Review of "The Seduction of Lady Phoebe" (The Marriage Game #1) by Ella Quinn

Quinn, Ella. The Seduction of Lady Phoebe. 2013. New York: Zebra, 2019.

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1420147285 | 360 pages | Regency Romance

3.5 stars

Ella Quinn has become one of my favorite historical romance authors due to her Worthingtons series, but I had long lamented not being able to read her other series, The Marriage Game, which she wrote mostly prior to the Worthingtons and was released only in eBook (and I think print-on-demand paperback?). So, I was excited when I heard The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, the first book in that series, was getting a mass-market release, especially given the tie-ins between those two series.

And this book, like many debut books, is indicative of Quinn’s burgeoning talent. with her knack for creating historically realistic characters who are still relatable to the modern reader present in this book. Phoebe is perhaps one of her more daring heroines, with discussions of her forward thinking opinions and quick wit, making her popular with gentlemen.

With Marcus, she manages a difficult feat of redeeming a hero who has behaved inappropriately with the heroine in the past, showing his character growth due to life experience forcing him to grow up. And throughout it all, I love that he loves Phoebe, and works to atone for the wrong he did her, treating her with respect in their present courtship and protecting her from another suitor with nefarious intentions, while also acknowledging her own ability to protect herself.

If there is a flaw with this book, it’s that the pacing is a little uneven, with something intriguing happening on occasion due to some development in their relationship, or as the result of her life being in danger (a major part of the latter half), but I found my investment flagging a bit at times.

However, this is a nice, sweet read that shows the early talent of an author who I’ve come to enjoy. I recommend this to all historical romance lovers looking for a sweet escape with a feisty heroine and a wonderful hero.

Review of “Believe in Me” (The Worthingtons #6) by Ella Quinn

Quinn, Ella. Believe in Me. New York: Kensington, 2019.

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1420145205 | 374 pages | Regency Romance

3 stars

I admit I sadly did not have high hopes for Believe in Me, after having difficulties with its predecessor. And while this one also fell a little flat, I do feel like this one is marginally better.

Once again, I must give praise to Quinn’s dedication to getting the details of the period correct, and also introducing readers to lesser known facts about the Regency era in a fun and engaging way. The concept and overall execution of the idea of a woman who is more interested in pursuing higher education is a unique one for the time period, but it is great to know that it was not outside the realm of possibility for those with connections and the means to travel, as Augusta did.

And the situation led to some great development of her as a character in the context of the extended Worthington family as well. It was great to see the determined Augusta appealing alternately to her more traditionally minded mother, who hopes to see her married off, and her brother Matt, who is slightly more open to the idea. It led to some great moments of development to see how everyone progressed in the three-year time jump since the last book’s events.

The romance felt a little more lackluster to me, which is unfortunate, as on paper, it seemed like it could easily have been one of my favorites, due to the slightly slow-burn nature of the relationship and how things start off with Phinn and Augusta being friends first, and them being well-suited to each other due to both being intelligent. But it was one of those books where I felt like the conflicts were resolved a bit too quickly, and then there was a lot of slow-moving travel scenes. It helped to illustrate the scenery and what it would have been like to actually make the trip, but it did little else but make me wonder how much longer it would be until something happened.

On the whole it is a fairly decent entry, although it does make me question whether this series has gone on a bit too long. There are numerous other family members left, so we’ll see if Ella Quinn can write something a bit more engaging for the next family member. And in the meantime, I do still feel it’s worth reading, even if primarily for the heroine’s arc alone. As I noted previously, Ella Quinn’s adherence to accuracy is pretty much unrivaled, and she is an author I would recommend for those looking for a historical that will both entertain and educate, this one is for you.

Review of “You Never Forget Your First Earl” (The Worthingtons #5) by Ella Quinn

Quinn, Ella. You Never Forget Your First Earl. New York: Zebra/Kensington, 2018.

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1420145182 | 348 pages | Regency Romance

3 stars

You Never Forget Your First Earl is unfortunately the weakest entry in the Worthingtons series so far, but the strengths that carry over from the first four books remain intact. Once again, Ella Quinn shows her clear enthusiasm for the the Regency period with a well-researched historical romance, which stands out in a sea of wallpaper historicals. While she admits to taking a few liberties, they were largely for the sake of the flow of the plot, and I think any other reasons outlined in the author’s note provide justification beyond that.

I also liked the setup for both characters. Elizabeth intrigued me from her first appearance in book two, and I’m glad to finally get to know her better, and that she’s not just “the ideal wife” for a gentleman, but she really does want more than that. And while he does factor into some of my problems with the book, I enjoyed Geoff’s charming awkwardness for the most part.

Unfortunately, this is one of those books that has an almost conflict-free beginning-to-middle where they get along great, with the last third or so being bogged down by a Big Misunderstanding that could have been resolved with one conversation. The worst part is is that the two of them keep contemplating wanting to talk about it (or in her case rail at him about it), but pretty much don’t. I like the intent with the conflict about the ways of expressing love, but I just feel like if they were open and honest, there wouldn’t have been so much interminable sulking and assumptions.

On the whole, I did like this, in spite of its flaws in terms of how the conflict was executed. I would probably recommend this to fans of richly detailed historical romance, especially if you don’t mind the Big Misunderstanding trope.

Review of “The Marquis and I” (The Worthingtons #4) by Ella Quinn

Quinn, Ella. The Marquis and I. New York: Kensington, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-1-4201-4516-8. $7.99 USD. 

5 stars

Ellla Quinn’s Worthingtons  quickly became one of my favorite family-oriented series, and The Marquis and I makes an excellent new addition. And while there are many strengths, one that stands out to me is the development of Constantine and Charlotte, both as individual characters and as a couple. Despite some of the suggestions made by the blurb that gave me pause, Constantine is a man of honor toward both Charlotte and his former mistress Aimee,  while some of his peers might behave somewhat differently. And while some people might not like Charlotte, due to her naivete, and the fact that she sees the world in black-and-white with no gray area in between, I found her flaws made her a more intriguing character.

I also like that Quinn is continuing her emphasis on social issues of the period. Topics that carry over are the horrible methods employed by procuresses for bawdy-houses and the sad plight of children in kid kens who are forced into thievery. But I was incredibly moved by Aimee’s story of how she ended up working as a courtesan, showing that, despite being kept in better conditions than some of her counterparts in brothels, she still did not have as much agency where her life was concerned.

And even as the family circle grows, I continue to be enraptured by the relationships between the characters and the love that they have for one another. Without overshadowing the central romance between Con and Charlotte, there were some fun moments from many of the major characters, which allowed me to fully become immersed in the world of the Worthingtons again…and to be truly anxious for the next book upon reaching the end.