Review: The Spitfire

Book CoverThe Spitfire by Christi Caldwell
My Rating: 4-5 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Formats: Kindle Unlimited, eBook, Paperback

The Spitfire is book #5 in the Wicked Wallflowers series. Even though it’s a departure from the Killoran family featured in the first four books, and wasn’t in Caldwell’s original plans for the series, this is the best book of the five.

Clara Winters has left behind the life as a courtesan and madam to become a self-made woman by opening a respectable music hall to be enjoyed by the masses. Henry March is an earl living a tightly-ordered life, obsessed with creating law and order across London. A late-night attack in Clara’s neighborhood leaves Henry nearly dead and Clara as his rescuer and nurse. Despite the provoking thoughts and interesting banter the two have, can their new-found friendship survive Henry’s return to politics?

This story didn’t have an insta-love situation and instead, Clara and Henry grow to know and love each other over many weeks. Both characters changed a lot from their involvement in each other’s lives. Clara grew beyond the shell of a woman who was burdened by her past and Henry emerged as a person who learned to love and appreciate who was around him, not just what he could accomplish.

The plot was engaging and moved quickly. Neither Clara nor Henry are perfect, and their flaws play well into the story. The first chapter kicks off so unconventionally that you can’t help but be hooked.

Henry’s sister, Lila, was a great supporting character in this story. She has her own demons and they won’t be easy to conquer. I’m hoping that she gets her own book someday, as her story is bound to be compelling.

This book was nearly a five-star review from me, which is rare. The reason it lost half a star is a sad but increasingly recent trend in historical romances: there is no epilogue. The final chapter did bring the main plot to a satisfying conclusion. But I want a look at the ever after part of happily ever after. I’m left wondering too much⁠—will they actually get married, will society cause problems, will they ever have children, and much more. Does all of that need answered? No. But without any of it, this story ends with a happily for now.

The Spitfire will release on September 17, 2019.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Series Review: Gothic Love Stories

Book CoverToo Wicked to Kiss, Too Sinful to Deny, Too Tempting to Resist, & Too Wanton to Wed
by Erica Ridley
My Rating: 3.5-Stars
Genre: Gothic Romance
Release Date: out now
Formats: Kindle Unlimited, eBook, or Paperback

The Gothic Love Stories series by Erica Ridley consists of books that were previously released before and have been edited and re-released. Books three and four were published under different titles in their prior editions: Too Tempting to Resist was known as Romancing the Rogue and Too Wanton to Wed was known as Dark Surrender.

Unlike a lot of Ridley’s writing, these books were darker and more substantial in length. The gothic theme is strong throughout three of the four titlesI found it lacking in Too Tempting to Resist, but the story was enjoyable regardless as a general historical romance. This series has murder, mystery, ghosts, creepy castles, intriguing plots, engaging characters, and so much more.

Each book is standalone with no cliffhangers and a HEA.

Continue reading “Series Review: Gothic Love Stories”

Review: Brazen and the Beast

Book CoverBrazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
My Rating: 4-Stars (actual: 3.75)
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Formats: eBook ($7), Paperback ($14), Hardcover ($18)

Brazen and the Beast is the second book in MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastards series. I went into this book without reading the first, and it read perfectly fine as a standalone despite the main characters from Wicked and the Wallflower making a few appearances.

Lady Henrietta “Hattie” Sedley has a plan for her 29th year of life: take control of her future in many ways, and that includes her father’s shipping business. Fate, however, has other plans when Whit (aka Beast), a ‘king’ of Covent Garden, is stashed, unconscious and restrained, inside her carriage.

The “Year of Hattie” is off to a poor start, but she isn’t about to allow a man to get in the way of her goals.

I enjoyed both Hattie and Whit in Brazen and the Beastthey were full of life, their motivations are clear, and their interactions were fun and engaging. Good characters can be hard to find, so it’s refreshing to find two likeable (though imperfect) main characters.

What dragged this story down for me wasn’t the romance, but rather the subplot. There’s dishonesty and betrayal, and the situation devolves into ridiculousness. What should have been clear-cut becomes convoluted, and the antagonist’s reasoning is pretty weak. The plot seems to have been devised simply to set up the next book.

I’d love to see the clever writing we got from MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series, which gave us relevant-yet-building plot and a great romance in each story. While Brazen and the Beast is a fun romantic read, and I recommend it for anyone looking for an engaging historical summer romance, it’s missing the magic of MacLean’s early-2010s writing. I hope the next entry in this series finds it again.

Brazen and the Beast will release on July 30, 2019.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Review: The Duke is But a Dream

Book CoverThe Duke is But a Dream by Anna Bennett
My Rating: 3-Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Formats: eBook ($8), Paperback ($7)

Look at that cover. So pretty!

This is my first Anna Bennett book. While I wasn’t swept off my feet, I did enjoy the organic way the two characters got to know each other. The premise that Lily (a Miss from a well-to-do family) is left alone while everyone leaves town and has a head injury/memory loss and then Eric (the Duke of Stonebridge) decides to take her in until her family is discovered is far-fetched—but it worked for this particular plot, as the two wouldn’t have socialized otherwise.

Lily is energetic and enjoyable, and I loved the snippets of her columns prior to each chapter. The friendship between Lily and Delilah, Eric’s sister, helped both characters grow and accept realizations and realities of the world around them.

I really liked Eric as a person, but absolutely didn’t like his reasons for not wanting a romantic relationship. He aspired to have great intentions but his decision-making skills need some improvement. He’s unwilling to commit, but gets involved with Lily anyway—even when she doesn’t know who she is.

The circumstances of the story force both Lily and Eric to open up in ways they may not have otherwise. While I would have liked to have seen these characters come together in a less-forced manner, their story was still a fun and quick read. It isn’t the most memorable of stories, but is an intriguing one. The book is part of the Debutante Diaries series, but can be read as a standalone.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Regarding the swearing in the book:
Several other reviewers have mentioned profanity in this book. I noted two f-bombs and six s-words. Etymology: The f-bomb originates all the way back to the 16th century (and possibly before), making an appearance in poetry and even in an Italian-English dictionary, both in the 1500s. The s-word is believed to date back to Old English and first appeared in Middle English writing, though it’s more likely that our British hero would have pronounced it differently than how it’s spelled in the book. The author isn’t writing something too “modern” or “out of time,” as these words have been around for centuries.

View all my reviews

Review: Forbidden Angel

Book CoverForbidden Angel by Sandra Lee Rice
My Rating: 2-Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: out now
Formats: Kindle Unlimited, eBook ($3), Paperback ($8)

Normally I wouldn’t review such a poorly written book that I randomly picked up on Kindle Unlimited, but I was floored that there is a  plethora of strong reviews for this book on Goodreads. The premise sounds good, but the writing technique was poor. The book had several problems:

  • Absolutely no white space/scene break between scenes. Characters would seemingly do the equivalent of teleporting or time traveling (for example: in one scene the two main characters are down by the barn, and suddenly in the next paragraph the male lead is looking out his study window). This was jarring and confusing.
  • Almost-but-not-quite-fully-omniscient point of view. I normally don’t like full omniscience, but I think I would have in this book had it not been for the previous problem of zero scene breaks.
  • Too much side story and too many characters. This book needs an editor to go through and kill those darlings (sorry, Penelope and Michael, and solicitor who likes honey).
  • The villain was too adept at his villainy ways while at the same time being absolutely terrible at it. He’s constantly drunk, and reportedly poor, but somehow can afford to follow people all over the place and find time to stay upright while doing so?
  • The main plot dragged on for so. freaking. long. Again, kill those darlings. This dragged because: 1) too much subplot/too many characters; 2) too much drama with the villain without any actual action taken on it; 3) unnecessary detail; and 4) the “Who is Angelique… really?!?!” subplot.

Continue reading “Review: Forbidden Angel”