THE COUNTESS by LYNSAY SANDS

The Countess by Lynsay Sands on GoodReads

Well. I got 3/4 of the way through this book and was like… this all seems so familiar. Have I read this before?
It turns out I not only read this book once before, but it was less than two years ago! So this was, sorry to say, not a terribly memorable book.
I picked it up this time around because it was recommended to me as a “Regency Weekend at Bernie’s”, and that premise sounded hilarious. And you know, it had some moments – especially in the first third of the book when they were all sneaking around, suspecting one another, taking turns stealing and hiding the body. That was great.
Once everyone started pairing up like a high school date… I think my brain just checked out. I did finish it, but I’m making sure to note that I have read this one, so that I don’t attempt a reread.
3 stars for effort and excellent blocking of character action. I can only imagine the timetables/index cards/notes this one involved!

HIS ROAD HOME by Anna Richland

His Road Home by Anna Richland on GoodReads
I’ll confess, right off the bat: I don’t read much contemporary romance. I’m not sure why – maybe I overdid it on Nora Roberts in the first decade of this century; maybe it’s not escapist enough – whatever the reason, I read 10 or even 20 historicals for every contemporary.

That said – if someone gave me more contemporaries like this one, I would read them like crazy!

This book – really more of a novella – was every bit as poignant as it needed to be, considering the hero lost his legs and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Both of these are dealt with in a non-patronizing way, and I especially like that the heroine, Grace, steps up to the challenges thrown her way. As the family member and friend of people who’ve dealt with TBIs, I also appreciated the very realistic and sensitive portrayal of what Rey went through and how frustrated he was.

Other great stuff: it’s a road trip story, which is always a win for me. Rey is a cocky smart-ass, which also really works for me. My best friend dated a guy just like him in high school who, coincidentally, went into the Army. I know the type and Rey’s character rang true all the way through. The supporting characters were great too; I especially liked when Rey met Grace’s parents.

5 stars, and definitely on the re-read list.

MAGNATE by Joanna Shupe

Magnate by Joanna Shupe on GoodReads

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Things I loved:

I am a complete sucker for this time period. Anything set between 1880 – 1920 (yes, I know that’s more than one era, technically) is catnip to me. To make it even better, Joanna Shupe set this particular book in New York at the time of the Great Blizzard of 1888 – double catnip! I’ve been mildly fascinated with the Great Blizzard ever since I read a book about it in second grade (yeah, I know…); in this book it plays a significant role.

The chemistry between Emmett and Elizabeth is fantastic! Even when they’re being idiots about things (fairly often) the sparks really fly when they get together. Alpha male + alpha female = VERY HOT. I like that Emmett appreciates Elizabeth’s brains just as much as her looks, too.

Things I didn’t love:

As I mentioned above, I spend a lot of time wanting to smack E & E upside the head for being stubborn idiots. Whether it was Emmett fretting about their class differences or Elizabeth worrying about Emmett’s reasons for being with her, they really put themselves through a lot of hell. Of course… without this, it would have been a very short book!

Other things worth a mention:

This book had some great secondary characters. I really want Emmett’s brother Brendan to get his own story – he’s a bit of a meddler but I suspect he has hidden depths. Emmett’s younger sisters were sweet, but portrayed as a bit young for their stated ages (I say this as the parent of a thirteen-year-old; yes, times were different, but even so-).

The financial aspects of the plot were tightly woven but explained simply enough that a non-financial brain like mine had no trouble following them.

All in all I would give this 4.5 stars and a definite re-read. It was like a lovely, refreshing mashup of 19th-century historical romance and modern billionaire romance, but without any of the irritating bits.

*GoodReads is giving away 10 copies of this book – register between now and March 29!*

How To Capture A Duke – Bianca Blythe

How To Capture A Duke by Bianca Blythe

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Things I liked about this book:
– The main characters, after the first couple of chapters. Percival rose above his name and also managed to not whine too excessively about his missing leg (in fact, it often seemed to bother the other characters in the story much more than it bothered him, and it certainly didn’t slow him down much). Fiona was a bit too good to be true at times, but I couldn’t help but adore her when she just let her string of lies get away with her as she held up Percival’s coach. She told one whopper after another, and I liked the rollicking feel of the story.
– The plot covered a lot of territory, very little of it London. It was nice to get out in the countryside a bit. I’m not certain how accurate some of the portrayal was, but it was nice to be out and about.

Things I didn’t like about this book:
– Cognitive dissonance. While Fiona was telling one lie after another, waving a knife about, and boldly tearing across the countryside with a strange man, we were supposed to believe she had cut her Season short due to social insecurity? Because, in other words, she was shy? Um, no.
– Secondary characters. They were either loosely painted caricatures or thoroughly unlikeable, or in many cases, both. I had a hard time understanding why many of them appeared, and whether certain of them (Uncle Seymour?) were villains or merely wretched human beings.
– The plot covered a lot of territory, as in, it was plot spaghetti!

In general, this was fine for me. A solid 3-star read; nothing spectacular and nothing horrible. It was light and diverting, with the exception of the death of one of the only decent secondary characters to mar the frivolity. I would probably not read it again, though.

I did find one continuity issue that, as a horse person, drove me batty – Fiona’s horse “Ned” is first referred to as a mare (i.e. a female horse) but many times thereafter is called “him”. By the end of the book Ned has lost all gender, poor dear, but it’s probably for the best.

 

Taking the Lead by Cecilia Tan

5 stars for consensual kinky funtimes!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Ricki was a smart young woman who sometimes couldn’t get out of her own way (gee, I don’t know *anyone* like that) and Axel was completely sweet in his infatuation with Ricki – no alpha-hole to be found here, thank goodness.

I also loved that there were lots of well-developed secondary relationships happening, rather than the primary romance developing in a vacuum or spotlight.
The Hollywood setting was fun – who doesn’t love a little celebrity fantasy? – and the sex was sizzling.

I’m happy to know there are more books in this series coming – I look forward to reading more about the characters and their world!

– disclosure – I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.