Review of “The Heiress’s Deception” (Sinful Brides #4) by Chrisi Caldwell

Caldwell, Christi. The Heiress’s Deception. Seattle: Montlake Romance, 2017.

Paperback | $12.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1542048941 | 276 pages | Regency Romance

3 stars

The Heiress’s Deception was a bit of a disappointment as a closer to the series, and not only because I’m aware that some of the issues left unresolved in this one have been carried over to the spinoff, the Wicked Wallflowers, of which I have previously read one book, The Vixen.

That being said, Caldwell’s strengths are still on display here in terms of great character work. Both Calum and Eve are intriguing, with compelling backstories, although I didn’t feel moved by them in the same way I did with some of the previous books in the series, especially The Lady’s Guard. I also found myself a bit conflicted on the “deception” aspect, feeling like his feelings of betrayal by her as a child weren’t explored enough, while also feeling like it was forgiven a bit too quickly due to the situation.

I also just didn’t feel the love between them, and despite the dangers put in their way, there didn’t feel like insurmountable stakes were there, especially in comparison to the prior book. I wanted a lot more from Eve’s brother as a villain in execution, although in theory, he had a good setup. I just didn’t really care about whether or not he was thwarted or not. And towards the end, I just found something I couldn’t describe lacking, so I actually ended up skimming toward the end, hoping to see it all come together, finding myself in how quickly things wrapped up.

This is a bit of a disappointment, especially as I’ve come to like some of Christi Caldwell’s newer books I’ve read since she started working with Montlake Romance (granted, I still haven’t read many of them), but I think this is a case of all the ingredients being there, and there just being a flaw in execution. I do feel like if you’re a fan of Caldwell’s character work, or a fan of flawed heroes and heroines who go through struggles, this is the book (and author) for you.

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Review of “The Lady’s Guard” (Sinful Brides #3) by Christi Caldwell

Caldwell, Christi. The Lady’s Guard. Seattle: Montlake Romance, 2017.

Paperback | $12.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1477848920 | 308 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

The Lady’s Guard is a wonderful book, and once again demonstrates Christi Caldwell’s skill at crafting emotionally moving stories with beautifully flawed characters.

I didn’t know what to expect from Diana as a heroine going in, given that she didn’t make a massive impression in the last two books, but I ended up loving her character from the very first pages. I could empathize with feeling tainted due to the fact that she feared inheriting her mother’s “madness,” and could also relate to the complex relationship she had with her father, especially given the last two books saw him developing relationships with the illegitimate children he sired with the woman he truly loved.

As for Niall, he has now surpassed Ryker as my favorite hero of the series. While all the brothers have been through a lot, both collectively and individually, I feel like his experience is the one that I found the most emotionally impactful. And despite it seeming unlikely at first, I really liked seeing tough-guy Niall and sweet Diana banter and get under each other’s skin, as it was done in such a beautiful way.

This is a wonderful book in a great series. I would recommend this to fans of historical romance that has deep, layered characters and situations that test them.

Review of “The Scoundrel’s Honor” (Sinful Brides #2) by Christi Caldwell

Caldwell, Christi. The Scoundrel’s Honor. Seattle: Montlake Romance, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1503943438. $12.95 USD. 

4 stars

I read and enjoyed The Rogue’s Wager last year, and The Scoundrel’s Honor’s nomination in the Historical Romance-Long category was part of the motivation for seeking it out. And while I can say this time that this is not in my opinion the best of the category that I have read, I still feel the nomination is incredibly well-deserved.

One of Caldwell’s strengths is creating deep, sympathetic characters, and this book is no exception. While I am by no means a fan of darkness and angst, I was quickly drawn to Ryker, and was curious about him since the first book. He has a dark past that defines him, but, as the book title implies, he is also incredibly honorable and does that right thing when he must. And in a sea of books that seem to glorify the ton it is refreshing once in a while to find a hero who has legitimate reasons for despising the ton, and the circumstances of the story lead to him having to deal with it. While I would have liked to see his resentment of his father explored a little more and ultimately resolved, given their father played such a big role in the prior book, I was satisfied with how Ryker turned out overall.

Penelope took a while to grow on me. I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t really connect with her that much. I did admire the methods she took in trying to make the best of her marriage, and ultimately feel that she and Ryker are a good match, but compared to the heroines of some of Caldwell’s other books I’ve read, she pales by comparison.

There are also some issues with the writing and structure. While the book overall flows nicely, the overusage of inner monologue for both Ryker and Penelope did grow a bit tiresome. And I was perplexed by the inclusion of the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter as they seemed to have no relation to the story at all aside from a thematic connection and the fact that they seemed to be letters from Penelope, only to be revealed near the end that these were meant to be diary entries. It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if they had been referenced a bit more throughout the book, especially given that she addresses her diary by a very unusual name, but for most of it, it just felt like almost-pointless info-dump that only became useful when it came to filling me in on some events that happened prior to the events of this book, as some of her siblings were featured in books I have not read. But given that some of the catch-up about the siblings is also included in the main narrative, I feel like there could have been a less distracting and confusing way to incorporate the diary.