Historical Romance

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #10

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I finished two historicals by Joanna Shupe in the past few weeks - A Daring Arrangement and an ARC of A Notorious Vow (out on Sept 25) - books 1 and 3 in her new Gilded Age series.

A Notorious Vow
A historical romance with a deaf reclusive hero, and a virgin noble heroine as MCs. I liked the disability rep (I have no experience with deafness myself, so I'm speaking from the position of an outsider), we see the deaf hero in a position of privilege and how the support and the good financial situation helped him and provided him with opportunities to succeed despite being deaf. Still, there was a poignant plot element revealing the vulnerability (in legal and purely personal sense) of deaf people at the time.

I loved the hero but I was not the biggest fan of the heroine. He was interesting, smart, caring, loving and I enjoyed following his character journey. She, on the other had, she was very much the meek, clueless virgin heroine we so often see in historical romance. It took a while for her to stand up for herself and to act with more confidence and determination and by the end of the book I had much more respect for her.

My main complaint was that the villains felt like caricatures of evilness rather than real people. Her her parents, his cousin, they were over the top in their villainy and lacked nuanced and character development. 3.5 stars

CW for scenes of violence and abuse in mental hospital, ableist language (that got challenged on page). 

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A Daring Arrangement
I loved this fun fake engagement romance. And it was all because of the heroine who was, bubbly and energetic, doing everything for love, daring, spontaneous while also having moments of self doubt and insecurity. 

The hero was rather interesting too - successful and smart, bon vivant, not ashamed of how much money he makes and he spends freely and with abandon. He does everything to help the heroine while trying in vain not to fall for her.

Like book 3, I found the villain here to be too villainous though there was more background and motivation to his actions.

The story gives us interesting reflections on the change of morel values, with the heroine coming to realise that there might not be just one and only true love.

There was a lot of action and plot twists towards the end which I quite enjoyed. I loved seeing the excess and glamour of the Gilded Age all through the story.

Overall, this was an interesting and very engaging historical romance with a wonderful heroine and a most caring hero. 4 stars

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I'm finally giving up on Stripped by Zoey Castile. I left it at 60% a couple of weeks ago and I'm not motivated to finish it. I was drawn to the premise of a Latina school teacher and a male stripper getting together but the book didn't deliver. It's told in dual POV first person present tense and it felt juvenile and flat. Both characters were in their late 20s and were going through some sort of of early mid-life crisis. While we got some insight as to why he was starting to feel dissatisfied with his job and his life in general, her total loss of control over life was never properly explained. I needed to see more of their motivation.

I hated the subplot with her school principal, it was silly and didn't add anything important to the story. On the plus side, I liked the hero, his band of stripper brothers and their interactions were quite entertaining, I also found the relationship between the heroine and her best friend interesting but that was not enough to save this for me. 

Currently reading: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh, contemporary m/f romance with Indian MCs, arranged marriage. I have some minor quibbles but it's mostly good so far, very romantic.


Ada Harper

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #9

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It's been a couple of weeks since I did my last Mini Reviews and Reading Recap post. Life has been busy but I did read some great books and here are my reviews of them.

A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper


What a great sci-fi/dystopian romance! I don't reach much SF but some friends on Twitter were raving about it so I decided to give it a try.

It depicts a futuristic world with genetic engineering and fertility/reproduction issues (CW).

I enjoyed the story a lot, both the twisty thriller/royal coup plot and the romance arc. Both leading characters had powerful presence and together with the supporting cast made their world vibrant, diverse and memorable. This is very heroine-focused story and Olivia was an amazing character and had me rooting for her to succeed from the very start. She is a wonderfully drawn, complex, a prickly assassin who can be deadly for her enemies and loyal to her friends. I loved her growth and opening up to caring about others and allowing herself to ask for help. 

Hero is the most kind and caring partner but also a deadly warrior like her. I loved his devotion to his family (his support for his sister who is the Empress) and his people. His love for Olivia was a thing of beauty. There was so much care and consideration and respect for her boundaries. He was patient and supportive and in total awe of her strength and skills. 

I liked how the author weaved together a story of fated mates, mixed with complex issues of fertility, consent, agency and choice. I absolutely love the idea of the mating bond not necessarily being romantic, it's the strong connection of support and care and understating between any two people (On a side note, I would have loved to see the bond Galen had with his best friend and if/how it was affected after the romantic and sexual bond between him and Olivia happened).

There is great supporting cast, including a gay couple and a transgender boy, whom I really liked and felt fitted well into the story/the world 

A SF romance full of lots of action and plot twists, court intrigue, ancient culture and futuristic technologies co-existing to create and intriguing and unforgettable tale of love and war. 5 Stars

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A Treason of Truths by Ada Harper
This is the second book in the series but works well as standalone too. There is intriguing world-building, lots of description on nanotechnology and bio-engineering. I liked it but felt the focus was more on the action/adventure than the romance. Lyre and Sabine both are interesting characters and there was some angst in their relationship but not enough tension/conflict. 

This story is a curios mix of futuristic world and adherence to all royal/noble traditions. We get a f/f romance set in a world where queer relationships are a part of the world in the same way as heterosexual ones are. The love scenes were tender and low-heat compared to book one.

In short this story gives the readers a fast-paced, cleverly built dystopian world, interesting MCs, some pining, some tender loving and a most glorious declaration of love at the end. 3.5 stars

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Fool Me Forever by Ainslie Paton

This is the second book in her modern day Robin Hood series The Confidence Game. This time we get the shy, bookish hero and the only woman who knows he is a con and doesn't want to have anything to do with him.

There is great chemistry between the MCs but she carries lots of baggage because of her family and his family and what they do/want in life. There is a a strong conflict at the heart of the story which leads to bot MCs reevaluating  their principles and core values. I loved how life is shown to be complex and sometimes you are faced with impossible choices. This story shows how love can make two people happy being together and what they have to sacrifice to make things work between them. 

It's an escapist fun kind of story, yet very real about relationships both love and family ones, and the choices we make that define who we are. 4 stars

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Currently reading: A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe, m/f historical set in New York at the Gilded Age, deaf reclusive hero, virgin noble heroine. I'm enjoying it a lot so far. It comes out on Sept 25.


Alyssa Cole

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #8

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I haven't done much reading while on vacation but I did read some amazing stories. Here are my short reviews on the first two books in Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series. 

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

In three words - I loved it. So fun and so much depth. Entertaining, everything I need in my romances - real, flawed characters, messy emotions, a bit (royal) drama, interesting family and friendship dynamics. There is so much to talk about in this book. Heroine discovers she has ADHD, she is not messy and flighty and unreliable but brilliant and determined. Divorced older hero who doesn't want to fall in love. No cheating evil ex, but rather an amicable divorce where they are still friends. I can't recommend it enough. I loved the female friendship, old and newly emerging ones, his family is pure gold. On top of the fabulous romance this story also presents a topical comment on immigration, gentrification, the aristocracy. I related so much to her way of expressing love  through care.Brilliant, one of my top reads of 2018!
5 stars


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A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

I read this after book 2 but it didn't affect my enjoyment in the least (other than seeing the old Portia in not so flattering light). This is a light, fun, sort of dreamy, sweep-me-off-my-feet royal romance. I loved the STEM heroine, the prince in disguise also worked well. Alyssa Cole tells a modern-day fairy tale which the perfect feel good read. I enjoyed the details of life in New York and then in second half, all the magic and beauty (and court intrigue) of a made up kingdom of Thesolo.
I loved the female friendships in the story, both old and new. I was not happy with he way Thabiso lied to her and misled her initially but I managed to forgive him by the end.
Overall, this is a magical, fun and relaxing read which I enjoyed immensely.
3.5 stars

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Currently reading: I started Stripped by Zoey Castile but had to stop at 70% because it was not working for me and I was getting close to hate reading it. I will try to finish it in order to write a proper mini review, hopefully next week. So, now I'm reading A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper. I'm less than halfway through and I'm riveted, such a brilliant sci-fi, post-apocalyptic m/f romance. I can't wait to finish it and start the next one, A Treason of Truths. It's a f/f romance and I already have an ARC. 


Charlie Adhara

Min Reviews and Reading Recap #7

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Post vacation mini reviews. I'm behind both on reading and on reviewing but here is some books I read lately and really enjoyed.

Make Me Fall by Sara Rider

It's the second book in the series but works well as standalone too. I often read m/f for the heroes but this series is all about the heroines I love them both so much. It's enemies to lovers with some opposites attract romance. 
Nora is a germaphobe and is very particular and rules and order, all things that make it difficult to make new female friends in her 30s and to start dating again after her divorce. I loved how Eli treated her, how he cared about her, doing everything to make her feel comfortable, accepted. He loved her because of her quirks and not despite them. And she got to make friends with people who appreciated and valued her in all her complexity. Like the previous book, interesting family and friendship dynamics on top of a great romance arc. I highly recommend the series and I'm already looking forward to the next book. Out on September 24

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The Wolf at Bay by Charlie Adhara

This is the second book in m/m romantic suspense/mystery series with werewolves. It follows the same couple and you need to read The Wolf at the Door first. A bit of uneven pacing but an intriguing suspense plot and a strong romance arc + great family dynamics! I will review it in more detail closer to release date (Sept 24). I appreciate the anxiety rep and greatly recommend the series. 

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Currently reading: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. I finished A Duke by Default last week and immediately went back to read book 1. They are so much fun and I'm enjoying them immensely. I will review them together in the next Mini Reviews and Reading Recap post.

Book recs

What to Read: Pirate Romances

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I haven't read any pirate romances, well except Peter Darling by Austin Chant which is a trans retelling of Peter Pan and which I absolutely love. Here is what my Twitter friends came up with when I ask for romances with pirate MCs. Some are older historicals (which might have some problematic aspects). There are also somemore recent romances across different subgenres (queer retellings, steampunk).



Guardian Angel (Crown Spies #2) and The Gift (Crown Spies #3) by Julie Garwood

Gentle Rogue (Malory-Anderson Family #3) by Johanna Lindsey


The Captain of All Pleasures  Sutherland #1) and The Price of Pleasure (Sutherland #2) by Kresley Cole

The Captain’s Lady by Jo Goodman 

The Pirate Lord (The Lord trilogy #1) by Sabrina Jeffries and Deborah Martin


The Charm School (Calhoun Chronicles #1) by Susan Wiggs

The Pirate Prince (Ascension Trilogy #1) by Gaelen Foley

The Regency Pirates series by Jennifer Ashley

Never Trust a Pirate (Scandal at the House of Russel) by Anne Stuart 

Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress (The Bachelor's Chronicles #5) by Elizabeth Boyle


Blow Me Down by Katie MacAlister, swashbuckling romcom

Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook, steampunk pirate romance.

The Windflower by Laura London


Her Pirate from the Past: A Time Travel Romance by Caro Carson 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, YA fantasy loosely based on The Little Mermaid


Queer Pirate Romances

Branded Ann by Merry Shannon, f/f pirate romance

Peter Darling by Austin Chant, trans retelling of Peter Pan

The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin by Colette Moody, f/f pirate romacne

Kidnapped by the Pirate by Keira Andrews, m/m pirate romance


On a Lee Shore by Elin Gregory, m/m pirate romance

Ransom  (Royal Navy #1) by Lee Rowan, m/m pirate romance (although the pirates are the bad guys and our heroes are officers in the Navy)

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, historical YA, out in October 2018. I believe the heroine is on the ace spectrum.


Some Goodreads lists with pirate romances

Historical Pirate Romances

Best gay Pirate/Sailor Romances

Pirate/Swashbuckling Romances

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Note: The book titles are Amazon affiliate links. The series titles link to the first book in the series. 

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