I ended my romance reading year with a few historical romances!
The Bluestocking by Christi Caldwell
The Killoran siblings worked hard to overcome their gang lord father’s cruel legacy. When the youngest Killoran son is discovered to be the kidnapped son of a Marquess his eldest sister Gertrude goes alont to accompany him to his new life. Her kind presence challenges the bitter Marquess’ prejudice against the Killorans and the two develop feelings as she helps bridge the gap between father and son.
Overall this was an enjoyable, emotional story with a great premise but at the end of the day….I just did not buy the HEA. The Killorans and The Marquess go from distrustful bitter enemies to a loving family in a few weeks. And for some reason the surly, mistrustful preteen boy starts enthusiastically playing matchmaker ? Caldwell tried to give Gertrude her own interiority but she leaning a little manic pixie dreamgirl who only existed to help the men.
The audiobook is narrated by Tim Campbell, and I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure if I’d like male-narrated historical romance but Campbell is excellent–particularly with the gruff Marquess. He’s an old pro though and has done over 50 audiobooks for Caldwell alone!
This is the 4th book in the Wicked Wallflowers series. I got the feeling it would be extremely helpful to read the books in order but I was able to get the gist of backstory from the recaps.
The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan
Years ago, half Chinese Jeremy Yu found a piece of home in Wedgeford, a thriving immigrant village on a forgotten piece of land owned by the careless Duke of Lansing. Now Jeremy returns to Wedgeford to reveal he is the Duke of Lansing and seek out Chloe Fong–the list-loving daughter of a local chef he wants to marry.
I liked a lot about this book. Milan crafted a refreshing, intricate Regency setting filled with compelling characters. But the central plot was severely lacking and muddled. For a while the main plot is Jeremy seducing Chloe into marriage by having her make a list of her qualities so he can…IDK, rip it up and say he wants her ? But it seems like she knows what he’s doing. And then he knows she knows he knows ? And she knows he knows she knows he knows…You know ?
AIso is 2020 the year of hero-keeping-secret books ? This is the third 2020 release I’ve read that does this !
Mary Jane Wells is at the top of her game on the audiobook, especially for our energetic and quick-witted hero. I think she is one of the best narrators in historical romance right now. I am kind of curious how much direction she gets because she really seemed to be making it her own. I imagine she worked with Milan some because there are a few sections in different Chinese dialects.
Ten Things I Hate About The Duke by Loretta Chase
Lady Cassandra Pomfret is a notoriously willful, opinionated and outspoken bluestocking. When she literally crashes into the troublemaking Duke of Ashmont’s life he is surprised to find he is attracted to her. Cassandra has many reasons to hate the Duke but her heart won’t let her.
I was eagerly waiting for this book after being swept away by A Duke in Shining Armor but this one left me cold. It took me about 100 pages to settle in and the storytelling never came together. I couldn’t figure out why characters were doing things other than to make the plot happen. Especially the mustache-twirling villains who pop up in the last 40% to ruin Cassandra and Ashmont.
Chase is doing a lot of work with feminism and the place of women within the text through Cassandra. Cassandra is very into the philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft and Ashmont spends a majority of the book reading her to get “woke.” But watching a rich white man, whose life has been nothing but pranks and general rake-ry, learn his privilege and finally decide to help people after doing nothing for years is just not my thing.
I will never get over Loretta Chase’s commitment to historical accuracy and details. The back of the book is filled with historical references as well as how minor characters are connected to previous books. She even puts an email in the back for if you have any questions, which feels unheard of.
And in case you were wondering, yes, the heroine does make a list of Ten Things She Hates About The Duke.