How to Capture a Countess
Author: Karen Hawkins
Series: The Duchess Diaries
Tags: historical romance, regency romance, earl, girlhood crush, previously ruined, bet, revenge
Aw, cute. Light, airy, mildly funny.
Young debutante steals a kiss from our rakish hero, and ensues a scandal that makes the earl a laughing stock. He vows to seek vengence, but she disappears for seven years. The earl's aunt hatches a plan to get him to marry by putting him in a situation where he is near her all the time.
Country party! Shenanigans! Archery! Silly bets! Meddling aunts! Pugs!
Both heroine and hero are fiercely competitive, and end up challenging each other to all sorts of bets.
Basically it is that episode of Arrested Development where Will Arnet and Amy Poehler marry purely out of one-up-manship.
There is a lot of slapstick in this. Some people hate slapstick in books. I understand. It gets a bit weird reading it instead of seeing it. But I thought it was cute. Every encounter had him leaving with another bruise or scrape. Poor guy.
Most notable of these was the first scene where the heroine accidentally pushes the earl into a fountain. Not only is he soaked, he ends up with a lily pad on his head and a fish in his breast pocket. Oh, the hijinks! *Titters behind fan.*
Also, the aunt was pretty delightful. She has seven pugs, and connives constantly. Her companion knows the exact moment she has devised a plan by the look in her eyes. Those two and her butler are the comedic side characters of the story.
I'd say it was pretty humorous.
Ready Set Rogue
Author: Manda Collins
Series: Studies in Scandal #1
Tags: historical romance, regency romance, marquis, bluestockings, game, unusual inheritance, dying wish, murder mystery, shelter in a storm, ruined, nebulous Victorian autism
It felt kind of like a dinner party murder mystery. Five girls and a guy are invited to a house to figure out the murder of an eccentric, beloved maiden aunt.
It reminded me of The Westing Game. Not that it was particularly like The Westing Game, but wasn't The Westing Game fun?
Four bluestockings, each masters of a particular field of study (painting, math (or "maths" as they say), archaeology, and classical studies) have to live in the estate of a recently departed scholarly spinster for a year, working on their field of study. At the end of the year, they will compete with the fruit of their labors against each other to finally receive the estate permanently.
In come the relatives: a somewhat morose widow, a blustering marquis, and a duke that has more charm that what's good for him.
And then they all die in a fire. JUST KIDDING! They fall in love with each other and become best friends.
This book focuses on the blustery, serious marquis and the classical studies woman. They run into each other in a tavern, and instantly hate each other. Not 24 hours later, they are doing it in a shepard's cabin while caught in a thunderstorm.
*Cough cough* SLUT.
Just kidding (again). Slut shaming is not at all cool. But they do hop into the sack pretty damn quickly.
I like a liiiittle bit more backstory before they do the nasty, you know what I'm saying? If she were like, "Virginity is a dumb myth. Let's do this shizz," I'd be all about it. But they just kind of fall in bed together.
I mean, storm, shepherd's cabin, naked under rough wool blankets, cuddling together for warmth?
Who can say no?
He's not at all that bright either. Overwhelming desire to "do what's right" + bluestocking (and virgin OBVIOUSLY) definitely equals "shit, I just deflowered her, let's go get a special license."
Well, it's not terribly smart, but it's definitely fun. Before and after and in between their love affair there are a rag tag team of misfit characters, a murder mystery they have to go Nancy Drew on, gypsies! Palms read! Near deaths by shooting! Secret caves! Surprise love affair! Shenanigans!
I'm not sure what the next books will be about because that murder is definitely solved.
The next two characters that are up for the parson's trap are the oh so smooth talking duke, and the possibly autism spectrum maths bluestocking. She is already endearing and I'm interested to see what happens between the two. Already in this book she has proposed a love affair with the duke. He went red and ran out of the room.
Daphne keeps on saying, "I don't want to marry him, I just want to fu---" until she's cut off.
And after two whole weeks, the hero and heroine are in deep, everlasting love with each other.
RR: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Series: Scoundrels #3
Tags: Historical romance, regency romance, marquess, growly, forthright female, frenemies, antique collector, ne'er do well brother
Rating: Super yay!
That's my giggle of girlish glee, if you didn't know.
This was a reread. It was just recently added to the OverDrive collection of my library, so I had to try it out again, since I remembered vaguely that I loved it. I loved it again!
I loved both of the characters equally. They are 100% what I most like to see.
Our hero is a big, scary, dark fellow, with a reputation as an incurable reprobate. Little does the ton know that his graham cracker crust can be cracked open to find so much gooey! Gooey for days! The kind of gooey that keeps oozing and oozing, like warm marshmallow fluff mixed with molasses, and it gets all over your hands and never comes off and it's delicious.
He hasn't been hugged since his mama ran away, and he DOESN'T NEED HUGS ANYWAY AT ALL, OKAY?
Omg, the blustering of an 8 year old turned 33 year old rake.
He's also super big and Italian looking with dark skin and a hawkish nose. So obviously he thinks he's hideous. Equally obvious, he is actually super hot.
The heroine is rather forthright, original, has raised ten brothers and cousins, and has an eccentric and sexually liberated grandmother. She takes one look at him and wants his D. She recognizes it, is very self aware, and attempts to eradicate it. The marquess is also instantly attracted, is not self aware at all, and nevertheless tries to eradicate the feeling under animosity. Since they are both passionate, combative, and competitive, it does not go well for either of them.
Ooh, the sexual tension between them sizzles, until it explodes. They are at odds from the beginning because Jessica's twat of a brother is being lured into dissipation by Daine (what else are ne'er-do-well brothers good for, really?). Miscommunication, animosity, and someone's *cough cough DAINE* towering insecurities has them clawing at each other into they burst with desire.
They get married, but it's not the ending, because someone needs to get over their enormous issues of abandonment, love, and women in general. Jessica approaches these problems calmly and systematically, until they once again find themselves in an impasse.
I love their back and forth, a sexually charged ongoing challenge between the two. The most calamitous events happen immediately after one says to the other one, "I'd like to see you try."
I love that Jessica is just so very adult about it. She's a virgin, true, but she's also 27, with an open minded grandmother as a mentor. They talk openly about her attraction to him.
Sometimes audiobooks add something to the story, and in this case it was most enjoyable to hear The Whine. Jessica is talking to her grandmother about how rude and arrogant and conceited and debauched Daine is, and then says, "and the worst part is..." wavering whine "I like himmmmm." *Gusty sigh*
I feel like the narrator got that line pretty on point.
They are both so irreverent and prickly, yet honest and surprisingly touching. Jessica has no qualms about recognizing that her brother is not the sharpest tool in the shed, yet she does care for him and hopes to at least keep him alive.
There's this great part where she hears a shot, and is instantly sure that her brother was dead because "if Bertie is standing near a ditch, he would fall into it. If Berties is standing near an open window, he would fall out of it. She had no doubt that if a gun went off in Bertie's vacinity, he would find a way to throw himself in front of it."
Sigh. So delightful. The other books of the series don't look as engaging, though. Wamp wamp.
I've explored a few Loretta Chases and her books are so thick I invariably lose interest in the end. Dukes Prefer Blondes was another I read. I enjoyed it, but ended up skimming the end. That makes me pause in searching for other Chases. Also, this book is a fan favorite. It has been reprinted several times.
If you love Mr. Thornton from North and South, if you love witty, dry banter and snappy back and forths, you should check out this book.
It is de-light-ful.