Portrait of a woman seated and reading possibly on board SS TANDA -- from the Australian Maritime Museum

Read-It-Again Romance Favorites

Earlier this month I re-read Pride & Prejudice for the first time in over 10 years. I had a completely different experience reading it as a 30-something historical romance reader than as a college-aged English Literature major. Somehow it was wittier, more romantic and subtle, more sly and tongue-in-cheek than I remembered it being. Of course I fell in love with Darcy and Elizabeth all over again and vowed to never again let so much time pass before re-reading Pride & Prejudice. 

It’s officially on my read-it-again romance list, and yes, I have a real list. It’s small at the moment, just a few select favorites that I turn to every year (sometimes less, sometimes more) when I need a little something that I know I can always find within its pages.

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The Maddening Lord Montwood – Blog Book Tour Stop

Tasty Virtual Book Tour - The Maddening Lord Montwood

I’m so excited for this book, y’all. As you know, I’m a super Vivienne Lorret fangirl. From her Wallflower Wedding series to Lord Everhart and Mr. Danvers, I can’t seem to get enough of her heartfelt historical romance. I’m delighted to be a stop on the Tasty Virtual Book tour for the final installment in The Rakes of Fallow Hall trilogy, The Maddening Lord MontwoodRead on for a review, excerpt, and giveaway.

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Tasty Book Tour Stop: Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins

Tasty Virtual Book Tour for Destiny's Captive by Beverly JenkinsWelcome to the latest stop on the Tasty Virtual Book tour for the third installment in Beverly Jenkin’s Destiny series, Destiny’s Captive. I have a review, excerpt, and a chance to win a print copy of this lovely romance. Read on, romance lovers!


The Review

I’m embarrassed to admit this is my first Beverly Jenkins novel, but most certainly won’t be my last. As a devourer of all things historical romance, I often lament the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in 19th century heroes and heroines. If, like me, you want add some diversity to your romance reading, one good place to start is with Beverly Jenkin’s extensive backlist, which specializes in 19th century African American life.

Jenkin’s latest release is the conclusion of her Destiny trilogy, Destiny’s Captive. In it we meet Noah, the youngest Yates brother, who is by all accounts a successful merchant trader and shipowner, but one with dark secrets from his time a young man impressed into service under a ruthless sea captain. Despite maintaining tight control over his life, Noah finds himself tied up–literally!–by Pilar, a beautiful Cuban freedom-fighter, gun-runner, and pirate who has just stolen his ship. In his search to exact revenge and regain his shop, Noah instead finds himself overwhelmingly attracted to this feisty rebel, leading to a marriage of convenience that will bring Pilar and Noah closer than they thought possible.

I’m not gonna lie: Destiny’s Captive was a bit of a slow starter for me. As the third book in a trilogy I hadn’t read, about the first fourth of the book was spent wrapping up loose ends from the previous books in the series (specifically, Noah’s mother, Alanza’s marriage) and introducing Noah and Pilar. I actually really enjoyed the extra time spent building Noah and Pilar’s histories. It’s something not a lot of authors take the time to do, but goes a long way towards character development and pays off as the romance builds. But again, as someone who was starting the series with this novel, I found the time spent with Alanza and Max as an impediment to the main H/h romance, rather than a complement.

Noah and Pilar were both fully-realized characters with wonderfully dark and intimate secrets, histories and lives. Despite their very different childhoods both are rooted in a deep love for and connection to family, which makes their attraction to one another quite believable. Beyond the physical desire they obviously feel for one another there’s the deeper pull of their strong personalities and remarkable capacity for love (which they’re not quite sure they even possess, but we, as readers, all know is there).

Pilar in particular in quite the spitfire. She tames horses, runs guns for Cuban rebels, fences with flair, and steals ships! In short, she’s a remarkable woman, one that I feel was ultimately short-changed by the narrative conclusion of this book. This intelligent, spirited woman finds love in a well-matched mate who treasures her unconventional nature, which is wonderful, but she’s left with virtually nothing to do. There’s no greater purpose for Pilar in this book beyond motherhood and charity work with Alanza, which seems a bit at odds with the character Jenkin’s first introduced. I had higher hopes for Pilar and thought she would have helped run the ranch or become Noah’s business trading partner. Instead I felt as though she was relegated to the sidelines when she could have been celebrated for being so adventurous. It was a very conventional happily-ever-after for a very unconventional heroine.

Despite my issues with the resolution of Pilar’s storyline, I found Destiny’s Captive very engaging. I loved the Spanish phrases interspersed in the dialogue, the descriptions of life in Cuba and Pilar’s deep-love-bordering-on-erotic-obsession of Cuban cuisine (I’m totally with you on the food-lust, Pilar). I also appreciated reading about two very different but completely functional and loving families. Knowing Noah and Pilar’s attachment to their mother and siblings somehow made their romance more believable to me, almost as if the capacity to love was genetic and inevitable. Despite his bouts of doom and gloom Noah was probably one of the least angsty “tortured heroes” I’ve read in a while, made all the more playful and teasing by his interaction with Pilar. They’re a fun couple to get to know, and if you love marriage of convenience stories, you should give Destiny’s Captive a read.

Rating: This is a solid B, bordering on a B+ for me.

Purchase Destiny’s Captive on  Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo


destinys-captiveAbout Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins is the author of thirty historical and contemporary novels, including four previous books in her beloved Blessings series. She has been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People, the Dallas Morning News, and Vibe. She lives in Michigan. You can learn more about Beverly Jenkins by visiting her website, or following her on Facebook or Goodreads.

The Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of Destiny’s Captive today!

Hot Weird Guys Need Love Too

Intrusion by Charlotte SteinTitle: Intrusion
Author: Charlotte Stein
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Google Play

I recently read an e-galley of Charlotte Stein’s upcoming novel, Intrusion, courtesy of the lovely Avon publicity team and Avon Addicts program. It was my first reader’s foray into erotic contemporary romance and I was completely entranced. It’s this delightfully creepy story about the hot, weird guy next door, all told from the point-of-view of a young woman nursing wounds from a past traumatic event.

First-person narration is a tricky execution, one (I think) often doomed to narcissistic failure (a la teenager writing alone in her diary). Yet it’s a driving force in Intrusion and plays into the storyline beautifully. We learn about this troubled man in pieces, just as the protagonist does, lending the entire story a slow-reveal quality that mirrors the couple’s unbelievably hot journey to sexual connection. The odd absence of names throughout much of the novel only heightens the feeling of complete reader-immersion, until you find yourself wondering “What will I–I mean, she, do next?” Intrusion is strangely intimate and unexpectedly subtle.

Clearly, I found the book spellbinding and sexy and scary and smouldering and all the S-word adjectives in the world.

But why? What was it about this tragically damaged man that was so sexy? I think the appeal of the damaged man is played out in one book after another–sometimes wonderfully, sometimes not–but this was the troubled hero taken up a notch. This dude was weird, like, guy-at-gym-who-bounces-on-the-fitness-ball-for-30-minutes-straight weird, or man-with-the-beautiful-face-who-never-makes-eye-contact-with-anyone weird. But still hot. Perhaps there’s an entirely new creepy romantic hero type waiting to be exploited? Or maybe I just don’t read enough erotica?  This kind of balls-out weirdo hot guy is not making his way into any of the historical romance novels I read, and I think I’ve been missing out. If, like me, your romance reading falls squarely in the Regency or Victorian era genre, give Intrusion a shot. There’s something about this creepy-sexy novel that will appeal to the same kind of readers who like the cerebral quality that witty historical romance often possesses.



Review: How to Catch a Wild Viscount by Tessa Dare

How to Catch a Wild Viscount by Tessa DareTitle: How to Catch a Wild Viscount
Author: Tessa Dare
Purchase: Free PDF, Kindle eBook, Paperback, B&N Nook, iBooks, GooglePlay

Also available as a part of the Seven Wicked Nights novella set available Sept. 16, 2014 on Amazon for only $0.99!

Tessa Dare is the reason I read historical romance (in the most literal way possible).

I’m relatively new to the genre, and it’s all thanks to a single moment at the 2013 American Library Association’s Annual Conference. I was waiting in line for a signed copy of a cookbook when a friendly librarian in line ahead of me pointed to a quickly diminishing pile of free books next to us. “Oooh, Tessa Dare is my favorite!” she exclaimed while grabbing a copy for herself and handing me one. It was a copy of Any Duchess Will Do and it proved to be a GATEWAY DRUG to the world of historical romance novels. After reading the entire book in one evening I quickly found myself working my way back through her entire Spindle Cove series, which may or may not be my favorite series of all time (it is; it really is).

Needless to say I was jazzed to find out her first novella, originally published under the name The Legend of the Werestag, was available for as a FREE download. After finishing it, I can only say, if you’re a Darette like me, you’ll totally enjoy this story.

Cecily Hale and Luke Trenton, Viscount Merritt find themselves reunited at a house party after a four-year wartime separation. No longer the carefree young people who once shared a sweet kiss in a garden, Cecily and Luke are struggling to make sense of their lingering attraction to one another and the deeper emotions that are bubbling at the surface. Throw in a potential werestag (like a werewolf, but a scary deer-man) lurking in the woods, some entertaining friends with a thirst for adventure, and you have a classic Dare tale filled with humor, great dialogue, and plenty of warm fuzzies.

Cecily’s an onion–it’s a good thing, I promise–a little sweet, a little strong, with lots of layers, and Luke does that tortured hero thing we all love so well. If there is a brooding war-scarred hero in the mix, I will love it. In just a few short pages you’ll sigh along with Cecily and fall in love with Luke before you even realize it’s over.

Oh, and if you’re a fan of Goddess of the Hunt be sure to keep an eye out for a reference to the Earl of Kendall and The Memoirs of a Wanton Dairymaid.

Rating: A (with a little happy-face sticker on top because this novella totally made my day)