Reviews by Marian Perera

A
Women in the Kitchen

Women in the Kitchen : Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today, by chef and cookbook author Anne Willan, is a history of cookbooks written by women in both the US and UK, from the very first such book published to modern times and the advent of cooking shows. ...

C-
The Reluctant Duchess

I saw that Jane Goodger’s romances had received grades on AAR ranging from B+ to C-, so I picked up her book The Reluctant Duchess. It was clearly inspired by Beauty and the Beast, and I’m always hopeful there’ll be a new spin on this trope. This is the fourth book in the Brides of St. Ives se ...

D+
Lord of Temptation

The premise of Lorraine Heath’s Lost Lords of Pembrook hooked me. Three boys flee their home because they’re in danger of being killed by their uncle, who is after the family title. Ten years later, they return to society, but the time they’ve spent on the run, struggling for survival, has cha ...

B
The Perfect Nanny

Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny was described as a “French Gone Girl”, and the French part made me curious. It has a strong sense of place, and I couldn’t put it down. However, the end was such a cop-out that my review will touch on why it dragged the grade down, so anyone who wants to avo ...

C-
The Figure of Love

Minerva Spencer’s A Figure of Love is described as an historical romance where a widowed sculptor falls in love with the man who’s employed her to design his garden, which sounded interesting. I like the setup where two people who are strangers to each other have to work on some sort of major pr ...

C
The Music of Love

Be careful what you wish for, readers. I wanted a historical romance with a flawed heroine, and The Music of Love delivered that in spades. I read it with some interest, but it didn’t quite live up to the potential of its premise. Portia Stefani, the widow of an Italian pianist lost in a shipwr ...

B+
Beyond Heaving Bosoms

Beyond Heaving Bosoms, by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, is a delightful look at romance in general - its history, its strengths and flaws as a genre, its tropes (does this ever go into tropes!) and its authors. This isn't a comprehensive guide to romance, and since it wa ...

A+
Know My Name

Chanel Miller’s Know My Name is a devastating memoir. It was a must-read for me, but the pain and fear and frustration in this book is so raw and immediate that I had to wait for the right frame of mind to tackle it. Nevertheless, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, and the only ch ...

B+
The Work of Art

What made me pick up Mimi Matthews’ The Work of Art was the simple fact that the rich, powerful duke with the dark past was the villain rather than the hero. What kept me reading, though, was a well-crafted story with a compelling hero and heroine. It has a couple of issues which I’ll mention la ...

D+
The Viscount and the Vicar's Daughter

Mimi Matthews’ The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter begins with Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton, hoping to blot out the bleakness of his life at a house party. Then he hears a woman crying in the garden, and he finds Miss Valentine March, a downtrodden companion. She’s in tears because ...