My Season of Scandal

My Season of ScandalMy Season of Scandal (The Palace of Rogues, #7) by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #7
Published by Avon Books on April 23, 2024
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: A captivating and emotionally charged tale of an unlikely love between a world-weary man and an innocent country girl. Long’s signature wit, lyrical prose, and masterful relationship-building are on full display in this seventh installment of the Palace of Rogues series.

THE STORY: Catherine Keating arrives in London for her first season, determined to find a suitable husband. However, the glittering ballrooms and societal expectations prove more daunting than she anticipated. When a chance encounter leads her to the Grand Palace on the Thames, Catherine finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Lord Dominic Kirke, a man known for his fiery speeches in Parliament and his ability to captivate any woman he chooses. As they navigate the season together, attending balls and sharing secret moments, Catherine and Dominic discover a connection that goes beyond mere attraction. But with Dominic’s tragic past and Catherine’s innocence, their love seems doomed from the start. Dominic must decide whether to protect his battered heart or risk everything for the woman who has captured it so completely.

OPINION: Once again, Julie Anne Long has crafted a delightful romance in returning to the Grand Palace on the Thames. The pairing of an older, cynical man and a young, optimistic woman is an unlikely combination that surprises even the characters themselves. Long’s incredible use of language elevates the story, while cameos from beloved characters add depth and continuity to the series.

The emotional journey between Catherine and Dominic is the heart of this book. Their conversations are emotionally resonant, allowing them to understand each other on a profound level. The love they share brings out the best in both of them, a testament to Long’s skill in building relationships. The “tragic past” trope is handled with a fresh perspective, making Dominic’s story compelling and relatable.

The yearning and angst between Catherine and Dominic is palpable, creating a delicious tension that keeps the pages turning. Their secret meetings and desperate attempts to resist their feelings only heighten the slow-burn romance. Watching them navigate their big, scary feelings and put each other’s hearts back together is a beautiful and rewarding experience.

Dominic, usually so eloquent in Parliament, finds himself tongue-tied and baffled by Catherine, who slips under his defenses like water through a leak. Catherine, in turn, refuses to let Dominic hide away from his pain and hurt. The result is a love story that is both tender and passionate, with a satisfying ending that will leave readers sighing with contentment.

WORTH MENTIONING: The secret alcove run-ins and rendezvous add a delightful touch of forbidden romance to the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MY SEASON OF SCANDAL is the seventh book in the Palace of Rogues series. While the romance stands alone, reading the series in order provides a richer experience and allows readers to fully appreciate the cameos and connections to previous characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Not That Duke

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: Not That DukeNot That Duke (Would-Be Wallflowers, #3) by Eloisa James
Published by Avon on July 25, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable story. Two decent people who get things mixed up, which causes difficulties in their relationship. Stella’s insecurities and Silvester’s desire to appear perfect create difficulties for this couple, who are so obviously perfect for one another from the start.

THE STORY: Lady Stella Corsham knows that Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, is not for her — even as she can’t keep her eyes away from him. Stella knows that Silvester is in love with the beautiful Yasmin, and Stella, who is freckled, a redhead, wears glasses, and has a curvy figure that is not fashionable, doesn’t believe she can compare. Silvester likes Stella, who is eccentric and intellectual, but is determined to win the hand of Yasmin, even against his friend Giles, but cannot stop thinking about Stella and wonder what she will do or say next.

OPINION: I generally don’t like romance triangles, but I never felt that Silvester “loved” Yasmin. He was always more engaged with Stella, even as he kept insisting that he was going to win Yasmin’s hand. He was more intellectually and physically attracted to Stella. Their interactions were sweet and funny.

Indeed, they are so obviously perfect for one another that the conflict comes from the fact that Silvester pursued Yasmin first. The first half of the book sets up that conflict with readers seeing how Stella’s insecurities are based on her experience and how much she is devastated by Silverster choosing Yasmin.

Stella’s distress in this book about all the ways she is “not” is sometimes hard to read. Her pain was intensely real and understandable. I did love that other women in her life were determined to show Stella that she had value even if she didn’t fit in with the shallow societal standards.

I do love a good “married couple needs to build a relationship” book. The book so clearly demonstrates that mere desire is not enough, and Silvester and Stella learn to communicate their needs and weaknesses with one another. I thought their connection was wonderful as they really see one another’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is broken into two parts. In the first part, Silvester is pursuing Yasmin. After the transition, Yasmin and Giles are married, and Silvester’s attention finally turns to Stella one hundred percent.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NOT THAT DUKE is the third book in the Would-Be-Wallflowers series. This book overlaps with the events in the prior book THE RELUCTANT COUNTESS, and therefore there are spoilers for that book. It is not necessary to read that book first, but this book is so much better if you have read it.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE; I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: How to Tame a Wild Rogue

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: How to Tame a Wild RogueHow to Tame a Wild Rogue (The Palace of Rogues, #6) by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #6
Published by Avon on July 25, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book of the series! This is an amazing book that leverages the relationships the series has already developed into a wonderful story of two people who meet by chance, pretend to be married, learn about one another, and fall in love.

THE STORY: On a dark and stormy night, Lorcan St. Leger walks through the London dock areas as a man who has accomplished so much. He managed to raise himself from the slums of St. Giles to become a privateer for the Crown (with some questionable choices along the way), and things seem to be going well. Until he spies a woman climbing out of a window and dangling in the air. That is how St. Leger meets Lady Daphne Worth. Daphne is as desperate as St. Leger is self-satisfied. Forced to take employment due to her family’s reversal of fortune, Daphne had to save herself from assault. When a major storm forces Daphne and St. Leger to take refuge at Grand Palace on the Thames, the two masquerade as a married couple to get a room. It turns out the owners of the Grand Palace are not strangers to either Daphne or St. Leger, which makes their fake marriage even more complicated.

OPINION: I loved this book. It has some great tropes, including forced proximity. So much of the story takes place within the rooms that Daphne and Lorcan rent at the Grand Palace. I’m a sucker for two characters who can talk their way through the book. But don’t be fooled, this book is hot. Nothing is better than sexy talk that just explodes on the page by the end of the slow burn.

I liked these characters. Both Daphne and Lorcan have depth and are just decent people. The story avoids all the cliches and easy answers that I expected in the story. Relationships are messy and complicated, and this book doesn’t shy away from that messiness, whether it be romance, family, or friendships.

Daphne is a woman who has taken on so much burden of caring for her family. No one has taken care of her, and Lorcan, who could have been only concerned with himself, always has a community behind him, whether it be the slums of St. Giles or his crew, always looks out for others even while he tells himself another story of his life. Her strength allowed me to believe the circumstances that surround this book. Daphne is not sheltered even though she has pockets of innocence and naivety. Lorcan is a man who needs to care for others, and his encounter with Daphne gives him something to care about even while he fights those instincts. The decency of these characters and the avoidance of the obvious romantic situations kept me engaged in the book. I was rooting for these two on every page of the book.

While the story takes place primarily within the walls of the Grand Palace, the vibrant community that has been built throughout the series blossoms in this book. The arrival of Daphne and Lorcan causes (or exposes) problems in the household. This book felt so vibrant with all the relationships shifting and being renewed.

I think this is the best book in the series, but it relies upon all the previous books to have so much depth. There is one night in the book that might be the funniest sequence I’ve read in one of Long’s books. It felt like an old sitcom or a 1940s movie comedy. I don’t want to give anything away because it is structured so well, but I loved the entire evening, which was funny but also served as an important catalyst in the book.

We get to see a lot of the people in the Grand Palace, which I really enjoyed because I do love the characters, and I like to see how the Grand Palace is changing and how these people are growing together.

I can’t say enough about this book, and it is definitely my favorite book of the year so far. My last note is that his book has a perfect epilogue that left me feeling so happy about the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Who knew that spillikins could be so sexy?

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOW TO TAME A WILD ROGUE is the sixth book in the Palace of Rogues series. The romance here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone; however, the other characters matter in this book, and a richer experience awaits those who read the series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 enthusiastic stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

five-stars

Review: The Notorious Lord Knightly

Review: The Notorious Lord KnightlyThe Notorious Lord Knightly (The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction, #2) by Lorraine Heath
Series: The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction #2
Published by Avon on June 27, 2023
Genres: Historical
Goodreads

FINAL DECISION: This book is a second-chance romance with emotional depth. Lorraine Heath skillfully weaves a tale of love, regret, and redemption. While not without its flaws, the book offers an enjoyable reading experience.

THE STORY: In the midst of London society, an anonymous author releases a book that ignites widespread speculation about the true identity of the notorious “Lord K.” The Earl of Knightly, revered by the ton, becomes the primary suspect in being the enigmatic Lord K, causing Miss Regina Leyland’s world to crumble once again. Having been left heartbroken when Knightly abandoned her at the altar, Regan hoped never to speak with Knightly again, but this book brings him back into her orbit. Knightly, consumed by fury at finding himself at the center of scandal and gossip, confronts Regina, suspecting her as the author behind the book. However, as he delves deeper, he discovers that Regina has undergone a profound transformation. No longer the naive woman he once knew, she has become a strong and independent individual who refuses to be submissive to any man. Knightly and Regina find themselves caught in a whirlwind of genuine emotions and intense passion that resurfaces between them. Each has secrets that, when revealed, threaten any potential for a new relationship between them.

OPINION: This book presents an engaging tale of second-chance romance within the backdrop of scandal and society in London. The story explores the complicated history of Regina and Knightly and the consequences of a scandalous book written by Regina herself.

The chemistry between Knightly and Regina is evident throughout the book, and the narrative effectively switches between past and present, offering glimpses into their previous relationship and their current reconnection. These flashbacks provide valuable insights into their deep love and the pain Regina experienced when Knightly abandoned her at the altar. The author succeeds in revealing Knightly’s motivations, adding depth to his character and portraying his regrets with authenticity.

Knightly, as a tortured hero, evokes sympathy from readers. He endures Regina’s anger and acknowledges his wrongdoing, making his redemption journey all the more compelling. Regina, too, is a strong and multifaceted heroine, torn between her love for Knightly and her lingering resentment. The emotional tension between them adds layers to their evolving relationship.

The novel shines in its portrayal of Knightly and Regina’s interactions. Knightly’s realization of his mistakes and his determination to make amends create moments of emotional intensity. The characters’ hidden secrets, if shared, would reveal the vulnerable aspects of their hearts, heightening the stakes of their relationship. The gradual development of their romance is skillfully executed, culminating in a satisfying conclusion.

The seamless transitions between past and present contribute to the narrative’s effectiveness, allowing readers to fully understand the depth of Knightly and Regina’s connection. The structure maintains good pacing, propelling the plot forward and keeping the reader engaged.

In the midst of its strengths, I personally found some aspects of this book to be unsatisfying. One particular issue was the handling of Regina’s secret and the continued decisions of the characters to withhold crucial information from each other. This pattern of deception throughout the story became increasingly frustrating and strained believability at times. Moreover, while the book delves into Knightly’s reasons for breaking Regina’s heart, I personally struggled to fully connect with or accept his motivations, which diminished my overall enjoyment of the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a few appearances by characters from prior Heath books which are enjoyable for fans of the Heath-verse, but don’t distract from the story for new readers.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE NOTORIOUS LORD KNIGHTLY is the second book in the Chessmen: Masters of Seduction series. This book can be read as a standalone, and it is not necessary to read the first book in the series to appreciate this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

Review: The Heiress Bride

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: The Heiress BrideThe Heiress Bride (A Duke's Heiress, #3) by Madeline Hunter
Series: A Duke's Heiress #3
Published by Zebra on May 23, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 318
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a delightful historical romance. Nicholas and Iris’s relationship crackles with flirtation and intense chemistry. The story concludes satisfactorily, but I wanted more time for the couples to savor their happy endings at the end of the series. Still, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read.

THE STORY: In the final installment of the trilogy, “The Duke’s Mysterious Heiress,” Nicholas Radnor finds himself in a precarious situation as the new Duke of Hollinburgh. Despite his handsome appearance and charm, Nicholas is burdened with financial difficulties due to his land-poor status. More difficulties arise when Iris Barrington, the last of the three enigmatic women named in the duke’s will, unexpectedly arrives at Nicholas’ doorstep. Nicholas should be skeptical of Iris as she is clearly hiding something, and her story and history are suspicious. Nevertheless, Nicholas is an honorable man, and he works to help determine whether she is the rightful heiress, which is complicated by his immediate and intense attraction to Iris. Iris, an independent and unconventional woman, is a rare book dealer who enjoys a sophisticated and adventurous lifestyle. While she possesses secrets she must protect, she finds it difficult to resist Nicholas’ curiosity and amorous advances. Although she should keep him at arm’s length, his seductive skills make it challenging to maintain her resolve. As the two interact, their mutual attraction complicates matters, but they soon realize that personal gains are not their sole concerns. Nicholas must navigate his newfound responsibilities as the duke, unravel the mystery surrounding Iris’ inheritance, and determine whether their family legacies make them enemies or allies.

OPINION: This is a delightful story that kept me reading to the end in one sitting. One of the standout aspects of the book is the enchanting relationship between Nicholas and Iris, which is both flirty and simmering with intense chemistry. From the very beginning, their connection is palpable, and it’s clear that they are drawn to each other. Despite their undeniable attraction, the characters’ honor and the weight of their secrets prevent them from complicating their relationship, adding a layer of tension and anticipation that kept me eagerly turning the pages.

The book skillfully weaves together the ongoing story surrounding the death of the prior duke, providing a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. The mysteries and secrets that have been built throughout the series are tied up nicely, offering a sense of closure and fulfillment. Hunter’s ability to seamlessly connect the threads of the overarching plot is commendable, leaving no loose ends and leaving readers satisfied with the resolution.

While there is much to love about this book, the ending left something to be desired by me. The absence of an epilogue where all three couples from the series come together is a missed opportunity. It would have been a joy to see them all in one place, celebrating their love and the triumphs they’ve experienced. Additionally, Nicholas and Iris deserved more time to savor their happy ending, allowing readers to revel in their love story and witness the growth of their relationship.

Despite this slight disappointment, the book remains a highly enjoyable read. The captivating romance between Nicholas and Iris, the well-crafted plot, and the satisfying resolution of the overarching story make it a worthwhile journey. This book left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling, even if I ended up craving just a little more time with the characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: I really enjoyed the foray into book collecting depicted here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HEIRESS BRIDE is the third book in A Duke’s Heiress series. The romance is self-contained in this book, however, there is an overarching mystery about the death of the duke that continues through all three books and is easier to understand if the books are read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: The Bride Wore White

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: The Bride Wore WhiteThe Bride Wore White by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #7
Published by Berkley on May 2, 2023
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. It is an enjoyable and satisfying read, with witty dialogue, engaging characters, and a well-developed paranormal element. the romance between Prudence and Jack was a highlight as I loved their prickly interactions. I especially was excited about the more prominent nods to the Arcane Society, and I hope there is more in this vein to come in the future of this series.

THE STORY: Prudence Ryland is a dream reader and psychic consultant who finds herself in danger when her latest client intends to kill her. When she uses her abilities to save herself, she decides to flee and make another life for herself. She changes her career becoming a librarian and moves to a new home, hoping to start fresh. However, she is kidnapped and wakes up in a bloodstained wedding dress next to a corpse, leading to her being framed for the murder. Prudence comes to Luther Pell in Burning Cove to ask for his assistance in proving her innocence. Luther assigns her case to his associate, Jack Wingate. Jack, who is scarred and grim-faced, initially believes Prudence to be a fraud or a murderer, but eventually agrees to help her. However, his idea of helping involves using her as bait for the killer. As the danger to Prudence increases, she finds herself struggling with her growing fascination with Jack.

OPINION: The Bride Wore White is a delightful addition to Amanda Quick’s Burning Cove series, blending elements of historical romance, mystery, and paranormal fiction to create a truly engaging and entertaining read. As the seventh book in the series, it continues the story of the eponymous seaside town and its colorful cast of characters, while also introducing new players and deepening existing relationships.

One of the standout features of Quick’s books is the way she incorporates paranormal elements into her storytelling. The Bride Wore White is no exception, featuring a variety of psychic abilities and supernatural phenomena that add an extra layer of intrigue and excitement to the narrative. From Prudence’s psychic dream consultations to the mysterious chimes that only Jack can hear, there’s always something otherworldly happening just beneath the surface.

I especially loved the relationship between Prudence and Jack. They are two individuals who have lived through emotional isolation and loneliness, and watching them slowly open up and connect with each other is deeply satisfying. The snappy and witty dialogue between them adds another layer of enjoyment to their interactions. Quick is a master at crafting sharp and clever banter between her characters, and it’s no different in this book.

Another highlight of this book is the ongoing development of Luther and Raina’s relationship. Fans of the series will remember these two characters from earlier installments, and it’s been fascinating to see their connection deepen and evolve over time. Their interactions in THE BRIDE WORE WHITE are particularly enjoyable, adding a sense of warmth and familiarity to the overall story.

Perhaps most excitingly for longtime fans, this book features numerous references to the Arcane Society, a secret organization that has appeared throughout Quick’s/Krentz’s/Castle’s various series. For readers who have followed the paranormal threads woven throughout these books, THE BRIDE WORE WHITE is a veritable treasure trove of easter eggs and allusions. It’s clear that Quick has a huge history of the Arcane Society at her disposal and it’s immensely satisfying to see those pieces return and come together in this latest installment.

Overall, The Bride Wore White is one of my favorites in the Burning Cove series, boasting Quick’s signature blend of romance, mystery, and the paranormal. With engaging characters, an intriguing plot, and plenty of nods to Quick’s larger body of work, it’s a must-read for fans of the author.

WORTH MENTIONING: I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I wonder if someone has a matchmaking talent that we might see more of in the future.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BRIDE WORE WHITE is the seventh book in the Burning Cove series. It is not necessary to read the other books to understand the events in this one since the romance and mystery stand alone. However, readers of the series will know more about the characters who appear in the book. The heroine appeared previously in CLOSE UP.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

five-stars

Review: A Tempest at Sea

Review: A Tempest at SeaA Tempest at Sea (Lady Sherlock, #7) by Sherry Thomas
Series: Lady Sherlock #7
Published by Berkley on March 14, 2023
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 336
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Another amazing entry in this series that just gets better all the time. This one was especially good for fans of the romance between Charlotte and Ash. The mystery is great and has a wonderful Agatha Christie feel.

THE STORY: Charlotte Holmes has been in hiding to escape Moriarty. An offer from Lord Ingram’s brother, Lord Remington Ashburton, an agent of the British government who offers Charlotte her protection from Moriarty in exchange for her finding out particular information. Charlotte’s search brings her to the RMS Provence, where she sails in disguise dangerously with friends and foes. Charlotte is searching for a dossier when a murder occurs, which brings the police and also danger of Charlotte being exposed.

OPINION: I have two favorite parts of this book. First, the assembly of people on the boat when the murder occurs. The story felt very much like an Agatha Christie novel where the suspects are brought together, and there are different motives that might have led to the murder. My second favorite part of this book is the development of the relationship between Holmes and Ingram. They have come far from the first book in the series. While I enjoy the mystery, it is the strength of their connection that makes me re-read the series.

Because there are so many familiar faces in this book, it was nice getting to know more about these secondary characters and see how they have progressed through the series. The mystery here was very cleverly set out, and I liked that there was a great twist. So many of these books have followed a familiar pattern, but this book, in a different setting upends how the case is investigated and how the mystery is communicated to the readers through flashbacks revealing information at just the right time.

This book is well written and well constructed as a mystery. In addition, the series manages to stay fresh for fans of the series and provides a great deal of character development and a great romance. My only regret is that I have to wait until the next book to find out where Charlotte’s story goes from here.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book reminds me somewhat of Death on the Nile which I watched recently because of the murder on the ship with lots of people with dangerous connections.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A TEMPEST AT SEA is the seventh book in the Lady Sherlock series. The mystery here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone for that aspect. However, there is a continuing overarching storyline in this series that makes it better tor read the books in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Stealing Midnight

Review: Stealing MidnightStealing Midnight (Beneath the Veil, #4) by Tracy MacNish
Series: Beneath the Veil #4
Published by Zebra on January 1, 2009
Genres: Historical
Pages: 415
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: I ended up enjoying this book much more than I expected! Some parts were a little slow, but I enjoyed the relationship between Aidan and Olwyn and the different gothic tone of the book.

THE STORY: Olwyn Gawain’s father buys bodies from resurrection men to conduct his investigations. One night a man in his thirties is brought to Olwyn’s home, and she is immediately drawn to the man who appears to be in perfect condition — other than being dead. When her father begins his study, the two discover that the man is alive. When her father wants to continue his experiments, Olwyn escapes from her home with the unconscious man. When he awakes, Aidan Mullin isn’t sure what has happened and who this unworldly woman is. Aidan lies about his identity and is tempted by Olwyn. Olwyn, however, soon discovers the life that Aidan is hiding from.

OPINION: This is a gothic historical with a sense of mystery, drama, and some horror. The writing is different than might be expected because of its subgenre. The story is dark at times, although there is beauty and love between Aidan and Olwyn. The story is melodramatic, and I loved it because it feels so appropriate for the gothic tone of the book.

Olwyn could have been a caricature of an innocent who has been mistreated by her father, but there was something strong and fresh and real about her character even though she feels unworldly and somewhat out of time. She immediately is attracted to the “dead” man who is brought to her father. His presence gives her the strength to break free from her father, and it is so lovely that she accepts that their relationship will be limited and temporary and yet does not shield herself from him. She is the star of this book, and I might have found Aidan annoying in other circumstances, but she makes him more heroic.

Aidan is torn between his developing love for Olwyn and his obligations to the woman he is betrothed to. The situation is complicated, and I appreciated that the author takes the story seriously even as things become even crazier — which readers of gothic novels might expect. There is a beautiful handfast scene that is romantic and lovely. There are some interesting questions raised about consent dealing with Aidan which is not often explored in romance. I don’t want to give away the plot points, but it is explored in subtle ways throughout the book.

The secondary characters in this book are also well-developed (which might be expected as they are part of a series) and yet it was done in a way that didn’t make me feel like I missed something by not reading the prior books in the series. Even the villains are incredibly interesting. There is something really wonderful in how Olwyn develops a relationship with the women in Aidan’s family and how that helps with the resolution of the story.

For the right reader, this is such a good book. The book asks more from its readers as the language and plot might be offputting for some readers. For me, the gothic nature of the book was what I loved most.

WORTH MENTIONING: I was saddened that the author apparently stopped writing after this book. I would have loved to read about Aidan’s brother.

CONNECTED BOOKS: STEALING MIDNIGHT is the fourth book in the Beneath the Veil series. This book can be read as a standalone. I hadn’t read the previous books and didn’t feel like I needed to do so. Both the parents and the grandparents have books, and their stories have some relevance here, but I got all the information I needed here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Band Sinister

Review: Band SinisterBand Sinister by K.J. Charles
on October 11, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book was uneven for me. There were some parts that I really enjoyed and then other parts that I thought were deadly dull. I did enjoy the writing, which felt gothic, especially in the beginning, and the banter between the characters.

THE STORY: Guy and Amanda Frisby live quietly after their mother caused a scandal. Their neighbor is Philip Rookwood, who is the talk of the country town. He and his friends are at Rookwood Hall, where rumors of a hellfire club where orgies are going on. When Amanda is injured in a riding accident, she must stay at Rookwood Hall to recover. Guy must stay with her as well to protect Amanda from Rookwood’s disreputable crew. Soon, however, Guy learns that Rookwood’s friends are different than he expected and that he can’t stop thinking about Philip.

OPINION: This book was difficult for me to rate because I liked the different characters and seeing their relationships, but ultimately, so many characters and motivations just diminished the relationship between Philip and Guy. I really didn’t buy their romance. It seemed more like a sexual dalliance than a relationship. Or perhaps it is just the difference in the experience without really understanding Philip. I think there was too much going on so the main relationship never really got time to gain complexity especially because this is a shorter novel. It was fine, but I wanted more depth in the relationship between these characters.

At the same time, I loved the gothic feel of this book. I thought there were so many nuanced characters in this book that I wanted to know more about them and was disappointed in the quick resolution. This might have been a better book as the first in a series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is more than one romance afoot in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BAND SINISTER is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: A Sinister Revenge

Review: A Sinister RevengeA Sinister Revenge (Veronica Speedwell, #8) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #8
Published by Berkley on March 7, 2023
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I tore through this book. Launching from the conclusion of the prior book, this book brings together so many elements of what I love about this series: the relationship between Veronica and Stoker, a good mystery, and plenty of supporting characters that have their own stories. Loved this one.

THE STORY: After being apart from her partner/lover Stoker for several months, Veronica arrives in Bavaria with Stoker’s brother Tiberius to seek Stoker’s help. Tiberius has received death threats over something that happened years ago amongst the “Seven Sinners,” his group of friends. Now two of his friends have been killed, and the message sender suggests that Tiberius might be next. Not knowing why he and his friends have been targeted, Tiberius intends to assemble a reunion and include Veronica and Stoker to help reveal the killer. The only task is to find Stoker (who has been out on his own since discovering Veronica’s “husband” in AN IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSTER) and convince him to join the hunt.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book so much after the tension of the prior book. Where that book was so hard on Veronica, this one felt flirty and fun even though Veronica and Stoker were dealing with their relationship for most of the book. That’s what I loved about this book. I knew that things would work out, so I just enjoyed the ride.

Another enjoyable portion of this book is learning more about Tiberius and seeing the relationship between him and Stoker develop. We also get to see more of the youngest brother Merryweather. I love the dynamic that is developing where Veronica is bringing this broken set of brothers together.

The mystery here is fun with lots of suspects. It reminded me somewhat of some of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries — lots of suspects involving social events and plenty of deaths.

This is one of my favorites already, and I look forward to more in this series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book resolves the conflict which ended AN IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSTER.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A SINISTER REVENGE is the eighth book in the Veronica Speedwell series. The mystery here is self-contained, and thus this book can be read as a standalone. However, this book’s overarching relationship plot flows directly from the prior book in the series, and this series is much better to read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars