Jan 28, 2018 | Books I Read

Duke seeks vengeance, creates hobo vigilante. | Lackluster dragon shifter with the first dog sidekick I want to punch in the face. | Sexy chocolate making times with Duke & Co.

If I Only Had a Duke

Author: Lenora Bell

Series: Dastardly Dukes #2

Tags: historical romance, regency, Dukes!, tavern scene, wallflower, vengeance, art, vigilante

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!


Well done! Artfully crafted to exactly fit the genre. Dukes be growly, wallflowers be breakin’ out of their shells, a tavern scene, a road trip, a highway woman in breeches, light bondage, and much more!


To tell you the truth, I’ve read all three of the series by now, and I’m mixing them all up. I guess that’s the benefit of reading them in order. Even though regency as a rule can be read as standalone novels, they usually ease the path for the next in the series by briefly introducing the next main characters.

Now that we have our duke married and happy, what’s that over there? Another unattached, growly duke, brooding in the hedgerows! Hope he likes spinsters that speak their mind and have some weird hobby…*nudge nudge wink wink*


The dukes in this series are indistinguishable. I mean, it’s not like dukes in general have much range. They usually are some kind of broody, some kind of alpha, with a smattering of different hair colors in their “too long to be fashionable” hair styles.

So, yay! Bell is doing it right, then.

IDGAF if they are predictable. I love all of the dukes! Give them all to me!


This duke’s Thing is VENGEANCE. (Please say that in a Batman scratchy voice). Duke’s brother was killed as a boy, and he has been trying to find the killer, mostly through means of his disguise: the Hellion of Harcourt or some shit. He dresses up as a beggar, and threatens people who might have killed his brother, solving crime on the way! He even has a sidekick! …wait, no, that’s The Duchess Deal.


TWIST! SPOILER: his brother’s not dead! (C’mon, I’m sure you would have guessed that one.) He’s an American named Patrick, he has a kid, and he’s a widower! Awww! He has sad eyes!

I hope Patrick gets a story. Will Patrick get a story? Probably not. I’m mean, he’s not a duke. But his sad eyes!


Anyway, lots of fun things happen. Pretty much it.

Dragon Fall

Author: Katie MacAlister

Series: Dragon Falls #1

Tags: paranormal, dragons, demons, curse

Format: audiobook

Rating: blergh.



Okay, I’m officially done with MacAlister.

This was a super lackluster, uninteresting carbon copy of paranormal romance.


Apparently, this book was at the beginning of the end of this long running dragon-shifter series. I think MacAlister was pretty much by rote at this time.

Cue: hot, angry superbeing

Cue: plucky normal lady with secret power/knowledge

Cue: overly snarky superbeing sidekick

A halfhearted attempt at romance conflict and antagonistic beginnings, some fluffy little sex scenes, and the rest of the book is dedicated to the man saving the world and woman trailing along wondering about his feelings.


All pretty much standard fare, but it’s not the originality of the story that matters with romance, it’s what you find in between the tropes that matter.


Our Dragon had no personality other than to say “I’m feared and scary” all the time, and, let me tell ya, SEEN IT from MacAlister a few too many times already.

Our heroine is pretty much the same.

And, holy Jesus, I hated the snarky sidekick this time. He was a demon in the shape of a giant talking dog, and far too hyuck hyuck wakka wakka for his own good. You could almost hear the ba-dum-dum of a drum kit at the end of every snarky comment.

I was more forgiving of the main characters because I wanted to punch the dog in the face so much.

It didn’t help that the narrator gave the demon-dog an earsplitting way of speaking that sounded not a little rip-off Jim Carey.


I wonder if I would have liked this book better if it was a different narrator. I really can’t stand Tavia Gilbert. She does anything written by Jeaneine Frost, and a lot of YA in general. Her voice lends well to whiny emo girls because she always sounds on the verge of tears.


I don’t pay much attention to the names of the audiobook narrators, though I do recognize when I’ve heard them from previous books. It seems they all have their niche. Written over Gilbert’s head is “Paranormal Romance YA with Whiny Heroines.” Ilona Andrews productions almost exclusively use Renee Raudman, an excellent narrator, so I KNOW it’s gonna be good when hear her voice.

I wonder if you pulled the stats on my audiobook tastes vs the narrators that read them if you could find some correlation/causation going on. Would I like something more if it had been read by someone else? Does the narrator make me hate the book, or is it just that the books I hate usually have a similar narrator?

Hard to say, though I can tell you that I almost categorically hate any male narrator reading my romance novels.

There are many terrible female characters in romance novels, and I think when it’s read by a woman, at least I can say that it is from the female gaze. When a man reads it and uses that falsetto, it only highlights her terrible traits, and puts the kabash on any lingering feelings of enjoyment.


Anyway, the book sucked, and I’m moving on from MacAlister. Also Talvia Gilbert gets the high honor of being the first person on my list of Narrators I Broke Up With. I don’t want to hear any more of her stuff.

How the Duke Was Won

Author: Lenora Bell

Series: Dastardly Dukes #1

Tags: historical romance, regency, Dukes!, jiu jitsu, mistaken identity, Twins!, switcheroo, chocolate, pigmallion

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!



Yay! I think out of all the Dastardly Dukes series, I liked this one best.


Our hero is your typical Work-a-day Duke. Isn’t that funny how that’s a common trope? He’s a duke, yeah, but he’s rough, surly, tanned, with calloused hands and a history of physical labor.

Only romance novelists would take something as prestigious as a duke, and dress him up as a rough-and-tumble peasant.

Yeah, I’m the most privileged peer in the land, but I also like to work shoulder to shoulder with farmers BECAUSE I HAVE FEELINGS.


This duke has spent a lot of time on his plantation somewhere trying not to be a slave owner, and now he’s got the first free trade, ethically sourced cocoa empire. He has political aspirations to help expand his chocolate making industry, and needs a wife.


So, of course, what do you do?

Hold a house party Bachelor series style.


She’s the bastard daughter of a whore and a peer, and she is coerced into pretending to be her half sister at the house party while her half sister travels back to England. They look a lot like.


She knows jiu jitsu! Makeover montage! He knows how to play the guitar! He pretends to be a footman! He has a Spanish bastard child a la Adelle from Jane Eyre! She floors him with her fancy jiu jitsu moves! He rolls up his shirt sleeves to shock women!

And, last but not least: sexy drinking chocolate times!


Familiar, fun, adorable, delightfully benign to modern feminist sensibilities.

This was a solid choice. Lenora Bell, I shall cautiously court you.

Pirate Prince: Podcast Book!

Author: Gaelen Foley

Series: Ascencion #1

Tags: historical, regency-ish, pirates, sex slave, rapey, captured

Format: e-book

Rating: Blerrgh.



Hoo boy, this one was a doozy.

Good news is, it’s a podcast book!


Check it out here. Talking points include:

  • No one has plans ever
  • Rapeyness a sign of the times (since this book was written waaay back in 1998)…?
  • Stockholm Syndrome, or just delusional?

And more!


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