Over the last couple of months, whenever I’m not reading Temeraire, I buried my nose in selected regency romance releases, one by a new-to-me author and others by favourites. Coincidentally, all four books involve some sort of scandal while the 5th was a finale to a series I’ve followed.
First, the one by a favourite author … Secrets of Surrender by Madeline Hunter. This long awaited sequel to Lessons of Desire was well worth waiting for, IMO. Ms Hunter seldom disappoint, and this book continues where the last books left off, focusing on Alexia’s cousin, Roselyn Longworth. Having fallen on hard times, Roselyn made a huge mistake in believing that her protector cared for her until one humiliating evening when he decided to auction her off to the highest bidder amongst his dinner guests.
Fate placed Kyle Bradwell in her path as rescuer, but while Roselyn was retuned safely and unharmed to her family, the threat of that scandalous evening hung over her head. Kyle stunned her with a proposal of marriage which Roselyn could not refuse. Yet, as the couple settled down to learn to love each other, a family scandal which destroyed her reputation reared its ugly head again, only this time they face ruin as Kyle pulled out all stops to save her tattered reputation.
Once again, Hunter delivers with her usual panache in fleshing out little known social history, poignant descriptions and touching moments that are bound to win fans. IMB rating: 4.0
The Book of Scandal by Julia London has a story arc that was certainly imaginative but suffered a little bit in some places. The central plot revolves round the estranged Nathan Grey, Earl of Lindsey, and his wife, Evelyn. Nathan hurried to London to retrieve his erstwhile wife when he learnt that she’s about to get embroiled in a royal scandal from which the family reputation will never recover.
While the remainder of the story is focused on their reconciliation, one can’t help but feel that it was mostly physical passion at her, until both parties really dragged out the issue which bugged them in their shared tragedy of loosing their first child, and some glimmers of hope for rebuilding their relationship emerged. The only grouse I have has to do with the relatively weak heroine, who continuously whined about her pain and loss, and I just can’t seem to swallow her utter clueless state about the royal intrigue and the peril she’s being embroiled in. It certainly does not set her up as an intelligent female. There were a few other plot danglers which baffled me, and made the delivery of the story a little shaky, an opinon shared by DearAuthor. Overall, though, I still like it for the feel good ending and the message of abiding by one’s love.
IMB rating: 3.0
The next book has been out for more than years but has never made its way into my orbit until last year. Shirlee Busbee is new to me, and Scandal Becomes Her, was a rather marvellous induction for me into her world. The story arc of two seemingly unconnected people, Nell and Julian, being forced to wed each other and then later realised that there is an incident, a murder, from their past which involved both really intrigued me.
Particularly when it seems Nell’s terrifying nightmares may really be psychic visions of real murders taking place around them. While they raced against time to uncover the murderer, Nell and Julian must learn to come to terms with their feelings for each other, and be strong for each other in their marriage. I liked Ms Busbee’s delivery of romance with a hint of suspense, even though the twist was foreseen, but it made you all the more nervous and anxious for the unsuspecting hero and heroine who walked into the trap.
IMB rating: 3.5.
I’m no stranger to Candace Camp, having been introduced to her by Kristie. So, even though The Wedding Challenge is the third book in the Matchmaker series, and I’ve not read the first two, I picked it up on reading the summary at the back:
Lady Calandra should have suitors beating down her door. But her overprotective brother, the Duke of Rochford, has managed to scare off every suitable gentleman. Every man except the mysterious Earl of Bromwell, that is. Callie finds herself drawn to the enigmatic earl, despite her brother’s almost violent protestations.
In defiance of her brother’s wishes, Callie devises a plan to see Bromwell again, enlisting the help of matchmaker Francesca Haughston. But when shadowy secrets about the duke and the earl come to light, it may be too late for Callie to see that she’s walked straight into a trap.…
And it paid off. The witty dialogues, her flowing narrative, the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ plot and the subplot between Callie’s brother and Francesca that promises to be just as intriguing. Overall, a well delivered romance.
Gaelen Foley’s His Wicked Kiss has been languishing on my shelf for more than 2 years now. I don’t quite remember why I didn’t read it sooner, after all it’s the finale to the Knight brothers series, and I’ve enjoyed the series debut and some of the subsequent instalments. In any case, Jack’s story is one of the most highly anticipated one after all the earlier hints of his mysterious and heroic acts in earlier books. However, I must confess to being a tad disappointed at the anti-climax the book turned out to be. The book had extraordinary main characters to build on, and an exciting story premise to enlarge upon, but the predictable plot developments and pace dampened my enjoyment of the story a little. Instead, what drew my attention was the subplot taking place in India, and Jack’s interesting cousins residing there. I may just look out for them even though this was a narrow miss.
IMB rating: 2.5.