Soldier’s Scoundrel

y450-293

Bibliographic Information

Audiobook
Paperback $6.29
Hardback
Kindle $1.99
Associated ISBNs 9780062642493
9780062642486

Readers Annotation

Jake and Oliver try to solve a mystery and resist each other.

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

This is a really well written regency romance, and the characters are well thought out.

This is a LGBTQIA+ book, that means a lot of people don’t want to read it.

Summary

Ok, SPOILERS

London, nebulous Regency time after the Napoleonic Wars. Jake is a “scoundrel.” He helps ladies. He lives above his sister Sarah’s dress shop. He gets a gentleman caller, even though he doesn’t see gentlemen. The man is good looking. This man is Oliver the son of a duke. Jake recognizes him from a time when he saw the other man in a compromising situation with another man. Oliver wants to know what Jake did for his sister. Jake won’t tell her. His sister tells him he has a lady to see him. Jake tells Oliver he’s welcome to sit and watch. The woman tells Jake that some letters from an old beau have gone missing from her jewelry box. She needs to get them back before her husband sees them. Jake tells her he will help her, but that he may not tell her anything and that he’ll do it however he sees fit to proceed. She agrees. Oliver, doesn’t like how Jake is approaching this situation, he believes the lady should have gone to the police.

He interviews her ladies’ maid, who gives him the lowdown on the lady and her husband (she’s new money, he’s from the gentry, they got caught in a compromising position forcing him to marry her). Jake decides to break into the lady’s home to see what’s what.

Oliver makes friends with the lady’s husband at his club. He also spends a lot of time thinking about Jake’s questionable methods and straddling of the moral line.

Oliver’s sister’s sister-in-law calls on Oliver to tell him that his brother-in-law is back and to get Jake. Oliver waits for Jake at Jake’s place. When Jake comes back Oliver fusses because he’s hurt. Oliver eventually remembers to tell Jake about the brother-in-law. Jake arranges for a man to watch the sister and brother-in-law while he finds someone to take care of the problem.

Oliver and Jake travel to the country to track down leads for their case (flirting all the way). Oliver has trouble taking off his boots at the first way station they stop at and Jake happens to come in and helps him. Sexy-times ensue. When they get to their destination, they hook up again. They question the ex-beau’s new wife, and the former governess. More sexiness.

Oliver decides that they should stop and visit his father. Oliver’s father then tries to malign Jake’s name. Jake gets summoned because the brother-in-law is dead.  Oliver feels torn.

Oliver goes to a party being thrown by the lady in question. Jake goes as his valet (and is not happy about it). Jake puts everything together and works everything out and gets shot for his trouble. Oliver and Jake break up because Jake won’t ruin Oliver’s reputation.

Oliver decides to ruin his reputation with Georgie’s help, in order to be with Jake. Jake catches wind of this plan and stops Oliver from completely ruining himself, saying he’s just low enough on the social ladder for them to associate with each other. 

They buy a flat together.

The end.

Evaluation

Oh man, Regency Romances are a semi-secret favorite of mine. They’re like the epitome of Harlequin romance. This is a gay Regency Romance. The combination of two things I really love. What could possibly go wrong?

I’ll admit it, the only negative comment I have about this book is that it can be a little slow sometimes and the juggling of the romance and the mystery can get in the way of each other. There were a few times where the romance between Oliver and Jake was heating up and the plot would interrupt and vice versa and it would frustrate me (sometimes in a good way).

The plot isn’t too terribly unique, but it is a nice little mystery that drives the story quite well. There’s a lady in trouble and our dashingly handsome (and sarcastic to boot) hero needs to help her out (this time by breaking and entering, questioning people and definitely not falling in love with her). Then you have the beautiful brother of one of the women who has hired our hero, who is initially trying to save her honor. Things happen, boys fall in love.

I like that the author didn’t shy away from the fact that this romance was definitely NOT COOL in regency days. She never lets the reader forget that even though these boys are in love, that society just won’t let them be together (openly).

Jake was definitely my fave. He has his eyes on the prize (both solving this case, and winning over Oliver for a roll in the hay). He’s pretty down to earth, and understandably wary of “gentlemen.” He was sarcastic, badass, and just vulnerable enough to let Oliver in (no matter how many times the man was an idiot).

Oliver is just as flawed a character. Fighting to stay in a black and white world after being in a very grey war, and having to realize that the world isn’t black and white no matter how much we wish it to be so. He’s pretty haunted by his past, and fighting his nature because he’s in love with Jake.

The supporting cast is pretty interesting as well, the sisters (both Jake and Oliver’s), the evil brother-in-law, Georgie, Oliver’s dad, and the married couple at the center of the investigation. I’m glad to see that some of these side characters are going to get their own books.

The setting is, naturally, London. I like the way the seedier side is shown, and the contrast to the more upper class end. At odds with both sides of London was the countryside. Each setting had their own flavor and feel, which really worked for the book, clearly delineating between different parts of the story.

This was a good romance, one that I enjoyed even though there were some slower parts. The characters were interesting, and I would be interested in reading some of the other stories in this universe.

Genre

GLBT

Regency (Historical) Romance

Readalikes

Wanted, A Gentleman by K.J. Charles

A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries

Significance

M/M romance published by mainstream publisher.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Discuss Oliver’s way of coping with reintegrating into society (Black & White outlook).

Discuss Jake’s soft spot for ladies.

Discuss being LGBTQIA+ in Regency times.

Author’s website

Cat Sebastian

Awards

none

Reviews

Kirkus

Amazon

Why I Chose It

It’s a legit romance novel (with the cliche cover but with 2 dudes) from a legit publisher (Avon Impulse, which traces back to Harlequin itself). I’ve never seen a legit published, not horribly covered m/m novel before. (Don’t get me started on crappy covers for LGBTQIA+ books)

Other Information

Advertisements

A Darker Shade of Magic

 

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $25.96
Paperback $16
Hardback $15.46
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780765376459
9780765376466
9781466851375

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 4P

This book is so good. It deserves that 5Q its so well done, and the only reason that its a 4P is because I know there are people out there who don’t like Fantasy.

Readers Annotation

The balance between Londons is out of whack and only one man can save them all.

Summary

I don’t know if I can do this book any justice, and I really want to avoid the SPOILERS, so this will probably be a less detailed summary than usual. But for funzies here’s what V.E. Schwab had to say about her own book on Goodreads (which is super accurate tbh):

“–Magic

–Cross-dressing thieves

–(Aspiring) pirates

–Londons (plural)

–Sadistic kings (and queens)

–A royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness

–More magic (blood magic, elemental magic, bad magic, etc. etc.)

–Epic magicky fights scenes

–Angst!

–And coats with more than two sides”

So Kell is one of the only Antari left (magician, two different eyes, able to travel between worlds). He works for the Red throne (obvs in Red London). He bops between Red, White and Grey London giving messages from monarchs to other monarchs.

SPOILERS?!?!

So, Kell has this habit of bringing things from other worlds back to Red London (which he’s not supposed to do). Rhy finds out and yells at him. Kell lives in the Red castle with the royal family and is a “family member”…. but Kell knows he’s not really family (except to Rhy, who loves Kell to death and whom Kell would do anything). 

So Kell goes to White London, which is ruled by these creepy tyrants (the Dane twins) and their pet Antari Holland. They’re clearly up to something and after drugging Kell they convince him to take something with him to Red London.

This something turns out to be something from Black London (the London that went magic mad and tried to take over all the Londons… its supposed to be dead and gone).

Kell ends up in in Grey London, Lila steals the rock from Black London. Hijinks ensue, and assassins come for Lila and Kell. The two team up and Kell ends up taking Lila with him back to Red London. They split up, as Kell needs to talk to the royals about what the Danes are up to.

Turns out, the Danes have taken over Rhy’s body, Lila infiltrates a party and Kell tries to rescue his brother. Rhy dies, Kell freaks out and uses the Black rock to bind their lives together, giving life back to Rhy. The catch is that whatever happens to one of them will happen to the other. Kell doesn’t care, he needs his brother.

Kell and Lila go to White London to take on the Danes (and Holland).

Evaluation

Look guys, this is my new favorite book.

I heart this book with a passion. So much so that I bought the whole series in hard cover after I got through with this one.

This is the best.

I feel like I’ve said that before (coughtReadyPlayerOnecough), but this is my JAM!

Fantasy, Urban Fantasy (any Fantasy) is right in my wheelhouse. After finishing the (admittedly awesome) Readers Advisory class that started this blog, I knew I wanted to read something I KNEW I was going to love. This was on my list. It took forever to get to it (what with the whole graduating/final portfolio thing that was the first half of this year), but when I did… Whoo boy!

… Insert all the Fangirling here.

It is so hard for me to look at this book objectively. I just love it so much.

The characters are great. Kell is such a compelling lead. He is trying to maneuver through all this political drama, he has issues with his family, and then he picks up this thief. Speaking of the thief in question: Delilah Bard. Lila is my new favorite heroine. Her personal motto: you can’t have too many knives (after all, who knows how many bitches you may need to stab?). She’s a badass teenager with trust issues (from living on the streets) but she is such a witty girl. These two are a winning pair. Look, most of the focus is on them (character development-wise), at least in this book. But V.E. Schwab really gives you a feel for every other character in these two’s orbit. He wasn’t in it much, but I found myself echoing Kell in the feeling of: protect Rhy at all costs (oh my precious little bi baby… you’re too good for this world).

The three main worlds are completely different, and V.E. Schwab does a great job differentiating them. Grey London is so drab and magic-less and boring. Red London is bright and vibrant and full of magic. White London has that feeling of of the life draining from it (literally) and the people are just starting to go off the rails.

I don’t even remember what else I’m supposed to analyze, I’ll have to come back to this some day with a clearer head.

Point is this: if haven’t already, READ THIS BOOK!!!!!

Genre

Fantasy

Historical Fantasy

Readalikes

We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Significance

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Author’s website

V.E. Schwab

Awards

Library Journal Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

LibraryReads Favorites: 2015

Reviews

Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Booklist

Why I Chose It

This sounded like a really neat book with a premise right up my alley (plus it had a pretty sweet cover).

Other Information

The Plumed Bonnet

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook
Paperback $7.43
Hardback $13.54
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780451190512

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

Its a Regency Romance, not everyone wants to read that. That’s why its a 3P.

Its a 4Q because its a pretty well written Regency Romance, but entirely predictable.

Readers Annotation

A case of mistaken identity leads to marriage, but can it lead to love?

Summary

Stephanie Gray has just found out that her grandfather left his estate to her. She left her job as a governess to travel to the estate to claim her inheritance but it robbed. She tries to walk the remainder of the journey, but keeps trying to hitch hike. She is wearing an atrocious hat of plumed pink, purple and fushia feathers, and a similarly colored cloak. The Duke of Bridgewater is intrigued by her and allows her to ride in his carriage to the next town. He asks about her life and finds her story to be unbelievable and gets it in his head that she is a great actress and whore. He attempts to bed her the first night but she rebukes him. Stephanie just thinks he’s being nice, but he’s trying to catch her in a lie and then take her as his mistress.

When they arrive at Stephanie’s new estate, the Duke realizes he was totally wrong and that bringing her here has impuned her honor and thusly asks to marry her. Stephanie agrees, though she is stunned to find that he is in fact a Duke. They will be married a month hence.

A week later they meet again in London with his mother, sisters and sisters in-law. They think that Stephanie is a social disaster, so the Duchess of Bridgewater makes it her mission to turn Stephanie into a Duchess in a week. Stephanie gets a new wardobe, and lessons in how to act. These lessons are put to the task after the week at a ball in honor of the Duke and Stephanie’s betrothal.

Stephanie feels completely out of place in this new world she finds herself in, and feels like she’s losing herself. After an amorous encounter with the Duke at the ball and his unfortunate mistake of calling her a whore, she becomes withdrawn and becomes the perfect Duchess for him. He starts to notice that she is not herself around him.

They marry. He confesses to what he thought of her when they first met and their marriage is strained. Stephanie still tries to conceive a child with him, but is not sure she wants to stay. The Duke tries to win her over. They fall in love at the May fair and live happily ever after.

Evaluation

It was surprisingly good. Considering it is every regency trope, it played on a few of the ideas. I liked that Stephanie struggled with her dualing personalities and the Duke’s crisis of conscious. I think they worked up to them falling in love pretty well, though it did seem a little sudden. Stephanie was by far the better, and more rounded character, but the Duke was pretty deep as well. You could see how they were both struggling with the situation they ended up in. The characters really came to life, and the life of the ton was very vivid. The carriage ride to the estate and the home at his estate weren’t as vivid as the ton.

I think romance readers would love it. Its all the tropes, and some steam. But, I would be cautious because there are some triggery elements, and it isn’t all happiness and roses, the characters really suffer in this one. I really enjoyed myself, and I really related to Stephanie’s problem of needing to be one person to be correct for society being in complete dissonance to her true self.

A flaw with this book would be the quick timeline, and the slightly unbelievable time that they fell in love with each other (it would have worked better a little later than it actually happened).

Genre

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Readalikes

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

Impetous Innocent by Stephanie Laurens

Significance

I think the significance of this book was the almost sobering look at shotgun marriages to people you don’t know. It was also really well done for a Regency.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Did the Duke really need to ask for Stephanie’s hand in marriage?

Discuss Stephanie’s struggle with her identity.

Did the Duke deserve a second chance?

Author’s website

Mary Balogh

Awards

 

Reviews

 

Why I Chose It

I chose this because it sounded like one of the most cliche romance novels I could pick up. I wanted to see if it was going to be as ridiculous as I thought it would be.

Other Information

The Heretic’s Daughter

heretics-daughter

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $4.99
Paperback $12.75
Hardback $26.99
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780316024488
9780316024495 — Paperback
9780316037532 — Hardcover
9781448732999 — Prebind
9780230704435 — Hardcover
9780316144698
9780330456302 — Paperback

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

This book is really well written, though slow at times.

This won’t appeal to everyone, and as a relatively well known title has probably been read by a lot of people.

Readers Annotation

Be drawn into the witch trials and struggle of living.

Summary

This is the story of Sarah and her family. Sarah is sent to live with her aunt and uncle while her family lives through the spread of small pox in Andover. She quickly becomes enamored with her aunt and cousin and wishes to stay with them. When her father comes to pick her up she doesn’t want to leave.

In comparison to her aunt’s home, Sarah thinks that her mother and father are very cold. The town is wary of her family and especially of her mother, whom some say can work magic. The other girls in town pick on Sarah. After her cousin unsuccessfully tries to burn down their barn, the family starts to hear rumors about the witch trials. Sarah’s mother Martha shares with her knowledge of her father and has her help bury the book on what he has done in a field.

Martha is arrested for being a witch. Before she is taken she tells Sarah to tell her siblings to confess to being a witch. The two older brothers are arrested next, and while they don’t confess to begin with, after the slower brother is tortured, they do. Then Sarah and her younger brother are arrested. They both confess and finger people who have already been arrested. They are thrown in jail.

The jail is appalling. The women and men are packed in, with barely any food, the jailor’s wife keeps trying to buy the clothes off their backs and buckets to use for waste. The children are afraid, but Sarah is able to talk to her mother in the condemned cell. Her brother gets sick and may need to lose his arm, but he gets better. Her mother is hung, and eventually the family is released.

Evaluation

I though that this was a good book. It wasn’t the most earth shattering experience I’ve ever had, but it drew me in and intrigued me. It was an interesting view on the witch trials in Salem. It gave the perspective of one who lived through the tragedy and survived. I think that most of the characters were well rounded. There were times where it wasn’t clear what motivated some of the characters, or why they did what they did, but those details might not have been important.

The setting was perfect. Kathleen Kent really brought life to the life that Sarah’s family lived and the disconcerting feel of the trials and jail. The setting, and the mood it provoked were the star of this book.

I think this is a great Historical novel that anyone interested in the time period or the witch trials would like. It has a lot of detail and feel for the time period.

It wasn’t my favorite book to read, but it was intriguing enough to keep me coming back. I thought that the beginning was a little slow, and that it was a little hard to get into. But really, it was just that I don’t find the witch trials and human suffering enjoyable to read about.

Genre

Historical Fiction

Readalikes

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Significance

This book shows a different side of the Salem Witch Trials. The main character is an outsider who gets drawn into the conflict, giving a first hand account of the experience. This character arc, and stark look at the lives of those accused, are what make this title unique.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Should Martha have confessed to being a witch?

Discuss the reasons the witch trials happened.

How do you think this affected Sarah’s life?

Author’s website

Kathleen Kent’s website

Awards

David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction

School Library Journal’s Adult Books for High School Students: 2008

Reviews

NY Times

Kirkus

Publisher’s Weekly

Why I Chose It

This was a required read, but it had an intriguing Salem Witch Trials tie in plot.

Other Information

Sylvester

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $12.99
Paperback $11.62
Hardback $28.95
Kindle $8.81
Associated ISBNs 9781402238802
9780373836086 — Paperback
9780373773855 — Paperback
9780099465775 — Paperback
9781402239038 — E-Book

Rating (VOYA)

3Q, 3P

While the quality is prtty good, the editing and language make it hard to read.

This is an older Regency Romance, so its possible that the people who would be interested in it have already read it.

Readers Annotation

 

Summary

Sylvester is ready for marriage. He discusses this with his mother, and then goes to Lady Ingham who tells him about Phoebe. He meets Phoebe’s father on a hunt and is impressed by his hunting. He is invited to stay, but feels forced. He regrets his visit and has developed a dislike of Phoebe.

Phoebe’s stepmother tells her that Sylvester has come to make her an offer of marriage. Phoebe doesn’t want to marry Sylvester, so she runs away with Tom to go live with her grandmother Lady Ingham.

Sylvester leaves for London, only to find Phoebe and Tom had a carriage accident. He is only too happy to take Phoebe to London, even if she is smarter than he thought. He tries to show her up for slighting him.

Phoebe meets Lady Ianthe, Sylvester’s brother’s widow. Lady Ianthe says Sylvester is evil. Phoebe has written a book that parodies him. The novel intrigues London, and everyone wants to know who wrote it. Lady Ianthe finds out that Phoebe is the author, and soon all of London knows as well.Sylvester does not take his portrayal kindly and insults Phoebe in public.

Lady Ianthe takes Phoebe, Tom and her son on her trip to France with her new husband Fotherby. Sylvester catches up to them in France. He takes them back to England. He complains about Phoebe, but realizes he loves her. She learns how much he’s gone through and eventually accepts his proposal of marriage.

Evaluation

This is a really stuffy Regency. I read a different Regency for this project which was much less stuffy. I think its partly because it was written in the ’50s, and partly accuracy(?). It was all so formal, and “sir” and “duke” and so on. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with Phoebe and Sylvester, but they did have a nice build. I have mixed feelings about it all.

The plot got a little out of hand. He snubbed her, she ran away, she wrote a book, the whole France thing… not that it wasn’t written well, but it sort of spiraled out of control.

The characters weren’t bad. They could be a little cliche, but I always enjoy a strong female character and the friendship she had with Tom.

I’m not sure this is a Regency that people would enjoy now. Its a little too stuffy, and little too old fashioned to be in style. People much prefer their regencies to be more like The Plumed Bonnet than this. I think this is much more Historical than Regency.

Genre

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Readalikes

To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn

Love with the Proper Husband by Victoria Alexander

Significance

Deeply historical regency romance, heavy on the propriety. Strong female character.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Do you believe Phoebe could have been a writer?

Discuss Phoebe and Sylvester’s relationship? Was the progression believable?

Author’s website

Fan site for Georgette Heyer

Awards

 

Reviews

Kirkus

Amazon

Why I Chose It

I wanted a classic Regengy romance, and this looked like a good one.

Other Information