How to Capture a Countess

by Karen Hawkins

“Financial standing, a social position beyond what she has now, and a husband to dote upon her every wish. What more could she ask for?”

“Maybe youth. Vigor. Teeth.”

“Lord Cameron has his own teeth.” Margaret narrowed her eyes at the other candidate. “I’m not so certain about Munro. They seemed somewhat clacky at dinner, so I’m suspicious.”

Tolerable. Karen Hawkins is a better writer than most of the historical romance writers I have found these days. She writes like she enjoys writing. This is the first book I have read by her, and I will give her another chance with next in the series. Humorous situations, though not laugh out loud funny. Doesn’t have the wit or the voice of some of my favorites, but she is one of the better writers in a genre I have grown weary of. Unfortunately, she follows the same hackneyed romance formula as most of her sister writers do. By page 30, X has to happen; by page 75 xx has to happen etc., etc. I had to skip through the last third of the book. This book was flawed by a silly and immature hero who was also kind of a jerk. When he threw our heroine in a lake because she dared best him in a contest and then accused her of cheating, I almost quit the thing. Still, she is engaging.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

July 31, 2015

Suspense and Sensibility: Or, First Impressions Revisited (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, #2)

by Carrie Bebris

I’m a sucker for anything based on Jane Austen if it is well done. And sometimes when it is not. This is evidenced by the fact that I’ve read all of these Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, though this is the only one I have actually written anything on. It starts off pretty well; the characters seemed pretty true to the originals, though Kitty is given a more positive spin. It is an improvement over Pride and Prescience. I actually chuckled a few times. Sadly, it degenerates pretty quickly once the mystery kicks in. Unfortunately, it is another paranormal mystery and it is positively outlandish. It was nice to see the Dashwood women again. Lucy Ferrars nee Steele starts out true to form, but her ultimate fate is positively ludicrous and cringe-worthy. The resolution has some tragic aspects considering the fluffy way it starts out. I was considerably less patient with the rest in the series, just skipping through the mystery part. I remember looking forward to more of Georgiana as she was pretty intriguing, and also an appearance of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Unfortunately, I do not remember anything about any of the other stories, which I guess is a review of the whole series in and of itself.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

September 15, 2014

The Huntress

By Kate Quinn

We don’t hunt the helpless, luchik. We hunt the killers. Is like villagers going after a wolf gone mad. Only when the wolf is dead, villagers go home and we find the next mad wolf.

Ian Graham, a former British war correspondent teams up with Nina Markova a former Night Witch, one of the legendary female Russian night bombers. Their mission is to find and bring to justice a vicious Nazi predator, The Huntress, with whom Nina has a personal score to settle. They track her to Boston, where Jordan, a young budding photographer’s widowed father has just brought home Anna, his serene and reserved new fiancée, and her traumatized daughter, Ruth. From Germany.

I hovered between 3 stars and 4 stars for this one. I re-read the ending pages again, and 4 stars it is. Part of the problem, if 3 stars is a problem, was that I didn’t really take to Nina or her lengthy story while she was in Russia. It wasn’t until she came to the United States that I really warmed to her.

“Is a Russian thing. Sit around, drink too much, talk about death.” She pushed her empty plate away. “It makes us cheerful.”

I guess it was because I just prefer light over dark. I was much more intrigued by Jordan’s domestic adventures with Anna and Ruth on the home front.

I hope there is a sequel someday. I would like to see all of the characters again and read more of Ruth, all grown up. I would also like to see more Nazis caught.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July 14, 2019

The Fifth Kiss

by Elizabeth Mansfield

I have gotten a few of Elizabeth Mansfield’s books on Audible, and, in rereading them, they have not lived up to my memory of how great they are. Still, they are superior to almost every other regency I have picked up lately. Elizabeth Mansfield excels at portraying heroes that are good, even sweet men. This is not one of those. The hero in this one is a nasty piece of work. He was a bad father and a bad husband to the late sister of our heroine. Even though he was neglectful and unfaithful to her she worshiped the ground he walked on. We learn later that she was terminally ill and instead of telling her husband the truth so as not to impede his brilliant political career, she told him she was not interested in intimacy anymore, and encouraged him to find it elsewhere. What. Miles and Olivia, the dead wife’s sister, and our leading lady, have always been antagonistic to each other and this devolves into almost hatred, before the corner is turned and Miles starts to redeem himself with Olivia’s help. However, throughout most of the book he is unreasonable, hateful, and angry. The narrator, I suspect, made him even more unpleasant than how he probably was on the page because she voiced him with a particularly villainous, snarly tone. She went too far, and it lessened my enjoyment of the book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

July 25, 2018

A Regency Match

By Elizabeth Mansfield

I’m afraid on this “re-read” audio version, I agree with the majority of the reviewers about the contemptible stupid behavior of the heroine. Sophia has set about proving that the hero is justified in his bad opinion of her by creating scenes and embarrassing him at his country betrothal party. At first, her purposely behaving like a zany clumsy hysteric was a little amusing. I did get some laughs out of her setting the piano on fire and then her phony inconsolable self-flagellation. But the incident with the horse was way too much. She really crossed the line. Totally unreasonable and foolish.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

January 17, 2017

Passing Fancies

By Elizabeth Mansfield

Elizabeth Mansfield was one of my favorite traditional Regency romance authors and if I had to pick a favorite of hers, this one would be it. She really misdirects you into thinking one man will be the hero and love interest and the true love interest sneaks up on you. The romance is tender and touching.

In general, This author’s forte is non-stereotypical characters, or at least her heroes and heroines usually have a little quirk or two that makes you very fond of and invested in them. She is amazing at creating a sweet sexual tension between the love interests without anything more than a kiss. To add to the appeal of her books, many are lightly interconnected by family similar to my other favorite, the great Patricia Veryan. A while back, her books had become available on Audiobooks, and I have re-read a few of them. Sadly, they didn’t quite hold up with the passage of time. But this one, and a few others, are still among my favorites. Strangely, it is those which remain out-of-print and hard to find at a reasonable price.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

February 21, 2013

Lord of Scoundrels

By Loretta Chase


“I love these pet names,” she said, gazing soulfully up into his eyes, “Nitwit. Sap skull. Termagant. How they make my heart flutter!”

“We’ve been wed more than a month. Since it appears you mean to stay, I might as well give you leave to call me by my christian name. It is preferable, at any rate, to ‘clodpole.”


Lord of Scoundrels has been on my TBR list for more than 20 years. It is probably on more “best” lists than any other traditional historical romance. It is considered by many as one of the best ever written. I was very happy that from the first chapter, it lived up to its press. What a refreshing turn of events!

And this is despite the Marquess of Dain being one of my least favorite types of heroes. But we are given enough of a glimpse into his childhood to make his current personality sort of understandable. He is still over the top with his alpha powerful maleness and bad behavior, but it is caused by a lack of self-esteem and body dysmorphia. His self-loathing gets a little tedious, but it is more than balanced by our heroine, Jessica Trent. She is a force of nature, full stop. She is never intimidated by him, not the least little bit. She has his number from the very beginning and he doesn’t stand a chance. When they cross swords, she always comes out the winner. He is playing Go Fish, and she is playing Chess. Yet somehow, he is worthy of her. He is intelligent, witty, usually fair-minded, not to mention all of the other physical attributes alpha romantic heroes possess. In one noteworthy scene Jessica walks into an orgy Dain is participating in and shoots him. The bullet hits his arm, and he is paralyzed there for almost the rest of the whole book. He doesn’t have a temper tantrum or sulk about it, plot revenge, or, indeed, blame her in the slightest. He just gets on with it, and it is hardly referred to. Their interactions were exciting, dramatic, fun, and funny throughout.

I listened to it on Audio, and the narration of Kate Reading really brought out both of their personalities. I wish there were more books that would bring back this couple, especially a sequel about Dominic or future offspring. There appear to be more in the series, but they seem to be unrelated. In any event, on the next occasion, I have a hankering for a historical romance, 5 will get you 10 it will be another book by Loretta Chase.**4 1/2 stars**

September 19, 2021



Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

It ought to be so simple. The titled were wealthy, and the poor were poor. That is how it used to be, but now trade and title were blurring, a most confounding condition. Caroline sighed. She simply could not understand the way of the world.

In this better than average spin-off to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Caroline Bingley retreats to her mother’s home to lick her wounds and strategize how to return to the Darcy/Pemberley circle without apologizing to Elizabeth Bennett. It was brave to take on Caroline Bingley rather than the usual siblings of Elizabeth and Darcy. It keeps her snobbish character intact while making her a little more relatable and her mean-girl actions foiling Jane’s romance with Charles Bingley a little more understandable. A.) She loves her mother. B.) Her family comes from middle-class roots. Her father made his fortune “in Trade” and she lives in fear of being looked down on and excluded because of that.

The writing was competent. Although, and this seems picky, the author seemed to really really like the word “smirk”. It was distracting. Caroline’s motivation for trying to make a noble marriage in order to still have access to Pemberley made no sense. Why Should Darcy and Elizabeth or her brother care whom she married after being understandably cut from their society? Darcy had already demonstrated his democratic nature by marrying Elizabeth and his friendship with her own brother. Given the Author’s background and qualifications, I expected better.

I do give Jennifer Becton credit for exploring the unjust way women were treated and making the slow changes in society and the rise of the middle-class part important themes in her novel. It was entertaining. I did enjoy her relationships and interactions with Lavinia, the love interest, Rosemary, and her family. I was glad that she brought in Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, and Charles in a believable way. But Ooh, that title.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

May 17, 2019

Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St. Mary’s #1)

By Jodi Taylor

I wasn’t all that blown away by this. Considering the enthusiastic reviews, and how much I loved The Nothing Girl, I was disappointed. It’s a great idea, but I think she bit off more than she could chew. A select group is tasked with observing and documenting pivotal events in history. They are sent back in time after extensive training. It is a very high concept intriguing plot line, but like many reviewers, I thought the many many characters were just sketched in and I didn’t feel like I knew them, so I wasn’t invested enough. I will probably try another in the series, because I have reason to believe her writing might improve as she writes more books.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

August 4, 2017

The Sherwood Ring

By Elizabeth Marie Pope

“A gentleman can hardly continue to sit,’ he explained, in his serenest and most level voice, ‘when he asks a very remarkable young lady to do him the honor of marrying him. And – ‘he somehow contrived to grin at me wickedly, ‘I usually get what I want, Miss Grahame,’ he added, and pitched over in a tangled heap on the floor.”

This was a lovely light read involving friendly helpful ghosts and 3 charming love stories. I would have been so captivated had I read this as a young teen. I was pretty captivated as an adult. I would recommend this for any romantic teen who loves innocent love stories and history. Peaceable Sherwood was a wonderful character who provided a good portion of the gentle humor in this tale. He reminded me of Geoffrey Delavale in Patricia Veryan’s Journey to Enchantment

Rating: 4 out of 5.

September 27, 2019