Friday, February 3, 2017

MINI-REVIEWS: Amy Sandas, Cat Sebastian, Mary Balogh, Joanna Shupe

The Untouchable Earl (Fallen Ladies, #2)The Untouchable Earl (Fallen Ladies #2) by Amy Sandas
Historical Romance
Sourcebooks Casablanca -- November 1, 2016


Lily Chadwick has spent her life playing the respectable debutante. But when an unscrupulous moneylender snatches her off the street and puts her up for auction at a pleasure house, she finds herself in the possession of a man who fills her with breathless terror and impossible yearning.

Though the Earl of Harte claimed Lily with the highest bid, he hides a painful secret―one that has kept him from knowing the pleasure of a lover's touch. Even the barest brush of skin brings him physical pain, and he's spent his life keeping the world at arm's length. But there's something about Lily that maddens him, bewitches him, compels him...and drives him toward the one woman brave and kind enough to heal his troubled heart.

I adored the premise of this book and did end up enjoying it, but not nearly as much as I hoped.  Having already read the first book, I thought it was interesting how the two stories were interconnected though I don't think it would be difficult for new readers to jump straight in.  Both characters were likable and complex with Lily being a particular highlight for me.  I just related so much to her love of reading and dreamy personality.  The hero was interesting especially with his aversion to touch, but I thought the resolution of his issues was too convenient and quick.  That being said, I still found the romance to be full of chemistry and really believed in the couple.


The Soldier's Scoundrel
The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian
Historical Romance (M/M)
Avon Impulse -- September 20, 2016


A scoundrel who lives in the shadows...Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London's slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice...After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman's life-one that doesn't include sparring with a ne'er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack's pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they're together.

Two men only meant for each other.

I received an eARC of this book via the Avon Addicts Program in exchange for an honest review.

 This was an impressive debut from Ms. Sebastian!  Everything about the premise of this book sang to me from the underworld-adjacent hero to the soldier returning from war and adjusting to a peaceful life.  Jack and Oliver were so well-developed that they felt like they jumped off the page.  Each had their own issues to get over beyond the fact that they are physically attracted to men in a day where that could get one killed.  I appreciated that aspect because it helped me root for them beyond just the forbidden part.  I also thought the mystery of who was blackmailing one of Jack's clients to be a good side plot and a fun way to force them to interact.  I definitely will be reading more in this series. 


Someone to Love (Westcott, #1)
Someone to Love (Westcott #1) by Mary Balogh
Historical Romance 
Signet -- November 8, 2016


Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had...

Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

Mary Balogh is one of my favorite historical writers and she has a very distinctive style which is evident in Someone to Love.  The characters are brilliantly laid out and are relatable, if not always likable.  There are clear motivations in their actions which are consistent.  I really admired Anna's determination to give her new role a chance especially with the fact that she finally has a family being the main incentive.  This was a makeover story, but Anna never allowed her new position and appearance turn her into a different person.  Avery was not as fascinating to me, but I still liked his character and enjoyed his journey.  I especially liked the fact that he was able to find a resolution to his very private loneliness.  I did like the book, but, to be honest, I found the pacing to be very slow.  It felt like it just kept dragging and, while I don't need tons of action in my romance, I had trouble sticking with it.  I do find the entire premise of the series intriguing and look forward to seeing what Balogh does with it next.


Mogul (The Knickerbocker Club, #3)
Mogul (Knickerbocker Club #3) by Joanna Shupe
Historical Romance
Zebra -- January 31, 2017


As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess—and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants.

Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she'll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm's length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious powerbroker turns out to be absolutely irresistible?

I received an eARC of this book from Zebra via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I adored the first two full-length novels in this series, but found Mogul to be a bit of a disappointment.  The Gilded Age setting is still wonderfully drawn and I really liked the way that the author focused on the Chinese immigration situation at the time.  It felt very real to me which I always want in historical fiction.  While I got annoyed by certain aspects of Calvin and Lily's personalities, I thought they were designed well and had some interesting backstories.  My biggest issue was that I couldn't make myself believe they were truly in love.  It is obvious that they had good sexual chemistry and clearly lusted after one another.  But, I felt like I kept being told they were in love rather than shown that.  Also, I thought the ending was rushed and a bit of a whiplash.  Despite the issues I had, I still was drawn into the setting and the plot enough to read it fairly quickly.  I just wish I could believe in the happy ending more.

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