I didn’t read a ton of historical romance at the beginning of the year, but now I am apparently in a mood bc I keep reading more and more. In part because contemporary romance just isn’t hitting the same for me (I know, I know, I am devastated at this development) and as a result am diving back into historicals. I’ve been reading so many that instead of the usual FIVE mini reviews I compile into a mini review set, you get SIX today.
Dukes Do It Better (The Misfits of Mayfair #3) by Bethany Bennett
Plot (from goodreads):After a debut season plagued by scandal, Lady Emma Hardwick is ready to return to London, now with her young son in tow, and make a match. She’s looking for someone respectable. Someone wholly unlike Malachi Harlow, the new Duke of Trenton and former ship captain, whose long hair and tattoos make him decidedly dangerous to her peace of mind.
Malachi would rather be at sea than in a London ballroom. But until he can sort out why the admiralty brought him home, he has to stay landbound. That becomes less of a hardship when he meets the beguiling Lady Emma, whose dimples and easy laughter capture his imagination. When they start receiving threatening notes, they realize that there’s more to their connection than chemistry, and they’ll have to work together to figure out why someone wants to ruin their lives.
Thoughts: This was a fine historical romance. For context, I didn’t like book one in the series, but book two was great. I really liked Emma in book two, but this story was just not for me. I liked all of the characters (and how much we saw the prior characters), but the plot was just lacking for me. I guess I don’t like the friends with benefits trope?
I did like how mature and modern this historical felt as Emma and Mal have an affair and their friends are not scandalized and appalled which was refreshing. (But honestly some of the best tension in historicals is the threat of getting caught and being forced to marry so I guess maybe it wasn’t as refreshing).
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you have already read and enjoyed the earlier books in the series. 3/5 stars
*thanks to the publisher for a free copy; all thoughts are my own*
It Takes Two to Tumble (Seducing the Sedgwicks #1) by Cat Sebastian
Plot: Ben likes things to be in control and yet somehow manages to become the temporary guardian for Philip’s children. However, when Philip returns home to a chaos and a cute vicar who makes things a bit more complicated.
Thoughts: Jacque (@onthesamepa9e on bookstagram) said that this book had The Sound of Music vibes so I instantly added it to my TBR and then read it. And I would agree that the basic premise is similar to The Sound of Music, there is no music and the kids are mostly off page (except when necessary for the plot, which is lowkey a pet peeve of mine in books). Overall, I enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t a new fave.
This is the first m/m historical romance I’ve read and I really need to get better at reading more diverse historicals, especially when it comes to different sexualities. This also features a dyslexic main character which was very cool to see in a historical and on page.
I liked Ben and Philip’s interactions and they have great chemistry, but the main plot bored me and I was mainly reading for their stolen moments together. 3.5/5 stars
Unmasked by the Marquess (Regency Imposters #1) by Cat Sebastian
Plot from Goodreads because they explain it better: The one you love…
Robert Selby is determined to see his sister make an advantageous match. But he has two problems: the Selbys have no connections or money and Robert is really a housemaid named Charity Church. She’s enjoyed every minute of her masquerade over the past six years, but she knows her pretense is nearing an end. Charity needs to see her beloved friend married well and then Robert Selby will disappear…forever.
May not be who you think…
Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke, has spent years repairing the estate ruined by his wastrel father, and nothing is more important than protecting his fortune and name. He shouldn’t be so beguiled by the charming young man who shows up on his doorstep asking for favors. And he certainly shouldn’t be thinking of all the disreputable things he’d like to do to the impertinent scamp.
But is who you need…
When Charity’s true nature is revealed, Alistair knows he can’t marry a scandalous woman in breeches, and Charity isn’t about to lace herself into a corset and play a respectable miss. Can these stubborn souls learn to sacrifice what they’ve always wanted for a love that is more than they could have imagined?
Thoughts: Okay this was so much fun. I’m not a big book quote or one liner type of reader, but there were some one liners in this that had me swooning and some that had me laughing. And we love to see a bisexual Marquess and a nonbinary love interest!!
Yeah I wasn’t the biggest fan of the sort of insta love pacing and some of the “problems” got wrapped up a bit too easy for the amount of drama there was, but other than that this was a GRAND TIME and had everything I loved in historicals. 5/5 stars
TW: death of a loved one
My Darling Duke (Sinful Wallflowers #1) by Stacy Reid
Plot: Kitty Danvers is desperate to see her sisters married. But, as a wallflower who has been out for years she does not have the connections to help. So tells everyone that she is engaged to The Duke of Thorton who has not been seen for years. The ruse starts to get away from Kitty and all of a sudden the duke shows up, curious about this woman who is claiming they are engaged.
Thoughts: This was my first Stacy Reid book and it won’t be my last!! The story was easy to fall into and this premise was so fun!! Also, Stacy Reid is a Black woman and we love to see more nonwhite authors writing historicals!
I enjoyed Kitty and Alexander as leads (disabled duke!!) and this was a fun time. I did start to lose interest and thought a chunk of this book took up too much page time for what happened. But, based on reviews, the second book in this series is even better so I’ll have to give it a try. 3.5/5 stars
TW: death of a parent, fire,
Nobody’s Princess (The Wild Wynchesters #3) by Erica Ridley
Plot (from Goodreads): Nothing happens in London without Graham Wynchester knowing. His massive collection of intelligence is invaluable to his family’s mission of aiding those most in need. So when he deciphers a series of coded messages in the scandal sheets, Graham’s convinced he must come to a royal’s rescue. But his quarry turns out not to be a princess at all… The captivating Kunigunde de Heusch is anything but a damsel in distress, and the last thing she wants is Graham’s help.
All her life, Kuni trained alongside the fiercest Royal Guardsmen in her family, secretly planning to become her country’s first Royal Guardswoman. This mission in London is a chance to prove herself worthy without help from a man, not even one as devilishly handsome as Graham. To her surprise, Graham believes in her dream as much as she does, which makes it harder to resist kissing him…and falling in love. But how can she risk her heart if her future lies an ocean away
Thoughts: Not going to lie, this was not my favorite of the series. I loved Kuni and Graham together, but their romance was really overshadowed by the Wynchester family’s hijinks and the mystery. Which I love those siblings so much, but this is a romance. I think an issue is they mostly all live together so it would be odd if they were off page the entire book. Plus, this is the third book in the series and now two of the siblings have partners which means even more characters to have on page.
My favorite part was when Graham and Kuni meet and the misunderstandings and chase that follow. They also have some adorable back and forth which just made me want more romance between the two of them. It’s not insta love, but it’s just not shown in much detail. Which was a shame. 3/5 stars.
*thanks to the publisher for a copy of this one; all thoughts are my own*
The Earl Takes All (The Hellions of Havisham #2) by Lorraine Heath
Look if you want a truly bananas plot, just read this one without reading the synopsis.
Plot: In order to make sure his sister in law does not lose her child, Edward (at the request of his dying twin brother) comes home and assumes his identical twin brother’s life. Julia has never liked Edward which makes the whole thing that much more complicated.
Thoughts: Look I saw like five people talking about this one in a week span (it is literally referred to as The Gorilla Twins book…) so when I saw my library had it I instantly downloaded it and then read it in a day while on vacation and it is A TIME in the best way.
The stakes for this book are high! Honestly I don’t want to say much, but if you want a historical with a wild premise and an HEA that seems impossible to get to at times…this is the book for you. This was my first book by Lorraine Heath and it will not be my last! 4/5 stars
TW: death of a sibling/partner/parent, grief, miscarriages (past)
Thanks for reading & if you have any historical recommendations please leave them in the comments!