If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know I adore romance novels. But, I typically only read contemporary romance and struggle with historical romance. I am not sure why, I adore historical fiction with a side of romance so what gives? Honestly, no idea. I’m pretty sure the only historical romance that I’ve written a full review for is Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore; read that review here.
I am in an online romance book club where we are supposed to read mostly historical, but we keep reading contemporary and I’m not complaining, but August’s pick was a Beverly Jenkins book so I guess that inspired me to keep reading them. Idk. I just got an idea to read historical romance and just sort of went with it and then couldn’t stop, because escapism?
Destiny’s Embrace (Destiny #1) by Beverly Jenkins
Time Period: 1800’s California
TW: abusive parent
Synopsis: Mariah leaves her home of Philadelphia (& her abusive mother) to become a housekeeper for Logan’s ranch in California. Logan does not want to be tied down, but Mariah and him have serious chemistry that has him rethinking his life plans.
I adore Beverly Jenkins. Had I read any of her books prior to this one? No. So I was hyped to read one of her books, unfortunately, I was not the biggest fan of this one. I’ve been in the biggest book slump and nothing has really been grabbing my attention lately. I enjoyed this book, but it took until about 50% for me to start liking it. I’ve also read a book with a similar plot and I liked that one better? I just kept comparing the two and this one kept falling short. This will not be my last book from Beverly Jenkins bc she is a romance queen. I just wasn’t the biggest fan of this one and I am not sure if it is just my slump talking or the book itself.
I loved Mariah & Alanza’s relationship and the banter with Mariah & Logan’s was fabulous. I will say I am trash for books set in California during this time period! The wagons! The societal rules, but we’re out west so we ignore them! The hardship! The dust! Idk I love it. Plus, I appreciated how Jenkins incorporated Indigenous and Spanish perspectives and did not gloss over that their land was stolen from them or their histories.
However, I love slow burn, and this was wayyy too fast for me. I honestly did not even realize it had only been two weeks until her mom showed up and was like, “it has been two weeks” I was like TWO WEEKS??? TWO WEEKS?? I also thought the conflict was wrapped up too quickly and I generally think the pacing of this novel is off (at least from what I like). There could have been more to unpack with Mariah’s trauma, but I did love that she got to face her mom and say, “YOU TREATED ME TERRIBLY” rather than just skipping off into the sunset with Logan, but it was way too quick. 3/5 stars
A Rogue of One’s Own (A League of Extraordinary Woman #2)
Time Period: 1880; London
TW: abusive parent
Synopsis: Lucie and Tristian knew each other and kids and now are battling over a printing press. Lucie wants to print her suffragette materials while Tristian wants to print his own things. They clash over everything, but yet keep running into each other.
So I really enjoyed this novel, it is in part the reason why my slump was broken, but there is some problematic content that cannot be ignored. I’m going to try to describe it without going into spoilers, but if you want more detail check out this Goodreads review. Essentially Tristan has a tattoo inspired by a South Asian deity on his chest and it is fetishized and seen as “exotic”. This tattoo is central to the big conflict at the end and is there is no reason it has to be of a South Asian deity. I also had an issue that the only gay character is a villain and it is done in a weird way that made me a bit uncomfortable. I also do not like that everyone in this book (except Tristan’s valet) is white. White woman were not the only one fighting for suffrage and women of color were typically in worse situations. The author should have at least acknowledged this once.
If you are able to set all that aside, this novel is great. I adored Tristan and Lucie’s banter and how they try so hard not to fall for each other. I laughed out loud a few times and honestly teared up at the ending.
My favorite part of this novel was seeing the duality of women explored and seeing how woman can be an activist, but can also fall in love. Lucie struggles to accept Annabelle’s marriage and how that has impacted her friend and seeing that struggle was realistic even by today’s standards. Also, cats. So many cute cats.
I am going to withhold my rating due to the problematic elements. I’m not going to tell you not to read it, just if you do, do so with a critical eye. I had a great time reading this one and wish the problematic content had been edited out because honestly if his tattoo was different and the author mentioned that people of color you know, existed, it would way better.
*Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review*
Synopsis: In this novel we follow Daniel (who is from both prior novels) & Janeta who is originally from Cuba and is biracial. They are paired up for a spy mission and both are fighting some serious internal battles in addition to working towards the goals of their cause.
I’ve reviewed books 1 & 2 of this series here + I LOVE Alyssa Cole’s books. This series is my favorite by her. It is just too good. All the main characters are spies for the Union and are fighting to end slavery. There is banter! romance! high stakes! adventure! All set with the serious backdrop of the Civil War.
This book is not super action packed and honestly they are just on their mission most of the time and having internal conflicts with themselves and external conflicts with each other and overall is a little slow, but I still enjoyed it. I just wanted to give both of them a hug the entire time.
Lowkey, wasn’t the biggest Daniel fan in the previous books, but wow I loved him in this one. I loved exploring his emotions and seeing why he acted the way he did. I finally understood his actions and everything just made sense. Janeta was also a fun narrator and seeing her become aware of the realities of life was heartbreaking. I loved them together.
Plus a CAMEO from Elle & Malcolm, which was fab. 4/5 stars
Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenals #6) by Lisa Kleypas
Time Period: 1876; London
TW: attempted assault
Synopsis: Cassandra is dreading going through another London Season, but still is holding onto the hope of marrying for love. Tom Severin only has five emotions and does not believe in love, but he wants to marry Cassandra. Of course they keep running into each other. London isn’t that big.
Prior to this book I had only read book five in this series, but in romance series it really does not matter. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have a bit more background, but it really was not needed.
I rarely get invested in historical romances super quickly, it usually takes a few chapters for me to get the vibe, but I was INTO this one by like chapter two and read 30 something percent in on sitting and would’ve read more if I did not have to sleep early ish for work. But, I read this in two nights. Loved it. Can’t wait to read more from Kleypas in the future.
Cassandra and Tom are just so soft together and I loved their stolen moments. We got a ball! We got an orphan kid! Cinderella vibes! I’m not sure if I would have appreciated it more if I knew the backgrounds of all the side characters, but honestly I had a fun time without knowing. I am a big sucker for a “heartless” man falling in love and it is done so well here.
My only complaint is the ending wasn’t my favorite. Everything is wrapped up too easily and the last fourth of the book does not have much action. Which wasn’t the worst bc we got a ton of cute moments, but when the ending then felt a bit rushed. 4/5 stars
If you read historical romance, what are some of your favorites?
Thanks for reading!