A Convenient Bride for the Soldier by Christine Merrill

A Convenient Bride for the Soldier by Christine Merrill

Please ignore both the clunky title and the trashy blurb! I liked this book a lot!

Ex-soldier Frederick Challenger may own a share of London’s most secret gentlemen’s club, but he has long since stopped sampling its delights…until a beautiful woman auctions her innocence. 

Georgiana Knight’s plan had been to lure in a villain, but instead she’s trapped the devil himself. And now, to protect her reputation, she must marry him! But if Frederick has hopes of taming this temptress, he’ll have to think again… 

A Convenient Bride for the Soldier by Christine Merrill

I really liked this book, and read it very quickly. It develops the friendship and then love between hero and heroine slowly, and shows real character growth. It’s also full of great historical expressions – and funny.

However, I practically groaned when A Convenient Bride for the Soldier came up for review and I read the blurb. The “virginity auction” is likely THE most ridiculous of all historical romance tropes. On the other hand, I trust the Harlequin Historical line to almost always to deliver a great read, and the author’s name was familiar to me, so I dived in.

The heroine of this one is naïve in some ways, and far more worldly than she is given credit for in others. Young – nineteen – she is frustrated with her innocence (not her virginity; her ignorance of so many things in the world). And it is not helped by everyone treating her like a child and a bother to be handed off to someone else.

I loved that she was age-appropriate, and also liked her because no matter how much everyone, especially the hero at first, tried to “tame” her out of her personality, she was determined to cling to it.

The hero was interesting because he was sometimes hard to like. His life has shaped him into a very rigid, rule-following man (despite the club he runs), and he historically-accurately expects the wife he never wanted to fall into line.

However he has a strong moral code and sometimes finds himself slipping. Even though he is older than the heroine it is he who has to grow the most.

It was also great that the author resisted the temptation to tie up either characters’ family situation in too many bows.

There was so much fun in amongst all of this. It wasn’t slapstick, but it was funny. I laughed at a few points in this (the bird!), usually at the dry, offhand comments.

I also loved the language, and by that I mean that the author peppered her book with archaic terms without making it impossible to understand. Even though I knew otherwise, I went back to check because the prose (apart from a couple of teeny slip-ups) read as if it was written by a Brit.

Despite the promises of the blurb, this is not a book filled with sex; as I said, the relationship takes LOTS of time to develop. However, hero and heroine are on the page together almost the entire book, so it’s not like there’s a lack of romance. In fact, I don’t always love it when the two are in most scenes together, and yet I enjoyed both of them so much I really liked it here.

This was one of the review books I’m going to buy my own copy of, so I guess that’s a strong endorsement.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Christmas Reads: A Scandalous Regency Christmas

A Scandalous Regency Christmas

Reviewed HERE

A Scandalous Regency Christmas

5 short stories by various authors, previously only available as ebooks, collected for their Christmas theme.

TO UNDO A LADY
Christine Merrill

Danyl Fitzhugh vows he can turn any woman, even innocent Sarah Branford, into an actress. But Sarah is more than she seems…

AN INVITATION TO PLEASURE
Marguerite Kaye

Captain Fergus Lamont has invited Susanna Hunter to spend Christmas with him in the Highlands. He suggests she pretends to be his fiancée…

HIS WICKED CHRISTMAS WAGER
Annie Burrows

Lord Crispin Sinclair will come home for his brother’s Christmas nuptials only if widow Lady Caroline Fallowfield will share his bed…

A LADY’S LESSON IN SEDUCTION
Barbara Monajem

Notorious rake Camden Folk, Marquis of Warbury desires beautiful Frances Burdett. And Yuletide at his country estate is perfect for her seduction…

THE PIRATE’S RECKLESS TOUCH
Linda Sky

Juliana Wright needs the help of devilishly handsome Captain Rawden Wood, a renowned pirate. But he could dishonour her or reveal her biggest secret!

The Truth About Lady Felkirk by Christine Merrill

The Truth About Lady Felkirk by Christine Merrill

The wife he doesn’t know…

When William Felkirk opens his eyes, the past six months are blank. What happened? And who is this beautiful woman claiming to be his wife and caring for his broken body?

Justine will do anything to protect her sister, even if that means pretending to be a stranger’s wife. She must guard the reasons for her deception with her life. But with every passing day, William unlocks her heart just a little more, and Justine knows she won’t be able to hide the truth forever…

The Truth About Lady Felkirk by Christine Merrill

Christine Merrill definitely writes challenging stories. I wasn’t sure whether to pick this one up or not, because the last book of hers I read featured rape (hero raping heroine). The Truth About Lady Felkirk is another one where you might struggle at times to like the characters, but I kept on reading and things were resolved.

There’s a lot of deception going on when the book begins. Our heroine is both trapped in an impossible situation and looking for revenge, but things don’t work out the way she expected them to.

Despite all of this, I did have a hard time liking her at first. There’s a scene where she lies and says William’s horse was injured and therefore had to be killed and he’s extremely upset about it, and I really, really struggled to read on past that!

Our hero recovers incredibly quickly from being unconscious (in a coma?) for a number of months. I chose to overlook the improbability that he’d be walking downstairs for a formal dinner only hours after waking up.

I do like this author’s writing, and will continue to pick up her books. She challenges you to like hugely imperfect characters. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not so much!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 17th -23rd February

Ukrainian government attacks demonstrators in Kyiv night of 18th Februrary 2014

The Ukrainian government moved in to attack demonstrators in Kyiv on the night of the 18th.

What an awful week. Everybody in the world should be horrified by the large-scale slaughter of Ukrainian civilians by the Ukrainian authorities, but it’s pretty personal to me. #1 Because I come from a very patriotic Ukrainian family. #2 Because I know people protesting in the square (unarmed, against police with military-grade weapons) where most of the killings have occurred. #3 Because I’ve been to Kyiv mulitple times (and yes, the capital city’s official name is KYIV – KIEV is the Russian name!), and always stayed within a stone’s throw of the main square. #4 Because I’ve been watching it live online, and turning on your computer to see people administering CPR – and then seeing people being pronounced dead – really drives home how awful the situation is there.

It has made it very hard for me to enjoy the Olympics – especially considering Russia’s role in all of this. To make things worse, I’m very heavily invested in figure skating (and – coincidentally – share my name with one of the greatest skaters of all time), and none of the right skaters won!

Because of all of this, my reading and my blog really suffered this week. However, I did manage three of the four or so reviews I’d planned on posting!

My review of Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter

 Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter

My review of The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill

 The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill

My review of Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

 Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill

The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill

THE ONLY WOMAN WHO CAN MAKE HIM REPENT! 

Honourable—and handsome to boot!—Michael Poole, Duke of St. Aldric, has earned his nickname “The Saint.” But the ton would shudder if they knew the truth. Because, thrust into a world of debauchery, this saint has turned sinner! 

With the appearance of fallen governess Madeline Cranston—carrying his heir—St. Aldric looks for redemption through a marriage of convenience. But the intriguing Madeline is far from a dutiful duchess, and soon this saint is indulging in the most sinful of thoughts…while his new wife vows to make him pay for his past. 

The Sinner and the Saint 

Brothers separated at birth, brought together by scandal.

The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill

Firstly, is it just me, or does the man on the cover look just like Alexander Skarsgård?

Secondly, this is the second of two connected books, and I really, really loved the first one. This is an author with a lovely, engaging writing style, and I’ve been looking forward to this second instalment for ages. It wasn’t so much that this one disappointed me as it offended me.

Thirdly, you’re only going to enjoy this one if you can get past the fact the book opens on this situation:

The lead female character turns up on the man’s doorstep, pregnant. A couple of months earlier, he got drunk, barged into her room and raped her. Hence the pregnancy. Now she needs help, because she lost her job because of the rape.

Some people might be able to read past this premise. I’m too much of a feminist to forgive it. Yes, attempts are made to explain it away, but rape is rape, and that’s something we’ve been trying to get men to believe for centuries. No excuses.

I wasn’t thrilled that the first thing the woman thought when confronting her rapist was that he was very good-looking. Too much forgiveness for a rapist, right from the outset, for me to deal with! This was a character I loved in the other book, so I left this one feeling quite sad.

The Harlequin Historical line is really ‘out there’ at the moment. Rapists as romantic heroes. Male prostitutes as romantic heroes. Whatever in the world could be next?

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

A Scandalous Regency Christmas

A Scandalous Regency Christmas

Five short stories by various authors, previously only available as ebooks, collected for their Christmas theme.

A Scandalous Regency Christmas

 

I probably should have paid more attention to the ‘sexy’ on the cover, because these are not ‘sweet’ Regency stories!

This anthology was cobbled together with contributions from authors on both sides of the Atlantic, and not all of the offerings had the American English edited out of them – strange for a British publication!

 

TO UNDO A LADY

Christine Merrill

This one I thought was going to set the tone for the rest of the book, and it started with sex in an alleyway! I have enjoyed some of Christine Merrill’s writing before, however, and I have rather a lot of faith in stories with theatrical settings, and I did enjoy it a lot. As is so often the case, I would have loved to see this one as a full-length novel. There’s more than enough material for it!

 

AN INVITATION TO PLEASURE

Marguerite Kaye

I really enjoyed this one. For historical romance, England is my go-to setting, and I find Scottish historicals to be more of a mixed bag. However, I was thrilled with this story, and will be tracking down more by the author. I think it helped enormously that she actually is Scottish, and the way the culture was threaded through the romance made this a special read.

 

HIS WICKED CHRISTMAS WAGER

Annie Burrows

This was a nice, solid read. I love some angst, the theme of lost love found again. Some of the themes in this one were a little similar to the story before (which is in no way the authors’ fault), so I think I should probably have not read them back-to-back.

The heroine spends much of this story naked!

 

A LADY’S LESSON IN SEDUCTION

Barbara Monajem

Another nice little story, which (with the short word count) turned steamy pretty fast. I liked the atmosphere the author created, which was helped by the fact the characters were fairly isolated from society, with a private, more intimate Christmas setting.

 

THE PIRATE’S RECKLESS TOUCH

Linda Sky

I’m going to have to admit I’m not fond of pirate stories, not even when a favourite author like Sabrina Jeffries writes them. I think of rotting teeth and bad body odour, rather than anything sexy and romantic!

I got the feel from this story that the author captured – for those who like this type of story – the charm of old school pirate romances. If this is your kind of thing, I know you’ll enjoy this one.

 

The Greatest of Sins by Christine Merrill

The Greatest of Sins by Christine Merrill

GIVING IN TO TEMPTATION WOULD BE THE RUIN OF THEM ALL!

Having spent years believing a lie about his birth, Dr. Samuel Hastings has been condemned to a personal hell of his desire’s making—his sinful thoughts of the one woman he can never touch would damn his soul for eternity.

Lady Evelyn Thorne is engaged to the very suitable Duke of St. Aldric when a shocking truth is revealed—and now Sam will play every bit of the devil to seduce the woman he thought would always be denied him!

The Sinner and the Saint: Brothers separated at birth, brought together by scandal.

The Greatest of Sins by Christine Merrill

This started off as a lovely historical romance before taking a darker, but no less interesting turn. I really enjoyed this story that featured the practice of medicine in 1800s and a love triangle of sorts between the classes in a time when social standing meant everything.

I am no fan of love triangles, but this one was different. The loser in this situation apparently gets his own book – and therefore happy ending – so I was able to be happy with the outcome. Nobody is all that perfect here, and there were times when all of the characters involved made decisions and did things that weren’t particularly typical of ‘romance characters’. In fact, there’re flaws in these people that might make some readers dislike them; a problem with love triangles is that everyone involved is going to partake in questionable behaviour at some point.

The author obviously did a great deal of research into the way medicine worked at the time (though I question the detailed dinner table discussion about childbirth!), beginning with her note explaining the history of the stethoscope before the story started. I liked that the details didn’t completely take over the story, but that it offered a new look at the time period and set the story apart from most others in the genre.

Christine Merrill is a new-to-me author, but I will definitely read more of her books. Apart from a few American expressions sneaking in here and there, the feel of time and place in this book was very strong. I sure hope the other book in The Sinner and the Saint series comes out sooner rather than later, as the duke needs his happy ending too!

Review copy provided by NetGalley.