Review of “Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress”

Boyle, Elizabeth. Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. New York: Avon Books, 2009. 

Mass Market Paperback | $6.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0061373244 | 369 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

When I started the series this was the book I had heard so much about and looked forward to. The fact that Elizabeth Boyle appeared to be once again trying something new, illustrating the love, loss, and reunion between Dash and Pippin through sections alternating between past (1814) and present (1837) had me skeptical, but I felt she pulled it off very well and made it simple enough to follow.

I love how she showed the development of the characters. Dash in particular is in not so great of a place when we meet him in 1837, contrasting drastically with the charming rogue in the 1814 sections. And despite the fact that long separation books might not work for everyone, I felt like the reasons behind it were well-defined both in this book and in the prior one, making it all the more rewarding when they can get past their past mistakes and find a way to be together.

I think fans of the series and Elizabeth Boyle’s work will enjoy this book. I would also recommend this one to anyone looking for a heart-wrenching historical where the couple ultimately — albeit after a much longer period in terms of time than most fictional couples — triumphs over their obstacles and gets their HEA.

 

Review of “Confessions of Little Black Gown” (Bachelor Chronicles #4) by Elizabeth Boyle

Boyle, Elizabeth. Confessions of a Little Black Gown. New York: Avon Books, 2009. 

Mass Market Paperback | $6.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0061373237 | 370 pages | Regency Romance

4 stars

This is another great installment in the Bachelor Chronicles series, again showing Boyle’s skill at crafting compelling stories. I did feel this one was a little uneven in terms of the focus shifting away from the central romance quite a bit to focus on the mystery plot surrounding Captain Dashwell to set up for the next book, it is still an enjoyable read and one of my favorites so far.

I love how the differences between the Langley sisters are shown in a different light here, and I enjoyed the full experience I got of reading them both to understand their relationship more. In this one, Felicity is a matchmaking busybody who I probably would have hated if I had no prior knowledge of her, but when put into the context of her own book and her goals, I could at least understand her. However, Thalia is a lot easier to sympathize with, given that she isn’t interested in a marriage for position and security, and the story ends with her doing the exact opposite of what Felicity would like in the department. Larken was equally intriguing, and I liked the way the relationship developed between them, especially as neither was what they initially appeared to be.

 

Review of “Love Letters from a Duke” (Bachelor Chronicles #3) by Elizabeth Boyle

Boyle, Elizabeth. Love Letters From a Duke. New York: Avon Books, 2007. 

Mass Market Paperback | $6.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0060784034 | 370 pages | Regency Romance

4 stars

Love Letters From a Duke is a far better book than the first in the series, especially in terms of establishing a convincing romance between the hero and heroine. The developing relationship between Thatcher and Felicity, especially given their differing desires and the deception between them, leads to a much more compelling plot. While I’m not usually a fan of romances where one half of the couple deceives the other, I felt it was well-executed here.

Felicity is a character who can be hard to write convincingly, given her primary goal in life is to marry a duke. But I like that she is concerned about her future, and that of her sister and cousin, given that is something many women would have faced, given that they were basically the property of their fathers, and then their husbands, so choosing poorly rarely ends well.

I also liked Thatcher, and I liked that he was one of those dukes who had no interest in his family’s (particularly his grandfather’s) machinations, and that, once he met Felicity, he wanted her to want to marry him for himself, and not just the security his title could bring her. That is something that is so rare among historicals with duke heroes, who are typically so conscious of their title and its expectations, that I appreciated this aspect.

I did start to find the story a little too out there at times, especially the bits involving Tally and Pippin and the extended gang of their relatives and friends. I can only hope that this is toned down in future books, as I have heard great things about the next couple books in the series in particular.

Review of “This Rake of Mine” (Bachelor Chronicles #2) by Elizabeth Boyle

Boyle, Elizabeth. This Rake of Mine. New York: Avon Books, 2005. 

Mass Market Paperback | $6.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0060783990 | 384 pages | Regency Romance

3.5 stars

I heard more than one friend praise the Bachelor Chronicles, so of course, since I was reading Elizabeth Boyle anyway, I picked up this book, skipping Something About Emmaline, which I wasn’t able to find, with the assurance that there wasn’t that important to read to enjoy the series.

And while I do still think Elizabeth Boyle is a fantastic writer, this is yet another book with its strengths and weaknesses. And unfortunately, the weakness is again the romance, as has been the case with some of the others I’ve read. Both Miranda and Jack are sympathetic characters: Miranda is admirable for her strength of character, enduring ruin in the eyes of not only society, but her own family, the latter of whom actually declares her dead; Jack is completely different from the heartless rake I went into the book expecting, as he tried to do the right thing, and worked to atone for his mistakes when he though Miranda lost to him the first time around. But there is no “spark” between them, and any lingering feelings they are said to have for one another are stated, but aren’t backed up by any chemistry between them.

However, other aspects of this book were charming and made it engaging. The supporting cast were delightfully funny, if a bit out there at times. The story also has a sometimes Gothic tone, with a mystery as to the goings-on around the castle, and with an action-packed climax, which were also quite enjoyable. While I didn’t think this was the best book on its own, I do look forward to some of the future books and seeing more of these characters.

Review of “Tempted by the Night” (Marlowe #2) by Elizabeth Boyle

Boyle, Elizabeth. Tempted by the Night. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

Paperback | $6.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0-06-137322-0 | 272 pages | Historical Romance

4 stars

Tempted by the Night is a much more interesting book than its predecessor, His Mistress by Morning. There was much more chemistry between the the leads, Hermione and Rockhurst, although I can’t say that this was my favorite element of the book, as like the prior one, there is a magical element that separates them in a way for most of the book, plus he didn’t even notice her at the beginning of the book, despite her being in love with him. And while I found Rockhurst a noble hero with a rakish cover, as the blurb promises, I did find some of Hermione’s behavior a bit irrational at times,

However, I very much enjoyed the greater development put into the paranormal/fantasy elements, especially the lore for the different magical creatures introduced, like Melaphor and the Paratus. I also loved that this installment was much more high-action, with a lot more at risk, showing Boyle’s growing talent as a fantasy writer. And while I lament that this series has been discontinued, likely due to not being as popular as her straight Regencies, I do hope she will return to this world, or a world like it, someday in the future.

Review of “His Mistress by Morning” by Elizabeth Boyle

Boyle, Elizabeth. His Mistress by Morning. New York: Avon Books, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-078402-7. $6.99 USD. 

3.5 stars

I had read a handful of Elizabeth Boyle’s most recent books a while back, and recently found myself interested in further exploring her backlist, especially as I heard she wrote a few with paranormal elements. And while this one wasn’t one of her better books in terms of the romance, it wasn’t without its charms.

“Be careful what you wish for” is the message at the heart of many stories, but the concept is rare in Regencies, and was even more so at the time of this book’s publication over a decade ago. Thus, Boyle makes the concept her own, charting shy Charlotte’s growth into someone with more confidence in herself.

As such, I feel that it is a shame that Boyle tried to fit it into the conventional romance novel format, casting the largely uninspiring Lord Trent as the hero. While we do see that he and Charlotte do come together on a deeper level, prior to making her wish, he doesn’t even notice her, making it doubtful as to whether he truly loves her, or was influenced by fairy magic to love her in the end. Had this book continued on the trajectory it did for most of the book, with Charlotte growing as a person and perhaps finding someone who genuinely cares for her, it might have been a much more enjoyable book.