When this lovely came to my attention, I didn’t even hesitate to snatch it up. A blend of familiar and new-t0-me writers all presenting a variety of historical romances that range from sweet to some heat. As it’s an anthology, I’ll be taking the stories one at a time in mini-reviews as I go.
After Forever by Julie Johnston 3.5 stars
#4 Whisper of Scandal
A widowed woman swears off love after having her heart broken, but for some reason has to fight attraction to Nash Overton who hires her to teach him and his daughter how to fit in with Society. Julianna fights her feels out of fear, but Nash knows she is exactly the woman for him.
I found the story enjoyable and able to standalone though part of a series. It was well-developed and the author worked a good story for the page count. I was sympathetic to Julianna’s plight though I did feel she was putting Henry up on a pedestal and he sounded like a twit to me and she was somewhat over dramatic about her ‘nevers’ and vows. Nash was fun and flirty and I loved seeing him court Julianna. Her friends were fun and quirky, too. Engaging story.
The Pirate’s Duchess by Katherine Bone 3.5 stars
All set to marry a friend and get over the loss of the love of her life, Prudence the Duchess of Blackmoor gets the shock of her life when her wedding is interrupted by none other than her husband long thought dead. Tobias was nearly killed by a scheming murderer who destroyed several other men already and thought the only way to keep Pru safe was to let her and everyone else think he was dead. But now after she accidentally showed the wrong man Tobias’ papers, her life is in danger, too. Only the swashbuckling pirate The Black Regent can save her now.
I love a good pirate romance and it was fun to get this romp of a story not to be taken seriously that gave a wink toward the gothic novels of old with swoony romance, dastardly danger, and black-hearted villain. I’ll have to check out more of the author’s work.
Her Scandalous Wish by Collette Cameron 4 stars
A Waltz With a Rogue Novella
Oh how lovely! I do enjoy second chance romances and that is what we get when Philomena goes to a ball with her sickly brother. She sees her one-time friend and man she thought to marry before he left her without a word after the fire and he thinks he is seeing a ghost. Her brother decides their quickly shared kiss is compromising to his sister and now they must marry. But Phil wants love and doubts Bradley can ever love the scarred woman she has become.
This was a sweet tale and I enjoyed seeing two separated lovers get another chance. The ‘cant’ was fun, but also distracting at times when it was strung together. The characters were engaging including the surrounding cast. The story had depth and heart. The author is one I’ve enjoyed her books in the past.
Milady and Her Spy by Jillian Chantal 3.5
I am always up for a good cloak and dagger during a Regency house party. Lady Augusta has three older brothers and has learned several skills that no lady should have so she impishly foists her way into her brother’s mission to trap a traitor. Miles is shocked by the new partner he acquires when she insists on helping her brother trap their traitor. But it is not long before he is enamored by Gus and find his mind on matters other than the mission.
This was an engaging story. It is light and swift even with a treacherous spy in the mix. It clips along and I could wish for a little more development especially with the romance. But I did enjoy Miles and Gus as a couple and hope for more espionage adventures for the pair of them.
Kissed by a Scottish Rogue by Samantha Grace 5 stars
#2.5 Rival Rogues
Ah, this was an adorable holiday romance in the Highlands. Edith and Fergus tend to butt heads, but call a truce for Lord and Lady Thorne’s family house party. And the truce grows to something more as they enjoy the festivities and a new understanding. But will Edith let old fears hold her back?
This book is part of a series, but it can work well alone though the other ongoing story lines are present. Loved catching up on familiar characters. The story was a nicely layered piece that left me with a smile and a satisfied sigh.
Stolen Kisses From the Viscount by Alanna Lucas 4 stars
A bet, financial ruin, an ultimatum, a large dowry, and could there possibly be a chance for true love? Patrick’s father gambled away everything and left the family in ruin. His only chance to look after his aunt and sisters is to marry well. Aveline has received an ultimatum from her father’s despicable brother that she will be forced into his guardianship in three months since her mother’s brother is dying. But she will not have a rake like Patrick even if he is the only man that makes her pulse quicken.
This one is a sensual tease and then a spicy romp, but also a battle of wills as Aveline struggles against her fear that Patrick will hurt her and doesn’t really love her and Patrick must overcome the bad choice of a private bet and the fear that he can’t win the woman he wants, Aveline. I enjoyed this one and was rooting for Patrick to win her over.
Tempted by a Rogue by Lauren Smith 3.5 stars
She thinks she’s in love with his best friend when he is the man behind the powerful letters they exchange the whole time he is at sea. However, now Jasper Holland is come home. How will he ever get Gemma to love him after all the lies. Because the letters weren’t a lie…
This was quick, humorous, hot, and ready to serve now style. For that, it was just right.
The Redemption of Julian Price by Victoria Vane 5 Stars
This one grabbed me and I delighted in this friends to lovers romance between the bad boy and his tomboy friend grown up. Julian comes back from the war hollow and also his finances are in desperate straights after a profligate uncle squandered it all. Hen is looking spinsterhood in the face, but she does come into some money which leads her to a shocking plan involving Julian who was once the boy next door.
The author infused a passionate romance with elements such as survivor’s guilt, PTSD, arranged marriage, fidelity, and so much more. For a shorter story, this had heart and depth, but a lightness. And such connection and chemistry that I wanted more of Hen and Julian.
All in all, I had a good time with this pack of stories. Not one was a dud and I found something appealing in all of them. The variety of situations, settings, and characters made for a strong anthology. I encountered familiar authors and new to me authors with backlists that I definitely want to pursue. I can easily recommend this set of historical romance gems to those that enjoy the genre.
My thanks to the authors who provided the book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #115 HR
Bad Boys of Romance #12
New to Me #47 author/series