The Complete Reading List by Author

The current year’s reading list and author commentary: The (Shameful) Tally 2014.

On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

Recommended books are in bold below, but here is a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance…

-A-
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Ashley, Jennifer Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage (Mac/Isabella)
Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Cameron/Ainsley) – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Duke’s Perfect Wife (Hart/Eleanor)
Ashley, Jennifer Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (Ian, Mac, Cam, Hart)
Ashley, Jennifer The Seduction of Elliott McBride (Elliott/Juliana)
Ashley, Jennifer The Untamed Mackenzie novella (Lloyd/Louisa)
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Daniel/Violet)
Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess novella (Steven/Rose)
Ashley, Jennifer Rules for a Proper Governess (Sinclair/Roberta “Bertie”)
Ashley, Jennifer Bodyguard (Shifters Unbound) novella (Ronan/Elizabeth)
-B-
Baker, Jo Longbourn (James/Sarah)
Balogh, Mary A Handful of Gold (Julian/Verity) – ROMANCE REVIEW TEMPLATE
Balogh, Mary Slightly Scandalous (Joshua/Freya)
Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous (Wulfric, no, seriously, WULFRIC/Christine) CLASSIC
Balogh, Mary Simply Perfect (Joseph/Claudia)
Balogh, Mary Simply Love (Sydnam/Anne)
Balogh, Mary The Arrangement (Vincent/Sophia)
Barrett, Jo Nothing to Commend Her (Magnus/Agatha)
Blair, Annette Jacob’s Return (Jacob/Rachel)
Boyce, Elizabeth Once a Duchess (Marshall/Isabelle)
Boyce, Elizabeth Along Came a Duke (Preston/Tabitha)
Boyle, Elizabeth And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake (Henry/Daphne)
Boyle, Elizabeth When She Said I Do (Lawrence, called Ren/Calliope)
Brockway, Connie The Other Guy’s Bride (Jim/Ginesse)
Brogan, Tracy Highland Surrender  (Myles/Fiona)
Burke, Darcy To Love a Thief (Daniel/Jocelyn)
Burrowes, Grace The Soldier (Devlin) (Michael/Cecilia)
Burrowes, Grace Lady Sophia’s Christmas Wish (Vim/Wilhelm)
-C-
Callen, Gayle Return of the Viscount  (Michael/Cecilia)
Carter, DL Ridiculous (Timothy/Millicent)
Chase, Loretta Captives of the Night (Ismal/Leila)
Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrels  (Sebastian, Marquess of Dain/Jessica) CLASSIC
Chase, Loretta The Last Hellion (Vere/Lydia)
Chase, Loretta Miss Wonderful (Alister/Mirabel)
Chase, Loretta Mr. Impossible (Rupert/Daphne)
Chase, Loretta Lord Perfect (Benedict/Bathsheba)
Chase, Loretta Not Quite a Lady – (Darius/Charlotte)
Chase, Loretta Last Night’s Scandal (Lord Lisle/Olivia)
Chase, Loretta Silk Is for Seduction  (Gervase, Lord Clevedon/)
Chase, Loretta Scandal Wears Satin (Harry, Lord Longmore/Sophy)
Chase, Loretta Vixen in Velvet (Simon, Lord Lisburne/Leonie)
Clayton, Alice Wallbanger (Simon/Caroline)
Cole, Eden Not My Wolf novella (Corey/Devin)
Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Forever (Nikolai/Myst the Coveted) THUNDER SEX™!
Cole, Kresley A Hunger Like No Other  (Lachlain/Emma) VILE
Cole, Kresley No Rest for the Wicked  (Sebastian/Kaderin the Coldhearted) THUNDER SEX™!
Cole, Kresley Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night  (Bowen/Mariketa the Awaited) THUNDER SEX™!
Cole, Kresley Dark Need’s at Night’s Edge  (Conrad/Neomi) THUNDER SEX™!
Cole, Kresley Dark Desires After Dusk (Cadeon/Holly) THUNDER SEX™!
Cole, Kresley Kiss of a Demon King  (Rydstrom/Sabine) THUNDER SEX™!
Cole, Kresley Deep Kiss of Winter (Murdoch/Daniela the Ice Maiden) THUNDER SEX™!
Cole, Kresley Lothaire (Lothaire/Ellie)
Cole, Kresley Shadow’s Claim (Trehan/Bettina)
Cole, Kresley Macrieve  (Uilliam/Chloe) VILER
Crusie, Jennifer Welcome to Temptation (Phin/Sophie)
Crusie, Jennifer Bet Me (Calvin/Minerva)
-D-
Dare, Tessa How to Catch a Wild Viscount (Luke/Cecily)
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke (Spencer/Amelia)
Dare, Tessa Twice Tempted by a Rogue (Rhys/Merry)
Dare, Tessa Three Nights with a Scoundrel (Julian/Lily)
Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright novella (Harry/Eliza)
Dare, Tessa A Night to Surrender (Bram/Susanna)
Dare, Tessa Once Upon a Winter’s Eve novella (Christian/Violet)
Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked (Colin/Minerva)
Dare, Tessa A Lady by Midnight (Thorne/Kate)
Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith (Aaron/Diana)
Dare, Tessa Any Duchess Will Do (Griffin/Pauline)
Dare, Tessa Romancing the Duke (Ransom/Izzy)
Davis, Miranda The Duke’s Tattoo (Ainsworth)
Deveraux, Jude The Duchess (Trevelyan)
DiPasqua, Lila Undone (Simon/Angelica) *Worst of 2013*
Domning, Denise Almost Perfect (Lucien)
Donati, Sara Into the Wilderness (Nathaniel/Elizabeth)
Duran, Meredith A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal (Simon/Nell)
Duran, Meredith Wicked Becomes You (Alex/Gwen)
Duran, Meredith Bound by Your Touch (James/Lydia)
Duran, Meredith Written on Your Skin (Phin/Mina)
Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart novella (Ripton/Amanda)
Duran, Meredith That Scandalous Summer (Michael/Elizabeth)
Duran, Meredith Fool Me Twice (Alaistair/Olivia)
-E-
Enoch, Suzanne Reforming a Rake (Lucien/Alexandra)
Enoch, Suzanne Meet Me at Midnight  (Sinclair “Sin”/Victoria “Vixen”)
Enoch, Suzanne A Matter of Scandal (Grey/Emma)
Enoch, Suzanne The Rake (Tristan/Georgiana)
Enoch, Suzanne England’s Perfect Hero (Robert/Lucinda)
Enoch, Suzanne Always a Scoundrel (Bram/Rosamund)
Enoch, Suzanne A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes (Oliver/Diane)
Enoch, Suzanne Taming an Impossible Rogue (Keating/Camille)
Enoch, Suzanne Rules of an Engagement (Shaw/Zephyr, I’m not making that up)
Enoch, Suzanne A Lady’s Guide to Improper Behaviour (Tolly, Bartholomew/Tess)
Enoch, Suzanne Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke (Adam/Sophia)
Enoch, Suzanne The Devil Wears Kilts  (Ranulf/Charlotte)
Essex, Elizabeth A Breath of Scandal (Will/Antigone)
Evans, Bronwen To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood novella (Henry) *Worst of 2012*
-F-
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Thief (Sylvain/Cade)
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Kiss (Philippe/Magalie)
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Rose (Gabriel/Jolie)
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch (Dominique/Jaime)
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Heart  (Luc/Summer)
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Temptation (Patrick/Sarah)
Foster, Melissa Sisters in Love (Blake/Danica)
-G-
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  (Jamie/Claire) CLASSIC, but more of a historical epic
Galen, Shana When You Give a Duke a Diamond (Will/Juliette)
Garwood, Julie The Lion’s Lady (Lyon/Christina)
Garwood, Julie Saving Grace (Gabriel/Joanna, I think)
Garwood, Julie The Gift (Nathan/Sara)
Garwood, Julie Ransom (Brodick/Gillian)
Garwood, Julie Honour’s Splendour (Duncan/Madelyne)
Garwood, Julie Prince Charming (Lucas)
Garwood, Julie The Bride (Alec/Jamie)
Goodger, Jane When a Duke Says I Do (Alexander/Elsie)
Grace, Aria More Than Friends (Ryan/Zach)
Grant, Cecilia A Gentleman Undone – (Will/Lydia)
Grant, Cecilia A Woman Entangled (Nick/Kate) COMMENTARY ON SEX IN ROMANCE
Gray, Juliana A Lady Never Lies (Finn/Alexandra)
Gray, Juliana A Gentleman Never Tells (Roland/Lilibet)
Gray, Juliana A Duke Never Yields (Wallingford/Abigail)
Gray, Juliana How to Tame Your Duke (Ashland/Emilie)
Gray, Juliana How to Master Your Marquis (Hatherfield/Stefanie)
Gray, Juliana How to School Your Scoundrel (Somerton/Luisa)
Guhrke, Laura Lee Scandal of the Year (Aidan/Julia)
Guhrke, Laura Lee When the Marquess Met His Match (Nicholas/Belinda)
Guhrke, Laura Lee How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (Stuart/Edie)
-H-
Harmon, Danelle The Wild One (Gareth)
Harmon, Danelle The Wicked One (Lucien)
Heath, Lorraine A Duke of Her Own (“Hawk”, Duke of Hawkhurst/Louisa)
Heath, Lorraine As an Earl Desires (Archie/Camilla)
Heath, Lorraine In Bed with the Devil (Luke/Catherine)
Heath, Lorraine Between the Devil and Desire (Jack/Olivia)
Heath, Lorraine Surrender to the Devil (Sterling/Frannie)
Heath, Lorraine Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel (James/Eleanor)
Heath, Lorraine The Last Wicked Scoundrel novella (William and Winnie)
Heath, Lorraine Passions of a Wicked Earl (Westcliffe/Claire)
Heath, Lorraine Pleasures with a Notorious Gentleman (Stephen/Mercy)
Heath, Lorraine Waking Up with the Duke (Ainsley/Jayne)
Heath, Lorraine Deck the Halls with Love novella (Chetwyn/Meredith)
Heath, Lorraine She Tempts the Duke (Sebastian/Mary)
Heath, Lorraine Lord of Temptation (Tristan/Anne)
Heath, Lorraine Lord of Wicked Intentions (Rafe/Evelyn)
Heath, Lorraine When the Duke Was Wicked (Lovingdon/Grace)
Heath, Lorraine Once More, My Darling Rogue (Drake/Ophelia “Phee”)
Holt, Cheryl Sweet Surrender (Jackson/Grace)
Hoyt, Elizabeth The Raven Prince (Edward)
Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess novella (Isaac/Coral)
Hoyt, Elizabeth Scandalous Desires (Michael/Silence)
-I-
Ivory, Judith The Proposition (Mick/Winnie)
-J-
James, Eloise Winning the Wallflower novella (Cyrus/Lucy)
James, Eloise With This Kiss novella (Colin/Grace)
James, Julie Something About You (Jack/Cameron)
James, Julie About That Night (Kyle/Rylann)
James, Julie Love Irresistibly (Cade/Brooke)
Jefferson, Jessica Compromising Miss Tisdale (Duncan/Ambrosia[!])
Jeffries, Sabrina How to Woo a Reluctant Lady (Giles)
Jenkins, Beverly Indigo (Galen/Hester) CLASSIC
Jenkins, Beverly Always and Forever (Jackson/Grace)
Jenkins, Beverly Night Hawk (Ian/Maggie)
Jewel, Carolyn One Starlit Night novella (Crispin)
-K-
Kell, Amber Attracting Anthony (Silver/Anthony)
Kelly, Carla Miss Whittier Makes a List (Daniel/Hannah)
Kelly, Carla Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand  (Fletcher/Roxanna)
Kelly, Carla Reforming Lord Ragsdale (John/Emma)
Kelly, Carla The Lady’s Companion (David/Emma)
Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm (Christian/Maddy) CLASSIC
Klein, K-Lee Lazy Sundays (Devon/Scott)
Kleypas, Lisa Surrender – novella (Jason)
Kleypas, Lisa Stranger in My Arms (Hunter)
Kleypas, Lisa Suddenly You (Jack/Amanda)
Kleypas, Lisa Then Came You (Alex/Lily)
Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of You (Derek/Sarah) CLASSIC
Kleypas, Lisa Where’s My Hero novella (Jake/Lydia, but actually read for Derek)
Kleypas, Lisa Somewhere I’ll Find You (Damon, Lord Savage [!]/Julia)
Kleypas, Lisa Because You’re Mine (Logan/Madeline)
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin (Zachary/Holland Taylor [!]) FAVE
Kleypas, Lisa Someone to Watch Over Me (Grant/Victoria)
Kleypas, Lisa Lady Sophia’s Lover (Ross/Sophia)
Kleypas, Lisa Worth Any Price (Nick/Charlotte)
Kleypas, Lisa Again the Magic (McKenna/Aline plus the spectacular Gideon/Livia)
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night Wallflowers Book 1 (Simon/Annabelle) FAVE
Kleypas, Lisa It Happened One Autumn Wallflowers Book 2 (Marcus/Lillian)
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter   Wallflowers Book 3 (Sebastian/Evie) CLASSIC
Kleypas, Lisa Scandal in the Spring  Wallflowers Book 4 (Matthew/Daisy)
Kleypas, Lisa A Wallflower Christmas (Rafe/Hannah, but really Sebastian & Simon)
Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight Hathaways Book 1 (Cam/Amelia)
Kleypas, Lisa Seduce Me at Sunrise  Hathaways Book 2 (Kev/Win)
Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  Hathaways Book 3 (Harry/Poppy) – FAVETWO REVIEWS
Kleypas, Lisa Married by Morning Hathaways Book 4 (Leo/Catherine)
Kleypas, Lisa Love in the Afternoon Hathaways Book 5 (Christopher/Beatrix)
Kleypas, Lisa Smooth Talking Stranger (Jack/Ella)
Kleypas, Lisa Sugar Daddy (Gage/Liberty)
Kleypas, Lisa Blue-Eyed Devil (Hardy/Haven)
-L-
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Bastard (Bennett/Chloe)
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Bitch – novella (Bennett/Chloe)
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Stranger (Max/Sara)
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Bombshell - novella (Bennett/Chloe and Max/Sara)
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player (Will/Hanna)
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Beginning novella (Bennett/Chloe)
Laurens, Stephanie Temptation and Surrender (Jonas)
Laurens, Stephanie An Ideal Bride (Michael)
Lee, Jade Wedded in Scandal (Robert/Helaine)
Linden, Caroline One Night in London (Edward/Francesca)
Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath (Gerard/Kate)
Linden, Caroline The Way to a Duke’s Heart (Charlie/Tessa)
Linden, Caroline The Truth About Love short story (Damien/Miranda)
Linden, Caroline Love and Other Scandals (Tristan/Joan)
Linden, Caroline It Takes a Scandal (Sebastian/Abigail)
Lindsey, Johanna The Heir (Duncan)
London, Julia The Revenge of Lord Eberlin (Tobin/Lily)
Long, Julie Anne The Runaway Duke (Connor/Rebecca)
Long, Julie Anne Beauty and the Spy (Kit/Susannah)
Long, Julie Anne Ways to Be Wicked (Tom/Sylvie)
Long, Julie Anne The Secret to Seduction (Rhys/Sabrina)
Long, Julie Anne To Love a Thief (Gideon/Lily)
Long, Julie Anne The Perils of Pleasure (Colin/Madeline)
Long, Julie Anne Like No Other Lover(Miles/Cynthia)
Long, Julie Anne Since the Surrender (Chase/Rosalind)
Long, Julie Anne I Kissed an Earl (Asher/Violet)
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke (Alex/Genevieve) CLASSIC
Long, Julie Anne How the Marquess Was Won (Julian/Phoebe)
Long, Julie Anne A Notorious Countess Confesses  (Adam/Evie, I know)
Long, Julie Anne It Happened One Midnight (Jonathon/”Tommy” Thomasina)
Long, Julie Anne Between the Devil and Ian Eversea (Ian/Tansy)
-M-
MacLean, Julianne Married by Midnight novella (Garrett/Anne)
MacLean, Sarah Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Gabriel/Calpurnia)
MacLean, Sarah Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart (Simon/Isabella)
MacLean, Sarah A Rogue by Any Other Name (Michael, Bourne/Penelope)
MacLean, Sarah One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Cross/Pippa)
MacLean, Sarah No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (Temple/Mara)
MacLean, Sarah Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (Duncan/Georgiana)
McNaught, Judith Almost Heaven (Ian/Elizabeth) OLD SCHOOL
McNaught, Judith Once and Always (Jason/Victoria)
Michaels, Jess An Introduction to Pleasure: Mistress Matchmaker (Andrew/Lysandra!)
Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift (William/Lavinia)
Milan, Courtney Proof by Seduction (Gareth/Jenny)
Milan, Courtney Trial By Desire (Ned)
Milan, Courtney The Lady Always Wins novella (Simon/Virginia)
Milan, Courtney Unveiled (Ash/Margaret)
Milan, Courtney Unclaimed (Mark/Jessica)
Milan, Courtney Unraveled (Smite/Miranda) FAVE
Milan, Courtney Unlocked novella (Evan/Elaine)
Milan, Courtney What Happened at Midnight novella (John/Mary)
Milan, Courtney The Governess Affair novella (Hugo/Serena)
Milan, Courtney The Duchess War (Robert/Minerva)
Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter novella (Jonas/Lydia) CLASSIC
Milan, Courtney The Heiress Effect  (Oliver/Jane, bonus Anjan/Emily)
Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy (Sebastian/Violet)
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal (Edward/Free) CLASSIC, IF YOU READ ONLY ONE…
Milan, Courtney Talk Sweetly to Me (Stephen/Rose)
-N-
Noble, Kate If I Fall (Jackson/Sarah)
Nolan, Amelia Passion and Pride (Evan/Marian)
-P-
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth It Had to Be You (Dan/Phoebe)
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Nobody’s Baby but Mine (Cal/Jane) 2ND WORST HEROINE OF 2014
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth This Heart of Mine (Kevin/Molly) WORST HEROINE OF 2014
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Match Me If You Can (Heath/Annabelle)
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Natural Born Charmer (Dean/Blue)
Pryce, Evelyn A Man Above Reproach (Elias/Josephine)
Putney, Mary Jo The Rake (Reggie)
-Q-
Quinn, Julia How to Marry a Marquis (James/Elizabeth)
Quinn, Julia Everything and the Moon (Robert/Victoria)
Quinn, Julia Brighter Than the Sun (Charles/Ellie)
Quinn, Julia The Duke and I  Bridgerton Book 1 (Simon/Daphne)
Quinn, Julia The Viscount Who Loved  Bridgerton Book 2 (Anthony/Kate)
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman Bridgerton Book 3 (Benedict/Sophy)
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton Bridgerton Book 4 (Colin/Penelope)
Quinn, Julia To Sir Phillip, With Love Bridgerton Book 5 (Phillip/Eloise)
Quinn, Julia When He Was Wicked Bridgerton Book 6 (Michael/Francesca)
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss Bridgerton Book 7 (Gareth/Hyacinth)
Quinn, Julia On the Way to the Wedding Bridgerton Book 8 (Gregory/Lucy)
Quinn, Julia The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (Everyone, even Violet)
Quinn, Julia What Happens In London Bevelstoke Book 2 (Harry/Olivia)
Quinn, Julia Ten Things I Love About You  Bevelstoke Book 3 (Sebastian/Annabel)
Quinn, Julia Just Like Heaven Smythe-Smith Book 1 (Marcus/Honoria)
Quinn, Julia A Night Like This Smythe-Smith Book 2 (Daniel/Anne)
Quinn, Julia The Sum of All Kisses Smythe-Smith Book 3 (Hugh/Sarah)
-R-
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human (Quinn/Janie)
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Marries Human (Quinn/Janie)
Reid, Penny Love Hacked (Ales/Sandra)
Rodale, Maya The Wicked Wallflower  (Blake/Emma)
Romain, Theresa Season for Temptation (James/Julia)
Romain, Theresa Season for Surrender (Alex/Louisa)
Romain, Theresa Season for Scandal (Jane/Edmund)
Romain, Theresa Season for Desire (Giles/Audrina)
Rose, Ranae Whisky Dreams novella (Brom/John)
Rothwell, Kate Seducing Miss Dunaway novella (Fell, Lord Fellington/Mary)
-S-
Russell, Jess The Dressmaker’s Duke (Rhys/Olivia)
Schone, Robin The Lady’s Tutor (Ramiel, The Bastard Sheikh/Elizabeth)
Spencer, LaVyrle Vows (Tom/Emily)
-T-
Thomas, Sherry The Luckiest Lady in London (Felix/Louisa)
-W-
Willig, Lauren The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Richard/Amy)
Willig, Lauren The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (Vaughn/Mary)
Woodiwiss, Kathleen A Rose in Winter
Wylde, Anya Penelope (Charles/Penelope) *Most Inept of 2013*
Who Cares The Wallflower *Also Worst of 2012*

The (Shameful) Tally 2014

This is the yearly reading list I maintain.

Recommended books are in bold, but here is a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list:
So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance, this is an
ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ROMANCES BY AUTHOR, and these are
Things That Occur to Me While Reading Historical Romance Novels.

The Autobuy List
Tessa Dare
Lisa Kleypas (except Crystal Cove)
Julie Anne Long
Sarah MacLean
Courtney MilanThe. Very. Best.

The Auto-Library/Cheap on Kindle List
Jennifer Ashley –  I love/hate her. I don’t recommend her.
Mary Balogh – predictable, but safe, well-written
Loretta Chase –  reliable, sometimes great
Meredith Duran – great character studies
Suzanne Enoch – B+ list
Elizabeth Essex – potential
Laura Florand – steamy and romantic contemporaries
Juliana Gray – B+ list, really strong, almost an autobuy
Cecilia Grant – interesting, massive potential
Lorraine Heath – B- list, so if there’s absolutely nothing else, maybe
Carla Kelly – sweet Regency romances, large back catalogue, newer work has Mormon themes
Caroline Linden – off to a good start, great potential
Julia Quinn – An excellent place to launch your reading. Start with The Bridgertons

Malin has excellent reviews on her site, and a broader range of books.

Name Tally August 31, 2014: Simon (8); Michael (7); Sebastian (7); William (7); Robert, Alec/Alex (5); Colin, Jack, Harry, James(4); Benedict, Charles, Edward, Gabriel, Gareth, Jackson, Julian, Lucien, Marcus, Tristan (3); and only one David.

My Favourite Characters

Other Authors and My Reading List for 2014 Are After the Jump

Continue reading

Knitting in the City: Neanderthal Seeks Human, Neanderthal Marries Human & Love Hacked by Penny Reid

Don’t worry, despite the title it’s not one of these:

saur

Now, you can’t unsee it either.

The Knitting in the City contemporary romance series is extremely highly-rated on Amazon and I both do and do not understand why. I don’t know what juju is in these books, but I keep re-reading the ones I have, particularly Neanderthal Seeks Human and Neanderthal Marries Human which both focus on the same couple. Re-readability is a kind of litmus test for me with this genre. I interact with the novels differently than I do other books. If one grabs me, I will reread my favourite sections and revisit the book again and again. If I really like it, such as A Kiss for Midwinter, I will read it again from cover (Note: I did this yesterday.) and not just the good bits. That does not mean what you think it means.

The heroine of Neanderthal Seeks Human and Neanderthal Marries Human, Janie, is both wonderfully quirky and highly capable. A buxom goddess, her sense of self is in contradiction to how other people perceive her. A first person narrator, she misinterprets or is oblivious to a lot of what goes on around her, experiencing the romantic self-doubt even the most together people feel. Janie is very likeable and that goes a long way. She might misunderstand, but she is smart and kind. I would have like to hear the hero’s perspective as well and the second book, Neanderthal Marries Human, incorporates it with good results.

Quinn Sullivan (Holy romance novel name, Batman!), owns a large security firm. He’s self-made and has a dubious past. Taciturn and stoic, he has many qualities that would be really annoying in real life, but are perfectly groovy in a hero. I enjoy these large, quiet protector types, even though such a creature would drive me crazy almost instantly were he real. Quinn communicates almost exclusively with his eyes, slight changes in the way he holds his mouth, and with his hands. He can’t keep them off of Janie. I cannot resist a besotted hero.

While the Neanderthal love story was sweet, the secondary plot was more octoplary in nature and a little cray-cray: Major events being dropped in and then glossed over, tons of family baggage, and things taking a turn for Too Much.

Like the Neanderthal books, Love Hacked suffered from cloak-and-dagger-and-not-really-unwilling-suspension-of-disbelief sub-plotting and benefited from a sweet relationship. The hero, Alex, was different from almost any I’ve read. Filling a usual heroine’s role, the Victim of Circumstance, he has a very difficult past, a not much less complicated present, and a heroine, Sandra (Holy not a romance novel name, Batman!), who not so much rescues him, but accepts him as he is. He is also the youngest hero I’ve ever read. He has crammed a lot into his young life and this makes the match believable.

Was that coherent? Do I care? Did I stutter? I have been working long days for the past 10 weeks (poor me) and these three Knitting in the City books have become vodka tonics to my long day. To be perfectly honest, with some romances, – not these – this has meant skipping from the set up to when the couple first gets together. Plain escapism isn’t enough, I require full immersion and recurring familiar escapism, so I re-read. Apparently, my work brain needs to be subsumed immediately and can’t be bothered with all that lovingly crafted exposition. Revisiting books that are already familiar or have recently become so [cough]theseones[cough] fills the bill.

Question: Sandra is 28 and a practicing psychiatrist. Doesn’t that take about 12 years? Would she be done with her undergrad/medical school/residency already?

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes reading suggestions and author commentary.

 

The Season Series by Theresa Romain: Season for Temptation, Season for Surrender, and Season for Scandal Season for Desire

Confession: I blasted through all four books in the Season Series some weeks ago and while they left an impression, they did not leave a great deal of detail. No disrespect to Theresa Romain intended, I would recommend them as pleasant escapism, but everyday life has been quite busy of late and reading these books was taking a hit of reality evasion followed by a black out.

Season for Temptation (James/Julia)

James has come to spend Christmas with his fiancee’s family. Neither he, nor Louisa, are exactly on fire for each other, but they find one another pleasant and could do worse. Fortunately and unfortunately, Louisa has a younger sister, Julia, who takes one look at James, and he her, and finds a true match.

Season for Surrender (Alex/Louisa)

Louisa is not sorry that her engagement fell through, but she is tired of the conciliatory looks and remarks. She is persuaded to attend Alexander, Lord Xavier’s scandalous holiday house party. She wants the opportunity for a bit of adventure before descending into spinsterhood. Bonding over a mutual love of books and libraries Louisa and Xavier make their way towards a partnership. She needs to overcome her shyness, he needs to overcome some bad habits.

Wonderful Period Detail: When he invites Louisa to call him by his first name, Alex realises that at no point in his life has anyone ever really done so.

Season for Scandal (Jane/Edmund)

Alex, Lord Xavier has a handful of a cousin, Jane, who has a habit of gambling to make ends meet. When a game goes awry and crippling financial obligations result, she is extricated by Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick. They make a marriage of convenience which goes well, goes very wrong, and comes right in the end.

Season for Desire (Giles/Audrina)

The hero is an American. GADZOOKS! Giles and his father are in England on the trail of a family treasure. A chance meeting with Lady Audrina Bradleigh and a meteorological occurrence lead to a partnership in the search. Not surprisingly, this leads to another partnership as well.

The Season Series was notable for its excellent juxtaposition of historical detail, well counter-balanced expressions of physical affection, and interesting characters. Often these books have either history or romance on their side, so it was nice to read novels with both. The second book, Season for Surrender, was my favourite, but I would recommend all of them. They have a fine sense of fun and successfully become serious when they needed to; the people felt real and the historical elements realistic, and that is not as common as one might think in the genre. As long as the emotional lives of the characters ring true, historical waffling can be overlooked to some extent, but it is still a pleasure when the two are successfully dovetailed.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes reading suggestions and author commentary.

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter

Historical or otherwise, there are two character types each for men and women in romance novels and seven plots. The reader knows the heroine always wins the right to determine her own fate and seek her own happiness. What varies is the quality and inventiveness of the writing. Ridiculous by D.L. Carter is a keeper. By turns funny and charming, it delivers a wonderful piece of escapist entertainment. Use this Amazon link to buy the novel.

Now some words to describe this book and Carter’s writing:

Witty, clever, fun, light, pleasantly salacious.

Now some sentences to describe the plot:

Her skinflint cousin dead and facing greater penury than even her current circumstances of abuse and menial informal servitude provide, Millicent exploits her physical resemblance to her recently deceased relation to take his place. Mr. North’s body goes into a coffin, Millicent is mourned, and her mother and sisters have a chance at an easier life after narrowly avoiding the workhouse.

Tall and lithe enough to pass as a man in ill-fitting clothes, Millicent moves her family to Bath. When Millicent decides to visit her/Mr. North’s property in Wales, she runs across an overturned carriage holding our hero, Timothy Shoffer, Duke and latent Greek God, plus his sister and chaperone. A companionable relationship is formed, Millicent falls in love as does the Duke, secrets are revealed, happilies are ever aftered.

Now a summary paragraph in closing:

There was nothing new to see in Ridiculous just a very well turned and highly enjoyable Regency romance. Fresh writing goes a long way in these books and is always a delight to discover. I especially enjoyed Millicent’s acknowledgement that she had painted herself into a corner with her hastily cobbled together plan and the way she revels in her freedom when masquerading as a man. D.L. Carter has just one other book in the genre, Crimes of the Brothers, which I have purchased and will read next.

Lastly, my review boilerplate:

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes reading suggestions and author commentary.

 

Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath

Short Version: NO!

Medium Version: My romance spirit guide, Malin, gave me this book and guessed it based on the blurb.

It’s a Victorian romance this -

overboard

 plus a Victorian romance that -

taming

 resulting in a Victorian romance reading experience of:

stabby

Long Version:

While continuing to be an author I try to avoid actually paying for Lorraine Heath is solidly B-Minus List writer with some decent books under her belt. She can be dated in her plotting and characters and Once More, My Darling Rogue is no exception.

Lady Ophelia (God is kind, so she is called Phee by her friends) is an uptight snob, a Mean Girl. Gaming Hell owner Drake is a member of her social set, the adopted urchin son of a family friend. Drake’s sister and Phee’s best friend was the heroine of the first book in this series, When the Duke Was Wicked. It was not really a success either, but it did not inculcate violent urges. Phee has had snobbery engrained in her from an early age, which is admittedly historically accurate, and she is particularly awful to Drake. She treats him like a servant. He puts up with it, but it is wearing thin. They each wear masks to protect themselves and hide their true blah blah blah. You can see where this is going. The movie posters gave it away.

Phee has an accident and loses her memory. Drake conveniently finds and takes her in to his opportunely newly purchased, and thus undecorated and under-minioned home. Telling her she is his housekeeper/cook/maid of all work, he lets this illusion go on for more than .1473 seconds and it crosses the line into unforgivable. I remember thinking things like, “If these two embark on a physical relationship before she regains her memory I’m going to go postal!” They did and I didn’t, but I finished the book out of spite. There was some vague rationale about her unhappy past and the healing that comes with forgetfulness, but to hell with that. All I know is that her character flaws were rooted in trauma and SOMEHOW that fact that the character development that came with new trauma Drake inflicted was liberating for her is supposed to make it okay. It does not.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes reading suggestions and author commentary.

Also by Lorraine Heath, But for Romance Novel Withdrawal Emergencies Only:

Continue reading

Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley

Scandal and the Duchess is a fabulous romance novel title. Five stars for that. All gold.

I continue to lovehate Jennifer Ashley, but the fact that I have read everything in her Mackenzie series would seem to indicate that she is my guilty pleasure. Despite frequently overwrought plotting, but with sincere emotional connections and excellent smolder, I just keep reading her books, and in a couple of cases re-reading them. Maybe I enjoy her brand of tortured heroes more than I like to admit. Scandal and the Duchess is restrained from that perspective and a mostly gentle romp with a moustache twirling villain thrown in.

Rose, Dowager Duchess of Southdown, is the zaftig and scandalous second wife of the erstwhile Duke. The new His Grace has successfully blocked any knowledge of his father’s will and Rose has been left dependent on her former coachman’s hospitality. As her husband, whom she genuinely cared for, died early in their marriage, she has become a figure of public speculation. Obviously, she is a Victorian sex bomb whose appetites overwhelmed the old guy, though he did die happy. One night, while out and about being pursued by scandal mongers, she is literally run into by Captain Steven Sinclair. Three sheets to the wind, he still knows a good thing when he lands on it. Rose misunderstands his situation and offers a place to crash and in the morning, sober and deliciously disheveled, he suggests a false engagement to get the reporters off her back.

Steven and Rose embark on an “engagement” that, it is a romance novella after all, quickly becomes a genuine love match. It seems Rose’s husband liked puzzles and left her an inheritance if only she and Steven can figure out where and what it is. It’s an efficient McGuffin that does the job nicely. They gad about looking for clues and being sexually attracted to each other. Steven is a Mackenzie in-law, so characters from previous books in the series pop up, in particular the ones from her most popular novels. They have a cursory participation based mostly on being in the same room as the hero and heroine.

Scandal and the Duchess was light and pleasant-ish. There was less drang and virtually no sturm which is quite a change for Ashley. The novella felt perfunctory and yet I’ll still read the next one. Ashley has a formula that works well (read: profitably) for her and is an incredibly prolific author. She currently produces at least three different series under two different pseudonyms. The Mackenzie series alone has seven novels and three novellas published since 2009, with one more of each planned into 2015. She keeps pumping them out and I keep reading them, thus drowning out my clearly disingenuous protestations of ambivalence towards her work. It’s the sincere, emotional and romantic moments. I live in hope for them every time.

Also by Jennifer Ashley:
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie – No, but sometimes yes, when I feel like it. He loves her so.
Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage – Occasionally.
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron – Guilty pleasure. I just really like it, okay?
The Duke’s Perfect Wife – No.
A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift – Visits with the ones I like and the ones I don’t.
The Seduction of Elliott McBride – No.
The Untamed Mackenzie  – novella – NO. Don’t.
The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie - No, but almost yes, so maybe, plus Lord Cameron.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes suggestions and author commentary.

How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke

The second book in Laura Lee Guhrke’s “An American Heiress in London” historical romance series, How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, focuses on a marriage of convenience under renovation. It was rather sweet in its way, but Guhrke continues to be a library loan author for me. I will likely read the rest of the series, but I will not purchase the books.

Disgraced and shamed by an involuntary sexual encounter, such is the way of things, Edie has wealth beyond the dreams of avarice and a desperate need not to return to New York where her entirely unfair humiliation will continue hourly and for the rest of her life. Spotting the eligible, handsome, and, this is the helpful bit, impecunious Stuart, Duke of Something, she quickly makes and acts on a plan. Gossip reports that Stuart wants to go on an extended expedition to Africa, so Edie offers him the deal of a lifetime within five minutes of first setting eyes on him: They will marry, she will be the duchess to his in absentia duke, and his financial woes will disappear, but he must never return. Stuart had rather liked the look of Edie before the bargain was presented, but/and he leaps at her offer. They will marry and live together for six weeks before he “abandons” her and his life in England. You think they are going to fall in love and he never leaves, right? Wrong. He bolts after four weeks.

Five years later…

Having almost died from wounds sustained in a lion attack –  which you must admit is so much more manly than nearly succumbing to a parasitic infection – Stuart has reassessed his life and decided return to  England’s green and pleasant land. He wants a quiet life with his wife and, hopefully, children. Edie is horrified by his return. She loves the niche she has carved for herself. She has friends, respect, and has taken excellent care of the duchy. She neither needs, nor wants, a husband, but she cannot get a divorce without grounds and needs Stuart to agree to a legal separation as an alternative. Edie and Stuart embark on a wager. If Edie chooses to kiss him within 10 days, they will continue their marriage. If she does not, he signs the legal separation contract. You think they are going to fall in love and he never leaves, right? Correct. Stuart is a sweet and funny man eager to see if that spark he felt for Edie during their contractually agreed upon romance is still there. She is a kind and sincere person who has learned to live with her wounds, if not heal them. The restlessness that made Stuart leave is apparently resolved and he will not pine for his days of adventure. I didn’t buy that for a second, but he and Edie agree to find their way together which is, after all, what one looks for in a romance novel.

The American Heiress in London series:

When the Marquess Met His Match – pleasant and serviceable
How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days – please see above
Catch a Falling Heiress – January 2015

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes suggestions and author commentary.

When the Duke Was Wicked by Lorraine Heath

Review Gesture Using My Romance Novel Fill-in-the-Blank Template:

When the Duke Was Wicked is a romance of the “you are everything I never knew I always wanted” variety: Boy meets girl. Girl has always loved Boy. Boy has experienced great loss and vowed never to love again. Girl pretends to seek Boy’s advice in finding a genuine suitor. But can he bear to see her with another man? Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

A historical romance set in 19th century London, When the Duke Was Wicked is my fifteenth book by this author, though I have only paid for three or four of them. I generally find her work a good time filler, although she is always on my B List. Lord of Wicked Intentions is her best work so far. I found When the Duke Was Wicked meh.  I will continue to seek out Heath’s other novels because this one was nothing special, but sometimes I just want something to read. I would not recommend this particular effort.

The main plot of When the Duke Was Wicked focuses on the healing of a tortured hero. Lord Lovingdon, a duke, is a rake. He is disenchanted, louche, and in denial about his feelings for Grace. The heroine, Lady Grace Mabry, is a victim of circumstance. She is intent on seeking a suitor who genuinely loves her and does not seek her dowry; moreover she has a secret she needs to be able to trust her spouse withLovingdon and Grace are instantly attracted to each other. Over time, they come to discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.

When the Duke Was Wicked was a perfectly fine, middling romance. It’s the first book in the new Scandalous Men of St. James series that follows the children of the Scoundrel’s of St. James novels’ main characters. There are some historical waffling that goes beyond what is usual even in these books, but that could just be my Accuracy Police Syndrome talking. If you would like to read a great romance, and a personal favourite, about taking a chance on love after the death of a spouse, I recommend Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes suggestions and author commentary.

Also by Lorraine Heath:

Continue reading

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