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.)

Continue reading “Review Revisited: Holly’s Take on A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant (2014)”
Rant, Review

Review: The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley (2018)

Advertisements for Love, Book #1

Heat Factor: Everything is very proper; the door is firmly closed.

Character Chemistry: Ewan is too obtuse to have chemistry with anyone. 

Plot: Dueling flower farms + Widow must protect her child + First love back from the dead + Battles over an inheritance + Newspaper advertisements for a husband

Overall: I haven’t been this angry about a hero in a long time.

Continue reading “Review: The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley (2018)”
Recommended Read, Review

Anthology Review: Mistletoe Christmas (2021)

Heat Factor: It’s deeply satisfying and has well-paced burn-y bits

Character Chemistry: Oh my god, the chemistry in all four of these love stories almost killed me. Killed me dead.

Plot: The Revelry is a major social event at the Duke of Greystoke’s country estate. Anyone who is anyone, is there. During this event, four couples find their way to happily-ever-after while getting through social hurdles and failing marriages, and dashed dreams…sigh.

Overall: This has to be the absolute best anthology I’ve read to date based on how many times I cried, and laughed, and laugh/cried, and scared my children with my book feelings.

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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.

Continue reading “Dueling Review: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1995)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Lord I Left by Scarlett Peckham (2020)

The Secrets of Charlotte Street, Book #3

Heat Factor: I’m way too prim and proper to tell you how smouldering this gets, but it burns

Character Chemistry: I have never been so distraught thinking that two people were doomed to be apart in my entire life, honest truth

Plot: Alice learns that her mother is at death’s door and accepts Lord Lieutenant Henry Evesham’s invitation to deliver her home as quickly as possible despite his role as an evangelical reformer tasked with investigating the sex worker trade and recommending changes. This is nuts, because Alice is currently a housekeeper in training to be a whipping girl at a house of pleasure in London…

Overall: Look, take everything you thought you knew about sex work and faith and romance novels about the above and just toss it out the window because this book is about to shake you to your BOOTS, I’m telling you

Continue reading “Review: The Lord I Left by Scarlett Peckham (2020)”