Review of “What a Lord Wants” (Capturing the Carlisles #5) by Anna Harrington

Harrington, Anna. What a Lord Wants. New York: NYLA, 2019.

Paperback | $14.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1798484678 | 309 pages | Regency Romance

3.5 stars

What a Lord Wants is a nice conclusion(?) to the Carlisles’ series, although I admit at first I completely forgot how this was meant to be a Carlisles’ book in the first place. Thankfully, this is explained for the most part, and, due to having the loosest connection to the other books (with the exception of book 3, with this book’s heroine and that one being sisters), it can more or less stand alone.

This book felt oddly paced to me at first, and I found myself boggled at my lack of investment in comparison to others’ glowing reviews for it. I could feel the romantic tension right away, but I wasn’t sure I connected with Dom or Eve until at least halfway through the book. There were things I enjoyed, like being enmeshed in the world of art at the time, and I liked that Eve, in spite of being enveloped in scandal, was unafraid of risking another when she found herself in one, but still, I was fully prepared to drag my way through it, which would not do any favors toward my perspective on the current stale state of the genre.

But somewhere after that halfway point, it got better for me, and I started to formulate what was wrong, along with seeing things be solved for me. And the crux of the issue was Dom’s dual persona. I’m not the biggest fan of heroes who put up walls for whatever reason, and while I found it to be a new take, it did not endear me to him, especially since I felt the solution to his problems of lacking inspiration so obvious. But as things progressed, I found myself warming to him somewhat, and a pivotal moment concerning a letter he receives from a past love moved me and showed a moment of revelation and growth, particularly as it’s revealed that the woman’s father (also his former mentor who instilled the “art before all else” way of thinking) also eventually found love that altered his perspective,c and I found that beautiful and poetic.

While I did not find it as enjjoyable as I had hoped, having really liked or even loved quite a few of Harrington’s other books, I feel it’s mostly me and my funk with historicals lately, and I would not dissuade anyone from picking it up, especially if they have consistently loved Harrington’s work in the past and also really love historicals.

Review of “How the Earl Entices” (Capturing the Carlisles #4) by Anna Harrington

Harrington, Anna. How the Earl Entices. New York: NYLA Publishing, 2018. 

Paperback | $14.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1721620654 | 316 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

How the Earl Entices is yet another great book from Anna Harrington, and this one has one of the best premises yet — and a great execution of said premise. And part of it is the way Harrington incorporated a broad sense of the politics and legal protocols of the period and how they impact both Ross’ and Grace’s lives, making it feel much deeper than the increasingly common wallpaper historical.

Grace is a heroine that I immediately rooted for, given her dire situation of being on the run from a brother-in-law who would be more than happy to see both her and her son dead in order to solidify his claim to his brother’s title. I admired her strength and determination to prove that her son’s claim, despite the fact that suspicion was cast on it. Ross may also be my favorite member of the  Carlisle family, because of his sense of purpose in terms of his mission, and how easily his priorities evolve when it comes to helping and protecting Grace, and eventually, being open to spending his life with her, even if things did not initially get off to as auspicious a start between them.

I would recommend this for fans of historical romance who both like the sense of escapism and fantasy, but also like stories with depth and heart. And while it is fourth in the series, and characters from both this series and her prior one appear, it is also a great book to start with for new fans, as aside from brief appearances from these characters, it stands alone.

 

Review of “As the Devil Dares” (Capturing the Carlisles #3) by Anna Harrington

-Harrington, Anna. As the Devil Dares. New York: Forever, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-1-4555-9729-1. $7.99 USD. 

4 stars

I started this book with a dose of skepticism, considering all the promotional material I’d seen calling Mariah “the Hellion.” And the early chapters had me even more prepared to dislike her, as she both seems to want her father to take her seriously as a potential partner for the company, but also demonstrate her lack of responsibility by doing mad things like driving a phaeton at breakneck speed. At those moments, I was prepared to throttle her in an attempt to explain that maybe her father wants her to gain some maturity, and he’s not just against her becoming a partner in the company due to her gender. And while I felt like the focus deviated from her “wild” behavior without any real explanation beyond her plans to pretend to be dutiful once the story got underway, I did like that there was a focus on her good qualities, like her love for her sister, which is the impetus for the final crisis, and the concern she has for orphans.

Of course, the real star of the show is Robert, as each time, the banter between him and his brothers has been an utter delight. And it is much the same here, although we don’t get as much of it this time around, what with both Sebastian and Quinn both having started their own families. But it’s nice to get a deeper insight into how his father’s death impacted him, and molded him into the person he is, given his past debaucheries. It is also refreshing to see someone rise from those deep depths on their own independent of their love interest (as that is a common trope in historical romance), and instead have the focus be on Mariah helping him to see that he doesn’t have to keep trying to be perfect and attempting to live up to what he feels his father wanted, because of the nature of unconditional love.

 

Review of “If the Duke Demands” (Keeping the Carlisles #1) by Anna Harrington

Image belongs to Anna Harrington and Forever/Grand Central Publishing.

Harrington, Anna. If the Duke Demands. New York, Forever, 2017.

(2-ish stars)

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to review this, given the fact that I found myself actually giving up part way through, and to provide a review of a book I did not finish would not be fair. But I found some obvious problems with the part I did read (I got up to the middle of chapter eleven, so around page 230), so I decided I would discuss them.

My initial impression when I saw this book were, “Oh, yay, another duke *eyeroll*.” And while this book is the first in the Carlisle brothers’ series, they are introduced in her last book, How I Married a Marquess, part of her previous series.

That said, some of my complaints about this book are that the major obstacle keeping the hero and heroine apart is nearly identical to that of HIMAM. In that one, Thomas, Marquess of Chesney, is a future duke, and despite his feelings for Josephine Carlisle, he cannot marry her, because, despite the fact that she was adopted by a baron, she isn’t from a noble family by blood. Her adoptive brother, Sebastian, now Duke of Trent, due to actions explained both in that book and this one, can’t marry Miranda, because she’s simply a niece to one of his tenants. Additionally, Miranda basically grew up as their sister.

But in both cases, they end up sleeping together anyway. I can’t recall why I didn’t have issues with HIMAM, but at one point in this book, he talks about how his father was a great man, not a rake like him and his brothers, and it’s pretty obvious that his parents loved each other. Yet, he seems determined to go through with marry a dull society lady, because he thinks it would make his father happy. That just seemed completely implausible to me. I can understand having this motivation if your father was an exacting man who expected perfection all the time, and could be abusive, but I just didn’t like that becoming duke made him such a stick-up-his-ass prick.

And did I mention Miranda is being chaperoned by his mother in town for the Season during the course of this book, and that she is technically his responsibility as well? I am almost grateful for stories where we have fathers and guardians who look out for their daughters’ interests in other books, but it is a shame that Miranda did not have that.

But that’s not to say this is a book I absolutely hated. Despite the fact that I did not finish it, in the parts I did read, I found myself being charmed by the dynamic between the Carlisle family, especially the brothers. The banter early on works really well, but the hero was too much of an asshole, and the heroine, while a strong character initially, just kind of melted into his embrace, despite the fact that she would be ruined, and he CAN’T MARRY HER.