Malin’s #CBR5 Review #147: Knaves’ Wager by Loretta Chase

Thanks to Mrs. Julien for her awesome romance review template!

Knaves’ Wager is a romance of the you are everything I never knew I always wanted AND opposites attract variety: Boy meets girl. He is the reprobate former best friend of her now-dead husband. She hates him because she believes he drove her husband to his early death, and is left owing him crippling gambling debts. He agrees to a foolish wager to seduce her against all odds. Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

A historical romance set in the Regency era just around the end of the Napoleonic wars and written by Loretta Chase, Knaves’ Wager is my fourteenth book by this author. I generally find her work at least enjoyable, and at its best, spectacular and infinitely re-readable. Chase is, most famously, the author of Lord of Scoundrels, the book All About Romance’s readers have voted as the number one in their top 100 for more than a decade. Personally, I prefer The Last Hellion, but what do I know? I found Knaves’ Wager, one of her early romances diverting, enjoyable and romantic.

The rest of this review, can be found on my blog.

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Malin’s #CBR5 Review #133: The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

Having drunkenly challenged his friend Daniel Smythe-Smith to a duel after a round of cards, Hugh Prentice ends up shot in the leg, and crippled for life. He’s lucky enough to recover enough that he can walk, but has to use a cane, and will never be able-bodied again. After several years of Daniel Smythe-Smith being on the run from assassins hired by Hugh’s father, Hugh has had more than enough of the whole business and tells his father that if anything untoward happens to Daniel, Hugh will kill himself. As his father seems to count on Hugh to marry and provide an heir, he calls off his hired killers, and Daniel can return safely to England, which he does and promptly falls in love with his sisters’ governess, in A Night Like This.

Daniel and Hugh forgive each other, but Hugh has never been able to forgive himself. The only person who hates Hugh more than he does himself, is probably Lady Sarah Pleinsworth, who feels that he destroyed not only Daniel’s life with the disastrous duel, but ruined her chances at an advantageous marriage. Sarah was supposed to have her debut along with Daniel’s sister, Lady Honoria, when Daniel had to flee the country. The scandal meant they had to wait, and Sarah is convinced that one of the fourteen eligible gentlemen who proposed to someone else during that season could now have been her husband. So when Lady Honoria is getting married to Marcus Holroyd (see Just Like Heaven), and Sarah is asked to not only sit next to Hugh, but take special care of him, and make him feel like a welcome guest during the wedding festivities, she’s not exactly thrilled.

More on my blog.

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 #59: Once Upon A Tower by Eloisa James

Gowan is 22-year-old Duke of Kinross, who works desperately to set aright the chaos left on his estate by his drunken mother (who abandoned the family and left him to care for an illegitimate half-sister) and his debauched and irresponsible father. Every waking moment of his day is rigorously scheduled, so that he can give the proper attention to castle, his finances and his estates. He wants a dependable and hard-working wife, and while he generally believes English ladies to be soft, spoiled and frivolous, he can’t afford to limit himself if he wants to find a good lady to be his duchess.

When he meets the young Lady Edith during her debut ball, he’s instantly smitten. Angelic and serene, she barely speaks during the dances they share, and Gowan decides to propose marriage to her before someone else can sweep his dream woman off her feet. Of course, Edie was so feverish during her social debut that she was barely able to stand up, let alone remember who she danced with and what impression she may have made. Hence, she finds herself betrothed to a man she’s not even sure she would recognize in a crowd. Still, after some correspondence, and time spent together when neither is feverish, the two hit it off, and the marriage date is actually brought forward. More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR Review #57: Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

4.5 stars

Mrs. Julien has already reviewed this book, and excellently as well, but that’s what I get for letting myself get so far behind on my reviewing.

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, used to be a rake, drunkard, libertine and scoundrel of the highest order. He has no intention of ever getting married, and furthering the family line, but his mother, the Dowager Duchess, has other plans. Desperate for grandchildren and stability for her beloved son, she drugs Griff, and forces him to Spindle Cove, the idyllic seaside village where all manner of well-born spinsters reside. She wants him to pick any one of them, and she will make the girl duchess-worthy material.

Griff agrees that if she can turn any woman in the village into a suitable duchess candidate in a week, he will marry her. Then, to thwart his mother’s plans, he picks Pauline Simms, a barmaid who appears clumsy, coarse and wholly unsuitable. Pauline, whose father is a drunken oaf and sister clearly had Down’s syndrome, refuses to leave with their Graces. Only when Griff promises her a thousand pounds to come to London for a week, submit to his mother’s training, and deliberately fail, does she agree, as the money will allow her to finally escape her tyrannical father and open a lending library in the village. Continued on my blog.

Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Reviews #31&#32 – Along Came a Duke/And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake by Elizabeth Boyle

I was given Along Came a Duke plus And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake by the lovely Malin to help occupy me during my ongoing two-sprained-ankles-and-a-broken-foot extravaganza. Elizabeth Boyle is a new historical romance author to both of us and I found her style to be entertaining and light, but ultimately forgettable.

Along Came a Duke

Plot Summary: Preston is a duke. Tabitha is a poor relation much abused by her family. She inherits wealth, but her family tries to control her marriage choice so as to maintain control of the money. They fail.

This was the weaker of the two books. They fell in love very quickly and things went on too long. It was fun though. Fun and amusing.

And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake

Plot Summary: Romeo and Juliet with different names (Henry and Daphne) and a happy ending. Also, by turns an epistolary romance.

As a joke in Along Came a Duke, Preston placed a “wife wanted” advertisement in the newspaper for his sensible, yet wonderfully handsome uncle, Henry. Now Henry has to deal with the repercussions and ends up writing to a woman who took him to task for the ad and who just happens to be a. Tabitha’s best friend and b. a McCoy to Henry’s Hatfield.

There were some lovely moments in this book, in particular a scene at Preston and Tabitha’s engagement ball in which Henry and Daphne fall in love at first sight and without benefit of introduction. Things go awry when the truth comes out. The action then shifts to Preston’s family estate for the celebration of his wedding to Tabitha and to focus on Henry and Daphne’s “I’d like you so much better if you weren’t my sworn enemy” relationship.

It was pleasant. How’s that for damning with faint praise? Very pleasant. I was quite caught up in the story, it was funny and silly, but then it went on too long and …

yawn 3I jumped ahead to the ending.

Both stories felt too immature in their own way, like books about young adults instead of grown ups. The romance was well-conveyed, but lacked weight and wasn’t successfully frivolous enough to compensate for any shortcomings. Boyle did include enough Regency-esque details to go a little bit further than most in creating a historical mood, and she should receive some sort of award for Least Annoying Play on a Nursery Rhyme in Jejeune Book Titling.

The (Shameful) Tally 2013

This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.

Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #26: The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn

If you want to know if you should read this book, please answer the following questions:

a. Have you read at least five of the Bridgerton family books by historical romance author Julia Quinn?
b. Did you like them? (Except Francesca’s book. No one in their right mind liked Francesca’s book.)
c. Do you like new stories about characters you already know?
d. Did you fall at the zoo because you were carrying your child who is too large to be carried?
e. Did you spend the evening icing your bruised left foot and probably sprained right ankle?
f. Did you fall asleep on the couch with your legs elevated above your heart?
g. When you awoke and hobbled to the bathroom, did you manage to call out to your spouse/significant other right before you fainted on the potty?
h. After coming to, did you have cold sweats for 45 – 60 minutes, you can’t be sure how long because time had lost all meaning, but that’s how long your spouse/significant other said it was?
i. When you went to bed did stomach flu start, but no matter what you tried you couldn’t throw up?
j. Did you go to the bathroom to wait out the nausea and to continue trying to throw up?
k. Did you want something light to read to fill the time?
l. When you succeeded in throwing up (toothbrush), did your spouse/significant other call out a supportive “Yay!” from the bedroom?
m. Did you and your spouse/significant other go to the walk in clinic while your mother who is visiting and had planned to go with you to the Metropolitan Museum to see this exhibit stayed with your child?
n. Did you have three hours to fill at the walk in clinic while they confirmed your bruised left foot and definitely sprained right ankle?

If you answered, “yes” to these questions, this is the perfect book for you.

The (Shameful) Tally 2013

This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.