Posts Tagged ‘ caroline linden ’

Review: What a Rogue Desires

What a Rogue Desires is the second book in Caroline Linden’s series about the Reece family.  This is the story of David and Vivian; it follows What a Gentleman Wants, and is followed in turn by A Rake’s Guide to Seduction.What a Rogue Desires cover

Following their reconciliation in Gentleman, Marcus Reece has entrusted his twin with the Exeter holdings while he and his new bride Hannah tour the continent for several months.  Aware that he has been a scapegrace in the past and come very near to ruining the lives of those he holds dear, David is determined not to muck things up this time.

Of course, things never quite go as planned.  No sooner does he leave the Exeter estate in Kent to return to London than David’s life seems to spin out of control.  One of his horses gets a stone in its shoe, forcing a rest stop at a country inn, which in turn leads to David taking a place on a mail coach to London when there are no horses available for neither love nor money.  Then, to add insult to injury, the coach is robbed, and the highwaymen take David’s copy of the Exeter signet ring.  The pocket watch he might have forgiven them, but the ring has far more sentimental value than financial, and David is determined to get it back.

Eminently practical Vivian Beecham doesn’t particularly enjoy the life of a thief, and certainly wants better for her younger brother, Simon.  But with both parents long dead and no other family to ask for aid, there were few options but to join one of the gangs of thieves in London’s disreputable St. Giles district.  Now they have graduated on to highway robbery, with the very attractive Vivian playing  the part of signal man and get-away distraction whilst the others do the actual robbing.

Unfortunately, this time they picked the wrong coach; Lord David Reece is willing to do anything in his power to get back his signet ring, and knowing all of the fences and pawnbrokers in London’s less reputable areas certainly helps with that.  He lays a trap for the thieves; it doesn’t take long at all before Vivan quickly falls right into it, and finds herself a prisoner in David’s house until she tells him where to find the missing ring.

Well, at least her ‘prison’ provides a comfortable bed and hot meals.  It’s not enough on its own to give up her secrets and betray her brother, but David Reece can be very persuasive when he wants to…

I have to admit, I didn’t like this book as much as I did Gentleman and Rake.  I love the idea of the heroine being a thief, and was looking forward to see David fall in love, but there were a few points that stretched my suspension of disbelief, and I wasn’t at all comfortable with the major plot point of Vivian being kidnapped and held against her will by the hero, who she’s supposed to (and does, else this wouldn’t be a romance) fall in love with.  YMMV.

I did like the relationship between Vivian and Simon, what little we saw of it, and was disappointed that there was no interaction with the rest of the Reece family.  With Rosalind and Celia (David’s stepmother and sister, respectively) at the Exeter estate in Kent and Marcus and Hannah on the continent somewhere, the whole development of the relationship between David and Vivian seems to happen in its own little Twilight Zone bubble.

The extraordinary lengths David goes to in order to get a piece of jewelry back seems quite excessive.  Yes, it’s the Exeter signet ring (though not the actual piece, Marcus still has that) and yes, it’s a symbol of Marcus’ trust in David to leave him in charge of the Exeter holdings, but… something about it just rung hollow, I suppose.  It doesn’t really justify kidnapping and imprisoning someone, threatening them with the Bow Street runners and jail, just to get a  ring back.  From what we saw of Marcus in Gentleman, IMHO he’d probably prefer that David actually take care of the Exeter holdings, rather than chase around looking for a ring.

I don’t know.  Overall I enjoyed this book, it was well-written and I liked Vivian (and the sex scenes were v nice) but I’m not at all happy with the kidnapping and imprisonment aspect, and the ending seemed a little too easily wrapped up when David has been shown so far to struggle with being respected and not a good-for-nothing.  It also struck me as odd how Vivian can apparently pass as a lady of (impoverished) quality when she was raised in what is essentially the slums by a working-class mother and then a kidsman.  One of these things is not like the other.

If you’re intending to read the series, I would suggest you pick this up as well as the other two, and if you can get back the whole ‘kidnapping/imprisonment’ aspect, the book is rather enjoyable.  With the caveats above, I do recommend it.

Review: What a Gentleman Wants

What a Gentleman Wants is the first of Caroline Linden‘s books about the Reece family.  After falling in love with A Rake’s Guide to Seduction, when I got my Amazon gift certificate last week I just had to go buy the two earlier books for my kindle.What a Gentleman Wants cover

I was not disappointed.

Lord David Reece, wastrel younger twin of the duke of Exeter, has spent most of his life so far getting into trouble and spending above his budget.  An accident during a carriage race through a country village finds him with a broken leg, forced to rely on the hospitality of the no-nonsense Mrs. Hannah Preston whilst he reassesses his goals in life.  Newly-widowed Hannah is raising her daughter alone, and will soon be forced to give up her independence and move back to her father’s farm once the village’s new vicar arrives.  David soon finds himself growing fond of both Hannah and her daughter, Molly, and decides that they could be the answer to each other’s problems.  A wife will give David the respectability he currently lacks, and marriage will give Hannah a future that doesn’t include drudgery on the  family farm.

Unfortunately, David’s change of heart doesn’t last very long.  Once the new family arrives in London David leaves ‘on business’, and Hannah is left alone to find out the truth: rather than cry off before the wedding, David has played a cruel trick on both Hannah and his brother.  Instead of signing his own name on the register, David wrote another…

Marcus Reece never wanted a wife, let alone a presumed adventuress after the family fortune.  He’s spent most of his life bailing David out of one scandal or another, usually with a liberal application of money, and at first it seems like this latest scrape will be as easily solved as the first.  Until he finds out that David has involved their stepmother, Rosalind, in the deception, who arrives in London believing that Marcus has married and determined to match-make the ‘estranged newlyweds’ back together.

For Rosalind’s sake Marcus convinces Hannah to continue the deception, until the now-disappeared David can be found and they can arrange a suitable ‘separation’ from their unwanted marriage.  Which means that Hannah will have to play duchess for the ton, and they will both have to act the part of besotted newlyweds…

Having started the series out of order and read Rake, Marcus and David’s younger sister Celia’s story first, I was more than a little confused when the beginning of the story had David courting Hannah, and not Marcus.  I don’t imagine many other people will have that problem.  It was interesting to see the relationship between David and Marcus and between Marcus and Celia, neither of which were dwelt on much in Rake, as well as the obviously mutual affection Rosalind has for both her stepsons.

On the subject of relationships, I would have liked to see more of a connection/friendship develop between Marcus and Molly, Hannah’s daughter.  I have the feeling it was “told, not shown”, though I can’t with any accuracy pinpoint exactly what gave me that impression.  Molly almost seemed to be forgotten about in some parts of the story, or just referred to in passing, though when she was included I liked her a lot.  It would have been nice to see more of her, though I do appreciate that she wasn’t just a precocious Plot Moppet™.

Since it’s one of my pet peeves, I appreciated that again, there was no Virgin Widow.  There were definitely sex scenes in this book, though towards the end, and they were quite enjoyable.  Of course, the sex was far better with the One True Love than with the late husband, but in every romance novel the sex scenes between the two main characters are always far better than anything before.  Even their earlier sex scenes.  I suppose it could be worse; there could have been Christine Feehan-style marathon sex sessions.  (Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed the earlier Carpathian novels, but sometimes I like some character development to go with my sex scenes.  They don’t have to happen at the same time, though.)

Hannah and Marcus didn’t do as much growing as characters as Celia and Anthony did in Rake; since they’re both adults and the book takes place over a much shorter period of time, this doesn’t matter so much in their case.  I would have liked to have seen more of the fondness develop between the two of them before jumping to the L word, but I suppose there isn’t room in one book for everything I want.  If I thought I might be indulged, the list would never end.

I did find Hannah’s sentiment for her late husband oddly lacking – did she love him, or was she just very fond of him?  I didn’t really get a strong impression either way, which is perhaps why I’m a little confused.  Molly didn’t seem to miss him at all, despite the confusion over two ‘new Papas’, so I suppose I’m leaning towards the latter option.

Overall, I enjoyed this a lot, and am looking forward to finishing Rogue to complete the set.  I wonder what the odds are of more Reece books – perhaps even Rosalind and the father’s tale?  Highly recommended.

you know what I love?

EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!

So my Christmas present arrived early yesterday, instead of the ~two weeks Roger was given as estimated delivery.  And I got to open it!

It’s a Kindle! And a pretty leather case!  And I am so frickin’ excited and it is the best gift ever!

It also came with a gift card.  Considering my undying love for Caroline Linden after she sent me a free ARC of A Rake’s Guide to Seduction, I had to make my first Kindle purchase the other two Reece books, What a Gentleman Wants and What a Rake Desires.  Unsure what to spend the rest of it on so far, but there is no rush.  I also grabbed a few of Amazon’s free ebooks, so there are lots of potential book reviews incoming.  As well as a post about the utter fail that is Sl. L. Farrell’s A Magic of Twilight.

I took the Kindle for its first outing today, to the walk-in medical clinic with Roger, and it was awesome for reading while in the waiting room.  I will have to do a full review/squee at some point, perhaps with pictures.  But right now I am off to beat my remote into submission so I can catch up on this week’s Dancing With the Stars.

Review: A Rake’s Guide to Seduction

A Rake’s Guide to Seduction is the third book in Caroline Linden‘s series about the Reece family.  I haven’t read the earlier books yet, but after finishing Rake I fully intend to do so, funds permitting.  I was fortunate to receive an old ARC of this book from the lovely Ms. Linden, so any differences between the review and the published version are probably due to that.  I’m not senile quite yet.
A Rake's Guide to Seduction cover
Lady Celia Reece, is the daughter of the late Duke of Exeter and the younger sister of Marcus and David Reece from What a Gentleman Wants and What a Rogue Desires respectively.  Mr. Anthony Hamilton is a notorious rake and the infamously outcast son of the Earl of Lyndley.  As an old school friend of David Reece, Anthony has known Celia for most of her life, though they’ve never been noticeably close due to the age gap and the patent dislike Rosalind, Celia’s mother, holds for Anthony.

A chance encounter on a balcony and a rescue from the Worst Proposal Ever™ awaken Anthony to the fact that Celia is all grown up and no longer the eight-year-old who wanted to tag along fishing.  So much so, in fact, that he can’t stop thinking about her, even with the lovely Lady Drummond to keep him company.

Sadly, it seems that Anthony is the only one who has been so affected; by the time he drums up the courage to ask Marcus for permission to pay court to Celia, the lady in question has already given her heart and hand to Lord Andrew Bertram.  The marriage does not go well for Celia or Bertram, and four years later a widowed Celia is dragged back by her mother returns from Bertram’s family estate in Cumberland a shadow of her former self.

After a brief visit to the Exeter house in London and the promise of tonnish delights fail to raise Celia’s spirits, her mother organises a house party at the Exeter estate in Kent.  Though David and Anthony have drifted apart over the years of Celia’s marriage, Anthony is included in the guest list at David’s behest, much to Rosalind’s displeasure.  An anonymous attempt to lighten Celia’s melancholy quickly leads to candid revelations, and perhaps something more…

I have to say, freebie aside, I enjoyed this story immensely.  It is a fun, lighthearted romance without any extended Dramatic Plot Lines and with some nicely hot sex scenes and a feel-good ending.

Celia begins the story as a rather selfish, immature debutante afraid of admitting her mistakes, and over the course of the story grows into a mature woman who is not afraid to face her family’s disapproval to keep the happiness that she’s finally found.  I very much liked that Celia did not immediately rush into the oft-seen trap that marriage is The Answer To All Life’s Problems, at least the second time around, and that she learnt enough from her earlier mistakes to be wary of repeating them.

Anthony was an overall sympathetic character, with just enough rakish charm that the appeal is obvious without having to read chapter and verse about all the young ladies fluttering over him.  I enjoyed the gossiping about his notorious past and torrid love-life, though it might have been nice to see a little more of that first-hand while Celia was out of the picture.  The Misunderstood Hero probably has its own page on TvTropes by now, but I felt that overall it was handled well in this case, and Anthony certainly didn’t lament his wicked reputation.

It was also refreshing to see a character who is not the infamous Virgin Widow that seems to exist in every Silhouette, Harlequin or Mills and Boon historical romance featuring a widowed heroine.

The time-jump between Celia’s first marriage and her return to her family was handled quite nicely with smattering of entries from Celia’s diary during her marriage to Bertram.  If it’s a mechanism I’ve come across before then it didn’t have sufficient impact for me to remember it.  I suspect if the ‘diary entries’ had been any less succinct, it would have gotten annoying, but as it stands I prefer this to trying to fit all of the missing back-story into the first few pages after the jump forward.

Did I mention the sex scenes were hot?

The Dramatic Plot at the end of the story felt a little tacked-on, as it didn’t really tie into anything that had happened earlier – in fact, I didn’t even connect Ms. F’s name to her first appearance at first despite reading the book in one sitting over a few hours – but it was neatly wrapped up without too much overdone drama or Tragic Misunderstandings and did serve to add a little spice to what might have been an overlong Happily Ever After otherwise.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and would happily – perhaps even heartily – recommend it.

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