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Book Review | The Valet’s Secret by Josi S. Kilpack

From the publisher: A passionate kiss from a handsome valet becomes a Regency Cinderella story when he is revealed to be an earl. What a delight! It’s not often that a historical romance leaves me guessing as much as this one did. There are big obstacles to the romance, and I wondered how the author would work through them. But she did so in a way I found charming and satisfactory. Kenneth has unexpectedly become the heir to an earldom. Rebecca is an educated woman but the daughter of an artist and a former servant in a great house. They meet when he nearly runs her down on a rented horse. He is in disguise as his valet so he can ride with abandon without being scolded by his uncle the earl. After an unpleasant interaction with her abusive father, Rose is out enjoying a simple walk. Their attraction is Read more »

Book Review | How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

From the publisher: When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her…

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Book Review | The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews

From the publisher: Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

I’m a big fan of Mimi Matthews, who began her fiction career by self-publishing romance novels set during the Victorian and Regency periods. She has now caught the attention of traditional publishing, and The Siren of Sussex is her first book with Berkley. Matthews is also a historian, and her books are ruthlessly researched. She may stretch a likely outcome, but her characters follow the behavioral standards of the day.

I have read all of the author’s works, and The Siren of Sussex was a little slow starting for me…

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Book Review | Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

From the publisher: When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he might really be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals, and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

Wallace Price is dead. After spending 40 years of life devoting everything to work (at the expense of his marriage) and thinking only of himself, he had a heart attack and died on the…

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Book Review | A Reckless Match by Kate Bateman

From the publisher: Can lifelong hate turn to true love? Meet the Davies and Montgomery families – two households locked in an ancient feud, destined to be on opposing sides forever. Until now…

A Reckless Match is the first in new historical romance series set during the Regency period, about feuding families and childhood enemies who grow up to be lovers. A good enemies to lovers story is often a lot of fun, and clearly the author thinks so.

Maddie and Gryff have known each other since childhood, so there is no “meet cute,” but there is a cute intro all the same. Every year on the spring equinox, a member of the Montgomery family and a member of the Davies family must meet on a bridge dividing…

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Book Review | Love and Lavender by Josi S. Kilpack

From the publisher: Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, she was sent away as a child and devoted herself to scholarship and education. When her uncle presents her with the prospect of a substantial inheritance if she marries, Hazel is offended. Duncan Penhale has a brilliant mind and thrives on order and process. He does not expect to marry because he likes his solitary life, shared only with his beloved cat. Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, receive their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But when her uncle stipulates that they must live together for one year before receiving their inheritances, Hazel and Duncan reluctantly agree. At the end of the year, will they go their separate ways or could an unlikely marriage have found unsuspecting love?

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Book Review | John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow by Mimi Matthews

From the publisher: Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer Bertha — a widow as alluring as she is mysterious. John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

John Eyre is a mash-up retelling of Jane Eyre and another classic novel (I won’t say which, as…

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Book Review | The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

From the publisher: A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

This book is bonkers. It contains every crazy thing you can imagine in an adventure story – pirates, flying houses, assassination attempts, gothic abbeys, kidnappings, tea parties. Somewhat like The Princess Bride on steroids.

As such, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels will not be to everyone’s taste. It is full of nonstop nonsense. The author is in love with her own cleverness, which doesn’t necessarily aid the story. People used to listen breathlessly while the latest installment of a new tale…

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Book Review | The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen

From the publisher: London, 1885. A romance develops as a detective partners with a lonely-hearts columnist to solve a murder mystery.

The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart is an entertaining clean historical romance. It has strong, interesting female characters and a sympathetic hero. The plot takes some unlikely twists, but nothing struck me as outlandish. The book pushes the edges of acceptable behavior for women in 1885 in a believable way and introduces societal issues like street urchins and the institutionalization of people with intellectual disabilities. The bad guy is stereotypical with no nuance, but I didn’t mind too much since the story flirts with being a gothic romance.

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Book Review | In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

From the publisher: Where do you see yourself in five years? Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers. But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.

In Five Years is a beautiful story of love and friendship. Main character Dannie is incredibly Type A and has her perfect life all mapped out. On the same day she nails a job interview for a prestigious NYC law firm, she gets engaged to her boyfriend David, and everything…

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