Review of “Andrew: Lord of Despair” (Lonely Lords #7, Grace Burrowes Regency Chronological Order #2) by Grace Burrowes

Burrowes, Grace. Andrew: Lord of Despair. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2013.

Mass Market Paperback | $8.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1402278662 | 384 pages | Regency Romance

4 stars

Grace Burrowes is one of those authors I’ve had a complicated relationship with, as she is raved about by many readers, but several things have kept me from reading her interconnected books, following intending to start them with the Windham prequels. I recently made an attempt again with Gareth: Lord of Rakes, a book I had long put off due to difficulty suspending disbelief at the concept, yet unwilling to skip it (or any of the books) entirely due to fear of name-drops (that was why I was actually irrationally annoyed with the inclusion of one of her holiday novellas bundled with the last Kelly Bowen book). much to my surprise, when I recently read it, I found the justification of the concept believable, but almost everything else pertaining to the characters and plot, weak…so much so that I didn’t bother to review it. However, knowing this was an early book and not her best, and liking Andrew and Astrid as secondary characters, I persevered and picked up the second one.

While I feel this book is still much more hero-focused than I normally prefer, giving much more depth to Andrew than Astrid, I did feel like she tried to give Astrid substance in a way she did not to Felicity in the last book. I could empathize with Astrid’s struggles at being a widow of a man who was callous and unfaithful, and having her life sort of hang in the balance as she awaits the birth of his child, especially as she’s being targeted by someone who is out to hurt her and her child.

However, Andrew, despite obviously being Burrowes’ focus, was a harder sell for me at first. I did like that he and Astrid had this established rapport that carried over from the prior book, and that he was devoted to protecting her, but it took me a while to understand his motivations for making certain choices, like why he was so determined to distance himself from Astrid despite the chemistry between them. However, it became clearer later in the book, and I began to understand him more due to his past involvement with a woman who died in the same wreck that killed his father, although I did not like the way he was absolved of guilt by essentially demonizing the woman in question.

The mystery element, surrounding who was threatening Astrid’s life, was decently developed, much more so than the previous book’s mystery subplot. And while it might be easy to infer who the culprit could be, judging by who does and does not have their own book (as noted in the family tree in the opening pages), there is just enough misdirection and the character is written in a way that I still did not think it could be that person based on how they were introduced to me.

On the whole, this is an improvement on the previous book, but I still have some issues with it. From what I’ve been told, she does get better over time, so I will be continuing on with her work. And I would say, if you like historical romance, she’s worth trying, on the off chance you’re like me and are one of the few who have not fully dove into the Burrowes Backlist.

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Review of “No Dukes Allowed” by Kelly Bowen, Grace Burrowes, and Anna Harrington

Bowen, Kelly, et. al. No Dukes Allowed. Hagerstown. MD: Grace Burrowes Publishing, 2018. 

Paperback | $7.46 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1941419632 | 308 pages | Regency Romance

When this anthology was announced, I was excited. As one of the rare romance readers who not only “doesn’t love a duke,” but sometimes loathes their constant presence in romance to the point where they’re invading subgenres and settings that I would normally go to to get away from dukes, it’s refreshing to have a new anthology that not only celebrates good, honest, hardworking Regency men, but portrays what I think would have been the more common archetype of the Regency aristocrat: self-absorbed with their own importance, to contrast with the many romanticized portrayals on the market.

Architect of My Dreams by Grace Burrowes

This story is promising, with a great reversal of the cross-class romance. I enjoyed seeing the development of the relationship between Adam and Eugenia, especially given Adam’s hostile feelings toward dukes for the way one treated his father, and the widowed duchess Eugenia being pursued and blackmailed by that duke’s profligate son. However, I did feel that the relationship between Adam and Eugenia was based on lust, and while I could see what she might find to love about him, I wasn’t sure what he really saw in her.

Pursuit of Honor by Kelly Bowen

My favorite from the collection, I enjoyed this story of friends-to-lovers and the stakes keeping them apart. I loved the conflict that arose from Oliver feeling the need to behave honorably toward his betrothed, even at the expense of his feelings for Diana. I was also pleased with how the situation was resolved, with Oliver not having to do the dishonorable thing, and with his fiancee Hannah’s happiness assured. I also thoroughly enjoyed the subplot that tied Oliver’s search for his sister to Diana’s own closed-minded, scoundrel duke suitor, and I was glad to see a happy resolution there, also with a good man.

The Double Duchess by Anna Harrington stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this second chance romance, and I loved the hero of this one. I love that Max chose to do the difficult thing concerning the woman he loved and let her marry someone else, given that his circumstances were so bad at the time. And while I could relate to Belinda’s feelings on the matter, that Max left her, I did feel like she could be hard to relate to in this matter, especially since she did have a decent life, compared to the hardships that she might have faced as the wife of a minor soldier. However, I did find the intrigues surrounding the debate between their two causes of the hospital for the pensioned officers and academy for the cadets interesting, and I very much enjoyed the way it was resolved.

 

 

 

Review of “How to Find a Duke in Ten Days” by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, and Carolyn Jewel

Grace Burrowes, et. al. How to Find a Duke in Ten Days. [United States]: cJewel Books, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1937823627. $3.99 USD (Digital price; no longer available in paperback)

I was instantly sold by the concept of this anthology, following three bibliophile heroes searching for volumes of the rare Duke’s Book of Knowledge, also referred to informally as “the Dukes.” I love that the authors (as well as the late Miranda Neville, who was meant to contribute to the anthology as well) created a plausible historical basis for this set of books, presenting the right circumstances for each of the men and their respective heroines to go on their searches for the volumes.

“The Will to Love” by Grace Burrowes

3 stars

I was excited when I found out that Ramsdale, who appeared in Burrowes’ prior collaboration, The Duke’s Bridle Path, would get his HEA in this anthology. However, out of the three in this anthology, I found this one the weakest, mostly because I felt that the connection between him and Philomena wasn’t well-developed, especially since there is time devoted to her father’s relationship with her companion, a relationship which is not resolved at all. However, I did feel like both Philomena and Ramsdale were likable characters, they just weren’t given enough time for me to be convinced that their relationship would work, especially given that a misunderstanding regarding where his affection lies plays a role in the plot.

“How to Steal a Duke (in Ten Days, Give or Take a Few Days, But Definitely Less than a Fortnight” by Shana Galen

4.5 stars

I was unsure of this one at first, given it does contain one of my least favorite tropes, this one being the stuffy duke whose hidden layers are revealed by a woman who isn’t interested in his title. But Galen brings something fresh to the long-tired trope. Like his fellow Bibliomania Club members, Dominick has a love for books, and at one point, it is even stated that he prefers his books to the typical pursuits of a gentleman of the time, like gambling or whoring, which won me over, and the way he shows his concern for Rosalyn’s family immediately upon learning their situation, and later for Rosalyn herself when they are on their journey,  is another point in his favor.

“‘The Viscount’s First Kiss” by Carolyn Jewel

5 stars

This one is of course my favorite in the anthology, as it is a wonderful friends-to-lovers story. It also is a wonderful closer to the anthology, providing a conclusion to the plot threads regarding “the Duke’s Book.” Through Lord Daunt, we see the world of difference between sex and love, as he is known in society to be a rake, even having a child with one of his former partners, but throughout it all, he has been in love with Magdalene, who was his friend’s wife, now his widow. And of the three couples in the anthology, they form the best match, given that she is outwardly shy, but shares his passion for old, rare books. It was wonderful to see these two go from the shared purpose of looking for the remaining Dukes to exploring their passion for one another, and then finally declaring their love.

Review of “The Duke’s Bridle Path” by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain

Burrowes, Grace, and Theresa Romain. The Duke’s Bridle Path: A Regency Novella Duet. [United States]: Grace Burrowes Publishing, 2017. ISBN-13: 9781941419571. $6.99 USD. 

This is a sweet pair of interconnected novellas, playing with an intriguing concept, but not letting it overshadow each couple’s unique journey to finding love. While neither is completely flawless, I felt both novellas were enjoyable.

“His Grace for the Win” by Grace Burrowes

4.5

I stayed away from Grace Burrowes for a long time, as despite enjoying her Windham prequels, a few of her other books had historical errors, either in terms of word choice being a bit too modern or some of her characters’ choices not feeling believable for the time period.  But I found I really enjoyed reading her work this time around. Not only is it a friends-to-lovers story (my favorite trope), but the hero is actually more reserved than some of his more rakish ducal counterparts. And the driving force for the growing romance between him and Harriet being him taking riding lessons to overcome his aversion to horses was adorable. And while this is one of those stories where you start questioning why Philippe and Harriet don’t just talk to each other, especially after they’ve been intimate, I did feel their motivations were solid for the most part, and on some level, I can understand confronting one’s feelings for someone who’s always been “just a friend,” especially if they haven’t given any sign of wanting anything more.

“Desperately Seeking Scandal” by Theresa Romain

5 stars

Theresa Romain is an author I had longed to read more of, but circumstances have meant I was unable to, so she was actually the main reason I picked up this book. And I thoroughly enjoyed this story of two seemingly opposite people coming together, especially as in this case, it was the heroine who was an aristocrat and the hero untitled and unconnected, instead of the other way around. I loved the complexities to Colin’s character and seeing them unfold, especially as his secrets present contradictions to his public persona, but also make him a sympathetic character for anyone else who has flaws that can sometimes hold them back. And despite the fact that many novellas suffer from a shorter length, it worked just fine here, exploring how Colin evolves as he begins to regret his past actions in terms of printing articles about Ada years ago.

Review of “The Duke and His Duchess/The Courtship” (Windhams 0.5 and 0.6) by Grace Burrowes

Burrowes, Grace. The Duke and His Duchess/The Courtship. Naperville: Sourcebooks Casabalanca, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-4926-2617-6. Print List Price: $6.99.

Note: This is a compilation edition of The Courtship (2012) and The Duke and His Duchess (2013), which were previously ebook-exclusive.

The Courtship

3 stars

This was an enjoyable read about, as the title suggests, the courtship between Percival Windham and Esther Himmelfarb who become of the parents of the Windhams, Grace Burrowes’s most well-known fictional family. While charming, it didn’t feel original, in that common tropes are present throughout, including falling in love at a house party, and the concept of a man of lofty status falling for a woman of a slightly lower class, not to mention the whole “virgin heroine who wows the sexually experienced hero into forgetting about his  experienced former paramours.” But it is a fast read, that sets the stage for the follow-up novella.

The Duke and His Duchess 

5 stars

It’s very rare that we see a a couple encounter new significant problems after finding their HEA, but it is more realistic to real life, and considering there weren’t a lot of obstacles to Percival and Esther’s love in the first novella, we see their love truly tested here, with different problems facing them, like Esther’s health, the possibility of Percival inheriting the dukedom if both his father and sickly elder brother die, and the reappearance of both of his former mistresses, both of whom have children by him.

I love how Burrowes showed how difficult life could be for women who are forced into the position of selling their bodies to survive, and shows how it can affect women differently. I also admire that how she had Esther behave about it, visiting one of the women as well as she and Percival agreeing to raise both of them children, despite the fact that this is not something that most historical wives would have done.