In Cathy Maxwell’s The Earl Claims His Wife Gillian has given up on her marriage. While her husband Brian has taken care of her financially he has been totally unavailable in every way that matters: his love and attention go to his mistress. At the beginning of the story Gillian has fallen in love with a new man and plans to find a way to divorce her husband so they can be together. However, Brian finally sees Gillian for the strong, smart, loving woman she is and has no intention of letting her go. I enjoyed reading about how these two characters resolved their problems and found love. I have read quite a few romance novels in which the hero has hurt the heroine in such a way I was never able to forgive him for and not able to believe the heroine would either. When I started this novel I thought that might be the case with Brian. I am happy to report that isn’t the case at all – Ms. Maxwell has created a sympathetic character who redeems himself and is ultimately very loveable. I really enjoyed The Earl Claims His Wife and definitely recommend this heartwarming romance.
Kate Noble’s The Summer of You is a delightful, charming romance. Lady Jane Cummings is ordered by her brother to take their ailing father away from the hubbub of London. Jane has been shouldering the weight of his care by herself for too long and forces her brother to accompany them and soon the whole family is off to their cottage near Merrymere Lake for the summer. Byrne Worth, war hero, is living in a house he inherited by the lake, hiding from the world and his own demons. His surly attitude and loner tendencies have the whole village convinced he’s the highwayman who has been plaguing the area, but Jane knows he isn’t a criminal. Jane and Byrne begin their own investigation and soon their mutual attraction turns into something more meaningful. Ms. Noble has a wonderfully romantic voice making The Summer of You a true pleasure to read. I really cared about Jane, Byrne and the whole cast of secondary characters (who are all struggling along with their own issues) and while I wouldn’t say I couldn’t put the book down, I found I didn’t want to. I really look forward to reading more of Ms. Noble’s work.
Victoria Dahl’s A Little Bit Wild is divine – witty, emotional, hot – this book has it all. Marissa York and Jude Bertrand stage a phony betrothal to help her evade a scandal, though Jude secretly hopes to make it real. He has been very interested in Marissa since they first met, but he never thought he’d have a chance with her. Marissa has a proclivity for pretty boys and Jude absolutely doesn’t qualify. I loved these characters. Marissa is curious, funny, and a little bit shallow while Jude is open-minded, smart and loving. This novel is unusual for the genre in that Marissa’s interest in men and sex is not limited to one man in the context of one lifelong romance. This makes her very real and takes on the what-makes-a-man-a-stud-makes-a-woman-a-slut double standard in a refreshingly funny way. Yet the novel isn’t dominated by this issue – the romance between Marissa and Jude is emotional and really moving.
Pam Rosenthal’s The Edge of Impropriety is a decadent gourmet feast of a romance novel. I savored every word of this beautifully wrought book and highly recommend it. Marina and Jasper embark on an affair that is to last the length of the London Season and no longer. They establish strict boundaries, agreeing to keep the affair private from the world and their everyday lives private from each other. And while they both have pasts that could be problematic hurdles to a lasting relationship, as they develop feelings for one another they forget why such rules were established between them in the first place. Marina and Jasper are world-weary cynics with little faith in romantic love and the unexpected happiness they find in the relationship is wonderful but scary to them both. I loved this novel so much I plan to read Ms. Rosenthal’s entire backlist – praise indeed!