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!

#97 A Review of The Officer And The Proper Lady by Louise Allen

The Officer and the Proper LadyI was on a bit of a romance novel kick for a week or two last month, eagerly looking for a romance novel that impressed me.  I found one in Unlacing the Innocent Miss, which just so happened to be the sixth novel in Harlequin’s Silk and Scandal mini-series.  Impressed, and eager to learn more about the mystery that was unfolding in the prior books, I picked up book number seven with the hopes of being wowed again.

In The Officer and the Proper Lady, we meet Major Hal Carlow and Miss Julia Tresilian, two completely different people, from two very different social worlds.  Hal is a ladies man, and prefers a life of easy pursuits and lots of flirting, while Julia is a straight-laced person who must marry in order to save her family’s finances.  She moves to Brussels with her mother and younger brother in order to save money, and is turned off by the suitors who come to court her, as they all bore her to death.  Alas, she then meets Major Carlow.  Although the more logical side of her knows that he is an extremely unsuitable match, and that they are complete and utter opposites, her heart begins to tell her otherwise, and it has nothing to do with the aspect of marrying for money.  What happens surprises both Hal and Julia, and is far from the predictable “opposites attract” romance that is commonly found.  How will the Battle of Waterloo change both of their futures forever?  What will the future hold for them?

Going into this novel, I was expecting a typical love story where two completely different people fall magically in love and live happily ever after.  Fortunately, Allen was quick to dispel this preconceived notion with new plot twists and a great back story for both of the characters that rounded out the entire work really well.  For her part in this series, Allen does a wonderful job in making the story effortlessly flow while including tons of details to keep me entertained.  I’m always prone to liking stories where the male character goes through a major transformation to make himself worthy of the woman he loves.  Hal is one of those types of characters, deciding that love is worth changing for and doing so full force in order to secure the woman that he now knows is the one for him.

This is one of the first series I’ve ever read with a continual storyline involving multiple authors.  I was concerned at first that with multiple authors unveiling more of the story with each book that the storyline would become inconsistent and hard to follow.  I have to say my fears were completely unfounded! The “mystery” that looms in the background of all the books in the series continued without a hitch, making me wishing that the eighth book was right next to me upon completion of The Officer and the Proper Lady!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Officer and the Proper Lady by Louise Allen
Harlequin (2011)
Paperback  278 pages
ISBN: 9780373296200