Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian! Cat Sebastian is another author who does regency m/m romances and she’s lighter than KJ Charles, but still good. I liked her so much I bought all 4 of her books that are out and wishlisted her two forthcoming books. I wouldn’t recommend buying the first in the Sedgewick series if you can get it at your local library (it had one really well-developed main character but the other main character was more 2-d and not that likable and the plot never really gelled) but the three books in the Turner series were all super wonderful. A++ Would recommend, will read again. I started with my favorite rake/bluestocking trope (though in this case the bluestocking is a guy and also the scientist trope), because I tend not to love the books with “soldier” in the title, but in this case the first is probably the best of a really great three book series (which was obvious after meeting the protagonists of the Soldier’s book in the rake’s book).
Jordan L. Hawke was ok. I liked the first in her Whyborne and Griffin series, Widdershins. It’s about a philologist(?) (Some kind of linguist) who is dealing with growing up being gay in a society where that’s illegal and it’s caused him to be very anti-social and possibly estranged from his family. He tells the early books in first person (the later books alternate between the two protagonists). The second hero is this super handsome private investigator who has stumbled onto something paranormal. Hawk is not anywhere near as good as KJ Charles; she’s highly derivative–you’ll feel like you’ve read this one before many times BUT her heroes are new, and so sweet. The first short story was also definitely worth the 99 cents because it was in the first person of the second guy and you get an insight into what he sees in the main character of the novel. They’re both super insecure and think the other person is amazeballs, and, of course, they’re both right about the other person so… A+++ on romance and character development but B- on plot (I grade generously). I mean, it’s not like bad or anything, it’s just, you know, derivative but not cleverly enough for my taste. (Though it is cute that the universities are Arkham and Miskatonic.) Book 7 in the series sticks out as all around good, but the rest of the series after the first book I found myself skipping large chunks, mostly in the middle. There’s also a LOT of death, much of it gratuitous. Her Hex series is more interesting in terms of the world-building, but even darker. So much death. Those poor redshirts, there to provide Angst and Pathos and to further the plot.
Fool me twice by Meredith Duran had a really strong start– it was gripping and I couldn’t put it down for like the first 40%. But then it stopped being excellent and was just good. I’m not sure if I’m going to buy a copy. Sadly, my library does not have any of the rest in the series, so I’m being forced to buy the rest without pre-reading them, and they’re somewhat more expensive than the $3.99 I’m used to paying. I did really enjoy the 99 cent first novella in that series, your wicked heart, even though it was pretty silly and only gets 3.5 stars on amazon. I do wonder about that typing school that makes all its graduates smell like roses even when they haven’t washed or been near any kind of scent in days. Her heroes also all seem to share an odd fascination with the backs of knees. That scandalous summer was probably not worth the $7.99 I paid for it, but it was definitely worth a library read if my library had had it. I enjoyed the heroine in Lady Be Good and am really looking forward to the heroine in Luck Be a Lady (which was already on my amazon list as it’s one of her highest rated books). See… one of the things with this series is that she gets you super curious about the heroines of future (or previous) books– it’s how she hooks you, and the wealthy auction house owner whose brother is up to no good is extremely compelling in the book that introduces her as that heroine’s boss. So the series as a whole may be better than the books individually. So I may end up having to purchase Fool me twice even though it’s $9. Update: Luck Be a Lady was fine, but not as good as one would have expected it to be given the build up in Lady Be Good- possibly better if read out of order or with more time in between. I went ahead and bought the next book in the series too– it’s one of my least favorite tropes, husband and wife are separated early in their marriage by countries because of a misunderstanding and then reunite years later, but in this case the misunderstanding is that she thinks he ran off with a mistress whereas in reality he was kidnapped by a political opponent and put on a prison island for several years. So… that’s an interesting, and more understandable twist than the usual misheard something while eavesdropping sort.
I liked the second Madeline Hunter Fairbourne quartet book, The conquest of lady cassandra, enough to request the first from the library, but not enough to buy it for my kindle. The second is probably better after having read the first– the beginning was pretty confusing if you didn’t know the characters already, which I didn’t.
The third Sasha Cottman, The Duke’s Daughter, was so terrible I gave up trying to read it and just skimmed the second half. Heroine is TSTL, which she was in the first two books too (but she was just the ditzy friend in those), and the hero doesn’t make any sense. It built him up very well in the beginning and then when the forced marriage drama thing happened he reacted completely differently than he’d been built up to react. Also she takes his agency away in several cases and he doesn’t seem to mind(?)– we’re talking she tries to give him a sleeping draught without telling him and does things to him in his sleep levels of taking his agency away. And he’s just like, oh, how horrible a person I must be to make her treat me like this. Which totally doesn’t make any sense given how he reacted to the forced marriage. And if they’d just talked things out in the first place… There wouldn’t have been a book I guess. At least it was only $2.99. Do not recommend! I wonder if she lost her editor between books 2 and 3. Update: Sasha Cottman is now dead to me—I had another of her books (Not in that series? About a missionary daughter and a spy?) on a kindle and it was pretty boring and pretty patriarchal with another TSTL heroine but I was on a plane and groggy so I was pushing through…until I hit rape as a backstory. Pretty unbelievable backstory too. Flipped to the epilogue in which the missionary mom who encouraged the rape mentions in a letter that the rapist has married her ladies maid and he does whatever his wife tells him to do (despite his use of sexual violence on the heroine and promises to break her of her stubbornness after a forced marriage) and what a happy couple they are. Just ugh on so many levels. Unfortunately the book was a gift and it is a pain to get reimbursed from Amazon for gifts but maybe I’ll try anyway. Should not have put them on my wishlist in the first place.
I’m not naming them here, but in the past 3 months, I have read no fewer than 3 books whose plot twist turns out to be that the heroine(/main character) is the legitimate heir of a bigamist nobleman. I guess that’s better than carriage accidents, but man, do these people belong to the same plot of the month club? Or did two of them steal from the first, or did they all steal from some other book I haven’t read yet?
What are you reading?