Friday, March 29, 2013

Sarah M. Eden round-up

Always on my quest to find a good, clean, fun regency-era romance, I've recently discovered Sarah M. Eden. And, being me, I read all of her books in a week. Conclusion? So much fun. I was really impressed by her and loved a couple of her books as much as I loved Edenbrooke. If Sarah M. Eden had better titles and prettier covers, they could easily be as popular as Edenbrooke because they are that good. Of course, at some point they all have some similar qualities and now that I've read them I need a major break from this kind of book, but I expect this kind of romance to be predictable. Enjoyment is all in the execution and these are well done if you like this type of book. And I can say right now that content for all of them is squeaky clean - no sex, swearing, or violence.

From Goodreads:
The Duke of Kielder has more influence than Parliament, higher social standing than the Royal Family. No gentleman dares face him on the dueling field, nor risks testing his infamous temper. But His Grace is in need of a wife. Combine his fearsome reputation with a terribly scarred countenance and finding a lady willing to accept his hand becomes all-but impossible. When the Duke manages to secure a bride through a bit of trickery and an obscene amount of money, he is certain his problems are behind him. Except his purchased bride proves to be nothing like he expected. What is a man like the Duke to do with a bride who is gentle, loving and absolutely impossible to live without?

My Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

I really liked this one. There's no missing the allusions to beauty and the beast and of course, with a name like Persephone, there are plenty of allusions to Persephone/Hades as well. The story is sweet and the Duke, though scary at first is actually a pretty hilarious character. I loved his bluntness and the way he is afraid of no one, not even the royal family. It takes a while for him to allow Persephone near his heart, but watching them slowly come together is lovely. This book is even a little scary at times. I loved the wolves and the truth is, they posed real problems for people in remote estates during that time period. Overall, a great story.

 From Goodreads:
Harry Windower adores blonde, green-eyes Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding a gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous.

Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be be less admirable - nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry. But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception? Escape into a charming regency world in this delightfully romantic comedy of manners that will entertain you to the very last word.

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

This one is a lot of fun, especially because I love details about the London season and Athena goes through one, encountering all the beauty (and not-so pretty parts) of being a debutante. And Harry is a very fun, cheerful character. And of course, the Duke is back and in full force here. Oh my gosh, he is such a great character. Mocking people no one else would dare mock and actually fighting real duels for his charge's sake. I love that both he and Persephone play major parts in this story. Athena seemed young to me and wasn't as compelling a character. Her love story wasn't as fabulous and I probably would have given this book three stars if it weren't for the Duke. I'm serious. He's awesome.

 From Goodreads:
When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn't be more mistaken--the maid is not only a lady of birth, she's the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentlemen, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle.

Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine's utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife's transformatoin from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately each of them wonders if theirs may become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted. As a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

I really liked this one and Catherine was a big favorite character for me. She had a very difficult childhood and adolescence, locked up, mentally and physically abused, and forced to live in poverty while her uncle enjoyed her money. It's no wonder she has no idea how to act around Crispin. I loved their romance and the way Crispin is able to heal her broken heart bit by bit. Catherine learns to stand up for herself, something that leads to very real danger when she stands up to her uncle later in the book. I couldn't put this one down, but I will admit it drove me a little crazy that Catherine and Crispin took so long to communicate their feelings for each other. It was obvious to me that neither of them wanted an annulment. Anyway, it all ends happy ever after and I definitely recommend this one.

 From Goodreads:
After five years of tracking and capturing spies on English soil, Philip Jonquil, Earl of Lampton, is in pursuit of his last quarry. But at a traveler’s inn, he encounters an unexpected and far more maddening foe: Sorrel Kendrick, a young lady who is strikingly pretty, shockingly outspoken, and entirely unimpressed with him. Indeed, Sorrel cannot believe the nerve of this gentleman, who rudely accuses her of theft and insults her feminine dignity. Doubly annoyed when they both end up at a party hosted by mutual friends, Philip and Sorrel privately declare war on one another. But Philip’s tactics, which range from flirting to indifference, soon backfire as he finds himself reluctantly enjoying Sorrel’s company; and, much to her dismay, Sorrel finds Philip’s odd manner to be increasingly endearing. In the midst of this waning war and growing attraction, Philip catches wind of the French spy he’s been tracking, and Sorrel inadvertently stumbles upon a crucial piece of the puzzle, making her indispensable to the mission. But can two proud hearts negotiate a ceasefire when cooperation matters most?

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

And here's my favorite of the bunch. Loved Philip! Spies! True danger and espionage! And Sorrel is fabulous. She's no mamby-pamby speak-only-when-spoken-to Regency heroine. She has gumption. And she has to. Sorrel is unique because she has a real physical handicap and she's had to learn how to stand up for herself and not care what others say. Their romance is wonderful with all sorts of fun banter and snarky conversations. Crispin and Catherine also play a big role in this book and I love the way Sarah M. Eden interlaps her stories like that. The ending of this one has real peril and a very good resolution. Will definitely be looking to add this one to my shelves someday because I know I'll want to reread it.

From Goodreads:
The future has never looked brighter for once penniless Nickolas Pritchard. Now in possession of an unforeseen legacy from a distant cousin, he can finally woo the exquisite Miss Castleton, belle of the London Season. What better setting for matchmaking than Ty Mynydd, his ancestral home nestled in the untamed hills of Wales? Ideal, indeed ... except for the ghost.

For nearly four hundred years, Gwen has walked the halls of the home in which she lived—and died a mysterious death. But despite centuries as the reigning force within her ancient residence, nothing prepares her for the charm and unexpected appeal of Englishman Nickolas.

A deep and abiding affection grows between the two, tempered by the unbreakable barrier that separates them. They cannot possibly hope for a happily ever after. there can be no future between a man yet living and a woman long dead.

But how can Nickolas possibly give Gwen up? And how can Gwen face an eternity without Nickolas?

My Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

And this would be my least favorite of them. Aside from the Welsh setting (which I loved), I had a hard time with this book. I don't think that the ghost story thing worked for Ms. Eden. I couldn't buy how normal everyone was with the ghost, even Nickolas's house guests. Gwen ends up walking through the castle casually, attending dinner parties, hanging out at picnics. I don't know, I just thought it could have been done in a much more thrilling and spooky way. No one is afraid of her! It was just weird. Anyway, my biggest disappointment was that as the final reveal is made and the final resolution happens, it's way sudden and there's almost no explanation for certain things. I was left with all sorts of questions about how and why and what in the world was that???? I don't know. If you're going to include magic at all it better have some sort of understandable system and not feel like a deus ex machine (miraculously convenient solution). Anyway. It was a little better than ok overall, but not my favorite.

I'm still wanting to read Drops of Gold which is the sequel to Friends of Foes, based on another Jonquil brother. It's not at my library, but I'm sure I'll get to it eventually. What do you think? Have you read any of these? Any other great clean Regency romance authors I need to check out?

1 comment:

Dianna said...

I just finished a book called Precious Bane that I believe was set during the same time as Jane Austen's books. It is set among the lower classes. Wow, it is the best thing I have read in a long time! The prose is beautiful. I think you would like it.