Romance

Delighted to add my review of the latest book in the “Girls Who Dare” series by Emma Leech. I have read 7 books in this series, including this one. I am amazed that the author churns out such compelling stories one after the other, with remarkable consistency.

This book was a pre-order copy, and I literally woke up early that morning (5 am) just to read this! Yes, the series is simply mesmerizing!

  • Title – To Bed the Baron. [Book 9]
  • Series – Girls Who Dare
  • Author – Emma V Leech

Jemima’s story was refreshingly different from the rest since she has just accepted an assignment to join the demimonde. Will she find love like the rest of the gals in the Peculiar Girls Book Club? Will she ever be able to return to polite high society? That is the crux of the story?

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

What I love about the Book

Like all the other stories in this series, this one is also set in Victorian England. Penniless, orphaned and near-starvation, Jemima does not have any choices and does not want to be a burden on her rich friends. Who is this mysterious protector?

Apart from this quirky storyline, this book was extra special because the author has portrayed human emotions and conflicts so beautifully. Jemima and Solomon are the main characters in the book, but a lot of the supporting characters were fleshed out so well. In a way, this book reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries or Harley Quin. Few other authors are able to bring out real human psychology with such keen acuity.

Jemima – conflicted at having to step down into the dark fringes of noble society but realizing she has run out of options.

Violet, the companion. Terribly practical, her blunt advice is something you would hear from a wise grandmother, experienced in the ways of the world. Life, then and now, is cruel and unfair, specially tom women. Sometimes we must learn to make lemonade if we only have lemons in our fate.

Solomon, an ex-military officer with demons of his own. Very few romance novels explore the emotional trauma, physical pain, and survivor’s guilt that war veterans face.

Helena, surprisingly perceptive about how men react. She knows that Solomon is a good man at heart. But when confronted with an unpleasant truth about being played the fool, his first reaction will be to lash out at the messenger. Men often react irrationally when their pride is attacked and are unable to stop even if they know in their hearts that they are behaving badly.

Matilda, unwilling to trust her own judgement after the debacle with Mr. Burton. Seriously, I have become embroiled in the saga of Montagu-Matilda, aka M&M madness! Confession, I pre-ordered the book despite its July 10th release, fulling knowing my long list of deadlines and a very faint chance that I will get any time to read! Still one lives in hope! ?

You do not have to read the full series to enjoy any single book. They are all equally fabulous. If anything, I almost want to complain: Emma Leech, why do you write so well?

Similar Works

  • Books – any other historical romance by Emma Leech, Julia Quinn, or Barbara Cartland. If you want an extended list, then look at this list of irresistible Romance authors.
  • Movies – Titanic, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Kate and Leopold, Pride and Prejudice.
  • Genres – Romance, Historical Romance.

Until next time, Adieu & Happy Reading!

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Welcome to Day 04 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Family”. Any book that reminds you of strong family ties will suffice for today’s challenge.

Let me start with a hat tip to Isabella of “Welcome to She Reads” for choosing the book “The Great Gatsby” for the previous prompt on Golden Classics. All the entries were amazing, which just shows how many authors write evergreen content that lasts for centuries! However, this particular book was by far the oldest one, published way back in 1925! Would like to add that Gatsby has been made into a movie multiple times, the last one in 2013 starring Leonardo di Caprio. The 2013 movie grossed over $353 million worldwide and won two Academy awards, besides being nominated for eight categories.

Today’s prompt

Coming back to today’s prompt – This was a tough choice as there are so many titles and authors to choose from. Finally decided to go with this old Barbara Cartland book I read as a young girl.

  • Title – The Husband Hunters
  • Author – (Dame) Barbara Cartland

The story revolves around 3 sisters who come to London to find a husband and their interaction with each other. Plus, this was a book that we brought home from the local library and my entire family took turns reading it. This includes me, my twin sister, my mom and my grandmother! Yes, we are a family of bibliophiles! Addiction to good books runs in my blood! ?

Anyway, this book reminds me of the fun times of my happy childhood, so it felt perfect to use it for today’s prompt.

REVIEW SCORE = 4.5/5 *****

Why I love this book

I love Barbara Cartland (BC) books for many reasons. First, have you seen the covers? This was an age before Photoshop and image editors, so the quality of the hand painted illustrations always dazzles me. All BC romances have such brilliant covers.

Second, have you read the biography on the author? She was awarded a knighthood (Dame of England) for her prolific writing skills, she was a writer for the Society (read gossip) column for the biggest newspaper and she was known to throw the most amazing balls and parties. Her sense of style also made her cult icon of her times! I always assumed she used her personal experiences to portray the minute details in the dresses and balls she wrote in her books.

Did you know Dame Cartland is a relation to Princess Diana? Look it up!

Third, the story is always a Victorian historical romance, so it is filled with ballrooms, haute couture, political intrigue (sometimes) and vivid characters. Some readers might find the female characters too weak or submissive, typically not the lead heroine though. However, this was an era where women were treated like chattel, so the logic is contemporary by those standards.

Unlike many historical romances, BC books are “clean” romances. With hindsight, I assume that is why my grandma allowed 10-year old girls to read these books in the first place! ? As an adult, I find it remarkable that the author wrote hundreds of books without having to resort to steamy scenes to keep readers engaged!

This book stands out because the sisters arrive at London with an extremely specific image of their potential husbands but who they ultimately choose is not what they expected. The final twist to show the true character of the stern, almost Draconian Duke, their sponsor, is revealed cleverly at the end.

If anyone wants to read a clean romance, or just a lighthearted reading for pure entertainment and good writing, then pick this one or any of the other titles by this author. You will not regret it at all!

Similar Works

  • Books – Any other historical romance by this author (Barbara Cartland). Julia Quinn and Emma Leech are similar.
  • Movies – Pride and Prejudice. Many of BC books have been turned into movies. Notable among them are “Hazard of Hearts” and “A Ghost in Monte Carlo”.
  • Genres – Historical Romance, Clean Romance.

Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

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Fun read just perfect for a rainy day, a beach vacation or a lazy weekend (me!) I’ve been to Key West islands, where this story is set. Hence, I totally agree that this gorgeous location is the perfect backdrop for a sudden romance! The story was amazing too, presenting a family drama without making it too sordid or glum. The primary characters were believable, and even the secondary plots between the heroine and her siblings were interesting enough (something I don’t often see in romance novels), that I read the book from cover to cover.

  • Title – Island Affair
  • Author – Priscilla Olivers

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

This is another ARC thanks to #NetGalley. I requested the book because the cover just called to me, and who doesn’t love an exotic island? Here are some pix from my trip to KeyWest. With such gorgeous vistas, romance is simply humming in the air! ?

Raw, natural pix – the stunning views in KeyWest.

Beaches, greenery and poetic sunrises! Glad the author mentions all these in her book! 🙂

Again, the story was marvelous, and I like that the author put in topics like food disorders, parental pressure and sibling rivalry in the mix. Some books feel like there are too many subplots, but this book had just the right balance and happy endings for all the loose ends.

Lastly, with all the fears and uncertainty from the corona virus pandemic, honestly, we need more books like this which allow readers to escape from our real-life chaos.

Similar Works:

  • Books – “Head over High Heels” by Lila monroe. “The Stylist takes Manhattan” by Rosie Nixon, “Blitzed” by Alexa Martin. Any Betty Neels book.
  • Movies – Legally blonde, Beautician and the Beast, Nights at Rodanthe, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle.
  • Genres – Contemporary Romance, Multicultural Romance, Beach Reads, Holiday Romance.

Until next time, Happy Reading! 🙂

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This is the third book in the Cynster sisters trilogy and in my personal opinion, the best of them! It helps (a few scattered references) if you have read the other two, but no way diminishes the reading experience if you are a total newbie to the Cynster family tree.

Like all books by Stephanie Laurens, the heroine is a strong-willed character, smart resourceful and beautiful. In this story, the heroine Angela is only 21, yet thankfully not portrayed as dumb, naive or starry eyed idealist. I myself was stubborn, ambitious and super-focused at 18, so I totally related to the heroine! Cheeky disclaimer, I married a large, dark-haired hunk and knew he was Mr.Right the moment I saw him, so I might be a little biased in my judgement! 😛

  • Title – Capture of the Earl of Glencrae
  • Author – Stephanie Laurens
  • Series – Cynster family series, Cynster sisters trilogy

REVIEW SCORE = 4.5/5 *****

Some reasons why I loved this book:

1] Set in the gorgeous mountains of Scotland (Woohoo!)

2] Hero = Kidnapper! Definitely, not the usual romance plot. When I read the blurb, I had so many Qs – Why? What!!!! that doesn’t sound right? How does the situation change? Is this a case of Stockholm syndrome? Read the book to find out. I will say the author uses these questions to build up the suspense (and chemistry). Most of her stories involve some sort of drama or mystery, but this was the most intriguing among all.

3] The usual charm of Victorian romance – balls, gowns, castles and a villain.

4] The love scenes were tasteful, but she does tend to get repetitive. If you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. Won’t recommend this author to anyone under 16, but I admit I am a bit orthodox in many ways!

Overall, a great read, especially on winter days when you just want to curl up in bed with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and an exciting book.

Similar Works

  • Books – Other books by Stephanie Laurens. Similar authors with historical romance series include Elizabeth Rolls, Emma Leech & Julia Quinn.
  • Movies – Pride & Prejudice.
  • TV Series – The Tudors without the extreme violence
  • Genres – Historical Romance
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Beyond indigo – book review

A lawyer-turned-painter with 3 potential love interests. Now that is NOT a plot you come across very often. I found this book at a sale in my library, and of course I caved in. So much for planning to stay away from new books, until I finish my “to-read list”. Still, no regrets as the book was worth the guilt trip! Yes, my library has an amazing set of books! ?

  • Title – Beyond Indigo
  • Author – Preethi Nair

Review Score – 4.5* out of 5*

In a way the book reminded me of the movie “The Associate” starring Whoopi Goldberg. Add the high-brow society and million-dollar world of arts and paintings, stir in some demanding Asian parents and set the story in suburban London. Voila! A fascinating story that you will want to read from cover to cover.

Even if you don’t like art or paintings, most readers will relate to the heroine’s struggles to follow her dreams, even when it doesn’t seem promising at all. Most of us either don’t know how to go about it or repress it to the RIGHT thing and pursue a stable (aka boring) career that pays the bills, and occasionally some leftover change to dabble in our “hobby”. So any “rags-to-riches” story is always gripping where a protagonist follows their dreams and emerges triumphant against all obstacles.

As an Indian immigrant, I absolutely relate to the quirky behavior of the heroine’s parents and the pressure felt by her to “conform” to her family’s idea of acceptable jobs, life partner and other societal standards. I think all immigrant kids grow up with this duality and the author portrays it beautifully without making disparaging or overdoing the inevitable generational/cultural clashes. I love that she shows respect to the heroine’s dad, a public transport bus-driver. Most immigrants (or even refugees) take menial jobs to provide for their families, irrespective of their status back home. Is it any wonder that such folks pin their lost dreams and aspirations on to the next generation, and become almost obsessed with the kids enjoying a RICH and successful (aka materialistic) life?

Philosophy aside, the story is quite creative – the lengths the heroine goes to hide her painter identity is ridiculously funny. Of course, such deceit would not be possible in today’s world of social media (this book was published in 2004), but despite that minor flaw the book is a captivating read. Still some mysteries like “Marhmellow” do exist, so perhaps the flaw is not such a flaw, after all.

Similar Works:

  • Books – Crazy Rich Asians, Stylist Takes Manhattan.
  • Movies – The Associate (1996), Golmaal (1979), Bareilly ki Barfi (2017)
  • Genres – Drama, urban fiction, women’s fiction, contemporary fiction
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