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

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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

Hexmaker by Jordan L. Hawk

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Hexmaker is the second book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Hexworld series of m/m paranormal historical fiction novels. I’m pretty sure I started reading this almost immediately after finishing Hexbreaker– the first book in the series.

Dr. Owen Yates appeared in Hexbreaker, and he’s ready to take on a more central role. Owen comes from one of the wealthiest families in the city, but he enjoys working for the magical police force as a forensic henchman. He first crosses paths with fox shifter Malachi when the latter is implicated in a murder. Malachi didn’t do it, and Owen is probably the only person who can help him prove his innocence. Read more

A Case of Possession by KJ Charles

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A Case of Possession is the second book in KJ Charles’ A Charm of Magpies series of Victorian-era m/m paranormal romance novels. Charles has become one of my favorite authors, and I’m pretty sure I started this book almost immediately after reading the first book in the series.

The story picks up almost immediately after the events of The Magpie Lord. Having dealt with the threat on Crane’s life, Stephen and Crane return to London. But, as they say, there is no rest for the wicked. Stephen returns to work as a magical police officer, and Crane…. Crane drifts around a little aimlessly. He’s still not happy with the title he’s inherited, and he wants nothing more than to return to China. But now there’s Stephen to consider.

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The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds

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The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance was written by Madeline J. Reynolds. I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately, so I was excited about the opportunity to read this book.

Elias Caldwell is a young man in the Victorian era who simply doesn’t fit in. He sees no escape from the future his parents have laid out for him, but then his grandfather presents him with an opportunity: a pocket watch that allows him to time travel.

Elias ends up at an American boarding school, where he meets Tyler Forrester. Ty, an aspiring filmmaker, manages to catch Elias appearing out of thin air. The story is too fantastic to be believed, but Ty suspends his disbelief and agrees to help Elias acclimate to the 21st century.

It’s certainly a culture shock, but Elias quickly sees the benefits of modern life. He doesn’t feel as stifled as he did in his own era, and he is pleased to discover that it’s okay to be gay. Even better, he finds friendship and more with Ty.

Ty knows that sharing Elias’ story would almost definitely lead to his big breakthrough in the film world. But what about the ramifications of time travel being real? And what would happen to Elias if everybody knew that he was from over 100 years in the past?

This was a fun story. It unfolds from both Elias and Tyler’s points of view. The plot moves along at a fairly brisk pace, and sometimes it would have been beneficial to slow down for full effect. This is especially noticeable when examining the “relationship” that develops between Elias and Tyler. It’s almost instantaneous, and I would have loved to see the tension drawn out a little more.

I would recommend The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance. This will definitely appeal to the target demographic. Readers should know explanations behind the “science” of time travel are fairly light, but there’s a nice balance between the other elements of the plot. Overall, this is a fairly light book and a quick read. I’m looking forward to reading more from Reynolds in the future.

 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles

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Any Old Diamonds is the first book in KJ Charles’ Lilywhite Boys series of Victorian m/m romance novels. I had been looking forward to reading this book after Charles mentioned a “more sociopathic than usual hero”. Good golly, if that’s not a stunning endorsement!

Alec Pyne wants to hire some jewel thieves to steal from the Duke and Duchess of Ilvar. He’s rather cagey about his motivation for this scheme, but the thieves are professional and have done their research. They shock Alec when they tell him that they know he’s Lord Alexander, the duke’s younger son. And then they ask him why he wants to hire them to steal from his parents.

Alec is rather firm in his declaration that the duchess is NOT his mother. There’s clearly a story here, and I shan’t say anything more on that note because it is quite a dreadful tale, filled with schemes and machinations.

Speaking of which- part of this jewel stealing scheme involves striking up a friendship with Jerry, one of the thieves. This is part of a long con- basically, they want to establish that Alec was tricked by his new friend. And this segues into Alec telling Jerry that he just wants someone else to be in control.

And that’s when things really get interesting. Alec cedes all control to Jerry, and the result is absolutely scorching. There is, consent, of course, which is important, but the evolution of their relationship is riveting because I never knew what was going to happen next.

Which brings me back to the main plot- there are secrets that have been mouldering and festering for twenty years, and although there are revelations here and there, it’s impossible to gather a full picture what transpired until the very end.

Everything about this book is amazing. The characterization was brilliant- from the arrogance of the Duke and Duchess of Ilvar to the despondency of Alec’s siblings. The setting is rendered with detail, and everything flows together so nicely.

I would absolutely recommend Any Old Diamonds to fans of m/m romance. This is the first book in a series, but fans of Charles’ other books will appreciate the return of characters from the Sins of the Cities series as well as allusions to the Society of Gentlemen series. This is a compelling story, full of surprises, and I can’t wait to find out what’ll happen next in the series.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles

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The Magpie Lord is the first book in KJ Charles’ A Charm of Magpies series of Victorian-era m/m paranormal fantasy romance novels. I have read and enjoyed many of Charles’ books, so when I saw that I could purchase Kindle editions of the trilogy and pair them with audio for a ridiculously low price, I jumped at the opportunity.

Lucien Vaudrey expected to spend the rest of his life in China. But the deaths of his father and older brother mean that he has inherited an earldom. As if returning to a country he hates is not bad enough, Lucien finds himself plagued with something beyond his control.

Stephen Day is a magical practitioner. His family has a long history of acrimony with Lucien’s, but he still agrees to investigate the matter. He does not, however, expect to find Lucien’s home surrounded by malicious magic. Nor does he expect to be attracted to a man that he is supposed to hate. The plot against Lucien runs deeper than either of them expected, and it will consume them both if Stephen fails to find a way to stop it.

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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

Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Bloodline is the fifth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I started reading the series this summer, and I try to have large gaps between each book; there is only a finite amount of material, and I want my experience to last as long as possible.

After their adventure in Egypt, Whyborne and Griffin return to Widdershins. Their lives to return to whatever passes until normal until they are faced with a new predicament involving abandoned ships, cryptic notes, a murder, and mysterious cousins from England. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin see the hallmarks of something supernatural, and find themselves racing to save humanity (or at least the city of Widdershins) from an unknown threat. Read more

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster is a middle grade historical fiction novel by Jonathan Auxier. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I’ve enjoyed some of Auxier’s other books, and I thought it would be a good fit for my three girls who are in the fourth and sixth grades.

Nan Sparrow works as a chimney sweep in Victorian London. It’s a miserable existence, with no end in sight, but that changes when she meets Charlie, a gentle creature who befriends her. Nan has never really had a friend, and she is fiercely protective of Charlie. She understands that he would never hurt anyone, but is there a place in the harsh world for a monster? Read more