Monday, 7 January 2019

My Christmas Historical Romance Binge (or: 3 mini reviews)

Christmas is a time for comfort. For nesting under a blanket with a cup of tea and a stack of books. (And apparently this year idly half watching my husband play Red Dead Redemption 2 over the top of my pages...)
Nothing screams comfort to me like a good historical romance, so with that in mind I settled in for three days of bingeing.

A Lady's Guide to Improper Behaviour by Suzanne Enoch
The Rules:
A lady should always make polite conversation...
Theresa Weller understands the rules of decorum, and is appalled when Colonel Bartholomew James disrupts a perfectly civilized dinner. This rude, insensitive man is the complete opposite of everything a gentleman should be — but with one searing kiss, Tess can think of no one else.
A lady should never lose her temper...
Aggravated beyond bearing by a man who speaks his mind, Tess wishes there was a guide to men like Bartholomew. Surely, with such an assortment of handsome, polite suitors to choose from, Tess should not ache for him.
A lady should never pursue a gentleman.
She invites him on carriage rides and dares him to dance, and almost makes him want to return to Society. Bartholomew knows Tess wants to be seen as a proper miss, but deep down, he knows she is precisely the sort to spark his desire... A most improper lady.

Sure it's basically the same plot as "England's Perfect Hero" by Enoch, which I loved, so that meant that it fell a little flat. But it had enough else to keep me mildly entertained for a few hours that I didn't overly object. It's not got quite the same spark as Enoch's books used to for me, but it's amusing enough, just steamy enough, and has some relatively good banter between the hero and heroine. However it's also fairly predictable, and my husband found it vastly entertaining to experience the plot purely from my predictions of what was about to happen.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal? By Tessa Dare
On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library.
• Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan?
• Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall?
• Perhaps the butler did it.
All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.
But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit... and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.
Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

Yes, just yes. Tessa Dare never fails to completely steal me away into whatever story she spins. I adored the mystery, I loved Charlotte and Piers (OH MY THEIR BANTER) and it was super steamy and utterly delicious. After the slightly frustrating start with 'Improper Behaviour' this was exactly what I needed, and I've bought a few more by her so that I can continue this delicious bit of escapism into the New Year.

A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch
The dawning of desire...
1806, Scotland: Wild, reckless Callum MacCreath is in no hurry to become someone’s husband. But when his responsible, steady older brother Ian announces his engagement to their childhood friend Rebecca, Callum makes a startling discovery: he wants the lovely young lass for himself. But it’s too late, and when Ian banishes him for his duplicity, he’s only too happy to leave Scotland forever… delicious and dangerous.
1816: Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now, ten years later, Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Will he remember their spirited, fiery connection, or does he blame her for his brother’s unexpected death? This time neither of them can deny their scorching attraction, but will their hearts be burned in the blazing heat of scandal?

And then I went on to a fairly recent Suzanne Enoch and regretted my life choices. I used to love Enoch's books - they were feisty and funny and steamy and I loved settling down with one. But this one was absolutely terrible.
There was no steam, no witty banter, nothing beyond some rather limp shirtless hugging and an obsession with a truly terrible whodunnit that was upsettingly obvious right from the start. It was just... bad. Truly, truly bad. And not what I've come to expect from Enoch. It also sparked a bit of a purge, where all her more recent books that have been sitting on my to read pile have been removed. 

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