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.