Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #67: I Kissed an Earl by Julie Anne Long

I Kissed an EarlAfter reviewing, The Runaway Duke by Julie Anne Long, Mrs. Julien recommended that I move on to Long’s Pennyroyal Green Series. Dutifully following her expert opinion, I picked up I Kissed an Earl (2010)–one of the middle books of the series–I think. I chose this one primarily because it was immediately available on Kindle from my library.

Violet Redmond is beautiful, smart, spoiled, and bored. She is used to attention and getting whatever she wants. She is also very loyal and loving to her family. So when she discovers that her missing brother might actually be rampaging the seas as the notorious pirate Le Chat, she springs into action to find him and protect him.

Violet’s plan involves sneaking onto the ship of the man ordered by the king to capture Le Chat–the recently appointed Earl of Ardmay. With naivety and optimism, Violet believes she can find her brother and figure out what’s going on before the Earl–thereby saving her brother from a hangman’s noose. Although I found this rather unbelievable, it did get Violet and the Earl on the same ship with cross purposes, guaranteeing some strife and betrayal.

I had mixed feelings about this book, so it might be easiest if I split it up into likes and dislikes.

Read the details here.

Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #64: The Runaway Duke by Julie Anne Long

The Runaway DukeI should know by now not to start reading any romance novels if I want to get anything done–especially good ones. I picked up The Runaway Duke (2004) by Julie Anne Long this morning and now it’s evening. I haven’t done anything useful all day, but I’m done with the novel. Sometimes I think I need days just for decompressing and stress relief. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

So, this is the second book I’ve read by Julie Anne Long and I think I like her combination of likable characters, adventure, danger, and mystery. Sometimes the coincidences bringing everything together were laughable, but since I was being entertained, I didn’t mind.


Rachie 3879’s #CBR5 Review #57: The Secret to Seduction by Julie Anne Long


I was in the library looking for Julie Anne Long’s What I Did for a Duke, but the copy was checked out, so I took home the third and final entry of the Holt sisters’ trilogy, The Secret to Seduction. In this entry we meet the third of the daughters of Anna Holt, the mistress accused of murdering her lover and abandoning her three daughters to flee the country. Sabrina Fairleigh has been raised all this time by a country vicar and is quite the demure young beauty. She has struck up a friendship with her father’s young curate and it’s due to this growing attraction to the young man that she travels as companion with her friend Mary to the Earl of Rawden’s country estate, in the hopes of prodding this young curate (the Earl’s cousin) to propose marriage. I would say the guy’s name; it starts with G, but I’ve forgotten it and the book is all the way upstairs on my night stand so I can’t be bothered.

The Earl of Rawden, Rhys Gillray, goes by another name – The Libertine. He writes some of the dirtiest, most seductive poetry in all of England and is a famous rake. He is also, naturally, terribly good looking and rich, which we would also like in our love interests. Sabrina’s goodness and purity provoke the Earl out of his boredom; she challenges him and though she professes a lack of passion in life, seems to possess it with pride and temper in all her interactions with him. He decides he simply must seduce her; he longs for a challenge like a virginal vicar’s daughter. What he doesn’t expect is how much he really needs her once he kisses her, and how strong his attraction to such a woman would be. We surprisingly get their courtship out of the way fairly quickly; most of the novel is devoted to them actually falling in love for real and to wrapping up the story of Sabrina’s long-lost family and clearing of their mother’s name.

I liked this entry in the trilogy the best out of the three, but I also have a predilection for rakes, so that’s probably why. Sabrina’s sisters, Susannah and Sylvie, also married rakes but Rhys Gillray is in a class of his own and is quite entertaining. At the same time he’s also a jerk, so there is that to work through. Sabrina is interesting and I generally like her, though I feel like she should have seen through the façade of her father’s curate a little sooner. Rhys’ cousin “G” is generally douchetastic and it’s hard to imagine a woman as intelligent and observant as Sabrina would fall for his bullshit. The resolution to their family’s tragic history is neat and nice, though there seems to be room for more to be written on this story, judging from the way Long wrote some of that. I’m not sure where she’d go with it, because she has exhausted the sisters; perhaps this loosely ties into another of her books and I’ll encounter that later.

Rachie3879’s #CBR5 Review #50-51: Ways to be Wicked and Beauty and the Spy by Julie Anne Long

ImageI finally got around to reading more Julie Anne Long books while I was on vacation, MrsJulien and Malin having strongly recommended her, and since they’re from a trilogy, I’ll review them together here. I mindlessly browsed in the library the other week, without my handy Goodreads app (I’d left the cell on my coffee table), so I was not aware that the two books I chose, Beauty and the Spy  and Ways to Be Wicked were from a series. Due to this, I read them out of order. But no matter, they were enjoyable all the same, and I’ll definitely check out the third and final chapter of the Holt Sisters Trilogy when I’m next at the library. I’ll also take my phone with me so I can remember I’ve been meaning to read What I Did for a Duke for ages now.

Ways to Be Wicked is the story of Sylvie Lamoureux, a prima ballerina with the Paris ballet, and Tom Shaughnessy, a bawdy theater owner slash Adonis. Sylvie has learned that she may have a sister living in London and so she flees from her comfortable life and domineering lover (a Bourbon prince, seriously. I need to refresh myself on my French history as I’m not sure how that worked out post-revolution. I used to know but I don’t now, it’s been 17 years). In a bit of a contrivance, she lands at Dover and immediately has to hide from said lover (Etienne, one of my favorite French names) and throws herself into the coach for hire (or whatever that’s called), and lap, of Tom Shaughnessy. Of course he’s intrigued by this spritely vixen and of COURSE she ends up needing his assistance later. At first they spar mentally, and he strives to remain free of entanglements with her; Tom makes it a point NEVER to get involved with his dancers so he hires her as one. Eventually, of course, they develop feelings for each other and sexy time and romance happen and the end.

There are more aspects of the story but the sideplots aren’t too heavy. I expect that is because most of the history of this family of women was laid out in book one and I started in the middle. In any case you get a taste of Sylvie’s back story as well as Tom’s, and some entertaining supporting cast. Strippers (or their predecessors, really) often make interesting characters. I like Sylvie because she isn’t innocent, she has a temper, and seems generally capable of getting shit done. Tom is a decent hero. He’s handsome, came from nothing, and seems fairly straight forward. It’s been a few days since I finished this one so I’m having trouble recalling any real stakes here, so I guess that’s my only quibble with this particular entry. Continue reading

Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #50: Beauty and the Spy by Julie Anne Long

Beauty and the SpyAnother day, another romance novel. I don’t recall how Beauty and the Spy (2006) by Julie Anne Long ended up on my wait list at the library. I think a Cannonballer must have recommended it at some point and then I forgot about it until it became available, but I enjoyed reading it.

It’s amazing how quickly these plots disappear from memory, but a quick trip to Amazon has refreshed my recollection. Susannah Makepiece is beautiful, rich, and about to marry the heir to a viscount. Until her father dies, she loses everything, and she is lucky to end up at her aunt’s cottage in Barnstable. Christopher (Kit) Whitelaw is a viscount and a top spy in London. At the beginning of the novel, he is immersed in little besides women and drinking. Kit’s father sends him off to the country to get his head about him. In addition to the inevitable love story between Susannah and Kit, there is some murder, intrigue, and adventure as Susannah and Kit try to figure out what happened to her father.

I like this book and I was impressed by the characterization. Instead of making Susannah an implausibly gutsy, feminist, caring and perfect young woman, she begins the book by being selfish, manipulative and rather shallow. But she is exactly a product of her upbringing and simply knows nothing else. As she is able to explore her talents and desires in the book, her character grows and she becomes a better, more interesting person. Kit grows as well, although not as dramatically. The book was also easy to read and the romance between the characters grows slowly as they get to know each other, which I appreciated. I also liked the fact that they were rarely opponents, but more often worked together to accomplish their goals.

The one complaint I have is that the extraordinary number of typos (at least in the Kindle version) was distracting and unprofessional. It felt like at least once per page (probably a slight exaggeration), there would be a major mistake such as: incorrect pronouns, doubled words, or incorrect words. Sometimes the paragraphs were out of line. These weren’t tricky or questionable grammar traps, these were basic failure to proofread gaffes that required me to re-read sentences in order to figure out what the author was trying to say.

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Malin’s #CBR5 Review #96: Beauty and the Spy by Julie Anne Long

Rating: 3.5 stars

When Susannah Makepeace’s kind, but distant father dies, leaving behind him nothing but debt, Susannah’s engagement to a young gentleman is broken, and she has to move in with a distant cousin in the little village of Barnstable. She’s barely arrived before she runs into the notorious Viscount Whitelaw, diving naked into a pond mere feet away from where she is sketching.

Kit Whitelaw is a spy, but his somewhat scandalous personal life of late has forced his father to present him with a choice. Spend a month on the family’s country estate putting together a natural science folio, with sketches of flora and fauna, or find himself on the next ship to Egypt. Kit would much rather figure out why his friend James Makepeace died under mysterious circumstances, so it’s a happy coincidence, when he realizes that Makepeace’s daughter is in Barnstable. The girl keeps having near fatal accidents, and it’s clear that someone wants her out of the way. But why?

Full review on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 review #68: It Happened One Midnight by Julie Anne Long

Jonathan Redmond is the youngest of the Redmond sons. His eldest brother is missing, off doing God knows what (but rumours suggest it may be piracy). His brother Miles is a famous explorer, disowned by their father because he married someone the powerful Isaiah Redmond didn’t approve of. Miles wants to be an investor, and would like his father’s help to invest in a printing business specialising prints. His father coldly dismisses his ideas, and reveals that he sees his son as little more than a pretty face and an irresponsible rake. He claims Jonathan needs to settle down with a wife in the next six months, or he’s going to cut off his allowance.

Jonathan doesn’t really feel that his rakish reputation is deserved. Young eligible women keep throwing themselves at him, because of his looks, family name and connections. They keep misinterpreting things he says while dancing with them as promises, and suffer broken hearts when he doesn’t court them. Determined to prove his father wrong, Jonathan needs to find fellow investors elsewhere. He finds an unlikely one in Thomasina de Ballesteros, a beautiful young woman driving the young men of London to distraction. Her mother was a famous courtesan, and now she charms gentlemen at exclusive salons. No one knows that in the evenings, she risks her life rescuing children from ruthless employers and finding them new and better homes. In return for supplying Jonathan with funds to start up the coloured printing business, Tommy (yes, I hate the nickname, but got used to it as the book went on) ropes Jonathan into helping her on a couple of rescue missions. More on my blog.

Rachie3879’s #CBR5 Review #10: A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long


My sister-in-law, a librarian at a local prestigious university and what I’d call a fairly high-brow reader with a literary bent, is a friend of mine on Goodreads, so I often use her reviews or additions to her To Read shelf and put them on mine. I was surprised to see her reading a few books awhile ago from a set of books called Pennyroyal Green; I read the description and thought – “Is that a romance novel???” My sister-in-law is the LAST person I’d have thought would read one, much less rate it three stars, so I thought why not? I’ve never read a romance novel before, it could be fun. This series in particular takes place in a town in Sussex, England, in the 19th century. So – totally my wheelhouse! This is how I came to read A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long. In a day.

Countess is the story of Evie Duggan, a former actress turned courtesan turned wife of a Viscount turned widow, now relocating to a small town (Pennyroyal Green) and the estate her husband has left her. As the entire city of London has decided to brand her a whore and possible husband-killer (she isn’t, by the way), she has decided to embrace country life and hopes she can start afresh. She’s wrong, however, and her reputation has preceded her. She meets the local vicar, and of course they argue at first but obviously find each other insanely attractive and you know where these two are headed. She enlists the vicar’s assistance in helping her make friends in the town that is so coldly rejecting her. Stuff happens, people fall in love, etc.

I’m surprised to find that I liked it. I won’t pretend that it’s a story that’s all that new or profound or even expertly written. I will say that the writing is better than some really bad stuff I’ve read (50 Shades…). The characters are interesting with the right amount of hotness and secret desire burning in loins and whatnot, but the book isn’t smutty. In fact, there are only two sex scenes. I’d always assumed romance novels were really just successive sex scenes with an occasional chapter of plot just peppered in here and there to make readers aware they weren’t reading one of the author’s other books again. I liked that the romance is built up over a few hundred pages to boil over a couple times toward the end.

That being said – some of the names are KIND of ridiculous. There’s a vicar, named Adam Sylvaine (!), so naturally I thought of the Friends episode where Rachel’s romance novel is discovered. I wonder – do all romance novels have super-hot vicars? Ok really just the main guy’s name is silly sounding. This might be a thing in the romance genre – I’m not really sure this being my first. If you’re looking for smut, don’t look for it here – like I said: two sex scenes. I won’t lie – I’ll probably read more of this series at least. It’s fun, I read it in a day and this could help me get to my quota for CBR pretty easily. I might pack a ton of these when I head to the beach this summer – they’re perfect for that. This particular book was apparently the 7th out of the series; all the characters are sort of inter-connected and there are some references to other stories so I probably will try to start at the beginning next time.