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The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Mesmerist is a middle grade novel written by Ronald L. Smith. It contains elements of several of my favorite things, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book.

Thirteen-year-old Jess lives with her mother. They earn their living from conducting séances, using trickery to put on a good show for their wealthy clients. However, that all changes when they receive an actual supernatural message. It turns out that Jess’ mother has been keeping secrets, and Jess learns more about her parents’ past on a trip to London. Continue reading

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These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed reading These Vicious Masks last year, and found the combination of teenagers with extraordinary powers (like the X-Men) placed in Victorian England to be highly original.

These Ruthless Deeds is a young adult novel written by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas. It begins not too long after the events in These Vicious Masks, and protagonist Evelyn is still processing what happened at the end of the first book in the series. However, she is preoccupied by her family’s move to London for the “Little Season” and everything that entails. She learns more about a shadowy organization that oversees “Aberrants”: what is her place is supposed to be within the group and what are the group’s true intentions? The love triangle from the first book returns in a sequel; what good is a YA novel if there are not at least two gentlemen vying for the attention of the plucky protagonist? Continue reading

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The Perks of Loving A Scoundrel by Jennifer McQuiston

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I recently finished listening to the Audible edition of Jennifer McQuiston’s The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel. This is the third book in The Seduction Diaries, and features Geoffrey Westmore, who fans of the series will remember as the younger brother of the heroines of the first two Seduction Diaries books.

We are also introduced to Miss Mary Channing, who is twenty-six years old and has never been kissed. She first encounters “West” (as Geoffrey is called) urinating on a rose bush in her sister’s garden. Needless to say, she is not impressed. They meet again when West follows her to the library at a party. He thinks that she is looking for an assignation, but she is only looking for a book. While in the library, they overhear an assassination plot. And then they share a kiss. And then everybody walks in and sees them kissing. So much scandal! Continue reading

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The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Duke is the fourth book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series. I have not read any of the other books in this series, nor have I read any of Byrne’s other books. That’s okay, I’m always optimistic about new authors, and Regency/Victorian books are my favorite genre of historical romance- so I went into this book with high hopes.

Imogen and Cole are thrown together by chance. She stands out in his eyes because she is the only one to offer him condolences for the loss of his family rather than congratulating him for his elevation to duke as a result of the aforementioned loss. They spend one amazing night together, but then they have to part ways because Cole has a top secret Big Mission. Continue reading

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Four Weddings and a Sixpence by Julia Quinn & Elizabeth Boyle & Laura Lee Guhrke & Stefanie Sloane

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Julia Quinn has always been one of my favorite authors, so I was very excited about the release of Four Weddings and a Sixpence. Granted, this is an anthology, so it isn’t 100% Julia Quinn, but I like discovering new authors as well. I don’t think I’ve read anything by the other three women who contributed to this anthology, so I was going into this with tabula rasa.

Quinn herself provides us with the premise for the book via the prologue: four schoolgirls find an old sixpence in a mattress at school and declare that it is to be their lucky talisman that will aid them in their quests to marry.

Something New was written by Stefanie Sloane. In this story, Ann needs to get married by her 21st birthday. She is at a loss as to which eligible gentlemen are worth pursuing and which should be avoided. Luckily for her, Rhys Hamilton, the Duke of Dorset agrees to help her. After all, he is very familiar with Society and can answer her question. Naturally, the two fall in love. I enjoyed this novella quite a bit, although I did raise my eyebrows a little when Anne and Rhys became (ahem) closer. Perhaps acrobatics ought to be saved for future endeavors rather than when first becoming acquainted. Continue reading

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Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston

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I love reading historical romance novels, especially those set in 19th century England. I have been following Jennifer McQuiston on Facebook, but I have not had the opportunity to read very many of her books. I did enjoy reading The Spinster’s Guide to Scandalous Behavior, so I was excited about reading the first book in the series: Diary of an Accidental Wallflower.

Clare Westmore is poised to take her position as one of the “it girls” (my words, not McQuiston’s) of the London Season, when disaster strikes. Clare twists her ankle, but she insists upon hiding her injury and attending a party and finds herself sitting on the sidelines- with the wallflowers. She attempts to hide her twisted ankle, but her awkward gait attracts the attention of Dr. Daniel Meriel, the personal physician of the party’s hostess.

Daniel comes from a completely different world than Clare. He lives in a crime-ridden neighborhood and he spends most of his time working in a charity hospital. Daniel also conducts experiments; he is trying to perfect an anesthesia regulator. When he first encounters Clare, he thinks that she is vain and foolish for putting a party above recuperation. But as he gets to know her, he finds that she is intelligent and insightful, and he doesn’t understand why she pretends to vapid. Continue reading

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Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have always enjoyed learning about 19th century England and reading books set in that era. It was a time of discovery, innovation, and empire building, and it centered around the monarch whose name became synonymous with (most of) the century: Victoria.

Julia Baird’s biography Victoria: The Queen is a masterpiece. Baird does a wonderful job of setting up the events that led to Victoria’s placement as heir to the throne; one can picture those dissolute younger sons of George III abandoning their mistresses and scrambling to find royal brides. Baird vividly portrays Victoria’s life, from her lonely childhood to her dynamic with the scheming Conroy, and her abject sorrow following Prince Albert’s untimely death. Continue reading