The Complete Reading List by Author

Author Commentary & Tallies Shameful 2012 – 2015

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

I buy everything these writers publish. Click on their name to be taken to a summary of their catalogue: Tessa Dare (actually on double-secret probation right now, so not an autobuy, but still an autoread)Laura Florand; Lisa Kleypas; Julie Anne Long; Sarah MacLean; Courtney Milan (Milan is The. Very. Best.)

Recommended books are in bold and reviewed books are linked below, but here is a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list, So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance, Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started, and these are Things That Occur to Me While Reading Historical Romance Novels.

Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
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)

The list has gotten SO VERY LONG, please click on the jump.

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Author Commentary & Tallies Shameful


My Autobuy List (with Links That Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)

Tessa Dare (actually on double-secret probation right now, so not an autobuy, but still an autoread)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Sarah MacLean
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

2015 READING LISTS: Recommended books are in bold.

The (Shamefree) Tally 2015

  1. Gabaldon, Diana The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel  Illustrated by Hoang Nguyen

The (Shameful) Tally 2015

  1. Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
  2. Balogh, Mary The Proposal (Hugo/Gwen)
  3. Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting (Flavian/Agnes)
  4. Banner, Darryl Dog Tags (Brandon/Jesse)
  5. Bennett, Sawyer Alex: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Alex/Sutton)
  6. Berg, J.L When You’re Ready (Logan/Clare)
  7. Bettencourt, Rick Marketing Beef (Evan/Dillon) BEST TITLE EVER!
  8. Bliss, Chelle Throttle Me – Men of Inked Book 1 (“City” Joey/Suzy)
  9. Bowen, Sarina Coming In from the Cold (Dane/Willow)
  10. Bowen, Sarina The Year We Fell Down (Hartley/Corey)
  11. Bowen, Sarina The Year We Hid Away (Bridger/Scarlet)
  12. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date novella (Andy/Katie) CLASSIC
  13. Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year (Graham/Rikker)
  14. Bowen, Sarina The Shameless Hour (Rafe/Bella)
  15. Bowen, Sarina The Fifteenth Minute (DJ/Lianne)
  16. Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him (Wes/Jamie)
  17. Burrows, Grace Douglas, Lord of Heartache (Douglas/Guinevere)
  18. Bryce, Megan To Wed the Widow (George/Elinor)
  19. Caldwell, Christi Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride (Drake/Emmaline)
  20. Calhoun, Anne Liberating Lacey (Hunter/Lacey)
  21. Callihan, Kristen The Hook Up (Drew/Anna)
  22. Callihan, Kristen The Friend Zone (Gray/Ivy)
  23. Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan (Ethan/Fiona)
  24. Calmes, Mary A Piece of Cake novella (Jory/Sam)
  25. Dare, Tessa When a Scot Ties the Knot (Logan/Madeline)
  26. Darcy, Norma The Bluestocking and the Rake (Robert/Georgiana)
  27. Dev, Sonali A Bollywood Affair (Samir/Mili)
  28. Dune, Lyla Low Tide Bikini (Brock/Sam)
  29. Duran, Meredith Lady Be Good (Christian/Lilah)
  30. Duran, Meredith Luck Be a Lady (Nick/Catherine)
  31. Falkner, Tammy Tall, Tatted, and Tempting (Logan/Kit)
  32. Falkner, Tammy Smart, Sexy, and Secretive (Logan/Emily)
  33. Florand, Laure A Rose in Winter novella (Raoul/Allegra)
  34. Florand, Laura Once Upon a Rose (Matthieu/Layla)
  35. Florand, Laura A Wish Upon Jasmine (Damien/Jasmin)
  36. Florand, Laura All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate novella (Simon/Ellie)
  37. Florand, Laura All for You (Joss/Celie) read The Chocolate Touch first
  38. Ford, Rhys Sinner’s Gin (Kane/Miki)
  39. Frank, Ella Try (Logan/Tate)
  40. Frank, Ella Trust (Logan/Tate)
  41. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong  novella (Andrew/Lucy)
  42. Guhrke, Laura Lee And Then He Kissed Her (Harry/Emma)
  43. Guhrke, Laura Lee Catch a Falling Heiress (Jack/Linnet)
  44. Hart, Riley Collide (Cooper/Noah)
  45. Hawkins, J.D. Insatiable 1 and 2 (Jax/Lizzie)
  46. Heath, Lorraine Falling Into Bed with a Duke (Ashe/Minerva)
  47. James, Eloisa Desperate Duchesses (Damon/Roberta)
  48. James, Eloisa An Affair Before Christmas (Fletcher/Poppy)
  49. James, Eloisa Duchess by Night (Jem/Harriet)
  50. James, Eloisa This Duchess of Mine (Elijah/Jemma)
  51. James, Eloisa A Duke of Her Own ( Leopold/Eleanor)
  52. James, Eloisa The Duke Is Mine (Quin/Olivia)
  53. James, Eloisa The Ugly Duchess (James/Theo)
  54. James, Eloisa Three Weeks with Lady X (Thorn/India)
  55. James, Margaret The Silver Locket (Alex/Rose)
  56. Jaymes, River Brad’s Bachelor Party (Brad/Cole)
  57. Jaymes, River The Backup Boyfriend (Alec/Dylan)
  58. Jaymes, River The Boyfriend Mandate (Memphis/Tyler)
  59. Johnson, Julie Not You, It’s Me (Chase/Gemma)
  60. Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant (Anthony/Libby)
  61. Kelly, Carla One Good Turn (Nez/Liria)
  62. Kennedy, Elle One Night of Sin (Gage/Skylar)
  63. Kennedy, Elle One Night of Scandal (Reed/Darcy)
  64. Kennedy, Elle The Deal (Garrett/Hannah)
  65. Kennedy, Elle The Mistake (Logan/Grace)
  66. Kelly, Carla With the Ring (Sam/Lydia)
  67. Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain (Oliver/Nana)
  68. Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady (Philemon/Laura)
  69. Kelly, Carla Marrying the Royal Marine (Hugh/Polly)
  70. Kelly, Carla The Admiral’s Penniless Bride (Charles/Sophia)
  71. Kelly, Carla The Wedding Journey (Jesse/Nell)
  72. Kennedy, Sean Tigers and Devils (Simon/Declan)
  73. Kleypas, Lisa Cold-Hearted Rake (Devon/Kathleen)
  74. Lauren, Christina Beautiful Beloved novella (Max/Sara)
  75. Lauren, Christina Beautiful Secret (Niall/Ruby)
  76. Lauren, Christina Sweet Filthy Boy (Ansel/Mia)
  77. Lauren, Christina Dirty Rowdy Thing (Finn/Harlow)
  78. Lauren, Christina Dark Wild Night (Oliver/Lola)
  79. Lerner, Rose Sweet Disorder (Nick/Phoebe)
  80. Linden, Caroline When I Met My Duchess novella (Gareth/Cleo)
  81. Linden, Caroline All’s Fair in Love and Scandal novella (Douglas/Madeline)
  82. Long, Andie M. The Alphabet Game (Gabe/Stella)
  83. Long, Julie Anne It Started with a Scandal (Phillipe/Elise)
  84. Long, Julie Anne The Legend of Lyon Redmond (Lyon/Olivia)
  85. Lund, S.E. The Agreement (Drake/Kate)
  86. Lyons, Kathy Two Week Seduction (John/Alea)
  87. Mabie, M. Bait (Casey/Blake)
  88. March, Meghan Beneath This Mask (Simon/Charlie)
  89. Merrow, J.L Muscling Through (Al/Larry)
  90. Montgomery, L.M. The Blue Castle (Valancy/Barney)
  91. Milan, Courtney Trade Me (Blake/Tina)
  92. Northcote, Jay First Class Package novella (Jim/Patrick)
  93. O’Reilly, Kathleen Sex, Straight Up (Daniel/Catherine)
  94. O’Reilly Kathleen Hot Under Pressure (David/Ashley)
  95. Quinn, Julia The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy Smythe-Smith Book 4 (Richard/Iris)
  96. Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Heroes Are My Weakness (Theo/Annie)
  97. Reid, Penny Friends Without Benefits (Nico/Elizabeth)
  98. Reid, Penny Beauty and the Mustache (Drew/Ashley)
  99. Reid, Penny Scenes from the City: A Knitting in the City Surprise
  100. Reid, Penny Truth or Beard (Duane/Jessica)
  101. Reid, Penny Elements of Chemistry (Martin/Kaitlyn)
  102. Reid, Penny & L.H. Cosway The Hooker and the Hermit (Ronan/Annie)
  103. Robert, Katee Wrong Bed, Right Guy (Gabe/Elle)
  104. Simonson, Sheilia Bar Sinister (Richard/Emily)
  105. Ward, JR Dark Lover (Wrath/Beth) – WORST OF THE YEAR
  106. York, Sara Pray the Gay Away (A Southern Thing Book 1) (Jack/Andrew)
  107. Young, Luke Friends with Partial Benefits (Brian/Jillian)

Reviews of Pre-2015 Reads:

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Rules for a Proper Governess (Sinclair/Roberta “Bertie”)
  2. Dare, Tessa How to Catch a Wild Viscount (Luke/Cecily)
  3. Dare, Tessa Say Yes to the Marquess (Rafe/Clio)
  4. Donati, Sara Into the Wilderness  (Nathaniel/Elizabeth)
  5. Florand, Laura Shadowed Heart (Luc/Summer)
  6. Kleypas, Lisa Again the Magic (McKenna/Aline)
  7. Linden, Caroline What Happens in London (Edward/Francesca)
  8. Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath (Gerard/Kate)
  9. Milan, Courtney Talk Sweetly to Me (Stephen/Rose)
  10. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Colin/Penelope)
  11. Quinn, Julia It’s in His Kiss (Gareth/Hyacinth)

Name Tally June 27, 2015: Simon (9); Alec/Alex (8); James (8); Michael (8); Sebastian (7); William (7); Robert (6); Daniel (5); Jack (5); Benedict, Charles, Colin, Duncan, Edward, Gareth, Harry, Ian, John (4); Andrew, Blake, Gabriel, Jackson, Julian, Lucien, Marcus, Phillip, Phin/Finn, Rhys, Richard, Stephen, Tristan (3); and only one David.

More Author Commentary… Continue reading

The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

The Game Plan is the third novel in the Game On series about football players and the women that climb them. I loved this new adult romance. I LOVED IT even after getting annoyed with the author, Kristen Callihan, about her The Pig Becomes a Person plot in The Friend Zone.  I loved it so much that it started as a loan from a good friend and I went ahead and bought myself a copy that I have since re-read.

Fiona Mackenzie’s father and sister are sports agents. She has grown up around professional athletes, most particularly football players, and she wants nothing to do with them. Avoidance is a challenge as her sister is married to one and run-ins are inevitable.  Visiting said sister, Ivy, brother-in-law, Gray, and her new nephew, Fi finds another house-guest keeping company with her family. A close friend of Gray’s, Ethan Dexter is large, stoic, sweet, bearded, tall, artistic, gentle, lumbersexual… I need a moment…




Good golly! Smokin’ hot hero alert!

…so Ethan is a close friend of the family and fellow football player with Fi’s brother-in-law. He adores Fi. He’s besotted and has been for a couple of years. (I never get tired of the “I have loved you from afar” trope.) He’s large, she’s tiny. He’s quiet, she’s “noise, noise, noise”. Taking a chance to get her attention, Ethan gains her interest, but their lives in different cities create obstacles, but that’s not the true challenge they face.Things go truly awry when a bounty is placed on Ethan’s virginity and Fi is caught in the resulting circus. This crisis allows The Game Plan to take on issues of sexual experience and consent in a way that will have you cheering in between bouts of fanning yourself over Ethan’s manifest hotness.

A truly enjoyable romance, The Game Plan is the best book by Callihan I have read so far and I expect I will read more; moreover, she should get a special award for how well she writes couple’s arguments. She’s very good with the smolder, too, but her fights are wonderfully realistic and intense.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

I will try to calm my excitement induced vibrating to write this review. I discovered Lisa Kleypas when I dove into the romance genre in 2012 and read everything of hers I could get my hands on – The Wallflowers, The Hathaways, The Travises, Derek, Gideon, and Zachary. She is the author whose work I have read the most of and I was SO EXCITED to learn she was returning to historicals. How excited? I’m writing this review and the book hasn’t even come out yet. Will it have the trademark smolder? How hot will the [insert funky bass line here] be? Will the hero be sardonic, self-made, and wry? Will he call the heroine “sweetheart” in that way of Kleypas men? Will we get to see any of our favourite characters? Probably. (Answers: some, insufficiently, yes, yes, no)

y648[1]As is the way of historical romance plots, Devon Ravenel has accidentally inherited an earldom. The last earl died in a horseback riding accident and now Devon and his brother, West, have come to look over the moldering pile of the family estate, the plentiful farmland hanging on despite the ongoing decline in the agrarian economy, and the women of the family, including the erstwhile earl’s beautiful widow, Kathleen. They had been married for only three days when he died. As the oldest member of the household, though not by much, she is acting as head of the family and arbiter of good conduct. Things proceed as well they should.

Cold-Hearted Rake lays a lot of the groundwork for the rest of the series, so much so that it was a challenge balancing that against the love story itself. I would have liked more romance in this romance novel. Devon falls hard and fast, Kathleen takes longer, but their interactions felt episodic as opposed to intrinsic to the story. The supporting characters are reasonably well fleshed out and I look forward to books for Devon’s brother West, their friend Rhys Winterbourne, and Tom Severin. Rhys in particular has been set up with a need for redemption, as there is a scene in which he acts sexually threatening towards the heroine, and he is up next. His conduct represented a couple of elements that I found dated, including West giving Kathleen “the gentlest shake” (a common Kleypas occurrence) and Devon behaving in a very high-handed fashion. I know it’s a historical romance, but certain elements were inconsistent with what I think of as the current state of the genre.

Lisa Kleypas is an autobuy author for me and, despite any disappointment I felt about the lack of couple time and, yes, insufficient sex and smolder, I will purchase the next book as I found the excerpt of Marrying Mr. Winterbourne tantalizing (his redemption is already in the works) and West’s should be a lot of fun as he was absolutely charming (if too easily rehabilitated).

I don’t often include quotes in reviews, but I wanted to share a couple of gems.

“No, he keeps the schedule of a cat. Long hours of slumber interrupted by brief periods of self-grooming.”

“You shouldn’t be in here,” Devon told him. He turned to the room in general. “Has anyone been corrupted or defiled?”

“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a tavern where I can pay an under-dressed woman to sit in my lap and look very pleased with me while I drink heavily.”

A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations (two classics and one of my personal favourites), can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran

Meredith Duran writes very strong, character driven romance, but Lady Be Good never quite grabbed me. It was as accomplished as readers have come to expect from Duran and involving at the time, but I didn’t really think about it once I was done. That said, I would really like to read the next novel in the Rules for the Reckless series, Luck Be a Lady, as it involves an up-from-the-the-gutter hero and a very proper heroine and those are almost always fun.

From Amazon: Born to a family of infamous criminals, Lilah Marshall has left behind her past and made herself into the perfect lady. Working as a hostess at Everleigh’s, London’s premier auction house, she leads a life full of art, culture, and virtue. All her dreams are within reach—until a gorgeous and enigmatic viscount catches her in the act of one last, very reluctant theft… Christian “Kit” Stratton, Viscount Palmer, is society’s most dashing war hero. But Kit’s easy smiles hide a dark secret: he is haunted by a madman’s vow to destroy anyone he loves. When his hunt for the enemy leads to Everleigh’s Auction Rooms, he compels Lilah to help him.

From Me: Hijinks ensue.

In addition to that whole “a crazy person wants to destroy Kit and all he holds dear” thing, Lady Be Good has some great fish-out-of-water elements and commentary on the place of women in the Victorian world. Hamstrung by convention, Lilah must steer herself very carefully in making her place, and her employer, Catherine, is fighting the same battles, but from within a different class. The romance worked well, too, but I found female characters more interesting and look forward to meeting them again. Not that Kit wasn’t charming and engaging, as was his interaction with Lilah, but he didn’t jump off the page the same way his heroine did.

Also by Meredith Duran:

Rules for Reckless Series (not entirely interconnected, more of a theme)
That Scandalous Summer – very good
Your Wicked Heart – delightful novella
Fool Me Twice – excellent
Lady Be Good – nothing special
Luck Be a Lady

Not Rules for the Reckless Series
Bound by Your Touch – excellent
Written on Your Skin – not my style, but very good

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke

Laura Lee Guhrke is usually a fallback author for me, with Lorraine Heath and Eloisa James, but All About Romance publishes an annual list of their readership’s top romances of all time and I had seen And Then He Kissed Her on it a few years ago, so this historical romance had been on my personal wish list for a while. Recently, it came up on Amazon for $1.99 and I snapped it up immediately. It did not disappoint.

Emmaline Dove (GREAT name) has been the personal secretary to handsome, divorced Harry the Earl for five years. Subsuming herself to her role, she is everything he needs her to be and he, of course,  takes her for granted. Having written and submitted five etiquette books to him, which he always refuses to publish, Emma’s final straw comes when she realises that Harry has never actually read any of her books before rejecting them. She quits. He panics. She gets a job writing etiquette and household advice (read: late Victorian Martha Stewart) working for a competitor. He buys the competitor’s newspaper. They work together. Harry finally gets to know the real Emma, not the perfect secretary version she portrayed for her job. They fall in love and each is freed from their misconceptions about themselves and their lives. Lovely.

When I started And Then He Kissed Her, I feared it would be a Victorian office romance, but it avoided that pitfall and was a great genre read. Harry and Emma had strong chemistry and the story was by turns sweet, funny, and sexy. There were some hodge-podgey historical elements that irked me a bit, such as Harry admonishing Emma to be her own person and do what she wants in life to which one of the voices in my head replied, “Easy for you to say rich, male, aristocratic person who can do whatever the hell you want!”, but my quibbles were not any great detriment to the story. It was an enjoyable read and one I suspect I will revisit. Plus, as I had hoped, the title of the book does occur in the text and it was wonderfully timed.

Laura Lee Guhrke reviews: When the Marquess Met His Match and How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

The final book in Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Series is a bit of a head scratcher and one in which the author’s intent seemed clear, but I don’t think she managed the very delicate balancing act she had decided to undertake, but first let me praise the other five books in the Ivy Years series and emphatically recommend buying all of them immediately:

  1. The Year We Fell Down – BAM! This book got me right in the feels.
  2. The Year We Hid Away – That’s a lot for two such young people to have going on.
  3. Blonde Date novella – Perfect novella: Short, sweet, adorable, and added to my classics list.
  4. The Understatement of the Year – Surrender. Lying to yourself is exhausting.
  5. The Shameless Hour – “You don’t get to tell me who I am.”

As to The Fifteenth Minute, let me sum up my response with a picture of a word and its synonyms:


Lianne Challice is a child star whose fame comes from an ongoing series of movies about a character called Princess Vindi. Striking out on her own and trying to grow up by attending an Ivy League school, she first appeared in The Shameless Hour and I was happy to learn she was getting her own book. Happier still was I when I started reading and it was mentioned that Lianne, who is no bigger than a minute, would have logically proportioned beloved in DJ Trevi, who I took to be of average male height. Great start. Lianne wants her independence and to grow as an adult in her career, DJ just wants that false date rape accusation to go away.

Were you able to spot where the ambivalence came in? Are you, like me, AMAZED at the ovaries on Sarina Bowen for taking up a false rape accusation plot after dealing so beautifully with slut-shaming in the previous novels? I mean DJ’s not guilty, right? Sometimes, the guys aren’t guilty, right? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? I don’t care if he’s not guilty, or that he’s a nice guy. I don’t care because I spent the ENTIRE book wondering what on earth Bowen’s intention was. Was it to spotlight the relentlessly inept way that accusations of sexual assault are handled on university and college campuses? Was it? Because, to me, it was all about how much some people claim that women make false sexual assault accusations, although the statistics on reported rapes tell a very different story, and this was an entire subplot about that very thing.

I didn’t even mind DJ. He had wrestled with the accusation and was keeping himself sane by clinging to what he knew to be true.  It was the center of his existence and he was persevering until he got his day in college court. Lianne continued to delight. They had great chemistry and made sense as a couple. Too bad I couldn’t pay attention to that part because having a story line in which a young, vulnerable woman makes false accusations to preserve her reputation is EXACTLY THE THING WOMEN ARE OFTEN ACCUSED OF and we don’t really need a book reinforcing that notion, least of all in a genre written almost exclusively by and for women. All those poor helpless guys who just thought they were getting their rocks off and then some witch turned around and accused him of a horrible crime because she was embarrassed. Why, Sarina Bowen, why?

The rest of the Ivy Series reviews can be found here. Bowen co-wrote a steamy M/M romance with Elle Kennedy called Him. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Silver Locket by Margaret James

Young, rich, and pretty Rose Courteney lives with her stifling family in rural England. When it becomes clear that her path is to marry to please her parents, she takes her fate into her own hands. Just 18, she lies about her age to volunteer as a military nurse in London at the outset of World War I. Gaining experience and skill, she is thrilled to be sent to France to work in field hospitals. Despite this, she is never quite able to fully escape her family politics or their cloying expectations.

Alex Denham has been interested in Rose for a long time, they’ve known each other forever, but the circumstances surrounding his birth (he’s a bastard who was accepted and loved by his mother’s cuckolded husband) render him socially unacceptable. Part of the regular army, at the outset of the war he is shipped to France to slog through years of battle, wounds, recovery, and returning to the front.

The Silver Locket was a change of romance pace for me. Rose and Alex’s coming together took a long time and they spent months at a time apart as they each play their rolls in the war. The novel is more her story than his and details of the circumstances in which the nurses worked were really interesting to me and an area of war history about which I was happy to learn. James also realistically portrays the overall vulnerability and the limitations placed on women at the time – even those serving their country. Further, it’s harrowing watching the timeline crawl along as the four years of the war slowly pass, or realising with horror that the new battlefront means that a bloodbath is coming.

Neither Rose, nor Alex come through the war unscathed and it strips everything away from them but their essentials. The societal judgments and accusation, especially from those on the home-front, seem foolish and provincial considering what they have endured. The Silver Locket was only the first in the Charton Minster series which has five books about successive generations. I don’t plan on reading more from the series, as I like a little more romance in my genre fiction, but as a historical novel with a romance it may appeal to you.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long

Having read Julie Anne Long’s eleven book Regency romance Pennyroyal Green series, I am not really in a position to judge how this novel reads as a standalone, but as a long-awaited end to the series, I have but two syllables: BRAVO! Somehow The Legend of Lyon Redmond manages to be both epic in the way required of its buildup and personal in its sweet and believable love story. What’s more, Long successfully tied up every single loose end I could think of from the preceding books. I can’t imagine the planning and plotting involved.

As the two big fish in the small pond of Pennyroyal Green, Sussex, the Redmond and Eversea families are centuries-long rivals for fame and fortune.  They also share a legend that once in every generation, there will be a pair of star-crossed lovers in their rival folds. In the current generation, it is eldest son Lyon Redmond and eldest daughter Olivia Eversea. Like Romeo and Juliet, they spy each other across a crowded room and are instantly, overwhelmingly drawn to each other. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, they do not die owing to a Big Misunderstanding; however, when their secret relationship is discovered it ends with Lyon disappearing for five years. Nothing is known of his whereabouts or what on earth Olivia did to make him leave, so this thread of the missing son and the self-contained, possibly pining woman has woven through the first 10 books. Olivia and Lyon have had character development over the series, so when Olivia decided to moved on and take a suitor, readers knew their end was in sight.

The Legend of Lyon Redmond starts with Olivia preparing for her wedding to an incredibly patient man, Lord Landsdowne, and then flashes back and forth to her relationship with Lyon and the eventual final straw that drove him away.  I loved it. The juxtaposition of who they were then and are now was a great display of character development, particularly hers. Lyon may have gained a reputation as a mystery man, and possible pirate, but Olivia has been living under the weight of her role as a jilted woman, and consequently a matrimonial prize, for years and she has been worn down by it.

Long is always a funny, clever writer, but she sometimes leans towards the twee. That was not the case with The Legend of Lyon Redmond. What I found instead was that she seemed to be giving the historical romance genre and its tropes a big, enthusiastic kiss. I greeted so many of the events with a delighted “of course!” as Long used many standard romance turns, but the joy was in recognizing and embracing them while they were happening. They ALL work because the reader is in on the joke (such sounds of glee, I made), knows what is going on, and because the emotional connection between Lyon and Olivia is written so sincerely and is so completely understandable. Thank you, Julie Anne Long. The Legend of Lyon Redmond  was a long hoped-for gift wrapped with a beautiful bow.

A complete summary of Julie Anne Long’s catalogue, with recommendations and a ranked order of the Pennyroyal Green series, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.



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