Recommended Read, Review

Review: Ravished by Amanda Quick (2005)

Heat Factor: It’s definitely not unusual for an old school trad published historical romance, but also they have sex in a cave before the 50% mark…so maybe it also is?

Character Chemistry: If you like that “I’ve been wronged and misunderstood, so I’m going to live down to everyone’s expectations” plus “I see through your mask and am the only one to call you on your b.s.” dynamic, this is that

Plot: Bluestocking spinster with no time for social niceties calls beastly and scandalous landowner to town because criminals are getting in the way of her archaeology; compromise and marriage ensues

Overall: Um, this book is awesomesauce.

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Back to Old School, Dueling Review

Back to Old School: The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss (1972)

Birmingham, Book #1

Heat Factor: “His warmth and passion” is “led on to his nest.”

Character Chemistry: Is it abuse or is it love? Hard to tell.

Plot: Brandon rapes Heather. They are forced to get married. And then Brandon takes Heather to South Carolina, where shenanigans occur and also they somehow decide they’re in love.

Overall: It’s all totally yikes or totally infuriating and sometimes both!

Please note: This book includes rape, abuse, chattel slavery, and ableism (among other things), which we discuss in this review.

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Recommended Read, Review

Review: Compromised into a Scandalous Marriage by Lydia San Andres (2022)

Heat Factor: They keep holding themselves back…until they don’t.

Character Chemistry: Sebastian is too darn noble for his own good, which means there’s a lot of pining.

Plot: Paulina’s Evil Older Brother puts her in a compromising position with Sebastian, and then catches them there, and then throws Sebastian in jail until he agrees to marry Paulina…but what’s his long game???

Overall: A perfectly delicious category romance.

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Recommended Read, Review Revisited

Review Revisited: Holly’s Take on A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant (2014)

Hey you! Yeah, you! 

Are you feeling Grinchy right about now? 

Would you like your heart to grow three sizes?

Yes? 

Then please go read A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong immediately. It might be the perfect Christmas romance. It’s utterly charming and includes just enough of the obligatory “let’s do Christmas cheer” activities without being twee. It features two protagonists for whom *everything* goes wrong (#relatable, what’s up 2021!), but things end up just right in the end (and my heart goes pitter-pat).

I agree with everything Erin wrote about the characterizations in her review. What she doesn’t discuss is how crisp the writing is. Not just on the level of plot and characterization—because the way Grant builds up the tension between these two crazy lovebirds is masterful—but also on the level of word choice. 

Here are the first two paragraphs:

The trouble, Andrew Blackshear would later reflect, might have all been avoided if he’d simply kept to the main road. His first glimpse of the girl would then have been indoors, seated, with her hair bound tidily back, and their first dialogue would have been an inquisition so tedious as to temper the allure of those great swooping clean-edged curves that made up her prodigal mouth.

But with no way of knowing what lay in store, he hadn’t any reason to avoid the detour. The clouds broke above him, he turned down a lane whose towering yews promised a bit of shelter, and trouble found him, in torrents that put the winter squall to shame.

“Trouble found him, in torrents that put the winter squall to shame.” Just sit and savor that clause. I am egregiously bad at text analysis, so I can’t explain how amazing it is, but I can feel it, in my guts.

Look, both Erin and I thought this book was really really wonderful. You should probably just trust us. (Read on for Erin’s thoughts on the characters, plus general squeeing.)

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Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1995)

This month, as part of talking about morality chain romances, we all read Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. It comes up frequently as a “canon” romance, but none of us had read it before. Spoiler alert: we all really liked it.

Scoundrels, Book #3

Let’s start by each giving our metrics for the book:

Holly

Heat Factor: Purple prose alert!

Character Chemistry: Sarcasm abounds. Also, she tells him that he’s sensitive and he’s baffled but she’s not wrong. 

Plot: Jessica must rescue her brother from the clutches of the Marquess of Dain. He compromises her. She shoots him. They get married. 

Overall: ZOMG. The plot gets a little saggy towards the end, but I still had a blast.

Erin

Heat Factor: Kissing in the RAIN! 💕 But yeah, standard histrom fare albeit on the steamy side

Character Chemistry: She’s competent AF and he’s a man baby, and they’re both super besotted, so it’s pretty excellent, in fact

Plot: antagonists → spouses → exasperated (Jessica)/emotionally constipated (Dain) → lovers

Overall: Bottom line, this is simply a very fun read

Ingrid

Heat Factor: Oh, my.

Character Chemistry: Had Dain been with any other woman, I would have hated it…but since he was with Jess…swoon.

Plot: Dain is fully committed to a life of debauchery when he meets Jessica, who is a spinster and really doesn’t have any time for his nonsense unless he’s got her pressed up against a wall. Once he ruins her and refuses to do the right thing, she shoots him, they negotiate, and they’re pretty much in a bout of emotional fencing until the book ends.

Overall: Obsessed.

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