Duke of Midnight is the sixth novel in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series. Maximus Batten is the Duke of Wakefield by day and the infamous Ghost of St. Giles by night. He has been trolling the streets for years, hunting for his parents’ murderer. Maximus is also half-heartedly courting a beautiful heiress who he thinks will make an appropriate wife. But his attention is snared and held by a much less appropriate woman: Artemis Greaves, the heiress’s companion. Artemis is equally intrigued by the Duke, but she has her own problems and her romantic interest in him takes a backseat to her need to rescue her brother from prison. She will stop at nothing to free her brother and when she discovers the Duke’s secret, Artemis finds she is not above using blackmail to achieve her goal. I adore Elizabeth Hoyt’s books and Duke of Midnight did not disappoint. This novel is entertaining, romantic and hot. Ms. Hoyt’s writing is wonderfully atmospheric – if you aren’t reading this author, you are really missing out!
The latest novel in Miranda Neville’s Wild Quartet series hooked me immediately and kept me entertained through every page. The Ruin of a Rogue tells the tale of Marcus Lithgow and Anne Brotherton. Marcus is a scoundrel – he was raised by a disreputable gambler and thief who taught Marcus everything he knew. Anne is an heiress and every bachelor in town would love to get his hands on her (and therefor her wealth). Anne is wary of fortune hunters, but Marcus is clever and manages to get under her guard. However, as Marcus gets to know Anne, he becomes genuinely enamored of her, so it’s a shame when Anne discovers his original intent was that of a gold digger. The story has quite a few twists and I wouldn’t want to spoil the plot for you, so I won’t say more. But I will say that Ms. Neville writes engaging, smart romance. Marcus and Anne are sympathetic, interesting and loveable. I always look forward to a new book by this author and have already added Lady Windermere’s Lover to my to-be-read list. It will be available next June.
Days of Rakes and Roses is the second book in Anna Campbell’s Sons of Sin series. The novella is short, sweet and a great choice if you are in the mood for a quickie. Lydia Rothermere and Simon Metcalf shared a moment of scorching passion when they were teenagers. Years later, neither has ever forgotten the other, but both assume their feelings are unrequited and hopeless. Lydia is hardly thrilled when Simon shows up at her engagement ball. She doesn’t want her sensible marriage plans disrupted by her childhood fantasies. But Simon isn’t the womanizing cad he is reputed to be. His intentions are serious and honorable. I love Ms. Campbell’s writing and always look forward to a new book of hers. Days of Rakes and Roses is romantic, entertaining and fun. I’ve got the next novel in the series queued up to read already: A Rake’s Midnight Kiss has been available since August.
Courtney Milan writes smart, moving romances. The latest book in her Brothers Sinister series is The Heiress Effect and I highly recommend it. Under normal conditions Jane Fairfield would be a social outcast. She says, wears and does the wrong thing in every situation. Jane is extravagantly wealthy, however, so people put up with her. Oliver Marshall, on the other hand, is the pink of perfection – he has made a point of it for most of his life. Oliver has serious goals and doesn’t feel he can risk achieving them because of a social misstep. So when oh-so-proper Oliver and always-outré Jane begin to develop feelings for each other, it doesn’t exactly thrill him. But Jane is who she is, and she isn’t going to change so that she can have Oliver. Jane knows it would be an absurd exercise anyway, because the very things Oliver loves about her are the things he doesn’t seem to be able to accept. I love romance novels in which the conflict is emotional and is part of the protagonists’ journey as a couple. Oliver and Jane struggle with issues of love, acceptance and personal integrity. Their story is engaging, romantic and my guess is that you will really enjoy it.
I always enjoy Mary Balogh’s writing and the latest installment of her Survivors’ Club series did not disappoint. The Arrangement is emotional and romantic. Vincent Hunt was blinded in battle and desperately wants to lead a more independent life than the one he has led since becoming handicapped. His loving family means well, but they suffocate him with their concern. On the other end of the spectrum, Sophia Fry has almost no family – and the relatives she has are hardly loving. When Sophia does Vincent a favor she is punished for it: she is turned out of her relatives’ house and finds herself homeless. When Vincent learns of Sophia’s situation he proposes marriage in order to solve her problem. He suggests they come to an agreement, insisting that their marriage will solve problems for both of them. Then he proposes that after certain goals are met, they lead separate lives. Their bargain loses its appeal as Vincent and Sophia fall in love, but neither knows the other feels the same way. I found The Arrangement moving and sweet. The story moves at a good pace, has a satisfying ending, and is a definite recommendation of mine.
Julie Anne Long writes wonderful romances with nuanced depictions of the emotional highs and lows associated with being in love. It Happened One Midnight, the eighth book in her Pennyroyal Green series, lived up to my high expectations. Jonathan Redmond and Thomasina de Ballesteros (Tommy) are beautiful, captivating, and almost universally wanted by the opposite sex. Neither is taken in by the other’s superficial charms, but as they get to know one another, they come to genuinely respect, admire and like each other. Scorching sexual chemistry is added to the mix after an impulsive kiss and soon they have both fallen – hard – for the other. But the happily-ever-after doesn’t seem to be in reach: Jonathan will be cut off without a dime if he doesn’t marry someone his father approves of and his father will never approve of Tommy, who is the bastard daughter of a nobleman’s mistress. Moreover, Tommy has her own ambitions – and they don’t include ending up with a financially-challenged mister. I enjoyed every page of It Happened One Midnight. I found Jonathan and Tommy interesting, funny and very dear. Their story is heart-warming and a definite recommendation of mine.
I am a big fan of Cecilia Grant and her latest book, A Woman Entangled, did not disappoint. The protagonists, Kate Westbrook and Nick Blackshear, have a lot in common – both their families have tarnished reputations because of scandals Kate and Nick had no active role in, and both dearly wish to repair the damage. Kate knows Nick has carried a torch for her for years, but she is determined to marry well. She is convinced that if her husband is powerful enough, she will be able to restore her family’s social standing. Nick, who has the same problem she has, simply doesn’t fit the bill. Kate works hard to accomplish her goal and as she gets close to success, she finds she may have changed her mind about what is and isn’t important to her. Ms. Grant has a talent for slowly building believable, emotional romance. I can feel her characters fall in love, and that, more than anything else, is what I am looking for when I read books in the genre. A Woman Entangled is not as hot as Ms. Grant’s first two novels are, but that is what is appropriate for the story. I highly recommend all of Cecilia Grant’s novels and suggest you move this author to the top of your to-be-read list!
I will not be blogging for a few weeks, so instead of recommending one book, this week I am recommending six: The Traveling Matchmaker series by M.C. Beaton (Marion Chesney) is absolutely fabulous. At the beginning of the first volume, Emily Goes to Exeter, we meet Miss Hannah Pym; a forty-something housekeeper and spinster who dreams of adventure while she waits by her window to get a glimpse of the stage-coach as it whizzes by. When Hannah unexpectedly inherits money, she takes off on her very own trip. Each volume in the series follows Hannah as she travels across England on six separate journeys. Hannah is a meddler and a romantic and when she meets people she thinks should be together, she can’t help but play matchmaker. You don’t have to read all the books in the series as each will stand on its own, but I am very happy I read all six books in order. Each book features a new romance, but the novels are primarily about Hannah and she has her own slow-moving romance, which spans all six volumes. The Traveling Matchmaker series is charming, romantic, and very sweet. The author clearly did her research – the books are filled with vividly-rendered details about life and travel in 1800. There is a large cast of interesting, sharply drawn characters and the plots work well. I devoured these novels and was so sorry when I finished the last one!
I loved Eloisa James’ latest novel, Once Upon a Tower, and highly recommend it. Edie Gilchrist is sick for her social debut – she floats around the room with a high fever, smiling but never speaking because she needs all her energy to simply get through the evening. The men at the ball, including Gowan Stoughton, find her serene silence seductive and the next day Edie learns her uncharacteristic reticence resulted in making her a huge social success. Gowan, a wealthy duke and a total catch, is in London to find a bride. He decides he wants Edie, Edie’s father accepts his proposal, and the couple is engaged to be married by the end of the day. The story takes off from there – conflicts, large and small, develop as Edie and Gowan actually get to know each other. Gowan is a hardworking, brilliant, business-minded man with a temper. Edie is a talented musician who abhors conflict. They don’t seem well-suited, but both want the relationship to work and they manage to overcome their differences, albeit with some real drama along the way. I always look forward to a new book by Eloisa James and Once Upon a Tower did not disappoint – I laughed, I cried, and I didn’t put this one down until I got to the wonderfully satisfying ending.
This week’s recommendation isn’t quite a romance novel – it is a novel with a bit of romance – but I loved it so much that I am recommending it anyway. Deanna Raybourn’s A Spear of Summer Grass is set in the 1920s and begins when Delilah Drummond’s family exiles her to Kenya. She is a glamorous party-girl who has led a scandalous life, but her latest shenanigans are simply too much, even for her notorious mother. The ex-patriot community in Kenya is hardly a straight-laced crowd, however, and soon Delilah is embroiled in the wild goings-on in her new neighborhood. Delilah faces many challenges as she adjusts to life in Africa and slowly falls in love with the people, the environment, and Ryder White (her guide to the savannah). The many hurdles Delilah must overcome force her to re-evaluate her life and to make decisions about who she wants to be. Delilah’s journey is wildly entertaining. I didn’t want the book to end and cannot recommend this novel more.