Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “historical romance”

Malin’s #CBR4 Reviews #66-69: Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin, Becoming Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase

So I did a fair bit of reading over the summer, even though I actually spent 15 days while in Iowa not so much as thinking about opening a book (which may be the first time in my adult life I can remember that happening). I did fall dreadfully behind on my reviews, and I’m not even blogging everything I read anymore. You can therefore expect several bulk posts from me in the coming weeks.

Book 66: Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin.  Beginning of a very enjoyable paranormal fantasy series. The covers are particularly awful, even by the standards of the genre. Please don’t let that put you off if you like light-hearted adventure fantasy. 4 stars.

Book 67: Becoming Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty. Extremely well-written young adult novel with a protagonist it’s difficult to like at first. More teenagers should discover these books, they’re an absolute delight to read, and a million times better than most YA fiction out there. 4 stars

Book 68: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I break my own rules for the first time in three years of reviewing for CBR. I’ve read this book four times now, but it’s one of my absolute favourites, and when Mrs. Julien and a bunch of others were reading it, I had to revisit it as well. 5 stars

Book 69: Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase. One of her weakest efforts, but still quite entertaining. Worth checking out if you like this sort of thing. 3 stars.

Prolixity Julien’s #CBR4 Review #20: Silk Is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

I signed up for a quarter Cannonball, but I’ve completed it and I’m working on my half Cannonball (speaking of cannonballs, my behind is one), and, not wanting to let the 79 works I’ve read in this genre since February go to waste, I now return to Loretta Chase, who, while not my favourite romance novelist, is extremely reliable and entertaining. I’ve chosen Silk Is for Seduction because it’s about romance and fashion, specifically 1830s clothing which is particularly ridiculous. Look at what the fashionable wore under their clothing, and keep in mind that a shift, drawers, and more petticoats would be added, and that those things on her shoulders would be like wearing down pillows –

Once fully dressed, she might look like this:

Isn’t the thumbnail hideous? I dare you to click on it.

Once you have composed yourself, please visit my tiny little blog for the full review, including pictures of my own wedding dress.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review # 65: A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch

Lady Diane Benchley’s late husband was a dissolute gambler, who left her with nearly nothing after she paid off his creditors. She does possess the deed to his town house in London, however, and has very specific plans to make herself a fortune. Shocking all of polite society, she sets out to establish an exclusive gentleman’s gambling club, run and staffed entirely by respectable women.

Oliver Warren, the Marquis of Haybury, has tried to forget Diane for two years, since they shared two incredible weeks of passion shortly after she was widowed. Diane knows only that Oliver abandoned her in Vienna without a word and sped back to England, and his heartless behaviour means she has no qualms about blackmailing him into providing the start-up capital for her club. She intends for him to be a silent, entirely passive partner in the club (once he has used his considerable experience as a very successful gambler to help train her staff).

Oliver has other plans. He’s not spent long with Diane again before realising that he was a fool to leave her. Now he just has to convince the woman whose heart he broke to take him back, through fair means or foul.

While the book has an utterably baffling title, which has NOTHING to do with the plot of the novel at all, A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes is a lot of fun, and can now be added to my list of delightful romances where the heroine shoots the hero at some point. Diane has very good reasons for detesting Oliver, and being reluctant with trusting any man with her heart. To his credit, and very refreshingly in a romance hero, once Oliver realises the truth about his feelings for Diane, he does whatever he can to make up for his previous misdeeds and sets out to prove to her that he can be trusted.

As well as creating an engaging central couple, who spar most entertainingly, Enoch doesn’t neglect the supporting cast, making sure that they are fully fleshed out, making the reader more invested in the creation and continued success of the Tantalus Club. Several of the characters are also clearly going to feature in future books, without their introduction and presence in the story feeling as forced as it sometimes does in planned multi-book series by other authors. The first installment in the Scandalous Brides can definitely be recommended.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #64: At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran

The year is 1715, and England is a divided county, with a lot of complicated political and religious unrest. Lady Eleonora is a young widow, who’s put in a very difficult position when an agent of the Crown comes to search her brother’s estate, where he has weapons and barrels of gunpowder buried in the basement, to be used in a Jacobite rebellion against King George I. If the weapons are found, Nora and her brother will be tried for treason. Making the situation even harder is the fact that the King’s agent is Adrian Ferrers, the Earl of Rivenham, and Nora’s first love.

Adrian used to be a Catholic, and Nora’s family refused to let them marry, forcing Nora into an unhappy marriage with an older, violent man. Now that she’s a widow, she wants nothing more than to manage her brother’s estate for him (a place she loves, but has no rights to, being a mere woman in a time when women were considered chattel). Adrian, however, doesn’t know that Nora was forced, and believes she faithlessly abandoned him. Having converted to Protestantism and worked his way up in Queen Anne’s court, he’s now helping King George track down and stop Jacobite rebels. He knows Nora’s brother is guilty, he now needs to know if she’s willingly abetting him, or unaware of his doings and whereabouts.

During Adrian’s siege of the estate, he learns just how miserable Nora’s marriage was, how much she lost when her family discovered her youthful tryst with Adrian, and that she thought he’d abandoned her. Can the lovers be reunited, even though they are on opposite sides of the political and religious divide?

This book was a huge disappointment to me, made even more so by the fact that I rate Meredith Duran’s previous novels so very highly, with several of them being among my all time favourites. Add to that the fact that this book’s been very favourably reviewed by a lot of reviewers whose opinions I trust on the internet, so my expectations were high. As it was, only stubbornness, and the desperate hope that it would get better at some point if I only kept reading, allowed me to finish the book and not quit it in anger and disgust.

While Nora should probably be pitied, being a woman in a time when they were completely at the mercy of the men in their lives, and treated like property, I just wanted to reach into the book and slap her, hard and repeatedly, for her incredible stupidity. Even though she owes her brother nothing (he helped sell her into marriage to an abusive man) and knows he’s committing treason, she helps him endanger her life and those of all the people on the estate she loves, by letting him bury huge amounts of very volatile and dangerous explosives under the manor house. She keeps protecting him, even after it’s clear that he intended to marry her off to a cousin, again without even asking how she felt about the match.

Adrian is no prince, either. He tortures Nora by depriving her of sleep for several days, acts in an incredibly arrogant and high-handed way towards her, and even marries her by force (she’s bound and gagged at the time) because he’s decided that it’s what’s best for her. Even with all this, he’s still the more sympathetic of the two, and that should tell you how insufferably idiotic Nora was.

The only reason I’m giving the book 2 stars is because even though I hated the main characters, and had to force myself to finish the book, Duran still has a magnificent grasp of language and should also be commended for writing a novel set in a different time period than most historical romances. The book is very well researched and written, I just really disliked the plot and central premise. I really hope that this was a one-time occurrence, and that Duran’s next book is more to my liking. I would hate for this to be the last of her books I ever read.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #34: The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll

Title: The Dark Queen
Author: Susan Carroll
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary:  I wasn’t sure I liked this book at first – as a historical romance, with more sex and a more serious plot than the “chick flick” style romances I occasionally I read, it was a little outside my comfort zone.  But I ended up loving it and the other four books in the series enough that I would definitely read more books like them, partly for the great plot and partly because I’m a sucker for a happy ending :)

During the late 16th century in Renaissance France, Ariane Cheney, a daughter of the earth and lady of the faire isle, is duty bound to prevent the misuse of power by other daughters of the earth.  Although the true witches are those she defends against, she also faces the superstitious minds of the time, some of whom would brand her a witch as well.  When a stranger arrives seeking Ariane’s help against the dark queen, Catherine di Medici, even the strong Ariane needs some help.  She has no one to ask but the Comte de Renard, although she hesitates to do so because of both their mutual attraction and her uncertainty his intentions are as straightforward as he would have her believe.

Read more here…

Prolixity Julien’s CBR4 Review #12: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

I am including this review for one reason only. Look at him:

I know it’s discomfiting, but do it for me. Note the manly open shirt, the manly sheen on his chest, the hint of manly chest hair, the manly Coty cologne advertisement feathered hair and manly sideburns. The insolence. The seduction. The riding crop. The smolder. It’s not the book I’m reviewing, but Lord of Scoundrels is by the same author, and its cover is boring and staid. How could it not be in comparison to this wheel of Gouda? Not that Lord Perfect isn’t completely acceptable, it’s just that Lord of Scoundrels is a classic. It has a much deserved Amazon rating of 4 1/2 stars after 284 reviews. If I am embracing the historial romance genre, this book needs to be included as the ultimate romance novel: larger than life characters, operatic kisses in the rain, a battle of wills and, most of all, fun. It is thisclosetocamp, probablycloser, and the result is a delicious wet kiss of a book.

Our hero, full name Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain, is 6’6″, black hair, black eyes, big nose, all man. Wealthy, arrogant, and clever, he meets his match in Jessica Trent, a pert, patient (she’ll need it), self-possessed spinster who has come to Paris to retrieve her gormless brother from the demi-monde Dain inhabits. He takes one look at Jessica and wants to lick her from head to toe. She takes one look at Dain and wants to rip all his clothes off. LET THE GAMES BEGIN! It’s beauty and the beast meets reformed rakes make the best husbands meets tortured hero, with a side of moustache twirling by minor characters trying to ruin everyone’s day. From Paris, the book moves to Dain’s ancestral home with machinations about a Russian icon and an illegitimate child, and an intense romance long on passion and blessedly short on maudlin.

Loretta Chase is, above all, an engaging and confident romance writer. She sets the scene deftly and excels at creating entertaining characters. If you like a touch of intrigue with your romance, she’s your gal. There will be chases, treasures and grand adventures. If you’re like me, you will revel in it despite the B story that does go on a bit. I find myself glossing over those parts hoping I don’t miss any major plot points. Truth be told, I can never tell if the subplot issue is with me (Why aren’t they kissing or bantering? When will they get back to the kissing and bantering? I DEMAND KISSING AND BANTERING!) or with the stories themselves, and I really don’t care.

Lest I forget: The Shameful Tally

This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.

Prolixity Julien’s CBR4 Reviews #9, #10, #11: Unveiled, Unclaimed, Unraveled by Courtney Milan

It is a truth universally acknowledged that romance novels are not necessarily very well-written; however, if you are curious about them and want to know who is the best writer out there (of the more than two dozen I’ve tried) Courtney Milan is where you should start. Lisa Kleypas is actually my favourite writer, but I’ve already consumed her entire output and am looking out for other authors. Milan is a newer writer, very much better than most, and she makes interesting choices which neatly turn genre tropes, if not upside-down, at least on their side. This trilogy contains one book each for three popular romance storylines: the revenge plot, Unveiled, the reformed rake, Unclaimed , and the tortured hero, Unraveled. I read the books in reverse order, admittedly starting with the best one.

The Turner brothers grew up with an absent father and a deranged religious zealot mother. Their names are actually bible verses, so they each use a shortened nickname from their verse in daily life: Ash, Mark, and Smite, yes, Smite. Each man bears unique wounds of their traumatic experiences. The oldest, Ash (Unveiled), left his brothers behind to build a secure future for them. He was gone for several years, returned a wealthy man (in the manner of self-made men in romance novels, he is hardworking and magic at math, and that is all it takes to become rich), and as we join him at the beginning of his story, he is poised to steal a dukedom out from under a noble family based on his manipulations of primogeniture. Hoping to find his weakness, Margaret, the daughter of the house, stripped of her legitimacy by Ash’s actions, is posing as the current Duke’s nurse to spy on the Turners. Ash takes up residence with his brother, Mark, at the ducal estate, ostensibly to assess the family’s finances before the final act of transferring inheritance takes place. Normally, these vengeful men are dark, intense and intimidating. Ash is a giant mastiff that nuzzles you into acquiescence. While he is intense and “cheerfully ruthless”, he is also a profoundly nice man, plagued by insecurities and not a small amount of survivor’s guilt. Margaret has been treated as a pawn her entire life, reduced to who she can marry and dependent on the (sorely lacking) kindness of the men in her life to ensure her security and happiness. Ash objects to these notions and to the effect they have had on Margaret as a person. Many romance novel heroes become caretakers to the heroine, but almost none wage a campaign of relentless kindness and encouragement regardless of his personal goals. He wants her as a partner, but more than that he wants Margaret to see herself as a person in her own right, and with her own rights, in charge of her own happiness.

The hero of Unclaimed , Mark, is a 28 year old virgin. Let me repeat that and emphasize that it is unprecedented in my experience: Mark is a 28 year old VIRGIN, and not just a virgin, one who has become a celebrity after writing a tract on chastity, the first line of which is “Chastity is hard.” Mark is the youngest brother of the trio and while he is chaste, he is not innocent. His elder brothers protected him to the best of their ability, but his mother’s insanity resulted in choices and situations that no child should endure. With a virginal hero, the reformed rake role in this story falls to Jessica, a courtesan who has been hired to seduce and publicly humiliate Mark. She was “ruined” and disowned by her family at the age of 14 and has made her way in the world with a series of “protectors”. It is the most recent of these who has promised a payment equal to lifelong financial security to destroy Mark’s reputation, but here’s the thing: Mark isn’t really concerned about his reputation. He is honest in his chastity, but he dislikes the fame it brings and the resulting loss of control over his very simple message about the societal repercussions of sex outside of marriage. In most romance novels, there is an extreme disparity in sexual experience. The hero has had mistresses and lovers, and in their polite way, the writers make it clear that all of those women were available and unscathed. When the heroine has experience, it is extremely limited, she thought she was/was in love and the result was her personal downfall. Even if she is older, she is chaste. In Unclaimed, Jessica has used the one thing she had to survive in the world alone. It has cost her emotionally, and even physically, but she is not viewed with the disparagement normally accorded a woman “no better than she should be”. Mark likes himself and he genuinely likes her, and he wants her to feel the same way. Her transformation from someone simply trying to survive into someone trying to build a real life for herself is believable and charming.

In romance novels, everything can seem like country dances and house parties. Although I do not look for devotion to historical accuracy when I read these books, I mostly just enjoy the period costume descriptions and the home life details, Milan creates a true sense of the squalor and dangers lurking close to the surface in Victorian England. Unraveled in particular, dwells in the horrifying poverty of Bristol and the severe limitations and prejudices of the so-called justice system of the era – all of which brings us to Smite. Well now, Smite is my favourite. He is a brilliant, dark, pensive man, enmeshed in duty, and possessing of a wry sense of humour. Who could resist a man who says to his mistress, “I would not like you half so much, if you weren’t sarcastic,”? Not I, dear Cannonballer, not I. He is Milan’s tortured hero. He bore the brunt of his mother’s madness, he bears it still in PTSD, and in the roles he chooses in life. He works as a magistrate hoping to prevent the disregard of society that brought him and his brothers to such a vulnerable state. But he is still a man, so when he encounters a vibrant and canny young woman, Miranda Darling, posing as a witness at a trial, something happens that is again extremely unsual in a romance novel: he asks her to be his mistress and she accepts. For one month of sexual intimacy, Miranda will receive the princely sum of 1,000 pounds and a house.  Having has just barely survived on her wits and fashioned protection for herself by association with the local crime lord,  this business arrangement is an escape, but one which will be complicated by the tenacity of the underworld’s grip on Miranda. She can earn lifelong financial independence in exchange for something/someone she also desires, and it gives Smite one month to dwell in the land of the living before returning to his self-imposed exile. What works about this tortured hero is not that he is broken and needs to be fixed by some innocent, inexperienced chit, as would normally be the case, rather Smite is in tact and what he and Miranda both require, and find in each other, is a kindred spirit who can meet each other’s needs and their own together.

Milan’s men have attitudes inconsistent with the era. They have no judgement of past indiscretions at a time when being seen alone with the wrong someone could ruin a woman’s reputation. The Turners treat the women as equals and want the women to see themselves in the same way. It is the latter element that makes her books so wonderful. Mark thinks well of himself and wants the same for Jessica; he wants her to want more, to expect more and to be her own person. Ash wants Margaret to see herself as a complete person, in turn she helps him smooth over his own wounds. Smite and Miranda balance each other and provide the freedom to be who they want to be.

This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.

Prolixity Julien’s CBR4 Review #8: What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long

I’m still reading historical romance novels and I keep a list of them as though tracking such things makes it any less ignoble. I call it The Shameful Tally; I also track the heroes’ names (Simon and Sebastian being the most popular), and the books so awful that I gave up on them.

What I Did for a Duke is from Julie Anne Long’s “Pennyroyal Green” series about the Redmond and Eversea families. As a relatively new author, she has set herself up quite nicely for a large group of interconnected novels as is a standard practice in this genre. It gives the reader a chance to revisit their favourite characters and is something I particularly like; so much so that I must confess, I have even bought a book only because I knew I’d get to see “Sebastian and Evie” (Lisa Kleypas The Devil in Winter) again. I adore them. I will buy any book they are in. Publishers are smart and I am easily led. From this Julie Anne Long series, I’ve also read How the Marquess Was Won. That book was: so good, so good, oh Sweet Fancy Moses that is romantic, wait is this high school?, oh, now, it’s all fallen apart, RATS!. By the way, if you think these titles are bad, Long she has a book called I Kissed an Earl  and it is waiting for me on my Kindle. As if the cover art weren’t embarrassing enough, these titles add insult to ignominy.

I’ve sampled about 2 dozen writers and you’ve got to give a writer credit where it is due: If you can pull off an almost 20 year age difference and make it not only palatable, but irrelevant, you are on the right track. What I Did for a Duke pairs 20 year old Genevieve Eversea with “almost forty” (a phrase often and lovingly repeated) Alex Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge. He is a widower out for revenge against Genevieve’s brother, Colin, for attempting to bed the Duke’s fiancée.  Over the course of a house party, Alex sets out to seduce and leave Genevieve, but, pleasantly enough, the revenge plot is called off when this young woman figures it out, and is far lovelier and more attractive than Alex had anticipated. She’s bright and banters well. He’s charming and kind of autocratic. Tra la la. They get married. YAY!

There is nothing new here which is good because I am not looking for anything new, just fresh. It’s nice to see a standard revenge plot dismantled, but the real reason that this book works is simple: Julie Anne Long is very funny and she writes great smolder. That’s all it takes really; in fact, if you can pull off the funny, you don’t necessarily need the smolder, and, yes, she is that funny. Long is also kind of a lazy writer, or maybe just a new one finding her feet. She is clearly paid in italics and has so many she doesn’t know what to do with them, so she scatters them wherever she can. One can’t help but feel that maybe she doesn’t trust the reader to follow her prose exactly as she intended. She gets the forms of address wrong throughout the book: the Duke is called by the wrong short form of his name and the wrong title. Plus the book suffered from Student Font Syndrome. You know what I mean: the font is larger to make the book look longer. The publisher didn’t pull in the margins, but it was a near run thing. I assume that writers of these books have quite specific deadlines and contractual output requirements. This is not Balzac. This is one book every 9 months or so, if my calculations are correct, so if Long doesn’t meet the length requirement, but manages to be really funny, I have no complaints. It’s easy escapism and shows sufficient promise that I will give her other books a try, but not quite enough promise that I am willing to buy any of them. These novels are what library paperback sections are for. Except this particular one. I kind of want my own copy of this one.

This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #63: A Night Like This by Julia Quinn

Shortly after becoming the Earl of Winstead, Daniel Smythe-Smith rather foolishly engaged in a drunken bout of cards, where one of his close friends accused him of cheating, and challenged him to a duel. Drunk and foolish, Daniel slipped when attempting to fire his weapon away from his friend Hugh, but instead shot him in the leg, nearly killing him. Hugh’s powerful father threatens to kill Daniel over what he did to his son, and Daniel has to spend years dodging assassins on the Continent.

When his friend finally promises that it’s safe to return, Daniel arrives back just in time for his family’s infamous annual musicale (barely any of the Smythe-Smith women who take part every year can play the instruments they perform on, and most are completely unaware of the dreadful racket they make). This year, however, one of the more astute ladies has pulled out at the last minute, feigning illness, forcing Miss Anne Wynter, the family’s governess to step in and play the piano. Daniel notices her from back stage, and is instantly smitten with her, to the point that he tracks her down after the concert and kisses her before he even knows who she is.

Anne Wynter is an excellent governess, and knows that she is incredibly lucky to be employed by a kind lady, with clever, if spirited daughters. She knows that not all women would be happy employing a beautiful woman of unknown origins in their household, so while she’s equally attracted to Daniel, and flattered by his attention, she knows that nothing can come of his advances, and hopes he will keep his distance. To complicate matters further, Anne is not who she pretends to be, and knows that if her true identity and past were revealed, at best, she would find herself unemployed and friendless, with no references to her name, at worst, involved in a full-blown scandal.

Hence, while she sees that Daniel is a good man, who will loyally stand by his family, is good to his servants and quite happy to play with his young female cousins, she tries to dissuade him from spending time with her. Daniel has other plans, however, and keeps finding ways to spend time with Miss Wynter and the young ladies who are her charges.

As well as the story of how Daniel and Anne fall in love (which is told with Quinn’s trademark lightness and wit), there’s a subplot where someone is clearly trying to cause harm to one or both of the couple. Is it Hugh’s crazy nobleman father who’s reneged on his promise to leave Daniel alone? Is it someone from Anne’s past, finally having discovered her new identity and location, bent on revenge? This part of the story was supposed to infuse the story with added complications and a sense of danger, but just seemed a bit far fetched to me. I did like the few appearances we got from Daniel’s friend Hugh, though, and hope he gets to be the hero of his own romance in the future. Like Just Like Heaven (the previous book in the Smythe-Smith series, about Daniel’s sister, Lady Honoria and his best friend, Marcus), this is fluffy and light hearted, but can’t compare to the best of Quinn’s novels.

Crossposted on my blog and Goodreads.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #47: Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare

This is the third book in Dare’s Stud Club trilogy, where the underlying mystery of the trilogy of who killed Lord Leo Chatwick is finally solved, so while it works on its own, it’s probably more satisfying as a whole when read in sequence with the other two.

Julian Bellamy is the bastard son of a nobleman (he doesn’t even know which). Determined to get revenge on as many noblemen as possible, he did everything to be rich, admired and adored, working tirelessly to ruin lords by winning their fortunes at the card table, or seducing their wives and female relatives. He was doing splendidly, until he met Leo Chatwick, and struck up a genuine friendship with the man. He also, shortly after meeting her, fell head over heels in love with Leo’s twin sister, Lily . When Leo is killed in an alley, on a night when Julian should have been with him (because he was off seducing yet another nobleman’s wife), Julian is determined to do everything in his power to hunt down his killer.

Julian also wants to make sure Lily is taken care of, and safe, and his solution to this is that she marry. While it’s obvious to anyone who sees them together, that Julian is crazy about Lily, and she’s really not averse to the idea of marrying him, he refuses to saddle her with a husband who’s not only an infamous rake and scoundrel, but also an illegitimate by blow of uncertain parentage. Lily, however, is deeply concerned at the toll hunting for Leo’s killer is taking on Julian (especially after he ends up unconscious and bleeding at her doorstep after a brawl) and makes him promise to take her to three society events, in the hopes that she can convince him that they should be together. But there are secrets about Julian’s past that he hasn’t shared with her. Do they have a chance if she discovers where he really came from?

Of all the novels in this trilogy, I think I liked this one the most. Julian literally lives a double life, which he’s very determined no one finds out about. He got the money that allowed him to start building a fortune through shady means, but it’s through careful management (and skill at the gambling tables) that he’s been able to increase it. He does love Lily dearly, but in his quest for revenge against the nobility in general, he’s lived a pretty reckless and promiscuous life, and he feels she deserves much better than him. I rarely read romances where the hero is the inferior one in rank, so this was an interesting change for me.

Lily’s a great heroine. Bereft after the death of her beloved twin, she now has to watch her dearest friend endanger himself trying to track down Leo’s murderers. Having turned deaf after a long illness, Lily’s very uncomfortable about appearing in public (she and Leo had a system worked out to allow her to manage), and while she’s rich and beautiful, she’s pretty sure her disability will put most suitors off. When she discovers Julian’s true feelings for her, she understands both why he’s so hell-bent on insisting she marry to be protected, and does everything in her power to convince him that the only man she’d ever marry, no matter his arguments against their union, is him. Their relationship is lovely, and the way they communicate is great.

The mystery of who killed Leo, which has been running through the entire trilogy, is also solved at the end, and the reason for his death, and the resolution to the mystery, turned out to be genuinely surprising. A nice conclusion to the series, but still not as wonderful as either of Dare’s Spindle Cove books so far.

Crossposted with my blog and Goodreads.

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