Review of “Fair as a Star” (Victorian Romantics #1) by Mimi Matthews

Matthews, Mimi. Fair as a Star. [United States]: Perfectly Proper Press, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1733056984 | $3.99 USD | 194 pages | Victorian Romance

Blurb

From USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews comes a Victorian tale of love and longing in a quaint English village.

A Secret Burden…

After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy–or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes. 

A Longstanding Love… 

As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago. 

During an idyllic Victorian summer, friends and family gather in anticipation of Beryl and Sir Henry’s wedding. But in her darkest moment, it’s Mark who comes to Beryl’s aid. Can he help her without revealing his feelings–or betraying his brother?

*Fair as a Star is a novella, approximately 50,000-words in length.

Praise for the Novels of Mimi Matthews

“Readers will be hard put to set this one down before the end.” –Library Journal, starred review

“[A] gripping, emotional Victorian romance… Historical romance fans should snap this one up.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

“As always, Matthews attention to historical accuracy is impeccable.” –Kirkus Reviews

“It seems that I say each book that Mimi Matthews pens is her best writing, but it appears to be true.” –The Romance Reviews

“Mimi Matthews is an exceptional story-teller.” –Passages to the Past

“[Matthews’] books are classics and remind me of Georgette Heyer and Mary Balogh…simply wonderful.” -Jane Porter, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“Mimi Matthews writes so beautifully I’ll happily follow her imagination anywhere.” -Kate Pearce, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

Content Warning: Fair as a Star contains discussions of mental illness and domestic violence.

Review

5 stars

I received an ARC from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Mimi Matthews has been recommended by a few people as an author of sweet/no-sex romance, so she has been on my radar for a while. And Fair as a Star sounded interesting, so I thought it would be a good entry point into her books. 

And it’s a wonderful book that delves into mental health in such a beautiful way with Beryl. Set in a time when both quack cures and abusive mental institutions were common, I love that instead it focuses on Beryl as a real person with depression without the dramatic/Gothic elements so often associated with Victorian literature, and it felt so refreshing to see. 

And her relationship with Mark is incredibly sweet as well, and I love his approach to Beryl’s illness, and how it’s influenced by his vocation as a clergyman. 

This is a  sweet story and it definitely has me excited to try more from her. If you love sweet historical romance, I recommend this one highly. 

Author Bio

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

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Review of “A Virtuous Ruby” by Piper Huguley

Huguley, Piper. A Virtuous Ruby. 2015.  [United States]: Lilaceae Press, 2020.

ASIN: B087XX47Z3 | $2.99 USD | 226 pages | Historical Romance

Blurb

An unexpected love in a small, Southern town. Migrations of the Heart, Book 1 After fifteen months of hiding from the shame of bearing an illegitimate child, two words drive Ruby Bledsoe to face the good citizens of Winslow, Georgia. Never again. She vows to speak out against injustice. For her sisters. For her parents. For her infant son, Solomon. When she comes to help an injured mill worker, she bristles when a tall, handsome man claiming to be a doctor brushes her aside. Despite his arrogance, Ruby senses he’s someone like her, whose light skin doesn’t quite hide who he is. Up north, Dr. Adam Morson easily kept his mixed race a secret. Now that he’s in Georgia, summoned by his white father, he can feel restrictions closing in around him. Something powerful draws him to the beauty whose activist spirit is as fiery as her name. And soon, Adam wants nothing more than to take Ruby and her child far from Georgia’s toxic prejudice. But Ruby must choose between seeking her own happiness and staying to fight for the soul of her hometown.

Review

5 stars

A recent essay piqued my interest in A Virtuous Ruby by Piper Huguley, an author I had read been introduced to in an anthology and long desired to read more from. And if this book is an indicator of her body of work, I am eager to read more. 

In an opening note to the book, Huguley notes that she was inspired by Tess of D’Urbervilles, inspiring a more optimistic end for its tragic heroine. And she certainly does so with Ruby, a survivor of sexual assault with an illegitimate child. I admired how firm she was in her convictions about her identity, when some black and mixed-race people who could do so elected to pass for white and escape persecution. 

Meanwhile, Adam is one such person who has chosen to do this, although Ruby isn’t fooled. I love how she encourages him to acknowledge his history, and how it poignantly depicts his struggle between deciding between the privilege he would receive from passing and fully embracing his identity as a black man and the hardships he and his ancestors faced. 

This is an utterly beautiful story, both historically rich and incredibly relevant, and one I recommend to every romance reader. 

Author Bio

Piper Huguley seeks to make new inroads in the publication of historical romance by featuring African American Christian characters.  The Lawyer’s Luck and The Preacher’s Promise, the first books in her “Home to Milford College” series, are Amazon best sellers.  The Mayor’s Mission, published in Winter 2014.  The next entry in the series, The Representative’s Revolt will publish in Spring 2015. She is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist for her novel, A Champion’s Heart—the fourth book in “Migrations of the Heart”. The first book in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, was the first-place winner in The Golden Rose Contest in 2013 and was a Golden Heart finalist in 2014. The first three books in the “Migrations of the Heart” series, which follows the loves and lives of African American sisters during America’s greatest internal migration in the first part of the twentieth century, will be published by Samhain Publishing in 2015.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

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Review of “The Heart of a Hellion” (The Duke’s Bastards #2) by Jess Michaels

Michaels, Jess. The Heart of a Hellion. Dallas: The Passionate Pen, LLC, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1947770348 | $4.99 USD | 270 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

Selina Oliver has always enjoyed all the pleasures life offers. As one of the infamous Roseford Bastards, why shouldn’t she? But Selina has a secret, one that could tear her world apart. She is also the Faceless Fox, a brazen thief who for years has been stealing the finest jewels of the nastiest women of the ton. Now her brother has invited her to a country party where one of the prizes she craves most will also be at her fingertips. How could a wily fox resist this henhouse?

Derrick Huntington has spent a life maintaining control and discipline. From his years in the army to his current place as an investigator for the ton’s elite, he never wavers from his duty. Now he and his partner are sent to an exclusive country party with one task: catch the Faceless Fox before they strike again and finally unmask the villain who has been intriguing him for years.

Investigator meet criminal in a wild chase that will involve seduction as distraction, unexpected respect and a love that could change both their lives forever. If only they can survive it.

In the series

#1 The Love of a Libertine 

#3 The Matter of a Marquess (coming Fall 2020)

Review

5 stars 

The Heart of a Hellion is another winner for Jess Michaels. Once again, she provides a story rich in character depth and intrigue, centering on one of my recent favorite tropes of criminal heroine/investigator hero. 

Michaels excels at crafting sexual tension that radiates off the page, and that is certainly the case for Selina and Derrick. I rooted for them as they fell for each other, while also wondering how it would all work out, as even though Selina did what she did for noble reasons, demonstrating she’s not actually that different from law-abiding Derrick, she still broke the law, and she became resigned to accepting the consequences.

And while definitely not a romantic suspense, there was a question of “whodunnit” at one point, that kept me on the edge of my seat wondering who it could be, especially since Selina, who is blamed for the offense, did not do it. And when it was revealed who it truly was and their connection to Selina, I also felt the sting of betrayal. 

I loved this book as much as the first, if not more, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for this ragtag bunch of ducal bastards. And if you love steamy Regency romance (equip your fire-resistant pants!), then you’ll love this one. 

Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling author Jess Michaels likes geeky stuff, Vanilla Coke Zero, anything coconut, cheese, fluffy cats, smooth cats, any cats, many dogs and people who care about the welfare of their fellow humans. She is lucky enough to be married to her favorite person in the world and live in the heart of Dallas.

When she’s not obsessively checking her steps on Fitbit or trying out new flavors of Greek yogurt, she writes erotic historical romances with smoking hot heroes and sassy heroines who do anything but wait to get what they want. She has written for numerous publishers and is now fully indie and loving every moment of it (well, almost every moment).

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Review of “Unveiling Love: The Complete Regency Suspense Tale” by Vanessa Riley

Riley, Vanessa. Unveiling Love: The Complete Regency Suspense Tale. Mableton, GA: Gallium Optronics, 2016. 

ASIN: B01H0K1C61 | $5.99 USD | 573 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

Winning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Barrington Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?

Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her Egyptian mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Barrington’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Barrington’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?

This is the complete novel with all four episodes. Enjoy this romantic suspense and meet old friends, William and Gaia, from Unmasked Heart. The love and drama continues.

Review

5 stars

Having enjoyed Vanessa Riley’s other episodic romance, The Bargain, I decided to pick up Unveiling Love. And while I’m still not a fan of the format, I do like how Riley uses it here to tackle a multi-faceted story with both a larger over-arching arc and smaller sub-plots. 

Vanessa Riley’s books are always such a treat, because they are chock-full or research into the lives of black and mixed-race people during the Regency, and her characters, and this book is no different, with its intricacies in the character relationships. 

I rooted for Barrington and Amora to work through the issues haunting their marriage, especially since Amora was plagued by trauma and fragmented memories, which have seen her imprisoned in an asylum. 

I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read more from Vanessa Riley. If you’re looking for a more diverse take on the Regency era, then I recommend this book (well, collection) highly. 

Author Bio

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Review of “Courting Calamity” by Amanda Barratt, Gabrielle Meyer, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y’Barbo

Barratt, Amanda. Courting Calamity: 4 Historical Stories. Uhrichville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1643524122 | $14.99 USD | 448 pages | Historical Romance/Christian Fiction

Blurb

Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress
 
Despite determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero.
 
Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer Uhlarik 
California, 1874
When outlaws steal a deed from Mattie Welling, her dreams for her eight orphan charges from New York City are dashed. Can Wells Fargo detective Jake Hickens be trusted to pick up the pieces?
 
The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Texas, 1890
When Zeke Wyatt returns home to Polecat Creek intent on making good on his promise to marry his childhood sweetheart, he finds she’s run off in his absence, leaving her kid sister to care for her aging parents and the mercantile. Can Zeke finally settle down, or will he leave another sister with a broken heart?
 
The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer
Minnesota, 1900
When wealthy lumber baron, Charles Alexander, unexpectedly finds himself married to an Italian immigrant, Sofia Bellini, he must do all he can to protect her from the society she’s ill-prepared to navigate. But when he falls in love with his pretty bride, he will have to make a difficult choice: will he go through with the annulment they had planned?
 
Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt  New York City, 1909 Irish immigrant Aileen O’Connor is willing to work to make a life in America. But even the land of opportunity is paved with hardship, as she discovers firsthand the injustices faced by factory workers. When she meets Lorenzo Favero at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, her heart is stirred by the kindness he shows her. When tragedy engulfs the city, will their newfound love survive the flames?
 

Review

“Lady and the Tramps” by Jennifer Uhlarik

4 stars

This one is a fun Western with the heroine helping orphan children and a thread of suspense that brings Mattie and detective Jake together. Both leads are memorable, and I liked their romance.

“The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek” by Katherine Y’ Barbo

4 stars

This one was cute! I liked Lizzie and Zeke’s camaraderie, and I like how, while things didn’t work out how Zeke thought they would with the woman he initially thought he wanted, he found the right woman for him in Lizzie. 

“The Bride of Basswood Hill” by Gabrielle Meyer

5 stars

One of the bright stars of the collection, I love how it explores an arranged marriage that was meant to be temporary and the struggles of an immigrant in assimilating into society. It’s a bit idealistic, but given the reality of the issues is often harsh, I needed this dose of sweetness to provide me a sense of optimism. 

“Echoes of the Heart” by Amanda Barratt

4.5 stars

I was excited for this one in particular because of one review I read in advance from a so-called “Christian” decrying the “liberal politics” of the book…as if it’s not a basic human desire to have fair working conditions? I liked the focus on this historical workers’ strike, punctuated by tragedy, and I found it poignant in light of many of the real life issues we’ve been dealing with lately. However, I did find the romance to be weaker by comparison, though Lorenzo and Aileen’s relationship is a small bright spot in an otherwise intense story.

***

A fairly solid collection, I love how it captures the gallant tradition of brave heroes and distressed heroines with distinct stories set in fun settings and time periods. And on the whole, it’s one of the better collections I’ve read from Barbour. If you love inspirational/sweet romance, you won’t want to miss this! 

Author Bios

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spin-off of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical fiction, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. She’s the author of over a dozen novels and novellas including The White Rose Resists: A Novel of the German Students Who Defied Hitler and My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love.

Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.

Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at amandabarratt.net.

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events. She can be found on her personal blog at www.gabriellemeyer.com, or her group blog, www.coffeecupsandcamisoles.blogspot.com, where she writes about her passion for history, Minnesota, and her faith.

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won five writing competitions and finaled in two other competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children.

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than eighty novels with almost two million copies in print in the US and abroad.

A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and is the winner of the Inspirational Romance of the Year by Romantic Times magazine.

To connect with her through social media, check out the links on her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.

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Review of “Gwenndolyn and the Three Suitors” (Lady Goosebury’s Tales) by Emma Brady

Brady, Emma. Gwendolyn and the Three Suitors. [United States]: Emma Brady, 2020. 

ASIN: B0856P85C9 | $3.99 USD | Historical Romance

Blurb

Don’t want a man that’s too big. All brawn and no brain.

Don’t want a man that’s too small…minded at least. Focused on money and image, without a purpose.

There has to be someone just right. The man who can lift her up to her dreams, but wrap her warm in his love.

Gwendolyn Fairchild had been a child blessed with beauty, but denied a loving family. Raised by the kind and benevolent Lady Goosebury in her special home for special girls, Gwen grew up humble and hardworking. Now she runs a bakery and is the landlord’s favorite. He decides that one of his two tenant, the butcher or the tailor, should marry her and inherit the entire building. It’s up to them to win her favor, but neither seems to fit quite right.

George Green had long since admire sweet Gwen. He was an orphan too, only he grew up in a poor London orphanage full of rowdy boys. As the landlords bookkeeper, he wasn’t included in the offer for her hand and he didn’t think he could be worthy of it. The other two men could give her a better, more prosperous life. So why do they both seem completely wrong for her? How far off the mark can they be?

One man is wrong, one man is dangerous and one man is just the right kind of warm-hearted love she needs.

In the series

Sleeping Evie by Jessica Cale

The Scoundrel’s New Con by Catherine Stein 

The Piper’s Paramour by Tabetha Waite

Review 

4 stars

Gwendolyn and the Three Suitors is a fun homage to “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” While, like the others, it’s a loose interpretation, emphasizing the concept that the heroine, Gwendolyn, wants something that is just right to her, not something that is anyone else’s ideal of perfection and suitability. 

It’s clear, aside from the obvious romance novel setup designating him the hero, that George is the most worthy, due to him being a longtime friend of hers and valuing her for herself as opposed to the material attributes she can provide him, in spite of his humble origins. The other men are attractive prospects, but they aren’t right for her. But it’s not your typical love triangle (square?) and I liked that.

The ending is a little anticlimactic, and I wanted a bit more from it, maybe an epilogue? But other than that, it’s a solid book, and one I recommend to fans of historical fairy tale tale retellings. 

Author Bio

Emma Brady is an author who loves a hot hero and a happy ending. She writes Historical romance because dukes are awesome. She loves to play with her nephews and her dog when not writing. Her books are available on amazon.​

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Review of “Duke in Darkness” (Wickedly Wed #1) by Nicola Davidson

Davidson, Nicola. Duke in Darkness. [New Zealand]: Nicola Davidson, 2020. 

ASIN: B07N5L5BBG | $4.99 USD | 305 pages | Regency Romance/Erotic Romance

Blurb

Colonel Gabriel Jordan-Ives once lived to serve king and country, with high hopes for a future of love, marriage, and children. Now he exists as a poor recluse, haunted by horrific war memories and struggling with a maimed body—until the day he unexpectedly inherits his cousin Exton’s dukedom and must leave his sanctuary for London, rejoin the ton he cannot abide…and secure the line with a legitimate heir.
Often punished for her hot blooded, curious nature, Lady Lilian Nash transformed herself into the perfect duchess-in-waiting to please her family. However they demand more—wed her late fiancé’s mad cousin—or they’ll be financially ruined. Her marriage of convenience is confusing; Gabriel is unlike any man she’s ever met, an untamed aristocrat both generous and secretive, a scarred yet powerful husband who introduces her to wicked pleasures in the bedchamber even as he forbids her from touching him.
But as the brutal shadows of his past intrude on their present, and cruel enemies attempt to destroy a growing bond, can love save a duke in darkness, or will the shadows consume them both?

Duke in Darkness is the first in a new full-length series. Please note it contains explicit language and sexual content.

Review

5 stars

Thus far, I had only read Nicola Davidson’s shorter works, but the premise of  Duke in Darkness intrigued me and I was curious what she could do with a full novel. And as I hoped, it delivered, and it’s probably my favorite Nicola Davidson book yet. 

She perfectly crafts two characters who each have obstacles to face that aren’t magically fixed by sex or falling in love (although in typical Davidson style, it’s sexy and kinky in the best way). I had heard praise in particular for the PTSD rep, and it’s well done in how it shows Gabriel learning to cope with this trauma, with support from Lilian. 

And while Gabriel’s a recluse, Lili’s story complements his in that she comes from a repressed background and must unlearn the insane things she learned about proper behavior, including in the bedroom, from her domineering grandmother. I like how this conflict was fleshed out (and I hate that old woman), and rooted for Lili to work through it, particularly when it became an obstacle to her finding true happiness with Gabriel. 

This is a fabulous book, and once again, Nicola Davidson demonstrates the perfect balance between sex and intimacy, as well as high heat and intricate characterization. I recommend it to anyone who loves erotic historical romances. 

Author Bio

NICOLA DAVIDSON worked for many years in communications and marketing as well as television and print journalism, but hasn’t looked back since she decided writing wicked historical romance was infinitely more fun. When not chained to a computer she can be found ambling along one of New Zealand’s beautiful beaches, cheering on the All Blacks rugby team, history geeking on the internet or daydreaming. If this includes chocolate – even better!
Keep up with Nicola’s news on Twitter (@NicolaMDavidson) Facebook (Nicola Davidson – Author) or her website www.nicola-davidson.com

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Review of “To Catch an Earl” (Bow Street Bachelors #2) by Kate Bateman

Bateman, Kate. To Catch an Earl. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1250306111 | $7.99 USD | 326 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

Working undercover for London’s first official police force, the Bow Street Bachelors have an obligation to serve the city’s best interests—even while they’re falling for the city’s most alluring women…

SHE KNOWS HOW TO STEAL A KISS.

Alex Harland, Earl of Melton and dedicated rake, never pictured himself as an agent of inquiry. But the thrill of investigation is a challenge he now embraces. When he’s asked to pursue the Nightjar, a notorious thief who is reclaiming France’s crown jewels, the case throws him into the path of the beautiful and equally elusive Emmy Danvers, reminding him of the only puzzle he’s never solved: the identity of the mysterious woman who once stole a kiss from him—and left him wanting so much more…

WILL HE SURRENDER HIS HEART?

The daughter of a thief, Emmy learned long ago how to keep her secrets safeguarded—and, as the notorious Nightjar, her love for Alex Harland is one of them. With the determined earl hot on her trail—and making her hot under the collar—Emmy has no choice but to keep her distance. But when a moment’s danger threatens Emmy’s life as well as her name, will Alex finally discover that he’s followed every clue…to true love?

“Full of intense emotions and dramatic twists….Future installments will be eagerly anticipated by Regency readers.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) on This Earl of Mine

In the series

#1 This Earl of Mine 

Review 

3 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After the generally lackluster (in my opinion) first book in the series, I had some trepidation when it came to To Catch an Earl. However, the detective/spy aspect of the first book did give me some hope for the series trajectory, and the main attraction of this one was the fact that the heroine was involved in thievery, and the hero the honorable one out to catch her (although he doesn’t know it initially). 

And while it’s a great premise and one I enjoy objectively, I feel like this one was a bit flawed in its execution. I mean, theoretically, Alex and Emmy work: while they are on opposing sides, both are committed to their own respective forms of justice, even if Emmy’s is a bit unorthodox. 

However, while there’s an obvious spark between them, I just didn’t get what it was that drew them together in the long-term. And while the author’s note does attempt to  bring it all together with the explanation of koi no yokan, or “the sense of inevitability upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love,” I just didn’t buy it. YMMV, but I prefer a bit more substance than that. 

This was kind of just…ok, which sucks, as it was off to a pretty good start. I do think others will like it, as Bateman does have a consistently engaging writing voice, along with crafting a pretty good external plot, and again, the feelings about the romance aspect are primarily a matter of taste. 

Author Bio 

Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of Regency, Victorian, and Renaissance historical romance. Her Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, is a Romance Writer’s of America 2019 RITA® Finalist and her Regency-set A Counterfeit Heart (Secrtes & Spies series) won the 2018 Book Buyer’s Best contest for Best Historical Romance.

Kate wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she’d ‘never finish the thing.’ She gleefully proved him wrong. Her books feature her favorite intelligent heroines, (badasses in bodices!) wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to both strangle and kiss. 

When not traveling to exotic locations ‘for research’, Kate leads a not-so-secret double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK, each of which has up to 2.5 million viewers. Before writing romance, Kate was director and valuer at her own UK Auction House, Batemans in Stamford, Lincolnshire. She currently splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children and that husband . . .who still owes her that dollar.

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Review of “Heart and Hand” (Gold Sky #1) by Rebel Carter

Carter, Rebel. Heart and Hand. London: Violet Gaze Press, 2019. 

ASIN: B07RDLX28B | $3.99 USD | 272 pages | Historical Romance

Blurb

Can a Mail Order bride find love with two husbands?

 It doesn’t take long for Julie Baptiste to realize she yearns for more than the non-stop engagements and niceties dictated by New York high society. So, she decides to do something bold and answers an advertisement for a mail-order bride in Gold Sky, Montana.

Ex-Union soldiers Forrest Wickes and William Barnes have been inseparable since the War. They share everything, including the desire to find a wife. A woman who is willing to marry them both and provide the isolated town with a much needed teacher.

When Julie arrives in Montana the three of them must figure out how to navigate the boundaries of their new lives. Can Forrest and Will come together to provide what Julie needs and protect the heart of the woman who’s made her way intimately into theirs?

And how will a debutante-turned-teacher manage frontier life with two husbands?

Heart and Hand is a romantic and passionate MFM romance and Book 1 in the Golden Sky Series.

Review

4 stars

I had heard a lot of good things about Rebel Carter, but I wasn’t sure about Heart and Hand in particular, as I’ve heard that MFM can sometimes be biphobic. However, while I’ve still come to prefer when “everyone is into everyone” and look forward to one of the later books where that is the case, I love that this is still a book where the relationship between Forrest and Will is just as deep as each of their relationships with Julie, even if it is purely a deep platonic relationship instead of a romantic one. 

While some aspects of the hurdles the three face are a little ridiculous and a bit overdramatic, like “the other woman” stuff, I did like how they worked through their issues together, or the others would try to encourage the third to give the relationship another shot. 

It’s also refreshing, given both the fact that Julie is mixed-race and this is a poly romance, that this story doesn’t dwell too much on the angst over whether something is unorthodox or even illegal in the context of the time period…in Gold Sky, it’s accepted, a theme I expect will carry over the course of the series. 

This is a delightfully original historical romance, and one I’d recommend to anyone looking for a fun new take on the genre. 

Author Bio

Rebel Carter loves love. So much in fact that she decided to write the love stories she desperately wanted to read. A book by Rebel means diverse characters, sexy banter, a real big helping of steamy scenes, and, of course, a whole lotta heart.

Rebel lives in Colorado, makes a mean espresso, and is hell-bent on filling your bookcase with as many romance stories as humanly possible!

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Review of “About a Rogue” (Desperately Seeking Duke #1) by Caroline Linden

Linden, Caroline. About a Rogue. New York: Avon Books, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-0062913623 | $7.99 USD | 384 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

The eBook edition of About a Rogue includes a bonus short story in Caroline Linden’s Desperately Seeking Duke series!

The first book in the new series Desperately Seeking Duke from USA Today bestselling and RITA award-winning author Caroline Linden.

It’s no love match…

Bianca Tate is horrified when her sister Cathy is obliged to accept an offer of marriage from Maximilian St. James, notorious rake. Defiantly she helps Cathy elope with her true love, and takes her sister’s place at the altar.

It’s not even the match that was made…

Perched on the lowest branch of his family tree, Max has relied on charm and cunning to survive. But an unexpected stroke of luck gives him an outside chance at a dukedom—and which Tate sister he weds hardly seems to matter.

But could it be the perfect match?

Married or not, Bianca is determined to protect her family’s prosperous ceramics business, even when Max shows an affinity for it—not to mention a dangerous ability to intrigue and tempt Bianca herself. And when Max realizes how beautiful and intelligent and desirable Bianca is, he’ll have to prove he’s no rogue, but the passionately devoted husband she craves…

Review

5 stars 

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The premise for Caroline Linden’s Desperately Seeking Duke series appealed to me, because while I don’t love aristocrats, I love when a person who thought they didn’t have a chance of inheriting suddenly is the new titleholder, or will likely become so at some point in the future. And that premise is perfectly set up in About a Rogue

Max is a great hero, as he embodies everything soove about the subject of the  “unexpected inheritance” trope: due to their position in life up to this point, they’ve had to fend for themselves. While his reputation is somewhat…checkered, shall we say…he proves what he’s capable of when his new father-in-law gives him a role in running the family’s business. I also respect that, while him and Bianca giving into their attraction was a foregone conclusion, he never pressed the issue and waited until they came to an accord. 

I could understand Bianca’s frustration with Max, both due to his reputation and the fact that she felt a bit possessive of the business and her role in it. However, I can understand why others might see her as a bit unreasonable.

There’s also this beautiful short at the end of the book (only in the eBook, but it *might* still be available  in print to those who order from her local indie, Porter Square Books) following Kit (Max’s valet) and Jennie (Bianca’s lady’s maid) set during the course of the main story, and given the death of servant focused romance, this was an absolute joy to read. 

I really enjoyed this book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the extended family as the series continues. If you love historical romance, you won’t be disappointed. 

Author Bio

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a degree in mathematics from Harvard University and worked as a programmer in the financial services industry before realizing writing fiction is much more exciting than writing code. Her books have won the NEC-RWA Readers’ Choice Award, the JNRW Golden Leaf, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award, and have been translated into seventeen languages around the world. She lives in New England.

Sign up at http://www.carolinelinden.com/signup…. to get notified about her books and receive a free short story exclusively for subscribers. 

Buy links

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