The Earl I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham

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The Earl I Ruined is the second book in Scarlett Peckham’s The Secrets of Charlotte Street series of Georgian-era historical romance novels. I have to admit that this book was not really on my radar until someone in one of my book groups gave a teaser review. After that, two things happened: I made an ARC request over at Netgalley because I needed this book in my life, and I realized that I already owned a copy of The Duke I Tempted– the first book in the series. Don’t judge- my TBR pile is practically sentient. Anyway, I tore threw the first book while waiting for my request to be approved, and that only made me want this book even more. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my request was approved.

Readers first encountered Lady Constance in The Duke I Tempted, and the little schemer has not stopped manipulating people. When her machinations lead to destroying the reputation of the Earl of Apthorp, she does what any reasonable person would do: she persuades him to enter into a fake engagement to repair his image.

Julian has always loved Constance, and he has mixed feelings about the charade, but he doesn’t have much of a choice. He doesn’t know what will happen once he and Constance part ways, but he’s determined to make the most of their time together. Read more

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King Consort by J.R. Gray

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King Consort is a contemporary m/m romance novel written by J.R. Gray. I found this book on Kindle Unlimited, and it piqued my interest because I love all things royal family.

Louis is the heir to the British throne, and he maintains a carefully crafted playboy persona in order to hide his sexuality. While on a goodwill trip to North America, Louis meets Xavier, who he later finds out is a paparazzo. But what seems like a disaster turns into an odd sort of partnership. There’s clearly a connection, but there are so many reasons for why something lasting between them can never work. They’re determined to enjoy their present, with no expectations of a future together. Read more

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

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Romancing the Duke is the first book in Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I enjoy Dare’s books, but I have not read nearly enough of them, something I am attempting to remedy. I’m slightly behind with my book reviewing, but I recently listened to the Audible edition of this book.

Izzy Goodnight finds herself in a predicament after her father’s death. He has left her with virtually nothing, so when she receives a castle from a family friend, she sees this as her last chance at independence.

There’s just one problem: the castle already has an owner. Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury, has been living in seclusion ever since he was blinded in a duel six months ago. He most certainly did not sell his home, and while he wants Izzy to vacate the premises, he admits that he needs help sorting through his correspondence and figuring out how his house was sold. Read more

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

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The Good, the Bad, and the Duke is the fourth book in Janna MacGregor’s Cavensham Heiresses series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I’ve enjoyed the other books in the series, and I was especially intrigued by the possibility of redemption for Paul.

Readers were introduced to Paul Barstowe in the first scene of the first book, and it was immediately clear that he was meant to be the villain of the piece. He served as an antagonist, but it is finally time for redemption. It has been several years since the series began, and Paul has inherited the Southart dukedom after the deaths of his father and older brother. Paul wants to make up for the mistakes of his past, but he didn’t factor falling in love into the equation.

Daphne grew up admiring her older brother’s best friend. Paul has not been part of her life for many years, not since the friendship dissolved into acrimony. When her journal is stolen, her quest to recover it leads her directly into Paul’s path. It’s clear that there’s a connection, but there are so many reasons that a relationship between them could never succeed. Can they overcome secrets of the past to find happiness or are they doomed to fail? Read more

An Unusual Courtship by Katherine Marlowe

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An Unusual Courtship was written by Katherine Marlowe. This is a Regency-era m/m historical romance novel, and I first found out about it because of its availability on Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t want to read my entire review, all you need to know is that I enjoyed this book so much that I purchased my own copy.

Percival Valentine likes his quiet life in the village of Linston, where he works in an informal capacity as estate manager. There’s a more detailed explanation, involving an extinct barony and an inherited house, but needless to say, Percival is a gentleman. When he finds out that Linston Grange has been rented to a trio of young people, he looks forward to the new opportunities for socialization.

Mr. and Miss Bolton are delightful, but it is their friend the enigmatic Mr. Everett who really catches Percival’s eye. There is clearly a spark of mutual attraction, but they skirt around it and never talk about it because of the forbidden nature of such a relationship.

But Mr. Everett has secrets of his own- are they enough to doom the potential for anything more than friendship? Read more

My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes

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My One and Only Duke is the first book in Grace Burrowes’ Rogues to Riches series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoyed Burrowes’ Windham Brides series, and a new series meant a fresh start with new characters.

Quinn Wentworth started with nothing, and built a prosperous banking empire for himself and his siblings. But as the story begins, Quinn is in Newgate, facing execution for a murder he did not commit. It is there that he meets Jane, a pregnant vicar’s daughter. Jane is not married; she eloped to Scotland with a handsome soldier, who turned out to be a rogue, but he was killed in a duel. Jane already caused one scandal by eloping, and now she faces a second one. Quinn offers to marry Jane, so that his estate can provide financial support for her and the unborn baby. He’s going to die anyway, so why shouldn’t he do one final magnanimous gesture? Read more

Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Salt Magic, Skin Magic was written by Lee Welch. This is a Victorian-era m/m romance novel with elements of fantasy and magic. I found out about this book in one of my Facebook groups, and it sounded like the perfect book for me.

Lord Thornby had a pleasant life in London, but after being summoned home by his father to their remote estate, he finds that no matter what he does, he is unable to leave. He is physically trapped on the estate with no hope and no one to help him.

John Blake is a trained magician who arrives at the estate as a favor to a friend. Thornby’s young stepmother believes that she is the victim of dark magic and that Thornby is the one cursing her. Blake is prepared to eliminate the threat, but he realizes that while the house most certainly is cursed, Thornby is as much of a victim as his stepmother. Read more

Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

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Kiss Me at Christmas is the tenth book in Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I’ve enjoyed the other Playful Brides books.

Readers were first introduced to Daffin and Regina in the last book- A Duke Like No Other. As this next adventure begins, Regina has given up on marriage, but she has decided that she wants to lose her virginity to commemorate her 30th birthday. She attempts to recruit Daffin, a Bow Street Runner, to help her with this, but naturally, he refuses. However, when it appears that someone is targeting her family, her cousin Mark hires Daffin to serve as bodyguard. Despite some initial awkwardness stemming from Regina’s earlier request, they strike up a friendly rapport. Soon enough, they realize that there really is a genuine attraction that is getting harder and harder to deny. But even though they have retreated to the countryside for Christmas, it seems as though that threat has followed them from London. Who is trying to hurt the family and why? Read more

First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett

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First Earl I See Tonight is the first book in Anna Bennett’s Debutante Diaries series of Regency-era historical romance novels. This might be a new series, but I thoroughly enjoyed her Wayward Wallflowers series, so I was looking forward to the experience.

Fiona’s father is not an aristocrat, but her sizeable dowry has the ability to open doors that might otherwise be closed to her. Fiona has always intended to marry for love, but when she receives a note from a blackmailer threatening to expose family secrets, she knows that she needs to act fast. If she marries quickly, she can use her dowry money to pay off the blackmailer and protect her sister’s reputation.

She chooses David Gray, the Earl of Ravenport because his financial situation is an open secret. He was also recently jilted, so Fiona hopes that these factors will work in her favor and compel Ravenport to go along with her wild scheme. Read more

Band Sinister by KJ Charles

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Band Sinister is a Regency-era m/m romance novel by KJ Charles. I received an ARC of this book, and before I launch into my review, I want to share how excited and grateful I am for the opportunity. For Charles’ last two books, I stumbled upon the submission form for review copies too late. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I was able to submit a request for Band Sinister.

Guy and Amanda Frisby live in bucolic mediocrity, and while they aren’t necessarily happy with their forced seclusion, they endure it because that’s the way things need to be.

As the story begins, Amanda has just written a gothic novel based on their neighbor Sir Philip Rookwood and his friends. Amanda breaks her leg in an accident, and is taken to Rookwood Hall to recover. Guy is obligated to join her in order to maintain a sense of propriety; no decent woman will serve as chaperone because of the rumors surrounding Sir Philip and his friends. They are certainly an eclectic bunch, but they are kind to the Frisbys.

Guy realizes that Rookwood Hall is not the wretched hive of scum and villainy that he was led to believe. There’s clearly a connection between Guy and Philip, but Guy has never allowed himself to even acknowledge such feelings, let alone act upon them. Philip is much more (so much more) experienced, but he’s gentle and patient with Guy, who proves to be equally adept and curious. Guy is so shy that he can’t even say what he wants in English- he reverts to Latin. And if that’s not the sweetest most precious thing in the entire world, I don’t know what is.

In many books, conflict stems from a Big Misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a frank conversation. Conflict in Band Sinister does not fall victim to this pitfall; it’s much more realistic, and it’s heartbreaking to contemplate the weight of obligation versus doing what the heart wants.

I loved everything about Band Sinister. I took two classes about gothic novels in college, so I appreciated the inclusion of a gothic novel as a plot point. I’d like to think that Charles named the Frisbys after the family of mice in the children’s modern classic Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It would be so delightfully perfect.

Speaking of delightfully perfect, I’m grateful for the lessons in some of the salacious lines from Latin literature.

On a more serious note, despite the frequent doses of levity, this book presents some serious points on family bonds, friendship, love, redemption, consent, and trust.

I would absolutely recommend Band Sinister to fans of m/m historical fiction. This is absolutely my favorite KJ Charles book. I received my copy at the end of August, and I’ve read the book at least 3-4 times since then. I plan to buy my own copy of this book, and if an audiobook is produced, I’ll buy that too. I can’t wait to read Charles’ next book, but in the meantime, I will content myself with another readthrough of Band Sinister.