In case you missed it on Twitter, I got a puppy! His name is Darcy, and he’s adorable, but wow is he a handful! I also started a new job recently, so between those two big life changes, I’m not reading and reviewing a ton these days, which is why I’m getting this blog post up later than I’d like. But better late than never! Keep reading for my thoughts on the latest historicals from Lorraine Heath and Diana Quincy as well as Olivia Dade’s new contemporary romance.
Beauty Tempts the Beast by Lorraine Heath (September 29)
In Beauty Tempts the Beast, Althea’s life is not turning out at all how she expected. Born the daughter of a duke, she and her brothers were cast out of society with little more than the clothes on their backs after their father was convicted of treason. In order to help bring in more income, she now works at a pub, which is where she meets Benedict, that last unmarried Trewlove sibling better known as Beast. Benedict is the owner of a brothel, where he does his best to keep the women safe and set them up with lives in a different line of work. When he meets Althea, he thinks she’d be perfect to help the women under his protection so he can leave the business for good. Only Althea has a demand in exchange: she wants to know how to be a seductress so she can find a wealthy protector and become his mistress. But it’s impossible for Benedict to give impartial lessons while fighting his overwhelming attraction to Althea.
This was a totally adequate historical romance, but it wasn’t my favorite in this series. I was just kind of underwhelmed by the premise. I felt like things were a little too convenient to suddenly have Benedict take care of everything for Althea, I wasn’t fully convinced of her reasons for wanting to become the mistress to a lord, and I wasn’t thrilled that we didn’t get to see her dreams fulfilled (though obviously that was coming since she was clearly never going to become a mistress). I just didn’t really get a sense of why they fell in love with each other? Don’t get me wrong, I liked both of them as characters and I liked them together, but it seemed like everything was just too neat and we didn’t really see them fall in love. It was more like insta love, I think. I also could have done without having Benedict’s parents enter the story when they did. It was kind of a means of delivering unnecessary conflict, though I did like them and how everything worked out. And I really enjoyed getting to see more of the Trewlove family and revisiting the couples from previous books. All in all, this was an enjoyable read, it just wasn’t my favorite. That said, my friend Holly will be furious with me when she reads this review, because I think this book is a new all time favorite of hers! She’s a huge Lorraine Heath fan and thought this one was one of her best yet, so your mileage may vary.
Rep: white hero/heroine, white author.
I received an arc of Beauty Tempts the Beast from the publisher via Edelweiss.
Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy (September 29)
Recently returned from the Levant and caught in a storm on the way to visit her stepdaughter, Leela wants nothing more when Her Night with the Duke opens than a room in which she can dry off and sleep comfortably. But when the men in the public room at the inn start accosting her, Hunt intervenes and comes to her rescue. Unable to deny the surprising attraction between them, they agree to have a one night stand, little realizing that Hunt is actually on his way to propose to Leela’s stepdaughter.
I was really looking forward to this book after hearing Diana Quincy talk about it on a panel because I’m not sure I’ve ever read a historical with an Arabic heroine (and definitely not an own voices one), but unfortunately I didn’t love this one. I thought the premise had some interesting potential, but it’s a really hit-or-miss setup for me, and I didn’t care for the execution of this one. I personally hate it when one of the protagonists thinks they’re in love with another person or is about to marry another person for a good chunk of the book, and this one carried the betrothal along a lot further than I would have liked. And then once it was resolved, Leela and Hunt kept coming up with reasons not to be together that just annoyed me.
I also didn’t think Hunt was that great of a hero? He just said and did a few things that I thought were rather unkind, like thinking about how difficult it was to talk to Victoria, Leela’s stepdaughter and Hunt’s intended, because of her painful shyness. He quickly corrects his thinking, but I just didn’t need it in the first place. And he was shocked that Leela’s father didn’t just make her mother his mistress instead of marrying her. Sure, it’s probably an accurate reaction at that point in history, but I just expect more from heroes than that. Also, I’m very over the whole having-a-mistress, men-have-sexual-appetites thing. This book isn’t unique in doing it, I just really noticed it when the hero commented on the second page of the book that he wished he was between his mistress’ thighs. Like, can we not reimagine our expectations of men?
That said, as underwhelmed as I was by the book as a whole, I really loved seeing Leela connect with her mother’s heritage and secure her own independent future and live her life unabashedly (also, the evil stepson? Really? He was a bit much). And I am definitely intrigued by Hunt’s friend, Grif, and Leela’s brother, Brandon, who was mysteriously missing for most of the book. But mostly this book wasn’t for me.
Rep: Half white/half Arabic heroine, white hero, author of Middle Eastern descent.
I received an arc of Her Night with the Duke from the publisher via Netgalley.
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (October 6)
In Spoiler Alert, April is taking steps to live her life fully, and part of that entails being more open about her love of fanfiction. She knows she’ll get some comments about being fat when she decides to post a picture of herself in cosplay on Twitter, but she doesn’t expect to go viral or to get the level of vitriol that she does. Marcus is an actor starring as one of the characters April loves to write fanfiction about, and when he sees how she’s being treated, he decides to ask her out on a date in a show of support. But things get complicated when Marcus realizes that not only is he incredibly attracted to April, he’s her anonymous fanfiction writing partner, a secret that could ruin his career if it got out how unhappy he was with the last several seasons of his show.
I mean, is it possible not to like an Olivia Dade book? This was a delightful read full of feelings and banter and setting boundaries and self care, and it was just so good. I will say, I rarely like deception plots, and this unfortunately isn’t an exception, so there is that. I think Marcus handled things as well as he could and that his decision not to tell April they know each other online made sense at the time, but I disliked how long it took him to confess and when he did it. I also could have skipped this dark moment, or had a different one, or had it handled differently, and I hated that both of them had such awful parents (though I loved seeing them set boundaries for themselves and take steps to protect themselves from toxic family relationships!). I also could have done without the interstitials, personally, though I can see how they’re a fun touch.
I hate when I really enjoy a book, but all I focus on in a review are the things that don’t work for me. I think it’s because this could have been a phenomenal read, and I’m just nitpicking on what prevented it from being perfect for me. Because I did really enjoy this book, and I suspect a lot of others will too (especially for those involved in various fanfiction communities!). It has Dade’s signature banter and sauciness and some incredibly insightful commentary on society with two amazing, emotionally sensitive main characters who have great arcs throughout the book, both separately and individually. Also, that sequel bait! I wish it had been dialed back just a bit because I feel like we have a lot, if not most, of the arc of their story already, and we haven’t even read it, but I seriously cannot wait for Alex and Lauren’s book!!
Rep: White hero with dyslexia, fat white heroine, fat white author.
I received an arc of Spoiler Alert from the publisher via Netgalley.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Have a puppy! Don’t let that adorable, innocent face fool you. He has ENDLESS energy and an uncanny ability to find trouble 😂😂😂
Have you had your eye on any of these books? Which one do you plan to pick up first? Let me know in the comments!