Book Review: Cinder & Glass

cinderandglassTitle: Cinder & Glass

Author: Melissa De La Cruz

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical, Fairytale Retelling

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Cendrillon de Louvois has more grace, beauty, and charm than anyone else in France. While she was once the darling child of the king’s favorite adviser, her father’s death has turned her into the servant of her stepmother and cruel stepsisters–and at her own chateau, too!

Cendrillon–now called Cinder–manages to evade her stepmother and attend the ball, where she catches the eye of the handsome Prince Louis and his younger brother Auguste.
Even though Cendrillon has an immediate aversion to Louis, and a connection with Auguste, the only way to escape her stepmother is to compete with the other women at court for the Prince’s hand.

Soon, as Cendrillon glows closer to Auguste and dislikes the prince more and more, she will have to decide if she can bear losing the boy she loves in order to leave a life she hates.
Melissa de la Cruz takes a lush, romantic hand to this retold fairy tale classic.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This is probably my favorite re-telling of the classic Cinderella tale that I’ve yet to read. There’s something special about taking a familiar fairytale and intertwining it with real history. It makes the story feel more real and compelling – and the author did a fantastic job in that regard.

The book was well-written. I didn’t run into any typos, grammatical errors, or pacing problems, despite reading an ARC copy. The narrative flowed effortlessly and was easy-to-follow, even with the unfamiliar French names and court antics. I especially adored the characters. They were all very distinct and interesting if not likeable – I’ll admit that Auguste was my absolute favorite.

Overall, if you like the story of Cinderella, fairy-tale retellings in general, or historical romances, I’d recommend you give this book a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Book Review: The Duchess Hunt

cover-the duchess huntTitle: The Duchess Hunt [Once Upon A Dukedom 2]

Author: Lorraine Heath

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Hugh Brinsley-Norton, the Duke of Kingsland, is in need of a duchess. However, restoring the dukedom—left in ruins by his father—to its former glory demands all his time, with little room for sentiment. He places an advert encouraging the single ladies of the ton to write why they should be the one chosen, and leaves it to his efficient secretary to select his future wife.

If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.

But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This was such a gem of a historical romance. I loved the characters and the unique plot. The romance was deliciously unrequited at the start and slowly gained momentum into something more steamy as the story wound on.

I found the writing to be fluid and effortless with an even pace, and the scandalous pasts of the two lead characters led to an imaginatively different sort of love story.

loved every moment of this book and read it in one sitting. If you love historical romances as I do, I’d highly recommend this one as a fun twist on the usual Duke plotline.

Book Review: The Gold In These Hills

cover-the gold in these hillsTitle: The Gold In These Hills

Author: Joanne Bischof

Genre: Literary Memoir, Christian Fiction, Historical, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Upon arriving at Kenworthy, California, mail-order-bride Juniper Cohen was met by the pounding of the gold mine, the rowdiness of its prospectors, and her greatest surprise of all: the love of the kind man who awaited her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper’s husband vanishes, doubt and discouragement are as prevalent as the pioneers fleeing this dwindling boomtown.

As winter blows in, Juniper pens a series of letters to her husband but fears she is waiting on a ghost—or worse, an outlaw. Carving out survival for her and her young daughter in a ghost town requires trusting in the kindness of a few remaining souls, including the one who can unlock the mystery of her husband’s disappearance.

A century later, trying to escape the heartache of his failed marriage, Johnny Sutherland throws himself into raising his child and restoring a hundred-year-old abandoned farmhouse in California’s San Jacinto Mountains. While exploring its secrets he uncovers the letters Juniper wrote to her Dearest John and is moved by the handwritten accounts that bear his name. Having learned that truth and courage go hand in hand, Johnny dares to love again, and armed with lessons from the past, a modern-day romance unfolds in the very same mountains that once held a love story that touched history.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This wasn’t the type of book I’d normally pick up had I known what it was, but I’m glad I did regardless. The book was well written, with a clear and easy-to-follow narrative. I loved the characters and the back and forth of the story unfolding through a mix of historical letters and viewpoints, and a contemporary viewpoint.

To be honest, I feel like this book was miss-categorized as Historical Christian Romance. Yes, there were elements of these categories, but at its heart, I would classify this book as a Literary Memoir that is both partially contemporary and partially historical.

Though there was definitely an underlying romance for many of the characters, I wouldn’t categorize this as a romance book. The theme of the book was more about faith and challenges, intertwined with a family saga – and romance just happened to be a part of that.

Though I am not religious myself, I found the religious theme throughout the book wasn’t preachy or overbearing and was beautiful in a way the characters used their faith to decipher the challenges in their lives and overcome them.

Overall, I’m glad I read the book. I found it to be a compelling and poignant story about the hardships we deal with in life, and how we find ways to keep looking forward.

Book Review: The Duke Who Loved Me

review-the duke who loved meTitle: The Duke Who Loved Me [The Duke’s Estates 1]

Author: Jane Ashford

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

James Cantrell, the new Duke of Tereford, has inherited a dukedom in disarray and is overwhelmed by his unaccustomed responsibilities. Then he gets an idea. Cecelia Vainsmede served as liaison between James and her father, and she knows a great deal about business matters, his own in particular. She’s also quite pretty. Ever the pragmatist, he suggests a marriage of convenience.

Cecelia has always been good at working with James, but she doesn’t understand how he can be so obtuse. He clearly doesn’t realize that he’s the duke she’s always wished for, or that his offer is an insult. But when a German prince arrives in London and immediately sets out to woo Cecelia, James will have to come to terms with what he really feels for her. Is running away worth the cost of losing her, or will the duke dare to win her once and for all?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ll be honest: I could not get into this book. From the very first paragraph, I had difficulty. There was something about the narrative voice that came across as very lackluster and bland, and nothing particularly interesting was happening – not a great start.

I struggled to get through the first chapter. There was zero romance or attraction between the two main characters, and I found their dry, haughty personalities to be a bore to listen to. At one point, I wrote myself a note that if I found out the two main characters were the love interest (before I realized they were the two main characters) I was going to put the book down… because I hated them that much – and what do you know, they were. I cannot fathom this being a romance book from what I saw in the first chapter. I was incredibly bored, and that shouldn’t happen. A book should grab you from the first sentence and drag you under, not to let up until the story is over… and this book didn’t have that. I wasn’t engaged, and I wasn’t interested in the characters. I actually disliked them quite a bit.

As far as the more technical aspects of the book… it was well-written in the fact that there weren’t any obvious typos or grammatical errors. Though dry, the dialogue attempted to be witty, and it sounded natural. The characters felt like real people… just not people I wanted to get to know.

I’m going to chalk this one up to just not being a book for me. It will probably be someone’s cup of tea, even if it wasn’t mine. It just wasn’t what I was looking for in a historical romance.

Book Review: Highland Thief

review-highland thiefTitle: Highland Thief [The Sons of Gregor MacLeod 5]

Author: Alyson McLayne

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

No one ever accused Kerr Macalister of being a nice man. Everyone would agree, however, that when he makes up his mind about something, no one will change it. Which is why everyone knows Isobel MacKinnon will end up his wife.

Isobel spent most of her childhood in love with the tall, dark, and deadly sexy Scot. It wasn’t until she was fifteen and failed to entice Kerr into kissing her, that things turned sour. Now, Kerr is the one trying to entice her.

But Isobel knows how to hold a grudge and won’t be swayed unless he proves his love. So she tricks him into believing she’s eloping with another man. Kerr responds by kidnapping her to a remote cabin in the Highlands where both love and danger lurk…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Highland Thief by Alyson McLayne. The sexual tension between Isobel and Kerr was palpable and ever-present from the very start of the story until the very end. They made a fantastically sassy pair, and I loved every minute of their banter.

The author did a fantastic job of making the story standalone despite being the last book in the series, which is something I really appreciate when it comes to large series because I don’t always come into the series through the first book, particularly in romance. The writing itself was engaging and flowed well, and I didn’t run into any obvious errors or story issues to pull me out of the narrative.

If you love historical romances, this is an exceptionally well-written one, and I’d recommend you give it a read. I am hooked!

Book Review: The Viscount Made Me Do It

review-the viscount made me do itTitle: The Viscount Made Me Do It [Clandestine Affairs 2]

Author: Diana Quincy

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

A seduction that could ruin everything…

Hanna Zaydan has fought to become London’s finest bonesetter, but her darkly appealing new patient threatens to destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. With each appointment, the daughter of foreign merchants is slowly seduced by the mysterious former soldier. She’s smart enough to know Griff is after more than he’ll reveal, but whatever it is, the bonesetter’s growing desire for the man just might tempt her to give it to him.

An attraction that cannot be denied…

Rumors that he killed his own parents have followed Thomas Ellis, Viscount Griffin, practically since he was a boy. More than a decade after the tragedy, Griff receives a tip about his parents’ killer… one that takes him straight to a beautiful bonesetter. Griff is convinced Hanna is a fraud, but she stirs genuine feelings in him that he thought had perished along with his family.

Hanna has a gift for fixing fractured people, but can she also mend a broken heart? More importantly, will Griff let her?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I debated with myself for a bit on what to rate this book – it wasn’t an easy answer. I read an early review copy, so there were a few rather unremarkable editing errors – but nothing too obtrusive. For the most part, the writing was easy to follow and flowed well. I liked the characters and the overall plot, and the romance was steamy.

So why 4 stars rather than 5?

There were some bits to this story that were written… oddly, I guess that is the way to put it. It’s rather hard to explain, but one example would be how the 26-year-old main female lead had no idea what sex entailed or what orgasms were. I mean, I understand that she was an untouched spinster at that point… but she was also a medical professional… and let’s be honest, at 26, you know things, even if you have no first-hand experience. It was weird how the author showcased this.

In addition to this, the romance between the two main characters waffled quite a bit. One second they hated each other, then they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.. Then they were denying their passion, then they were all over each other again – which is all well and good, except the switches sometimes seemed to come out of nowhere.

Overall, I liked the book. I enjoyed reading it, and I think if you like Historical Romance, this is a pretty good one.

Book Review: The Princess Stakes

reviewcover- the princess stakesTitle: The Princess Stakes

Author: Amalie Howard

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Synopsis/Description:

Born to an Indian maharaja and a British noblewoman, Princess Sarani Rao has it all: beauty, riches, and a crown. But when Sarani’s father is murdered, her only hope is the next ship out—captained by the boy she once loved…and spurned.

Captain Rhystan Huntley, the reluctant Duke of Embry, is loath to give up his life at sea. But duty is calling him home, and this is his final voyage. Leave it to fate that the one woman he’s ever loved must escape to England on his ship.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed The Princess Stakes by Amalie Howard, though it could be a little outlandish at times with how different situations were handled from a historical standpoint.

I loved the characters and the romance – especially Sarani. The minor characters like Tej felt a little left out at times, but it wasn’t enough to truly bother me. I thought the plot was interesting, and the sparks between Sarani and the duke made up for a lot of the characterization inadequacies. If you are a fan of historical accuracy, the characters, once again, complaining about corsets will probably get to you – because it was certainly an old and inaccurate trope that I’m definitely over hearing about.

I do think the story was wrapped up a little too easily a little too quickly, but other than that, I still really enjoyed the book, and if you are a fan of formulaic historical romance books, you’ll most likely enjoy this one. It made a nice weekend read.

Book Review: His Improper Lady

review-his improper ladyTitle: His Improper Lady [The Mad Morelands 8]

Author: Candace Camp

Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

It’s been a year since Tom Quick became a partner at the detective agency Moreland & Quick, which he operates with his lifelong friend Constantine Moreland. When he catches an intruder breaking in to the agency, obviously looking for something, it’s clear that a new case is afoot. But this intruder wears an alluring scent, moves like a trained acrobat…and is an attractive woman.

After a hardscrabble childhood, Desiree Sullivan grew up to be a talented performer, and now she wants to find her real rather. All she knows is that he was an aristocrat, and he abandoned her and her brothers when they were small. When she finds something at Moreland & Quick that gives her a lead, she must follow it.

Tom wants to help Desiree, but he’s still a little suspicious of her, even though he can’t help but be drawn to her. But as Desiree and Tom dig deeper into Desiree’s roots, they stumble on a mystery larger than either of them imagined—a mystery that threatens both their lives.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I didn’t have high hopes for this book when I first picked it up – the beginning sequence was slow and not at all what I expected, and I had very little understanding of what was going on. I hadn’t read any of the previous books in the series, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

And to be honest, I didn’t love everything about the book. The characters had a penchant for going on long monologues when they weren’t necessary, and I could have done without that bit. The romance, while steamy, didn’t stand out from the romance in any other historical romance. It wasn’t what drew me to the book.

But put all that aside, and it was a solid book regardless.

I loved the characters, the fierce main female lead, and her slightly less sure male lead. I enjoyed the quirky Morelands and their supernatural powers. My favorite part by far though was the mystery and thriller aspect of the plot. It took me a good long while to hone in on what had happened to Desiree’s parents and how it was connected to the shenanigans going on around them during the majority of the plot. It was this aspect of the plot that kept me enthralled with the book until the very end – and that’s saying something. I don’t read a lot of mysteries.

If you’re looking for a solid historical romance, this will certainly pass in that department… but if you’re looking for something a little unusual wrapped in a good historical romance, I would definitely recommend you pick this up.

Book Review: The Wrong Marquess

review-the wrong marquessTitle: The Wrong Marquess [The Mating Habits of Scoundrels 3]

Author: Vivienne Lorret

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

The wrong place…

Elodie Parrish can feel spinsterhood breathing down her neck. That’s the trouble with waiting for the marquess next door her entire life. But Ellie knows if she gives him one last Season, he’ll finally propose. The only problem is, her path keeps crossing with the arrogant Lord Hullworth, who is convinced she has designs on him.

The wrong time…

Brandon, Marquess of Hullworth, never wanted to be “London’s Most Elusive Bachelor,” or have a horde of hopeful debutantes and their scheming mamas follow him around. His past has left him too jaded to consider marrying any of them. At least, that’s what he thinks… until he meets Ellie. She’s quirky, opinionated, blushes easily, and drives him absolutely wild. The only problem is, she believes she’s in love with someone else.

Ellie never imagined that one sultry summer could change everything. But the more time she spends with Brandon researching her book on the mating habits of scoundrels, the more she starts to fall for…

The Wrong Marquess

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about The Wrong Marquess by Vivienne Lorret, but I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt because regardless of what I found wrong with it, I still greatly enjoyed the book.

So let’s talk about what I liked – the romance between Elodie and Brandon was wrought with sexual tension. The couple was so sweet at times, other times they were reluctant, or even scathing with each other. The two were caught in this tension-filled tug of war between their heads, their hearts, and society as a whole, and it led to an engaging dynamic.

The characters were well defined, and for the most part, I liked them. Mostly.

What bothered me, was the way Elodie was written. I’ve never seen a character in a historical romance come across as so …. Dumb. Elodie was clumsy, scared of everything, hopelessly naïve, and just generally air-headed. I found her completely insufferable, and the only reason I was able to continue with the book is that the romantic dynamic between her and Brandon was so engaging.

There were a few other minor tidbits that bothered me – a lapse in tense, and the author’s strange penchant for using thesaurus words that even my dictionary had never heard of, but for the most part, I was able to skim over those issues and enjoy the story as a whole.

Overall, I’d say that if you like historical romances, this is worth a read – just don’t expect a strong witty heroine in this one.

Book Review: Highland Legend

review-cover-highland legendTitle: Highland Legend [Scots and Swords 3]

Author: Kathryn LeVeque

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

As the bastard son of a duke, Magnus Stewart’s royal blood has been a curse. Lured by the mystique and riches of the legendary fight club, Ludus Caledonia, Magnus uses his anger and bitterness to battle his way to the status of a prized gladiator known as The Eagle.

Diantha de Mora has heard of The Eagle, and in desperation, she seeks his help to escape the men pursuing her. Magnus comes to her aid, and in one night, his fate is changed forever. Mutual attraction is instant, but with enemies at every turn, it’ll take muscle and a miracle for them to make it to the Highlands alive. There, Magnus can reclaim his destiny, as Diantha guides his heart home.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, Highland Legend by Kathryn LeVeque was an okay read. It had some good qualities, but it had some pretty bad qualities as well.

The writing itself was great – I didn’t run into a lot of typos, or at least no glaringly obvious ones. The narrative flowed fairly smoothly, and overall, I liked the characters. The romance between the two main characters was sweet.

That was also part of the problem, though. The romance between Magnus and Diantha was cautiously sweet in almost a naïve way – which didn’t really fit the determined Diantha and experienced Magnus very well – it felt out of place in the context of the story.

On top of this, the world-building was perplexing. I guess I just don’t understand the point of a book being placed in the Scottish highlands being so heavily built around roman culture.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want a light romance read set in a historical context, this would be a good book to pick up while you’re sitting in a waiting room and want to pass the time… but it isn’t a book you’ll probably get engrossed in.