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.

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.