What was once a love match between Lady Violet and Lord James Aubrey has become four years of polite conversation at breakfast and sleepless nights in separate bedrooms. Yet, when Violet receives word that her husband is unconscious after falling from a horse at their country estate she rushes to make sure he is well. When they meet up by accident at a country inn she realizes that he wouldn’t have told her he was well. She decides to get even in a scheme where she pretends to be ill just so he would know how he felt. When he catches on to her game he decides to see just how far she’ll take it.
When I read the synopsis I thought this sounded like a cute story. I like historical romances and an enemies to lover trope is always one of my favorites. To Have and To Hoax started off fun, but unlike Violet, I didn’t have to fake my approaching headache. Violet and James’s pettiness tried my patience pretty quickly.
To Have and To Hoax wasn’t all bad. The writing was very good, the side characters were really interesting, and the hero and heroine weren’t completely unlikeable. The game playing was just about 50 pages too long. I would’ve liked more chapters of the early days of their marriage so that I’d be more invested in them as a couple before they had their big argument. Unfortunately that was where the story started. It didn’t give me a lot of time to care and so I had little patience.
I tried very hard to not hold a fake illness against the author since this was written quite awhile before we got stuck in “quarantine” and took that into consideration in how this may have affected my enjoyment of this novel. I gave it a half star higher than I would’ve if I’d had the same feelings on a different day of reading this novel. ❤️❤️❤️❣️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Cassandra and Joshua DeWitt have been married for two years and haven’t seen each other since their wedding day. When Cassandra shows up at their London house and her husband is in residence she convinces herself that the house is big enough for the two of them. When her husband is accused of betraying her in her marriage, she leaps to his defense and all of a sudden they are forced to portray a happy union. Of course, spending all of that time together leads to grumbling tension and intense attraction.
When your favorite writing duo speaks out about enjoying this novel you just have to take a look. I was pleasantly surprised at this historical romance. Joshua was a different kind of hero. Once part of the peerage until his father’s bigamy was discovered he has made his fortune in business. His frenetic energy made him seem rather ADHD but Cassandra’s soothing influence gave him a more mischievousness that I’m not sure the author intended.
Cassandra, also was something other than she appeared. Smart and confident on the outside, she was actually desperate for the love and affection of her family who have blamed her for their rather dire straits and boredom. Cassandra and Joshua were an interesting pairing and I enjoyed this quick paced love story very much.
There were plenty of antics and bickering, as well as a bit of a mystery for them to solve together that paired them off rather quickly. If you like sassy historical romances this one is just different enough to elevate it to a 4.5 rating, but then a little humor always gets an extra .5 from me! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️
Lady Henrietta Sedley has declared her twenty-ninth year the Year of Hattie. She has a plan for her own renaissance from old maid spinster/virgin to deflowered business woman, in charge of running her father’s shipping business. When she finds a beautiful man tied up in her carriage, the Year of Hattie starts to go awry. Well, with the exception of the deflowering plan. that seems to be right on track. Unfortunately, after finding Beast in her carriage his revenge plan gets set in motion and when it butts heads with the Year of Hattie? Well, a new plan needs to be made.
I have never read a Sarah Maclean historical romance, but this one definitely got put on my radar by a bunch of book reviewers who raved, with good reason about how different these characters were and how refreshing that change made to the story. Hattie is a modern woman in every way except the time she’s living in. In today’s world she’d have been the President of the boardroom. Smart, witty, and able to out think the men working around her. She was also a healthy size. As with the women of today, she was aware that her size and intelligence made her unattractive to men of her time. Her fortune made her more attractive, but her father’s dukedom was not inherited but “gifted” for good services and dies when he does. So the “Lady” in her title is more a courtesy than an actuality.
“Beast” or Whit, as he’s really named, is an actual son of a Duke, albeit one born on the wrong side of the bed. After a traumatic childhood living on the streets, he and his brother “Devil”, from the first novel, have created their own kingdom in Covent Garden, the slums of London. When he finds himself tied up in Hattie’s carriage he must find revenge upon the person who put him there and he thinks Hattie will lead him to that person. This begins their game of cat and mouse, and as that game plays out their attraction to each other hampers each others plans but it’s their wit and intelligence that seals their fates.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning Hattie’s friend Nora. She’s the daughter of a Duke, likes to where men’s clothing and is the sidekick and sometimes instigator of Hattie’s adventures. There is a hinted at romance between she and Whit’s female Man at Arms. I loved that this queer romance was introduced and hope that they get their own story or novella. She’s a hoot and I think her story would be fascinating!
I love a good historical romance, especially one that veers away from established trope’s for this genre. Hattie is someone that a woman in any age can identify. She has self doubts about her looks and struggles to excel based upon her own skills and not her feminine genitalia. Unfortunately it takes a special man to overlook the more’s of the time they live in. Whit is just that man and their story is told in a riveting way in Brazen and the Beast. By the way, I didn’t read the first novel before picking this one up and whereas I’m going to go get it immediately, I didn’t miss out on any key plot lines without having read that novel first. Fear not! Read on historical lovers!
Opinions around the Blogosphere
“As with all of the Sarah MacLean books I’ve read, this one gets stunning marks from me. Whit and Hattie are wondrous. I love their world. ” Snark and Squee
“I really enjoyed their banter and there are some very sexy scenes between them. Hattie managed to accomplish all her goals in the end, bravo for her. She did it all with class and sass!” Past Midnight
FIRST SENTENCE READ: “Cara tried to act casual as she walked along the motel’s cracked, weedy sidewalk, but she knew she looked like what she was: a kindergarten teacher–well, almost–who was scared out of her mind.”
When Eliza Tricklebank receives an anonymous tip about who murdered the secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia she doesn’t hesitate to print it in her gazette. When Sebastian shows up on her door wanting to follow up on that tip Eliza doesn’t act deferential, instead treating him like an ordinary man, and sends him on his way after chastising him for his rude behavior. This doesn’t deter Sebastian, in fact, it intrigues him. When he shows up again to apologize they decide to pursue the investigation together, the tension between them quickly turning from irritation to friendship.
When I read the synopsis for The Princess Plan for some reason I thought it was a modern romance. So, imagine my surprise when I realized this was a historical. Our heroine, Eliza is not your typical historical woman. She’s “on the shelf” at 29 and because of that status doesn’t give a hoot how she’s perceived in society. This gives her character a modern edge that makes her extremely likable. I couldn’t help rooting for her to become his future bride.
The murder takes place at the start of the book and the intrigue and investigation set a fast pace for this romance. Our prince is not just in London for fun, he’s actually trying to complete a trade negotiation as well as find a bride to bring back home to Alucia. The murder of his closest friend allows the reader to see the lonely life of this prince. The contrast to Eliza’s “normal” upbringing, as well as her cheekiness, makes her an irresistible candidate but they of course have obstacles to overcome. I won’t spoil how this is accomplished, but it makes for a fun novel to read! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a free copy of the book through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest!
I found myself in a reading slump and have quite a few books I need to read and review. One genre that always helps me get out of a slump is historical romance. It’s a genre that I love and this book in particular looked fun. Part mystery, part historical romance, and so far it is engaging and has captured my interest!
The one thing I don’t love? This cover!
Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.
With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.
Destitute daughter of a vicar, Annabelle Archer earns a place as one of the first female students at the illustrious University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship she must join the women’s suffrage movement and try to gain the backing of a man of influence. Her target? Sebastian Devereaux, Duke of Montgomery and political advisor to the queen. Her beauty catches his eye and despite her fellowship with independent women he’s drawn to her. Can she hold him at arms length while still earning his backing of their movement? Can he convince her to become his without the promise of marriage? Evie Dunmore’s debut novel is atypical of other historical novels in that it dives into the politics of this time and the societal divide a lack of income and good background creates between a man and woman. Bringing Down the Duke was an intricate love story, but also a historical eye opener.
Despite the fluff that the word “Duke” brings to a historical romance title, this novel was anything but. The intricate love story between Sebastian and Annabelle was revealed a piece at a time and was enthralling, don’t get me wrong, but it was the history of the time and how that impacted these two characters that held my attention. I can only recall having read one other novel set during the women’s suffrage movement and as an independent woman myself (even though American), I’m very interested in how and when women’s rights were fought and granted In England. The fact that Evie Dunmore chose this time for a romance gave it a more modern feel.
Sebastian started off the novel as you would expect. Frigid Duke taking all of his responsibilities very seriously gets upended by a beautiful woman. BUT because of the setting we get to see how his thoughts change about women’s rights as Annabelle is threatened through her actions while fight for them. That makes Sebastian different than other historical romance heroes giving the story more impact. In real life a Duke couldn’t consider a woman for his wife if she wasn’t in the correct societal rank without throwing away his own livelihood and lands. Of course in romance novels there are no rules and Dukes marry whomever they want, but this novel doesn’t seem to throw away those societal rules and the Duke’s decisions propel not just the romantic side of the story but the historical plot as well.
I liked Annabelle a lot. She was smart, educated, pretty, but also had a head on her shoulders. She was no innocent and new how her actions would affect her future, but also the future of those around her. She was always thinking ahead. Her attraction to Sebastian was HUGE, but she was no ninny. She knew what it meant if she became a mistress or a wife. Her decisions were based upon real life plot lines and not romance novel plot lines. That made her so much more interesting and real!
Bringing Down the Duke is one of those novels where you pick it up not knowing what you are going to get. The only hint is from the picture on the front where the woman is seated in the saddle of the horse and the Duke is behind her when usually their placement would be in the reverse. A very subtle hint at her independence. I don’t want to give the impression that there isn’t any tension or romance between these two characters. There is plenty of food for the bodice ripping romantic! These two have heat, and their romance was riveting. Even more so because of everything that was happening that I mentioned above! Also, Annabelle’s friends in the movement were interesting and fabulous and hopefully their stories are to come in future novels in the series.
Bringing Down the Duke was everything I love in a historical romance. Riveting characters, sexual tension, and interesting details about the time they are living in. This is a novel that I can easily recommend to anyone who enjoys a great historical romance!
I received a free copy of this ARC through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Opinions from around the Blogosphere!
“Bringing Down The Duke is one of the best debut’s I have read, it is simply stunning! The character’s are beautifully written, each one sparkles with life, the story is fun and original, it is an exciting, gorgeous and mesmerising love story. Evie Dunmore captivates and enthrals the reader with her intelligent, passionate and dazzling writing.” Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, so here goes!
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
First Sentence: “Absolutely not. What an utterly harebrained idea, Annabelle.”
The Queen’s Gambit by Jessie Mihalik
First Sentence Read: “I lowered my spaceship’s cargo ramp and slipped in the night with the ease of long practice.”
I went for a mood changer with the switch from historical romance to romantic sci-fi. Bringing Down the Duke was so fabulous that I had to switch it up to try to carry that great book glow into the next novel. I haven’t gotten too far into The Queen’s Gambit to decide if this was the right choice. I’ll let you know!
Now that you know what I’m reading, feel free to catch me up! It’s Monday! What are you Reading?
Kat and her cooks assistant Tess run out on errands for the evenings meal and run into a Chinese man in the street. Literally. Picking up their various packages, Mr. Li and Kat strike up a brief friendship that grows stronger when he gives her the gift of a fabulous blend of tea. When her next door neighbor is murdered and a “chinese man” is the main suspect, Kat is determined to clear Mr. Li, convinced that this nice man would not harm her neighbor. With the help of her usual casts of characters including the enigmatic handyman Daniel she finds herself enmeshed in another whodunnit that reveals as much about her as the other characters in this novel, including our killer.
I’m a sucker for a great historical mystery and the Below Stairs Mysteries have not yet disappointed. This is the third novel in the series and as each mystery is solved the reader learns more about Kat, Daniel, Tess and the other characters in these books. These tidbits have helped keep my interest making me eager to read the next novel to see what new bit of knowledge will be revealed. Daniel is the biggest mystery still unsolved. He’s a handyman, yet is also a bit of a gentleman making the reader feel as if he’s trying on parts for each investigation. Which is the real man and once that mystery is resolved how will he and Kat’s relationship play out? I will definitely keep reading to find out.
The mystery in this novel was just a little lackluster for me. I enjoyed the new cultural references and found the history of tea to be really interesting, however, I wasn’t as invested in some of the new characters as I had been in the first two books of the series. Not to say it was bad, it really wasn’t! I enjoyed the interaction between Kat, Cynthia, Thanos and Daniel more than I did the mystery and sped through the investigation to get to the meat of their relationships. I’m sure it’s because I’m such a huge fan of romance novels, so I focused on that part of the book more than the mystery.
Do you like historical mysteries with a hint of romance? If so, then this novel and series should be added to your TBR. Each book can be read as a stand alone but they’re so much more enjoyable if you have some back story for the main characters. I’d recommend reading the other novels before picking this one up. Once you do, you’ll really enjoy your trips to Jennifer Ashley’s historical London.
I received a free copy of the ARC through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“Death in Kew Gardens reminded me of both Downton Abbey and Grand Hotel, with a touch of Agatha Christie. I will definitely be reading the forerunners in this series and anxiously await for book number four.” A Wondrous Bookshelf
Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, so here goes!
Today is Memorial Day and I’d like to thank all of our men and women who serve our country and help make the US a great place to live!
Death in Kew Gardens (A Below Stairs Mystery #3) by Jennifer Ashley
First Sentence Read: “The Chinese gentleman ran from between the carriages packed the length of Mount Street and straight into my path.”
Turn the Tide (A Heart Pounding Romantic Suspense Anthology) with stories by Katie Ruggle, Adriana Anders, Connie Mann, and Juno Rushdan
First Sentence Read: ‘”I hate the mall.” Molly Said’
I’m a big fan of Katie Ruggle and I’m looking forward to reading the prequel short story to her new series about sisters who are bounty hunters. I also love finding new authors and I think an anthology is a great way to discover if you like an authors style of writing. Will they grab my attention? I’ll let you know!
Now you know what I’ll be doing on my day off, what will you be reading?