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

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.


Review: Pleasure for Pleasure

Review: Pleasure for PleasurePleasure for Pleasure (Essex Sisters, #4) by Eloisa James
Series: Essex Sisters #4
Published by Avon Books on November 28th 2006
Genres: Historical
Pages: 404

FINAL DECISION: Entertaining and sweet redemption for women who are more pear shaped than fashionably thin, PLEASURE FOR PLEASURE provides a warm conclusion to the Essex Sisters quartet.

THE STORY: Miss Josie Essex has obtained the unfortunate nickname ‘the Scottish Sausage” because of her full figure. Abandoning the possibility of a traditional courtship, Josie is persuaded by family friend, the Earl of Mayne to throw away her ugly restrictive corset, obtain some clothes to flatter her curvy figure and realize the attractive possibilities of her own body.  When Josie is almost ruined by a boorish rakehell, Mayne steps up to save her.

OPINION:  I enjoyed this book precisely because Josie, the young woman with a poor self-image of herself, the woman who is taunted by bullies having been given the moniker “the Scottish Sausage” manages to claim the man who has gotten away from every woman in this series (including Josie’s own sisters). In this story, there is something especially lovely about the jaded Mayne falling for the lively youngest Miss Essex.  Josie is not a stereotypical sweet gentle miss. She is tart and argumentative and simply wonderful.

I honestly am usually more interested in the hero than the heroine, but this book was one where I so identified with Josie that I focused on her journey.  While she is young, I love how she is able to keep Mayne once she catches him.  I loved her personality which is so different from the mousey wallflower one might suspect.  She feels like an incredibly well rounded and complex character.

One of the interesting parts of this book is how James has Mayne and Josie fall in love in the quiet.  There is no “ah, ha” moment. Yet, by the time the big moment comes at the end of the book, it is clear that these two are perfect for one another.  Mayne has been bored with life, not truly engaging with life.  Josie is so full of life, that she pulls Mayne with her.

My one quibble with the story is that I thought that Josie deserved a bit more in her happy ending with Mayne. After he had been matched with so many women, I would have liked something just a little more demonstrating his devotion to Josie alone.

There is also a secondary romance involving Mayne sister.  I enjoyed that romance as well and it neatly wrapped up all the characters from the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The epilogue has a little “in the future”

CONNECTED BOOKS:  PLEASURE FOR PLEASURE is the fourth book in the Essex Sisters series.  It can be read as a standalone but is a great culmination of everything that has happened in the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Much Ado About You

Review: Much Ado About YouMuch Ado About You (Essex Sisters, #1) by Eloisa James
Series: Essex Sisters #1
Published by Avon Books on December 28, 2004
Genres: Historical
Pages: 391

FINAL DECISION:  This book started out slowly because there are so many characters and situations to set up as this book kicks off the Essex Sisters series. Once the story focused on Tess and Lucius, however, I loved how it went.  Took too long to get there, however.

THE STORY:  When their father dies, the four Essex sisters become wards of the Duke of Holbrook.  The duke means well, but he is a drunkard and a bit clueless about what to do with his four unexpected wards.  The oldest sister Tess realizes that she needs to marry quickly so that she can help her younger sisters marry well.  While Tess gets engaged to an earl, she can’t stop thinking about Mr. Lucius Felton who is just too complicated and tempting for Tess.

OPINION:  This book started out slowly for me.  There are multiple storylines and characters that clearly will be explored during the other three books in the series.  This book sets the table and because of that, this book takes a long time to get going.  There are some false starts until the real romance between Tess and Lucius really gets started.

Once the romance and storyline switches to focus on Tess and Lucius, I loved it.  The two end up being so sweet together.  The contrast between their marriage of convenience and Tess’s sisters marriage of passionate love becomes clear as Lucius falls deeply in love with his wife and the care the two have for one another becomes clear.

I especially liked how Lucius quietly cares for those important to him.  He feels deeply and I loved how he makes things happen.  He is hero that I really liked and not at all like the rake that I expected from the blurb.  Rather, he felt like a real gentleman with a little naughty streak.  Despite his intentions, he clearly falls for Tess and he can’t help how much he wants to care for her.

Before Tess and Lucius gets together, I was a bit annoyed by her character as she appeared clueless at times.  The mixing and matching of the men and women gets sorted out, however, and then the story begins to really take shape.

I hope that the future books in the series can build upon the ending of this book which was strong.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book sets up all four books in the series and thus has a lot of characters material and set up to get through.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU is the first book of the Essex Sisters series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Match Me If You Can

Review: Match Me If You CanMatch Me If You Can (Chicago Stars, #6) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars #6
Published by Avon Books on October 13, 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 388

Great Addition to the Series

MATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the sixth novel in Phillips’ Chicago Stars series. It is the story of Heath Champion, the high powered agent to athletes and Annabelle Granger, a matchmaker. Annabelle has just taken over her grandmother’s agency and wants to land Heath as a client. Heath is looking for a elegant, sophisticated wife that will help him with his career and demonstrate how far he has come from the trailer park he grew up in. Although Heath is attracted to Annabelle, she does not fit his image of his wife. Of course, ultimately the two end up together.

I enjoyed this book although I think that this one is better for fans of the series than reading as a stand-alone. It was wonderful catching up on all the other characters from the previous books, but someone who was unfamiliar with the series might struggle to keep up with everyone. Also I was not as engaged in the secondary romance as much as I have been with those in past novels.

Despite this, however, I absolutely adored Heath. I just love having these high powered alpha types be completely undone by love. I also enjoyed how Annabelle and Heath change each other’s lives as they journey together.

I recommend this book and recommend it highly to fans of the series.



Review: Nobody’s Baby But Mine

Review: Nobody’s Baby But MineNobody's Baby But Mine (Chicago Stars, #3) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars #3
Published by Avon Books on February 1st 1997
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 374

NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE is the third novel in Phillips’ Chicago Stars series. Jane Darlington is at the crossroads of her life. A genius, she has never fit in. At thirty-four, she desperately wants a child of her own. That desperation leads her to decide to masquerade as a prostitute in order to trick Chicago Stars quarterback Cal Bonner into fathering her child. Cal is also at a crossroads in his life. He is thirty-six and while it is obvious that his career is coming to an end, Cal refuses to accept it. When he finds out that Jane is pregnant, he is furious, but insists on marriage to protect the child. The two end up traveling to Cal’s hometown where their relationship becomes more complicated.

Upfront I want to say that I really found the premise distasteful and it made it difficult to like Jane. The first time that I read this book, I could not accept the premise and it colored by view of the entire book. As I read the book again, however, I was able to accept the premise as part of the exaggerated, melodramatic style that Phillips employs in this series. With that aside, I enjoyed these characters who are witty and strong and are a perfect match to one another. The battle of wills between them made me laugh and the resolution was hard fought and heartwarming.

I’d rate this a 4.5.