Category: Historical Fiction

A Noble Masquerade, by Kristi Ann Hunter

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An absolutely terrific Regency romance for all ages. Such a wonderful blend of adventure, chemistry and sheer fun that I didn’t even miss the steamy bits. Lady Miranda is used to writing her thoughts in the form of a letter to her older brother’s best friends, whom she has never met. When one of the those letters is suddenly posted by her husband’s new valet, chaos ensues.

This was remarkably good, and the central love story is deeply satisfying. Miranda is an older, unwed sister to a beautiful younger sister, and her insecurities and frustrations about remaining ladylike make her wonderful to read. Highly recommended, for 16 and up.

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Once a Soldier, by Mary Jo Putney

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Handsome Brit Will Masterson has fought against Napoleon and is ready to head back to England when he is sent to analyze the situation in a small (fictional) country that is open to invasion by roving bandits. While there he meets tall and opinionated Athena Markham, who has been working there as an aide to young princess Sofia.

While this novel has a couple of steamy scenes, but Putney is much more interested in the adventure of the historical era and the threats to her fictional nation. It makes for a nice slow-boil romance and some great supporting friendships that more than pass the Bechdel Test. Excellent read, for 18 and up.

 

Unending Devotion, by Jody Hedlund

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This Christian romance is set in the lumber camps of forested 1883 Michigan. Lily has arrived in Harrison, Michigan to check this town’s brothels, liberate who she can, and free her sister, who has disappeared into sexual slavery. She never expects to meet Connell, a local businessman who has kept himself pure, as she has.

What I liked about this novel was the genuine history of the era’s lumber camps, which eviscerated the forests of an area and moved on, and the taverns and brothels which sprang up to service the “shanty boys” who worked as lumberjacks. The lead romance is fine, and both characters do mature and grow over the course of the novel. For fans of this genre only, 16 and up.

 

How to Dazzle a Duke, by Claudia Dain

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This was a bodice-ripper, but it was handled differently than most. An arch, very humorous tone was maintained throughout, and the entire first section takes place in one continuous scene, which was very well done. It is not as steamy as most, but our prim and forthright heroine, Penelope Prestwick, is perfectly lovely in her determination to marry a duke. Her intention to marry a specific duke even though she has caught the attention of another one, makes for many comic interludes. For 18 and up.

The Clayborne Brides, by Julie Garwood

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I was very hopeful after my love for For the Roses, that these follow-up short stories would have the warmth and love I’d found in that book. But of the three stories here, only the first one brought me the same measure of contentment. The other two seem less fully formed, and by the final one, the heroine is so “damsel in distress” that it was infuriating. There is also the issue that the final story is about people of color, yet their skin tone is utterly incidental to the story rather than deepening the historical story the author can tell. Only for die-hard fans of the first book, 18 and up.

 

For the Roses, by Julie Garland

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This Garwood novel is unlike many of her others in that the historical romance is here, set in Montana before it became a state, but it is not the entire central story. The larger story is that of a family of choice, four men and a woman whose relationship with each other forms the backbone of a strong and loving family of siblings.

When Mary Rose finds a Scotsman in town, his citified ways prompt her to take him home so here family can look out for him. But Harrison has come to Montana with another agenda altogether, one that threatens the very structure of Mary Rose’s family. Simply wonderful and (bonus!) twice as long as most comparable novels. For 18 and up.

 

To Catch an Heiress, by Julia Quinn

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Another of Quinn’s wonderful historical fiction romances. In this one, Caroline is fleeing a lewd and disgusting guardian six weeks before she can come into her fortune. But since she has nowhere to go, it is good that she is carried off by an attractive agent of the Crown who mistakes her for a spy. I liked both of our leads in this story: Caroline, who is witty and ready to hold her own in any scrap, and Blake, who is still mourning the loss of his first love, and has sworn he will never marry. For 18 and up.

 

Spring for Susannah, by Catherine Richmond

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My thoughts on this are somewhat mixed. I like the early part of this Dakota Territory Christian romance, as Susannah arrives to be Jesse’s mail-order bride and the getting-to-know-you process begins. But the last third of the book seems as though the author was trying to shorten it, and it feels abbreviated and rushed rather than continuing the engrossing tone from the earlier part of the book. Adult fiction, targeted at 18 and up.

The Sum of All Kisses, by Julia Quinn

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Another winner from Julia Quinn – less steamy than many in this genre, but the romance is perfectly lovely. Sarah holds a biting antipathy toward Hugh, who was lamed in a duel that was his fault, and he dislikes her as well. As they are thrown together during two weddings, they soon find they have more in common than they first thought. Just wonderful. For 18 and up.