Review of “Traitor in Her Arms” (The Scarlet Chronicles #2) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. Traitor in Her Arms. New York: Loveswept, 2017.

eBook | $4.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399179105 | 262 pages | Historical Romance

4 stars

I was excited to finally get to complete the Scarlet Chronicles by reading Traitor in Her Arms. And like the subsequent releases, this book is rich with sense of place, capturing the gritty, life-or-death circumstances of the French Revolution.

Gabrielle and Ramsey both have high stakes that challenge both their romance and their lives. But that makes it all the more compelling, as Ramsey is dealing with a secret hanging over his head forcing him into compliance due to blackmail, and Gabrielle is involved in the heroic cause of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Galen also strikes the perfect balance between showing characters with good hearts but also having them worry over their own self-preservation. Gabrielle is portrayed initially as a thief, but she while she does steal something she is commissioned to do early on, she has a conscience keeping her from taking more, in spite of the fact that these could help her cover the debt her late husband left her in.

What makes Ramsey admirable is the choices he’s forced to make along the way, and that, ultimately, he chooses love, especially when Gabrielle’s life is in danger and she suspects his involvement. However, I did not find the romance that compelling, in comparison to the rest of the intense events going on.

This is an enjoyable, historically rich story set during a time I wish got more love in historical romance. I recommend it to all lovers of historical romance.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/39pTmvd

January Novellas Roudup

I spent this month reading continuing to read novellas from my favorite authors, including a sprinkling of some leftover Christmas stories I didn’t quite get to in time for one reason or another. I also discovered a few gems, including some by a new-to-me author, who I hope to read more from in the future. 

1/1-The Spy Wore Blue by Shana Galen (eBook), 4 stars: I loved the character of Blue in the Lord and Lady Spy series, and I was pleased to find out there were stories about him finding love…or in this case, rekindling it. The premise does feel a bit too similar to one of the actual books in the series, but the overall execution works and makes for a fun, action-adventure romance. 

Note: All links are affiliate links. If you buy through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale.

1/1-All I Want for Christmas is Blue by Shana Galen (eBook), 4 stars: A great holiday-themed addendum to the aforementioned title. While that title sees his work come between them, this one is much more personal, with his aristocratic family’s machinations getting between them. The way they prove their love is ultimately wonderful, and I’m glad they can finally get their well-deserved HEA. 

½-Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt (eBook), 4 stars: I fell out of love with the Maiden Lane series after the bitter taste of Duke of Sin and its villain of “hero,” Valentine, Duke of Montgomery, and while I always planned to return to the other books, I never did. So, the novella immediately after it was a great way to get back into it, and I am reminded why I love the series, with its juxtaposition of the whimsical fairy tale with the darker world of Georgian England. Hipployta and Matthew’s relationship is darkly passionate, but one of mutual love and respect, and makes for a great re-entry point back into the series.

½-Miracle Workers by Simon Rich (Paperback), 5 stars: I don’t typically like books that does weird stuff with religion, but I watched the first episode of the tv show, because it has Daniel Radcliffe, and was intrigued, then happened upon a copy of the new tie-in edition of the book at the library. It has a fun take on the world and Heaven itself, what with the idea of God being a CEO of a company, and I  like the idea that God is a little jaded about the state of the world, going against the common depictions of Him. And while the story remains relevant today, I like how, when it originally came out, it tied in super well with the reflection on people’s fear that the world would end in 2012, and making fun of that in hindsight. 

⅓-Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Boyle (eBook), 5 stars: Pure sweetness. This book plays with a lot of tropes, like the arranged marriage turned love and “lost princess” type tropes in a new way. Also, it provides an HEA for the character of Mary Whitsun, a mainstay of the series early on. While there is nothing conclusive gained about her background, she does gain more family of the heart, as well as find her soulmate in the absolutely adorable Henry.

⅓-Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt (eBook), 4 stars: I enjoyed this one, between seeing D’Arque’s softer side (he loves his grandmother! Awww!) and the dynamic where he and Sarah fall in love as she begins to see past his rakish exterior. And while the little fairy tales always complement the story really well, I quite enjoyed this one in particular and its fun take on The Frog Princess. 

¼-The Second Time Around by Ella Quinn (eBook), 5 stars: An installment of Ella Quinn’s Worthingtons is always great fun, and I’m glad I went back and caught up on Patience and Richard’s story. The focus on family is there, of course, and I love the exploration of  the conflict of a mother making a choice regarding giving up the perks of widowhood, particularly concerning her parental rights, and pursuing a relationship “the second time around” with a former lover. 

⅕-Night of the Scoundrel by Kelly Bowen (eBook), 5 stars: At last the notorious King gets his story! And while it seemed unjust at first to relegate him to a novella, I feel like this was the perfect length to hit all the beats of his backstory and how it impacts him in the present day. The revelation about who he was and his quest for vengeance was well done, which is saying something, given that I’m not a fan of broody, revenge seeking heroes. And he meets his match in the assassin Adeline, and I enjoyed seeing his walls come down through his romance with her, even if he did try to detach at first. 

⅙-Artemis by Jessica Cale (eBook), 5 stars-The Southwark Saga is one of my favorite series, and I was so excited to finally be able to read the Regency-set spinoff novella. Jessica Cale never lets me down in terms of letting me know about the real historically accurate but bits of history that the pearl-clutchers like to pretend doesn’t exist, and this is no exception. Her portrayal of the articulation of the idea of what it feels like to be trans in a time period before this was fully understood is well done, and I adored the fall into love between Apollo and Charlotte. It’s great to know that, even a few generations down the line, the Somertons still delight in the unconventional, and given the series numbering, here’s hoping there are more stories in this subseries along with a continuation of the original. 

1/7-Hawaii Magic by Beverly Jenkins (eBook), 5 stars: I hadn’t yet read any contemporary Beverly Jenkins, but if they’re all as charming as this one, I’m excited to try more. I picked this one up because of the setting, because there need to be more romance novels set in Hawaii. And even though this is another one from a tourist perspective, it is well done in feeling true to the “feel” of the place. Jenkins also presents two likable leads in lawyer Anita and pilot Steve. I enjoyed seeing Anita fight back against her mother’s expectations that she settle down with someone who hurt her in addition to already being successful professionally, as well as the exploration of her first time experiencing sexual pleasure, which she’s always been taught was wrong. 

1/7-Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole (eBook), 5 stars: Reading an Alyssa Cole historical is usually a learning experience, and this one is no different. Cole provides context to the lives of Black Americans during the Revolutionary War years through Elijah’s fervent patriotism and Kate’s cynicism, leading to them growing together and finding lasting love.

1/7-One Bed for Christmas by Jackie Lau (eBook), 5 stars: I picked this up when it was free (and it technically still is, as it’s also a gift for new  newsletter subscribers), and I decided to give it a go. It has my favorite trope, friends to lovers, and the dynamic is one I absolutely love, with a female CEO and a guy with a bit of imposter syndrome due to his lack of success. I rooted for them as they initiated the physical part of their relationship, leading them to figure out how to navigate the emotional ones.  

⅛-A Right Honorable Gentleman by Courtney Milan (eBook), 4 stars: An adorable, sweet short story about a man who doesn’t want his governess to leave. A good palate cleanser between other longer books. 

⅛-Butterflies: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles (eBook), 3 stars: A fun historical airy a dash of paranormal. A great story to help me get a feel for Charles’ style.

1/9-Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan (eBook), 5 stars: While I haven’t yet read the novels in the Worth Saga, I had no issue picking this novella up and diving in, in part because of its awesome premise. I’m a sucker for f/f romance, and this one has a lot of fun humor, which is cutting without going too far. Commenting indirectly on Judge Kavanaugh and #MeToo, Milan imbues her heroines with high spirits and strong personalities, enough to take down the worst form of men in the form of the Terrible Nephew. 

1/10-Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder (eBook), 5 stars: I had heard this book talked about in the context of how it handles the motorcycle-club archetype, and that’s one facet I liked, with the characters openly discussing the white supremacy of such groups not prevalent in romantic fantasies of them. But there’s also a great romance at its core between the initially unlikely pairing of Trucker and Pinky. And it’s got a great punny (and culturally relevant) title!

1/11-The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley (eBook), 4 stars: I loved this novella and how it highlights the story of slavery and the ways of fighting for freedom. I came away from this book with the knowledge about the price of it all, financially (for the abolitionists) and on one’s soul (for the enslaved). Not a ton of substance to the romance itself, but I did enjoy it overall. 

1/12-A Duke to Remember by Eve Marie Perry, Anne-Marie Rivera, Liana de la Rosa, Susannah Erwin, and Cheryl Tapper (eBook),  3 stars: Ok story, but not overly engaging. Also, the fact that the story was written by five people is obvious, even without the notations of who wrote what, as it does feel fractured, as opposed to feeling seamless. 

1/13-Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue (eBook), 4 stars: A cute and sexy romance. It does play on some familiar tropes, a bit too much for my liking, but ultimately, I did like seeing Jake trying hard in his role as adoptive father and working to be a good guy for Bailey. 

1/14-Unlocked by Courtney Milan (eBook), 4 stars: A fun “companion” story to the Turner series, although I admit the connection was a little foggy, due to having read the first book a while ago. Mostly enjoyable, with a great take on friends to lovers and a hero who genuinely atones for his past trespasses. 

1.15-His Forbidden Lady by Nicola Davidson (eBook), 5 stars: I love the Tudor period, and I still lament the fact that romance set in this era is thin on the ground. But Davidson’s novella did the trick in satisfying me (at least momentarily) by showcasing exactly what I love about the time period, with all the danger that comes with it, somehow making love in the face of great odds even more appealing. She manages to recreate a perfect portrait of Henry VIII’s court, with the added stakes of Annabelle being chosen as the temperamental king’s next wife. The fact that it takes place shortly after the demise of his fifth wife, and her connection to the Seymour family evokes comparisons to his beloved Queen Jane is wonderfully done too. And while I still tend to prefer my romances on the sweeter side, I enjoyed seeing Annabelle and Rafe’s relationship play out, including their reawakening passion.

1/16-18-Tales from the Gunpowder Chronicles by Jeannie Lin (eBook), 4 stars: I enjoyed the main books in the Gunpowder Chronicles thus far, so getting this novella collection was a no-brainer. And while some of the stories are more enjoyable than others, it’s just fun to spend more time in the world again and see some familiar faces. I particularly liked how “Love in the Time of Engines” gave us the love story of Soling’s parents! 

1/20-Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole (eBook), 5 stars: In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I read this novella by Alyssa Cole set during the Civil Rights movement. She does a great job of touching on the issues going on in the era with all the push for change going on on multiple fronts, including racial equality. In the midst of it, there’s a beautiful interracial and interfaith relationship between African American Sofie and Ivan, who is the son of Jewish refugees. Cole deals with the tensions due to the prejudices against them and them fighting back in such a wonderful way, culminating with them and their families coming together against the odds. 

1/21-Viscount of Vice by Shana Galen (eBook), 4 stars: I enjoyed the Covent Garden Cubs series, so I was excited to go back and read the novella prequel that started it all. It’s kinda tropey, but I enjoyed the exploration of grief through Henry’s reckoning with the loss (and reunion) with his brother, and, in turn, touching lightly on Robbie’s life living at the mercy of the villainous Satin, including developing a dependency on drugs. 

1/22-Wanted, A Gentleman by KJ Charles (eBook), 4 stars: I enjoyed this novella, touching on some pretty intense topics, including the complex relationship between a formerly enslaved person and the enslaver, in the relationship between Martin and the Conroy family. I enjoyed how the racism Martin faces, both in terms of this toxic relationship and in terms of the broader racism in society, is shown through both Martin’s and Theo’s perspectives. But while the romance does feel a little rushed, especially given some of the twists along the way, there is still some charm to balance the book. 

1/23-Love is in the Airship by Catherine Stein (eBook), 4 stars: Cute and fun slice of her Sass and Steam world. While I still lament not enjoying the full novel more, these shorts are so much fun. 

1/24-One Forbidden Knight by Nicola Davidson (eBook), 5 stars: Yet another conspiracy-filled, passionate Tudor tale! I was invested in Catherine and Brand’s story from start to finish, from the mystery surrounding her father’s death, to the questions surrounding his origins, to their positions in the court of Mary I. Once again, Davidson perfectly captures the tense nature of the court of a tyrannical monarch, while showing both the dynastic and human sides to Mary I, including her, like her father in Davidson’s prior Tudor novella, realistically providing the leads with the means for their HEA, even after they’ve crossed her. 

.1/25-The Year of the Crocodile by Courtney Milan (eBook), 4 stars: A nice short to tide readers over while the next book is in development, also teasing some developments for the succeeding books, particularly where the lovable asshole Adam is concerned. It’s also great to see Tina and Blake celebrating Chinese New Year with their families.

 1/31The Earl’s Christmas Pearl by Megan Frampton (Mass Market Paperback), 5 stars: An absolutely adorable Christmas novella wrapping up a series that I more or less enjoyed. Pearl and Owen play off one another well, including a particularly funny scene where, after cracking eggs to make food, they exchange a series of egg-xcellent puns. Amd while you can read it at any time of year, the Christmas cheer radiates off the page, both in the preparations in-text and the plays on other tales and tropes, like the “12 Days of Christmas” and Home Alone.

Review of “A Duke a Dozen” (The Survivors #6) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. A Duke a Dozen. [United States]: Shana Galen, 2019.

Paperback | $14.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1687469892 | 421 pages | Regency Romance

4 stars

After the age-gap relationship where the hero was older in the previous book, it was a nice touch to have an older heroine this time around in A Duke a Dozen. And as has become the hallmark of this series, we get a good balance of some light-hearted moments (although the focus is much more on the romance over the friendship this time around, with the story taking the characters away from London and the Draven Club), emotional reckoning, and a dash of suspense.

While Phin isn’t my favorite of the Survivors (I still have a soft spot for Draven, after the previous book), I enjoyed seeing him trying to reckon with the new expectations, due to the “accidents” the befell his older brothers, leaving him saddled with the title. And while he initially came to Annabel out of suspicion, I love how kindly he treated her, as a contrast to her late husband.

I truly felt for Annabel, however. A bad arranged marriage is nothing new to historical romance, as it wouldn’t have been uncommon during this time period, but it’s the little touches that made her experience unique. The way her husband made her unable to properly experience pleasure was moving, but even more so was the sad fate for her daughter, who was the impetus for her seeking Phin’s help.

The mystery does feel a tad obvious in this one, and, admittedly, I almost forgot it was important with everything else going on, so were it not for the last-minute resolution by the end, I may not have missed that detail

This is another great installment in a wonderful series, and I can’t wait for the next one releasing in just under a month as of this writing. I recommend this to fans of Regency romances.

Review of “To Tempt a Rebel” (The Scarlet Chronicles #4) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. To Tempt a Rebel. [United States]: Shana Galen, 2019.

Paperback | $11.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1090208668 | 404 pages | Historical Romance–French Revolution

‘4.5 stars

Shana Galen’s talent for blending fact and fiction once again shines in To Tempt a Rebel. And it contains all the strengths that made the previous book, Taken by the Rake, such a great read, in particular adding some nuance to the French Revolution, in balancing both the revolutionary and Royalist perspectives, perhaps even more so this time around, what with the fact that the hero and heroine start off on opposing sides.

Once again, the hero is the one who goes through the major growth, and that is not a bad thing, especially given the situation. I loved seeing his transition from someone who embraced the Revolution and its ideals to coming to see it had become too dark and bloodthirsty, especially when he began to consider the life of the young Louis Charles, now considered King by the Royalists and thus a threat to the revolutionaries, who abuse him in prison, in spite of him having done nothing but be born the son of a king.

While the heroine, Alex, like Honoria, does feel a bit like the standard strong historical heroine, I did like that the Revolution and their initial reluctant partnership allowed for some tough conversations, like about how the revolutionaries are all about liberty and equality for men, but there is still a lack of consideration for giving women the same rights.

This is a delightful final book in the Scarlet Chronicles series, and it checks all the boxes of excellent setting, action, and romance. I would recommend this to all historical romance lovers.

Review of “Taken by the Rake” (The Scarlet Chronicles #3) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. Taken by a Rake. [United States] Shana Galen, 2019.

Paperback | $11.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1796607147 | 459 pages | Historical Romance–French Revolution

4 stars

I admit, prior to reading both Taken by a Rake and the novella prequel, I was a bit concerned, that due to the weird intricacies of publishing rights, book two, Traitor in Her Arms, was only available in eBook, so I worried about skipping it, even if the same intricacies led to a somewhat odd sequence to the publishing order of the series. However, upon starting this one, my fears were completely assuaged, as it seems each book focuses more on developing its connection to the original Scarlet Pimpernel books, featuring major players I recognized from my recent read of the series, as well as establishing the atmosphere of the Revolutionary France, as opposed to developing any camaraderie between the heroes and heroines across the series in the traditional sense that most romance series do. As such, this book works as a standalone, just as, I assume, the others do as well.

That being said, Galen’s depiction of the period is excellent, feeling well-researched and giving you a sense that you are there in Revolutionary France. And while they’re not major characters by any means, I loved how she captured a sense of humanity to the French Royal Family, to add some credence to the rescue missions the League were undertaking.

While I was already aware that King Louis, Marie Antoinette, and the children weren’t all ignorant spendthrifts, it was nice to see from the perspective of someone like Laurent who knew they cared for the less fortunate, and also saw the goodness in the children as well. It was a time period where it seemed like all aristocrats had to be punished, so it was great that Laurent comes to recognize his privilege and begins to do something to make a difference by joining the cause.

I found myself rather unimpressed with the heroine, Honoria, by contrast. She is everything a great romance heroine is: intelligent, practical, and doesn’t fall at the aristocratic hero’s feet right away. But that’s kind of the problem; so many heroines are like that, and there’s nothing that distinguishes her, especially when Laurent goes through such an amazing arc that outshines her.

This was a more or less enjoyable historical romance, although more so for the hero’s development and the depiction of the setting than the romance itself. However, it’s still beautifully written, and one of Shana Galen’s better books (with the exception of her Survivors series, but I may be biased there). I would recommend this to all historical romance fans, especially those interested in the French Revolution.

Review of “The Claiming of the Shrew” (The Survivors #5) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. The Claiming in Shrew. [United States]: Shana Galen, 2019.

Paperback | $12.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-978-1094814841 | 378 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

After finishing the previous book, I was excited to hear that the next book, The Claiming of the Shrew, would follow Colonel Draven and his estranged wife, Catarina, especially since, once I started it, I saw it both began with and was building off her initial introductory short story, previously a perk only for newsletters subscribers that I actually did not read at the time, so I’m glad it was included.

One of the first things that shocked me, not having read the short before and only relying on context clues in Catarina’s brief appearance in Unmask Me If You Can, is that she’s actually significantly younger than Draven, being around twenty in the short, while Draven is about forty. And while May-December couples aren’t necessarily my favorite, I felt it worked with the dynamic here, and I enjoyed it throughout, especially as it really played into the problems they had to work through. She initially proposes a marriage of convenience due to needing protection, but later, they end up butting heads, due to her feeling imprisoned, and him trying to protect her from a man trying to do her harm, but going about it more like an autocrat and giving orders, as opposed to demonstrating his concern for her safety and love for her.

But in spite of the problems they worked through, I loved that they both were holding out for each other during their separation, even if Catarina felt forced to seek an annulment to appease the bad guys. And Draven remaining celibate out of respect for his wife is the sexiest thing. I feel it’s far too common in this setup where the couple is separated for an extended period, for whatever reason, for one (usually the man) or both to be with other people before something brings them back together, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially the latter. But I love a hero who is so devoted to someone, even if he doesn’t know he’ll see her again, that he can’t contemplate being with anyone else.

This is my favorite in the Survivors series, and while it’s not as emotionally intense in the issues it tackles in comparison to the last book, it’ makes up for it by being a beautiful, heartwarming love story that triumphs in spite of the danger the couple are in and the factors that could tear them apart. I would recommend it to all Regency romance fans.

Review of “Unmask Me If You Can” (Survivors #4) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. Unmask Me If You Can. [United States]: Shana Galen, 2018.

Paperback | $12.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1727153989 | 334 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

Each entry in Shana Galen’s Survivors series has struck a great balance between being action-packed and emotionally moving, and Unmask Me If You Can is no exception…in fact, it might be the most beautiful and moving of the entire series, because of the character growth for both hero and heroine.

Jasper was a character who intrigued me from the first book in the series, and I was glad getting to know more about him didn’t disappoint. Galen strikes the right balance with him between him being ashamed of his physical scars while also battling emotional guilt, all without it being overly angsty or heavy-handed. IT was beautiful to see his confidence grow from hiding in the shadows to confidently coming to the light to fight for the woman he loves.

But the real star for me is Olivia. I could empathize with all her fear in the aftermath of her sexual assault, and applauded her courage in facing down her assailant, who was more determined than ever to possess and degrade her, due to the way Society worked in his favor.

I also love the beautiful way consent was emphasized in Jasper and Olivia’s relationship. Some might think it ridiculous, but I feel like, especially given the stories that have come to light in the wake of the #MeToo Movement, there needs to be more discussions around consent and more clarity in terms of what consent is. Given that her assailant uses language that isn’t an unfamiliar defense, or at least it wasn’t not that long ago (” You said no, but inside, you wanted it”), I love that Jasper is such a gentleman, and applaud Galen for writing such a respectful hero.

This was a beautiful story, and one I loved from start to finish. I would recommend this to other fans of historical romances that deal with tough topics.

Review of “An Affair with a Spare” (Survivors #3) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. An Affair with a Spare. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2018. 

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1492638957 | 406 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

An Affair with a Spare is another great installment in what is shaping up to be a fantastic series. And this one is Shana at her best, combining steamy romantic tension with a heart-pounding espionage plot with lives at stake.

While I’m not typically a fan of the rakish-hero-with-a-hidden-vulnerable-side, Galen imbues Rafe with a likability and relatability that is often missing in heroes of this type. He’s incredibly charming, but he’s also intelligent, and is a truly caring person at heart, even if he doesn’t realize it at first. While I had read stories where the hero met the heroine through some kind of investigation before, with this being a secret he kept from her, I truly could feel the evolution from his thinking about her as “just an assignment” to coming to truly see her as a friend, then falling in love with her.

And I love Collette for being different from the standard romance heroine in the best ways. She’s not an innocent, and I love that she is willing to put herself in a dangerous position in order to save her father’s life. Despite the fact that her father does not get a lot of page time, the impact he has clearly had on her life is beautiful, and was another highlight of the novel.

One of the consistent things I continue to love is the banter between the Survivors and how well they work together and influence each other. I loved the interaction between Rafe and Ewan in particular, where they go through a hilarious conversation where Rafe muses about being like Ewan in order to think of new ways to plan his seduction strategy, and Ewan’s response is just relief that Rafe isn’t asking to him to think like him.

I would recommend this book to fans of historicals that are lighthearted, with a mix of both emotional depth and high action. This combination can be hard to pull off, and I think Galen does it magnificently in this book.

Review of “No Earls Allowed” (Survivors #2) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. No Earls Allowed. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2018. 

Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1492639015 | 377 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

No Earls Allowed was not only an improvement on its predecessor, but checked all the boxes for me when it came to what I look for in a romance. An untitled hero, who also happens to a be virgin? A heroine who isn’t interested in society, engaging in more altruistic, sometimes dangerous, pursuits? A supporting cast of colorful characters, including a rambunctious and lovable group of children? Check, check, and check.

I love how nuanced Neil is as a hero. I love how his upbringing as the illegitimate son impacted some of the moral choices he made, and how it led to his decision to abstain from all sexual intercourse (but not any acts that could be considered precursors to it) to avoid bringing any more unwanted children into the world the way he was. This presents a nice change from the rakish heroes who have had scores of lovers in the past and, more often than not, have very few bastards, if they have any at all. I also liked how he managed to be an efficient army officer without coming off as being too autocratic, striking the balance the children needed between disciplinarian and nurturing father figure. even if the latter came about more reluctantly.

As with Juliana, it could have been easy for her character to come off as yet another rich debutante rebelling against her rich parent(s), but that is not her at all. I love how the loss of both her sister (through death) and subsequently her nephew (when his cruel father chose to take him away) inspired her to do good in the world and help out other children who may be in similar situations to her nephew, being unwanted, or born to parents who aren’t fit to take care of them.

I would recommend this one to fans of Regency romances, especially those that don’t fall into the typical tropes that populate the genre.

Review of “Third Son’s a Charm” (Survivors #1) by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana. Third Son’s a Charm. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2017. 

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1492657033 | 408 pages | Regency Romance

4.5 stars

Third Son’s a Charm and the Survivors series in general was what originally inspired me to start reading Shana Galen’s books, as I was looking for traditionally published authors who frequently wrote about heroes who weren’t titled. And despite taking a lot longer than I intended to to finally read this one, I very much enjoyed it.

One of the major strengths of the book, is, of course, the hero. My heart truly hurt for Ewan when I read about his struggles dealing with “word blindness” (what we now know as dyslexia), and the abuse and rejection he faced from his father and others because of it. Yet, I also love that he didn’t lose the capacity form other attachments, as while he does have difficulty understanding what it is to love when thinking about his feelings for Lorraine, he has a close bond with his comrades that he served with as a soldier.

Lorraine grated on me a little bit, as she is somewhat TSTL in taking so long to grasp that Francis doesn’t care about her. But, when I put it in context with the fact that she was pretty sheltered, in combination with being incredibly headstrong, I did understand where she was coming from a little more. And as she bonded with Ewan, another side to her came out that was nurturing of him and his potential to learn to read.

I also liked how, while initially, the scenes between her parents just seemed like a subplot that could go either way in terms of being good or being one of the duller parts of the book, it did tie together in the end. I loved how the parents worked out their differences and worked to make sure that their daughter was sure of what she wanted, so she wouldn’t be in a similar situation to theirs a few decades down the road.

I think fans of fun historical romances will enjoy this, especially if they love quirky heroines and brooding, but good-hearted heroes.