Monday, October 01, 2007

Historical romances binge

September has gone and looking back, to my great surprise, I've read a huge number of historical romances... Hmmm, ppl knowing me know that historical is not my favorite genre... so that's why I'm soo surprised LOL. Although I read many, I haven't reviewed any ^^; That's why I decided to review them all in this post... Beware, this might be long :P

The Firebrand by Susan Wiggs
published by Mira in 2001
In one catastrophic night, unconventional debutante Lucy Hathaway meets and propositions powerful banker Randolph Higgins, risks her life to save a baby girl, then loses her father and the family fortune in the chaos of the great Chicago fire. Five years later, she's older, wiser, and the proud owner of The Firebrand, a bookstore that caters to suffragettes and free thinkers. Fate throws her once again into the path of Randolph Higgins when she must apply to his bank for an extension on the loan that financed her bookstore. She discovers that Randolph is now a scarred, bitter, divorced man, and that he believes his daughter died in the fire. One glance at the photo on his desk tells her that Maggie, the child she saved and adopted that terrible night, is his lost daughter.

Lucy's strong sense of honor drives her to tell Randolph the truth. Now the conservative banker and the fiercely independent Lucy must deal with each other for Maggie's sake. Despite the resulting clash of wills and differing political views, the powerful attraction that drew them together five years earlier still exists. Can these two stubborn, opinionated people find a way to nurture a life together, for the sake of Maggie and their own battered hearts?
The key word in here, "stubborn." I like my heroine strong with a mind of their own; however, I don't like them irrationally stubborn... which is often a problem with heroines who are reporters (the whole, "the public has a right to know") or, unfortunately, suffragettes. Seriously, I would not have liked to live at the time era where we had to fight for our rights. Anyway, Lucy skirts the line here with being irrationally stubborn, but she saves herself with all the sacrifices she makes for Maggie and Rand. It also helps that Rand is as stubborn as her and due to his own divorce, is very reluctant to listen to her. So the hero and heroine balance each other well. Otherwise, I like the plot as this is one of my favorite kind (two persons marrying each other for the sake of a child and falling in love) and this is, as usual, very well written. A B from me.

Nobody's Darling by Teresa Medeiros
published by Bantam Books in April 1998
Dear Reader,

I never enjoyed being a wanted man until the day Miss Esmerelda Fine marched into the Tumbleweed Saloon and pointed her derringer straight at my heart. Who would have guessed some duke's granddaughter--an awfully pretty one at that--would come gunning for the likes of me, a notorious bounty hunter with a taste for whiskey and a fondness for peach pie? Lucky for me, she was a mighty poor shot. Instead of killing me, she hired me to find her runaway brother. Little did she know she was about to make the acquaintance of a flea-bitten basset hound named Sadie, the infamous Darling Gang, and my shotgun-toting kinfolk. And little did I know she was about to lead me on a merry chase that would take us from a bungled bank robbery to the very first Wild West show to tour London, England.

I should have turned down her offer. I should have resisted her charms. But I didn''t.

Because there comes a time in every man''s life when he''s got nothing left to lose...but his heart.

Billy Darling
I got this book back in June when I was in Toronto on Kristie and Cindy's recommendation. However, it's Isabel's review at Book Binge that made me pick it up and finally read it. Also, the back blurb is awesome. I really loved Billy Darling, I thought he was a great hero... however, I thought Esme was a bit typical - hard working woman who raised her younger sibling. I was not attracted to her and thought she didn't match Billy well. Also, mid-way through the book, I started losing interest in the story. Wasn't interested at all when Esme went to England... However, the ending as well as the epilogue saved the book. I especially like the epilogue and wish Ms Medeiros would do something with it. So because of Billy, the beginning and epilogue, I still give this book a B.

Madame's Deception by Renee Bernard
published by Pocket Books in 2007
When an innocent takes over a bordello, can her seduction be far behind?

Jocelyn Tolliver believes that her mother's couture business financed her European boarding school education. Imagine her shock when she discovers that her dying mother is the infamous Madame of London's elite Crimson Belle. Promising to care for the bordello and its ladies, Jocelyn, a virginal bookworm, transforms herself and is soon known as the reclusive Madame DeBourcier.

Rakish Alex Randall, Lord Colwick, is determined to win admittance to the intriguing Madame's bed. His outrageous attempts to garner her favor cannot go unnoticed for long. . . When danger threatens the elegant women of the Belle, Jocelyn strikes a bargain with Alex, hoping he can provide some protection. But Jocelyn's deception forces her and Alex into a passionate battle of wills in which all illusions will be shattered . . . and all desires fulfilled.
I got this one after reading Ames' review. I thought the back blurb sounded good and I was looking for something a bit different. This book is no.2 in the series, but it stands alone quite well. As Ames said, this was a light and fluffy read, and I did enjoyed it while reading it. The problem comes afterwards... When you think back of it, you wonder what you've read... I have to say, it's as if there was no plot... there's a mystery, but it isn't the focus, Alex and Jocelyn fall in bed rather quickly, and the conflict seemed easily resolved. I think the problem with this book is I thought it was too passive and I didn't get suck in it enough. I give it a B- because it was light and enjoyable, but it's easily a skippable book. And yes, Ames, the cover is very pretty.

It's In His Kiss by Julia Quinn
published by Avon Romance in 2005

MEET OUR HERO… Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth’s sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past… and the key to his future. The problem is--it’s written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

MEET OUR HEROINE… All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there’s something about her--something charming and vexing--that grabs him and won’t quite let go…

MEET POOR MR. MOZART… Or don’t. But rest assured, he’s spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual--an annually discordant--Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth’s every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other… and that there is nothing as simple--or as complicated--as a single, perfect kiss.
This is the book before last of the Bridgerton series and perhaps not the best book to start the series, but what is done is done and what is read is read ^^; I don't know much about the Bridgertons and this book does well in not bringing the past heroines and heroes back; however, I don't have a sense of the family dynamics and I thought it was unfortunate. I mean, when you have such a huge family, it's fun to see the dynamics of it. This book was enjoyable, but quite typical no? I mean, there was nothing very original... I didn't dislike the hero or heroine, but at the same time, I didn't love them either... my favorite character was probably Gareth's grandmother LOL :) All in all, a B- for this book. It was enjoyable, but lack originality and didn't make me want to go and read more about the rest of the Bridgertons.

Just Wicked Enough by Lorraine Heath
published by Avon Romance in August 2007
Michael Tremayne, Marquess of Falconride, needs money and lots of it. So he does what any sensible Englishman with a title would do––he approaches the fathers of wealthy heiresses and auctions himself off! But this marriage of convenience is turning out to be anything but.

Michael’s new wife, Katherine Rose, decided a long time ago never to accept anything less than true love. And if she can’t have that, her marriage will be strictly a business relationship. Michael finds the situation unacceptable, but at the same time finds himself admiring his wife’s quick wit and determination. So he set about doing the one thing he never imagined––wooing his wife.
This was an interesting one :D I read the review at Sybil's and then rushed to the bookstore later that afternoon. The premise is quite different... Michael is in need of money and instead of wooing an heiress with the possibility of it not working out at the end, he decides to auction himself. His reasons behind was quite noble and his reasoning, quite logic actually. I really liked Michael and how he put aside his pride and dignity for his mother... the scenes with his mother was also quite heart-breaking. Then you had Kate Rose who was married at the age of 17, but her parents had the marriage annulled. She's still in love with her ex-husband and heart-broken, because he has just married. She refuses to let Michael in their marriage bed, because he doesn't know and love her. Also, just to make things worse, she's the one who holds all the money... I thought all the attempts of Michael were quite sweet and that he really did end up loving her... not just trying to get in bed because of his physical needs. My problems were with Kate though... For half the book, she's still mooning over her previous husband whom she still "love." I thought that in comparison to Michael, she didn't try very hard to get to know him, to love him. And all her attempts to get to know him were pretty callous. She went about it the wrong way... So I give this book a B+... loved the story, I thought it was different, loved Michael... even liked Kate, but thought she should have tried more...

If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman
published by Zebra/Kensington in September 2007

Shy by nature, Emma Hathaway usually leaves the drama to her rebellious cousin, Marisol. But when Emma agrees to meet with her cousin's secret lover to end the affair, she is pulled into a dangerous game. Now Emma is convinced her involvement in the scandal has put her life in jeopardy. The trouble is none of Emma's confidantes believe anyone is trying to harm her. As whispers of madness begin, Emma turns to the only person who might be able to help... The very handsome, barely respectable Restell Gardner has gained a reputation for helping people out of compromising positions. Never one to turn away a lady in need, Restell agrees to help solve the intrigue. Sensing there is more to the green-eyed beauty than meets the eye, Restell feels himself falling for Emma. But he resists succumbing to his least until he learns the truth about the danger that is haunting her. For if he gives in to temptation too soon, he could lose Emma forever...
Hmmm, I tried to read Jo Goodman before and I'm not a huge fan... I wasn't going to try this book, but then, caved in after all the good comments about this book. Long story short, I liked the characters and the story. While delivering a message for her cousin, Emma get kidnaps and beaten. Thinking that her cousin might be in danger, Emma gathers all her courage and goes to Restell Gardner to seek his help. Restell agrees and after another incident in which Emma almost drown, Restell proposes to her: marriage and protection. I really liked the characters and enjoyed the story. Restell is kind of enigmatic, there's something to him... He's not a rake, but not totally the gentleman... I guess his mother is right to call him rascal. I don't think that he was in love with Emma when he proposed, although I don't see another explanation. I liked Emma well enough. Very strong and calm... One of the best part I think is when Restell brought Emma to the gaming hall. My only problem with the book was the voice. I don't really like Ms Goodman's voice... I find it too formal and it makes it hard to get into the storyline. It doesn't have the same fluidity as other authors, even with good characters and plot... that's why I'm giving this book a B+ instead of anything higher.

Finally, probably the review everyone's been waiting:

Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
published by Avon Romance in October 2007
When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the "ton," Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’ s dreams, Cam has tired of society’ s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “ uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship— but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter...
I've read many of Ms Kleypas' novels and for the most part, I find them so so. I still don't understand everyone's praise for Devil in Winter which I found again, only so-so... Anyway, wasn't going to buy it, but pretty much everyone went out and bought it... Can't be left behind right?

To my surprise, I quite enjoyed the book... Basically, Amelia is 26 years old and looking over her family, which includes an older brother, Leo, who's the new Lord Ramsey, and 3 younger sisters. Leo has lost the love of his life recently and is heart-broken and therefore, drinks, gambles and whores himself to forget... leaving Amelia to hold the fort. While out searching for her brother, she meets Cam Rohan at Jenner's... both are attracted to each other, but don't believe they'll meet again. Destiny has decided otherwise and reunites them at Westcliff's lands (Ramsey lands and Westcliff's are neighbors)... Meanwhile, Cam's pretty tired of his life and feels restless. Then he meets Amelia and he feels attracted to her... and decided she might be just what he needs...

So yeah, I enjoyed it a lot :D I think Ms Kleypas strength is when the hero is not from nobility. Cam was an interesting hero... he's torn between two cultures and have to make a decision. I really liked him a lot and how he always came through for Amelia. Meanwhile, Amelia wasn't a bad heroine. She was great in fact, except for the fact that she kept repeating she didn't want to marry and would be a spinster. I mean, please, when love comes knocking, just don't push it away. I enjoyed the dynamics of the family and there were quite a number of funny scenes. Three complaints however: 1) Kind of disappointed that Cam always showed up to help Amelia when she needed it... couldn't show how strong Amelia is... 2) there wasn't much of a plot... I mean, event happened one after the other and it made sense, but there wasn't that much of a plot. However, the characters were interesting and the author's voice, great and so it work out good... in which case, the treasure-hunting was superfluous. The Hathaways didn't need the treasure once Cam asked Amelia to marry him... 3) Win and Merripen (Amelia's sister and their surrogate Roma's brother). Does Win love Merripen, are they going to end up together? That was one of the storyline that wasn't tied up and personally, I don't want them to get their own story. If they get their own book, it's just bound to get more complicated and perhaps Win and Merripen won't be together :P Okay, I got carried away... overall, a B+ from me :D

ps- is Hathaway such a popular name? because three of the heroines are Hathaways LOL :)


  1. Firebrand was the first Susan Wiggs I'd ever read and I really liked it. Thanks for reminding me of it ~ I may have to reread it again at some point.

  2. I have The Firebrand to read too. (I got it in a box of books my co-worker gave me). Wasn't sure if it was quite my think tho. Hmm. Maybe.

  3. I liked It's in his kiss. A lot of people didn't. You should really read the series. It's really good except for the last book.

  4. The Firebrand is one of my all-time favorites. There's a scene in their bedroom after they get married where Rand kisses Lucy and tells her that she makes him want to be a better person. Gets me every single time ::choking up here::

  5. Hmmmm- Really liked Nobody's Darling. Adored Jo Goodman's book. You're right about her writing being formal - good word. But for me it works because I think the time was more formal. It makes it seem more realistic for me. That's one of her big pluses.
    I think we have about the same grade for The Firebrand
    And I haven't done a review yet but I really enjoyed Mine 'til Midnight. So of the ones you've reviewed that I read - we're pretty close :)

  6. I've read the Wiggs book, the Goodman book and, just finished Kleypas book.

    Our grades are pretty similar even if for different reasons. I liked the Kleypas book even if a few reviews I've read don't like all the secondary characters. I don't think they are intrusive to the primary relationship or detract from the book being a stand alone.

    My only quibble with MTM is Amelia taking so long to say 'yes' when we know she wants to and the reasons she's holding out aren't the reasons a woman of those times would be worried about...I don't think.

    Okay, I'm done now. :-)

  7. Dev - I enjoyed it, but I like Susan Wiggs contemporary better I guess. Have a nice reread :D

    Zeek - Hmmm, I think you would enjoy it :D and you usually like historicals :D Anyway, just give it a try :D

    Isabel - It's in his Kiss wasn't bad... it's just, not much happened ^^; I think I have one or two more books of the series at home... Going to give it a try and see...

    Wendy - True, there was some great moments... I guess I just don't like the suffragettes books. I like the scene at the end too :D

    Kristie - I don't know about Nobody's Darling... I just "unhooked" mid-way... :( and yeah, Jo Goodman's style is formal and I know that the time period is more formal and so it fits... I just have difficulty reading through it though :(

    and you know, nothing better than having other readers agree with your grades/thoughts :D

    Rosie - Like I said to Kristie, it's a relief when other people agree with the grades :P even if it's for different reasons :P

    In MTM, I didn't mind the secondary characters... and I agree with you, took Amelia too much time to say yes.

  8. Ooh, lots of great books on your list, I'm dying to read my copy of Mine Til Midnight by LK and I wanted to read the books that you've read from Izzy and Ames reviews, I've got those marked on my TBBS list...=)

  9. Okay, I'm now convinced I can buy the Kleypas - I like when her heroes aren't of the ton. Firebrand sounds interesting but I have a hard time reading stories set during that time and then uh, how was the heat level ;)

    Nobody's Darling did start to drag when they got to England but before that I loved it!

    I have yet to read a Jo Goodman but I'm not sure I want to read 'formal' writing. I find it too cold.


  10. Rowena - LOL, yes, lots of good books :D I hope you enjoy MTM.

    Cindy - Yep, the beginning of Nobody's Darling was great. I really like the ending as well. The Firebrand was an interesting book... but the heat-level wasn't very high. I'd say, medium?