The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: 

Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, this is a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list
So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romanceand here are
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

Long Version:

I have some lists  –
Author Commentary & Tallies Shameful 2012 – 2016
Consistent Themes in Authors’ Works.
Things That Occur to Me While Reading Historical Romance Novels
Things That Occur to Me While Reading Contemporary Romance Novels

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 (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.)

-A-
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)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
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 A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Ian/Beth)
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:    

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

Tessa Dare (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.

2016 READING LISTS:

Recommended books are in bold.

The (Shamefree) Tally 2016

Last year, this list had only one book and it was an Outlander graphic novel. I am proud of that, although I do have two glorious historical costume books to read and review.

The (Shameful) Tally 2016

  1. Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
  2. Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
  3. Ashley, Jennifer A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Ian/Beth)
  4. Balogh, Mary Only a Kiss (Percy/Imogen)
  5. Balogh, Mary Only Beloved (George/Dora)
  6. Blake, Jennifer The Tuscan’s Revenge Wedding (Nico/Amanda)
  7. Bowen, Kelly Duke of My Heart (Max/Ivory)
  8. Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Us (Wes/Jamie)
  9. Bryce, Megan To Catch a Spinster (Nathaniel/Olivia)
  10. Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon (Jameson/Amelia)
  11. Bryce, Megan To Tempt the Saint (George/Honora)
  12. Bryce, Megan  Some Like It Charming (Ethan/Mackenzie)
  13. Charles, K.J. A Seditious Affair (Silas/Dominic)
  14. Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes (Oliver “Raven”/Clara)
  15. Dee, Bonnie/Devon, Summer  The Merchant and the Clergyman (James/Declan)
  16. Dee, Cara Noah (Noah/Julian)
  17. Florand, Laura Chase Me (Chase/Violette)
  18. Frank, Ella Finley (Sunset Cove Series Book 1) (Brantley/Finn)

  19. Garvis Graves, Tracey Heart-Shaped Hack (Ian/Kate) – Worst of the Year 2016

  20. Gray, Juliana The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match (Olympia/Penelope)
  21. Grey, R.S. The Summer Games: Settling the Score (Freddie/Andie)
  22. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia)
  23. Ivy, Alyssa Rose The Hazards of Skinny Dipping (Reed/Juliet)
  24. Jacobs, Mara In Too Deep (Lucas/Lily)
  25. Jordan, Lucia In Too Deep  (Crasher/Rayne)
  26. Kelly, Carla Beau Crusoe (James/Susannah)
  27. Kennedy, Elle The Score (Dean/Allie)
  28. Kleypas, Lisa Marrying Winterbourne (Rhys/Helen)
  29. Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar (Luke/London)
  30. Lauren, Christina A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short (Not-Joe/Perry)
  31. Lauren, Christina Beautiful Boss (Will/Hanna)
  32. Leigh, Eva Forever Your Earl (Daniel/Eleanor)
  33. Leigh, Eva Scandal Takes the Stage (Cam/Maggie)
  34. Lin, Jeannie My Fair Concubine (Fei Long/Yan Ling)
  35. McQuiston, Jennifer Her Highland Fling (William/Penelope)
  36. Milan, Courtney Her Every Wish (Crash/Daisy)
  37. Novark, Anna Marie The Doctor Wears a Stetson (Cameron/Jessie)
  38. Parker, Lucy Act Like It (Richard/Lainie)
  39. Reid, Penny Ninja at First Sight (Greg/Fiona)
  40. Reid, Penny Happily Ever Ninja (Greg/Fiona)
  41. Richland, Anna His Road Home novella (Rey/Grace)
  42. Riley, Sierra Guardian (Titus/Alex)
  43. Roberts, Holly S. Play: New Adult Sports Romance (Killian/Rebecca)
  44. Schurig, Rachel Ransom (Daltrey/Daisy)
  45. Shay, Kathryn In Too Deep (Gabe/Rachel)
  46. Stone, Juliana Offside (The Barker Triplets Book 1) (Logan/Billie)
  47. Verge, Lisa Ann Heaven in His Arms (Andre/Genevieve)
  48. Ward, Tracy Rookie Mistake  (Trey/Sloane)

Reviews of Pre-2016 Reads (More to Come)

  1. Lilley, R.K. In Flight (James/Bianca)
  2. Bryce, Megan To Wed the Widow (George/Elinor)

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.

Author Commentary and Reading Lists for 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 (416 books between February 2012 and January 2, 2016)…

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The Seattle Sullivans: The Way You Look Tonight by Bella Andre

Is this what is known as a beach read in that it is something disposable you can follow easily whilst also making sure your toddler doesn’t drown? Bella Andre’s contemporary romance The Way You Look Tonight is easily one of the most obvious, pedestrian, and stereotypically bad novels I have ever read. Book one of a series, The Seattle Sullivans, that I will not only not be reading, it is one I would gladly use volumes of for a campfire.

Rafe Sullivan is a physically attractive private detective whose successful business investigating cheaters has left him disillusioned. When his realtor sister shows up telling him he needs to take a vacation and buy back his family’s lake house, he agrees. Arriving at the house the next evening, he runs into his old neighbour, Brooke, who just happens to be, HOMG, so hot. They knew each other as children and last saw one another when she was 8 and he was 14. Brooke is a bubbly and bright chocolatier living in the lake house she inherited from her grandparents. As Rafe’s new home is in sad shape, Brooke invites him to stay with her while he fixes it up. The entire story takes place over five days. Some commentary, including notes I made while reading:

Trite and is that a commercial kitchen?

“He couldn’t lie to her, couldn’t pretend he didn’t want her more than he’d ever wanted another woman in his life.” It’s been TWENTY-FOUR HOURS!

FFS (Rafe had just placed his hands around his brother’s throat for commenting on Brooke’s attractiveness.)

“There was no point trying to deny that what they were doing had turned into so much more than sex.” THREE DAYS!

He could hear the shower running, and knew he should leave her to finish washing up alone, especially after the way he’d taken her last night – hard enough that she might be sore.” a. That is not how good sex works and b. Could I get a volunteer to take this trope out behind the woodshed and put it out of its misery?

He installed kitchen cabinets alone?

“But how could you possibly justify running a background check on me?” But how could you possibly get access to all of her personal financial records in the space of 12 hours or, you know, AT ALL?

“Don’t you know me at all after the past week? Or how about after we practically grew up together.” It’s been FOUR DAYS and you were EIGHT and he was FOURTEEN the last time you saw each other. Yours is not a reunion of twin souls.

“I wanted to believe we could make this work, that we could love each through the rough patches, but—” “We can, we will. Let me start by loving you right, Brooke.”  FIVE DAYS

But how could you possibly justify running a background check on me?” But how could you possibly get access to all of her personal financial records in the space of 12 hours or, you know, AT ALL?

“Although Rafe now had a newly renovated and furnished home, a home that had once been filled with the love and laughter…” Have I stressed this enough? FIVE DAYS! He cleaned out, ripped up all the linoleum, laid flooring, installed appliances, found an old family photo in the attic of a house that had been a rental for almost two decades because of course he did, painted, and furnished a house unfit for human habitation in FIVE DAYS!

She wasn’t just in his arms a moment later…she was finally home.” This book is so bad. When will it be over so I can stop reading it? It’s a soap opera’s notion of romance.

The Way You Look Tonight was trite, banal, hackneyed, hokey, cliched, facile, and mashed itself into what was, even for this genre, the most nonsensically condensed timeline I have ever read. Henceforth, I will be avoiding all Bella Andre books like the plague and thanking my lucky stars that this one was free.

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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The Ravenel Series: Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa Kleypas

Marrying Winterbourne is the second book in the current Lisa Kleypas historical romance Ravenel series, and, while it is better than its predecessor, Cold-Hearted Rake, it still not up to the standard of her classics or even her stronger books.  Spending insufficient time with the love story, though plenty with the smolder, it started with a wallflower and a rake, Kleypas’s forte, and swiftly landed in Big Misunderstanding territory – which experienced romance readers will tell you means the leads’ problems could be solved with one honest conversation.

Possessing several Kleypas aspects I adore, this is what Marrying Winterbourne has going for it: Rhys Winterbourne is a gorgeous, self-made man, a sardonic and magnificently self-possessed hero who calls the heroine sweetheart in that Kleypas way, and in Welsh no less, and is poleaxed by his adoration of his beloved. So far, so good. Lady Helen Ravenel is a profoundly shy, seemingly delicate woman with a backbone of steel and the willingness to step outside of herself to pursue what she wants. Excellent! Unfortunately, all of that is taken care of by Chapter Two when Rhys and Helen reach an understanding and then spend the rest of the novel trying to get to the altar. The challenge was that the stumbling blocks took precedence over the relationship building. The problem was that some elements Kleypas includes are, at best, dated and diminished the reading experience for me.

INDIGNATION FOLLOWS:

On more than one occasion, Rhys manhandles Helen.

“Rhys grasped her chin and compelled her to look at him.”

“She hated the way he guided her with his hand clasped on the back of her neck, as if she were a helpless kitten being carried by the scruff.”

“Rhys pushed from the desk and reached her with stunning quickness, caging her body with his and slamming the sides of his fists against the wall.”

Caging a woman with his body is something Rhys did to the heroine of Cold-Hearted Rake as well, though then he was also sexually aggressive. His character needed some rehabilitation and while he shows remorse, apologises to the woman he threatened, and Kleypas drops a building on him early-ish in the book, his aggressive behavior toward Helen made me uncomfortable. Is he abusing Helen? Perish the thought. Does it represent the heightened reality often found in books of this genre? I don’t care.  Is he asserting physical dominance potentially consistent with the Victorian era? Perhaps, but Marrying Winterbourne is a romance novel, not a historical document and I don’t appreciate these rough elements. Were I the woman involved, especially in the last example, I have every faith I would burst into terrified tears. In the justifiably beloved Kleypas classic The Devil in Winter, the hero is horrified when he moves too quickly and the heroine flinches. In Marrying Winterbourne, the hero takes advantage of his superior size to intimidate Helen and control her movements. If it were ever properly addressed, I could overlook it, but since I doubt Kleypas is going to drop another building on Rhys in the next book in the series, The Devil in Spring (which I will still buy), Marrying Winterbourne is going in my disappointment pile.

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.

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Heart-Shaped Hack: Kate and Ian #1 by Tracey Garvis Graves

Worst Read of the Year Contender!

All-around good person, Kate, runs a local food bank. Desperate for funds, she makes a local TV appearance asking for donations. Her storefront is delighted to receive a recurring anonymous monthly donation of $1,000. It always arrives in a paper bag and Kate delights in dumping the money out. If it’s singles and the local peeler bar is taking contributions, it might work. If it’s $5 or $10 bills, it’s still vaguely okay, but if the bills are any larger, and the implication is that they are, it’s just plain silly. I worked for a  non-profit housing organization and spent one week every month at a little desk in Accounts Receivable counting rents paid in cash. It was dirty, I found little rubber finger-tip covers in my pockets every laundry day, and it also taught me that a lot of money can fit into a little pile. The idea that the anonymous donor would send some sort of “make it rain” gesture in a paper bag was nonsense. Had he no access to envelopes when taking cash out from the ATM?

Kate wants to find out who her benefactor is and manages to catch him, our hero,  Ian, and he immediately starts commenting on how hot she looked when she was on the news and gives her nicknames. It’s presumptuous, but potentially forgivable. The next time they meet, Ian has found Kate at a local coffee shop by hacking into her bank accounts to discover where her last financial transaction took place. He learned she had bought coffee and a blueberry muffin at the shop (her bank’s records are really precise, apparently) and decided to pop over to say hello. Kate is shocked, but Ian assures her he didn’t take any of her money. This was the point at which I stopped reading Heart-Shaped Hack. Do I really have to explain why?

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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Rookie Mistake by Tracy Ward

I found Tracy Ward’s new adult contemporary sports romance, Rookie Mistake, in the “multicultural and interracial romance” section on Amazon. Wanting more diversity in my favoured genre, I have been making a point of seeking it out.  Please note that in this same “multicultural and interracial romance” section, Amazon also lists shape-shifter romances such as Alpha Rancher Bear: BWWM Bear Shifter Paranormal Romance which, correct me if I’m wrong, qualifies as neither multicultural nor interracial but may, depending on their retrospective corporeal forms during consummation, qualify as inter-species, so it’s an inaccurate AND offensive category. A for effort there, Amazon.

Trey Domato is finishing up his college football career and gearing up for the Draft and joining the NFL. He knows where he wants to be and is hoping to find an agent to help him get there. Sloane Ashford is the junior agent in her father’s sports management firm and she has been watching Trey’s career for years. She wants to represent him and will do almost anything, including taking a backseat to her selfish and self-interested father, to get Trey signed. Her dad might not be sure about Trey’s potential, but Sloane is.

Rookie Mistake follows Trey and Sloane as they grapple with the professional worlds they have each chosen. Imprudently, they fall in love along the way and, unrealistically, they think they can fight their attraction The novel struck a good balance between young people finding their way, while also acknowledging that to get to where they are, each of them has also had to be mature and focused. I liked Trey and Sloane, but the writing had some issues and wasn’t compelling enough to get me to continue with Ward’s Offensive Line series. There are occasional awkward word choices (“I watch her swallow. Watch her thin neck constrict under her perfect skin that leads down over her collar-bone, Over her breastplate.”) and things I wasn’t quite sure what to make of, such as this –

I met her last year at a frat party, shared a bottle of Jack with her on the roof of the place, and by morning we were buddies, of each variety. She’s chill. Laidback and always down for a good time, but she’s not easy. She’s not one of these groupies running around in the wake of the team giving it up for anyone with a jersey on their back. I’m the only guy she’s sleeping with on the team, though not the only guy at the school, but the team is what’s important. I share a lot with these guys. Probably too much. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to not dip my wick in the same well.

Where do I start with that paragraph? I feel like it’s going seven directions at once and several of them make me uncomfortable.

New Adult romance 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.

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The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy and Ransom by Rachel Schurig

To be clear, I am phoning it in so much with these two that I am putting two unrelated contemporary romances in one review, borrowing plot summaries from Amazon, and giving myself the personal challenge of reacting to both as succinctly as possible. I thought I had purchased new adult romances, but it turned out I had purchased young adult romances. It’s apparently a very fine line and I suspect down to tone as much as anything else. The Hazards of Skinny Dipping and Ransom are more coming of age stories than people starting out in life and finding each other tales.I have learned this is of no interest to me. I will be continuing to avoid of young adult books no matter how highly recommended they are.

The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy (Reed/Juliet)

From Amazon: This isn’t a deep book about first loves or self-discovery. If you want a book like that, I’d be happy to recommend one, but I don’t have that kind of story to tell. Instead my story is about rash decisions and finding out that your dream guy is bad in bed. It’s the story of when I finally went skinny dipping, and how my life was never the same again. Oh, and it’s also the story of my freshman year of college and realizing Mr. Right might have been there all along.

Except that it is a book about those things. A boring one about a young woman, maybe even technically still a  girl, who makes some bad relationship decisions before figuring out how to make good ones. The writing (originally mistyped that as “writhing” which will be the highlight of this review experience for me) was fine, the characters simple, the coming age welcome and necessary. It’s the girl’s story from start to end and I have no interest in characters who aren’t really themselves yet. I have read heroines this young before, just not this immature. I like a little more emotional mileage on my lead characters.

Ransom by Rachel Schurig (Daltrey/Daisy)

From Amazon: Daisy Harris has no reason to suspect that her day will be any different than usual. She’ll get through it the way she always does—alone. She won’t speak or make eye contact. She’ll do her best to go completely unnoticed. That’s what life is like for Daisy now—an endless cycle of loneliness and fear. A life lived hiding behind the walls she so faithfully maintains. It’s been a year since she’s seen Daltrey Ransome. A year since he and his brothers left town to pursue their dreams of rock and roll superstardom. A year since he left Daisy behind—left her to watch as everything she knew crumbled around her. And now that Daltrey has found her—the girl he’s loved his entire life, the girl he’d give up everything for—he’s determined never to let her go again.

First things first, all the boys in this family are named after rock stars and Daltrey is a totally cool moniker. His brothers are Cash, Lennon, and Reed, also funky and nicely justifiable from a “romance novel names are ridonkulous” perspective.

I liked Ransom much better than the naked swimming book, but again the characters were younger than I could relate to. They were sweet and sympathetic, the supporting characters good friends to them. Everything ticked along in their new , crazy-successful and a pretty good coming of age story even if it was more than a might tropey and I can only imagine what that much success at that young an age would do to people.

Daltrey had brothers and each of them has a book, but I’ll be giving them a miss. These darn whippersnappers are going to be staying off my lawn.

Last things last, the family/band name of Ransom sounded too much like Hanson and I had that damn MMMBop song stuck in my head while reading. Maybe you do now as well. You’re welcome.

New Adult romance 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.

 

 

The Survivors’ Club: Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

The last book in Mary Balogh’s excellent seven book historical romance Survivors’ Club series features the kindest man in the world and a happy spinster. About a decade ago, George, Duke of Stanhope, turned his estate into a hospital and took wounded Napoleonic War veterans into his home. Six of the patients, a woman and five men, stayed behind when the others left and over three years of healing formed an intense bond. Each of them has now had a love story and embarked on a new life, so it is their host’s turn to find companionship and a fulfilling homelife. George lost his young son in the War and his wife, unable to bear her grief, took her own life. Opening his ancestral home allowed him to help others, heal himself, and deflect the world’s attempts to see beyond the comfort he gives others and into his own pain.

The Survivors’ Club holds annual reunions and during one of these George was introduced to and delighted by Miss Dora Debbins. She was flattered by the attention and enjoyed his company as well. The sister of the heroine of Only Enchanting, Dora is forty, to George’s forty-eight, and lives and works quite pleasantly as a musician and teacher in a country town. When George reappears out of the blue to ask for her hand in marriage, Dora is stunned, but her instincts tell her to say yes. She sees in his gesture her chance to seek out a new kind of life as a a wife and – who knows – maybe a mother as well. They may be older than usual characters, but George and Dora are both young enough and old enough to make the relationship work despite the difference in their stations.

George and Dora are strongly attracted to and hold great affection for each other, but agree that they are marrying for companionship rather than a grand passion. Life and romance novels being what they are, the gods laugh at their plans and they fall quietly and deeply in love. Romance novels and life being what they are, and Mary Balogh’s common theme of broken people fitting their pieces together, George and Dora find much more in their relationship than they had ever expected. It is not a Dramatic Relationship, Balogh characters are always too sensible and wonderfully grown up for such things, but the writing successfully conveys the profound bond and joy the two share. As with all strong romances, the team they are together is stronger than the separate individuals they are apart.

It’s hard to go wrong with a Mary Balogh novel. She’s such a reliable writer. Only Beloved is not the best entry in the Survivors’ Club series, Only Enchanting and Only a Promise share that honour, but as a wrap up to this very strong series it works well. As with her other larger series, Balogh needs to repeat a lot of identifying information and quickly encapsulate the previous stories when characters reappear. It both helps sort out my confusion and drags the story down a bit. As a reader, I enjoy visiting old friends, but I don’t want them to take over the current reading experience.

The Survivors’ Club:
The Proposal  (Hugo/Gwen) – pleasant
The Arrangement  (Vincent/Sophia) – very sweet, understated
The Escape (Benedict/Samantha) – meh
Only Enchanting (Flavian/Agnes) – Wonderful, read this one. Read it twice.
Only a Promise  (Ralph/Chloe) – very good
Only a Kiss (Percy/Imogen) – nothing special
Only Beloved – please see above

Balogh has another popular series, all titled with “Slightly”, and Slightly Dangerous is a classic of the genre.

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

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A Princess in Hiding Series: The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match

Despite the wonderful writing and Juliana Gray’s consistent ability to create interesting characters and throw in some excitement, I couldn’t fully enjoy the Victorian romance novella The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match, but I didn’t mind. I paid a reasonable sum for the book, and since I borrowed all of her other novels from the library, I am happy to have contributed to Gray’s coffers. May she enjoy my shekels in good health and continue to devise the complex, dovetailed series plots and wonderful characterizations at which she excels.

From Amazon: Aboard the luxuriously appointed SS Majestic, the duke is on a mission to retrieve a most important portfolio of papers and thwart a known anarchist. As the ship steams across the Atlantic, the duke’s search for the notorious master of disguise forces him into close quarters with an American heiress and her widowed governess, Mrs. Penelope Schuyler. While Olympia has known his fair share of intriguing women, Mrs. Schuyler seems to have a way of challenging his expectations at every turn. But as their clandestine meetings lead them down an unexpected path, the duke must determine if Penelope is a woman to be trusted.

The Duke of Olympia appears in both of Gray’s published trilogies and I have described him previously as “a conniving old son of a bitch thoroughly experienced in shenanigans”. A compelling character, there is just one problem with giving him his own book and a love interest. He may be 6′ 5″ tall, hale and hearty, broad of chest and deep of voice, but he is seventy-four years old. It’s a perfectly reasonable age to fall in love in the real world, but for a romance novel he falls beyond the line for me. I could have lived with sixty. The heroine, Penelope, a delightful character, is just about fifty. Age differences, of course, grow less important in relationships the older we get, but Olympia is SEVENTY-FOUR years old and Penelope is young enough to be his daughter. I am a Woman of a Certain Age and The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match has the character equivalent of me becoming romantically involved with my father-in-law. I couldn’t get past it. If Penelope had been a decade older, or the Duke younger, I would have been delighted to read their story, but the combination of the vast age difference and his septuagenarian status became an insurmountable combination.

For a historical romance with large age difference that works, I recommend Julie Anne Long’s genre classic What I Did for a Duke. He’s pushing forty, she’s twenty and Long absolutely pulls it off.

Also by Juliana Gray:

The Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy
A Lady Never Lies
A Gentleman Never Tells
A Duke Never Yields – most recommended of the three

A Princess in Hiding Trilogy
How to Tame Your Duke
How to Master Your Marquis – most recommended of the three
How to School Your Scoundrel
The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match

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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