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;  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…, and these are Things That Occur to Me While Reading Historical Romance Novels.

-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)

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

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Author Commentary & Tallies Shameful

Shortcuts: A ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance; an ALPHABETICAL READING LIST SORTED BY AUTHOR; and these are Things That Occur to Me While Reading Historical Romance Novels.

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

The (Shameful) Tally 2015

  1. Burrows, Grace Douglas, Lord of Heartache (Douglas/Guinevere)
  2. Darcy, Norma The Bluestocking and the Rake (Robert/Georgiana)
  3. Florand, Laure A Rose in Winter novella (Raoul/Allegra)
  4. Florand, Laura Once Upon a Rose (Matthieu/Layla)
  5. Florand, Laura All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate novella (Simon/Ellie)
  6. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong  novella (Andrew/Lucy)
  7. Guhrke, Laura Lee Catch a Falling Heiress (Jack/Linnet)
  8. Jaymes, River Brad’s Bachelor Party (Brad/Cole)
  9. Jaymes, River The Backup Boyfriend (Alec/Dylan)
  10. Jaymes, River The Boyfriend Mandate (Memphis/Tyler)
  11. Kelly, Carla With the Ring (Sam/Lydia)
  12. Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain (Oliver/Nana)
  13. Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady (Philemon/Laura)
  14. Kelly, Carla Marrying the Royal Marine (Hugh/Polly)
  15. Kelly, Carla The Admiral’s Penniless Bride (Charles/Sophia)
  16. Lauren, Christina Beautiful Beloved novella (Max/Sara)
  17. Lerner, Rose Sweet Disorder (Nick/Phoebe)
  18. Linden, Caroline When I Met My Duchess novella (Gareth/Cleo)
  19. Merrow, J.L Muscling Through (Al/Larry)
  20. Milan, Courtney Trade Me (Blake/Tina)
  21. Quinn, Julia The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy Smythe-Smith Book 4 (Richard/Iris)
  22. Reid, Penny Beauty and the Mustache (Drew/Ashley)
  23. Reid, Penny & L.H. Cosway The Hooker and the Hermit (Ronan/Annie)

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 (Daniel/Summer)
  6. Milan, Courtney Talk Sweetly to Me (Stephen/Rose)
  7. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Colin/Penelope)
  8. Quinn, Julia It’s in His Kiss (Gareth/Hyacinth)

To Be Read Pile/More Author Commentary…

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Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner

As a romance reader, I rely on recommendations since it’s a genre full of authors of wildly varying quality. Like any other group, there are a few greats that land on one’s autobuy list, then the excellent, very good, reliable, guilty pleasures, desperate measures, and so on. Finding good new-to-me authors always feels like a coup. My romance spirit guide, Malin, has pointed me in many the right direction, as have others. Writer Courtney Milan suggested this author on her blog and who am I to turn down the opportunity for a good book and a good turn bringing attention to a new author.

Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner is set in Lively St. Lemeston and has the most interesting political intrigue of any historical romance I’ve read. It’s not spies or fighting Napoleon, but the prosaic reality of nineteenth century voting rights which create the impetus for the story. Widowed Phoebe is being courted by opposing political parties. She can’t vote (I know), but the man she marries will be able to. Given a sudden motivation for financial security that a husband is her best bet of providing, Phoebe declines, then agrees to politically motivated matchmaking. I have never read anything like that before, have you? Nick Dymond has been charged by his family with finding a suitable partner for Phoebe. The local baker seems a good choice, but he and Phoebe don’t really connect, nor does Nick’s opposition have more luck. Since I have mentioned his name twice now, I am sure you can guess who Phoebe ends up with.

Sweet Disorder had strong historical elements and vocabulary, and I really liked that it felt grounded in believable history. Phoebe is a zaftig heroine which is a bit of a departure and appreciated since many times in romance the heroine is either upset that her lush curves are not the fashion, or that she is slim and therefore doesn’t have much chest, the poor dears. I must admit though that I found myself skimming passages of the book, that the tone was a bit uneven, and I was surprised by the love scene choices. I tried another of Lerner’s books, True Pretenses, and did not finish it. I may try again with another of her novels given that the historical elements are so strong, and, after looking at these two novels, she embraces unconventional heroes and heroines.

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

It’s In His Kiss by Julia Quinn

My reviews of the best of Julia Quinn continue with It’s in His Kiss. The penultimate book in the Bridgerton series, if you don’t count the catch-up novella, it has one of my favourite heroines in romance, and the hero is not so bad either. The writing is, as always, deft and witty, and the banter is especially good, even for a Julia Quinn novel.

The youngest child of eight, Hyacinth Bridgerton was born one month after the untimely death of her father. Surrounded by a loving family, she is confident, intelligent, and, to quote those who love her, “diabolical”. No shrinking violet, but not a brat either, Hyacinth has learned to hold her own as the baby of the family and, just maybe, is therefore uncomfortable in situations in which she does not feel in control of her environment. This kind of situation arises in particular when she is faced with an appealing young man who can keep up, or perhaps even challenge her.

Charming, droll, and a bit of a rogue, Gareth St. Clair’s family life is almost the opposite of Hyacinth’s. As he points out, he has but one person in the world to love. Fortunately for him, it is his grandmother, and Quinn fan favourite, Lady Danbury. Terrifyingly direct and more than a bit managing, Lady Danbury is delighted to encourage Gareth’s interest in Hyacinth, especially as the women have in many ways the same personality. Despite but one relation he can rely on, Gareth does have a father and the elder St. Clair not so much twirls his moustache, but pushes every single one of his son’s buttons every time they meet. Gareth is his legitimate heir by law, but not by conception, and his father does what he can to make Gareth’s life miserable, including cutting him off and taking vindictive delight in emptying the family coffers.

Gareth’s ability and joy in stopping the force of nature in her tracks is a delight and, naturally, the main event, but beyond the love story, It’s in His Kiss  is a treasure hunt. When his paternal grandmother’s diary falls into his hands, Gareth asks Hyacinth to translate the Italian and she discovers that the unhappily married woman had stashed a set of jewels somewhere in Gareth’s family home – the one that he was kicked out of years before.They spend their time skulking around Mayfair late at night and falling in love.

The novel has some minor glitches, but the characters are so winning it’s hard to object. Bridgerton series followers have watched Hyacinth grow up and here her bravado and vim are in full flower; having Lady Danbury as a counterpoint is a smart character choice since Hyacinth mirrors her so well.  With an excellent match in Gareth, the reader can be confident that theirs will truly be a marriage of equals and that Gareth and Hyacinth genuinely delight in each other.

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue 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.

With This Ring by Carla Kelly

Here I am with a review of a novel published in 1997, but a good romance remains so and is always worth a look. eBooks are a boon to people looking for stories they would otherwise be unable to get their hands on. With This Ring was recommended by a friend and while it didn’t completely work for me, overall I have found all of Kelly’s Regency romances worth a read, if only for her faith in humanity and a writing style which makes the reader feel settled securely in the story’s time period.

This is the second Carla Kelly book I’ve read, the first being the truly lovely The Lady’s Companion, in which a financially beholden young woman decides to break with her family and Society to strike out on her own. I always enjoy a nice raised middle finger to snobs and convention, but then who doesn’t? After visiting a makeshift military hospital on a lark with her sister, Lydia Perkins goes back day-after-day to help the wounded as best she can. Lydia finds both a purpose and a kindred spirit in looking after Major Sam Reed’s men. When the Major proposes a marriage of convenience to satisfy a series of outrageous falsehoods about having a wife he has told in his letters home, Lydia is flattered but refuses until her awful mother belittles her for what Lydia decides will be the last time. Running away to quickly marry the still recuperating Sam, the two settle down to get their story straight before facing his familial inquisition.

Because she has been alternately overlooked and demoralized by her family, Lydia may be a good person, but she has no self-confidence. Sam decides, as the reader learns later, that she must learn believe in herself, so he engineers a situation for her to appreciate her own value. I wouldn’t have minded his “stand on your own” hokum, if he had not withheld crucial information which a. created an extremely stressful situation for Lydia, and b. things had not then gone almost perfectly for Lydia. It was all too bibbity-bobbity-boo for me.

Like another Kelly book, The Admiral’s Penniless Bride, I enjoyed most of the novel and was disappointed by the ending. Kelly is one of those authors whose I books I would rather read even with a letdown than forgo altogether. I have worked my way through her highest rated books and will likely make my way through the rest of her Regency romance catalogue as well.

With This Ring did have one shocking element that I want to mention as its inclusion was baffling to me. Sam has told his family that he and his trumped-up wife have a child. To give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative (H/T WS Gilbert), they visit a foundling home and adopt/buy a random baby girl. They purchase an orphan to sell the lie. Granted she’ll have a better life as a result, but they BUY A BABY! I was all astonishment.

My summary of Carla Kelly’s catalogue 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.

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Because starting with the eight book Bridgerton series is what I suggest, other than Courtney Milan, to anyone who wants to try out a historical romance, it seemed like a good idea to provide reviews of her best novels. Herewith are my go-to Julia Quinn review adjectives: light, deft, witty, clever, convivial, bright, romantic. I use them every time I discuss a Quinn book, and, as this review benefits from being of one of her less recent novels, I get to express all of my love and approbation without any of the pesky misgivings her later catalogue brings out.

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton is a wonderful novel about a woman who finds herself with the man she has been in love with for many years. Penelope fell in love with Colin Bridgerton at first sight, Colin takes about a decade plus 200 pages longer, but ends up in the same place.

A protector trapped in a rake’s body, Colin happens to be the best-looking son in a family of handsome men, as well as being incredibly charming, laid-back, and, not to underestimate the power of this, nice. As his sister Eloise’s best friend, Penelope is a frequent visitor to their family home. Colin has been coming and going, traveling the world with the freedom that comes with wealth and a y-chromosome in Regency England. Penelope has been wending her way towards spinsterhood in London, and this time when he comes back something in their relationship shifts. She is a classic wallflower, overlooked and with a wearying family, but a marvelous woman for those paying attention, and mostly satisfied with her life. Her “mostly satisifed” is about to change and she will help Colin with his disgruntlements, too.

Each chapter opens with a gossip article from Bridgerton series fixture Lady Whistledown. Never seen, she has been commenting on London society for a decade. Acerbic, but fair, determining her true identity becomes the crux of the story and the agent of Penelope’s transformation to someone with confidence speaking her mind honestly and without fear. Helped along by series favourite, the redoubtable Lady Danbury, Penelope comes out of her shell and Colin quickly comes to appreciate her. As this is a Quinn novel, their courtship takes the form of simply delightful banter mixed in with growing flashes of attraction and sincere romance. It is such fun and extremely satisfying.

penelope

I will be reviewing Hyacinth Bridgerton’s book next.

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue, including a complete summary of the 8.5 Bridgerton novels, 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.

 

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

I enjoy Caroline Linden and have read many of her books, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I’d call her an autobuy author yet. I Met My Duchess was originally published as one of four overlapping novellas in the romance anthology At The Duke’s Wedding. Having read it as a standalone story, I can’t tell you about the quality of the other three, but I appreciate the cross-marketing the effort represents as it’s a great way to try new writers.

Gareth, Duke of Novellatitle has reached the age at which he feels he must marry to preserve his line. Having made a survey of the available and appropriate women, he has chosen Lady Helen Grey. When the story opens, his family is eagerly/anxiously waiting for the Lord Greys to arrive for a house party that will culminate in their nuptials. Having wooed almost entirely by the proxy of his cousin, James Blair, Gareth is briefly pleased when Helen arrives and is as lovely as he had remembered. The only trouble is that her sister has arrived with her and the moment she steps from the coach, Gareth is a goner.

Cleo Barrow is the widowed daughter of the Greys. She married for love against her parents wishes and the man she adored was in – brace yourself – trade. Despite the wealth her widowhood has brought, Cleo’s insistence her right to self-determination and – get your pearls ready for clutching – working has left her parents with a permanent case of the vapours. They might take Cleo’s money to support themselves, but their hypocrisy allow them to belittle and threaten her as though she is on the verge of shaming them further at all times. Cleo is a loyal sister and therefore puts up with a lot for Helen’s sake.

Thrown together constantly, Cleo and Gareth take to each other immediately and, if not for that pesky engagement and wedding contract, everything could proceed smoothly. Fear not, it’s a novella so Helen has other hopes that need not be dashed even as she tries to be what her family needs, and everyone gets their happy ending.

My favourite Linden book so far is One Night in London from the trilogy “The Truth About the Duke”, but I just haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. Reviews of Caroline Linden books I have gotten around to reviewing 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.

The Sisters Trilogy: Marrying the Captain, The Surgeon’s Lady, & Marrying the Royal Marine by Carla Kelly

Title Discrimination Aid:
Marrying the Captain: He’s sick, she’s pretty.
Marrying the Royal Marine: He’s pretty, she’s sick.
The Surgeon’s Lady: Everyone’s sick, she’s pretty, his bedside manner is excellent.

I love a back catalogue to make my way through and Carla Kelly does not disappoint. The Sisters Trilogy focuses on the three born-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-blanket daughters of Earl Ratcliff. Each of the women – Nana, Laura, and Polly – finds herself involved with a member of the Royal Marines during the Napoleonic Wars. Not just a bonnet and corset layered over a contemporary story (not that there is anything wrong with that), Kelly’s books have strong historical elements and make the reader feel genuinely immersed in a specific time and place. I even looked up “Regency navy sailor’s quarters”, “Royal Marine“, and assorted similar terms in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the heroes’ lives. Never say romance novels don’t teach one anything.

Marrying the Captain:

Nana Brandon has no dowry and does not expect to marry. Years ago, her otherwise absent and disinterested father tried to sell her to the highest bidder to pay his debts. Literally walking away from everything she knew, she returned to her grandmother and has lived with her since. Content, although admittedly often hungry, helping to run a failing seaside inn, it’s about five years into the fight with Napoleon and Nana’s town has a constant turnover of sailors as their town is the one into which ships sail for dry dock repairs and revictualling; nonetheless, they are not doing well until Captain Oliver Worthy is sent their way. Suffering from a common sailor’s complaint (no, not an STD, a throat infection), Oliver needs a place to stay and recover while he drags himself back and forth to the repair yard.

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All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand

Falling first in her L’Amour et Chocolat Series, this novella was breezy, romantic, and had some excellent smolder. I’m not sure which fairy tale All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate is supposed to be or if, indeed, all of Laura Florand’s works have allusive story lines, but I don’t care, although I kind of do, so I’m going see if I can figure it out. BRB. [muzak intermission]

After a year of planning, Ellie has just moved herself and her art blog to Paris to live her dream of working in The City of Light. Caught trying to take surreptitious photos of Simon Casset’s display window by the chocolatier himself, Ellie makes a quick decision to tell him that she is planning to get married and looking for someone to make a showpiece for her wedding reception. Simon sees through the lie immediately, but given his instant fascination with her, decides to play along. Ellie’s poor imaginary fiance suffers a moped accident en route to their wedding consultation with Simon. Things proceed apace for Ellie and Simon with only the barrier of Ellie’s much-needed confession standing between them and happily ever after.

The condensed timeline matched with the novella length makes for a very tight story. It’s all about the romance and falling in love at first sight. It was a swoony, pleasantly escapist, and enjoyable read. Published in a novella package, it is not available as a standalone book. I was able to borrow it for free on KindleUnlimited and will mourn its loss when I end my free trial and have to return it.

A complete summary of Laura Florand’s catalogue, with recommendations, 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 which includes the aforementioned observations.

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