Random (but not really)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Books of 2018: Romance

I believe that all of these are boinking books. Which means that I really liked the writing to have read multiple books by the same author in the same series.


Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1994)(8/10)

This is an older book, but it was so fun I couldn’t leave it out.

This book opens with a glimpse of the childhood of Lord Dain. Which is the only thing that lets you tolerate his behavior towards… pretty much everyone.

Jessica Trent wants to remove her brother from the circle of Lord Dain before he loses all the family money and leaves her with nothing. So she does her best to convince Dain.

Dain may be a complete jerk, but she generally has the upper hand.

(discussing a miniature of the Virgin Mary) “And she’s almost smiling. Usually they look exceedingly unhappy.”

“Cross, Miss Trent. They look exceedingly ill tempered. I suppose it’s on account of being virgins— of experiencing all the unpleasantness of breeding and birthing and none of the jolly parts.”

“Speaking on behalf of virgins everywhere, my lord,” she said, leaning toward him a bit, “I can tell you there are a host of jolly experiences. One of them is owning a rare work of religious art worth, at the very minimum, five hundred pounds.”

Dain is a complete jerk, which makes the back and forth between the two all the more wonderful.

Bewitching Benedict (2017) C.E. Murphy (8/10)

This is an historical romance along the lines of Georgette Heyer, with twists and turns and conniving aunts with fortunes and war heroes etc.

It’s a fun romp.


The Haverston Family series by Alissa Johnson

Nearly a Lady (2011)(8/10), An Unexpected Gentleman (2011)(8/10), Practically Wicked (2016)(8/10)

These are three stories of impoverished young women trying to do the best for their families.

I like that there were misunderstandings between the couples, but they were dealt with by (of all things) talking out the problem. Most of the issues were because the women wanted to keep their families safe, and didn’t trust the men to do so.

I also liked that when there were kids, they were written as… kids.

The only whirlwind was George, who strenuously objected to having to bathe and wear Sunday clothes on a Friday and made his displeasure known by leaping out of the tub and streaking about the house while screeching at the top of his lungs like a soapy, irate piglet.

I really love Alissa Johnson’s writing–she writes realistic characters with realistic problems (even if the solution of rich and handsome eligible men seems like it would be finite.


Band Sinister (2018) K.J. Charles (8/10)

Like other KJ Charles, this is a M/M romance, however, there is also a secondary romance with the sister.

Although there is boinking, there is far less than usual for a KJ Charles.

And like most KJ Charles books, there is a varied cast of characters, including men of color, one of whom is a freed slave.

It’s a sweet story, and I really enjoyed it.


The Sins of the City series by K.J. Charles

An Unseen Attraction (2017)(9/10), An Unnatural Vice (2017)(8/10)

An Unseen Attraction is the first KJ Charles book I read, and although I was a bit taken aback by the amount of boinking, I adored the fact that the main character, Clem Tallyfer, was complicated–he was a bastard, a child of rape, barely acknowledged by his family, and struggling not only with his Indian heritage but also with what struggles to make sense of social interactions.

The three books all revolve around his family, and then men who become involved in the entanglements of Clem’s half-brother. Which meant there was a fair amount of mystery (which of course I liked).


The Society of Gentlemen series by K.J. Charles

A Fashionable Indulgence (2016)(8/10), A Seditious Affair (2016)(8/10)

This series is about a group of friends who have an exclusive society–partially because they are friends and partially because they all could be hung or prosecuted for sodomy.

I did not read this series in order–I read A Seditious Affair which fascinated me because one of the men is struggling with his desires to be dominated, and how his best friend struggles to accept those needs.

The two men are extremely different–a lord and a writer of seditious pamphlets who both love books and literature.

One of the things I very much like about KJ Charles books is that these relationships have additional struggles in that their relationships are illegal–they cannot openly display their affections, which makes it even more difficult to have a relationship.

That aspect makes the stories even more fascinating.


Unfit to Print (2018) K.J. Charles (8/10)

This is a stand alone story.

Gil is the son of a wealthy man and that man’s housemaid, but unlike many, Mr Lawes claimed his son, despite his dark skin. Unfortunately, after his father’s death Gil was thrown out by his half-brother.

Vikram has been a lawyer for years, fighting (often for free) for the poor and dispossessed–much to the chagrin of his parents, who wanted him to represent his people, perhaps in the house of Commons.

The two men had been best friends in school, but after the death of Gil’s father, hadn’t seen each other again. When Vikram is asked to find a missing boy who worked the streets to help support his family, he discovers that one of the sellers of prurient materials who might have a lewd photograph of the missing boy is none other than his long lost friend.

I very much liked the mystery, but what I like best about KJ Charles books is how she focuses upon the people who were present but invisible to much of society because of their color or nationality as well as their poverty.


Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances (2017) Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole (8/10)

This is a trio of novellas set during the revolutionary war, and revolving around Alexander Hamilton, in that his wife is collecting stories of those times.

These are LGBTQ romances, as you can tell by a close look at the cover.

If you’ve not read any of the authors (I’d only read Courtney Milan) this book is a great introduction, with three very good stories.


The Lawrence Browne Affair (2017)(8/10) and The Ruin of a Rake (2017)(8/10) by Cat Sebastian

The thread that ties these two books together is Simon, Lord Radonor’s acknowledged son.

The first book is about Lord Radnor and the confidence man who ends up his secretary (because he’s fled London) and ends up making Lord Radnor pay attention to his son–and the rest of the world.

The second book is about Simon’s uncle, who is such a notorious rake that even Lord Radnor (who is as oblivious as they come) wants Lord Courtenay to stay as far away from Simon as possible, and the son of a businessman who has struggled to become accepted by proper society.

The fact that Courtenay’s primary goal is to make sure Simon is safe and loved is why I wanted Courtenay to be happy. The second fact that the man who ended up being his partner was incredibly unlikable made me fascinated.

The Books of 2018

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