Month: July 2016

Smooth-Talking Stranger, by Lisa Kleypas

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Other than the first one, I’ve really enjoyed the Kleypas’ contemporary series on Texas oil barons, The Travises. In this third one, brother Jack stumbles across Ella when she arrives in his office to demand he take a paternity test for her sister’s newborn. The dimension of the unwanted infant that Ella takes on adds a poignancy to this romance, as does Ella’s desperately unhappy mother. I liked both our leads very much and their steamy scenes together are terrific. For 18 and up.

His Wicked Reputation, by Madeline Hunter

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Bastard son Gareth and spinster Eva make for a steamy couple in this interesting historical fic, and underlying their romance is a mystery art theft that Gareth is determined to solve. Both hero and heroine have a fully drawn life, including siblings and personal interests, and that makes them even more appealing. I also appreciated Eva’s blatant interest in having an affair with Gareth. A fun and steamy read, for 18 and up. I’m looking forward to the next in this series!

My Favorite Mistake, by Chelsea M. Cameron

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I wanted to like this romance, and I did enjoy its hero, somewhat, but it was awkwardly written in many places, and the heroine, who punches the hero almost on sight, changes the usual meet-cute into a reason to press charges. There’s also a bigoted riff on why girl-on-girl romance is hot for guys, and the heroine’s insistence that she hates the hero because she knows his type seems ridiculous in the face of his kindness to her. I didn’t ship these two at all, and that’s fatal for a romance novel. Yuck.

Blue-Eyed Devil, by Lisa Kleypas

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I enjoyed this much more than the first one in the series, which spent so much time setting up this hero book’s hero that the hero for the first book got short shrift. I also like that this book opens at the wedding of the prior two characters. All that said, you can read this one with no knowledge of the prior book, so it works well as a stand-alone.

As for the novel itself, we not only get told that our heroine has psychological baggage, we get to see how she acquires it, which is a nice change from other stories, although somewhat harrowing. It also makes us much more invested in seeing how she tries to break through her trauma to have a healthy relationship.

I also love the hero, who has had troubles of his own, but still works to be there for the heroine. Terrific and steamy contemporary romance for 18 and up.

The Devil Takes a Bride, by Julia London

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An exceptionally steamy bodice-ripper, this one focuses on a newly married couple in which the reluctant groom has what appears to be OCD, and his challenges make him seem harsh and aloof to the outside world, and to his bride. Unlike most love stories of this sort, in this one it was very difficult to see how our hero and heroine would find their way to each other. No simple misunderstandings separate these two, and this made for a suspenseful read. Highly recommended for 18 and up readers ready to take a walk on the wilder side.

When Strangers Marry, by Lisa Kleypas

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Originally written in 1992 under another title, this bodice-ripper has more history than most period romances. There is an interesting subplot about Aaron Burr’s attempted conquest of Mexico, and yellow fever, mistresses of color, and smuggling turn up in the story as well. When Lysette flees an odious arranged marriage, she falls into the hands of Max Vallerand, deeply damaged from the murder of his first wife, who plans to use Lysette as revenge on his nemesis. An excellent read, for 18 and up.

 

The Conquest of Lady Cassandra, by Madeline Hunter

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I had strong likes and dislikes on this book, leading to a very mixed review. First – not a fan of the title, since I’m not into books about “conquering” women. Next, I struggle with our heroine and her “woman of the world” persona. Not a fan. I did love our hero, who seems like a kind guy who is willing to see past his biases. There was also so much additional baggage (almost a mystery) that the leads had to solve, that the steamy scenes are minimal. Overall, meh.

Where’s My Hero?, by Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, & Kinley MacGregor

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A nice short story collection of bodice-rippers. Kleypas’ and Quinn’s are the stronger stories of the trio, and both have strong feisty heroines and great heroes. Each story features a side character from the author’s other books, but reading the prior books is not necessary for enjoyment. Nice beach read for 18 and up.