The Business of Blood by Kerrigan Byrne

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The Business of Blood is the first book in Kerrigan Byrne’s new Victorian-era historical mystery series. I have enjoyed her previous books: historical romance novels with angst-ridden heroes, and so I was very excited to read something completely different than Byrne’s usual fare.

This is, indeed, a departure: even though Byrne’s historical romance novels are darker than most of the books in the genre, potential readers should know that The Business of Blood is not a cozy historical mystery. There are fairly graphic descriptions of crime scenes, and while I don’t think it’s any worse than the depravity some of Byrne’s other characters have demonstrated, it’s still worth mentioning.

Fiona Mahoney, an Irish immigrant living in London, works as a crime scene cleaner. There is no shortage of work, and she is not easily shocked- until she arrives at the home of a murdered man posed in a gruesome fashion. All signs point to Jack the Ripper, who has been dormant for years. Fiona has been haunted by this elusive killer, and wonders if this is her opportunity to track down the man who killed her childhood best friend. Read more

Gilded Cage by KJ Charles

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Gilded Cage is the second book in KJ Charles’ Lilywhite Boys series of queer Victorian-era mystery/romance novels. If you haven’t read Any Old Diamonds, the first book in the series, I suggest you stop reading because I’m going to be unable to discuss Gilded Cage without revealing spoilers for Any Old Diamonds.

It’s really good- you’ll love it. Read more

Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane #1) by Alexis Hall

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Iron & Velvet is the first book in Alexis Hall’s Kate Kane: Paranormal Investigator series of contemporary queer fantasy novels. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I adore Hall’s books, and this was a series I hadn’t had a chance to explore yet. Speaking of which, it should be noted that the Kate Kane books are from Hall’s back catalog, but they are being republished by Carina Press.

As the series title suggests, Kate investigates paranormal crimes, like the death of a werewolf outside of a vampire-owned nightclub. Over the course of the book, Kate encounters a wide variety of otherworldly creatures; some help her, and some hinder her, and then things get all twisty before a huge confrontation with the source of the trouble. Read more

Murder at Kensington Palace by Andrea Penrose

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Murder at Kensington Palace is the third book in Andrea Penrose’s Wrexford & Sloane series of Regency-era historical mystery novels. I’ve read the other books in the series, so I was interested to see how the unlikely duo was going to handle their newest investigation.

This time, the victim is Cedric, a young man who recently inherited a barony. The prime suspect is Nicholas, the victim’s twin brother- the two were overheard arguing about the inheritance and the unfairness of Cedric receiving everything simply because he had the good fortune to be born a few minutes earlier. Read more

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

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Devil in Spring is the third book in Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenels series of Victorian-era historical romance novels. It came out a couple of years ago, but like all aspects of my life, my reading list is woefully behind. I ended up going between the Kindle edition and the Audible over the summer as I deep-cleaned my oldest daughter’s room when she was away at summer camp.

Pandora Ravenel has never wanted to be part of aristocratic society. She would much rather stay at home and work on designing a board game. Unfortunately for her, she has familial obligations, and ends up at a ball. Even worse, she ends up in a compromising position with a notorious rake- completely by accident. Read more

Guarding the Countess by Jess Michaels

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Guarding the Countess is the fifth book in Jess Michaels’ The Scandal Sheet series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I haven’t read any of The Scandal Series books, but I’ve read (and enjoyed) several of the books in Michaels’ 1797 Club series.

Naomi’s most recent husband has recently died, and since she finds the circumstances to be suspicious, she hires Marcus (a captain) and Everett (a marquis) to investigate. They agree to help, but then someone attempts to shoot Naomi in front of their house, they decide that she needs their protection in addition to their sleuthing skills. Read more

How to Belong with a Billionaire by Alexis Hall

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How to Belong with a Billionaire is the third book in Alexis Hall’s Arden St. Ives series of queer romance novels. I tore through the first two books in a matter of days last December, so I was extremely grateful that I was able to read this book a little early.

Quite a few of the books I read/review are part of a series, and I will blithely say that the book functions well enough as a standalone, etc.

That is NOT the case with this book. Readers really ought to read the first two books in this series before tackling this one. I would imagine it would be very difficult for a reader to appreciate the narrative as a whole if they jump in at the last third.

So, if you haven’t read this series, but your interest is piqued by a queer response to Fifty Shades of Grey that is loads better than the original, AND manages to be both cheeky and introspective, then I suggest you start with How to Bang a Billionaire.    Read more

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne

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How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is the first book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Devil You Know series. I have been a big fan of her Victorian Rebels series for a few years, so needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read an ARC of this book.

Even if you’ve only read one Byrne book before, you already know that the prologue is intense, and this book is no exception. Content warning: Alexandra, the heroine, is raped by the headmaster of her school, and she ends up killing him in self-defense. Her best friends help her bury the body, and they go on to live their best lives.

Flashforward ten years, and Alexandra is traveling to Castle Redmayne to meet up with her friends for a wedding. She doesn’t realize that it’s going to be *her* wedding, but she finds herself married to Piers- the Terror of Torcliff, an enigmatic duke who has inherited a title he was never supposed to possess. Read more

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

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The Wallflower Wager is the third book in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I read this book immediately after listening to the Audible edition of the second book in the series (The Governess Game), and I was looking forward to finding out what was going to happen next in the series.

Lady Penelope Campion is quite devoted to her small group of friends- two of whom have appeared as heroines in the previous books in the series- but for the most part, she avoids Proper Society. She is content to live with her sizeable menagerie of abandoned animals, but her family has told her that she needs to put an end to her eccentric ways and return to the family’s country house.

Gabriel Duke has crawled his way from the (literal) gutter to the top through sheer grit and determination. They call him the “Duke of Ruin” because of his ruthlessly methodical approach to achieving his goals. His newest project is renovating the house next door to Penny. He intends to sell the house to social climbers who will pay top dollar for the cachet of living next door to a Real Lady. So, against his better judgement, he agrees to help Penny find homes for all the animals so that she can remain in London. This is purely a business arrangement, nothing more- full stop. Read more

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

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My TBR queue has been in utter disarray for far too long, and I’m taking steps to remedy it. As I prepared for the release of Tessa Dare’s newest book, I realized that I never read the second book in the series. Luckily, I already owned it- and even luckier, I had the Audible edition as well. So, I popped on my headphones, and listened to the book while cleaning my middle schooler’s room while she’s away at camp.

But enough about me.

The Governess Game is the second book in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series of Regency-era historical romance novels. As the title suggests, it features the governess trope, which is one of my absolute favorites.

Chase Reynaud is not a duke, although he is next in line for a ducal title. He has, however, already inherited the guardianship of two young girls- and all the responsibility that goes along with that. Read more