The Complete Reading List by Author

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

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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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-
Rodale, Maya The Wicked Wallflower  (Blake/Emma)
Rose, Ranae Whisky Dreams novella (Brom/John)
Rothwell, Kate Seducing Miss Dunaway novella (Fell, Lord Fellington/Mary)
-S-
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

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:

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The Three Sisters Trilogy: Beauty and the Spy, Ways to Be Wicked, & The Secret to Seduction by Julie Anne Long

Before I begin: Thank you, Malin, for the loan of these books. My Julie Anne Long collection was not going to complete itself.

These three historical romances are an early trilogy from one of the genre’s best writers. Good, but not great, one can feel Julie Anne Long picking up speed and confidence as one moves through the novels. The heroines of each of the three books are the daughters of a Member of Parliament and his beloved mistress. Although never married, their parents had an exclusive, long-term relationship until their father was murdered, their mother was accused of the crime and fled into exile, and a loving family friend took it upon himself to see to the welfare of the three little girls. It was the worst Tuesday ever. The sisters’ efforts to reunite and to bring their father’s murderer to justice is the through line of the trilogy.

Beauty and the Spy (Kit/Susannah)

Susannah is feeling a skooch squelched in her perfect life. Everything is fine, but she’s not really able to completely be herself. Don’t worry, complications are about to enter her life like whatever the Regency version of a Mack truck is. Her father dies, she is left penniless, subsequently fiance-less, and she has to move to a remote village to begin a life of genteel poverty. Fortunately, Kit is there conducting a wildlife survey on his estate.  It’s a McGuffin within a McGuffin as Kit’s convenient presence is at the behest of his tired and protective father. Sparks fly, romance ensues, family secrets are discovered and create a through line for the next two books…

Ways to Be Wicked (Tom/Sylvie)

Ways to Be Wicked offered a pleasantly different take on the Regency era. Everyone actually works for a living – QUELLE HORREUR! – and no one looks askance at taking what opportunities for increased financial security may come.

Sylvie has just learned that she has a sister in England (Hint: It’s Susannah.) and runs away from her life as a Parisian ballet dancer/aristocrat’s mistress to find her family. She ends up working in an, um, gentleman’s theatre as one of a collection of young women whose job it is to wear diaphanous clothing, twirl, and exclaim “Whee!”. She’s not to happy about it, but the man who hired her, Tom, is meshuggah good-looking and fascinated by her. Sparks fly, romance ensues, family secrets are discovered and create a through line for the next book…

The Secret to Seduction (Rhys/Sabrina)

I don’t find the remnants of feudalism all that appealing, but they are very important to Rhys who is an aristocrat of some sort. An earl, I think. I can’t remember this book well. Sabrina is a vicar’s daughter and joins her friend as a house guest (It’s coming back to me.) at Rhys’s recently restored estate. She falls ill and has to stay behind, Rhys is a jerk who decides to  compromise her as some sort of egotistical entertainment – Rhys does not start well, readers – they get caught in a MAJOR clinch, and end up in a marriage of convenience.  (I remembered!) Rhys and Sabrina live separate lives for a bit, he shows up of an evening for procreative purposes, they find their way into a good marriage, then Rhys’s deep dark secret comes out and everything goes KABLOOEY! before being put back to rights. Note: The KABLOOEY! inducing plot twist is pretty darn good.

The Secret to Seduction wraps up the Three Sisters trilogy with a neat bow thus freeing Julie Anne Long to move on to her current Pennyroyal Green series. I have read all of her output and will now spend my time eagerly awaiting her next book. Unfortunately for the readers, but pleasantly for the author, Long’s publishing schedule is about one novel a year. She is a clever and fun writer with a deep and joyful love of sarcasm who pens entertaining and charming novels. Long’s most compelling work so far is What I Did for a Duke. In it, she pulls off a huge age difference and creates a fantastic hero. The heroine is pretty terrific, too, but he is magnificent. All of Long’s books have themes of vulnerability and the necessity of laying oneself bare in order to take a chance on creating genuine happiness for oneself. It’s a lovely thought and she does it so well.  I like to keep her handy on my autobuy list.

Recommendations from the Pennyroyal Green Series
Like No Other Lover
What I Did for a DukeCLASSIC
A Notorious Countess Confesses – very good
It Happened One Midnight

And I also recommend:
To Love a Thief

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.

Sisters in Love by Melissa Foster

Sisters in Love is a facile and trite contemporary romance laden with clichés and complex problems simplistically resolved. A large part of my reaction was, “Maybe I could write a whole book. Melissa Foster did. It’s not like I have to write a good book. Melissa Foster didn’t.” It’s very freeing when one thinks of it that way. The rest of my reaction was to be grateful Sisters in Love was free and to be very pleased when I finished reading it – which I did strictly for review honestly purposes and I want points for that.

The hero and heroine of Sisters in Love meet painful when he accidentally elbows her in the nose when they are in line at a coffee shop. While tending to her, she notices he is incredibly physically attractive and that he is also checking out another woman whilst helping staunch the flow of blood. The heroine is appalled, but nonetheless can’t get him out of her head. The hero can’t get either. There is nothing like a woman asking “Are you done?” while she bleeds and you are checking out someone’s chest to make a man think about his life.

Adonis-adjacent Blake is very messed up. Not messed up in a romance novel way where he just needs a good woman, no matter what Melissa Foster thinks. He’s the kind of person who has almost no close relationships and uses his looks to bang every woman he can. He is detached. He identifies himself as sleazy. He’s “that guy”. He needs therapy and likely some kind of 12 Step Program. Conveniently, the heroine, Danica, is a therapist and soon takes the new acquaintance she desperately wants to sleep with as a patient, but I’d like to put a pin that egregious violation of client/therapist ethics to tell you about this: In one of the early chapters, there is a full description of an anonymous encounter in Blake’s own store restroom. Not even his office. The restroom. It’s far more detailed than the consummation scene with Danica. That was an interesting choice on the author’s part. It’s perfectly emblematic of how messed up both Blake and the book are. An anonymous woman says, “Jawanna?” and he’s all “Sure,”  and ignoring the fact that the porcelain must be really cold on the “cougar’s” behind. Afterward, Blake doesn’t like what he sees in the restroom mirror and wants to stop being “that guy” which is nice. Then, he does stop with ease and minor guidance which is ridiculous.

Danica, she of the elbowed nose, is a psychologist deeply invested in her career. The reader knows this because she doesn’t get out enough and she needs a makeover. Anyway, even though she is (unfathomably) sexually attracted to the deeply messed up Blake and is introduced to him socially, she takes him on as a patient. I’m not a doctor, but I play one in book reviews, and I cannot for one second believe that this is anything less than unethical. She stops being his doctor EVENTUALLY, right before they cross the line into a physical relationship, but it’s so twisted: He’s an emotionally vacant sex addict and she’s his doctor. He starts therapy, she gives him guidance, he resists a one-night-stand with her sister and suddenly the plot is on a steam locomotive to Love Town and he is almost all better. No. NO! Their entire attraction is physical and the reader is, I suppose, obliged to fill in the blanks on their doctor/patient ethics defying emotional connection. Ugh.

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.

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton is a fluffy, reasonably entertaining, and quick contemporary romance. It is the first book in her Cocktail series about twenty-something professionals building careers and finding life partners. The book had very little conflict and read like a romantic sitcom: she is an interior designer and he is a nature photographer; they each have two friends that are perfect for their counterpart’s two friends; they have no money concerns despite living in notoriously expensive San Francisco.

Caroline has a noisy neighbour. The night she moves into her faboo sublet, she is awakened by the headboard next door banging into the wall behind her. It happens the next night and the night after that. The sounds of female approbation on the other side of the wall change, the banging stays the same. To make matters worse, Caroline is in a romantic and auto-erotic slump. After the umpteeth night of tauntingly disrupted sleep, she storms over and complains directly to the Wall Banger himself. He is, of course, gorgeous and amused. She is annoyed and scantily clad. Things proceed in the anticipated fashion.

While reasonably funny, Wallbanger is the first in a trilogy of books that I will not bother exploring further, although, for what it’s worth, they are highly rated on Amazon. There is no real obstacle to the characters’ relationship. A goodly portion of the novel is devoted to delaying the relationship’s transformation from romantic partners to the consummation devoutly to be wished. I estimate that a solid 25% of the book is the putting off of sex and then the sex that follows the putting off. I didn’t buy it for a second. Neither the delay, nor the cataclysmic consummation. Further, Caroline refers to her body parts in the third person, such as Brain, Nerves, Heart, and “Little Caroline”. They have trouble coming to an accord. I am Mrs. Julien’s side-eye for this narrative decision.

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 a Duke Says I Do by Jane Goodger

Short version: “I need to finish this book so I can stop reading it.”

Long Version:

gunn yes

When a Duke Says I Do is a historical romance with a lot going on, some of it interesting, but that gets lost in the details. The best way to explain is to summarize the plot and that will involve SPOILERS:

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