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 “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 “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. 

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Review of “A Good Duke is Hard to Find” (Isle of Synne #1) by Christina Britton

Britton, Christina. A Good Duke is Hard to Find. New York: Forever, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-153717492 | $7.99 USD | 384 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

Get swept away by the new Regency romance from the author who Publishers Weekly calls “irresistible.”

After her third fiancé leaves her at the altar, Lenora Hartley is beginning to think she’s cursed. One thing’s for certain: she needs to escape London and her father’s tyrannical attempts to find her yet another suitor. The Isle of Synne, an isolated and idyllic retreat off Britain’s northern coast, is blessedly far from society’s gossip, but it also carries haunting reminders of her first fiancé. Letting go of the past to find happiness seems impossible — until Lenora is thrown in the path of a gruff, mysterious blue-eyed man who makes her pulse race.

Next in line for a dukedom he doesn’t want to inherit, Peter Ashford is only on the isle to exact revenge on the man who is responsible for his mother’s death. Once he’s completed the task, he’ll return to America where his life can finally be his own. Yet when he meets the beautiful and kind Miss Hartley, he can’t help but be drawn to her. Can Peter put aside his plans for vengeance for the woman who has come to mean everything to him?

Review 

2.5 stars

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

Christina Britton is an author who’s been raved about by a number of people I trust in the romance community, so I didn’t hesitate much to request an ARC for A Good Duke is Hard to Find. I had some misgivings about the execution of the vengeance plotline, exacerbated somewhat by a review from a friend who took issue with that very thing, but I still tried my best to remain optimistic and go in with reasonable expectations.

And there are a few good aspects of the book. The heroine, Lenora (who Britton states in her acknowledgments, is named after Lenora Bell, one of my favorite authors), is likable, and had a lot of potential as a woman who has been jilted a few times, although she did take a bit longer than I wanted to grow a spine and resist her father’s manipulations. 

However, I never warmed up to Peter. I felt he was both a cold asshole and someone so consumed by vengeance that would only make him miserable in the end. Who does he think he’s settling scores with by refusing to marry and continue the ducal line? The old duke? He’ll be too dead to care. And while there is some claim of romance between him and Lenora, I never felt that, because both (but especially him) are so focused on their own issues that dominate the story.

However, Britton does have an engaging writing style that kept me from putting it aside, and the supporting cast on the Isle of Synne is awesome (I need more Lady Tesh!), so I’m still hopeful for the next book in the series. 

So, this is definitely a case where it largely wasn’t for me. But if you like a story about a grumpy hero growing beyond his need for vengeance, then this is the book for you. 

Author Bio

Christina Britton developed a passion for writing romance novels shortly after buying her first at the tender age of thirteen. Though for several years she turned to art and put brush instead of pen to paper, she has returned to her first love and is now writing full time. She spends her days dreaming of corsets and cravats and noblemen with tortured souls.

She lives with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay Area. A member of Romance Writers of America, she also belongs to her local chapter, Silicon Valley RWA, and is a 2017 RWA® Golden Heart® Winner. You can find her on the web at www.christinabritton.com, Twitter as @cbrittonauthor, or facebook.com/ChristinaBrittonAuthor

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Review of “A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby” (Rogues and Remarkable Women #1) by Vanessa Riley

Riley, Vanessa. A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby. New York: Zebra, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1420152234 | $15.95 USD | 320 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

Publishers Weekly Summer Reads 2020 Editors’ Pick

“Smart and witty . . . the perfect historical read.”

 —Julia Quinn, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Created by a shrewd countess, The Widow’s Grace is a secret society with a mission: to help ill-treated widows regain their status, their families, and even find true love again—or perhaps for the very first time . . .

  When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband’s mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune—and her freedom. Falsely imprisoned, she risks her life to be near her child—until The Widow’s Grace gets her hired as her own son’s nanny. But working for his unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, has perils of its own. Especially when Patience discovers his military strictness belies an ex-rake of unswerving honor—and unexpected passion . . .

A wounded military hero, Busick is determined to resolve his dead cousin’s dangerous financial dealings for Lionel’s sake. But his investigation is a minor skirmish compared to dealing with the forthright, courageous, and alluring Patience. Somehow, she’s breaking his rules, and sweeping past his defenses. Soon, between formidable enemies and obstacles, they form a fragile trust—but will it be enough to save the future they long to dare together?

“One of the best historicals I’ve read in years.” 
—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author 

“Vanessa Riley at her finest.”
—Sarah MacLean, New York Times bestselling author

“Expertly crafted romance.”
Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

Review

4 stars

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

I was absurdly excited for Vanessa Riley’s big (or big-ish) publisher print debut, A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby (aka DukeLadyBaby by me because the articles being inconsistent has thrown me off for months). And while this isn’t my favorite of the few I’ve read of hers, it’s a solid story providing a fresh perspective to an overly saturated subgenre. 

I liked Patience and Busick, and rooted for them as they negotiated their past heartaches and eventually came together due both to their mutual love for this little boy and the growing attraction between them. 

And while they are only a minor part of this story, I like the Widow’s Grace as a framing element for the series, helping women who’ve experienced loss.

My one minor quibble (which it has apparently already bothered a lot of people, and will inevitably be a bugbear for many more) is the POV choice. While Busick’s POV is written in third person, Patience’s is in first. In most cases, when authors do this, I don’t know why they couldn’t have conveyed the entire story in either dual first (with subheadings) or third person, instead of a mix of both. The mix resulted in the transitions between chapters often feeling jarring.

Otherwise, this is a fairly solid book, and I am incredibly excited to see what’s next. If you love Regency romance and are looking for a book by a black romance author highlighting the lives of BIPOC in England, I recommend this one, as well as some of Vanessa Riley’s backlist titles. 

Author Bio

Vanessa Riley writes Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Vanessa holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and a master’s in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University. She also earned BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. She has been a radio anchorwoman and church announcer. She is President-Elect of The Beau Monde, a specialty History Chapter. She is also a member of Georgia Romance Writers, NINC, and Historical Novel Society. She is on the Board of Directors of Christian Book Lovers Retreat where readers escape for a weekend of fun, faith, and connection to the author community.

Vanessa loves cooking her Trinidadian grandma’s cake recipes and collecting Irish crochet lace.

I am represented by Sarah Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

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Review of “Two Rogues Make a Right” (Seducing the Sedgwicks #3) by Cat Sebastian

Sebastian, Cat. Two Rogues Make a Right. New York: Avon Impulse, 2020.

ISBN-13; 978-0062820648 | $3.99 USD | 304 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

Will Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world.

Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on.

As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?

In the series

#1 It Takes Two To Tumble 

#2 A Gentleman Never Keeps Score 

Review

4 stars

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

Two Rogues Make a Right is the third book in the Seducing the Sedgwicks series, and possibly the sweetest by far. I was a bit concerned, given the unevenness of the previous installment, as well as what Cat Sebastian said about the book lacking in real plot, especially as I had an issue with another of her books for that reason. 

But while that is a minor objective flaw, that doesn’t stop this book from being a bundle of sweetness that absolutely delivers on the promise of the blurb. It’s so cute to see Will and Martin interacting, first with Will tending to a sick Martin, then spending time together in a run-down cottage where their love blooms, and then finally confronting the question of whether they’ll be together or not.

With minimal angst that only comes to a head towards the end, this made for a perfect read on the heels of something more intense I had just finished, and it also makes the perfect escapist reading in our increasingly uncertain world right now. 

I really liked this book, and it’s the perfect concluding note to a mostly solid series. I recommend this to anyone looking who loves LGBTQ+ historical romance. 

Author Bio

Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird-watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.

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Review of “In the Dark with the Duke” (Lost Lords of London #2) by Christi Caldwell

Caldwell, Christi. In the Dark with the Duke. Seattle: Montlake Romance, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1542021265 | &12.95 USD | 370 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

A lady of reserve and a fierce street fighter find common ground in the second Lost Lords of London novel by USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell.

Eight years ago, Lady Lila March retreated to the safe shadows of her family’s estate after a devastating tragedy. Weary of being a whisper of her former self, she is determined to brave the dangers of the outside world again. No man is better equipped to train her in the art of defense than the Savage Gentleman, East London’s undefeated street fighter.

Hugh Savage reigns as king—of the underworld. Physically invulnerable, emotionally battered, he has his reasons for bare-knuckle brawling. Though Hugh longs to break free of the ring and leave behind the brutal world of violence, he’s intrigued by the challenge Lady Lila poses. A mysterious lady of the peerage willfully descending into the dangerous rookeries? That bespeaks a woman with secrets of her own.

As their unconventional pact progresses, Hugh comes to admire the resolve in Lila’s heart. And beneath his hard surface, she sees a tenderness that touches her to the quick. They’ll soon discover how much they need each other—to face their pasts together, and to fight for a future they deserve.

In the series 

#1 In Bed With the Earl 

#3 Undressed with the Marquess (out November 17)

Review

5 stars

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

Christi Caldwell once again shows she isn’t afraid to delve into the dark side of her characters with In the Dark with the Duke. Both Hugh and Lila are haunted by trauma from their pasts, and Caldwell conveys this beautifully from the opening sentences. 

While I don’t always love tortured heroes, I still felt for Hugh, given how those first pages illustrated his past in such poignant detail and shaped him into the man he is today. 

As for Lila, I can relate on to being so impacted by tragedy that she would choose to become a recluse and admire her for choosing to take things into her own hands and approach Hugh to teach her how to fight. They see similarities in each other’s struggles and help each other heal in the most beautiful way. 

This is one of the most engaging Christi Caldwell books I’ve read (although I still remain lamentably behind on her backlist!) and a new favorite for sure. If you’re a fan of tortured heroes (and heroines) and impeccable character work exploring both trauma and healing, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. 

Author Bio

USA TODAY Bestselling author CHRISTI CALDWELL blames Judith McNaught’s “Whitney, My Love!” for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and pick up her laptop to try her hand at romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before crafting them a well deserved happily ever after!

Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut where she spends her time writing her own enchanting historical romances, chasing around her feisty seven-year-old son and caring for her twin princesses in training!

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Review “The Earl’s Marriage Bargain” (Liberated Ladies #2) by Louise Allen

Allen, Louise. The Earl’s Marriage Bargain. Toronto, Ontario: Harlequin, 2020.  

ISBN-13:978-1488065729 | $4.99 USD | 288 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

A compromising situation…

for an innocent lady!

After fending off ruffians with her parasol and hauling a battered man into her carriage, Jane Newnham finds herself unwittingly compromised with enigmatic Ivo Merton, Earl of Kendall! Jane always intended to become an artist, not a wife, and now she has no choice but to become betrothed. They strike a bargain that means she can continue to paint, but Ivo has awakened another passion in her—to uncover his secrets…

Liberated Ladies
Unconventional heiresses…full of big ambitions!
Least Likely to Marry a Duke
The Earl’s Marriage Bargain

Look out for the next book in the series, coming soon!

“Ms. Allen is an excellent writer and does a beautiful job showing us what is in the hearts of her protagonists.”
All About Romance on Least Likely to Marry a Duke

“Ms. Allen is capable of creating terrific sexual tension between her heroes and heroines and is very skilled at developing a believable romance.”
All About Romance on Contracted as His Countess

In the series

#1 Least Likely to Marry a Duke 

Review

4 stars 

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

The Earl’s Marriage Bargain is standard sweet historical romance fare, and I loved it for it with two lead characters firm in their convictions. I particularly liked Jane, and her determination to make something herself outside of marriage. And while I did not read book one in the series, I did like the overall concept of the women’s club with all of them wanting to pursue their different talents, and wish there was more time spent on it (Ah, well, reason to pick up/look out for the others!)

I felt for Ivo as well, given how he was nursing a past heartbreak, but given how he bantered with Jane, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would take to get them together. 

Ultimately, this is a nice fluffy read that gives exactly what you expect, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re looking for a Regency escape in category romance form, I recommend this one. 

Author Bio

Louise Allen has been immersing herself in history for as long as she can remember, finding landscapes and places evoke powerful images of the past. Venice, Burgundy & the Greek islands are favourites. Louise lives on the Norfolk coast & spends her spare time gardening, researching family history or travelling. Please visit Louise’s website, http://www.louiseallenregency.com, her blog https://janeaustenslondon or find her on Twitter @LouiseRegency and on Facebook.

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