When I read a romance novel (or romantic novel, or erotic novel, or novella, or short story… You get the idea) that I like, I always set it aside with a happy sigh and the very best intentions of writing a review. And then I get busy doing something else – Writing of my own, if all goes well. Usually, it’s dishes, alas – and never get around to it.
I recently burned through a short stack of Regency-or-thereabouts romances (a genre I really enjoy as a reader, though I doubt I’ll ever want to write in it) one after another, though, and they’re sitting here on the edge of my desk, reminding me to review them with haughty looks from elegantly-dressed ladies and men with no shirts on. Instead of putting it off and feeling guilty every time I see their pouty little lips on my bookshelf, I think I’ll quickly dash off some rapid-fire reviews.
First, I Kissed an Earl, by Julie Anne Long. This novel continues Long’s loosely-connected Pennyroyal Green series (which includes The Perils of Pleasure, which is one of my all-time favorites), and was a nice look at some familiar characters from a new angle. Beyond that, it didn’t do a whole lot for me. I found Violet Redmond more irritating than sympathetic, unfortunately, but what really got on my nerves was the number of mistakes in the manuscript that should have jumped out at an editor somewhere along the line at least as vividly as they jumped out at me. Long’s intricate plotting really deserves to be presented to the reader free of typographical errors and grammar flubs.
Next up is At Last Comes Love, by Mary Balogh. So, I sort of have a thing for marriage of convenience narratives. This book has one of those, written extremely well, with characters who I would totally hang out with in real life (assuming the existence of time travel, etc.). On top of that, the secondary characters aren’t just background – the heroine’s family are a big part of her life, and important to the progression of the story.
But what really set this book apart for me was that even though the plot is convoluted and sometimes farcical (in the good way!), the main characters actually do talk to each other and tell the truth about things, most of the time, instead of dragging misunderstandings out. And though a lot of the background plot material is really grim, the central love story is sweet in the best way. I’d never read any of Balogh’s books before this one, and am delighted that there are several for me to catch up with.
Third is Surrender of a Siren, by Tessa Dare. This one was definitely worth picking up. That characters fall in love within days of meeting each other all the time in historicals sometimes gets on my nerves, especially when I’m reading a handful of them back-to-back (notably, that’s not really the case for any of the books I’m reviewing today, but still!). Sophia and Gray spend a really long time together in a socially constrained space before their spark starts to transform into something more lasting, though, and I thought it was a very believable transition. Some aspects of the “big misunderstanding” phase of the story didn’t work very well for me, but on the whole it was a fun book, and had some interesting departures from the norm. And a scorching hot guided masturbation scene, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Finally, One Dance with a Duke, also by Tessa Dare. Now, this book, I loved. I sort of have a thing for marriage of convenience narratives, as I might have recently mentioned. Apparently, one of those combined with a hero who acts like an Alpha male in all of the most irritating ways and is viewed by other characters as being outrageous slams right on a button that I didn’t have a name for until now. And that name is One Dance with a Duke. If you like historicals, read it. If you like marriage of convenience stories, read it. If you actually genuinely like Alpha males, read it. If you… You know what? Just get a copy. You’ll thank me.