The Second Seduction of a Lady (The Wild Quartet 0.5) by Miranda Neville

Eleanor Hardwick and Max Quinton shared one night of incredible passion…that was shattered the next day, when Eleanor learned of a bet placed by Max’s friends. Now, five years later, Max still can’t get Eleanor out of his head or his heart. He has a single chance to make a second impression—one that will last forever.

The Second Seduction of a Lady (The Wild Quartet 0.5) by Miranda Neville

 Oh, I loved this novella, and for these reasons: #1 reunion story, #2 skilled author, #3 maturity in both characterisation and characters’ actions, #4 the author knows England, and it shows.

The Second Seduction of a Lady has been sitting on my to-read list for years, but I rarely have the time to read for fun when I’m so overwhelmed with review books.

Set in the late Georgian era (a generation before the Regency), this is apparently an introduction to a series, but it reads as a complete story in its own right, and you’d never know it was anything else.

There is something… I can’t explain why some historical romance authors are different; I wish I could. These smart, damaged, historically accurate characters are the reason I read this genre nonstop, even though these features are becoming harder and harder to find.

Some reviews have complained about the heroine’s anger, but I am GLAD the author went that way, and – honestly – it was hardly anything. Female leads are NEVER allowed their deserved anger, whereas we always seem to let male leads get away with almost anything they say or do.

Imagine even now, when virginity is not (at least where I live) the prized possession it was 2.5 centuries ago. Imagine finding out the man you thought you’d marry had seduced you on a bet. That everyone knew what was going on.

Yes, the hero took one look at her and decided he really wanted to marry her. However, he still betrayed her. She earned that anger.

I also really liked that the very young secondary female character wasn’t turned into a cliché. She was young, naïve, desperate to be in love no matter what, and screwed up pretty badly (as did her young lover). But they were good people nevertheless.

What I REALLY disliked were the multiple comments that the heroine – at thirty – was somehow on her way out, with a falling apart body. References to her droopy boobs and her flabby stomach, for example.

She must have some pretty terrible genes, because I don’t know anyone who’s sagging and on her way out at thirty!

Anyway – and apart from that – I loved this story.

Despite being a novella, it reads as a complete book. And I am glad I was bored on the weekend and decided to mine by 600-book to-be-read list for something I’d skipped over in the past.

**(At $5 in Australia for a novella, I never want to see overseas readers complaining about book pricing ever again!)**

The Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society #1) by Madeline Hunter

the-most-dangerous-duke-in-london-decadent-dukes-society-1-by-madeline-hunter

NOTORIOUS NOBLEMAN SEEKS REVENGE
Name and title: Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton. Affiliation: London’s elite Society of Decadent Dukes. Family history: Scandalous. Personality traits: Dark and brooding, with a thirst for revenge. Ideal romantic partner: A woman of means, with beauty and brains, willing to live with reckless abandon. Desire: Clara Cheswick, gorgeous daughter of his family’s sworn enemy.

FAINT OF HEART NEED NOT APPLY
Clara may be the woman Adam wants, but there’s one problem: she’s far more interested in publishing her women’s journal than getting married—especially to a man said to be dead-set on vengeance. Though, with her nose for a story, Clara wonders if his desire for justice is sincere—along with his incredibly unnerving intention to be her husband. If her weak-kneed response to his kiss is any indication, falling for Adam clearly comes with a cost. But who knew courting danger could be such exhilarating fun?

The Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society #1) by Madeline Hunter

Madeline Hunter is one of my favourite authors. It’s that simple. I’ve loved every single one of her books I’ve read, and I loved this one, too.

There was just so much to like about The Most Dangerous Duke in London. I wasn’t sure how we were going to get close to the usual word count when the hero declared to the heroine they were engaged (hilariously and without her permission) right at the beginning, but there’s a big, complex, interesting plot to follow.

I like that the heroine was unusual but not anachronistic, and I like that the hero was such a bloody aristocrat, but also fair and easy to fall in love with.

Hunter gives her characters a real sense of time and place; these are not modern-day characters in fancy outfits.

One of the best features of Hunter’s work is her ability to write male friendships. I don’t know of many (any?) authors who do this as well as she does. Her men are “real” men, and they talk and act like men of their time and level of power would. It’s not contrived, and it’s something that makes them seem larger than life without the usual romance-genre references to muscles and looks and all of that other standard stuff.

However, it’s not just the male friendships she write well. She ALWAYS gives her heroines close female friendships and relationships, and she manages to give them interests and even careers without making them historically inaccurate. She does this better than just about any author.

With Hunter’s more complicated storylines it means that the plot doesn’t wind up near the start; there were still discoveries and revelations in the last pages of the book, and everything was wrapped up expertly. I’ve been a bit bored with some historical romances recently because they seemed so preoccupied with the romance to the point I couldn’t see an actual story by a quarter of the way through; this book is exactly what I needed.

One thing that does occasionally irritate me, however, is that the Americanisms are always there. It really is the only thing that I dislike about Hunter’s work. She is SO talented at creating a sense of class and power – and England – and then the snucks and gottens and asses (though I’m not sure that one turned up in this book) are sneaked in and some of the magic is lost.

However, this is a fantastic to start to a new trilogy, and I cannot wait to read the next two books.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The past twenty-four hours…

The Manchester terror attack. Nicky Hayden and Roger Moore died. Russia’s deadly military attacks in Ukraine have escalated to a state worse than they’ve been for half a year, thanks to new White House support for Putin.

Also, New York just plagiarised a Ukrainian sculpture, and turned it into a massive Rockefeller Center art display:

I was going to run some silly blog post today, but it doesn’t feel appropriate…

Cover Love

I knew the publisher was rereleasing Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflower series books with new covers (but no stepbacks, if they’re important to you!), but I hadn’t seen the one for the fourth book, Scandal in Spring, until recently. I really like these new covers. The US stepbacks were looking a bit bodice-rippery and dated.

We’ll just ignore the fact she looks like she’s attending a Middle Ages-themed party, rather than living in the early Victorian era!

scandal-in-spring-wallflower-book-4-by-lisa-kleypas

The Week: 15th – 21st May

Such a spectacular week in Canberra! Well, we won’t mention Friday (but there is something nice about a rainy autumn day, as long as you can spend it somewhere like a pub – as I did!), but the rest of the week was gorgeous.

I always say summer is my favourite season, but this autumn has been incredible. I might have to change my mind.

This week was the anniversary of Stalin’s ethnic cleansing (some call it genocide) of the Crimean Tatars. It’s yet another Kremlin atrocity nobody ever mentions.

Massive Harlequin News

Born Sexy Yesterday

Catching Up

My review of The Disappearance of Lady Edith (The Undaunted Debutantes #1) by Christina McKnight

My review of No Other Highlander (The McKennas #2) by Adrienne Basso

My review of Claiming His Highland Bride (A Highland Feuding #4) by Terri Brisbin

Claiming His Highland Bride (A Highland Feuding #4) by Terri Brisbin

Claiming His Highland Bride (A Highland Feuding #4) by Terri Brisbin

This book regularly mentions the huge size difference between hero and heroine. Uh, cover folks…??

After discovering her role in her father’s plot to destroy another clan, Sorcha MacMillan risks her life to go into hiding. Her safety relies on her disguise, but she is drawn to a man who could see through her… 

Unknown to Sorcha, Alan Cameron has been sent to track her down. He’s attracted to the woman in disguise. Even after learning her true identity, he can’t overcome his instinct to protect her. No matter the danger, he will keep Sorcha safe…and claim her as his bride!

Claiming His Highland Bride (A Highland Feuding #4) by Terri Brisbin

I binge-read a huge chunk of Terri Brisbin’s backlist last year, and really enjoyed the escapism of these Highland stories set in the Middle Ages. Brisbin is a favourite “guilty pleasure” author. She uses all the tropes that hook readers, and uses a time and place that allows for “larger than life” stories.

Claiming His Highland Bride continues on with some of the characters from past books, but I have to admit that I was having a bit of trouble keeping them all straight in my mind. We do spend a lot of time with a lot of people who aren’t the book’s hero or heroine.

Brisbin uses a lot of appealing tropes for people who want pure escapism, and this book is no different. The young runaway noblewoman, fleeing an abusive future. The secret identity. The hunter who turns out to be hunting HER.

These Brisbin books have some similarities between them, and one I seem to mention in every review is the heroine who trips and stumbles all the time. I admit: I really don’t like this. This book’s leading lady had four scenes where she stumbled for no reason whatsoever and had to be held upright by someone (usually the hero), as well as what I saw as a totally unnecessary fainting scene, and a hopelessness with directions that means she gets lost in the village every single day. She also cries quite a bit, which is understandable, but still added to her weak damsel persona and made her a little bit annoying.

I do usually cut 14th century(ish) heroines a bit of slack (more than heroines in other eras), but I have to admit to finding the heroine’s uselessness a bit too much in this book.

One thing I appreciate – but am surprised the publishers let the author get away with as often as she does – is that the books don’t shy away from some of the realities of the era. E.g. the endless pregnancies, and the bad things that can happen in relation to them.

I don’t know… This has all the tropes that make Brisbin’s books so much fun, but it’s far from my favourite from her. I like that the author doesn’t go crazy with the Girl Power clichés, but being incapable of walking without falling, or of following directions the toddlers of the story understand are troubling, not endearing, as far as I’m concerned.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.