I won’t go through my history with historical romance novels, but if you missed part one, and are curious, check it out here.
During this pandemic, I’ve found myself reaching for historical romances way more than every before. I’ve also been enjoying them way more than before. It does not help that Bridgerton on Netflix dropped and has been everywhere (see my series review here). Basically the only thing my brain can focus on outside of school work and actual work are historical romances so I’m just going with the flow.
To Love & Loathe by Martha Waters
Time Period: ??
Published: April 6, 2021
TW: death of a family member, grief, gambling addiction mention, alcohol mention, neglect from guardians (from this review on Goodreads since I didn’t finish the book)
Synopsis: Diana and Jeremy have been in the same friend group for years and decide to have a no strings attached affair.
So I DNF’d this one at 55%. I could possibly see myself coming back to this one, but I just did not care about anything going on. This book reminds me of why I thought I did not like historical romance. I did like some of the themes that were going on that subverted the classic HR tropes, but I could not get into the story. I also was not the biggest fan of the writing. I’m sad because this cover is too cute. But, we can’t like them all.
*Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this one in exchange for an honest review*
Her Night with The Duke by Diana Quincy (Clandestine Affairs #1)
Time Period: 1814 England, mostly
Published: September 29, 2020
TW: attempted sexual assault on page, racism, vomit, pregnancy
Synopsis: Delilah is coming home to visit her dead husband’s daughter, who she still looks at like a daughter, when she has a one night stand with a gentleman. She arrives home and finds out that the man she can’t stop thinking about is engaged to her step daughter.
I read 50% of this one in one sitting which is always fun. I am rarely a fan of the “one night stand and then we meet again” trope and was generally skeptical about the plot, but it is so well done here. This one feels a bit different from other historical I’ve read, as Delilah is a widower and is Angelo-Arab. This novel is also Own Voices, but I cannot comment on the representation since I am not a part of this group, I always like seeing different cultures represented in historical novels. Overall, I really enjoyed this one.
I will say that the guy was not the best and I wanted more from him. Delilah could do better lol, but I had a fun time reading this one which is basically all I want from a historical. 5/5 stars
Lady of Secrets by G.S. Carr (Ladies of Civil War #1)
Year: 1863, New York (mostly)
Published: March 3, 2020
TW: racism, slavery, attempted assault
Synopsis: Henrietta Wright is a free Black woman who is a school teacher whose family is set on her marrying an upstanding Black man. But, she falls in love with an Irish immigrant who works for her family. Henrietta also wants to help the Union and ends up becoming a spy.
I really liked the beginning of this one, but it just sort of started falling flat as we went on. I liked Henrietta, a free Black woman who is a school teacher and Elijah was fine, but I was not invested in their character arcs of them as a couple. I am not a fan of when charcters are like “we cannot be together because x y z” and then get together and are surprised when x y z happens. It always comes across as making the characters seem dumb.
The characters could have done with a bit more depth, there is a two year time jump in the beginning (that I 100% get why it was done), but I would have liked more small momennts between Elijah and Henrietta before they realized they ~loved~ eachother.
Also, for being billed as a spy book (at least a bit) that really isn’t a bit plot point until later on. The pacing felt off to me since I often felt that we missed scenes that would have been beneficial. Overall, I just wasn’t the biggest fan unfortunately, beaucse the premise was so good. For a historical romance it is a quick read though. 3/5 stars
Rebel (Women Who Dare #1) by Beverly Jenkins
Year: 1867, New Orleans
Published: May 28, 2019
TW: white supremacy, violence towards POC, racism, mentions of slavery
Synopsis: Valinda is a free woman who teaches until her school is destroyed by vandals, who almost get her, but Drake LaVeq saves her, and they keep running into each other. Which we all know what that means.
This one started strong but fizzled out to me. I like more banter in my romances, and Beverly Jenkins gets a bit too plot heavy for me. I did really like Val and Drake but didn’t love that she has a fiancé in the beginnings, it is explained well enough, but still…not my favorite trope. I also just found this one rather slow. I wanted it to speed up a bit more. I’m hoping I enjoy the next one a bit more.
Also, I adored that Beverly Jenkins writes historical set in the United States because so many are set in England. Fun fact, I thought this was a pirate romance, like they would be on the high seas, and that is not the case. The LeVeq are descended from pirates though, so maybe why that is I had that though.
I will still keep reading Beverly Jenkins, or as her fans call her Ms. Bev, because she is ICONIC. I watched an interview with her since she just released a new book and she was hilarious, down to hear, funny, and so insightful. I just want to love one of her books!! Either way. I will support her because she is fabulous. 3/5 stars
Dreaming of You (The Gamblers of Craven #2) by Lisa Kleypas
Year: Unknown, London & small town that I forgot the name of
Published: January 1, 1994
TW: attempted rape, murder
Synopsis: Sara is a novelist researching the London club scene and inadvertently saves notorious club owner Derek Craven’s life. She asks to say and hang out at his club for research purposes. He begrudgingly agrees.
So, I lowkey thought this one came out in 2015 (LOL) so I was a little surprised that it was a bit dated, but then I realized it released in 1994 so some of the things I didn’t love made a bit more sense.
I read this one because Fated Mates (a romance podcast that is fabulous) has declared February 4th as “Derek Craven day”. So, I had to read the book that Derek Craven is in. Apparently, he is one of Kleypas’ most beloved heroes??? If you’ve read this one, I highly recommend you listen to Fated Mates episode on it because they do a way better job at discussing this book than I would. They discuss historical context and all that. It was a great episode. You can also listen them celebrate Derek Craven day 2021 in this episode. It’s a little chaotic and it was great.
Anyway. This book is a lot of fun and I am a sucker for a hero who thinks he can’t be loved only for the heroine to fall in love with him right away. Plus, we got the London club scene and I loved how even though Sara is kind of judgey about it, this book is pretty pro sex work and the women who are prostitutes are actual characters. But the best part is Sara and Derek’s dynamic and their chemistry. Lowkey wanted more scenes from them because they fall pretty fast.
The things that I wasn’t a fan of is that Derek is a bit too possessive at times, which was more of the norm in older romances. I will say I expected it to be worse in terms of possessiveness, because we still see this level of possessiveness in some romances today. I hated the fact that the main villain is a scorned ex-lover of Derek’s who falls into the “crazy scorned woman trope” this was not a fun time and it does not age well.
Overall, I really liked this one, but it felt a bit dated in terms of pacing and with some of the plot choices. I am relatively new to historical romance and I really enjoyed reading one that (According to Fated Mates) changed the game and started the trend of the working-class hero. 3.5/5 stars
I hope y’all like these mini reviews because I’m going to keep reading historical romances. I’m already working on part three of this series and have the Bridgerton series review coming soon!
If you read historical romance, what are some iconic ones that I need to add to my TBR? Even though I’ve read quite a few at this point, I still feel relatively new to the genre.
Thanks for reading!