Quickie Reviews: Contemporary and Historical Romance

Hey everyone, sorry for the long wait between reviews. As you can see, I’ve been reading up a storm – but just haven’t been putting fingers to keys afterward. I will do better.

So, let’s do some quickie reviews:

The Game Plan, by Kristen Callihan

I used to read contemporary romances, when I first got into the romance genre as a whole. Then I must have fallen into a muddle of saccharine heroines and too-easy endings, because I got really turned off for a while. This year, I’ve come back around and found some great reads, in particular the rock-star romances (more on those to come) and, surprising to me, military/ex-military (such as His Road Home). The Game Plan is the first sports romance I’ve read, and it was also enjoyable. I did find the hero to occasionally be too good to be true – I mean, he was like a laundry list of Fantasy Man Traits – but the story worked well overall. I’d pick this up and reread it for sure.

The Forbidden Duke, by Darcy Burke

Just how many dukes were there in Regency England? Anyhow, this was a solid three-star read: nothing horrible and also nothing striking or memorable. I was a little irritated at Nora, the heroine, having to take the fall for her father and always getting the short end of the stick, but that’s life for a woman in early 19th c. England…. The hero, Titus, was a good guy, if a bit stiff-necked, and it’s probably his lack of underlying naughtiness that made this only a 3-star for me. I like my dukes bad!

Angel of Redemption, by J.A. Little

Let me start by saying this book is long, and really heavy in places. However, it was one of the best I’ve read this year. A contemporary in which the heroine is a social worker and the hero runs a group home, it addressed issues such as foster care, parental neglect and drug abuse, and survivor guilt. Both main characters had some baggage to deal with, but by the end they had found a place to stand together. A 4-star read and maybe a re-read, if I’m feeling emotionally up to it.

A Gentleman’s Position – by K.J. Charles

A Gentleman's Position

4.5 Stars
This m-m romance was filled with well-developed primary and secondary characters and had a strong political background. The first section started a little slow for me, as it introduced the slow burn between David and Richard, and I found myself wishing for some drama. My wish was soon granted, and drama, nefarious plots, and hot scenes began to erupt.
The conflict between the two main characters was sustained believably and resolved in a way that made sense. I also liked seeing how Richard grew and changed over the course of the story.

I had read the first in this series (A Fashionable Indulgence) but missed the second (A Seditious Affair); I’ll be circling back to catch that one next.
I really hope Ms. Charles takes the time to write a bit about Will Quex and Jon Shakespeare soon, though, because those two secondary characters have captured my imagination! I won’t give spoilers but Will’s story is one I really want to read in full.

This definitely goes on the reread list along with the rest of my K.J. Charles collection.

(Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.)

Amazon link

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!*