Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar's Abbey isn't the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill--though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome--is anything but a romantic hero.
He Needed Redemption...
Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household--and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one.
Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena's past threatens, will Justin's burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?
I have pretty strict rules about the historical romances that I will read. Generally they need to be recommended by some trusted sources on Twitter. When I pick them myself I tend to get horrible books that I DNF. That’s why I’m so excited about this book. I chose this one from the description on the book tour and I absolutely loved it!
Helena is on the run but she isn’t flighty or impetuous. Her escape from her family has been well planned. She needs to get married in order to wrest control of her inheritance from her relatives. She is unable to control it herself because she is a woman so she is in desperate need of a husband.
Justin returned from being a prisoner of war in India and in an act of pure spite, managed to seize control of the largest house from its impoverished gentleman owner. Now he is hated by the community and just wants to be left alone. His secretary and a lawyer friend though have advertised for a bride for him. He’s ignored them up to now when his friend in London sent him a woman who is obviously in trouble.
I loved that these were both sensible, no-nonsense people. There was a real threat that Helena was running from based on newspaper accounts of the time. This was a great way to get actual historical issues into the story.
This book felt comfortable from the opening pages. I was pulled directly into the story. This is the type of historical romance that I love and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of The Matrimonial Advertisement! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
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Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way…
New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.
Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice—and his attraction to her—but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.
Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?
Alyssa Cole is an autobuy author for me for both her contemporary and historical romances. This is book 2 of her contemporary Reluctant Royals series.
Do you have to read the first book to read this one?
Not really as long as you can just accept that her best friend is a Princess. (But you should read the first book because it was wonderful.)
Portia has always felt like she is a failure. She comes from a highly successful family. Her twin overcame a life threatening illness and now runs a very successful website. Her family is pushing her take a job with the family company just so she does something stable. Instead she took an internship with a Scottish sword maker, because that’s a practical life skill.
Her skills are a big help to the company though. She increases their social media profiles so they get more business. She redoes their website. It is in doing research for the website that she finds out about her boss’s relationship to a former Duke.
I liked that the conflict keeping them apart in the story was a logical one. He’s her boss and it is inappropriate and wrong to hit on interns. People should remember that.
This was a fun read that I finished in a few sittings. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
Oliver Dasenby is the most infuriating man Primrose Garland has ever known. He may be her brother’s best friend, but he has an atrocious sense of humor. Eight years in the cavalry hasn’t taught him solemnity, nor has the unexpected inheritance of a dukedom.
But when Oliver inherited his dukedom, it appears that he also inherited a murderer.
Oliver might be dreadfully annoying, but Primrose doesn’t want him dead. She’s going to make certain he survives his inheritance—and the only way to do that is to help him catch the murderer!
Emily Larkin’s Baleful Godmother books are also autobuys for me. This is the first book in a new series but it is set in the same world as her previous books.
Do you have to read the other books to read this one?
The premise of these books is that a long time ago a woman helped a fairy. In exchange all her female descendants are granted their choice of a magical power at some point in their mid-twenties. Each book can be read as a standalone.
Primrose’s power is teleportation. That’s a good choice. That’s the power I would choose. I like that she is first seen using it to go get a book she forgot at her house. However, her magic doesn’t really affect the story a lot. The same story could be told without it.
Oliver was an Army officer who came home after he inherited a title. He was far out of the line of succession but several relatives have died unexpectedly in the last year. Now someone seems to be trying to kill Oliver too. The mystery of who it is the main story of the book. It is quickly narrowed down to two suspects but the story twists and turns to keep you guessing.
All the action takes place at a house party where Oliver is the fresh meat being dangled in front of several marriageable ladies and their mothers. He is trying to stay out of their clutches but the marriage hunt is deadly serious.
Primrose and her brother are Oliver’s childhood friends who are trying to keep him safe. Their relationship develops because Primrose is the only woman who likes him for himself instead of his title.
When crusading lawyer Vikram Pandey sets out in search of a missing youth, his investigations take him to Holywell Street, London’s most notorious address. He expects to find a disgraceful array of sordid bookshops. He doesn’t expect one of them to be run by the long-lost friend whose disappearance and presumed death he’s been mourning for thirteen years.
Gil Lawless became a Holywell Street bookseller for his own reasons, and he’s damned if he’s going to apologise or listen to moralising from anyone. Not even Vikram; not even if the once-beloved boy has grown into a man who makes his mouth water.
Now the upright lawyer and the illicit bookseller need to work together to track down the missing youth. And on the way, they may even learn if there’s more than just memory and old affection binding them together...
I read this book immediately after A Gentleman Never Keeps Score. The two fit together nicely because they share the theme of sexual abuse/exploitation of teenage boys due to poverty.
Gil is a bastard child of a rich family. When his father died, his older half-brother cut off his education and funds. In order to survive he was a prostitute. Now he runs a bookstore that sells pornography, which is illegal.
Vikram is a lawyer who takes some pro bono cases in London’s Indian community. He knew Gil at school where they bonded over being the only dark-skinned people. He has always wondered what happened to his friend when he suddenly left school but no one would answer his questions. Vikram is investigating the disappearance of an Indian teen who worked as a prostitute. The only clue is a studio photo that the boy’s parents had. There is no way he could afford to have bought it. Vikram guesses he may have been modeling for erotic photographers and was given the formal portrait as partial payment.
There is a bit of over the top serendipity in the main characters meeting. It is like, “I’m searching for this lost boy because it reminds me of my former best friend who went missing. I’ll go to this bookstore. Oh, look! There is my missing best friend. Imagine that!”
Vikram wants to renew his friendship with Gil but has a very hard time accepting the world Gil lives in. He is uncomfortable with the life his friend was forced to lead while he continued his comfortable life in school and university. Gil is cynical about Vikram’s desire to help people because in his life he hasn’t seen many people with that motivation.
This is a novella but there is a good amount of character growth in it. It was interesting to find out all about the Victorian pornography trade. I haven’t seen that as a basis for a romance before.
Once beloved by London's fashionable elite, Hartley Sedgwick has become a recluse after a spate of salacious gossip exposed his most-private secrets. Rarely venturing from the house whose inheritance is a daily reminder of his downfall, he’s captivated by the exceedingly handsome man who seeks to rob him.
Since retiring from the boxing ring, Sam Fox has made his pub, The Bell, into a haven for those in his Free Black community. But when his best friend Kate implores him to find and destroy a scandalously revealing painting of her, he agrees. Sam would do anything to protect those he loves, even if it means stealing from a wealthy gentleman. But when he encounters Hartley, he soon finds himself wanting to steal more than just a painting from the lovely, lonely man—he wants to steal his heart.
Content Warning from Author: This book includes a main character who was sexually abused in the past; abuse happens off page but is alluded to.
It is not strictly necessary to read the first book in this series to understand this book but it helps to gain understanding of the family background. Hartley is the oldest brother. He tried to make a prosperous life for his brothers by attaching himself to a rich man who was interested in him. At the time Hartley was a teenager and the relationship was abusive. At the beginning of the book, he has inherited his abuser’s house in London. Relatives of the abuser let details of the relationship out and Hartley is now shunned in society. He is living in a house where most of the servants have left because of the scandal. He is dealing with the psychological aftermath of an abusive relationship.
I love Cat Sebastian’s writing. Her plots are original and include people and situations that aren’t often seen in traditional historical romances. Sam is a black man who formerly was a boxer. He is trying to make a living running a pub but he is being harassed by a policeman who is convinced that there are illegal boxing matches in the bar. His brother wants to marry a woman but she is stalling. She tells Sam that she once posed for a naked painting for a rich man. She doesn’t feel right marrying a respectable man when that painting is still out there somewhere. Sam decides to track down the painting to steal and destroy it. The trail leads him to Hartley’s house because it was painted for his abuser.
This book highlights found family. Hartley assembles a rag tag staff of people from London’s underworld who have nowhere else to go. His valet is a former male prostitute. The valet brings home a cook/maid who was thrown out of her house for being pregnant. Slowly he realizes that piecing his life back together doesn’t mean that it has to look the same as it did before. He looks to rebuild his ability to trust and love that was severely damaged in his previous relationship. He needs to deal with the anger he has about being forced to prostitute himself for his family, who are uncomfortable with him now because of it.
I love all the characters in this story. The author does a wonderful job of making them each well-drawn, three dimensional people. No one is just a side character there to advance the plot. I’m looking forward to the next installment of this series.
Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.
Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.
The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?
I don’t generally read contemporary romance but people have been raving about this book. I’ve also liked Alyssa Cole’s historical romances so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.
I laughed out loud to see that this story starts with a variation on the Nigerian Prince email scam. Naledi receives an email claiming that she may be the long lost betrothed of a prince of an African country. Now if she’s only send all the necessary information to establish her identity…..
There are many places where this book could have easily gone from entertaining to annoying. The author did a great job with keeping the mystery/suspense up but allowing pieces of the puzzle to be revealed in a natural way instead of dragging out conflicts.
There is a lot going on in this book.
There is the Prince and the Pauper aspect as Thabiso tries to live as a normal person for a week. He gains insights on how he’s been treating all the “little people” in his life.
Naledi is having to deal with white male colleagues who use her for grunt work in their lab. Any time she speaks up for herself she is afraid of being labeled a “difficult black woman.” I like the way another woman in the department was eventually able to stand up for her.
Naledi has a rich friend who overruns any boundaries Naledi tries to set up but who she knows cares about her.
Then there are the mysteries of why her parents ran away from Africa with her and what is the new illness that appearing in Thabiso’s country.
That’s all without adding in the romance aspect.
I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes romance books. It is the start of a series. Somewhere in this series I want a book about what happened with Thabiso’s assistant. She travels with him to the U.S., starts a whirlwind romance with a woman she meets on Tinder, has some sort of bad break up that she refuses to talk about, and then heads back to Africa with Thabiso and Naledi. There’s way more to that story than the teasing bit we saw in this book.
On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.
Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.
As Charlotte plunges into London’s backstreets and brothels at Cosgrove’s side, hunting his persecutor, she finds herself fighting for her life—and falling in love…
This is historical romance series with a fantasy twist. Once upon a time a fairy was helped by a woman. In exchange, she asked for each of her female descendants to be granted one wish when they are in their early twenties. This series covers a few of the descendants as they choose their gift and then deal with the consequences in their lives. I hadn’t read a series before that combined fantasy and Regency romance.
In the first book Charlotte decides to wish for the ability to shapeshift. She uses this gift to disguise herself as a man to attempt to live an independent life. This is a good opening for some social commentary about the restrictions on women. The book is also funny as Charlotte tries to control a male body with its over large hands and obvious responses to sexual attraction. Her employer (and eventual love interest) thinks he is taking a young, particularly naive man under his wing and teaching what life in London is like. As their friendship and attraction deepen, both need to comes to terms with their own understanding of what it means to be attracted to a personality no matter the shape of the body that it is in.
Sir Barnaby Ware made a mistake two and a half years ago. A massive mistake. The sort of mistake that can never be atoned for.
He knows himself to be irredeemable, but the captivating and unconventional Miss Merryweather is determined to prove him wrong…
The daughter of a dancing master and a noblewoman, Miss Merryweather had an unusual upbringing. She sees things no one else sees—and she says things no one else says.
Sir Barnaby knows he’s the villain in this piece, but Miss Merryweather thinks he’s the hero—and she is damnably hard to resist…
Barnaby Ware was introduced in book 1 as the man who broke up a marriage and a lifelong friendship by having an affair. When the wronged party attempts to reach out to him in forgiveness, he resists because he feels that what he did was unforgivable. When he visits his former friend he meets Miss Merryweather. Unbeknownst to him, she is due to receive her fairy gift in a few days.
This is a novella instead of a full length novel. It is also the most forgettable of these books for me. I was more interested in the friendship that was trying to be repaired instead of the romance that is supposed to be blossoming.
Letitia Trentham is noteworthy for three reasons. One, she’s extremely wealthy. Two, she can distinguish truth from lies. Three, she’s refused every man who’s ever proposed to her.
Until Letty receives a proposal she can’t turn down.
Icarus Reid barely survived the Battle of Vimeiro. He lives for one thing—to find the man who betrayed him to the French. He doesn’t want to marry Miss Trentham; he wants to use her talent for uncovering lies.
Suddenly, Letty finds herself breaking the rules, pretending to be someone she’s not, and doing things a lady would never do. But her hunt for the truth may uncover more than one secret—including the secret that haunts Icarus day and night. The secret he intends to take to his grave…
This is one of my favorites of the series. Lydia has been living with her gift – the ability to tell lies from truth – for several years. She has refused all offers of marriage because she knows that the men have only wanted her money and not her. She gets involved with an injured former soldier who hears about her ability (but not the magical reason). He wants her to help him find out what happened in the ambush where he was injured and all his companions were killed.
I liked the fact that this book had an older and wiser heroine. She’s seen it all moving through society with the ability to cut through all the games and polite phrases. The chance to do something new thrills her.
Icarus is suffering from severe PTSD. He’s suicidal and has nightmares every night. It is a good representation of this. As the wife of a veteran with PTSD, I appreciated the thoughtful portrayal.
Lucas Kemp’s twin sister died last year. He’s put aside his mourning clothes, but not his heartache. If Lucas ever needed a friend, it’s now—and who should walk in his door but Lieutenant Thomas Matlock…
Lucas and Tom are more than just best friends; they’ve been in love with each other for years. In love with each other—and pretending not to know it.
But this time, Tom’s not going to ignore the attraction between them. This time, he’s going to push the issue.
He’s going to teach Lucas how to laugh again—and he’s going to take Lucas as his lover…
I did not like this book. I wanted to. This book focuses on two male characters who were important in the last book. I liked them. I wanted to find out more about their relationship. My problem with this one was the way the sex was handled. I’m not a huge fan of sex in books anyway. I much prefer slow burn romances and fade to black sex scenes. While the other books have had sex scenes there was enough romance and character development to balance them.
In this book, there is just sex. You don’t get the romantic parts that were seen in the other books. I think that the difference was here because it was switched to a m/m story instead of a male/virginal female story. I don’t think that is a good reason to leave out the romance and tenderness though. Relationship development is still important and that didn’t happen here.
Eleanor Wrotham has sworn off overbearing men, but she needs a man’s help—and the man who steps forward is as domineering as he is dangerous: the notorious Mordecai Black.
The illegitimate son of an earl, Mordecai is infamous for his skill with women. His affairs are legendary—but few people realize that Mordecai has rules, and one of them is: Never ruin a woman.
But if Mordecai helps Miss Wrotham, she will be ruined.
Eleanor is searching for her sister, who ran away to marry a soldier. Eleanor’s fiance ran off because of the scandal her sister caused. Her father and aunt kept her sister’s letters from her. Now she has found a several month old letter saying that her sister is in trouble. The only person willing to help her is a relative of the man who jilted her.
This ends up being a road trip story like book 3. I don’t think it is quite as strong as that one but is enjoyable nonetheless.
At the age of four Lord Vickery was stolen by gypsies and sold to a chimney sweep. At the age of five he was reunited with his father. His history is no secret—everyone in the ton knows of his miraculous rescue.
But when Vickery finds his father’s diaries, he discovers that there may be a secret buried in his past…
Georgiana Dalrymple knows all about secrets. She has several herself—and one of those secrets is her ability to find missing people.
When Lord Vickery turns to her for help, Georgiana sets out to discover just who he actually is…
Georgiana can find anything, including the answers to old mysteries if she just asks the right questions. But is uncovering the truth always for the best?
I liked this book a lot. It was nice to see the heroine trying to convince the hero that she would stand by him instead of the other other way around like it is common in a lot of historical romances. There is no meet-cute here. They have known each other all their lives and their relationship is formed out of their friendship. It was a nice end to the series.
Overall, I’d highly recommend this series if you like historical romances. Just skip the third book.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.
But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…
I’m a big fan of Courtney Milan’s historical romances. I wanted to read another one of her books for AsianLitBingo but they don’t qualify because they don’t have Asian main characters. I decided to try one of her contemporary romances. Most contemporary romances don’t work for me. I like romances PG-13 or less and you don’t generally get that in a contemporary.
I chose this book instead of the first book in the series. The first book is about a billionaire. That’s one of my key NOPE words in descriptions. I don’t want to read about billionaires in romances. This one is billionaire-free although the said billionaire is lurking around as a secondary character.
a professor at a university in California
a frequent commenter on a website who moved to being an online friend of the creator of the website
an older undergrad at the same university
a self-proclaimed girly-girl
the creator of a blog that examines end-of-the-world scenarios
the sister of one of Jay’s friends
Jay takes an immediate dislike to Maria when they meet in person through her brother because he perceives her to be overly interested in shoes and makeup and girl stuff. He finds her shallow. He can’t even seem to make a connection between a woman he sees in front of him and the woman he has been flirting with through science and mathematics for two years. They aren’t even the same species in his mind.
I’m not a big fan of books that are all about mistaken identity. This book ends the mystery about halfway through. The rest of the book is about them trying to translate a two year online relationship into real life. Maria has some major abandonment issues that cause her to be very fearful of committing to a relationship. Jay needs to deal with his dismissals of women who appear very feminine. He considers himself to be a feminist but still thinks women in dresses and makeup must be dumb.
I thought these issues were handled well in the story. There was a lot going on. The author writes flirting very well. I wasn’t completely swept away with the romance here. I think that is more an issue of not being a huge fan of contemporaries instead of being completely the fault of the book. If you like contemporary romances that deal with issues and aren’t purely fluff, I’d recommend this one.
So well then after I read this one I had to go back and read another one of her historical romances, didn’t I? This one happened to be all about mathematical flirting too.
Nobody knows who Miss Rose Sweetly is, and she prefers it that way. She’s a shy, mathematically-minded shopkeeper’s daughter who dreams of the stars. Women like her only ever come to attention through scandal. She’ll take obscurity, thank you very much.
All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is. He’s an infamous advice columnist and a known rake. When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he’s also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stoppingly handsome. But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn’t just a scandal waiting to happen. He’s waiting to happen to her…and if she’s not careful, she’ll give in to certain ruination.
This is a rare historical romance novella set in England that acknowledges that England at that time was not uniformly white. Rose is black. She is staying with her pregnant sister who is about to have her baby while her Naval Officer husband is at sea. They are dealing with the horrible racism of the doctor who is supposed to be helping. At the same time, a once in a lifetime astronomical event is about to take place. Because Rose is just a woman who does the calculation in the lab, she isn’t going to be allowed into the prime viewing space to watch it.
When she finds out that she has a suitor who is white, she is unimpressed by his assertions that everything will work out just fine. She knows that he has no idea of the prejudice that they will face as an interracial couple.
This is part of the Brothers Sinister series but it can be read alone. There is great dialogue between the characters. I like these stories because they feature women who know their worth (and it is based on something other than their money or their looks) and men who are actually nice and worth caring about.
About Courtney Milan
“C ourtney Milan’s debut novel was published in 2010. Since then, her books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist. She’s been a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller, a RITA® finalist and an RT Reviewer’s Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance. Her second book was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010.
Courtney lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband, a marginally-trained dog, and an attack cat.
Before she started writing historical romance, Courtney got a graduate degree in theoretical physical chemistry from UC Berkeley. After that, just to shake things up, she went to law school at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude. Then she did a handful of clerkships with some really important people who are way too dignified to be named here. She was a law professor for a while. She now writes full-time.” from her website
The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.
For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.
But following the death of her beloved husband David two years earlier, Laura knows that it’s time to move on. To find a way to live without him, instead of just surviving. To find her new place in the world, and to fill the gap that he’s left in all their lives.
Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.
I’m a sucker for light fiction set in English cafes or tea shops or bakeries. I recently read these two fun romances that are perfect for Foodies Read.
Laura Walker has been a widow for two years and is just starting to emerge from the fog that she has been in. She needs a job and she wants to give her children a vacation this year. She combines the two into working for the summer at a cafe near a beach in Dorset.
This isn’t just any cafe. It stocks the favorite comfort foods of the regulars to make them feel at home.
Laura, her kids, and her dog Jimbo settle into the community. They are starting to make new good memories for the first time since the accident that took her husband’s life. This book is full of quirky characters. It also feels like it is really set in the present. Lizzie is documenting her summer on Instagram. Other people use Skype. So many of these books tend to ignore any technological details so that was a touch of realism that I appreciated.
The love interest’s name was Matt and he is a veterinarian. Now you know I’m gonna have to comment on this, right? Ok, two things. Of course he is described as being muscular and gorgeous. He has to be. That’s in the contract for romance book heroes. But, I know A LOT of vets. I don’t know any who fit the bill. (Send pictures if you know one.) We tend towards the nerdy side. I particularly don’t know any who are built like that and never work out. I’m not sure where his muscles come from. He never lifts a weight. Number two, he never really seems to go to work either. He’s always around. It is mentioned vaguely that he is “at work” a few times but it doesn’t seem like he is missing from the story very often. I’d like that schedule.
Anyway, this one is fun and sweet and made me a bit teary in one part that I can’t talk about without being spoilery.
Amy Knowles has always been the plain sidekick to her pretty best friend Jules. And whilst the tearoom they both work in on the Monkpark Hall estate in Yorkshire is not exactly awash with eligible bachelors, it’s obvious where the male attention is concentrated – and it’s not just on the cakes!
There is one man who notices Amy. Joshua Wilson also works at Monkpark, where he flies his birds of prey for visitor entertainment. He lives a lonely existence but he has reasons for choosing isolation – and, in Amy, he may have found somebody who understands.
Then a management change brings slick and well-spoken Edmund Evershott to Monkpark. He’s interested in Amy too, but for what reason? Josh suspects the new manager is up to no good – but will Amy?
I read this one right after the first one. This is told in alternating voices of the two main characters. Amy is the third generation of her family to work in an historic trust building. She and her grandmother are able to live in the village at reduced rent because a family works at Monkpark. This wasn’t Amy’s goal in life but she can’t afford to keep her Gran at home any other way. She’s always been a bit of a doormat for people but figures that is her lot in life.
Josh loves his birds but is very uncomfortable around people. He doesn’t like to be in enclosed spaces, even inside houses. He’s never had a relationship with a woman. He likes Amy though because she seems to see him as a real person and not just that strange guy with the birds.
I liked the story of trying to keep a historic house profitable. Amy runs the tea shop and Josh does the falconry demonstrations.
This is an unusual romance. The characters both have back stories that make them think that they are unsuitable for love. I wish Amy’s had been a little deeper. I felt like she was written almost as a cliche at times. I haven’t seen a lot of male romance characters like Josh though. There was a lot of trauma in his background that made him stay away from people. Although the term is never used, he felt like a demi romantic/sexual character. He did not see people as potential love interests at all until he got to know Amy very well. I’m not sure if that was an innate orientation for him or if it was all secondary to psychological trauma though. He doesn’t magically overcome his problems just because he meets a love interest either. He still has issues that drastically affect his life and relationships. That’s a nice change from books where the hero or heroine’s entire life gets fixed when they get a lover.
I’d recommend both of these for fun reads. Of the two, the tea shop book is definitely darker. The Comfort Food Cafe book stays mostly upbeat except for a few emotional parts. There is a short story sequel to that one that I’ve downloaded already that is set at Christmas. I’ll report back on it soon.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“Richard, Marquess of Devon is satisfied with his ton marriage. His wife of five months, Lady Eugenia Devon, thought she was, too, until she found the book. Their marriage is one of respect and affection, with no messy entanglements such as love. Devon’s upbringing impressed upon him that gentlemen slake their baser needs on a mistress, not their gently bred wives. However, once married, he was no longer comfortable bedding a woman other Eugenia. When she stumbles onto a naughty book, she begins a campaign to change the rules.”
This book started with an interesting twist. Instead of being all about the courtship like most Regency romances, this story starts after the couple has been married for five months. Eugenia hears the news that her husband’s mistress has died in an accident and decides to take this opportunity to convince him to not find another one. At the same time she comes across a sex manual in a book store. (Let’s just set aside the unlikeliness of a sex manual in a Regency bookstore in a place where a lady could come across it, ok?)
Up until now their physical relationship has consisted of scheduled three nights a week sex mostly clothed in the dark in order to produce an heir. She was told by her mother that she should just lie still and think about redecorating and it would be over soon. He was told that you do you duty with your wife and keep a mistress on the side for any of your desires other than procreation. All this advice has resulted in some people with some very mixed up ideas and hang ups about sex.
Eugenia’s attempt to spice up their marriage does not go well. Her husband is horrified. He starts to avoid her. No more scheduled times. Now she has to try to seduce him to get him back. He is convinced that she has taken a lover because of her new found knowledge. It is all an object lesson about why people should talk to each other when they are married instead of making assumptions.
I did enjoy this twist on a historical romance. This book would be good for Regency fans who don’t mind a little bit of explicit sexual talk and activity.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
“When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.
When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew.”
Ellie has always wanted to bake for a living but her parents have encouraged her to get a steady and reliable job. Now she has a chance to run a seasonal tea shop in a castle in the northeast part of England. She is even allowed to live in – a fact that horrifies her mother. She doesn’t see how Ellie will survive in a remote area that is *gasp* over an hour drive from her parents’ house. Ah, bless the British and their warped sense of distance. It always makes me laugh in books when they discussed drives that Americans would do without thought to go to a restaurant as epic adventures requiring careful planning lest disaster fall upon them.
The owner of the castle isn’t a fan of business or of letting people come traipsing around his family home. He needs the money to keep the place up though. The castle isn’t a huge tourist attraction so keeping it afloat and learning how to make a small tea shop profitable isn’t easy.
Soon Ellie is scraping by and mostly eating left over pastries for every meal. She doesn’t want to admit to her parents that things aren’t going well. She determined to make a go of her little tea shop.
I couldn’t sleep one night and downloaded and read this book all in one sitting. It was sweet and cute. It was perfect for a light read. I would recommend this for any chick lit or light romance fans or anyone who ever dreamed of quitting their job and cooking for a living.
I’m jealous of British high tea. You can’t get anything like it around here. I torture myself by following Kelly Michelle on Twitter. She has gluten free high tea a lot. I just look at her pictures and drool. I’m going to Washington DC in July and you can get afternoon tea at a few of the fancy hotels. I’m taking the opportunity while I’m there.