Elizabeth Hoyt has a fairytale-like story woven through all of her novels. She opens each new chapter with a paragraph from the fairytale creating a once-upon-a-time ambiance I adore. I think this faraway quality is why I had no problem accepting a pirate as a romantic hero in Scandalous Desires. Questions of why I would want a happy ending for a sociopath are easily handled by my willing suspension of disbelief within the context of this novel. Silence Hollingbrook found a baby abandoned on her doorstep and has been mother to the child ever since. After receiving a series of mysterious clue-like gifts, Silence begins to suspect the baby’s father is none other than the infamous river pirate Mickey O’Connor. It turns out she’s right – the baby and Silence are now in danger because of their connection to him. Mickey has been obsessed with Silence for years and while he really does need to keep her close to keep her safe, he’s happy to take advantage of the situation. The ruthless pirate soon reveals his vulnerable, generous and loving side and while I would never want to actually be romantically involved with a crime lord, I have to say I was quite the smitten kitten while reading this novel – there is just something so heart-melting about a bad boy being conquered by love.
Caroline Linden’s novella I Love the Earl is a short, sweet love story. Margaret de Lacey, an ugly duckling who never did grow into a swan, is resigned to her life as a spinster. But when her brother unexpectedly inherits a fortune and gives her an enormous dowry, she suddenly finds herself to be the most sought-after woman on the marriage-mart. And while she would love to get married, she won’t marry a man only interested in her fortune – and she knows no man wants her for anything else. I love a romance novel in which the conflict is emotional – between the two main characters, and not an external problem like thwarting some third party villain. The main conflict in this novella stems from Margaret’s lack of faith that a man will love her instead of her fortune. Rhys Corwen, the impoverished Earl of Dowling, really has his work cut out for him, because while he does need to marry for money, when he meets Margaret he knows no other woman will do.
Eileen Dreyer writes action-packed historical romances. Always a Temptress, the third book in her Drake’s Rakes series, is about Kate Seaton and Harry Lidge: two tortured souls with a history of perceived betrayal who work out their problems while battling a plot against the throne. I have been eagerly anticipating Kate’s story. She captured my interest in the first two books of the series, Barely a Lady and Never a Gentleman, with her compelling, tough, funny personality. “It seemed to Grace an upending of the natural order that Kate should need help,” observes Kate’s friend at one point in the novel – and that is exactly what I thought while reading the first part of the book. But need help she does and Kate has a very hard time accepting it, fearful she will learn to rely on someone when life has taught her she can rely only on herself. You don’t need to read the first two books in the Drake’s Rakes series to enjoy Always a Temptress but I recommend all three!
Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan, bloggers extraordinaire, have written a brilliantly witty analysis of the romance genre and it is not to be missed! Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels came out in April 2009 and I cannot believe it took me this long to get to it, but I am so glad I finally did. I did not merely laugh as I read – I guffawed again and again. And while the book is wildly hilarious, it is also very interesting and informative. The authors cover a broad range of topics such as the history of romance novels, misconceptions about the genre and its readers, and why the covers look the way they do. One caveat: the Smart Bitches have serious potty-mouths, and while I enjoy that part of their shtick, I know my mother would be totally turned off by it and would not be able to see the book’s brilliant insights because of that style choice. As long as you don’t suffer from a similar sensitivity I cannot recommend this one more. When I love a book I tend to read everything I can find by the author. I’m happy to report that Sarah Wendell has a new book out: Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels hit store shelves October 1st.