Playing Catch Up: Romance Edition

So if you’ve been following my progress of reading 110 books this year, you’ll know that I’m REALLY close to my 100th book.  In fact, I’m planning on finishing my 96th book today! You can also tell that I’m SO far behind on my book reviews. (Only on 63!) With that in mind I’m going to play catch up and do some mini-reviews on books I don’t feel like writing full reviews for.  Since I have a bunch of romance novels that still need to be reviewed, I figured I’d make my first catch-up post dedicated to them!

#64 – Lady Rosabella’s Ruse by Ann Lethbridge – Summary from Goodreads:

None of the women at an “anything goes” house party catches Garth Evernden’s jaded eye. The only one worth noting is a covered-up lady’s companion with an intriguing hint of exotic beauty the eighth Baron Stanford would like to uncover Rose is in fact posing as a widow to find her inheritance—without it, she and her sisters will surely perish! The baron is known for his generosity, and he is so very handsome! A new solution springs to Rose’s mind…surely becoming mistress to this rake would bring definite advantages?

So while the concept of the story was pretty interesting, the characters were a bit blah for me.  Rose was super whiny and caused me to grate my teeth after a while.  Garth had his annoying parts as well, but was nowhere near as annoying as Rose was.  The misconceptions that Garth and Rose had about each other got so aggravating at times that I just didn’t want to read anymore.  I think I would have been able to enjoy the book more without so many damn conflicts.  Seriously, it was one right after the other.  Misconceived notion #1, they make-up, she runs away, he finds her, they make-up, misconceived notion #2, she runs away, he finds her, they make-up, they part ways, misconceived notion #3, he comes back, she runs away, they find each other, etc etc.  It was extremely tedious after a while.

Final thoughts: There are better romances out there that spend more time developing characters and those characters love story.  I’d suggest reading those instead.

2 out of 5 Stars

Lady Rosabella’s Ruse by Ann Lethbridge
Harlequin (2012)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN: 9780373296781

#65 – Jonah’s Bride by Jillian Hart – Summary from Goodreads:

Bound by Duty – Army Major Jonah Hunter has spent his lifetime answering the call of duty, but when he returns to the Connecticut village where he was raised to be at his dying father’s bedside, he faces his biggest challenge yet; finding a bride. Jonah’s father’s dying wish is to see his oldest son married and settled down, and although Jonah has no desire to do either, he is duty bound to honor his father’s wish. While all of the village’s marriage-aged women are throwing themselves his way, Jonah is drawn to the one woman who wants nothing to do with him; the sharp-tongued, spinster Tessa Bradford.

As the village healer, Tessa has spent many days and nights in the Hunter home caring for the Jonah’s ailing father and watching as local women throw themselves at the Army hero. Labeled as harsh and severe, Tessa knows there is no way the village’s most eligible bachelor will be interested in her. But sparks fly between the unlikely couple. When Jonah proposes to Tessa, she must decide whether his offer was made out of love or simply because his father needs a nursemaid. Unwilling to be stuck in a loveless marriage, Tessa must decide if there is more than passion drawing her and Jonah together and if the feelings she has for him can ever be returned by the war-hardened soldier.

So I’ve read a few Jillian Hart romances by now, having never really been all that impressed by them.  I still trudged along though, hoping to find one that was pleasing.  I finally found what I was looking for with Jonah’s Bride!  Jonah and Tessa are adorable together.  When they were children Jonah used to pull on her braids and tease her, much to Tessa’s annoyance.  Obviously, we all know that when a little boy teases a little girl that he really likes her.  Fast forward years later to Jonah’s homecoming.  They are both in their mid to late twenties and the bantering that marked their relationship as children is still ever-present.  This bickering back and forth was actually really adorable to follow, knowing that deep down they both cared for each other.  To watch their love grow and blossom and be reciprocated by the other person was a treat indeed.

Final Thoughts: Read it.

4 out of 5 Stars

Jonah’s Bride by Jillian Hart
Jillian Hart (2011)
eBook: 548 pages
ISBN: 2940013019614

#66 – To Wed A Wicked Earl by Olivia Parker – Summary from Goodreads:

He’s on the hunt for a bride… Adam Faramond, Earl of Rothbury, needs to find a wife—immediately! —or his beloved grandmother will leave him penniless. But Adam, an unrepentant rake, would reform for only one woman, the woman he’s lusted after—and loved—for years. It’s rather unfortunate, then, that Miss Charlotte Greene would never consent to be the blushing bride of a rogue…or so he thinks.

Charlotte believes that the earl, the only man whose touch leaves her trembling, would never want a woman like her. Weary of her wallflower ways, Charlotte decides that a friendship with the earl just might give her the excitement she desires. Keeping their true feelings hidden, she and Adam plan a sham ceremony to placate the dowager. But when the “marriage of convenience” takes an unexpected turn, will Charlotte and her wicked earl finally reveal their irresistible, unforgettable love—and delight in a lifetime of passion?

Charlotte is an absolutely adorable and endearing wallflower.  She is truly kind, compassionate, and wanting of a friendship between herself and Rothbury.  Watching Rothbury try to hide his ever-growing feelings for Charlotte is absolutely precious.  The scenes that have the couple meeting Rothbury’s French grandmother are among my favorite in the book.  She speaks only in French about how Rothbury needs to marry Charlotte and get her pregnant.  Rothbury believes that Charlotte cannot understand French (she really can) and has conversations about her with his grandmother.  It leads to some humorous reactions on Charlotte’s part as she tries to keep a straight face.

Final Thoughts: Of anything reviewed in this post. This is the one you want to read.

4 out of 5 Stars

To Wed A Wicked Earl by Olivia Parker
Harper Collins (2009)
eBook: 384 pages
ISBN: 9780061905315

#67 – Ravished By The Rake (Shipwrecks #1) by Louise Allen – Summary from Goodreads:

Vivacious lady Perdita Brooke prides herself on her social poise …except when faced with devastatingly dashing Alistair Lyndon. The dreamy young man Dita once knew is now a hardened rake, who clearly does not remember their passionate night together…, however much it’s emblazoned on her memory! Now Dita has the perfect opportunity to remind Alistair of their sizzling chemistry. But soon she is in over her head. Provoking him is supposed to be a deliciously wicked game, with her holding all the cards—until Alistair reveals the ace up his sleeve!

Dita is a hellion of a woman and I absolutely love her!  She refuses to believe she can’t do something simply because she’s a woman.  She’s hopelessly in love with Alistair, frequently remembering their time together in her youth.  Alistair on the other hand is completely cynical towards love for reasons you find out late in the book and has no recollection of their time together.  The journey the two take in learning about each other’s pasts as well as how they fit into each other’s futures is an endearing one not without its trials and tribulations.

Final Thoughts: Read it.

3 out of 5 Stars

Ravished By The Rake by Louise Allen
Harlequin (2012)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN: 9780373296767

#68 – Seduced By The Scoundrel (Shipwrecks #2) by Louise Allen – Summary from Goodreads:

Shipwrecked and washed up on an island, Averil Heydon is terrified—and being rescued by mysterious roguish naval captain Luc d’Aunay doesn’t calm her fears! Virginal Averil knows that falling for Luc is dangerous, but the pull of their sexual attraction is deliciously irresistible….After her first taste of wild desire in Luc’s arms, Averil must return to society and convention. Except Luc has a shockingly tempting proposition for her—to flaunt duty, and give in to her newly awakened sensuality…

Definitely the best of the three books in the trilogy! Luc and Averil. WHOO. Luc is dangerous, mysterious, and damn sexy.  You could have written a book about him eating soup and I would read it.  What a fascinating character.  His journey for redemption is just amazing.  Averil’s journey to becoming a strong independent woman who can speak her mind is also a plus for this book.

Final Thoughts: DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!

4 out of 5 Stars

Seduced By The Scoundrel by Louise Allen
Harlequin (2012)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN: 9780373296804

#69 – Married To A Stranger (Shipwrecks #3) by Louise Allen – Summary from Goodreads:

Sophia Langley’s life is in turmoil. When she learns of her estranged fiancé’s death in a shipwreck, the last thing she expects is for his twin brother, Callum Chatterton, to make a shock proposal.  Her inner romantic objects to a marriage of convenience – and brooding Cal makes it very clear that’s all it can be. Yet to save her family Sophia accepts with trepidation – and a highly inconvenient trembling of desire for her reluctant husband.

I enjoyed the first two books in the Shipwrecks trilogy enough to anticipate the third.  Unfortunately, I was highly disappointed. I honestly never connected with Cal and Sophia, which made it difficult for me to enjoy their story.  The conflicts that threaten their happiness throughout the book never felt big enough to be the cause of such dramatic separations.  The only saving grace of this book was the ability to revisit the characters from the first two books in the trilogy.

Final thoughts: If you’re going to read the first two books in the trilogy then I’d say continue on and read this one.  Otherwise….meh.

2 out of 5 Stars

Married To A Stranger by Louise Allen
Harlequin (2012)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN: 9780373296842

So, that wraps up my romance-themed catch up post!  Since this has been so helpful in closing the gap between books read and books reviewed, I’m planning another catch up in the future that will be centered around novellas.  As for now, look forward to regularly scheduled reviews in the days to come and as always, happy reading!

#57 A Review of Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart

The old saying “true love conquers all” is one we’re definitely familiar with.  Jillian Hart takes it to a whole new level in her inspirational romance, Homespun Bride.  Set on the wide plains of Montana in 1883, we’re treated to a story of adventure, overcoming obstacles, and love that defies all odds.

Noelle Kramer and her Aunt Henrietta are in trouble.  On a routine carriage ride home from town they become stuck in a fast-moving blizzard.  Not only are they alone, but Noelle is blind.  Five years prior, she lost her sight in a carriage accident that took the life of her parents.  She and her Aunt fight their way through the storm, when their horse is spooked by an incoming train (steam locomotives are a new invention at this time) and she is nearly thrown into an icy river by the rearing horse.  Miraculously, she is saved from almost certain death by a strange man who happened upon Noelle and her aunt at the exact time of their accident.  In another twist, this man is no stranger to Noelle.  Thad McKaslin was Noelle’s beau in their younger years, and they even went as far as planning to leave town and elope together.  Sadly, Thad never showed on the proposed night they were set to escape together.  What Noelle doesn’t know is that her father ran Thad out-of-town believing that he was not good enough for his daughter.  How will this sudden turn of events after so much time change the two of them?  Will Thad still have positive memories of Noelle after what occurred?  How will they be able to put the past behind them?

For people who are looking for something wholesome, this is a great fit.  It’s a tale of love, redemption, and forgiveness more than anything else.  Noelle has no idea why Thad left her all those years ago, and has been living under the misconstrued notion that her love for him was inadequate.  Thad, on the other hand, could easily win her back if he told her the real reasons of his departure, but his love for her is so deep that he would not do so in order to protect Noelle’s vision of her parents and the positive memories she has of them.  Noelle and Thad are refreshing changes for this genre because of the abnormal circumstances of the heroine being blind.  Thad is a steadfast character who refuses to accept Noelle’s blindness as a hindrance to any type of future with her.  At times, Noelle’s constant doubts of her own abilities got to me, especially considering the fact that she was very independent despite her blindness.  She is clearly capable of doing many complex tasks, including teaching piano, and is constantly aware of her surroundings.  She doesn’t allow her family to let her be a victim, so it was confusing that she placed no such restrictions on her own thoughts, constantly second guessing her own abilities and skills.  Other than this, Homespun Bride was a tale about love conquering all.  Sweet, romantic, and endearing, this is one romance that will tug at your heartstrings.

3 out of 5 stars

Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart
Steeple Hill Books (2008)
ebook: 292 pages
ISBN: 9781426830655

#77 A Review of The Wedding Vow by Jillian Hart

The Wedding VowContinuing on my historical fiction binge of sorts, I recently picked up The Wedding Vow by Jillian Hart.  Before you chide me on reading a book with a cover fit for the trashy romance novel section, I must admit that Hart’s work has left me impressed by the depth of the plot and character development.  With that said, there were also a few other instances of lackluster writing quality that balanced out the shining points, leaving me with a mixed overall view of the book.  However, I’ll leave it up to you to make a final decision on what you think of this book!

Gwyneth of Blackthorne was living a good life.  She had land, a title of nobility, and a loving family.  However, all this was shattered when her parents were brutally killed by a man who eventually took their titles and land.  Not only did he kill Gwyneth’s parents, but all of the guards and her brother, who were entrusted to protect the family at all costs, were killed by this man and his followers.  By sheer luck, Gwyneth was able to escape, forced to live with her cruel uncle, who works her night and day as a servant.  Her daily routine of misery is interrupted one day by Bran the Fair, who seeks her help.  Known as the greatest healer in the land, Gwyneth is enlisted to help the very man who killed her family.  She finds that the man, who is now a Barron, has been thrown from his horse and is in serious condition.  Not only this, but Bran is his bastard son.  The Barron, knowing he is near death, apologizes to Gwyneth and tells her that in order to repay her, she must marry his son and once again preside over her land which was brutally taken from her.  Although she dislikes the arrangement greatly, the King grants the Barron’s dying wish and Gwyneth marries Bran.  However, this is not Gwyneth’s first encounter with the Barron’s family, as she was previously married to Geoffrey, Bran’s half brother.  A savage man who attempted to beat her, Gwyn was freed from this marriage soon after it began.  Will Bran be as horrible as his father?  Will Gwyneth ever find peace again?

I won’t lie.  This novel needs a lot of editing/grammatical work.  There were times that characters would be in the kitchen and then three sentences later they were somewhere completely different with no transition.  It gave me an oddly paced feeling, and I feel that with the markings of a red pen this could easily be rectified.  Also, adding to the underlying grammar issues, I took issue with parts of Gwyneth’s character.  For someone who had lived her whole life hating “men” and thinking there was no good left in any of them, Gwyneth sure melted fast as soon as Bran was doing things for her (i.e. drawing her a hot bath, finding her a kitten).  Sure, she kept her guard up, but I felt like these actions portrayed her as a weak female that easily acquiesced to others wants and needs.  She was this strong female character that you could give props to, then boom – a man makes her weak in the knees and she’s his.  When Gwyn and Bran have sex for the first time a dramatic shift in the plot came about.  Suddenly everything revolved around making bonds with their bodies and about Gwyn and Bran’s need to possess each other, rather than about fighting Geoffrey and making The Keep (their land) stable again.  It made me sad that there was such a shift, because the storyline pre-sex was actually really interesting.

Putting aside the negative things mentioned above the storyline was compelling with complex characters scattered here and there.  The conflicts between Geoffrey and Bran as well as Gwyn and Bran were gripping plot points all on their own.  Add into that the relationship that Bran tries to begin with the townsfolk and with Gwyn and you have the makings of a dynamic plot.  With all that being said The Wedding Vow is a good read for those you looking to explore a historical fiction work with a bit of a romantic flair.

3 out of 5 Stars

This is my thirty-fifth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
This is my eleventh completed review for the Chunkster Challenge
The Wedding Vow by Jillian Hart
Jillian Hart (2011)
eBook 589 pages
ISBN: 2940013019676