Rereading Elizabeth Essex’s Dartmouth Brides

In 2011, I read the first of Elizabeth Essex’s Dartmouth Brides books, The Pursuit of Pleasure. This is Ms. Essex’s debut novel and, especially for a first book, quite good. In my B review I wrote:

I liked James and Lizzie but had a hard time understanding why they made the choices they did. James, in the name of his work, allows Lizzie to suffer tremendously while claiming to love her. Lizzie, bedazzled by sex with James and still hell-bent on being independent, behaves in ways that are at times unsympathetic and flat-out self-destructive. And for all the thinking they do about each other — and Ms. Essex spends a good deal of time relating her characters’ thoughts — neither really sees the other very clearly until, perhaps, the end of the novel. This lack of unambiguous relationship development combined with too little information about their pasts left me feeling unsatisfied. I wanted more […]

By | April 8th, 2017|Categories: Dabney AAR, Re-reading|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Nov TBR Challenge

countessshshameless When I started reading romance, I stuck almost entirely to historicals and romantic suspense. When I saw this month’s TBR Challenge prompt, I knew I had no shortage of historical reading in my closet o’TBR. I decided to go with a new-to-me author and picked up Liana LeFey’s 2012 debut, Countess So Shameless. This Georgian historical, set in France and England during the reign of George II, has enough intelligence and unique characterization to keep me reading but also enough eyeroll-inducing plot twists to make it difficult for me to recommend.

The novel opens at Versailles where the teenaged Melisande Compton has come to court with her French mother and English father. We learn very quickly that this isn’t entirely a pleasure visit and while in France, Melisande learns a dangerous and devastating family secret. Overcome with emotion, she runs headlong into Lord Alessandro Orsini, a rakish diplomat for the Papal States. Though warned early and often by her mother of […]

Alexis Hall interviews K.J. Charles (and a giveaway)

KJ Charles’s three Society of Gentlemen Regency romances were all rated Desert Isle Keepers by All About Romance. A Seditious Affair, which was awarded a coveted A+, was voted tied first for Best LGBTQ+ Romance in the All About Romance annual poll, and received Honourable Mentions for Best Romance and Best Historical Romance set in the UK.

Today, author Alexis Hall interviews KJ about the Society of Gentlemen trilogy.


AJH: What drew you to the Regency period as a setting?

KJC: When I wrote the initial story, The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh, it was pure homage to the classic Regency romances. I wanted sexy queer Heyer, so I did my best to write some. But the Regency is an incredibly interesting period of social change and turbulence, war, riots, upheaval, the old order hanging onto power and the rise of modern thought. So when I was thinking of expanding the short story into, erm, a massive trilogy, it seemed like a good opportunity to explore some of that. […]

A Guest Post & Giveaway from Stella Riley

Lords of Misrule March 2016

Still tied to his desk in the Intelligence Office, Colonel Eden Maxwell has become increasingly disenchanted with both Oliver Cromwell and his own daily existence; and with the advent of new Royalist conspiracies, he despairs of ever getting away.
Then a brick hurled through the window of a small workshop sets in motion a new and unexpected chain of events. After all, who would want to hurt Lydia Neville – a young widow, giving work and self-respect to maimed war veterans considered unemployable elsewhere? But when the assaults in Duck Lane escalate, threatening the life and remaining limbs of some of Eden’s former troopers, finding the culprit becomes personal.

At their first meeting, Lydia finds Colonel Maxwell annoying; by their second, having discovered that he had arrested and questioned her brother in connection with the Ship Tavern Plot, she mistrusts his motives. On the other hand, it swiftly becomes plain that she needs his help … and has difficulty resisting his smile.
Solving the increasingly hazardous mystery surrounding Lydia is not Eden’s only task. Between plots to assassinate the Lord Protector and a rising in Scotland, he must also mend the fences within his own family and get to know his son. Life suddenly goes from mind-numbing boredom to frenetic complexity.

With reckless Cavaliers lurking around every corner and a government still struggling to find its way, Lords of Misrule is set against a time of national discontent and general failure. But readers of the previous books in the series can look forward to catching up with old friends as well as meeting new ones … while, against all the odds, Eden and Lydia find danger and reward in equal measure.


 

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By | May 19th, 2016|Categories: Authors, giveaways, Interviews|Tags: , , |32 Comments

The Weekend DIK: The Earl Takes All

I’ve been desperate to read The Earl Takes All since I finished Falling into Bed With a Duke, the first book in Lorraine Heath’s Hellions of Havisham Hall series. Even though at that point no synopsis had been published, I had an inkling of where this story might be going – which says a lot for Ms Heath’s ability to bury hints and subtext in whichever story she happens to be telling at the time – and I have been really, REALLY curious as to how she was going to pull off such a difficult premise. […]

By | April 29th, 2016|Categories: Caz AAR, DIK|Tags: , , , , |7 Comments

An Interview (and a giveaway) with Caroline Linden

Dabney: I’m determined to keep this interview spoiler free. So, no mentioning who it is who writes the 50 Ways to Sin stories! But can I ask, did you know who the author was from the beginning of the series?

Caroline: Thank you for that! At the very beginning of Love and Other Scandals, the first book, I had not decided for sure, but by the end of the book I knew.

My other consideration for Lady Constance, by the way, was a totally new character who would have emerged during the series, not one of the existing characters. […]

Lady Breakwynd’s Boxing Day Bulletin: A Truely Tropeful Holiday Missive

‘Tis been quite a year for us here in our small town of Sandy Balls. And to think, a year ago, I despaired of my daughters Arabella and Lavinia finding husbands and worried my darling Didimus would never take a bride. As for me, well, I was sure I’d live out the rest of my years here at Cinnabon, dedicated to the memory of my dear departed Humphrey. Though I’d vow it never happens, it must be acknowledged, in these assumptions, I was mistaken.

I must state my fear that Arabella would remain a spinster was understandable. The girl is such a, dare I say, bluestocking. If she’s read a single volume from our library while draping herself artfully over the yellow floral silk covered chaise lounge, she’s read them all. A man finds nothing less attractive than an overly educated female. My dear departed Humphrey often told me he loved nothing in me so much as the sweet simplicity of my thoughts. It must be said that Arabella’s overactive mind is paired with curls of guinea gold […]

By | December 26th, 2015|Categories: Dabney AAR|Tags: , , , |7 Comments

Who Loves Historicals? – TBR Challenge 2015

brilliantmismatch Reading an historical romance for a reading challenge is rather like a Busman’s Holiday for yours truly; the only difficulty being which one to pick from the YOOOGE number I have sitting on my TBR pile. In the end, I closed my eyes, metaphorically stuck a pin in the Paperback Pile of Doom that sits by the side of the bed, and ended up with A Brilliant Mismatch by Elizabeth Mansfield, which was originally published in 1991.

Lady Moira Pattinger is, at twenty-six, the eldest of four sisters and the only one of them to remain unmarried. That is not by design, however. She has in fact been betrothed twice… and jilted twice, each time in favour of one of her sisters thanks to the interference of her father, who offered each suitor a substantial sum of money to give up Moira and marry one of her sisters. Discovering that her latest beau has been “diverted” to her youngest sister by the same means is the last straw. Furious at what she believes are her father’s attempts to keep her from marrying so that she can continue to serve as both housekeeper and secretary, Moira confronts him in a rage and tells him that she intends to go out in the morning and marry the very first man she sees.

The Honourable Oliver Sherrard, brother of the Earl of Lydbury, is a happy-go-lucky, good-natured sort of chap who, having spent most of his twenty-three years doing what other people want, has decided it’s time for him to have a bit of an adventure. As a second son, he is going to have to make his own way in the world, but before he does that, he plans to undertake an extended walking-tour, taking with him only what he can carry in his backpack, the clothes on his back, a sturdy pair of boots and enough money to see him through.

He makes good progress on the first day and stops for the night at a less than salubrious inn, where the fact that he pays for his board and lodging with a gold coin attracts the wrong sort of attention. The next day, he is set upon, robbed and left for dead by the side of the road. Badly beaten, bruised and concussed, he eventually comes to and makes his way to the nearest building in order to shelter from the rain. He collapses, coming round hours later to see the most beautiful young woman he has ever seen staring at him and – here’s where he knows he must be dreaming – asking him to marry her. […]

TBR Challenge: Back in Time

provoked Given I read historicals almost exclusively, this month’s prompt wasn’t much of a challenge so I decided to look for something – for me – a bit different. Provoked is the first in Joanna Chambers’ Enlightenment trilogy, and an M/M romance, which is a genre I’ve read only once or twice before.

Not being overly familiar with historical M/M, I had the idea that it would be quite difficult for a romance to have a convincing HEA for two men at a time in history when homosexuality was not only illegal, but punishable by death – and while I certainly have no problem with the idea of two hot guys stripping off their frock coats and getting it on, I can read erotica for that. I read romance (as opposed to erotica) most of the time because I want more than that in my reading material – I want a decent storyline, too, and – with any luck – one that doesn’t stretch my credulity to breaking point and beyond.

The book is set in Regency Scotland, at a time of much political and social unrest. The author immediately evokes a strong sense of time and place with the opening of the story in which two young men – weavers accused of treason – are publicly executed. Present in the crowd is David Lauriston, a twenty-four year-old advocate who had defended the men in court, even though their fate was a foregone conclusion. […]

The Past is a Miserable Country: queer historical romance

QRMOver the next month, AAR will run a column a week as part of our participation in Queer Romance Month. This, penned by author KJ CHarles, is the second of the four.

I don’t like queer historicals, they’re so depressing.

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By | October 10th, 2014|Categories: Guest Posts, Reading, Relationships, Romance reading|Tags: , , |17 Comments