My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh

51jqaiwy94l._sy346_

 

I have a confession to make: as much as I enjoy Eva Leigh on Twitter, this is my first experience with one of her books.

But now I’m hooked.

There are a few standard tropes in (historical) romance: friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, fake courtship, only one bed, brother’s best friend, and a few others. This book is an example of that first trope- friends to lovers. In order to fully appreciate this book, you have to remember the spate of 90s teen romcoms, wherein a geeky girl received a makeover and then the hottest guy in the school finally notices her.

But wait- in My Fake Rake, it is the HERO who receives the makeover, not the heroine. Read more

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

519p5v6oljl

This book is considered to be one of the best historical romance novels of all time, and it launched the modern iteration of the genre. I’ve had this book for a few years, where it lingered in my TBR queue.

But then some of my favorite authors were talking about it on Twitter, and some of them were reading it for the first time. My curiosity got the better of me, and I finally started reading.

The Marquess of Dain has been alone for most of his life. His mother absconded, and his father dropped him off at Eton and never came back for him. Dain inherited an estate encumbered by debt, and through sheer will and cunning, amassed a fortune. He has an entourage of hangers-on, but he doesn’t really have close friends.

Jessica Trent travels to Paris to retrieve her brother Bertie, who has fallen in with Dain. Bertie doesn’t have the sense that God gave a goose, and it’s time for him to return to England. Read more

Jackdaw by KJ Charles

51p9pbmq7gl

Jackdaw takes place in Charles’ Charm of Magpies universe series of Victorian-era queer paranormal romance novels. It isn’t a strict perquisite to read the first three books in the series, but readers will benefit from a better understanding of the larger story arc.

Jonah Pastern played a supporting role in Flight of Magpies, the third Charm of Magpies book. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I will say that Jonah appeared as one of the villains of the piece, so right away, it’s interesting to see him as the protagonist in a romance.

Once upon a time, Jonah met Ben, and they were very happy together.

Until they weren’t. Read more

Shadows & Dreams by Alexis Hall

51yg0l-ifgl._sy346_

This is the second book in Hall’s Kate Kane: Paranormal Investigator series. The Kate series first appeared a few years ago, but has been republished by Carina Press.

Readers should start with the first book—Iron & Velvet—which introduces Kate and her world, but I’ll offer a brief spoiler-free TLDR for readers who want to read this review. Kate lives in contemporary London, all the fictional supernatural entities are real, and just like ordinary people, they require the services of a private investigator.

Shadows picks up three months after Iron, and concerns the fallout from the end of Iron, as well as a new threat. What starts as a search for an almost-hookup’s missing brother escalates into something bigger, and once again Kate is forced to deal with vampires, werewolves, faeries, and more— when all she really wants to do is relax at home and spend time with Julian, her girlfriend.

I should mention that Julian used to be a nun… and that she’s an 800-year-old vampire… Read more

Betrothed by Christmas by Jess Michaels and Elizabeth Essex

 

51-4rdso-sl

 

The holiday season seems to start a little earlier every year, and I don’t mind one bit. I love the music and the decorations and the snow, and most importantly the time spent with my family and friends. Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read this new historical romance anthology.

The two novellas share the same which I thought was a fun worldbuilding element. They also take place during the Christmas season, but the plots are not overwhelmed by the holiday, which works well because the emphasis falls on the characterization rather than relying on the holiday to carry the plots. Read more

The Business of Blood by Kerrigan Byrne

BoB-ebook-cover

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

41vz8j2xxul

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

51bpjl1loul

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

41snw1dtral

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

61dtvtvlhsl

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