she begins to fall for Tommy that she realizes that she might just love women. The concept isn't completely foreign to her, but she knows it won't be accepted by her family, who want her to marry a rich lord. Philippa has to confront the fact that what her family wants for her isn't necessarily what's best for her. Both women go through emotional journeys. Philippa has to reckon with her family and Tommy has to take a risk on someone who *isn't* her family.
Fans of Bridgerton will love this Regency romp in which a proper Society miss recruits a very improper lady grifter in a quest for vengeance, only to find love instead.
As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. Anything to solve the case. Her latest assignment unveils a top-secret military cipher covering up an enigma that goes back centuries. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake...
Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her cold heart didn't pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to rescue her priceless manuscript and decode its clues to unmask a villain. She hates that she needs a man's help—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. Her cold heart... did it just pitter-patter?
You Can Find it At:Amazon
Author: Anna Bennett
Publisher: St. Martin's
Release: December 28, 2021
Series: Rogues to Lovers #1
My Review: 5 Stars
I was approved for an eARC on Netgalley, and I immediately dived in to the book! I loved the premise and the book lived up to its promise! Hazel is a great main character, and it's clear from the beginning how much she cares about her charges. Personally, I found Gabriel a bit pushy with Hazel. He wanted things that put her livelihood at risk, while they would have little effect on him. I wish he had been a *little* more self aware, but he did seem to get some of what Hazel was risking.
I also loved the girls in Hazel's care! Gabriel's niece was fantastic, and I really enjoyed watching her and the other girls play matchmaker. They were a delightful addition to the story.
I've really enjoyed Anna Bennett's previous books, and I loved this one too! I recommend this to historical romance fans and definitely plan to keep reading this series!
WHAT A GIRL WANTS
To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things:a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl strides into her office.
WHAT AN EARL NEEDS
Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.
LEAD TO AN IRRESISTIBLE DEAL
When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…
You Can Find It At:Apple Books
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Release: February 22, 2022
Series: Bright Falls #1
My Review: 3.5 Stars
I was really excited for this book! And while it was overall an enjoyable read, an aspect of the story and romance hit me hard. Like, I went to bed crying hard. Which is not exactly something I want when reading a romance novel.
Delilah was not treated well by her step-sister Astrid and her friends as kid. These friends include the love interest Claire. And while it is a decent time in the future from when this stuff happened, I feel like Claire (and Astrid) never really made up for the trauma Delilah experienced as a youth that shaped who she became. Claire continues to make assumptions about who Delilah is and what her expectations are, even after Delilah has expressly told her different information. To me, it felt like there wasn't enough of an acknowledgement by the other characters just how traumatic coming back to Bright Falls was for Delilah and as a result the HEA felt cheapened. It's just sort of waved off, like 'oh Delilah loves Claire now, so it's all okay'.
I actually really liked both Delilah and Claire as characters, and I honestly think the book would have been stronger if that conflict hadn't been there. It could have just been that Claire was Astrid's best friend and that Delilah and Astrid weren't close, without outright hating her. Lastly, this book is definitely billed as a rom-com and it didn't give me those vibes. I cried reading it which is not something I want in a rom-com (or even romance novel). While I ultimately enjoyed this book, I don't know if I will be reading Astrid's or not. I know she's shaped by her circumstances, but she's such an asshole that I don't know if I can tolerate it. She's honestly a bad friend as well, as her supposed friends can never truly talk with her an always have to tiptoe around her feelings. Astrid is just brushed off as uptight/type-A, but as someone who is actually a bit uptight and has trouble with plans changing, Astrid is just using those things as an excuse to be mean to those around her. Maybe it's just that I've been burned by friends before, but the fact that Claire and Iris put up with someone who is so cruel to the people around her speaks to me about their character.
A clever and steamy queer romantic comedy about taking chances and accepting love—with all its complications—by debut author Ashley Herring Blake.
Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.
When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.
Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…
You Can Find It At:Parnassus Books
Author: Diana Quincy
Release: March 29, 2022
Series: Clandestine Affairs #3
My Review: 5 Stars
I don't know what else to say beyond I *loved* this book! The whole series has been great, but The Marquess Makes His Move might just take the cake! I got approved for the ARC and immediately downloaded it. I read a large chunk before class, and spent the whole period basically vibrating from wanting to get back to it. As soon as I got home I sat down and read until I finished it.
I don't want to spoil the plot since the book doesn't come out for several more months (this was written in October 2021), but I do want to talk about the plot structure briefly. In general, romance novels tend to have a 'dark moment' 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through. This moment can be well done featuring true issues, or contrived and drawn out for no particular reason. Characters may sometimes act in ways out of line with how they're written, and in general dark moments annoy me. I often feel that they happen too late and don't have enough resolution after very serious events. A book I otherwise love will be ruined by a crappy dark moment and rushed ending. All this is to say, The Marquess Makes His Move does *not* do that. The characters keep some major things from each other for a decent chunk of the book. But once reveals occur, there was still plenty of time left for the characters to actually come to terms with that. And there's no immediate forgiveness either. A certain character has to do the necessary work to redeem themself. I was left with such a lovely feeling after finishing the book that I want to feed into my veins.
Outside the interpersonal drama between our hero and heroine, there's a lot of supporting action and characters. I loved getting cameos from the previous books and seeing these characters interact for the first time. This outside action also gave something for our main characters to unite over even when they feel divided.
I can't wait for The Marquess Makes His Move to come out so that I can squeal about it with a bunch of other readers!
Diana Quincy returns with the newest novel in the Clandestine Affairs series with a steamy romance about a half-Arab marquess seeking revenge on—and falling for—London's most famous mapmaker.
The new footman doesn't seem to know his place...
London's most renowned mapmaker is a woman...but nobody knows it. If anyone discovers that Rose Fleming is the power and talent behind the family business, the scandal could ruin them. Rose's secret is tested by the arrival of a handsome new footman who shows far too much interest in his new mistress. Rose battles an intense attraction to the enigmatic servant, but maintaining a proper distance isn't easy when you and temptation live under the same roof.
She makes him forget he has a score to settle...
Few have met the reclusive half-Arab Marquess of Brandon, who is rumored to live with a harem of beauties among his mother's people near Jerusalem. Brandon couldn't care less what society thinks of him, or that his fellow peers are disdainful of his common blood, but he won't stand for being robbed. That's why he's disguised himself as a footman in the home of a respected mapmaker who cheated Brandon out of his land. But the nobleman's plans for retribution are complicated by his growing attraction for the secretive lady of the house.
When Brandon uncovers the shocking truth about Rose's role in his stolen birthright, can a love born of deception really conquer all?
You Can Find It At:
Author: Janna MacGregor
Publisher: St. Martin's
Release: April 26, 2022
Series: The Widow Rules #2
My Review: 5 Stars
I really enjoyed Rules for Engaging the Earl! We are introduced to one of the main characters, Constance, in book one and her story is compelling. She is left pregnant after a certain trigamist dies. Initially she believes she needs to marry so that her child will be legitimate, but she finds out that she was actually the legal wife at the end of book one. Still, she asks her childhood best friend Jonathan to marry her. She wants her daughter to have a good father figure rather than the scoundrel who married her and then left. The problem is, the Jonathan of her memories is not the Jonathan that exists now. Her childhood friend was kind, gentle, and valued Constance above all else. But after Jonathan gets sent off to war, he becomes changed. He now has a sense of apathy toward the world, and that extends to Constance. From the scenes from his point of view, it seems that he is desperate not to care out of fear that he will start to feel more complicated emotions. He is scared and isolates himself rather than lean on others for support. Personally, I felt his change in personality was a little *too* much, but I won't deny that PTSD can do major things to someone's psyche. His character growth is stilted. Jonathan will seem to make strides towards healing only to fall back into bad habits. While this is totally believable, it's not necessarily fun to read in a romance novel. That said, I really did enjoy the book, and I think he put together a decent grovel to Constance given the circumstances.
Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.
Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.
Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.
With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.
You Can Find It At:Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Author: Katee Robert
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release: June 7, 2022
Series: Dark Olympus #3
My Review: 5 Stars
Before I get into the review, I just want to note that this book is both darker and steamier than the rest of the romance novels I cover!
I *loved* Wicked Beauty! I've really been looking forward to it since I first heard about it from the author, and was ecstatic to get approved for an ARC on Edelweiss. When I was approved I was in the middle of a reading slump (and promptly went back into it after I finished) but I read the book in maybe a day. Which would have been less if I hadn't had to go to class. Also, it is really weird reading sex scenes in the hallway while waiting for class to start. I love this series, and appreciate the set-up being done for later books.
If you love Katee Robert bonkers, Wicked Beauty fits right in! It is a romance between Helen, Achilles, and Patroclus in an imagined modern city of Olympus. Between the characters, we have enemies to lovers (Achilles and Helen), childhood friends meet again to loves (Helen and Patroclus), and long-term romance (Achilles and Patroclus). The relationship dynamics play well off each other and enhance the book.
Wicked Beauty also has a solid plot, featuring a competition to become the new Ares in Olympus. There are a series of surprises in the competition and Katee really keeps you guessing about who will win, or even who you're routing for. I really like how each book expands the world of Olympus and introduces us to more characters. I would have loved a check in with Hades and Persephone, but it doesn't work with the constraints of the book (and also the characters don't know each other). I look forward to seeing more of these characters in the future. I expect to see at least Helen again, as her siblings will be playing main character roles in upcoming books.
She was the face that launched a thousand ships,
The fierce beauty at the heart of Olympus,
And she was never ours to claim.
In Olympus, you either have the power to rule... or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city's inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.
Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize... or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.
Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can't keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?
A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and Patroclus that's as sinful as it is sweet.
You Can Find It At:
And that's all she wrote (for now). I hope you like these reviews, and that they just might encourage you to pick up one of the books! I've read some more romances recently that I haven't typed up reviews for yet, but I can't wait to share them with you once I do! If you've already read any of these books, feel free to share how your feelings compare!